Greetings & Blessings to all,
We hope you will enjoy these bits and bobs of news  from all over the country. As with the headlines and news on our web site, we purposely avoid murder and mayhem, opting instead for whatever we can find  in the way of Irish traditions, customs and culture. We also try to avoid repeating news we've already published in our daily updates. Here's the URL if you aren't familiar with that feature on the site:
We publish  links to seven stories gathered every morning from all the major Irish newspapers. These links are kept for two weeks just in case you can't visit the site every day.
Meanwhile, on with the county news. Thre’s a lot of it, so from now on we will be presenting it week by week.
October 7 
Antrim: Top farming award for Ballymena brothers
John and Jim Davidson, beef and sheep farmers from Shilnavogie near Ballymena, have taken first prize in a competition designed to reward farmers who incorporate wildlife-friendly features in their farms. The brothers were praised for their sensitive habitat management which has seen endangered species including lapwing and curlew breeding on their farm. John and Jim say that the ponds and reed bed filtration systems also make good economic sense. They were presented with their award and £1,000 prize by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Armagh: Octogenarian Jim joins poker contest
Jim Brady from Lurgan took part in his first Texas hold ‘em poker tournament last weekend, at the age of eighty-nine. Jim, who has been playing poker for years, had only taken up Texas hold ‘em recently. He travelled to Killarney with his sons Jim and Paul to take part in the Ladbrokes Irish Poker Festival. They were joined by another son, Thomas, who had flown in from England. Although Jim bowed out of the competition on Saturday morning he found the whole experience very enjoyable, and Thomas stayed in contention until Sunday.                                              
Carlow: Big reunion for St Leo’s girls
Out of a total of one hundred and twenty-five former students, seventy turned up last weekend for a twenty-year reunion for St Leo’s College. The event took place at the Seven Oaks Hotel and was largely organised by past pupil Siobhan Doyle. The seventy were from the six Leaving Certificate classes of 1989 to 1991, who gathered for what was the school’s largest ever reunion. Siobhan just decided one day that there should be such an event and, with the help of Sister Kathleen, looked up the old school rolls and started contacting people through Facebook.
Cavan: Cavan Mart reopens
Last Friday saw the reopening of Cavan Mart, which closed in December of last year. At its closure the mart had been offered for leasing but no deal was completed though there were a number of interested parties. However the board of management of Poles Co-op Creamery decided to reopen the mart as a subsidiary of the company. The co-op has been trading successfully for more than one hundred years and their decision to take over the mart has been very good news for farmers in the area. For the month of October commission on all sales has been reduced by half.
Clare: Reunion for cousins separated by tragedy
An RTE documentary chronicles the way in which Eugene McMahon from Connolly was reunited with cousins in America after a tragedy separated them. Mary Hayes married Italian-American Frank Trainor and they had three children, Robert, Muriel and John. When the couple separated in 1942 Frank murdered his wife before killing himself, and their children were brought up by his family. Now, following detailed investigations, retired headmaster Eugene has met Robert and Muriel at Muriel’s home in New York; John died last year. For many years the Trainors were unaware they had Irish connections and later decided not to seek out their Irish relatives for fear they would blame Frank Trainor for his actions.
Cork: Historic ceremony in Youghal
A ceremony that took place in Youghal recently marked the first time that members of the Baptist Church were baptised in the sea in the east Cork town. The two recipients, Philip Mulcahy from Ardmore, Co. Waterford and sixth-year student Viki Nagy, originally from Hungary, attended a short service in the forecourt of the Mall Arts Centre before being fully immersed for a brief period in the sea. Performing the baptism were Ernie Tromsness and Mervyn Scott, leaders of Youghal Baptist Church. The church was established last June and Philip and Viki are the first to be baptised as new members.
Derry: Chance to zip across the river
Adventurous people are being given the chance to ‘zip’ across the River Foyle in Derry while raising funds for the Foyle Search & Rescue charity. The event is to take place in mid-November when those taking part will set off from a point at the Prehen Boathouse and travel along a thirteen-hundred foot wire suspended one hundred and eighty feet above the river. The adventure is limited to those over the age of fourteen and weighing up to seventeen stone, and each will be asked to raise £140 in sponsorship as well as paying a £10 registration fee.
Donegal: Ballyshannon man sets up new dating website
When Dermot Lawless from Ballyshannon was successful in meeting his fiancée, Inishowen woman Susan Heaney, through a dating website, he decided to set up a unique website devoted to GAA fans. According to Dermot, one dating website offers to match compatibility using twenty-nine features, but he believes that a shared interest in GAA games is sufficient proof of compatibility. The website,, has been up for just over a week but already has hundreds of people on its lists looking for the perfect mate. Dermot, who runs Aurora Web Design, believes online dating is the way of the future for couples to meet.
Down: For sale: one pet zebra
Hugh Simpson from Comber bought his pet zebra from a man in England eighteen months ago but now he is putting it up for sale as he finds the four-year-old gelding too expensive to keep. In order to own an exotic pet in the North, people must buy an expensive licence and the pensioner can no longer afford this. He placed an advertisement on the web and there has been some interest in purchasing Verry, for whom he is hoping to receive £3,500. It is not possible for Hugh to sell the animal to a zoo since they do not deal with individual traders.
Dublin: Not quite a house of cards
It was a house of cardboard rather than a house of cards that was constructed with the involvement of more than thirteen hundred residents of Foxrock over last weekend. Using seven thousand cardboard boxes, the twenty metre square house took up seventy car park spaces in the grounds of the Children’s Sunshine Home on Leopardstown Road. The aim of the project was to raise funds for the LauraLynn House, the country’s first Children’s Hospice which is to be constructed in the grounds of the Home. According to local pries Father John Bracken, the unusual construction project raised some €36,000 for the fund.
Fermanagh: New walks opened in Geopark
The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, jointly operated by Fermanagh District Council and the Forest Service, now has a number of walking routes which were officially opened by Minister Michelle Gildernew last week. Following last year’s introduction of the Recreation and Social Use of Forests Strategy, walking trails have been opened in a number of areas including Ballintempo, Belmore, Big Dog, Carrigan and Ely Lodge along the shores of Lower Lough Erne. A further nine walks are also being developed by the partnership and it is hoped that these will be open to the public by next year.
Galway: 300-year-old fair draws usual crowds
The three-hundred-year-old Ballinasloe Fair and Festival was officially opened last weekend by Paddy O’Gorman of RTE, who spoke of its continuing strength despite the economic downturn. While sales were initially slow, the standard of horses for sale was high and business was expected to improve over the nine days of the festival. Festival chairperson Brendan Bradley praised the local farming and business community for their support of the annual event, since it has no direct source of income. It was, however, expected to be worth some €9m to the local economy.
Kerry: Former islander establishes bursary
Ninety-year-old Micheál Ó Cearna, who left the Great Blasket Island in 1937 and emigrated to Springfield, Massachusetts eleven years later, has established a bursary for students from the Kerry Gaeltacht. The Sparántacht an Bhlascaoid will be awarded to a Leaving Certificate student who has sat the exam through Irish, who is in receipt of an Irish language grant, and who has achieved a minimum of a B1 in Irish. Each candidate will also be interviewed and should choose a university course which has some bearing on the language and history of the Blaskets. Last year Micheál Ó Cearna was conferred with an honorary doctorate by NUI Maynooth for his work in promoting the Irish language.
Kildare: It’s never too late to learn to drive
Kitty Gabbett has spent years being driven around by members of her family, since she never learnt to drive, but when her son Bob suggested she might take lessons she jumped at the chance. The eighty-two-year-old from Kilcullen began her lessons at the Leinster Driving Campus near Maynooth, a purpose-built driving course, and is now well on the way to being ready for her test. Kitty has not yet bought a car but says her family is on the look-out for one for her, though she has insisted that it must be an automatic.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny car dealer takes quality award
A Kilkenny car dealer located on the Waterford Road on the outskirts of the city has been named as one of only two Irish Volkswagen dealers to have earned the 2010 Volkswagen Service Quality Award. Laharts Garage was voted by its customers as delivering an exceptional quality of service, and principal dealer Denis Lahart travelled to Wolfsburg in Germany to receive his award at a gala event in the Volkswagen Automuseum. Prior to the awards ceremony he enjoyed a programme of driving events along with the other award recipients, who included Newmarket Motors in Cork.
