Antrim: Multilingual tour of Belfast on offer
A new tourist company in Belfast is offering tours of the city on an open-air bus which will offer commentary in Spanish, Italian, German and French, but also in both Irish and Ulster-Scots. The Belfast City Tour company is being developed by McComb’s Executive Travel and Tours and it will be the first to offer a tour using a range of languages other than English. A second new venture for the company will be the Belfast Splash Tour in an amphibian craft.
Armagh: Public art installed at Scotch Street
Armagh city has seen the installation of the first of six commissioned pieces of public artwork, at Scotch Street. The thirty-foot high stainless steel structure by Martin Heron, entitled “For the Love of Emer”, depicts Cuchulainn balancing on a tilting twenty-foot pole. Other sculptures are to be placed at Upper English Street and the Market Place Theatre, while ceramic wall art, railings, and a miniature sculpture trail comprise the other projects. The next project to be completed, by the end of the month, is the miniature sculpture trail, while the final piece will be put in place in December.
Armagh: Gala night to mark theatre’s anniversary
The Ulster Orchestra inaugurated a year of celebrations at the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh to mark the theatre’s tenth anniversary. Although it was not officially opened until April 2000, the curtain first went up in March and since then the stage has seen more than two thousand performances while the arts centre has played host to some one hundred and fifty exhibitions. Among events to celebrate the anniversary are an exhibition entitled “Ten Years of Armagh Art” and a photographic exhibition, Ten Years Through The Lens”, featuring the work of Vincent Loughran.
Armagh: Mud Madness at Foymore Lodge
Some six hundred and fifty competitors, more than double last year’s total, took part in the Mud Madness race at Foymore Lodge in Portadown last weekend. The competitors comprised total amateurs and professional athletes, some from as far away as Germany, who crawled through tunnels, jumped over ditches, were almost submerged in muddy pools and jumped over flaming haystacks. The four-mile course is sponsored by McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes and all monies raised from the e
Cavan: Belturbet looks on the positive side
The traders of Belturbet decided that there was enough doom and gloom around and that people needed their spirits lifted. Accordingly a group of them banded together to organise a Spring Parade for Easter Sunday. In addition to celebrating spring, the event will also be the first in a series of events to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the town.
Cavan: Avian survivor returned to wild
A buzzard that survived a gunshot wound has been returned to the wild and the occasion was watched by the children from St Brigid’s School in Killoughter, Redhills. The wounded buzzard was found by Sarto Quigley while he was out walking and with the help of Joshua Mohan he took it to his home before contacting Wildlife Ireland. The bird was brought back to health at the Irish Raptor Research Centre in Ballymote by Lothar Muschketat.
Cavan: Bypass could lead to preservation project
Independent Councillor Seamus Fitzpatrick has proposed that the allocation from funding for the bypass around Belturbet, granted under the Percent for Art scheme, be used for the restoration of the town’s motte and bailey. Under the scheme all construction projects must set aside money for a visual project which will enhance the area. The thirteenth century Norman building could, if it were to be restored, become a major tourist attraction for Belturbet, according to Councillor Fitzpatrick.
Clare: Museum given go-ahead
Jackie Whelan, the man behind the restoration of the West Clare Railway, has been granted permission by the county council for what will be the country’s largest rail and road museum.
Clare: Golf club praised for conservation activities
Independent ecological consultant Dr Evelyn Moorkens has praised the conservation measures carried out at Doonbeg Golf Club, which has seen the population of the protected snail Vertigo angustior increased over the past ten years from ten million to sixty million. The construction of the course was delayed following a High Court action to ensure the snail’s safety, and Dr Moorkens described the club’s programme of conservation as a “model in terms of sustainable development”. One measure taken was the placing of cattle on a special area of conservation to ensure that the dunes do not become overgrown.
Clare: Chilly plunge launches cycle event
In order to launch the 2010 An Post Tour de Burren a number of cyclists from the Burren Cycling Club, including Olaf O’Neill and Noel Shannon, rode off the pier in Ballyvaughan and plunged into the less than temperate waters of the Atlantic. The organisers of this year’s event, The Burren Cycling Club and Clare Sports Partnership, are hoping to double the number who took part last year, when eight hundred people mounted their bikes. Three routes will be on offer, a ten kilometre run entitled the Aillwee Cave Family Loop, the Corkscrew Challenge of sixty kilometres, and the Burnin’ Burren route which encompasses one hundred and sixty kilometres.
