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 March:
ED. NOTE: If you are a new subscriber, this monthly news update is in addition to our regular newsletter. 
Week of March 3
Antrim: Civic reception for Ballymena soldier
Phillip Gillespie from Ballymena, who lost a leg due to a booby trap explosion while on service in Afghanistan, was accorded a civic reception by the Mayor of Ballymena, Maurice Mills, last week. Phillip, usually known as Barney, is now being cared for by his girlfriend Kirsty Crawford. He is a member of the Royal Irish Regiment and he spent the first three weeks after the incident in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for a series of operations, after which he was able to work towards returning home to Ballymena.
Armagh: Who owns Fred?
That is the question to which Trevor Greer is trying to find an answer, after a small ferret entered his home through the catflap and woke him up with a friendly licking in the early hours of the morning. Trevor, who is disabled, lives in Seagoe Park in Portadown and has four cats, so he thought it was one of his own pets had come to visit him in the middle of the night. The ferret, named Fred by Trevor, is now happily living alongside the four cats and enjoying their food, but he is so tame Trevor is convinced he is someone’s pet, and he is now hoping to locate the owner.
Carlow: Who made the tree ivy rings?
Oak Park Forest Park ranger Jimmy Doyle is curious to know who is responsible for some bizarre decorations found hanging from trees all through the forest in recent weeks. Someone has carefully stripped all the leaves from ivy vines before pleating the vines and shaping them into rings. Last week the ranger found twenty-five of the rings hanging on trees and a further thirteen were found this week all hanging from one branch, with others higher up the tree. Some people have reported seeing similar adornments in England but no one is quite sure of their significance.
Cavan: Belturbet community shows commitment
When a public meeting was called in the Railway Station in Belturbet last week in a move to put the town on the map, the organises expected some fifty people to turn up. In the event the meeting attracted one hundred and sixty local residents who all had ideas of how life could be improved. Speaking at the meeting, which was co-ordinated by Una Traynor of Breifne Integrated, was Belturbet native Fidelma Tinneny who called for cohesion in planning for the future. It was agreed that a multi-purpose complex is needed for the town and possibly the Town Hall could be refurbished to provide this amenity. Pike fishing, bird watching and day trips on the River Erne were also mooted as having potential. A second meeting is taking place this weekend.
Clare: Sweetener included with wind farm plan
Clare Coastal Wind Power, the company behind a proposed €100m wind farm near Doonbeg, has included in its proposal a visitor viewing tower on the site. The tower gallery would give visitors a 360 degree panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the wind farm. Already the company has signed expressions of interest with landowners in the townlands of Shragh and Mountrivers, and will enter into twenty-five-year leases with them once planning permission has been granted. Such viewing towers are already in place in other countries and one in England has attracted up to ten thousands visitors a year.
Cork: Unusual adornment to Blackrock altar
When Mass was celebrated last weekend at St Michael’s Church in Blackrock the parishioners were faced with an unusual additional to the usual items on the altar. Over the last four years much work has been carried out on the church, including cleaning the timber structures behind the altar, and for this a cherrypicker was needed. However last weekend the owners of the large red piece of equipment were not available to remove it and so it remained as a very unusual part of the liturgy.
Derry: Newly-opened boutique picks up award
Sarah-Jane Knox opened her boutique in Magherafelt just five months ago but already it has picked up a prestigious award. In the Northern Ireland 2010 Magners Light Style Awards the Sarah-Jane Boutique was voted The Most Stylish Fashion Outlet. Sarah-Jane has expressed her gratitude for the great support she has received from local people, though her customers are not confined to Magherafelt as she has people coming from as far away as Cork in search of brands that she carries.
Donegal: Ramelton’s secret brew for nationwide distribution
McDaid’s Football Special, a type of cola made in Ramelton which has been almost solely confined to a north Donegal market, is now to be launched nationwide. The drink was created more than fifty years ago by Jim McDaid and his brothers, one of whom, Eamon, made a note of the recipe. It was made in response to a request from the Swilly rovers Football Club for an alternative to whiskey to be put into a winning cup. The drink is made using water from a spring just one hundred yards from the plant run by Jim’s son Edward, who is one of only two people to know the exact ingredients, and it will go on sale nationwide in June.