Laois: Surprise inclusion for Mountmellick athlete
Ailish Dunne from Mountmellick had been training hard in a bid to be selected for the 2012 Paralympics in London, and was surprised when she was called up for the World Paralympic Championships which will be held in January of next year in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ailish, who has been blind since the age of nineteen, has been training with the paralympics for the past year and will represent Ireland in the shot put event. In the meantime she will be attending an indoor competition in Germany in December where she hopes to be able to assess her opposition. Also travelling to Christchurch is Garrett Culliton from Clonaslee, who will be competing in discus.
Leitrim: Concern expressed over state of courthouses
County Councillor Gordon Hughes has drawn to the attention of his fellow-councillors the state of two courthouses in the county. At the last meeting of the county council, he said that he had observed the rapid deterioration of the Ballinamore Courthouse through in part by vandalism, though the roof structure also gave cause for concern. In addition, Councillor Hughes told his colleagues of the level of decay now apparent at Manorhamilton’s former courthouse following its closure a number of years ago. The councillors have now called on a delegation from the Courts Service to answer questions on the future of the buildings, which are both listed.
Limerick: Film role for carriage driving champion
Paddy Hanley from Cooga, Doon, a former chairman of the Irish Carriage Driving Association and a champion carriage driver, has been in London taking part in the filming of the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. Paddy was asked to take part as he had done some work on a previous occasion for one of the executives associated with the film. Ten of his horses travelled by ferry to the set in Greenwich and Paddy will be seen driving a carriage with passengers Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. The film is due to be released in May of next year.
Longford: Cloncoose poet to be honoured
A committee has been formed, with members including Aidan Kelleher, Breege Bohan, Liz Rogan and Eileen Byrne, to honour a poet from Cloncoose in the parish of Gortletteragh who was renowned for his poetry and recitations. Patrick Higgins, who died in 1905, was renowned locally for his poetry and the committee is planning to gather all of his poems and recitations to be published in a book. They also propose to install a stone and a plaque at the site where Patrick Higgins lived in Cloncoose. The committee members are hoping that people will contribute any written or oral records of the poet’s work that they may have.
Louth: Further rejuvenation for Dundalk street
The group who set out to revitalise Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk have chalked up another win with the news that a supermarket is to be opened on the site of the old Toymaster premises. Businessman Damien Donegan will be at the head of this new venture, while the street has also seen the recent return of Hughes & Hughes bookshop, and the fashion accessory shop Paridize. In addition, a bridal shop is due to open in the premises formerly occupied by Dearey’s Menswear. The revitalisation of Clanbrassil Street has been led by local businessmen, Town Centre Manager Andrew Mawhinney, and the town council.
Mayo: Unusual discovery in breakfast fish
When Patrick Kilcoyne from Achill decided to have a coalfish for breakfast he did not expect to find a knife inside. But this is what happened when the Ashleam man was preparing the fish over the sink; as he cut the fish a two-inch long blue knife fell into the sink. It was a small flick knife and Patrick was intrigued to know how it had ended up inside the fish so he took it along to some fishermen who were gathered in Patten’s Bar in Derreen. However none of them had ever seen a knife like it and couldn’t tell Patrick what it might have been used for. The fish was part of a catch from near the Atlantic Shore which had been given to Patrick as a present.
Meath: New sculpture to be delivered by Christmas
A sculpture of two men trying to control a bull with a rope, which is at present in the workshop of sculptor Colin Grehan in Co. Galway, is due for delivery to Navan before Christmas. The limestone piece, weighing sixteen tons, has been in storage for seven years due to disagreement among town councillors, but it will now take its place on an elevated plinth in the Market Square. The sculpture will be surrounded by paving in a Celtic design and the installation will be completed with trees and seating, and surface lighting.
Monaghan: Priest given good send-off
Father Michael Jordan was given a good send-off last week when he completed nine years as a curate in the Carrickmacross parish. Parishioners were joined by civic authorities, community groups and representatives of a number of organisations in the Shirley Arms Hotel where Father Jordan received a number of gifts. Originally from Co. Mayo, he also spent nine years as a curate in Castleblayney parish and he is to stay within the county as he has been appointed curate in the neighbouring parish of Donaghmoyne.
Offaly: Canal walk in Tullamore
The Mental Health Association in Tullamore has organised a canal bank walk this weekend to celebrate World Mental Health Day. This is the second year of the event, with participants last year walking, running and jogging along the trail. This year people will gather in the car park opposite the Sacred Heart Secondary School on Sunday afternoon and they will have a chance for a break for refreshments along the way. Even more refreshments will then be served at the finish of the walk when everyone will gather in Hugh Lynch’s pub.
Roscommon: Plea from Boyle band
Pat Conroy, a committee member of Boyle Marching Band, has warned that the band might have appeared at its last event due to a shortage of musicians. Thirteen musicians, accompanied by five majorettes, played at the ‘Discover Boyle’ day last weekend, but four of the musicians are due to leave the town to go to college. The band does not teach music and therefore anyone joining needs to be able to play, especially drums, accordion or tin whistle. According to Pat, if they can get new members by Christmas or January at the latest then they will be ready to perform again in 2011, with a minimum of thirty members needed to make the band financially viable.
Sligo: Confusion over name of library
President Mary McAleese performed the official opening of the new library in the Institute of Technology, which is almost twice the size of the old one and has a number of new facilities including social learning and project areas. However the President received a petition from Sligo man David Mullins with regard to the name of the new library. It has been called after William Butler Yeats, but Mr Mullins points out that the Yeats Library is located in the Yeats Memorial Building on Hyde Bridge. He has suggested that the institute’s library be named after mathematician and physicist George Gabriel Stokes.
Tipperary: Second Style Festival in Clonmel
This coming week sees the start of the second Syle Clonmel Festival, which is to run over ten days until October 17. The festival has been nine months in the planning and the best of what the area has to offer will be highlighted by service providers, retailers and industrialists, who will all contribute on a voluntary basis. There are to be four major events during the ten days of the festival, including The Total Transformation Night and the Iconic Style Clonmel Fashion Show. According to the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, Tina Mulhearne, the festival is the town’s response to the recession.
Tyrone: One door closes while another opens
The selling of machinery at auction marked the final closure of the former Scotts Feeds mill on Mountjoy Road in Omagh, which first opened one hundred and sixty years ago. And according to former managing director Fred Charters, a developer has plans for a retail and leisure complex on both sides of the Mountjoy Road. The mill, now owned by Fane Valley Co-op, has built a new £18m animal feed mill on the Bankmore Industrial Estate on the outskirts of the town just off the Omagh-Ballygawley road. The move has safeguarded the more than forty jobs which had been based at the Mountjoy Road site.
Waterford: Tionól an Fhómhair for Ballyduff Upper
Next weekend will see the Tionól an Fhómhair festival taking place in the village of Ballyduff Upper, with the official opening being performed in the Carnegie Library by Irial Mac Múrchú, director of the An Rinn-based audio-visual production company Nemeton TV. The keynote address at this year’s event will be delivered by Pól Ruiséal, director of the Centre for Spoken Irish at University College Cork. There will be a varied programme of talks, demonstrations, workshops, music and dance, with all events taking place either in the Carnegie Library or in St Michael’s Hall.
Westmeath: Kilbeggan business wins county award
Critical Healthcare Ltd, which has been in operation in Kilbeggan for the past ten years, has received the Westmeath County Enterprise Board award. The company, which is based in the Comagh Business Park in the town, took the overall prize and will represent the county in the national final in Dublin next month. Critical Healthcare was founded by Seamus Reilly and Dr Ann Cusack and it provides medical supplies for ambulances. At the ceremony in the Greville Arms Hotel in Mullingar a new award was presented, the Entrepreneurial Spirit award that went to Maeve O’Healy Harte of MOHH Academy in Athlone.