Cork: Jack is seventh generation butcher
Jack Sheehan, aged eleven, is the seventh generation of a Cork family who first opened a butcher’s shop in Mallow in 1870. The Sheehan family have now opened a new store in Douglas, the first one to be opened on the south side of Cork city. Eugene Sheehan reopened the shop in Mallow in the 1960s and now his sons Eugene, Colm, David and Edward have opened three further stores, in Mallow, Kanturk and St Luke’s. Young Jack donned a butcher’s apron to take part in the official opening of the new store in Douglas. After the nineteenth century opening of the butcher’s shop in Mallow the Sheehan family also diversified into cattle dealing.
Cork: Corkmen complete Atlantic voyage
Peter Williams from Cork and Mike Jones from Cobh were among a crew of six who have successfully completed a voyage across the Atlantic from east to west, rowing for five thousand kilometres from Agadir in Morocco to Port St Charles in Barbados. Mike was a complete novice to rowing when he applied to join the crew but he is an experienced sailor and a member of the Irish Coast Guard. He also had access to Ireland’s only indoor rowing tank, at the University of Limerick where is works as operations manager. Peter was second in command aboard the Sara G, and each member of the crew was committed to twelve hours of rowing each day. The crossing took fifty-seven days and twenty hours.
Cork: The Irish Film Industry visits West Cork
Patrick McCabe will be coming to West Cork to join with other talented people involved in the Irish movie industry in celebrating The Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival. McCabe is a world renowned novelist and playwright, most famously known for his dark novel comedies turned movies such as “The Butcher Boy” and “Breakfast on Pluto”. He will join the ranks of Jeremy Irons, director Jim Sheridan, Chris O’Dell and Steve Cogan at the West Cork celebration of Short Films in Schull. The Festival will run from May 27-30 and is predicted to attract a large number of people to the area.
Derry: First lady presented with shoes by Derry designer
When the leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie, met First Lady Michelle Obama on St Patrick’s Day she presented her with a pair of shoes by a designer from Co. Derry. The black high heels decorated with Swarovski crystals were designed by Anita Flavin, based in the county, and were made in Italy. Anita’s shoes, which sell at around £200, have also been worn by Sharon Corr, Shirley Maclaine and Misha Barton. The handmade shoes presented to Michelle Obama are part of the Flavia range designed by Anita.
Derry: Two from Magherafelt up for awards
A restaurant and a pub in Magherafelt have both been named as regional winners for the Irish Restaurant Awards 2010. Sean Owens, who owns The Gardners in the town, was named as the Best Chef in the County at the awards ceremony in Belfast. Meanwhile the title of Best Gastro Pub in the County was awarded to local pub Mary’s. The two establishments were nominated by newspaper readers, members of the Restaurant Association of Ireland and by regional judging panels. Both Sean and Mary’s will now go forward to vie for the All-Ireland title to be announced in June at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.
Derry: Removal of pigeons means clock can strike again
Over the past four months Canavan Clockmakers in Lurgan have been working on the nineteenth century town hall clock from Limavady and last week it was returned to the town. According to Chris Canavan, a number of dead pigeons had to be removed from the Alexander Memorial Hall clock, as well as straw for nesting, and it has now been given a new mechanism, new gold leaf writing and new lighting. The cast iron casing and the faces of the clock are original. The clock is to be displayed outside the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.
Derry: Army homes on the market
In two months time more than three hundred ex-army homes in Ballykelly are expected to go on sale. The houses were purchased by the Dublin-based Merrion Property Group who have said the site will be landscaped and will include children’s playgrounds, retail units, a crèche and a leisure centre.
Donegal: Double celebration in Donegal town
In addition to celebrating St Patrick’s Day, parishioners in Donegal town also celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the consecration of St Patrick’s Memorial Church of the Four Masters. Present at the Mass, were relatives of those involved in the construction including Lizzie O’Donnell from Lettermacaward, whose father James Porter helped build the tower, and Charles Tindall from Bruckless who was representing his uncle, the architect. However, cwelebrant Fr. Peoples said he thought most fondly of the men from the area who had drawn the granite from Barnesmore by horse and cart.