Down: Strangford bar celebrates 200 years
A year-long series of events are to take place to mark the two hundredth anniversary of The Cuan bar in Strangford, which opened its doors in 1811. The first owner was Henry Sharvin and the Sharvin family remained involved in the bar until 1989 when it was sold to the current owners, Peter and Caroline McErlean. They have recreated part of the premises to resemble a spirit grocers, and part of the celebrations will include a reunion of members of the Sharvin family. There will also be an international golf day, theatre performances and a “Mr and Mrs” competition.
Dublin: First World War soldier to be buried with honours
A Dubliner whose family emigrated to Canada and who was subsequently killed in the First World War is to be buried with full military honours in France. Thomas Lawless was born in Santry and emigrated with his family to Canada at the age of nineteen in 1908. He subsequently became a private in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1959 and lost his life two years later north of Vimy Ridge in France. His remains were discovered during construction work eight years ago and his burial in Vimy will be attended by family members from Canada and Ireland.
Fermanagh: Traders still at odds with council
First it was the closure of roads, now it is the removal of signs that is causing disquiet among traders in Enniskillen. Restaurant owners in The Diamond area of the town have found that their advertising signs have been removed and, since they are located behind the Town Hall, this has led to a loss of business. Kamal Mahal, the owner of the Indian Restaurant on Water Street, and Manni Maravelakis, the director of Dollakis, are among those who have complained to the council about the removal of the signs. According to Ruairi Sweeney of Franco’s the council denied having them in their possession, though Brendan Hegerty of the District Council reported that it had been agreed at a council meeting that the signs should be removed.
Galway: Mitchell centenary to be celebrated at Kylemore
The 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Mitchell, the man who   built what was originally known as Kylemore Castle, will be celebrated next year and a number of events are being planned by the Benedictine Community. Students from the furniture design course at the Galway Institute of Technology campus at Letterfrack have been invited to design outdoor furniture for children, and it is hoped to have this in place at Kylemore Abbey by next May. The castle was built by Mitchell Henry for his wife after the couple had honeymooned in the area, but she tragically died while visiting Egypt and she is buried at Kylemore.
Kerry: Teasy is chauffeur to her own party
Travelling to her eightieth birthday party held at Meadowlands in Tralee last week, Teasy Sheehy also collected some of her guests to drive them to the event. Teasy, originally a Tarrant from Ballylongford who married Donie Sheehy, is now living in Shanakill and the party was organised by her son Donie and her daughters Bridie, Markie who lives in Tullamore, Teresa who came from England, and Debra. Greatly missed at the celebration was her late son Padraig, whose three children, Hayley, Craig and Melissa, live with Teasy.
Kildare: Skate park under discussion once again
According to Newbridge Town councillor Murty Aspell, the subject of a skate park for the young people of Newbridge has been raised several times since he joined the council sixteen years ago. And according to Mayor Paddy Kennedy, a delegation on a twinning trip to Bad Lippspringe in Germany even visited such an amenity. Now the subject has come up again and the latest suggestion, from Councillor Aspell, is that the former swimming pool at Ryston be converted to a skate park. He also suggested that, in addition to the park, the building could also be used as a youth club.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny musician wins contest for violin
Maria Ryan from Ballyhendricken will have the exclusive use of a George Channot violin, dating from the early eighteenth century, after winning the Heineken Ireland competition. Maria, who studied at the Cork School of Music, will retain the €100,000 violin for the next four year and will also receive a bursary of €5,000 to enable her to purchase a bow, which she will be allowed to keep. Now based in London, Maria will be performing at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in the summer, with pianist Ciara Moroney.
Laois: Portlaoise Singers’ annual concert
The Portlaoise Singers will be holding their thirty-fifth annual concert next Sunday in the Heritage Hotel. Over the past thirty-four years the group has taken first place at the Cork Choral Festival on three occasions, as well as winning prizes in Wales and in France. This year’s concert will feature two concert grand pianos with pianists Brian MacNamara and Padraic Ó Cuinnegáin performing Rachmaninov and also accompanying the singers in selections from “Porgy and Bess” and “My Fair Lady”.
Leitrim: A first for Fenagh
For the very first time a St Patrick’s Day parade is to be held in the village of Fenagh, home to the late writer John McGahern, on the northern shore of Fenagh Lough. And in addition to St Patrick making his way through the village there is a possibility that the founder of Fenagh Abbey, St Caillin, might also be represented in the parade. Members of a local committee are at present putting the final preparations in place for the event, which will include floats from local businesses and community groups.