Wexford: Official opening of eco-graveyard
The country’s first natural graveyard, at Woodbrook House near Killane, will be officially opened this coming weekend and already some one hundred plots have been purchased. An open day is to be held at the seven and a half acre site near the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains for people to learn more details of the scheme. The graveyard is approached by a two hundred metre driveway lined with chestnut trees and will have capacity for approximately five thousand plots. The eco-graveyard is run by The Green Graveyard Company, with graves being marked by native Irish trees and small wood or stone markers.
Wicklow: Hallowe’en fun for Arklow
Cairde le Cheile, an organisation formed five years ago in Arklow to promote social inclusion and to encourage artistic, voluntary and sporting events in the town, is gearing up for this year’s Hallowe’en celebrations. In collaboration with members of the local business community, the group will once again be behind a festival which will include a children’s parade and a fancy dress competition. The emphasis will be on involving the many cultures and nationalities now living in the town, while there will also be an opportunity for community groups to share information about their aims.
October 14
Antrim: Two miles to post a letter for villagers
Residents of Glenarm now have to travel the two miles to Carnlough in order to post a letter, following the removal of the village’s post box. The box had been set into the wall of the sub-post office on Toberwine Street and its removal follows the closure of the sub-post office six months ago following the resignation of the sub-postmaster. Responding to complaints about the sudden removal of the box, a Royal Mail spokesperson said they were seeking planning permission for an alternative venue for the post box. She also suggested that residents hand their letters to the postman for posting.
Armagh: Portadown to have ‘park for all’
A partnership comprising the Department of Social Development, the EU and Craigavon Borough Council will see major work carried out on the park in Portadown. The £7.2m project will include a large children’s play park, a garden trail which will reflect the history of McGredy’s Roses, and a lake. An entrance feature will he the base for full-time park rangers whose function will be to educate the public on the amenities available. It is expected that work will begin on the twenty-seven acre site once the tendering process is complete, and it is expected to be completed within two years.
Carlow: Survey shows Irish is strong in Carlow
A survey carried out in Carlow town has found that more than ninety per cent of those questioned claimed to have some level of Irish, while of the remainder more than half were born outside Ireland. “Survey on People’s Experience and Opinions of the Irish Language in Carlow 2010” questioned three hundred people in the town, which had one of the earliest Gaelscoils in the country. Gaelscoil Eoghain Ui Thuairisc opened almost thirty years ago while the secondary school, Gaelcholaiste Cheatharlach opened in 1990. Among those whose children have been educated through Irish is Sarah Clarke, who is married to a Spaniard.
Cavan: Two new exhibits for county museum
On loan from the National Museum of Ireland and Armagh Public Library are two artefacts which are to be on display in Cavan County Museum for ten days. From the National Museum comes The Breac Maedoc, or St Mogue’s Shrine, a bronze case dating from the ninth century which originally housed the saint’s relics and which was kept at Drumlane Abbey in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that the Bell of St Mogue, the second item on display, was given to him at his birth by St Killian. Before being moved to the Armagh Public Libray it was kept on Mogue’s Island for centuries.
 Clare: Florida bottle found on Clare beach
A bottle thrown into the sea off the coast of Florida found its way to Clare where it was picked up by a student on holiday in Kilbaha. The bottle was found by Adam Flannery from Athlone who took it to local bar owner Bernie Keathing for help with opening it. There was a note inside to the effect that the bottle was part of an oceanography project and the Flannery family emailed the high school from which it had been one of one hundred and fifty bottles dispatched into the sea. It had taken the wine bottle more than a year to make the three thousand seven hundred mile journey.
Cork: Triple award for Mallow nursing home
The Bridhaven Nursing Home in Mallow has received a total of three quality awards, the first nursing home in Ireland or Britain to achieve the distinction. Opened twenty-one years ago and owned and run for the past six years by Paul and Maryclare Rochford, the nursing home holds the ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, and the OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Standard. Last year the Rochfords added an extension to the building and earlier this year opened the Clyda Suite for dementia patients.
Derry: Time capsule found in city
Restoration work has been carried out recently at the Guildhall in Derry city and in the course of the work a time capsule was uncovered. The capsule dates from the time that work started on the new city hall in August 1887 and contains a selection of coins from the period, copies of newspapers and other documents. The capsule was found under the foundation stone of the Guildhall and, according to the head of museum services in the city Roisin Doherty, the discovery emphasises the human side to the story of the building.
Donegal: Major role for Moville boy
Art Parkinson from Moville has landed a part in the new television series “Game of Thrones”, in which he will act along with Sean Bean. The series, based on the novels of George RR Martin, is to be filmed in Belfast, Malta and Morocco, and the eight-year-old from Moville was in competition with young actors from England and Scotland for the part. A pupil at Gaelscoil Cois Feabhail, Art had his own trailer on the film set, complete with a television and fridge. His mother, Movania, is an actress who runs her own drama school.
Down: Reunion of bakery workers in Newry and Mourne
A reunion is to be held later this month for former colleagues of McCann’s bakery in Newry, at Newry and Mourne Museum which is the former site of the bakery. The bakery was run by five generations of the family before being taken over by Irwin’s in the 1990s and it features in a permanent display at the museum. When restoration work was taking place in the past decade a number of artefacts were found including a message from employees from sixty years ago, and these will be on display at the reunion. Among those attending the event will be Peter McSherry and former manager Gerry Murphy.
Dublin: One last look and Dave makes discovery
Dave Grennan was about to go to bed when he decided to take one last look through the powerful telescope he has installed in an observatory at his Raheny home. And he has now recorded the most significant discovery every made by an Irish astronomer, a supernova exploding star which was the first to be discovered from Irish soil. The supernova, designated 2010IK, was officially confirmed by international astronomy authorities, and software developer Dave and his wife Carol opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate their discovery.
Fermanagh: Share centre undaunted by floods
Although it was devastated by flooding almost a year ago, the leisure centre at the Share Centre in Lisnaskea reopened last week after major repair works had been carried out. In last November’s floods, when three months’ worth of rain fell in three weeks, Lough Erne overflowed into the swimming pool at the centre. Last week’s official opening of the facility was carried out by Dame Mary Peters, though Assembly member Tommy Gallagher has warned of further problems, since an adjacent caravan park was again under water over the last few weeks.
Galway: Christmas market for Galway City
Galway city is to have a Christmas market this year, similar to those held in Germany and other European countries. In a few weeks work will begin on the construction of some one hundred wooden chalets on Eyre Square and the market, which is due to run for four weeks, is expected to attract up to 300,000 shoppers to the city. Local hotels have already put together ‘stay and shop’ packages for prospective customers. The market, which met with some opposition from local traders, is being organised by the Galway City Business Association.
Kerry: Bottle in graveyard becomes museum exhibit
A bottle found by gravedigger John Dennehy at the graveyard at Kilbonane, Beaufort has now found a permanent place in the Kerry County Museum. John found the bottle while tending his parents’ grave and realised it was very old. It bore the words “JJ Harrington Steam Factory Tralee” and can be traced back to the factory which produced gases for mineral waters, making it some one hundred and forty years old. It is presumed that the bottle was brought to the cemetery as part of the tradition of bringing holy water to bless the graves.
Kildare: Flags were out for Rathangan principal
When Joseph Lynch, principal of Rathangan National School, arrived at the school on his last day he was greeted by banners and flags to mark the occasion. Joseph, a Kerryman, has been teaching in the school for thirty-five years, twenty-two of them as principal. For two hours during the day the staff and pupils were joined by parents for the cutting of a celebratory cake. Tributes were paid to him by Michelle McComm of the parents’ association and Maureen Hamilton, chairperson of the board of management.
 Kilkenny: Major event for Cillin Hill
The 2011 All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing Championships have been confirmed for Cillin Hill indoor arena over the June Bank Holiday weekend next year. Hosted by Clara GAA Club, the event is expected to attract up to fifteen thousand visitors from at home and overseas. The championships themselves will be run alongside a family-focused programme to include arts and crafts exhibitions, information seminars, music, entertainment and artisan foods. According to event co-ordinator Marie Doyle the event is expected to give a €4m boost to the local economy.
