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:
These links are kept for two weeks just in case you can't visit the site every day.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Irish Emigrant - our source for these news items. They have a great site which is well worth visiting:
Meanwhile, on with the county news for each week in June:
Please note: If you are a new subscriber, this monthly news update is in addition to our regular newsletter which we hope to send out shortly. 
 Week ending June 2
Antrim: Ferry is back, but no cars allowed
A ferry linking Ballycastle with the Mull of Kintyre is to run during the summer months, after an absence of twelve years. However the service will accommodate just twelve passengers and no cars; the last car ferry from Ballycastle, to Campbeltown, ceased service in 1999 due to a lack of funding. The twice-daily sailings between Friday and Monday will be operated by Kintyre Express and it is hoped to attract golfers to the many courses in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ferry crossing will take some ninety minutes.
Armagh: Historic handball alley to be restored
Funding to the value of £10,000 has been granted by the Big Lottery Fund to the Poyntzpass Community Regeneration Company, which plans to look at the feasibility of restoring the village’s historic handball alley. Originally constructed by an army garrison during the eighteenth century, it has been in use for more than three hundred years but is now in need of restoration. The Community Regeneration Company has already built a community hall and now hopes to provide a space which can be used as a hurling wall and for squash as well as for handball.
Carlow: Seventh greeting from president for Leighlinbridge resident
For the seventh time Susan Naylor has received birthday greetings from President McAleese, for the Limerick native celebrated her one hundred and sixth birthday last weekend. She was joined at her celebrations by family and friends. Susan is a resident of Beechwood Nursing Home in Leighlinbridge, where she has lived for the past seventeen years. Director of Nursing at the Beechwood, Eileen Stapleton, has confirmed that Susan is the ninth oldest person in Ireland.
Cavan: Council finally make decision on Tesco
At their meeting early last week the members of the county council finally came to a decision on the proposed sale of land in Cavan town to Tesco Ireland Ltd. Local traders had organised a protest march against the sale of the five-plus acres of land at Townparks and Tullmongan, fearing the effect on local trade. Bailieborough councillor Paddy McDonald said that the arrival of Tesco in that town had adversely affected local trading. It would also appear that the local Chamber of Commerce will continue to fight the proposal as it goes through the planning stages.
Clare: Straight A student passes on his wisdom
Cillian Fahy from New Quay, who earned seven As in his Leaving Certificate last year and who has already auctioned his study notes on eBay, is now offering a free one-day revision course in Higher Maths. A student at Trinity College, Cillian’s one-day course takes place in Dublin but he has plans to offer weekend courses during August in Galway and Cork as well as in Dublin. These courses, aimed at students just entering their final year of secondary school, will not be free, however, as there is a charge for the weekend of €100.
Cork: New playground for Carrigaline
Grandparents taking their grandchildren to the town park in Carrigaline can now use their own ‘playground’, an outdoor gymnasium designed for adults with seven different exercise stations. The facility was officially opened last week by Michael McGrath TD, following which members of the local Active Retirement group demonstrated how to use the equipment. The playground was developed by the group, in association with the county council, Pepsi Co, and South and East Cork Area Development Ltd.
Derry: Investigation into aircraft on beach
The Civil Aviation Authority is to be asked by Coleraine Borough Council to investigate the incidence of light aircraft taking off from Downhill Beach. Video footage taken in March and put up on YouTube shows a Dragonfly aeroplane and a microlight trike taxiing close to each other along the beach. It has been ascertained that the light aircraft had been registered and insured just two days prior to the incident, and that the owner lives in the Midlands. The video footage demonstrates the safety factor since both people and animals were in the vicinity at the time.
Donegal: Eunan attempts world punching record
Eunan Devenney from Ballybofey was successful last weekend in his attempt to beat the current record for hitting a punch bag. Ten years ago the forty-two-year-old made the Guinness Book of Records after punching continuously for twenty-four hours and sixteen minutes, but lost the record three years later. His latest attempt had the aim of hitting the one hundred pound punch bag for thirty-six hours, raising funds for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children. Eunan’s punch bag marathon took place at the Twin Towns Boxing Club in Ballybofey and he set a new record of forty-five hours and four minutes.
Down: Hilltown travelling en masse to Portlaoise
A good number of the residents of Hilltown will be in Portlaoise this weekend to support local girl Nicole Curran in the regional finals of the Rose of Tralee contest. Nicole, a third-year accountancy student, took time out to thank all those who have sponsored her for the competition including her great uncle Terence McGivern from Annaclone, dress designer Charlene McCaffrey and My Day Bridal in Newry. The twenty-two-year-old will be accompanied by her mother Janine, her mother’s partner Pat Joe and family and friends. Also supporting Nicole are Pauline and Harry O’Hare, who have placed a banner across the front of the Downshire Arms.
Dublin: Skerries student wins model competition
Carla Jackson from Skerries, a Leaving Certificate student at Skerries Community College, took a break from her exam revision last week to travel to Sligo. There she took part in the Independent Newspapers ‘Search for a Model’ competition and was selected as the winner. The seventeen-year-old had already won a €1,000 shopping voucher after winning the regional final in Drogheda and she now has a contract with the Catwalk Modelling Agency, a hamper of make-up to the value of €500 and €5,000 in cash from Gosh cosmetics.
Galway: Another award for O’Grady’s
At the Santa Rita and Sunday Independent Irish Restaurant Awards 2011 seafood restaurant O’Grady’s on the Pier took the award for the Best Seafood Experience. The Barna-based restaurant opened eleven years ago and since that time has accumulated a number of awards including the Hotel and Catering Review Gold medal Award for Best Bistro and Brasseries two years ago. The year before that O’Grady’s was named Best Seafood Restaurant in Ireland by Georgina Campbell. They have recently opened a second seafood restaurant has in the lower level of Kirwan’s in Galway city.
Kerry: School extension opening was history repeating itself
Forty-four years ago Danny Coffey, the first principal of the newly-opened Fossa National School, was on hand to witness the official opening of the school. And last week his son Kieran, now principal of the same school, looked on as a €400,000 extension was officially opened. When the Fossa school first opened Kieran’s sister Philomena was on the staff while his youngest brother Brendan was among the pupils. As far as Mr Coffey is aware he and his late father are the only father and son to have been principal of the same school in the county.
Kildare: Aishling follows in her sister’s footsteps
Aishling Kehoe from Monasterevin has repeated the success of her older sister Lesley by winning the overall award in the Dear Grace competition. The competition was set up by the family of Grace Nolan, who died at the age of nine from a rare genetic blood cell disorder. It asks fifth and sixth class pupils to write a letter to Grace telling her about their lives and the happenings in the world, and twelve-year-old Aishling’s letter was deemed to be the winner. A pupil at Scoil Eimhin Naofa, she attended the prizegiving ceremony at the Helix in Dublin. Eight years ago Aishling’s sister Lesley was also named as the overall winner of the award.
Kilkenny: Gowran boy plays part in Obama visit
One of the three children who were invited to Aras an Uachtarain to meet US President Barack Obama was a third class pupil from Scoil Bhride in Paulstown. Colm Dunne from Gowran was chosen to ring the Peace Bell during the tree-planting ceremony. The nine-year-old was asked by the National Council of the Blind to take part in the ceremony and he was accompanied by his father Tony. The pair, accompanied by Colm’s mother Eileen and his younger brother Paul, stayed overnight in Dublin and Tony and Eileen tossed a coin to see which one of them would accompany their son to the historic occasion.
Laois: New marathon event in the county
The Rock of Dunamase will feature in a new marathon organised by Brian Holohan from Mountmellick, which is due to take place at the beginning of August. The Midlands Half Marathon will, according to Brian, cater for all levels of fitness as a number of those who have already signed up for the event will be walking the route rather than running. He has been successful in securing Asics as the main sponsor of the half marathon and he is hoping that, in addition to attracting runners and walkers, the event will benefit the county as a whole.
