Around the 32 Counties
Thursday, 10 December 2009

Antrim: Play crosses both road and cultures

A nativity play being stayed in Ballycastle will cross cultures by the simple expedient of crossing the road between acts. The Cross and Passion Schoolk on Moyle Road in the town will be the setting for the first act of the play, written by Damian Gorman of the Ballycastle Nativity Group. The actors will then cross the road to perform Act Two in Ballycastle High School. Among actors taking part in “Stars – A Ballycastle Nativity” are Conleth Hill, Olivia Nash, Gordon Fulton and Abi McGibbon and they are joined by a group of amateur actors from the area.

Armagh:  All-Ireland medal for Padraig

Padraig Hollywood, who was critically injured in a car crash on the Newtownhamilton Road near Armagh city earlier this month, attended the Armagh County dinner last week with his parents Jackie and Fintan. Padraig was a member of the Armagh minor panel which won the All-Ireland this year and he was able to accept his medal at the event along with his teammates. In the single-vehicle accident he was left with severe head injuries as well as facial injuries and was treated at both Craigavon Area Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Carlow: Catherine is not deterred by flooding

The fact that the ground floor of her new premises was under a few feet of water did not deter Carlow businesswoman Catherine Harris from opening a new restaurant on Kennedy Street in the town. The ground floor D Bar was badly damaged and remained flooded for a week after the River Barrow burst its banks, but the Asian Palace restaurant upstairs was unharmed and it opened to the public just two weeks late. And a week later the intrepid restaurateur opened the D Bar to the public, having been helped in the repair work by interior designer Ann Gordon.

Cavan: Diaconite established by Bishop of Kilmore

Bishop Leo O'Reilly last week established a Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kilmore. The ceremony took place at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Cavan and welcomed from England Rev. Roger Evans, a deacon in Southwark, and his wife Maureen. The duties of a deacon include performing baptisms and funeral services, and presiding at weddings. They can also read the Gospel at Mass and deliver the homily and are ordained to assist both priests and lay people. The diocese is now encouraging those between the ages of thirty-five and sixty to put themselves forward as candidates for the diaconate.

Clare: New hostel for homeless in Ennis

Laurel Lodge, a new hostel for the homeless in Ennis, was officially opened last week by Minister for Housing Michael Finneran. The €2.1m centre has been opened by the St Vincent de Paul society in response to the deaths of two men who were sleeping rough in the town. According to the SVP more than two hundred homeless men applied for food and support at Ennis Cathedral in one year, and while Laurel Lodge can accommodate just thirteen men, it is a step in the right direction. Managing the new facility is Pat Cahill, who has said that most of the men applying for shelter are from the county.

Cork: Kinsale auction of Tiger trophies

An estate agent in Kinsale has held the first of what will become regular auctions with a difference, for the lots on sale represent purchases made during the boom times which people are now trying to offload. Kevin Kelleher put his own 1993 Wrangler Jeep up for auction, and among other items are a rigid inflatable boat, cherrywood skirting boards from a hotel, new jewellery and an old pine dresser. The items were available for inspection before the auction day and Kevin feels sure the days will be successful since “thrift is the new cool”.

Derry: Carmel is Nurse Manager of the Year

Carmel O'Kane, who took up nursing after the birth of the first two of her four children, has been named as the Royal College of Nursing Nurse Manager of the Year. From Dungiven, she previously worked at Desmonds' factory and trained at the Mid Ulster Hospital. Following a stint at Altnagelvin she took up the post of Community Children's Nursing. It has now been proposed by Dungiven councillor Anne Brolly, a neighbour of Carmel's who also taught her at school in Dernaflaw, that she be given a civic reception by Limavady Council in recognition of her new title.

Donegal: The birds can't tell the balls from the eggs

Mistaking the balls for eggs is one reason put forward for an increase in the removal of golf balls on the Greencastle course by crows. It has apparently always been something of a problem but club manager Billy McCaul says the incidences have increased recently and the missing balls are playing havoc with matchplay results. While playing recently club member Phonsie McCole had his golf ball lifted by a crow on the fourth, while his playing partner suffered a similar loss on the seventh. Birdwatch Ireland official Niall Hatch believes that it is younger crows who are the culprits, mistaking the golf balls for eggs.