Laois: Portlaoise man draws Golden Ticket
A Portlaoise resident has become one of nine lucky winners of a promotion by Lidl Ireland to mark the tenth anniversary of its trading in this country. Roderick Maforimbo, a regular shopper at his local branch of the supermarket, found his Golden Ticket Scratch Card in a box of cereal and when he scratched it he found the three Lidl ten-year logos that meant he had won €1,000. There are only nine tickets in the entire country that will pay out €1,000 so Roderick counts himself very lucky.
Leitrim: Official opening of new church gallery
The official opening and blessing of the new gallery in St Mary’s Church in Drumreilly took place last week when Bishop Leo O’Reilly was welcomed to the parish by parish priest of Carrigallen and Drumreilly Father Denis Murray. A large congregation was in attendance as Bishop O’Reilly blessed the new gallery, among them Sisters of Mercy from Ballinamore who had donated the carved oak panelling on the front of the gallery and behind the altar. They had also donated the sanctuary lamp. Following the Mass refreshments were served in the community centre.
Limerick: Librarian looks forward to retirement
Brid Frawley, who is retiring after serving for thirty-eight years as librarian at University of Limerick, says she is looking forward to a new chapter in her life. Originally joining the college when it was the National Institute for Higher Education, Brid was one of those who took to the streets to join the campaign to have the NIHE redesignated as a university. Originally from Newcastle West, Brid worked with the county library until her marriage when she had to leave her post as the marriage ban was still in place.
Longford: Unique map launched
This week saw the launch in the County Library of a unique map compiled by two businessmen from Longford who have an interest in historical maps. It has taken Michael Lynch and Enda Flynn eighteen months to compile their map of some nine hundred townlands in the county showing the different parishes, enlisting the help of Dublin cartographer Sean Moran. They also had to work out what each townland name meant in both Irish and English, and were given a €5,000 grant by Foras na Gaeilge to complete the work.
Louth: Cheese title comes to Castlebellingham
The title of Supreme Cheese, awarded at the inaugural Irish Cheese Awards at the RDS in Dublin last week, was given to the Bellingham Blue cheese, made at the Glyde Farm at Mansfieldstown in Castlebellingham. More than one hundred cheeses were entered for the title and Peter Thomas of Glyde Farm welcomed the award, commenting that it not only recognised the hard work that went into producing the cheese, but it would also have a positive effect on the Glyde Farm brand. The Thomas family have been making the blue cheese for the past ten years.
Mayo: Councillor calls for link to Great Western Greenway
Chairperson of Iompar Castlebar Therese Ruane is calling for the Town Council to consider the possibility of developing a walking and cycling link with the Great Western Greenway. Her proposal would see an initial trail established to link Lough Lannagh and Bilberry Lake, and Islandeady in the first phase, while the second phase would see the link extended to the Greenway. Councillor Therese Ruane is also hoping that trails can be developed in the one hundred acres of woodland in Rehins Woods, in collaboration with Coillte.
Meath: Earthwork discovered due to planning objection
A report on a significant earthwork discovered at Crewbane has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála as part of an objection to the route of the proposed N2 bypass running east of Slane. The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Brú na Bóinne Research Project at the instigation of former attorney general John Rogers, who lives close to the site. Three years ago a souterrain was found at Crewbane, and it is now thought that there is a second and possibly a third souterrain in the area. The earthwork averages four metres in height and extends for twenty-three metres.
Monaghan: County post for Castleblayney man
Eamon McEneaney from Castleblayney has been selected to become manager of the county senior and under-21 GAA teams. Eamon, who is principal of St Mary’s Boys National School, succeeds Seamus McEnaney, better known as Banty, who has held the post for the last six years. The new manager has chosen as his coselectors Stephen McGinnity from Drumhowan and Declan Smyth from Carrickmacross, both former county players as is Eamon himself. The trainer for the teams will be Colin O’Hare.
Offaly: Carers organise dancing fundraiser
As part of its fundraising campaign The Carers Association has organised a dance event in Market Square in Tullamore next weekend when they hope hundreds will turn up to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The event is part of a global world record attempt for the largest simultaneous dance to the hit, and almost three hundred people have already registered to take part in the Tullamore event, for which they are encouraged to dress up as zombies. Rehearsals for the annual event will take place at Joe Lee’s bar on Church Street.
Roscommon: Redundancy leads to cricket success
When a group of Pakistani workers were made redundant from Dawn Meats in Ballaghaderreen they decided to use their time to start a cricket team and this year the team brought home the Connacht League title for the third consecutive year. This is the first time this has been achieved, with the club being unbeaten in all twelve matches this year. Club captain Sajjad Hussein, who works as a barber in the town, says there are members from aged thirteen to sixty-four including Pakistanis, some Irish and one Indian, and they practise in the local golf club as they have no funds to secure their own grounds.
Sligo: Sligo men complete marathon trip
Two men from Sligo town and one from Mullaghmore have completed their nine thousand five hundred mile drive to Mongolia which they undertook to raise funds for North West Hospice. Tom McGuinn and David Armstrong, along with Mullaghmore man Brendan McGowan, left Sligo early in July in a Volkswagen Passat which was auctioned at the end of the journey and the money donated to a children’s orphanage in Ulaanbaatar. The trio raised a total of €8,500 for the hospice, some of it by means of a raffle, with Michael Coleman from Tawley winning the €1,000 prize.
Tipperary: Eco-village hostel almost complete
The hostel in Cloughjordan, Ireland’s first eco-village, is almost complete and is due to open next month. With thirty-two beds and ten en suite rooms, it is hoped that the hostel will boost tourism in the area by attracting groups of walkers, cyclists, fishermen and those interested in watersports. According to Pat Finucane, hostel manager, it is expected that tourists coming to see the village itself will also avail of the accommodation at the hostel, while a number of third-level colleges have also expressed an interest in running courses in association with the eco-village.
Tyrone: Glenn leads the way in eco-energy
Glen Huey of Oakdene farm in Castlederg is leading the way in energy conservation with the installation of a wind turbine on his farm which can be seen for miles around. The organic dairy farmer uses the energy provided by the turbine for the running of the farm, and supplies the surplus to the national grid. Glen plans to install more of the huge turbines on his farm in the future, and has also received enquiries from other farmers in the area so he expects others to follow his example and erect their own turbines.
Waterford: Lismore rumoured for royal visit
The proposed visit to Ireland next year of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth may well include at least a one-night stay in Lismore Castle. Owned by the Duke of Devonshire, a close friend of the royal family, the castle is believed to be particularly suited to the security necessary for such a visit. Word that the queen might come to Lismore has been welcomed by Mayor Orla Russell, who said she would be welcome to Lismore just as any other visitor would. Meanwhile Councillor Bernard Leddy stressed the economic benefits to the town of such a visit.
Westmeath: Surprise for Washington-based Mullingar man
When Norman Thompson, originally from Mullingar, opened his front door in Washington last week he was rendered speechless by who he found on the doorstep. For standing there was his younger brother Trevor, who was one of the winners of the National Lottery Big Money Game TV show. Trevor had not seen his brother for sixteen years, although he had been in the States on a number of occasions, and this time he had contacted Norman’s wife Michelle to warn her that he was on his way. The Mullingar postman travelled to the US with his wife Tara.
Wexford: Mass exodus from Wexford
Some one hundred family members and friends gathered at Clonard Church one day last week to say goodbye to a group of friends who were catching PJ Walker’s bus en route to Dublin Airport and a flight to Perth in Australia. Darren Bergin, John Wadding Byrne, Lee Goggins, David McCarthy, Sharon McCormack, Glen McManus, Calum O’Neill, Shane O’Connor and Johnny Waters were mostly employed in the construction industry in Wexford and jobs have disappeared in the last year or so. The group had a going away party at the Danby Lodge last weekend.
Wicklow: Heifers released from ‘prison’
A total of twenty-seven heifers are on their way to needy families in Rwanda after spending eighteen months at Shelton Abbey Prison being cared for by the prisoners. The Spring Calf Appeal is run by Bóthar, a charity that specialises in providing African families with the means of a livelihood and the heifers were donated to the charity. Under the same scheme the prisoners have already reared a large number of goats at the prison’s on-site farm and, according to prison governor Michael Lawton, the prisoners appreciate the opportunity to give something back to society.