Donegal: Rescued cannon on display in Downings
A cannon rescued from the wreck of the Laurentic in Lough Swilly is now on display at Downings Pier. The seven-tonne cannon was recovered by a team of local divers led by Kevin McShane after three years of preparatory dives. The Laurentic, carrying more than three thousand gold bars, was sunk off Malin Head in 1917 by German mines and over the next seven years most of the gold ingots were recovered. However twenty still remain covered up by rubble and according to Ray Cossum, whose family owns the wreck, it would cost as much to recover them as they are now worth. Some of the funding for the retrieval of the cannon was donated by the county council.
Donegal: Homecoming of a Rock Legend
Rory Gallagher is coming home. Ballyshannon will be welcoming home the Blues guitar legend but in bronze form. During the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival 2010 the sculpture by artist David Annand, which is in its final stages, will be revealed.
Donegal: Elvis’ bass guitarist to attend Frosses festival
Jerry Scheff, the bass guitarist who played with Elvis during the 1970s, as well as with Bob Dylan, The Doors and The Everly Brothers, is to attend the Frosses Bluestack Shoes Festival at the beginning of June. Two years ago the festival saw more than ninety Elvises climb Carnaween Mountain, raising funds for Temple Street Children’s Hospital in the process, and this year they are aiming to have more than a hundred complete the climb.
Down: Celtic Media Festival for Newry
For only the fourth time in its history the Celtic Media Festival will this year take place in the North. Now in its thirty-first year and last held in the North seven years ago, the three-day festival will centre on The Canal Court Hotel in Newry with the keynote address being delivered by Bob Collins, inaugural Chair of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. During the festival Bronze Torcs of Excellence will be presented in twenty-one categories to celebrate the best in digital media, film, radio and television among the Celtic diaspora. The awards will be presented by Karen Kirby from the BBC and Dónal Mac Ruairí from RTE.
Down: Newry scouts celebrate centenary
While scouting in Ireland celebrated its centenary last year, the Newry group is one of only a very few in Ireland also to celebrate one hundred years in existence. The 1st Newry (Earl Kilmorey) Scout Group was named after the Earl after he allowed them to camp in his park .The celebration featured a a Community Fun Day at Cloghanramer Road on April 17th followed by a St George’s Day parade and Church Service on April 18.
Dublin: Iconic Joyce shop reopens
A shop mentioned in James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, which closed last year, has been reopened and is now being run by volunteers. In his book Joyce had Leopold Bloom stepping into Sweny’s Chemist on Lincoln Place to purchase a bar of lemon soap and to have some lotion made up. Sweny’s opened in the mid-nineteenth century and continued to operate as a chemist’s until its closure. Now reopened by volunteers, it is selling books as well as soap and a range of pharmaceutical products, and each Monday morning it also features readings from “Ulysses”.
Dublin: Plan for plaque for Dracula author
Dacre Stoker, who is the great-great nephew of Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula”, has initiated a campaign to have his illustrious ancestor honoured in the tradition of other Irish literary giants such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Mr Stoker is raising money for a memorial for Bram Stoker since he looks on the absence of such an item as an oversight. In two years time it will be the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death; the author was born in Clontarf, attended Trinity College Dublin and moved to London when he was thirty-one.
Dublin: Historic vessel comes full circle
When the original Asgard was used to bring rifles and ammunition to Dublin in 1914, the British Army occupied Collins Barracks, and the vessel’s history has now come full circle with the announcement that the restored vessel is to be on display in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Three years’ work, at a total cost of €600,000. has seen the yacht restored to its original condition, certainly externally where ninety per cent of the oak and pine have been retained on its deck and hull. The interior of the vessel, given to Erskine and Molly Childers as a wedding present by her parents, was removed when the Asgard became part of the Irish Navy, but this has been finished with new timber.
Fermanagh: New lake walk for Castle Coole
After months of reconstruction work by the National Trust, a new lake walk has been created at Castle Coole Demesne outside Enniskillen. The walk follows part of the original lake walk, created in the late eighteenth century, which has been out of use for a hundred years. In addition to providing changing vistas around the lake, the walk will also provide visitors with the opportunity to observe the abundant wildlife on the lake including mallard and tufted duck, heron, water hen, coot and kingfisher. The £30,000 lake project is part of a £170,000 investment in the Castle.