Leitrim: Congress Bell carried through county
A symbolic invitation to people to attend next year’s Eucharistic Congress in Dublin began a pilgrimage on St Patrick’s Day and recently it arrived in Leitrim. The Congress Bell, from the Dominican Convent in Portstewart, is travelling through the twenty-six dioceses and it arrived in Ballinamore after volunteers had accepted it from Drumreilly at Aughoo. A liturgy of welcome was held in the church before the Bell was carried to volunteers from Aughawillan who had come to the Swanlinbar road to continue its journey.
Limerick: Great-grandmother helps hospital in celebrations
Mary Walsh from Ballyagran was on hand last week at the celebrations to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the maternity services at the Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick. Mary’s daughter Elaine Donegan was born in the hospital fifty years ago, her granddaughter, Aileen Donegan-Boome was born there twenty-seven years ago, and Mary’s great-granddaughter Ava Rose Boom arrived in the hospital just nine months ago. An Open Day was held at the hospital last weekend to mark the occasion.
Longford: Frank hopes for double celebration
Councillor Frank Kilbride, the owner of the Park House Hotel in Edgeworthstown, is hoping for a double celebration later this month. On the day that his hotel celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary the agm of the county council will take place there, and it is expected that Frank will be elected mayor of the county. There has been some criticism of the venue for the meeting but Frank has been quick to point out that he is not charging the council for the use of the venue. The twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations of the hotel will incorporate fundraising for four local charities.
Louth: Life saver for a second time
When a man entered the water at the quays in Drogheda recently one of those who went to his aid was Michael Collins, who lives at Preston Mills. With help from other members of the public and local taxi drivers, Michael and Garda Jonathan Gallagher managed to bring the man to safety. This is the second time that Michael has been involved in saving someone from drowning. When he was nine years old he managed to save his mother, who was sinking in soft sand beside the Boyne in Navan, by pulling her to safety.
Mayo: Keenaghbeg invitation is still open
The recent invitation to Queen Elizabeth to visit Ireland was pre-empted by one issued in 1947 by Michael Walsh of Kennaghbeg in Crossmolina. Michael had sent a rare coin to the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip as a wedding present, and followed it up with an invitation to the young couple to visit Bunaveela Lodge where, he said, “the deer, the hare, the wild birds and the wild game roam at will”. Michael’s grandson, Patrick Kilroy, lives near the original family home in Keenaghbeg, which is still occupied by some family members.
Meath: Cyclists off to Thurles for charity event
This year’s Kells Dads’ Cycle event will have Thurles as its destination where the cyclists will stay in Hayes’ Hotel. Now in its sixth year, the cycle was initiated by a group of former footballers with Drumbaragh GFC to thank the local community for their support for GAA clubs. It is hoped that local sportspeople will join them, wearing their club colours, at Clonmellon for the last leg of their return journey to Kells. More than €70,000 has already been raised for a number of groups in Kells including St Vincent de Paul and Children of Chernobyl.
Monaghan: New competition launched for Muckno Festival
Previously the Muckno Mania Festival has featured a Soap Box event, but this year there is a change to the format and the official launch of the Float Your Soap Box event took place last week at Mindszenty Park. Sponsored by Brendan McShane of Shane’s Tyres, the race will be a raft race though the vehicles will have to be amphibious as they must be capable of travelling fifty metres on land as well as completing a three hundred metre course on the water. Coincidentally filming was taking place in the park while the launch was in progress for the RTE programme “Dirty Old Town”.
Offaly: Another Offaly man reaches US heights
President Obama is not the only man to reach the heights of US political life, since Tim Feighery, educated in Tullamore, has been sworn in as chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the US. In the 1970s Tim’s parents Tom and Anne brought their eight children to live in Tullamore and he attended the Christian Brothers school on the High Street. Attending the swearing-in ceremony were Tim’s parents, his sisters Nancy and Chrissie, and his cousin Deirdre Dowling, who travelled from Tullamore for the occasion.
Roscommon: New woodland walk to be opened
Strokestown Park will have a new amenity this weekend when Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring officially opens the new Woodland Walk. With free access, the walk follows a winding path which will also feature a number of sculptures submitted by local students. The pieces submitted through ‘The Woodland Walk Roscommon Schools Sculpture Competition’, which are located at intervals throughout the walk, will be unveiled by sculptor Rowan Gillespie. Over the next few months visitors will be able to vote for their favourite pieces.
Sligo: Gallagher moves into town
Celebrity chef Conrad Gallagher, who was invited to open the first restaurant at The Model on the Mall, has left the centre and reopened in the town centre. According to the restaurant manager, Colum Verdon, they felt they were too isolated at the Model and they have now moved into the premises left by Caesars on Rockwood Parade, which closed last month. The Model restaurant was partly funded by local people through fundraising campaigns. The new facility, Conrad’s Kitchen and Bistro, has received a mixed welcome from local restaurateurs who are wary of further competition in the town centre.
Tipperary: Thurles man working on Hobbit film
Mark Maher, originally from Thurles and now resident in New Zealand, is working as a model maker and sculptor on the film adaptation of JR Tolkein’s “The Hobbit”. The son of Teena and JJ Maher who live on the Bohernamona Road, Mark attended Thurles CBS, Gairm Scoil Mhuire and Coláiste Eile. He has paid tribute to his teachers at the schools, Catherine Daly, PJ O’Connell and Lorenzo Egan respectively, for their encouragement of his artistic talents. Working with six other model makers, Mark makes miniature characters which are later made into lifesize models of orcs, goblins, elves and hobbits.
Tyrone: Life of Dungannon woman celebrated
A weekend of celebrations in Dungannon to mark the life of work of Margaret Noble took place over a recent weekend. Margaret, who was born in Scotch Street in 1867, travelled to India where she became a member of the Ramakrishna Order under the name Sister Nivedita. Her work included establishing schools and she also designed the Indian flag and worked for the independence movement. A blue plaque on the house in Scotch Street was rededicated by the Mayor of Dungannon, Kenneth Reid while an examination of the life and work of Margaret Noble took place in the Council Offices, with speakers including Malachi O’Doherty, Professor Mardo Macdonald, and Dr Malcolm Sen.
Waterford: The call goes out for pirates
During the Tall Ships event in Waterford at the beginning of July an attempt is to be made to break a record that was set in the south of England last year. Adults and children alike are being encouraged to gather in the Bolton Street car park on the morning of July 1 dressed as pirates, and it is hoped that more than six thousand will respond to the call; the present record stands at 6,166. Those taking part must wear a white or striped shirt, short or rolled-up trousers and a pirate scarf or hat. Badges, sponsored by Britvic, and eye patches will be given free to all participants, and they will be counted as they enter the car park.
Westmeath: Deirdre is a second-time winner
Deirdre Manny, who attends St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rochfortbridge, is among a select number of students who have taken first prize on two occasions in the Texaco Children’s Art Competition. The fifteen-year-old was placed first in the special needs category with a painting entitled “Welsh Poppies”. Deirdre, who had a stroke as a small child, took seven months to complete her prizewinning painting after admiring poppies in a garden while on holiday.
Wexford: Ian is fundraising for marathon cycle
Ian Lacy from Gorey undertook an on-the-spot cycle in Gorey Shopping Centre last weekend to raise money for a marathon cycle he is to undertake in six weeks’ time. With his American friend Lee Saville Ian aims to cycle from Alaska to Argentina, a total of seventeen thousand miles, to raise money for the Carers’ Association. The pair hope to raise a total of €100,000 and they will also be meeting Irish communities along the route, meetings which will be televised for cable television companies.
Wicklow: Setback for woman who sold house on web
Jillian Godsill, who was jubilant when her web advertisement for her house in Shillelagh attracted a buyer who offered her €500,000 and paid a deposit, has received a setback from her bank. The divorcee, who now lives in a rented cottage with her two teenage daughters, was told by the bank that they would not accept the €500,000 and that they were legally entitled to pursue her for the full amount of €900,000 which she owes. The mansion had been valued at the height of the boom at €1.4m; Ms Godsill and her then husband bought it for €100,000 and spent a further €400,000 on restoration.