October 21
Antrim: Snooker star’s great-niece records tribute song
Alex Mitchell, a great-niece of snooker ace Alex Higgins, has recorded a song which she sang at his private funeral. The six-year-old used to sing to her great-uncle when he was alive and he had hoped to use his contacts to further her singing career. She then sang the song “Over the Rainbow” as his cortege left the family home in Belfast after a private funeral. Alex’s mother Lynsey took her daughter to London where the song was recorded with Michael Graves, Robin Gibbs’ record producer.
Armagh: Tribute paid to Crossmaglen man
A ‘This is Your Life’ style tribute was paid last week to Crossmaglen man Eugene Donaghy, for his community work over the past decades. Eugene thought he was attending a fundraising event in the Rangers Hall, but instead he was met by family and friends who had been invited by Brendan Hanratty, co-organiser of the event. Acknowledgement was given to Eugene’s work by former colleagues from Donaghy Brothers Garage and by members of the Crossmaglen Association. A highlight of the night was the contribution of the Crossmaglen Fire Brigade under Watch Commander Gerard McMonagle, who spoke of Eugene’s key role in ensuring proper status and equipment for the local brigade.
Carlow: Morning fame for Carlow girl
A six-year-old girl from the Hacketstown Road in Carlow has won a competition to be the new face of Shreddies breakfast cereal, after a competition run in conjunction with Parks Tennis. Caoimhe Martin, a senior infant pupil at Benekerry National School, was supported by her friends from Carlow Wadokai Karate Academy the KYDS Dance Academy. She dressed as up tennis player Maria Sharapove for the competition and beat twenty-two other contestants to take the title of Shreddies Be the Face. Caoimhe, the daughter of Philip and Debbie, has also won her family a trip to Disneyland in Paris.
Cavan: Ballyconnell children observe nature at close quarters
The third, fourth, fifth and sixth class pupils at Ballyconnell Central School have been taking a close look at the workings of nature by looking after nineteen hatching eggs from Corrachombra organic farm at Corlough. After sterilising the eggs the children spent three weeks turning and candling the eggs, noting the ones which were lost as they did so. Eventually five of the chicks hatched on one day, with the children listening to them pecking their way out of the shells. In all there were eleven chicks hatched but they have not yet decided whether they will rear them until they begin to lay eggs.
Clare: Civic reception for Robbie
Robbie McMahon, the man who wrote the ballad “Spancil Hill”, was honoured with a civic reception in Ennis last week. The eighty-four-year-old, who penned the ballad about his home more than sixty years ago, gave a rendition in the council chamber. Having won his first singing competition at the age of thirteen in Crusheen, Robbie went on to win seventeen All-Ireland medals for traditional singing. Even now the first Friday of each month is known as Robbie’s First Friday, when he leads the singing at Duggan’s pub in Spancil Hill.
Cork: Former pupil hands out school prizes
For a full day last week comedian and chat show host Graham Norton returned to Bandon Grammar School, which he attended more than thirty years ago, to present prizes at the annual ceremony. He was welcomed by principal David Sutton and vice-principal Sean Crowley along with more than a thousand students present and past, staff and parents, with a special guest being his mother, Rhoda Walker. Norton now owns a holiday home in west Cork and has become very involved in both arts and community projects.
Derry: Collapse of tomb leads to excavation
Following the collapse of the capstone on the portal tomb at Timony near Maghera archaeologists are to be allowed to excavate the site before repairs are carried out. Timony Dolmen is between five and six thousand years old and the cracking of the structural stones, which led to the capstone slipping, has given the opportunity to record any material associated with the site before it is restored. The site will be open to the general public each Friday afternoon for people to view what has been uncovered during the excavations. This is the first time in fifty years that it has been possible to excavate such a tomb, according to Paul Logue of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
 Donegal: Tommy’s prayers are answered
When Tommy O’Donnell from Creevy, Ballyshannon was thrown overboard from his boat in Donegal Bay after his steering wheel broke, he was in the water for forty-five minutes before being rescued. When he was spotted by Pat Ward and his grandson Dean from Cashellacken, the sixty-five-year-old was heard to be praying and the two lobster fishermen were certainly the answer to his prayers. They had set out from Creevy Pier to check their lobster pots for the final time this year when they spotted Tommy half a mile out in the bay and brought him safely to shore.
Down: Second volume of Dromara book to be published
Following the publication of “Dromara: In the Shadow of Slieve Croob, the Source of the River Lagan”, which was launched in June and subsequently sold out, the Dromara Local History Group is to compile a second book. The group, which was launched fifteen years ago, is now seeking material for a second volume and in particular is looking for photographs of Dromara. Among those on the committee who will be researching the new book are Joan Browne and George Musgrave, the latter having delved into copies of old newspapers for material for the first book.
 Dublin: Islanders to have their own polling box
In the forthcoming mayoral elections, for the first time the residents of Lambay Island will not have to travel to the mainland to cast their votes, following a provision in the legislation proposed by Environment Minister John Gormley. At present there are just three of the island’s five residents registered to vote, and they would normally travel to the national school in Rush to cast their votes. The move does not come without cost, however, as the ballot box will have to be transported to Lambay, the only inhabited island off Dublin, in the care of a garda and with accompanying electoral officials.
Fermanagh: Official unveiling of Devenish sculptures
The official unveiling took place last week of the collection of wooden sculptures in the centenary garden in Devenish parish. The figures, which include Saints Molaise, Columcille, and Killian, are the work of Lithuanian Jonas Raiskas, who has been living in the county for the last four years. Jonas has also carved a likeness of Brother Michael O’Clery and poet Cathal Óg McManus, using native Irish wood but also including a piece of amber from Lithuania in each piece. He was asked to create the sculptures by parish priest Father Michael McGourty, as part of the parish’s centenary celebrations.
Galway: Innovative nuns diversify
In June the last group of pupils left Kylemore Abbey School and, with the tourism sector of the estate now out on lease, the nuns found themselves with an empty building. However this included a well-fitted kitchen that had been used to teach Home Economics and this has now become the centre of a new business. Sister Genevieve and a colleague undertook a course in chocolate making and they are now putting their newly-learned skills to use. At present the chocolate bars produced in the kitchen are being sold in the Abbey shop and restaurant but the nuns have plans for expanding the business.
Kerry: Bottling the smell of the ould sod
A group of Caherciveen turf-cutters are investigating the possibility of bottling the smell of burning turf for export to the US and Europe. The Iveragh Co-op, chaired by Joe Keating, came up with the idea after a US businessman ordered ten tons of Kerry turf to boost sales of his peat-flavoured barbecues. Peter Baker believes the smell of burning turf attracts customers, and this gave the Co-op members their idea and they have already inspected a local premises which might be suitable as a bottling plant.
Kildare: Paranormal investigation for White’s Castle
Next weekend will see a special public investigation taking place at White’s Castle in Athy, conducted by Irish Ghosthunters, who were invited by the castle’s owner, Gabriel Dooley, to conduct an initial investigation. According to Ghosthunter Keith Freeland, they collected enough evidence to show that the castle is haunted and he and his wife Angie will host the investigation. Team leaders from Ghosthunters will take groups of people to different areas of the castle and there will be an attempt at table tilting. There will also be breaks throughout the night for refreshments for the participants.
Kilkenny: Children busy collecting conkers
The children of St Lachtain’s National School in Freshford have been busy over the last few weeks collecting conkers for the Irish Conker Championships which are due to take place this coming weekend. The venue is the village green and it is from the fifty-two chestnut trees surrounding the green that the conkers are gathered. Competitions are held for adults and for children in a number of age categories, and this year an addition to the event will be the presence of the Ros Tapestries, one of which depicts the Battle of Ossory at Clashacrow, Freshford, in 1169.