Down: A visit to the palace for George

George Gracey, a firefighter in Dromore, paid a visit to Buckingham Palace last week where he was presented with the MBE awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth earlier this year. George, the Station Watch Commander in the town, received his medal from the Prince of Wales and said he enjoyed every minute of his visit. Although he had been there on a previous occasion some ten years ago, as a member of a group of twenty members of the emergency services, it was a first visit by George's fiancee, Jennifer Whan, who accompanied him to London. He received the medal for thirty-six years' service to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Dublin: Fifteenth living crib for Mansion House

For the fifteenth year the Irish Farmers' Association, in conjunction with the City Council, has set up the Christmas Crib with live animals on the forecourt of the Mansion House. The crib, which includes donkeys, goats and sheep, was officially opened by Lord Mayor Emer Costello and Padraig Walshe, president of the IFA, with the Lord Mayor also turning on the Christmas lights. All the animals in the crib are brought there on a daily basis and are returned to a farm on the outskirts of the city each evening. More than €120,000 has been raised over the past fifteen years for the Lord Mayor's Charity Fund.

Fermanagh: Gordon Bull for Crawford brothers

Raymond and Stephen Crawford from Maguiresbridge have continued their winning ways with the title of Show Team of the Year for 2009. They were also awarded the Gordon Bull for winning the greatest number of championships over the year. Attending a show every week from May until the beginning of August, they had a number of wins including the best Limousin heifer in the North at the Ulster Bank All Ireland  Limousin Heifer of the Year championships at the Cloger Valley Show. A second highlight was when their breeding cow, Curaghree Sensation, was named the Ulster Bank Beef Interbreed Female of the Year.

Galway: Mosque proposed for Galway city

A planning application has been lodged by the Ahmidiyya Muslim Association of Ireland for the construction of a mosque with tower and minaret on the Monivea Road in Galway city. The complex would also include a cultural centre, access road and the provision of parking facilities. A decision on the application is expected at the end of January but in the meantime there has already been an objection to the proposal. Location is the main reason for the objection, but also mentioned is the obtrusive nature of the dome and minaret on the single-storey building.

Kerry: Spanish sailors remembered in Valentia

A ceremony took place at Kylemore graveyard in Valentia recently to remember twenty-six Spanish sailors who lost their lives at sea between the years 1931 and 1989. The sailors, who came from the Galicia area of Spain, are all buried in the graveyard and a headstone was arranged by the workers of the local rural social scheme. Carrying out the unveiling of the headstone, commissioned from the local slate quarry, were Spanish Ambassador Mercedes Rico Carabias and Minister Éamon Ó Cuiv. Much of the work in identifying the sailors and retrieving death certificates was undertaken by one of the project workers, Gerald O'Sullivan.

Kildare: Naas estate celebrates anniversary

Recently a concelebrated Mass of Remembrance took place in the Church of the Irish Martyrs, Ballycane to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Sarto Park, one of the oldest housing estates in Naas. Chief celebrant at the Mass was parish priest Father Tom McDonnell and the ceremony including the lighting of candles to represent all those residents who have died over the past four decades. Paddy O'Connor was responsible for carving two of the offerings, a wooden sign of Sarto Park and a crucifix, and a talk and slide show was later given in the Town House Hotel by James Durney.

Kilkenny: Papal medal for Tullaroan man

A man who left Tullaroan fifty years ago has been presented with the Benemerenti medal in his parish church in Manchester, to mark his service to the local diocese. Joseph Fitzpatrick was one of eleven children of Patrick and Anastasia Fitzpatrick and is a builder by trade. He put his skills to good use during restoration work on church and school buildings, and also built a grotto at his church, St Patrick's in Collyhurst, bringing home from Lourdes the statues of Our Lady and St Bernadette. He was presented with his medal by Father Michael Buckley of St Patrick's parish.

Laois: Inaugural award for Portlaoise woman

At the inaugural Irish Traveller Pride Awards held in Liberty Hall, Dublin last week, the overall prize was won by Julie Nevin from Portlaoise. Julie, who comes from a Traveller background, has been working within the community for the past twelve years. She has a Diploma in Community and Youth Studies from NUI Maynooth and is a member of the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee. She was presented with her award, for her contribution to the development and provision of community supports to Travellers in the county, by Anne Cassin of RTE.