Fermanagh: James’ poems published at last
Not many writers have to wait as long as James McBryde to have their poems published, but just two weeks short of his ninety-ninth birthday the retired RUC officer’s “Off The Beaten Track” is now in print. James, who now lives in Drumragh Nursing Home in Omagh, spent most of his policing career in the village of Lack and many of his poems and short stories date from his time in the village. It was another village resident, Paddy Montague, a schoolboy at the time of James’ posting to Lack, who was instrumental in having the poems published, having been shown them when he paid him a visit.
Galway: Slight controversy over Freedom of City
While there has been general agreement among Galway councillors that Enda Ó Coineen, John Killeen and Eamon Conneely should be granted the Freedom of the City for their part in bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway, opinion is divided over the timing of the event. While Mayor Declan McDonnell would like to confer the honour at the annual Mayoral Ball in May, others feel this would politicise the gesture. Some of the councillors would like to see a separate ceremony held at St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, while others believe the conferring should take place when the Volvo Ocean Race returns to Galway in two years’ time.
Galway: Athletes from all over the world in Connemara
People from all over the world descended upon Connemara to take part in the Connemara International Marathon. More than three thousand runners tcame from twenty-two different countries. The event consists of a half marathon- 13.1 miles, a twenty-six mile marathon and an ultra marathon- 39.9 miles. The participants begin at Inagh Bridge and end in the village of Maam Cross, the route including the agonising Maam Valley know to locals as ‘The Hell of the West’.
Kerry: Memorial for Gleannaneenty Wood
On Good Friday a memorial is to be unveiled in Gleannaneenty Wood, close to the remains of the house where Robert Monteith was hidden in 1916 before his escape to America. Robert Monteith accompanied Sir Roger Casement from Germany in the ill-fated Aud and left him at McKenna’s Fort before heading for Tralee with another man, Daniel Bailey. Monteith evaded capture and eventually managed to make his way to Liverpool and then on the the United States.
Kildare: Sculpture; Beauty or Grotesque?
There have been mixed opinions of late among the people of Kildare after a new statue was erected at the Ballymany roundabout. The sculpture depicting Fionn MacCumhaill and his two hounds was sculpted by Lynne Kirkham of Greenmantle Studio, Tipperary. The piece has been described by some people as ‘unattractive and rusty’ but welcomed warmly by others.
Kilkenny: Historic march through castle gates
A historic march took place through the gates of Kilkenny Castle last weekend when army veterans from both sides of the border joined forces in a parade hosted by the Kilkenny branch of The Veterans of the Island of Ireland Association. Among those taking part were vice-chairman of the local branch Paddy Horohan, and Harry Lawlor from St Kieran’s Crescent. Other local veterans taking part included Paddy O’Meara, Martin Barrett, Mick Dawson, Mick Furlong and Bernard O’Donovan. The aim of the march, which was accompanied by the Kilkenny City and District Pipe Band, was to foster principles of comradeship among veterans throughout the island of Ireland.
Kilkenny: Mullinavat welcomes back its village street
The opening of the new M9 motorway between Knocktopher to Waterford is set to restore to the villagers of Mullinavat their village street. According to Anne Matthews of the village post office, the diversion of all the cars and lorries from the road through the village will make such a difference that some locals are suggesting they hold a street party to celebrate. The new motorway will also make it easier for deliveries to be made in Mullinavat and for local people to find parking places; one man had complained that it took him fifteen minutes to park his car just to buy a stamp.
Kilkenny: President’s direct descendant lives in Kilkenny
Although it was believed that there were no direct descendants of Bishop John Kearney, the sixth generation uncle of President Barack Obama, it has now emerged that a descendant through the female line is living just a few miles from Kilkenny city. Jane de Montmorency Wright has confirmed that she is the great-great-great granddaughter of Rose Kearney, the daughter of Church of Ireland Bishop of Ossory John Kearney. She is turn has two daughters and a son, all of whom are married with children, so there is little chance of the link with President Obama’s ancestor being broken in the near future.
Kilkenny: National award for Helen’s cheese
Helen Finnegan began making cheese six years ago on her husband Robert’s family farm in Stoneyford, and she has now received one of the top awards from the Irish Food Writers’ Guild. It was Helen’s Knockdrinna Farmhouse Sheep’s Cheese that took the award, a cheese she began making in response to consumer demand.