Laois: Controversy over motorway art
Some dissension has broken out over the Per Cent for Art Scheme sculpture which is sited on the Portlaoise motorway bypass, with one councillor describing it as a “total disaster”. Entitled “Doon” and created by Robert McColgan and Irene Brenner, the sculpture comprises two pieces making a stainless steel ring which represents a gateway to Portlaoise and the Midlands. However Councillor Willie Aird told his fellow councillors that the sculpture looked like “the spare ribs of a cow”. Arts Officer Muireann Ní Chonaill admitted that the work was supposed to include illuminations and suggested it might need to be decommissioned.
Leitrim: Aughnasheelin man named Person of the Year
This year’s title of the Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year has gone to Brendan Harvey from Aughnasheelin, who was nominated for the title by a letter addressed to the committee. They in turn deemed the Aghlin native to be a worthy recipient. Brendan, the eldest of the three children of Bernadette and Tommy Harvey, who now lives in Clontarf in Dublin with his wife Nuala, attended Aghacashel National School before going to St Patrick’s College in Cavan. From there he progressed to St John’s College in Waterford.
Limerick: Limerick to outdo Late Late with toy show
Limerick will be holding its very first Toy Show in mid-November at Shelbourne Park, and is expecting to stage a bigger and better show than that put on each year by the Late Late Show. A dome which can hold five hundred and fifty people will be the venue for the first show, and other dates are likely to be added. The event, for which Smyth’s Toy Stores are sponsoring the prizes, was launched last week in the Strand Hotel by Keith Earls and Jerry Flannery. Tommy Daly of the Moyross Residents Alliance has given sponsorship of €1,000 and three bodies, St Munchin’s Community Centre, Limerick Youth Service and Barnardos will share the proceeds of the show.
Longford: Taste award for Tarmonbarry bar
The “Taste of the Waterways Award” has this year been won by Keenan’s bar and restaurant in Tarmonbarry. The award, conferred by the Taste of Waterways booklet in co-operation with restaurant expert Georgina Campbell, rewards excellent hospitality in waterside premises. Ms Campbell noted that Keenan’s had long been a favourite stopping place for people using the river, and is particularly noted for the quality of its steak. The award was presented by Martin Dennany, Director of Marketing and Communications at Waterways Ireland.
Louth: Council to apply for bridge planning
The County Council is to lodge a planning application for the proposed bridge at Narrow Water to link the county with Co. Down, and permission is expected to be granted early next month. The bridge will be a cable-stayed structure, with an opening on the northern side to allow boats to pass, and will, according to a council spokesman, link two of the country’s most beautiful spots, the Cooley Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains. Completion of the construction of the bridge is not expected for another four years.
Mayo: Radio station needs to raise money fast
A community radio station in Westport is hoping to begin broadcasting in February or March of next year but first needs to raise some €10,000. Stephen O’Brien was among the representatives of West Coast Radio who addressed a meeting of the Town Council last week, saying they had received 75% funding from the LEADER programme but needed to raise a further €12,000; they have already raised €2,000. They believe they will be granted a one hundred day licence for the first year and have a potential listenership of fifteen to twenty thousand people within a twenty to thirty mile radius of the town.
Meath: Mowers take to the roads in Nobber
The great co-operation received from the Gardaí in Nobber and the Garda Superintendent in Navan made possible a fundraising event last week to raise money for a special school. Some fifty ride-on mowers took to the road and travelled eighteen kilometres from Nobber to Wilkinstown to raise money for St Mary’s Special School in Johnstown, Navan. There had been concerns about the legality of taking the lawnmowers onto the public road, but the gardaí ensured that everything ran smoothly. The event was organised by James Carolan of Carolan Coaches and it raised more than €3,100 for the school.
Monaghan: New crèche opens in Carrickmacross
Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith was in Carrickmacross recently to perform the official opening of the new Farney Community Creche at Upper Alderwood. The new facility, which will cater for fifty-eight children from the age of three months to schoolgoing age, is expected to give employment to sixteen local people. It will also accommodate twenty children for after-school care during the week. The crèche bought the building, constructed as part of the Alderwood development, from local developer Michael McCahey.
Offaly: Two pharmacy workers honoured
Mary Fahey and her son Paul last week made presentations to two members of the staff of Fahey’s Pharmacy on Patrick Street in Tullamore who have spent thirty years working in the business. Majella Sullivan and Jackie Tyrell both joined the pharmacy straight from the Sacred Heart School, when Mary’s husband, Paddy was in charge of the pharmacy he had opened in 1955. Majella and Jackie were particularly helpful to Mary when Paddy died suddenly in 1982 and she took over the business until her son Paul came home. Both the staff members are involved in sports locally, Majella with Tullamore Tennis Club and Jackie as coach with Shamrocks GAA club.
Roscommon: Bust unveiled in Taughmaconnell
The American ambassador Dan Rooney, accompanied by his wife Patricia, performed the official unveiling last week of a bust of a man from Taughmaconnell who became governor of California. John G. Downey, who emigrated from the townland of Castlesampson in 1841, became the first foreign-born governor of the state less than twenty years later. The ambassador presented a copy of Barack Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” to parish priest Father Sean Neylon, while California’s second foreign-born governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a message to the people of Taughmaconnell.
Sligo: Reopened pub gains national title
A pub in Sligo town which closed for two years when it was bought by Ray and Eileen Monaghan in 2006 has been named Pub of the Year at the Georgina Campbell Ireland Hospitality Awards. Hargadons, which has been a pub since the middle of the nineteenth century, reopened its doors two years ago and spent six months building up its clientele once again. And while the general market trend is down by almost fifteen percent, Hargadons has marginally raised its percentage, according to manager Joe Grogan. The pub also has an associated wine shop stocking wines produced at Ray Monaghan’s vineyard in the south of France.
Tipperary: Picnic celebrates success of allotments
A picnic took place last weekend to celebrate the successful first season of the Nenagh Community Allotments, which was initiated just six months ago. The thirty allotments, on a one and a half acre site off St Conlan’s Road rented out by Tom Gallahue, were soon snapped up and among those enjoying the fruits of their labours are Helen Keown, Declan Madden and Niall McLoughlin. It was Gerry Coffey who came up with the idea of starting allotments, after he lost his job two years ago, and there is now a waiting list of those anxious to start growing their own food.
Tyrone: Ulster’s best restaurant is in Strabane
In the Ramada Hotel in Belfast last week the title of Restaurant of the Year 2010 in the regional competition went to Oysters restaurant on Patrick Street in Strabane. Opened four and a half years ago by husband and wife team Kevin and Caroline Clarke, the restaurant has received a number of awards including “Flavour of Tyrone” and “Taste of Ulster”. Accepting the award, Kevin and Caroline paid particular tribute to their head chef, Colin McMenamin. Sponsored by Flogas, the awards are hosted by the Licensed and Catering News.
Waterford: Tramore church celebrates 150 years
The Church of the Holy Cross in Tramore has celebrated its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary with a special Mass attended by hundreds of parishioners last weekend. Chief celebrant was Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Dr William Lee assisted by parish priest Father Nicholas O’Mahoney, curate Father Michael Twomey and a number of other priests with an association with the parish. Before Mass began the Baptismal register was presented by Paddy Hutchinson whose grandmother, Anastasia Hannigan, was the first person to be baptised in the church when it opened in 1860.
Westmeath: More books for Mullingar bookshop
Day’s Bazaar on Oliver Plunkett Street in Mullingar, which first opened its doors in 1879 and is believed to be one of the oldest bookshops in the country, has opened a second floor of books. The shop was opened by Charles Day and was subsequently owned by the O’Donnell family until being sold to Adrian Murphy four years ago. Now a second floor has increased the stock to more than one hundred thousand titles and customers can also enjoy a cup of coffee while they browse of the books on offer.
Wexford: Commemoration Mass in Castlebridge
Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan will be in Castlebridge one Sunday next month to concelebrate a special Mass in the local church. On November 21 the Mass will be celebrated by the bishop to mark the centenary of the Shelmalier GAA Club. Commemorations will also take place at the club, including the laying of a wreath at Castlebridge followed by a function in the Hollymount Complex. The club is now hoping that people in the parish will forward details of the upcoming celebrations to relations or friends who may have a connection to the 1910 team.