Week ending June 9
Antrim: Councillors give reprieve to landmark building
On two occasions The Planning Service has recommended that the former linen warehouse on Belfast’s Queen Street, now housing the Athletics Stores, be demolished, despite a concerted campaign to save the building. Developers wish to replace the four-storey Swanston Building with a seven-storey complex comprising apartments and shops, but last week Belfast councillors voted to defer any discussion on the planning application until they can arrange a meeting with the planners.
Armagh: Copy of fountain for north of England
A copy of the Coalbrookdale Fountain in Lurgan Park is to be installed in the northern English town of Wigan where the original fountain was demolished more than eighty years ago. Engineers from a Scottish restoration company, which was involved in the restoration of the fountain, were in Lurgan recently to make a 3D copy so that a replacement can be constructed in Mesnes Park in Wigan. Casts were taken from the Lurgan fountain last year by engineers from Weston-Super-Mare in the south of England so that a copy could be made, as Coalbrookdale fountains are no longer being manufactured.
Carlow: World War I souvenir found in Bagenalstown
The Gardaí were called to a house on Kilree Street in Bagenalstown last week when builders working on the house came across a grenade in the attic. It transpired that the house had been owned by Jimmy Mara, who fought with the British Army in Turkey and France during the First World War and it is presumed that he brought it home with him. Jimmy died more than thirty years ago and the grenade has rested in the attic ever since. According to his grandson Michael Mara, his grandfather never talked about his war experiences.
Cavan: Launch of Summer Festival
Sean Gallagher was on hand to perform the official launch of the second annual Cavan Summer Festival and International Hen Weekend, and those attending the launch were greeted by two Brazilian dancers in full carnival costume. The festival will include a Mardi Gras parade as well as the Hen Weekend which will involve a treasure hunt, a Mad Hatters’ Fancy Dress party and a karaoke session. One of the prospective brides will, after a series of challenges in the Market Square in Cavan, walk away with a prize of €20,000.
Clare: Clare artist records historic visit
Michael Hanrahan from Lahinch was granted permission by the British Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs to make an artistic record of the visit of Queen Elizabeth. When he first heard of the visit Michael, a former bank manager, was on a cruise and had to wait until he docked in the next port before he could contact anyone about the commission. His paintings include the Queen’s visit to Dublin Castle and Trinity College, and copies are to be presented to the British Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Cork: Pat decides to call it a day
Pat Broderick who for the past twenty-five years has been delivering post in Kinsale, has finally decided not to return to work following his €7m Lotto win. It was not a decision he took lightly, and in fact he took the forty days’ holiday he was due to consider his future. However he eventually came to the conclusion that it would be better to hand over the job to someone who really needs it. But quitting his job is about the only change to come to Pat’s life so far. He had never taken a holiday and he and his wife Mary took a short break in the Algarve in Portugal while he made up his mind.
Derry: Strongman contest for Derry city
On the first weekend in July the strong men of Ireland will be descending on Derry city to take part in a series of eight challenges to find out who is Ireland’s Strongest Man 2011. The event was launched last week by the mayor of the city, Maurice Devenney, and the winner will be presented with the Finn McCool trophy. Among the challenges to face the contestants are tyre flipping, truck pulling, and arm wrestling. Two Derry strongmen who qualified at the Ulster Strongest Man contest are David McArthur and Lee Boreland.
Donegal: Clonmany brothers on two-wheel marathon
John Doherty from Clonmany is one of four men who are cycling from Dublin to Africa to raise money for the charity Aware Defeat Depression. John, a garda serving in Dublin, will be joined by Andrew Gillespie from Derry, Ian Finlay and Lorcan Fields, and driving the supply vehicle will be John’s brother Joe; all are Dublin-based gardaí. Setting off in September, they will cycle 1,800 miles to Morocco and hope to complete the journey in eighteen days. They have been training six days a week for the last three months and all are paying their own expenses on the trip, which means that every cent they collect will go to the charity.
Down: Downsizing for Down papers
For the first time in a century two local papers are to change shape, with the County Down Spectator and the Newtownards Chronicle both becoming tabloids during the week. The newspapers were established by the Alexander family, who still run them, with the Spectator dating from 1904 and the Chronicle from 1874. Among former journalists with the newspapers is author and screenplay writer Colin Bateman, who joined at the age of seventeen and claims that his experience there was perfect training for a writer.
Dublin: Fourth generation is a medical graduate
Andrew Fennell is the fourth generation of his family to graduate as a doctor, and the twenty-six-year old was among the graduands at the Royal College of Surgeons last week. His great-grandfather, John Stafford Johnson was an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Dublin while his grandfather, Cyril Fennell, was a company doctor with CIE. He married John Stafford Johnson’s daughter Cicely, who was also a doctor. Their son John, Andrew’s father, is a consultant physician at St Vincent’s and Blackrock Clinic.
Fermanagh: Brookeborough farmer wins prestigious award
Hazel Dunn, who runs a farm with her husband Billy at Brookeborough, has had her innovative farming methods recognised with an award at the FB Women and Agriculture awards. For the past twelve years the Dunns have been breeding goats on their fifty-six acre farm and they now have a herd of three hundred and twenty. Hazel took the trouble to take courses in cheese and yogurt making to ensure she understood their customers’ needs, and their goats’ milk is now supplied to the makers of Fivemiletown Cooneen, an award-winning cheese.
Galway: Galway woman is Irish Coffee queen
Róisín Sweeney of the Corrib Princess is the winner of this year’s Powers Irish Coffee Making Championships, having beaten three other finalists at last weekend’s competition in Foynes, Co. Limerick. Róisín was presented with a Waterford crystal trophy, a cheque for €700 and a trip for two to New York for her achievement. She was also made a promise by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that he would arrange for her to demonstrate her skills in the White House next St Patrick’s Day.
Kerry: Hotelier suggests use for Killarney House
Killarney hotelier Michael Rosney has suggested that Killarney House be refurbished and used as the President’s official summer residence. The eighteenth century house on five acres was left to the State in 1998 by the US-based McShane family and there was an initial plan to refurbish it as a visitor and tourist information centre. Now, however, it is in a dilapidated state and has become a centre for antisocial behaviour. Michael who, with this wife Geraldine, runs the Killeen House Hotel, is hoping that the Government and the National Parks and Wildlife Service will give his suggestion their attention.
Kildare: Army personnel keep it in the family
Among the members of the Defence Forces travelling to Lebanon for a new tour of duty later this month is the daughter of a soldier who is keen to follow in her father’s footsteps. Private Emma Furlong, whose father Daniel is based at The Curragh, will be the youngest serving soldier in Lebanon. Meanwhile another Curragh-based soldier, Private Dean Kearney, is the fourth generation of his family to join the Defence Forces and he will be serving in Lebanon with his father, Sergeant Brian Kearney.
Kilkenny: Visit to Sardinia leads to new city tour
A visit to Sardinia by local entrepreneur Ivan Sheridan from Kells has led to a new way for tourists to view Kilkenny city. Ivan saw a Road Train while he was on the Italian island and thought it would be a good idea to introduce one to the city. Two weeks ago the maiden voyage of the new mode of transport carried passengers on a tour of Kilkenny taking in the castle, City Hall, Rothe House, St Francis Abbey Brewery, Desart Hall, Talbot’s Tower and Butler House. The Road Train is due to run throughout the summer and until the end of October.
Laois: Laois people to appear in RTE documentary
RTE is broadcasting a six-week documentary series in association with the National Adult Literacy Agency, and two people from the county are taking part. The series, “A Story with Me in it”, focuses on those who have returned to education, and each was paired with a noted author. Catherine Delaney from Portlaoise, who has been attending creative writing classes since November, has written her story with the help of writer Sheila O’Flanagan, while Dermot Bolger has overseen the creative writing of Joe Begley from Ballacolla.