Laois: Revival of Passion Play in Ballylinan
Despite fears that the recession and an increase in population may put paid to the traditional staging of the Passion Play in Ballylinan village hall, it went ahead and involvied some two hundred residents both old and new. Staged in 1992, 2000 and 2005, each play has been produced by local teacher Sheila Graham, whose granddaughter Kate Graham is the youngest of the performers.
Leitrim: Another walk down ‘memory lane’
A fifth in the series of “Down Memory Lane – A Window on Manorhamilton’s Past” is taking place in the town; one session took place in the Bee Park Community Centre last Monday and a second will be held there on the coming Monday night. The sessions look at Manorhamilton as it was in the mid-twentieth century and this series is focusing on Main Street. It is hoped that people will contribute their memories so that all those who lived along Main Street at the time can be named, and even those unable to attend have been asked to write down their memories.
Limerick: Seaplane mooted for Limerick
If an application lodged with the City Council last week is successful, Limerick might have a new fast link with both Galway and the Aran Islands in future. Harbour Air Ireland hopes to provide facilities for the berthing of a sea plane on the Shannon in front of the Clarion Hotel, with floating pontoons, mooring anchors and an access gangway. The departure lounge for the service would be located in the foyer of the hotel, with passengers travelling to Foynes, Galway or the Aran Islands. The company would eventually like to see terminals established in Athlone, Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Nenagh, with the main base at Mountshannon in Co. Clare.
Limerick: Market becomes all-weather venue
The Limerick City Milk Market, which dates from the mid-nineteenth century, has now become an all-weather venue with the installation of a canopy on a central support column standing seventy-nine feet in height. The column was brought by road from Rosslare and installed at the market to support the canvas canopy, which weighs almost two tonnes and covers an area of half an acre. The Milk Market is due to reopen later this year after a €2m refurbishment and it is hoped that it will become a popular venue for special events such as food fairs, classical concerts and Christmas markets.
Limerick: Mayor calls for employment of Irish chefs
Mayor of Limerick Kevin Kiely has called on the London firm appointed as caterers for an Adare Manor golf pro-am to use unemployed Irish chefs for the occasion. The JP McManus Invitation golf Pro-Am banquet will take place in Adare at the beginning of July and is to be catered by Fait Accompli. Sources within the industry estimate that the event could provide one hundred and fifty catering workers with employment for four days and Mayor Kiely. The same company catered for the wedding of JP McManus’ daughter to Cian Foley and hired large numbers of Irish chefs and catering staff for the occasion.
Limerick: County claims iconic drink
In calling on the caterers at Shannon Airport to train their staff in the way to make Irish coffee, Co. Clare councillor Pat McMahon claimed that the airport was where the first one was made by Jim Sheridan. However Margaret O’Shaughnessy, director of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, begs to differ. While agreeing that Shannon Airport was the birthplace of Irish coffee she points out that up to October 1945 Foynes was officially known as Shannon Airport. It was there that chef Joe Sheridan was working in the restaurant under the late Brendan O’Regan when he made the world’s very first Irish coffee.
Longford: Legan man brings home recitation award
Liam Butler from Legan had what he described as one of his toughest competitions yet when he took part in the All-Ireland Readoiri competition in the recitation category in Limerick, but he still managed to bring home the All-Ireland title. Five years ago the Newport man, who was representing the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise in the competition run by the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, won both the Readoiri title and the All-Ireland Scor award. He paid tribute to the support from family and friends which included this year a busload of people from Legan who accompanied Liam to Limerick.
Louth: Further concern over Monasterboice
A conservation study carried out by an archaeological company has confirmed fears that the famous high crosses of Monasterboice are under severe threat of erosion. Already a noticeable crack has appeared in the elaborate Muiredach’s cross and further erosion of the sandstone will cause irreparable damage. It has been suggested that the crosses should be housed in a new visitors’ centre, with exact replicas of the crosses placed on the original site.
Louth: Unique festival for Togher
The first festival of its kind in Ireland is due to take place on the Dunany Estate near Togher over the May bank holiday weekend. Vantastival will be open to everyone but will particularly cater for those arriving on motor scooters or in camper vans. Already more than sixty bands are lined up for the event including Kila, Jack L, the Dublin City Ramblers and local band The Fontanels. More unusual events will feature, among them a camper van cook-off and a scrapheap challenge during which two old camper vans will be renovated before being raffled for local charities.