Wicklow: Wicklow pub is best in the world
The Lonely Planet Guide online has named a bar in Bray as the overall best bar in the entire world. The Harbour Bar, which faces the Martello Tower in Bray and is also known locally as O’Toole Bros, won in both the overall Best Bar category and the Off the Beaten Track category in the 2010 competition sponsored by Singha Beer. The description of the bar on the Lonely Planet website mentions the locals’ snug and the dimly lit main bar, with an emphasis on the musicians who perform in the venue nightly.
October 28
Antrim: Legendary barber retires
Jim Hanna has been based in his King Street shop in Belfast since 1963, the same year he was named as Hairdressing World Champion, and now he is to retire. Jim began his hairdressing career in Whitla Street before opening his own shop on Spamount Street, and among his more famous customers were Laurel and Hardy, who were staying in the Midland Hotel, and Dean Martin whom he met at a hairdressing show in Ballynahinch. He was also the preferred stylist of footballer George Best, who turned up at the shop in a white convertible.
Armagh: Portadown men get in on the calendar act
The increasing popularity of posing nude for a calendar has now hit Portadown, where a group of retailers have stripped off to raise funds for an ultra-sound scanner for the Mandeville Unit at Craigavon Hospital. Approached by Michael Jefferson, owner of Planet Bingo, those who agreed to take part include West Street butchers Adrian Knox and Keith Hagan, James Stinson of Portadown Carpets, and Lee Leckey of Bar 2. Photographer for the event was Kirsty-Lyn Jameson and Michael himself also posed for the camera.
Carlow: Bagenalstown teacher retires
Donal McLean, who has been teaching for a total of forty-one years, retired from his post at De La Salle in Bagenalstown last Friday. Donal, who is a Myshall man now living in Carlow town, spent all but three of those years teaching in Bagenalstown. He started in the Presentation Convent and moved twenty-six years ago when that school amalgamated with De La Salle, where he was vice-prinicpal for many years. A presentation was made to the retiring teacher by head girl Sinead Hourihane and head boy David Galway.
Cavan: Giant pumpkin arrives in Cavan
The Virginia Pumpkin Festival which took place last weekend included a competition to find the heaviest pumpkin, and entries came from all over Europe. However one pumpkin made an extra-long journey, travelling from Chicago after having been grown by Dan Bowles from Wisconsin. Weighing seventy-eight stone, the fruit was accompanied by bags of water and by sugar, to ensure that it lost none of its weight on its epic journey. The pumpkin weigh-in took place on Sunday and it was Stuart Paton from Lymington in England who was declared the winner, with a pumpkin weighing more than one hundred stone.
Clare: Unique genealogy project for schoolchildren
During the month of November schoolchildren from across the county will be asked to collect as many memorial cards as they can, in a unique project devised by Clare Roots Society. The society is working with the Clare Education Centre and Clare County Library and hopes to collect up to five thousand cards which will be brought into school to be photocopied or scanned. They will then be documented as primary sources of genealogy for the county. The project, which is being managed by retired teachers Nuala Kennedy and Phyllis Malone, will also offer a number of prizes to schools and individual pupils.
Cork: Reprieve for Collins’ former school
A plan to demolish the national school which was attended by Michael Collins has been abandoned after planning permission was refused by An Bord Pleanála. The county council has granted permission for the destruction of the school in Lissavaird in west Cork, to pave the way for a petrol station and three new houses, but the planning body ruled that the building was of special historical interest. Now the heritage body An Taisce is hoping that the school will be refurbished and a suitable use found for the premises.
Derry: Teacher renews vows after weight loss
Marie Patton, a teacher at St Cecilia’s College, was so pleased with the amount of weight she managed to lose that she decided to renew her marriage vows. Having joined Kieran Moore’s Slimming World group in Chapel Road, Marie managed to lose four stone with the support of her husband and six children. And such was her success that when she eventually walked down the aisle of the Long Tower Church last month many of the guests didn’t recognise her. Marie still has another stone to lose to regain her original wedding day weight.  
Donegal: Letterkenny man makes Stephen King film
Gerard Lough from Letterkenny has made a thirty-minute film based on “The Boogeyman” by Stephen King, and is hoping that it will open doors into the movie-making world. The thirty-two-year-old became one of the author’s ‘Dollar Babes’ when he was given the film rights to the story for just one dollar. Gerard’s film will feature at the Horrorthon Film Festival in Dublin this week and he has already been contacted by Ridley Scott’s RSA films who want to meet with him in the new year after having viewed his screen adaptation.
Down: Warrenpoint man at teacher award finals
Barry Corrigan from Warrenpoint is in Cape Town representing the North at the World Innovative Teacher of the Year Awards. A former student of St Colman’s, Barry won both the Northern and the European heats of the competition, and he was selected for his use of the Virtual Learning Environment in Millennium Integrated School in Saintfield. The programme helps children with their homework but also allows them to take part in weekly discussions and to post their opinions online. Barry’s pupils are also able to email him with any problems they may be having.
Dublin: Local group hope to restore spire
The top of the spire on St George’s Church of Ireland Church in Balbriggan came off at the beginning of the summer, and a group of local people have now come together to raise funds for its restoration. The original church, built in the early years of the nineteenth century, burned twenty years later and it was subsequently rebuilt. Now a committee has been formed whose members are hoping to restore St George’s to its full Gothic Revival glory, for which they need to raise a total of €50,000.
Fermanagh: Mass celebrates college’s anniversary
Last weekend a special Mass was celebrated in St Michael’s Church in Enniskillen to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of St Fanchea’s College. Originally located in Mill Street, the girls’ post-primary school now stands at Chanterhill. The chief celebrant at the Mass was Monsignor Sean Cahill, chairman of the college’s board of governors for the past twenty-six years, while Monsignor Joseph McGuinness delivered the homily. An exhibition of photographic and art work, compiled by Paula Britton and Roisin Martin, was on display in the college.
Galway: Islanders remember final evacuation
Of the twelve islanders who left Inishark uninhabited fifty years ago, nine attended a commemorative Mass in Claddaghduff last weekend; the other three were constrained from attending by illness and distance. The reunion was organised by Carmel Murray, wife of Martin who was the last to attend school on the island, and the Mass was celebrated by Father John Flannery, former island priest who assisted in the final departure. The evacuation of Inishark was prompted by the death of a young man from appendicitis after it proved impossible to get word of his illness to the mainland in time to save him. The English-speaking island lies fifteen kilometres off the coast of Galway.
Kerry: Kenmare postman given a good send-off
His colleagues in Kenmare, union officials from Killarney and representatives from the area office in Cork gathered in the post office in Kenmare last week for the ‘last post’ of Mike Carey. Originally from Keel, Castlemaine, Mike has worked in Kenmare for almost forty years and has covered most parts of the town on his different routes. Now that he is retired he will be devoting as much time as he can to his two grandchildren, Saoirse and Liam, both of whom suffer from the rare Battens’s Disease.
 Kildare: Persistence pays for another stargazer
Earlier this month a Dublin astronomer discovered a supernova, and now a Celbridge man has found an eclipsing star. Dave McDonald was looking through his telescope at an asteroid in the early hours of last Sunday morning when he found himself looking at a star which had been undiscovered to date. The star has a companion star which it eclipses periodically, one of the reasons it had not been identified previously, but now Dave is assured of lasting fame as his name will be associated with his discovery in astronomy journals.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny to have its own currency
For one weekend next month a new currency, the marble, will be introduced into Kilkenny city for the Kilkenomics festival. Featuring such famous faces as rugby player Willie Duggan, Jonathan Swift and Eamon Langton, the notes will only be legal tender for the duration of the weekend. Among speakers for the event will be Peter Schiff, David McWilliams and Fintan O’Toole, while light relief during the weekend will be provided by comedians Des Bishop, Dead Cat Bounce and Jarlath Regan.