Leitrim: Leitrim joins the world of glamping
Leitrim has joined the world of glamping in the shape of the Teapot Lane Luxury Yurt Camp at Tawley. The eco-friendly camp is run by Derval McGovern, who also offers aromatherapy massage, but the main attraction are the yurts, the circular tent dwellings which have their own wood-burning stoves. They are also aeons away from the sleeping bag on a roll mat type of camping, for each yurt is furnished with a cast iron bed set with top quality bed linen. However the tradition of camping has been retained with a nightly camp fire in a designated area close to the yurts.
Limerick: Civic reception for bellringers
The city’s thirty-five bellringers were recently honoured with a civic reception hosted by the mayor Maria Byrne. Located at St Mary’s Church of Ireland Cathedral and Mount St Alphonsus Redemptorist Church, the bellringers’ most senior member is Patrick Hanley from Rosbrien, who started ringing in 1946. Other veterans of the art are Kieron Brislane from Adare, who is a third generation bellringer, and Hugh O’Brien from Greystones in Limerick. In a bid to attract new members to the group they are holding open evenings on Mondays and anyone interested is offered full training.
Longford: Local writers honoured at roundabouts
Three Longford writers have been honoured by the local council with their names being attached to three roundabouts on the N4 bypass. Two roundabouts in Edgeworthstown have already been named after Maria Edgeworth and Oliver Goldsmith, and the new honourees are Padraic Colum, Charlotte Brooke and Leo Casey. Colum was in the news recently when a volume of his Hawaiian children’s stories was presented to the US President. The best known work of Leo Keegan Casey, from Ballymahon, is “The Rising of the Moon”, while Charlotte Brooke wrote “Reliques of Irish Poetry”, the first anthology of Irish poetry translated into English.
Louth: Sun shone for first walking festival
The weather was kind for the first ever Boyne Valley Walking Festival which took place over the Bank Holiday weekend. The festival had the co-operation of local landowners who allowed access to their lands, though the first walk was around the historical locations of Drogheda. However on Saturday the walk began from Bru na Boinne Interpretative Centre in Donore and took in Knowth where walkers were given a guide by archaeologist Geraldine Stout. Sunday’s walk was entitled the Battle of the Boyne Walk and followed a route from Drogheda along the banks of the river to Oldbridge House and the Townley Hall estate.
Mayo: Matt meets his climbing target
Matt Loughrey, who set out to climb Croagh Patrick every day for a year, completed the venture at the weekend. The thirty-two-year-old took up the challenge to raise money for the St Vincent de Paul Society and so far has raised a total of €30,000. On the day of the last climb Mass was celebrated at the summit by Father John Kenny, and the oratory had just been given a new coat of paint by Johnny Cummins. It was fitting that, since the idea for the marathon climb was conceived in Campbell’s pub at the foot of the mountain, the celebrations on its completion were also held there.
Meath: Work on Navan park can now begin
With the completion last week of the laying underground of ESB power lines work on the new park for Navan can now go ahead. The first phase of work on the sixty-six acre park beside the Silverlawn estate on the Rathaldron Road will include a walkway from the Rathaldron Road to the River Blackwater. A number of playing pitches will also be provided and work on phase one is expect to begin soon and to be completed by the end of the year. The second phase will include the installation of formal gardens, an arboretum, a bowling green, fishing platforms and a skateboard park.
Monaghan: Record number of twins hit Carrick
The second annual Lions Club Twins Parade took place in Carrickmacross at the weekend and a record was set for the largest gathering of twins and triplets in the country, with two hundred and fifty-two sets in total. Organised by Paddy Gollogly, who cycled the parade route with his twin brother Jimmy, the parade was led by Angie Benhaffaf from Cork with her formerly conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein. The oldest pair of twins were Frank and Jimmy O’Byrne from Westport while local five-week-olds Ella and Daithí Marron were the youngest. More than €10,000 was raised for local people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Offaly: Fiona wins national title
Fiona Leavy, who is manager of Scally’s Centre store in Tullamore, has been named as the ShelfLife national retail manager of the year. Fiona began working part-time in her local shop while still at school and, having shown a flair for business, her employers sent her to the Dublin Institute of Technology to complete a diploma in retailing. She was presented with her award at a gala dinner at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, compered by Des Cahill. Fiona is not the only member of her family in the retail sector, as her brother John runs the other Centra store in Tullamore.
Roscommon: History of Kilkeevan GAA launched
A history of the GAA in the parish of Kilkeevan was launched at the O’Rourke Centre in Castlerea last week. The launch was carried out by Michael Fahey, chairman of the Roscommon County Board. The project was undertaken by an editorial committee of Danny Burke, Eamon Campion, Johnny Mahony and Brian Stenson using the history of Castlerea St Kevin’s compiled by Colm Hannelly and interviews conducted by Michael O’Brien. Chairman of Castlerea St Kevin’s Martin Duggan recommended that the project should be updated and published every ten years to maintain the club’s history.
Sligo: Local girl in finals of Miss Universe Ireland
Natasha Carty from Sligo has won a place in the finals of the Miss Universe Ireland competition which take place in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin this weekend. But before going to Dublin to take her place in the line-up for the title Natasha was in Temple House to promote the Temple House Festival which also takes place this weekend. After the competition she will be coming home to Sligo to attend the festival where she will be guest presenter on Sligotoday’s television broadcasts.
Tipperary: Hospice Heroes title for three Tipperary women
Three women from the county were last week honoured as Irish Pride Hospice Heroes for their work with Tipperary Hospice. Florrie Purcell is a member of North Tipperary Hospice and has been collecting on Sunflower Days for the past twenty-two years; she was nominated by the Thurles and Nenagh branches. The Roscrea branch of North Tipperary Hospice Homecare nominated Joan Byrne and Eilis Holland King for the awards, both of whom have worked for the hospice for the past twenty years.
Tyrone: New artwork in Moygashel
An eighty-four foot mural, painted by children from the Howard Primary School in Moygashel with the help of artists ‘I Create Solutions”, was unveiled at the Linen Green last week. The new community art piece was carried out under the auspices of the Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council and depicts the image of each participant, aged to show how they might have looked had they work in the Linen Mills in the past. The mural is the result of a series of workshops given by the artists to the children in their school.
Waterford: Civic reception greets US tall ship
The US Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle arrived in Waterford last weekend and attracted hundreds of people when it opened for free public tours. To mark the visit, which was made to celebrate the vessel’s seventy-fifth anniversary, Mayor Mary Roche hosted a civic reception at City Hall for the captain and crew. Although the Eagle will not be taking part in this year’s Tall Ships Race, it did visit the city six years ago. The vessel began as a training ship for the German navy and since 1946 it has been part of the US Coast Guard officer training programmes.
Westmeath: Jason is minding a rare animal
When Jason Searle and his fiancée Nyree Hogan were driving near their Cushintown, Killucan home they spotted a small animal which seemed to be injured. Jason managed to pick it up and wrap it in a t-shirt and the couple took it to their home. After searching the internet he decided that the animal he had rescued was a pine marten, one of the rarest wild animals in Ireland, and this was confirmed by Dan Donoher from Kildare when he sent him a photograph of the rescued animal. Jason will keep the pine marten for a couple of months until it is strong enough to be released.
Wexford: Work begins on Carnew church
The Church of the Most Holy Rosary, which was built in the middle of the last century, has suffered water damage over the years and work has now begun on its restoration. Funding for the work has come from individuals and families, clubs and organisations who have contributed €162,000 in loans and €14,340 in donations. Preparatory work for the restoration was carried out over a period of eight nights by a team of twenty volunteers. While the renovations are under way all Masses and other ceremonies will be held in Tomacork Church; the work is expected to be completed in August.
Wicklow: Blaze destroys old hotel
A blaze which was attended by five units of the Wicklow Town Fire Brigade destroyed the old Cullenmore Hotel near Ashford during the week. The hotel, which changed its name from the Green Lizard in the 1980s, closed nine years ago when work on the Newtown to Ballinabarney section of the N11 cut the building off from passing traffic. In recent years it had been used as a base for road builders and there was nobody in the building when it caught fire. However it is understood that Gardaí are investigating the cause of the fire.