Mayo: Bellringing ceremony in Lahardane
On Thursday of last week, in the early hours of the morning, the village of Lahardane in Addergoole was enlivened by the ringing of bells, the reciting of poetry and the singing of songs of emigration. The event marks the village’s association with the RMS Titanic which sank at 2.20am on the morning of April 15 1912. On board were fourteen people from Lahardane, three men and eleven women, and of these only three of the women survived. At the bell tower of St Patrick’s Church three slow knells for each of the eleven lost, and fast peals for the three survivors will be rung, with some of the bellringers being direct descendants of those who died that day.
Mayo: Ballina bridge to have a name
It seems that the name for the new pedestrian bridge in Ballina first suggested by Councillor Michelle Mulherin last autumn is the popular choice by the people of the town. Mulherin suggested the bridge honour former president Mary Robinson.
Mayo: Cross returns to Cong
For the first time in one hundred and seventy years, the twelfth century Cross of Cong has been returned to the county and is now on display at the National Museum of Country Life in Castlebar. The processional cross was made in Roscommon for Turlough O’Connor, High King of Ireland, and was sold to a mathematician by parish priest Father Michael Waldron in 1839. It was given to the Royal Academy thirty years later and one previous attempt was made to bring it back to Cong when Father Patrick Lavelle attempted unsuccessfully to steal it the following year. The cross is made of oak and covered in gold, silver, copper, bronze, brass and enamel.
Meath: Another bid for a Trim theatre
Although inactive in recent years, Cluain an Dúchas in Trim has now reformed and is working towards the establishment of a theatre and arts space in the town. Originally set up fifteen years ago, the group includes the Meath Writers’ Group, Carney School of Dance, Trim Drama Group, Scurlogstown Olympiad, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and Trim Musical Society. Over the years they raised €111,000 and chairperson Danny O’Brien reports that they are now hoping to enlist the co-operation of Trim Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. The eventual aim is to provide both a theatre and arts centre, and a teach ceol.
Meath: Council decides to return artefacts
Kells Town Council has decided to comply with a request from the National Museum of Ireland to return to the museum items which have been on loan to the Kells Heritage Centre. The centre in the former courthouse has closed, leading to the request, and among the items to leave the town are St Patrick’s Bell Shrine and the Clogher Cross. The councillors hope that by complying with the request the National Museum will be open to lending the items once again if and when the heritage centre is up and running again. Bord Fáilte is willing to provide funding towards the refurbishment of the Kells Heritage Centre.
Meath: Mercy sisters celebrate centenary in Navan
One hundred years ago this year the Sisters of Mercy began providing primary education in Navan and a series of events has been organised to mark the occasion. President Mary McAleese will visit the school early next month and this is to be followed in the same week by a reunion of past pupils and teachers in the school assembly hall. A book is to be published which will chronicle the school’s activities over the years, and the celebrations will culminate in a Mercy Day Mass in St Mary’s Church in Navan in September.
Monaghan: Peace labyrinth at Lough Muckno
The peace project Hands Together had its finale at Lough Muckno recently when people from around the county gathered to build a peace Labyrinth from willow over a four-day period. Smaller willow sculptures have been constructed throughout Monaghan involving some eighty people in five separate groups at Ballybay, Bawn, Clones, Carrickmacross and Monaghan town. Financed through the Peace III Programme and the Monaghan Peace III partnership, the Labyrinth will be put into the care of the Tidy Towns Committee for its maintenance. Labyrinths are recognised internationally as symbols of inner peace.
Offaly: Clara store reaches golden years next year
Next year the Baggot family will celebrate fifty years of being in business in Clara. In 1961 Michael and Elizabeth Baggot bought the bar and grocery from the McGlynns and the family has been running the two businesses ever since. Although Michael Baggot died in 1998, his widow Elizabeth is still working well into her eighties, and she is assisted by her son Desmond and his two sons; Deasún works in the grocery while his brother Aaron helps to run the bar. The Baggots also give back to their local community by sponsoring Clara GAA club.