Leitrim: Gearing up for the GOAL mile

Boornacoola GAA grounds will be the venue for the county's sixth annual GOAL Mile on New Year's Day and a number of celebrities have already signed up for the musical part of the event. These include Charlie McGettigan, Mick Flavin, Declan Nerney, the Longford Pipe Band and the O'Neill School of Dancing. In the Copper Still bar in Dromod an auction and raffle will take place and already a huge range of prizes has been donated by businesses and individuals, including stays in Markree Castle, the Glasson Wine Lodge in Athlone and the Gleneagle in Killarney. Given that the GOAL Mile is a sporting event it is only right that some of the prizes are sport-orientated, with a ball autographed by Manchester United players and an autographed Cork jersey.

Limerick: Ordination for Ballinacurra man

One of three men ordained for the Redemptorist order by Cardinal Seán Brady recently was Ballinacurra man Brian Nolan. The thirty-one-year-old had previously studied electronics and computing at the Insitute of Technology before working for a number of years for Flextronics. Now based in the Cherry Orchard parish in Dublin and working on the Dundalk Parish Mission Team, Fathr Nolan spent the summer months of his training years working in Brazil and India with SERVE, a Redemptorist mission working overseas with the poor and the underprivileged.

Longford: Home-town honours for Backstage

At the All-Ireland One Act Drama Finals, hosted by the Backstage Theatre in Longford town last week, the Longford-based drama group took the top prize and were named All-Ireland champions in the Confined Section. The theatre group, directed by Gus Hanley, staged Barry McKinley's “Small Box Psychosis” featuring Benny O'Brien, Jim Davey and Doug Fox-Roberts. Following the play performances, members of the Backstage Theatre Group again took to the stage to showcase their home town and its characters, including poet Padraic Colum. The weekend festival was organised by a team headed by Ollie Kenny.

Louth: Sunday's Gate pub reopens

Moore's Pub at Sunday's Gate in Drogheda has reopened under the new owner, Mick Daly, formerly of Daly's in Donore. The pub had closed three years ago when Peggy Moore decided to retire at the age of eighty-five, having served behind the bar since she was a teenager. Peggy's father, Michael Moore, was the original owner, having opened the premises in 1908, and Mick Daly acknowledged her connection with Moore's by inviting her to cut the ribbon on the new premises. Mick has retained many of the original artefacts and also has on display the orginal licence and a photograph of Michael Moore.

Mayo: New service to combat isolation

Four new Befriending Mayo services have been set up in the county, following the success of the two in Castlebar and Claremorris which opened last year. Run by the Health Service Executive, the service benfits those living alone or in isolated areas, and the new centres will be in Ballina, Westport, Crossmolina and Knockmore. A team of volunteers make telephone calls to older people such as eighty-seven-year-old widow Mary Staunton who lives on her own some eight miles from Castlebar. She has lived on her own for fourteen years and welcomes the contact with the Befriending service, her only contact with the outside world apart from a daily visit from her son and the postman.

Meath: Julianstown residents to have their say

Julianstown has been selected as one of the national pilots for a new Heritage Council Village Design Programme and a meeting is to be held next week at which residents will be able to talk with developers and landowners as part of the Village Design Statement. The meeting will take place in the Glenside Hotel and will be led by consultant James Hennessey who has drawn up the Statement. He has already facilitated two workshops with a sub-group at which suggestions were made that the village should have a central point comprising a shop and cafe. As a possible location, a popular site was the Old Mill which could be developed to fit the purpose.

Monaghan: New role for barracks

The former army barracks in Monaghan town is to become a new education campus, with the project being launched last week by Taoiseach Brian Cowen. The site is to be acquired by the Vocational Education Committeee who will then draw up plans for a new Gaelscoil, Gaelcholáiste and a centre for further education. At present these facilities are occupying rented accommodation in the town and the idea of moving them to the site of the barracks was first suggested last year, shortly after it was announced that the barracks was to close. The site already comprises a sports field, a PE hall and canteen facilities.

Offaly: Will he? Won't he?

A visit to the village of Moneygall by the US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, has sparked rumours that a visit from President Obama might be on the cards in the near future. The Ambassador has said that he aims to visit every county in Ireland and a spokesperson for the embassy said that the choice of Moneygall definitely did not indicate a presidential visit. However it is known that Mr Rooney is constantly in touch with President Obama and it seems more than a coincidence that he should choose to visit the village where the president's ancestor, Fulmuth Kearney, grew up.