Week ending June16
Antrim: Cec pays a return visit to HMS Belfast
Cec George has paid a visit to HMS Belfast, now berthed on the River Thames in London, for the first time since before the Second World War when he was an apprentice engineer during its construction. The ninety-year-old believes he is the last survivor of those who worked on the construction of the vessel and the visit was arranged by his granddaughter to mark his ninety-first birthday. Cec’s father and his son Gary also worked for Harland and Wolff, the builder of the vessel where Cec worked for twelve years before moving to Britain.
Armagh: Portadown girl to join ocean rowers
Kate Richardson, a twenty-two-year-old classroom assistant from Portadown, is to join five other girls in an attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean. In the process they hope to become the fastest female crew to complete the voyage and the first woman crew to cross the ocean. Kate, vice-captain of Portadown Ladies Hockey first eleven team, works in Portadown Integrated Primary School. The marathon row is being undertaken to highlight the problem of human trafficking and each of the girls must raise £15,000. Kate will be organising a Walk for Freedom next weekend as part of a series of fundraising events.
Carlow: No more boarders for Knockbeg
For the past two hundred and eighteen years Knockbeg College has had boarders, but the boarding part of the secondary school is to close this year. In the last academic year only twenty students enrolled as boarders, while the number of day students has been increasing. At the height of its popularity the school would have had up to one hundred and sixty boarders. However school principal Cyril Hughes is looking forward to a new school with twenty-one new classrooms which, it is hoped, will be completed by 2014.
Cavan: Willie’s car keeps motoring
Twenty-five years ago Willie McCormick, current president of the Cavan Motor Club, purchased a Ford Capri and to everyone’s surprise the car is still running. Willie believes that it has clocked up more than 753,000 miles at this stage though it has been difficult to keep track as the clock restarts after every 100,000. The Swellan man is still driving his car five days every week though he says he does not clock up the mileage he used to when he was younger, and he believes that regular servicing is the secret to the car’s durability.
Clare: Jobs in line with Miltown Malbay development
The granting of planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a development by local businessman John Jones offers the prospect of one hundred and twenty jobs being created in Miltown Malbay. The €5m project will provide seventy jobs during the construction phase and a further fifty when the SuperValu store opens. Mr Jones expects work to commence at the end of the summer, with the mixed-use development open for business by Easter or the summer of next year. Although there were three objections to the plan, Mr Jones is at pains to point out that none came from residents of the town.
Cork: Fundraising under way for Glengarriff film centre
Fundraising has begun in the US for the proposed €8.6m film centre under the auspices of the Maureen O’Hara Foundation. The Hollywood star built a house in Glengarriff with her late husband Charles Blair in 1998 and it is her aim to have a centre to house personal movie memorabilia as well as providing a number of year-round courses in film-making. The county council has provided a one and a half acre site for the centre in the village, next to Quills, and it is expected to open in three years.
Derry: Tornado takes roof off Eglinton building
A tornado which struck near Eglinton last week took the roof off a farm building where a number of men were working, but fortunately no one was injured. Farmer Fergie Kelly had ten workers in a barn trimming cows’ feet when the tornado struck, ripping the tin roof off the building and causing the cattle to stampede. The roofs were also taken off two sheds, and a collapsing wall damaged a car on the farm. Parts of the barn roof were deposited up to a mile from the farm by the tornado, which was at first thought by the men to be a bomb.
Donegal: John catches a monster in Ballyshannon
Killybegs fisherman John Cunningham last week caught a large sea trout weighing more than eleven pounds, five times the size of the average trout caught in Irish waters. The fish was taken from the shore of the Erne estuary and since it was, at seventy-two centimetres, significantly more than the limit of thirty-two centimetres in length, John had to return it to the water. However it will be officially branded as a specimen fish by the Irish Specimen Fish Committee.
Down: New markers to be set up through county
A number of new markers are to be erected in the county to mark parts of the Mourne Coastal Route, and it has emerged that each marker will cost almost £5,000. The first marker is already in place in Annalong where the original anchor monument was relocated within the village. A second marker, described as an ‘entrance feature’, has been erected at Silent Valley. The markers are the result of a consultation process between Mourne Coastal Route Steering Group and consultants for the Coastal Route schemes but their final total is unclear as funding still has to be sourced.
Dublin: Liffey swim continues to raise money
Many tourists were bemused by the sight of dozens of swimmers diving into the River Liffey from O’Connell Bridge one evening last week. However the more than fifty swimmers were undertaking the Liffey Swim to raise money for cystic fibrosis sufferers. Initiated by Dubliner Robert Clarke, who lost three of his four children to the disease, the swim dates back twenty-seven years. Robert has taken part in every swim to date, as has fifty-six-year-old Larry Mooney, who joined the other swimmers as they travelled the distance from the bridge to the Custom House.
Fermanagh: Schoolboy has lucky escape
Harry Callaghan from Kilmacormick brought back an unusual souvenir from his school outing to Ticketymoo St Angelo Airport and the Lady of the Lake area in Killadeas. The fourteen-year-old picked up a rusty shell dating from the Second World War but had no idea of the danger attached to the object. However when Giannella Callaghan’s partner Liam saw the object he realised what it was and called the police. The Cornagrade area was later sealed off while Army Technical Officers inspected the shell and it was later removed from the area.
Galway: Freedom of city for Galway businesswoman
Mary Bennett, who first came to Galway to complete her hotel training in the Great Southern Hotel, is to be granted the Freedom of the City. Mrs Bennett was also heavily involved in the Salthill Tourism Development Association following her marriage, and is probably best known today for her city centre gift and clothes shop, Treasure Chest. The hotel where she completed her training, now known as The Meyrick, will fittingly be the venue for the ceremony on Monday of next week.
Kerry: Local man wins stone skimming contest
A stone skimming contest was part of the Sea Breeze Festival in Fenit last weekend and it was won by local man Eugene Farrelly. Each stone had to skim off the water at least three times, and then it was the distance which decided the winner. Eugene, one of forty-five competitors, managed to skim his stone an impressive sixty-five metres. Although not official competitors, local TDs Jimmy Deenihan and Arthur Spring tried their hand at the sport during a festival which attracted eight thousand visitors.
Kildare: Near disaster for Kildare couple’s wedding
When Abigail Rooney and Owen Melia from Kildare were organising the finer details of their wedding in West Cork they entrusted the carriage of their wedding cake to close friend Keith Gordon. All went well on the drive to Cork city but on the twisty roads en route to Inish Beg the cake tipped over and split in two. Luckily for Keith, Skibbereen baker Kevin Regan came to the rescue and within an hour had managed to rebuild the cake. The incident was later incorporated in Owen’s wedding speech.
Kilkenny: County has seven on Irish Youth Chess team
Seven young chess players from the county have been selected for the Irish junior chess team for the European Chess Championship in Bulgaria, the EU Youth Chess Championship, the World Chess Championship in Brazil and the World under 19 Chess Championship in India. Under local Chess Master Darko Polimac as coach, the team members from Kilkenny are Ryan Rhys Griffiths, John Courtney, sisters Sarah Jane and Catherine Hearne, Eoin Minnock, Poomima Menon and her brother Arvind Menon.
Laois: A contest with a difference in Durrow
The Durrow Laois ‘Howya Festival’, a nine day Festival of Friendships, will attract scarecrow makers from all over the country to compete in the second annual All-Ireland Scarecrow Championships. The exhibits will be ranged along the streets, while there will also be a Jarvey Tour of Scarecrows in addition to a specially constructed scarecrow village in the centre of Durrow. Other attractions include the inaugural South Laois Tourism Cycle Trail and a Big Family Picnic on the village green.