Offaly: County’s castles to be chronicled
Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow has announced the forthcoming publication of a book which will give details of the many castles within the county as well as reconstruction drawings dating from the seventeenth century. During research for the project a map of the county was discovered in Paris which had been stolen by pirates in the seventeenth century. The book is to be launched by local author John Feehan, who will also launch a book on geology at the same event. The Heritage Office also has plans to restore the pilgrims’ road from Ballycumber to Clonmacnois as a cycle route.
Offaly: Easter egg hunts and games in the sun
A great day was had by all in Tullamore on Easter Sunday. The first ever Family Fun Day was held at the Tullamore Town Park to promote family activity and the facilities the park has to offer. There was a whole host of activities for both the children and the parents to enjoy including an Easter egg hunt, bouncy castle and the musical sounds of Clara Town Band. The day was organised by Tullamore County Council, Offaly County Council and the Offaly County Childcare Committee. Shinrone Playground volunteers were on the beat collecting money to build a similar facility in their town.
Roscommon: Toweys to gather in May
Over the middle weekend in May members of the Towey clan will be gathering in Ballaghaderreen to enjoy a range of activities from coach tours of the surrounding area, home to the Towey clan, to genealogical discussions. Mass for deceased members of the family will be celebrated by Father Tommy Towey in Derrinacartha church, while the other activities will centre on Durkin’s Pub. A social will be held in the Social Hall above the pub, with music by the John Towey Band, and visiting members will be greeted by clan Taoiseach, Mike Towey.
Roscommon: Folklorists honoured in Curraghboy and Kiltoom
A folklorist and the man from whom he collected much of his material are both the subject of honours, with a talk from local historian Willie Gacquin to mark the first anniversary of the late Tom Kelly from Grange Curraghboy, and the proposal to erect a plaque in Kiltoom in memory of folklorist Jim Delaney from Hodson Bay. The latter, a member of the Irish Folklore Commission, gathered much information from Tom Kelly and the plan to erect a plaque to his memory was made by Tom Harney of the Kiltoom Heritage Group. Meanwhile Willie Gacquin announced that a lecture will be delivered in memory of Tom Kelly by a member of the Folklore Commission.
Sligo: Sligo campaigns for return of Markievicz flag
The members of the Markievicz Memorial Committee in Sligo are campaigning to have returned to the county the banner of Na Fianna scouts which was taken from the home of Countess Constance Markievicz while she was in Kilmainham Jail after the Rising. The Imperial War Museum in London, where the banner hangs at present, has offered to loan it for exhibitions in Ireland but the committee members want to see it returned permanently. It was Countess Markievicz who founded Na Fianna scouts in 1909 and it is felt appropriate that the banner should be in Sligo in time for the centenary of the Rising.
Sligo: Numbers on pillars are a boon for rescuers
Every year people get into difficulty when trying to return to the mainland from Coney Island, and the RNLI station on Sligo Bay has to come to the rescue. Lifeboat Operations manager Willie Murphy has commended the county council for a measure which will make his team’s job much easier and improve safety. There are a number of pillars placed along the route from the island to the mainland, and the county council has now had a number painted on each one. Now those who are caught by the rising tide and who take refuge on the pillars, can tell the emergency services which pillar they are on, and so make the rescue operation much speedier.
Sligo: Free wi-fi for everybody
Sligo will be the first town in Ireland to follow the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds by providing free wi-fi for visitors to the Sligo town centre. Freecom, the local internet provider, will be working with the group behind this initiative, Save Our Shops, to bring this service to the locals and visitors alike. The idea is that the unique project will help bring more people to Sligo town. The project, which was originally suggested by Phelim O’Neill of the Fair Dealers Campaign, is backed by local businessmen, politicians and members of the public.
Sligo: Plans for concerts at Lissadell
The owners of Lissadell House, Edward Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy, are quietly making plans to hold four concerts at the former home of Countess Markievicz in July and August. Already the couple have consulted gardaí, who are said to be happy with parking and transport arrangements, and they have also liaised with two environmental specialists who have confirmed that the events will have minimal impact on local wildlife. One name that has been suggested as a headline act is Leonard Cohen, but it is reported that no acts have as yet been booked for the four concerts. The concerts are being promoted by POD and will accommodate up to ten thousand people each night.