Roscommon: Boyle landscaper wins national award

Thomas J. Crummy, a landscape gardener based in Boyle, has been presented with the All-ireland Private Garden Maintenance Award for his work on a new garden at Rosses Point in Co. Sligo, for clients Frank and Lorna O'Donoghue. Thomas set up his landscaping business in Cloonloo, Boyle, more than ten years ago, having gained almost twenty years' experience in the US, Britain and Japan. In addition to the latest award, the company has also achieved quality certification and the Bord Bia Quality Awards for Excellence for five consecutive years.

Sligo: Civic reception for Town Clerk

John MacNabola, who is one of Sligo's longest serving public officials, spent twenty-six years as Town Clerk before his recent retirment. The Leitrim man was surprised recently when, instead of presiding over a civic occasion, he became its focus. John was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Sligo in recognition of his dedication to the public service. In moving the motion to declare John a Freeman, Mayor Jim McGarry praised in particular his involvement with the Town Twinning scheme. John was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Maisie.

Tipperary: President visits Roscrea

President Mary McAleese was in Roscrea last week at the invitation of the local Heritage Society to see the restoration work that has been carried you on the Castle. Greeted by a guard of honour comprising local scouts, the President met representatives of some forty local groups as well as members of the clergy and local representatives. George Cunningham presented the President with a number of recent local publications including works by Dom Laurence Walsh, Pat Joe Whelan and George Cunningham himself. She also received a painting by local artist Mary Dillon.

Tyrone: Carrickmore still waits for new school

In spite of intimations five years ago that a new second-level school for Carrickmore was in the offing, there has been no progress and the Dean Maguirc school is now catering for five hundred students and fifty staff in sub-standard conditions. According to headmaster James Warnock, the roofs are in need of repair and some pupils are housed in three blocks of mobile classrooms, while the gymanasium has to be used for a variety of activities including Assembly, sports and examinations. The school, which was opened more than forty years ago, serves students from an area covering Pomeroy, Beragh, Sixmilecross, Greencastle, Kildress, Mountfield and Loughmacrory.

Waterford: New sculpture unveiled in Dungarvan

Following the switching on of the Christmas lights in Dungarvan last week a new sculpture was unveiled on the town's High Street to commemorate its former use as a centre of the dairy industry. The sculpture, depicting a man rolling a churn, was unveiled by the Mayor of Dungarvan, Damien Geoghegan, with Liam Herlihy, chairman of Glanbia. It was commissioned from sculptor Patrick Barry from Kinsale, Co. Cork and the unveiling was attended by current and former staff members from Glanbia as well as farmers who supplied the business with milk.

Westmeath: Victims helped and a record broken

In Mullingar last weekend a day-long Christmas Fair was held in aid of the victims of the recent flooding and, at the same time, a new record for the town will be entered into the Guinness Book of Records. For a total of seven hundred and nineteen people donned Santa hats to beat the record set last year in Brockton, Massachusetts. The day was organised by local business people and artists, and more than one hundred market stalls took part in an area where cars had been banned for the day, with all proceeds going to the Lions Club Christmas Food Appeal.

Wexford: Landscape award for New Ross club

The overall sports ground winner in the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland annual awards is New Ross eighteen-hole Golf Club. Club chairman Eddie Sweeney believes that the members' investment in the club over the past eight years has led to the prestigious award, and in particular their patience while the final five greens were out of play for six months while they were upgraded. The course is kept in top condition by designer Eddie Connaughton and landscape contractor Garry Flood and among its members are four former All-Ireland hurling captains, Liam Fennelly, Eddie Kerr, Willie O'Connor and Dan Quigley.

Wicklow: Llama on the loose

Several motorists have reporting seeing a llama on the road and gardaí are now on the look-out for the straying animal. The animal, which is reported to be wearing a red halter around its neck, was seen on roads around Aughrim in the south of the county, but it was also reported by motorists on the Aughrim to Arklow road. Although no one has yet come forward to report a missing llama, gardaí have been told that a local woman had been keeping one as a pet. The wooded terrain makes their search more difficult and they have asked motorists to drive with extreme care.


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