Leitrim: Nurse and student both honoured
Two people have been recognised as being outstanding in their year, for work and study, one a nurse and the other a first-year student. Vera Bowes, the daughter of Cecil and Louie Bowes of Corrawallen, was named as the Veterinary Nurse of the Year 2011 at the Annual Congress of the Irish Veterinary Nursing Association held recently in Co. Offaly. Vera is based in Sandyford, Dublin. Meanwhile Dylan Mimna, son of Tomás and Rosie Mimna from Drumshangore, has won the title of Student of the Year (First Year) at Carrigallen Vocational School.
Limerick: Concrete shores up Pery area of Limerick
The underground cellars running beneath the Newtown Pery area of Limerick city are being filled with concrete as it is feared that the modern day traffic is too heavy for the constructions. The two-hundred-year-old cellars are on both sides of the street and have a sewer running down the middle, and some of the cellars on William Street have already been filled. Senior county engineer Vincent Murray confirmed that some of the cellars have cracks in their roofs and it would be unsafe to leave them unfilled. It is also envisaged that cellars underneath O’Connell Street will have to be filled in the future.
Longford: Eugene is a modest hero
Though he would rather no fuss was made, Eugene Maguire from Lanesboro has received much praise for his actions earlier this month when he saved a man who was in difficulties in the Shannon. The fourteen-year-old was on the Roscommon side of the river with friends when they heard the cries for help, and he jumped in and managed to throw a lifebelt to the man before helping him ashore. Accompanied by his parents Breda and Oliver, and his brother and sister Sean and Anna, Eugene was the recipient of a special presentation from the Lough Ree Sub Aqua and Lough Ree Rescue clubs.
Louth: Drogheda lane is reopened
Poorhouse Lane, off the Dublin Road in Drogheda, has reopened after being closed for six months. Last December during the bad weather a section of the wall of the neighbouring hospital fell, necessitating the closure. Poorhouse Lane is the link between the St Mary’s and Sunnyside housing estates and the Dublin Road, and the road closure led to people having to travel miles out of their way to gain access. Particularly affected were students attending the Sacred Heart school who needed vehicular access to the area.
Mayo: Matt comes up with a new challenge
He has scarcely completed his last challenge, to climb Croagh Patrick for three hundred and sixty-five consecutive days, but now Matt Loughrey from Murrisk has come up with a new way to challenge himself and raise money for charity. This time he will turn to the water around the Reek and plans to visit each of the estimated three hundred and sixty five islands in Clew Bay. Matt intends to kayak out to a different island each day of the year, beginning in July, but says this will be his last challenge. His Croagh Patrick venture raised €30,000 for the St Vincent de Paul society.
Meath: Navan fair revived after fifty years
For the first time since 1961 the Fair Green in Navan has played host to a fair, with live animals in pens, a pig roasting on a spit and a number of food stalls. Adding colour to scene were members of the Ward Union Hunt Pat Coyle, Ciaran Ryan and Darren Campbell, who arrived for the official opening of the event by Mayor of Navan Phil Brennan. The Fair Green itself was railed off and visitors were asked to pay €5 to enter, with all proceeds being shared by a number of local charities. The event was organised by Councillor Francis Deane.
Monaghan: Castleblayney to do its bit for Bike Week
With National Bike Week running this week Castleblayney is playing its part by hosting the ‘Blayney Bike Blast’ on Sunday. Since it is also Fathers’ Day this will be a Fathers’ Day family cycle, setting off from the Glencarn car park and following a ten-kilometre route. There will also be bicycle races for children of all ages, a tricycle obstacle course for the under-threes and a fancy dress contest. Throughout the week Castleblayney Plant Hire will be offering free bicycle health checks and An Garda Síochána will provide cycle training in local schools.
Offaly: Will festival rise from the ashes?
There was much disappointment in the county this year when it was decided that the Phoenix Festival would have to be cancelled after problems arose over the question of insurance. Now, however, the members of the committee have met with Tullamore Town Councillors to discuss the possibility of holding a different festival later in the year. The committee must now submit a new application for either August or September and they are due to have a follow-up meeting with the councillors next month.
Roscommon: Strokestown can claim country’s oldest man
The President’s Office has now confirmed that Luke Dolan from Cloonfree is Ireland’s oldest man, at the age of one hundred and five. Luke, who now lives in the Sonas Care Centre in Cloverhill, lived in his own Strokestown home until four years ago and spent much of his life working his eight-acre farm. He and his wife, the late Peggy, had seven children, John Joe, Tom, Pat, Michael, Madeline, Gerard and Bernadette and he now enjoys the company of his seventeen grandchildren and thirty-two great-grandchildren.
Sligo: Third annual ‘dip in the nip’ due next week
Next weekend will see the third annual ‘dip in the nip’ which involves both men and women going for a swim in the nude at a location that is kept secret until the last possible moment to deter Peeping Toms. This year there is an innovation in the shape of the Great Big Dipper Party which will take place on the Saturday night after the swim, though there will also be the traditional post-swim breakfast. This year’s event will raise money for the Irish Cancer Society, the Oncology Department of Sligo General Hospital and the Drogheda Cancer Research & Education Trust.
Tipperary: Roscrea to feature on Vatican TV
A television documentary team was in Roscrea last weekend to film in the area for a series on Monastic Ireland, which will be shown on TV 2000, the Vatican channel. George Cunningham provided the information on St Cronan’s in Church Street and on Monaincha, and the crew also filmed at Mount St Joseph. Here the Abbot, Dom Richard Purcell, provided commentary on the present day monasticism of the Cistercian order. The Irish consultant for the series is Kieran Troy from Clareen, while background music for the programme was provided by Lucy McCarthy and her group.
Tyrone: The transformation of a Dungannon Street
Perry Street in Dungannon, which at one time was a vibrant shopping area, had become derelict over the years and gave a poor introduction to the town. Now however the street has been transformed into a row of virtual houses and shops under the guidance of the town council, after owners of the terrace, Bell Contracts Ltd, had given the go-ahead. Among the buildings transformed is the sweetshop owned by Betty Henderson, which closed a number of years ago. It is hoped that the revitalised street will attract more custom to the shops still trading there.
Waterford: Gardaí and publicans join forces against drugs
In an effort to combat the use of heroin in the county the Gardaí are working with publicans who are members of the Vintners’ Association to foster awareness of the problem. A total of ten thousand beer mats have been printed which contain information about drugs and a list of places where abusers can seek help. Included in the details is the name of Tracy Nugent from the Waterford Community Drugs Initiative. She is based in Dungarvan and is often the first person to be contacted by drug users or their families.
Westmeath: Marathon man takes on new challenge
Gerry Duffy from Mullingar, who last year ran thirty-two marathons in thirty-two days, found a new challenge in the Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Championships. This involved ten days of Ironman distance triathlons featuring swimming almost two and a half miles, cycling one hundred and sixteen miles and running a marathon, completing the three sections each day for the ten-day duration. Gerry, who was raising money for Irish Autism Action, won the competition with a nineteen-hour margin.
Wexford: Gorey craftsman makes cover of international magazine
Robert O’Connor, a woodturner from Gorey, was recently profiled in a three-page feature in Woodturning magazine, based in the UK. Robert, a member of the Gorey District Chapter of Woodturners, was introduced to the craft by his father, and he in turn has passed on his expertise to his thirteen-year-old son, Robert junior. The younger Robert had already, at the age of ten, given a woodturning demonstration on TV3 and has also demonstrated to the various classes in Gorey Community School.
Wicklow: Launch of walled garden at Killruddery
Last weekend the walled garden project at Killruddery House and Gardens in Bray was officially launched. The Brabazon family has lived on and farmed the estate since the early seventeenth century and it is a member of the family, Anthony Ardee, who has been responsible for the project. He points out that it is not restored but has been adapted for modern use, with the four acres including muddy areas where chickens and pigs are kept. Surrounded by tall red brick walls, the pebble paths have been replaced by gravel as being more practical.