Tipperary: Dive centre opens in Portroe
The first inland dive centre in the country has opened at one of the old quarries in Portroe, used for a number of years as an unofficial diving centre. The new centre has been set up by diver Barbara O’Driscoll from Nenagh, whose grandfather Barney O’Driscoll bought the quarry almost ninety years ago. Facilities include a concrete slipway, access and training platforms, a rescue boat, changing facilities and a snack bar. Divers will be able to descend to depths from ten to forty metres with visibility from three to fifteen metres, and Barbara hopes to open up a diving school at the centre at some time in the future.
Tipperary: Brothers in arms to be honoured in Nenagh
Two Nenagh brothers who were decorated by the British and US military in the nineteenth century are to be honoured in their native town, possibly in two years time. The year 2012 has been chosen as it marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, after which Timothy Donoghue was presented with the US Medal of Honour. It was five years earlier that his older brother, Patrick, earned himself the Victoria Cross for bravery on the battlefield in India, with both brothers having rescued fallen comrades from the field of battle. Efforts are now being made to see whether the brothers have any living relatives in the Nenagh area.
yrone: Dungannon choir celebrates 75 years
When church organists Henrietta Byrne and Hilda Irwin formed the Dungannon Choral Society seventy-five years ago, they were in fact reviving a society that had originally been established at the beginning of the First World War. To mark the anniversary the society is staging a special concert this weekend in Dungannon Leisure Centre under conductor Meta Bell MBE. In addition to choir members, children from Dungannon Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School will also be taking part. Composer and musician Ivan Black has written a special anniversary song based on Siegfried Sassoon’s poem ‘Everyone Sang’.
Waterford: Dedicated gardener celebrates landmark birthday
Ambrose Congreve CBE of Mount Congreve in Kilmeaden, whose family have been based in the area since the eighteenth century, has just celebrated his one hundred and third birthday. The last of his line, Ambrose has created world renowned gardens which are home to the largest collection of rhododendrons in Europe. He began his work on the gardens at the age of eleven and his dedication has been rewarded with the Veitch Memorial Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society, and the medal for the “greatest garden in the world” from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He has also been conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Trinity College Dublin.
Westmeath: Ancient festival to be revived in May
One of the country’s oldest festivals is to be revived on May Day when a fire will be lit on the Hill of Uisneach, between the villages of Ballymore and Loughanavally. Other fires will then be lit on the summits of some twenty hills in seventeen counties, and the organisers are looking to complete the circle with a fire in each county. The festival was known as Bealtaine and this year’s event will feature music from Kila, Sharon Shannon, Mundy and Jerry Fish. In addition to music there will be displays from artists and craftspeople, and a market village will be set up on the shores of Lough Lugh for locally produced food and drink.
Wicklow: Elizabeth defies the odds
One person whose lifespan has obviously not been affected by her habit of smoking is Elizabeth Nolan from Baltinglass, who celebrated her one hundredth birthday last week. Now resident in Baltinglass District Hospital, Elizabeth was raised in Tuckmill and married local man Joe Nolan. In addition to enjoying a bottle of Guinness, she also smoked for almost ninety years, having begun at the age of eight and giving them up just four years ago. At her party Elizabeth was joined by her three surviving children, nineteen grandchildren, forty great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
Wicklow: Greystones woman wins stew competition
The amateur section of the inaugural Irish Stew competition, held in Sligo recently as part of the SO Sligo culture and food festival, was won by Janet Devin from Greystones. The housewife and mother of three, a former office worker, was up against ten other finalists in the competition and overcame them all to be named amateur Irish Stew Champion. Janet enjoys cooking so much that she is at present undertaking a sixteen-week course in culinary skills at Fáilte Ireland’s Amiens Street centre in Dublin.
Wicklow: Bank Holiday jazz for Bray
For the eleventh consecutive year the Bray Jazz Festival will take place in the town over the May Bank Holiday weekend. The festival was described last year by All About Jazz as “one of the very best small jazz festivals in Europe”. This year’s event will included a tribute to gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt to mark his centenary. Also featuring in the line-up are British guitarist John Etheridge, Austrian Wolfgang Muthspiel and Wayne Krantz and his trio. Jazz musicians from Belgium, Britain, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg and Norway will descend on Bray for the event, while Solo Cissokho from Senegal and the Trio Correntes from Brazil will also be in town.