Laois: Ballybrittas pub is web hit
As a result of being used in a music video a Ballybrittas pub has become world renowned. Seán Ward’s Fisherman’s Thatch Inn in Fishertown was used as a backdrop for Michael English’s new song in praise of the traditional Irish music pub. The thatched pub on the bank of the Grand Canal, which dates from the seventeenth century, is believed to be one of the oldest pubs in the country. Since it was first aired the video has been getting more than a thousand hits a day on YouTube, totalling almost fifteen thousand to date. 
Leitrim: Shane is this year’s King of the Culchies
With the annual Culchie Festival being held this year in Mohill, it was fitting that the title of King of the Culchies should also go to a Leitrim man. Shane McKeown from Ballinaglera, a former young farmer of the year, was selected from the nineteen contenders for the title. They had to undertake some bizarre tasks during the festival, including a contest to see who could don the most pairs of underpants. The winner was DJ Fergal Darcy, who managed to put on two hundred and forty-one pairs in an hour.
Limerick: Milk market to host weekly Christmas Market
Limerick’s Milk Market is to have a four-day weekend in the run-up to Christmas when it will play host to some sixty stalls and shops for a Christmas market. The market will be open from Thursday to Sunday up to Christmas Eve, with a number of extra days added. In addition to the numerous stalls, the market will also offer entertainment in the form of choirs singing Christmas carols and songs on set days throughout the month. There will also be two Christmas Arts and Craft Fairs as well as the more traditional seasonal fare.
Longford: Cricket club to be revived
The once thriving Longford Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club, which flourished in the town in the early part of the last century, is due for a revival now that Longford’s population includes many from traditional cricket-playing countries. Noel Egan and Ashish Puri, both past pupils of St Mel’s, are behind the movement to resurrect the club and they have already gathered together a squad of thirty-five players.  It is hoped that they will be able to use their old home ground beside the rugby club.
Louth: Paddy’s play is hit of the festival
A play written by local man Paddy Craven was the hit of the opening days of the Tain Festival which began in Dundalk last week. “Sometimes the Sun Screams” was written in honour of Paddy’s late brother Jim, and it received rave reviews from the audiences who packed the Tain Theatre each night. The play was locally-based, making its characters and settings instantly recognisable to the audience; the part of Paddy was played by local man Gerry O’Hara. The festival, which was launched by Brenda Fricker, also features the Cooley Bull which is on display in the Marshes Shopping Centre.
Mayo: Work progressing on Ballina fisheries
Investment from Inland Fisheries Ireland has seen work progressing on the refurbishment of the fisheries infrastructure on the River Moy in Ballina. The work will provide a state of the art salmon conservation weir; such a facility has existed upstream of the Ridgepool for more than seven hundred years. In addition to the weir, refurbishment work is also taking place at the old Watchman’s Hut at Ridgepool Road, which will serve as computer and plant rooms for Inland Fisheries. The refurbishment work is costing a total of €2m to complete.
Meath: Cathaoirleach launches Historic Trail
Councillor Conor Fergus, cathaoirleach of Kells Town Council, recently performed the official launch of the Kells Historic Trail which will take visitors on a route encompassing the main sites of the town. Two walking routes have been devised covering more than nine kilometres and taking in fourteen different sites including the old courthouse, the Market Cross, St Columba’s Chruch and St Columcille’s House. It had been hoped to develop a riverside walk to the Headfort Mausoleum but planning restrictions have led to this plan being dropped.
Monaghan: Two bridges reopened at last
After more than thirty years two bridges linking the county to Co. Tyrone have been officially reopened. With funding supplied by the Southern government the Annaghroe and Knockaginny bridges between Glaslough and Caledon were opened by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey and Northern Agricultural Minister Michelle Gildernew. The new bridges mean an end to lengthy detours for local residents and an end also to the problems for farmers with land on both sides of the border.
Offaly: Bride concedes match – football wins
Alma Daly purposely set her wedding to county player Ger Rafferty for October, when the football season would be over, but unfortunately some postponements and a draw saw the season extended. The result was that, as soon as the couple had been married in St Manchan’s Church in Boher, the groom headed off to O’Connor Park in Tullamore to captain St Rynagh’s against Durrow in an intermediate football final. The club had, however, provided a helicopter to take Alma and her bridesmaids to the reception venue in Athlone, where she was later joined by her new husband, complete with the Billy Kelly Cup.
Roscommon: Over-40s feature in Boyle calendar
The over-40s football team Boyle Celtic Legends have joined the fundraising merry-go-round and have bared all for a calendar. The men were photographed by fellow-Legend John Reynolds who himself features on the back cover, and the men are photographed in settings relevant to their different occupations. Six of them appeared on the Late Late Show to publicise the calendar, which will raise money for the Brothers of Charity Services. The calendar was officially launched in Daly’s Bar in Boyle last weekend.
Sligo: Cranmore woman meets President
Ann Boyd from Cranmore, who took part in RTE’s adult literacy show “Written Off”, was selected to be among those who were welcomed to Aras an Uachtarain by President Mary McAleese. They were invited to Phoenix Park to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the National Adult Literacy Agency. Ann left school at thirteen unable either to read or write and it wasn’t until she was an adult that she began literacy lessons. Since then her education has continued and this year she successfully sat Leaving Certificate exams.
Tipperary: Housing wins out over arts centre in Coolbawn
An Bord Pleanála has ruled in favour of a new housing development for the village of Coolbawn although the application was opposed by actor Patrick Bergin. He had been hoping to turn the former Church of Ireland church into an arts, poetry and traditional music centre but feels the new development will be incompatible with the historic setting of the church. The developer behind the plan is Roscrea solicitor Brendan Hyland who has permission to build three houses on the site, two fewer than in the original plan.
Tyrone: Alfie finds a new home
When his owner moved into a nursing home she left her sixteen-year-old cat Alfie with Grovehill Animal Shelter in Omagh in the hope that they would be able to find a home for her. And it wasn’t long after proprietor Linda Hill made an appeal that local woman Bernie Donaghey came forward to adopt the elderly animal. Bernie already has another cat, three-year-old Betty, and she decided to give Alfie a home for whatever time is left to him, and reports that he has already picked out his favourite chair in his new home.
Waterford: Festival denies rock face graffiti
The organisers of the Imagine Arts Festival, which was celebrating its eighth year at the weekend, have denied all knowledge of graffiti which appeared on Mount Misery on the edge of Waterford city. The one word ‘Imagine’ has been painted on a white and blue background high up on the rock face near the railway station. It is believed to have been carried out overnight last Tuesday but there is no indication as to the meaning of the graffiti. However the organisers of the festival were hoping that it might inspire more people to attend the various events taking place last weekend.
Westmeath: Niall has mobile support
Niall Horan from Mullingar, who is a member of the X Factor’s One Direction band, is receiving support on the move from his home town. Michael Wallace, who owns Wallace Recycling in the town, has arranged for six of his lorries to be rebranded at a cost of more than €15,000. They now read, “Wallace – Going 1 Direction with Niall Horan” and also show an ‘x’ in a square, signifying a vote for the band. Michael has known Niall for all of the youth’s sixteen years and said it was important to support the local boy.
Wexford: Week of celebration at Neville’s
A centenary festival is taking place at Neville’s of Fethard-on-Sea to mark the one hundred years since the business was opened as a bar and shop, originally called O’Connor’s. Now running the establishment, David Neville is the fourth generation of his family to take the reins, with the name changing to Neville’s in the 1960s. Chef Aonghus O’Reilly hosted a cookery demonstration as part of the festivities, while musician John Spillane and the 4 of Us were also included in the line-up.
Wicklow: Major farming gathering in Arklow
For the first time in forty-four years Macra na Feirme held their National Agriculture Conference in the county, with more than one thousand delegates gathering in the Arklow Bay Hotel last weekend. The weekend included two farm walks, one to the Ashford farm of Christian von Teichman where he has developed an ice-cream production plant, and the other to the farm of Tom Short near Newtownmountkennedy; Tom specialises in tillage and beef production. Delegates also visited Wicklow Farm House Cheese, founded by John and Mary Hempenstall.
As always, we'd like to thank the Irish Emigrant for providing these snippets from all over. They have a lot more news to read on line and if you're interested, here's the URL:
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Slan agus beannacht,
Bridget & Russ