Week ending June 23
Antrim: Ballymoney cheerleaders for European Championships
The Riada Rockets cheerleading team from Ballymoney have been selected to represent Britain at the European Championships in Slovenia next month. This is the first time a squad from the North has been chosen and the Riada Rockets have only been established for the past three years. The team members, who come from all across the north coast, are trained by Karen Graham, squad coach with the Northern Ireland All Stars. Their selection came following the Northern Ireland session of the National Events which was held in Antrim a few weeks ago.
Armagh: Cancer deaths lead to marathon half-marathons
Two men from Derrymacash who have both seen people close to them die of bowel cancer are to run fifty-two half-marathons in fifty-two weeks to raise money for Action Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK. Owen Crilly and Patrick McAliskey began their venture with the Lisburn Half-Marathon and they are running while fitted with GPS watches so that their progress can be tracked by visitors to their website. The two men, both aged forty three, are hoping to raise £15,000 for their chosen charities.
Carlow: Carlow centenarian still enjoys a flutter
Margaret Hannon, who is originally from Athy Road in Carlow but now lives in England, celebrated her one hundredth birthday last week. The celebrations, a Mass followed by a party in the local Irish centre in Ellesmere Port, were kept secret from her until the day by her sons Patrick and Thomas. Margaret, who still has relatives in Athy and Killeshin, attended school at Oak Park in Carlow. A second celebration was organised by the staff of Ladbrooke’s where the now centenarian places a bet every day.
Cavan: Laragh man ordained to diaconate
Rev. Sean Maguire from Carrickacromin, Laragh, was one of seven men ordained to the diaconte at the end of May, the final stage on the road to priesthood. A former pupil of Tunnyduff National School and Bailieborough Community School, Sean’s ordination was attended by his parents and family. He entered the seminary in Maynooth at the age of eighteen and, at twenty-four, he was the youngest of those who became deacons. He will spend the summer serving the parishioners in Cavan town and in Manorhamilton.
Clare: Killaloe hopes to be capital for a weekend
The town of Killaloe on the shores of Lough Derg has ambitions to retain its ancient title of capital of Ireland for one weekend in April 2014. That year Killaloe will celebrate the one thousandth anniversary of the death of Brian Boru at Clontarf and the organisers of the celebrations are hoping the town will be granted the honorary title while the celebrations are taking place. Among events already proposed are a charity March of Warriors and a world reunion of the O’Brien clan, which is estimated to have seven hundred thousand members.
Cork: Former cinema becomes part of paint project
The former Lido Picture House in Blackpool, which opened eighty years ago but was in danger of becoming derelict, has been included in the Dulux Let’s Colour project and is now covered in multi-coloured cubes. After competition from cinema complexes forced its closure, the building was used by O’Meara Camping for some years before being taken over by a private developer, and now the City Council is hoping that a new community use can be found for it. One suggestion is that it could be used for a community-related arts project.
Derry: A beauty contest with a difference
Alixandra Halliday from Eglinton has been selected for the regional finals of the Miss Earth competition, a contest with an emphasis on ecology. The twenty-year-old photography student is at present working in Italy encouraging people to recycle their plastic bottles, and she has also persuaded friends to help her in cleaning beaches and forests in her home county. Alixandra is being sponsored by her father’s company, JC Halliday and Sons, and is hoping that her promotion of the environment in her local community will help her to the Green Award title.
Donegal: Town comes together to support Keri’s dream
A nine-year-old Buncrana girl who was born blind now has the chance of having her sight restored through stem cell treatment in China, and the town has come together to ensure she can go. Keri Kelly has said the two things she wants most to see are her mother Tracey’s face and a rainbow. Among the fundraising events taking place to raise the necessary €30,000, as Keri, her mother and her sister Zoe will have to stay in China for twenty-four days, is a parachute jump to be undertaken by Tracey.
Down: Castle Ward open day on Sunday
To celebrate the opening at the weekend of a twenty-one mile network of trails for walkers, cyclists and horse riders at Castle Ward demesne, an event entitled ‘Hot on the Trails will be held on Sunday. People are invited to visit the demesne and try out the new trails free of charge. Bike hire will be available and there will be guided bike tours. Another day will be set aside for a similar event for horse riders. The trails have taken six months to complete and they have opened up areas of Castle Ward that were previously inaccessible to the general public.
Dublin: First visitor enjoys City of a Thousand Welcomes
City of a Thousand Welcomes, an initiative of former publisher of “The Dubliner” Trevor White, received its first visitor on Bloomsday when Diana Morris from New York arrived in the St Stephen’s Green offices. She was welcomed by journalist Róisín Ingle who took her to Bewley’s, one of three hospitality partners who provide free refreshment to the participants; the other two are the Merrion Hotel and the Porterhouse pub. The offices are housed in the Little Museum of Dublin, an amenity that is due to open later in the year.
Fermanagh: RSPB’s hard work pays off at Aghatirourke
Members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have been working for the past four years and their success is demonstrated by the hatching of a pair of golden plover chicks. The golden plover is one of the rarest species in Ireland and for the past seven years there have been no breeding pairs on the Aghatirourke Reserve, and none on Cuilcagh Mountain for the past two years. Among measures taken to ensure the preservation of the plovers’ habitat was the cutting of the area by hand, with the assistance of a number of volunteers.
Galway: Ordination in Loughrea
For the first time in ten years an ordination took place last week in St Brendan’s Cathedral in Loughrea, when Rev. Raymond Sweeney was ordained to the priesthood for the Clonfert diocese. The Loughrea native was formerly a director of nursing based at St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe. Last Monday Father Raymond celebrated his first Mass in the cathedral, and this was followed by a Parish Reception in the Temperance Hall. He will be spending the summer with the Irish Pastoral Center in Boston.
Kerry: Footbridges give access to Carrauntoohil
Two footbridges and a car park which were officially opened last week by Minister Jimmy Deenihan will give greater access to Carrauntoohil, which attracts tens of thousands of climbers each year. Donal O’Connor donated land at Lislebby for a second car park, while the steel footbridges in the Hag’s Glen area were made and donated by Liebherr, the German crane company based in Killarney. The bridges have been named after the late Patie O’Shea, local community activist, and in memory of Angela Kenny, who drowned in the area a number of years ago.
Kildare: Newbridge resident is record sheep shearer
Geoff Coller, originally from Australia but now living in Newbridge, broke a new record when, over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, he sheared six hundred and forty sheep in a twenty-four hour period. Geoff was helped by a number of people including a crew of eight who helped to ensure the sheep were ready for shearing, and Declan Houlihan who packed the wool, which weighed two and a half thousand pounds. Geoff raised some €3,000 for two charities, Barnardos and Aware.
Kilkenny: Burnchurch school celebrates renovation
Bishop Séamus Freeman and local TD Phil Hogan attended the celebrations last week to officially mark the renovations at Burnchurch National School in Danesfort. Dating from 1949, the school was first extended nineteen years ago and now has two new classrooms, a staff room and an Astroturf pitch. The day after the official opening and blessing, an Open Day was held at the school. A history is to be compiled featuring memories of past pupils, the oldest of whom began school in 1925.
Laois: World title for Shauna
Shauna Tierney from Abbeyleix took part in the recent Cumann Rince Náisiúnta All-Ireland Irish Open Championships in Dublin and took first place in the under-fourteen section. Shauna had been working towards the championships for the past six months, practising three times a week under the expert eye of dance teacher Mary Gohery. Although she has won many medals over the past six years this was her first All-Ireland title. Shauna was accompanied to Dublin by her parents Martina and Gerard.
Leitrim: Ciara holds event for Moldova
Last weekend Ciara Kelleher hosted a barbecue evening, entitled Burger and Boxty, at her home in Errew. She is due to return to Moldova next month to continue helping out at the Hincesti orphanage, home to abandoned or orphaned children and young adults, some of them with disabilities. The barbecue evening was the latest fundraising event in a series which Ciara has been undertaking for the orphanage through the Irish charity Outreach Moldova, which was established eleven years ago.
Limerick: Bruff holds its own Bloomsday
The village of Bruff held the largest Bloomsday celebration outside Dublin last Thursday, when up to six hundred local people dressed up in 1904 costumes to celebrate the village’s association with James Joyce. Bruff man George Clancy was the author’s best friend in college and he later became the Mayor of Limerick; he was murdered by the Black and Tans in 1921. Joyce based one of the characters in “Ulysses” on his friend George, whose family still live in the village. As part of the celebrations, which are now in their third year, a butcher’s boy messenger race was held.
Longford: Fundraiser for St Christopher’s
Recently a fundraising evening took place in aid of St Christopher’s Services in Longford, which provides a service to people with intellectual disabilities. The event was staged in The Oasis in Legan by the Legan branch of St Christopher’s and all the local entertainers gave their services free of charge. On a night that raised more than €2,000 for the services thanks were offered by the committee members to all those who helped out, in particular the Slowey family.
Louth: Rebecca ran marathon for skaters
Rebecca Hoey from Dundalk ran in the recent Flora Women’s Mini Marathon in Dublin and raised €1,148.50 for the Ice Skating Association of Ireland. Rebecca’s two daughters, Niamh aged fifteen and thirteen-year-old Ciara, are both keen ice skaters and began skating at the Dundalk Ice Dome. Now that it is closed the two girls have to travel to Belfast and only get to train once a week, rather than the daily sessions they had when the Dome was open. Both girls won prizes at the Telford Open in England earlier this year.
Mayo: O’Malleys to descend on Newport
This weekend sees the 57th O’Malley Clan Rally being held in Newport under the current chieftain, local man Michael O’Malley. Among the events organised for the clan members, who are travelling from all over the world, is a documentary on the life and times of Grace O’Malley, “Ar Thóir Granuile”, presented by An tAthair Padraig Ó Maille. A bus tour will take members on a tour to visit St Patrick’s Church, Burrishoole Abbey, Carrigahowley Castle and Achill Island. The annual Clan Luncheon will be held in Nevin’s Newfield Inn in Tiernaur, following which the investiture of the incoming chieftain, Austin Francis O’malley, will take place.
Meath: Kells woman has important role in Special Olympics
Louise Tinne from Kells, who works with Rehabcare in Navan, has an important role to play in the Special Olympics World Games being held in Athens. Louise is the medical co-ordinator for the Irish team of more than one hundred and seventy athletes as well as having a responsibility for the coaches and management team. Louise first helped out with the Special Olympics when in her teens, helping her mother at the national games. Six athletes are from Meath, Edward Kennedy from Julianstown, Liam Brady and Robert McDonald from Dunshaughlin, John Blake and Stephen Browne from Navan, and Laura Kelly from Oldcastle.
Monaghan: Monaghan hosts blacksmiths’ gathering
Monaghan town will this weekend be hosting the Irish Artist Blacksmith’s Association gathering which will welcome blacksmiths from all over the world for a three-day event. Cork blacksmith Mark Keeling has created the festival centrepiece, a four metre tall steel structure known as the Hive of Knowledge, and fifteen international and Irish blacksmiths will forge panels for the Hive. Four forging stations will be set up around the town and the event is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
Offaly: Stone carving returned to Clonmacnoise
A stone head, possibly a depiction of St Ciaran, which went missing from Clonmacnoise in 1998, has been returned to the monastic settlement. It is not known in whose possession the head has been, but an intermediary involved in its return reported that the perpetrators had had very bad luck since they took it. It was originally one of four artefacts surrounding St Ciaran’s Well and was used as a station by pilgrims. Now it is being researched by the Office of Public Works, after which it will be returned to its original location.
Roscommon: Party for Taughmaconnell centenarian
When Maggie Kelly from Onagh, Taughmaconnell reached her one hundredth birthday it was marked with a Mass, celebrated by Father Sean Neylon and Father John Killeen, followed by a family party in the Hodson Bay Hotel. Maggie lived in Skyvalley following her marriage to Kieran Kelly, who died more than twenty years ago. Until four years ago she lived at home before she moved into Tearmainn Bhride Nursing Home in Brideswell. Joining her for her celebrations were her children, Kieran, John Joe and Mary, her seven grandchildren and her two great-grandchildren.
Sligo: Women in chains at council meeting
The latest meeting of Sligo Borough Council ended up with at least two women in chains. But the chains were chains of office as, for the first time in the history of the council, both the mayor and deputy mayor are women. Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady of Fianna Fáil was elected as Mayor of Sligo, while Councillor Veronica Cawley was elected as Deputy Mayor. Councillor Cawley previously held the position of mayor, while newly-elected Mayor O’Grady has taken on the chain of office for the third time.
Tipperary: Ballycommon improvement works completed
Work to improve the village of Ballycommon, first mooted eight years ago, is now complete. A committee was set up under Joe Ryan in 2003 and the assistance of local architect Don O’Neill was sought. He and Patti O’Neill, Brian Hanly, Eoin Seymour, Vincent Molloy, Mary McCullough, Dermot O’Brien, Tony Forde, Frank Slattery, Paul Shesgreen, and Michael King were all involved in the transformation, which includes the planted of mature maple trees on either side of the village street. The work was carried out by the Roads Department of the local council, who provided eighty per cent of the funding.
Tyrone: Strawberries galore in Sion Mills
Last weekend saw the annual Strawberry Fair festivities taking place in Sion Mills. The fair has been held for more than twenty years and attracts visitors from all over the North. The festivities were started by the Cowan Memorial Flute Band leading a parade which included this year’s Strawberry princess, nineteen-year-old Rachel Fyffe from Castlederg. Special guest at the fair was the ‘Singing Diggerman’ Andy Lowry, while a pet dog show was sponsored by Greenacres Kennels and Cattery in Victoria Bridge.
Waterford: Waterford honours two entertaining sons
In a joint ceremony in city hall during the week two entertainers from Waterford were granted the Freedom of the City. Val Doonican, from Passage Road, and Brendan Bowyer, from Bailey’s New Street were joined by members of their families for the occasion. Val Doonican’s nomination came from Davy Daniels and was seconded by Jack Walsh, while the honour was proposed for Brendan Bowyer by Séamus Ryan and seconded by Jim D’Arcy. Following the ceremony dinner was served in city hall to the councillors and guests.
Westmeath: A thousand sign up for Athlone sporting event
The sixth annual Waterways Ireland triAthlone, due to take place next weekend, has attracted almost a thousand entries so far, though the final figure is expected to be closer to two and a half thousand. This year it is a one-day event so traffic disruption will be at a minimum, and it will be coinciding with the Athlone Town Council Summerfest festival. Although the Irish Sprint Triathlon Championships will be held, commitments overseas for the best-known triathletes will narrow the field. Inny Kayakers Association and Athlone Sub Aqua Club are offering a free practice swim for participants the day before the event.
Wexford: County has its own Rose for first time
Although women from Wexford have taken part in previous years in the Rose of Tralee contest, they have always been representing other counties or other countries. This year for the first time the county is being represented by a local woman, Mary Kehoe from Pallas West, who made it through the selection convention in Portlaoise to win a place in the Kerry line-up. A daughter of James and Mary Kehoe, she represented Cushinstown/Rathgarogue in the Wexford stage of the contest, and was sponsored by Redmond Electric.
Wicklow: Bray man is Leinster chess champion
John Joyce from Bray has won the title of Leinster Chess champion following a competition featuring eleven other contestants in Dublin. John, who is captain of the Bray-Greystones Chess club, began playing chess while attending Presentation College and went on to become Irish Under-Nineteen Champion. He was also part of the Bray-Greystones team who were All-Ireland Champions in 1999, 2000 and 2010, and narrowly missed taking the Irish Senior title seven years ago. John is a brother of cricketer Ed Joyce.

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Until next time, many thanks for reading  and we hope you enjoyed this issue of County News.
Slan agus beannacht,
Bridget & Russ 
May the bearer of the news be safe
Gura slán an scéalaí