Limerick: Parteen woman rescued by son’s dog
A Parteen woman taking her usual walk on the University of Limerick campus had a lucky escape thanks to her son’s dog, who had accompanied her on the walk. Mairead Guerin was walking along the bank near the Black Bridge with the dog, Oden, when the bank collapsed beneath her and she fell several feet into an exposed drain. She was completely submerged in the water but managed to grab the dog’s lead and, since it is a husky and trained for pulling, the dog pulled her out on to the bank. The area has now been sealed off but no one is claiming responsibility for its maintenance.
Longford: GAA recognition for three Cashel men
Cashel native Martin Skelly was recently appointed as chairman of the GAA Leinster Council and took up the post following a ceremony at the Longford Arms Hotel. This was followed by a civic reception hosted by the county council at Áras an Chontae. Meanwhile two Longford men have been included in the Irish Independent’s “Unsung Heroes” competition, for outstanding footballers who never won an All-Ireland medal. John Donlon and Mick Casey have both been nominated in the ‘half-backs’ category.
Louth: Plans outlined for Ardee Castle
Brian Walsh, head of the County Museum in Dundalk, has addressed the Ardee Town Council, telling them that he is determined to turn Ardee Castle into one of the finest museums in the region. Also addressing the councillors was architect Fionnula May, who outlined the amenities of the castle, including the restaurant, the courtroom and the top floor. The former two spaces can be made accessible and she envisages the restaurant being used as a museum space. Mr Walsh said he would like to see the castle become a major arts, cultural and historical centre, providing a significant tourist attraction for the town.
Mayo: Fourth generation welcomed to Swinford court
When William O’Connor was welcomed to Swinford District Court by solicitor John O’Dwyer recently, he was continuing a tradition that has now spanned four generations. The son of Pat and Gillian O’Connor, William’s great-grandfather Patrick was welcomed to the courtroom in 1900, his grandfather in 1937 and his father in 1974. In addition to his legal duties the newly-qualified solicitor is a first team member of Ballina RFC, a former youth development officer with Connacht Rugby and a sailing instructor with the Irish Sailing Association.
Meath: New children’s centre opens in Ashbourne
The Fun Galaxy centre opened recently at the Ashbourne Retail Park, with the creation of twenty-eight new jobs. A further thirty jobs will be created when a specialised toy shop opens in the same complex next month. With one of the largest play structures in Europe, the centre also offers a teddy bear factory, a high ropes course and a climbing wall. Sharon Farrell, the owner of Fun Galaxy, has stressed that it will be accessible to all children and will cater for those with special physical as well as dietary needs.
Monaghan: Courthouse reopens
Chief Justice of Ireland Justice John Murray performed the official opening of the newly refurbished Monaghan Courthouse last week. The more than two thousand square metre building, which dates from the early years of the nineteenth century, has undergone a major refurbishment project at a total cost of €8.5m after much of it was destroyed in an arson attack thirty years ago; very little of the original architectural features survived the fire. The work took just over a year to complete and the courthouse can now host sittings of the High Court and Central Criminal Court in addition to the District and Circuit Courts.
Offaly: Bracknagh to be on RTE’s list
RTE have confirmed that they will be visiting Bracknagh on March 17 to include the village’s St Patrick’s Day parade in their coverage. The organisers, including John Broderick, Maria Daly, Elaine Geoghegan, Margaret Kelly, Peg Nolan and Tracey Sheridan, are now holding a fundraising event, a cake sale and bric-a-brac sale, in the community hall in St Brochan’s Park on Sunday next. They are also calling on local businesses to donate money towards the event, which will set out from Ardra Bridge.
Roscommon: A sixty-year gap is closed
For the first time in sixty years the county has a TD based in Castlerea, following the election of the county mayor, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan; Castlerea resident and Fianna Fáil TD Dan O’Rourke lost his seat in 1951. The Independent candidate had stood for a range of issues including the controversy over the discontinuation of turfcutting, although he is perhaps best known for his promotion of the legalisation of cannabis. The county had one of the highest voting turnouts on record last week, with some eighty per cent of the electorate making the effort to vote.
Sligo: Bridging the Garavogue is back on the agenda
Despite having deleted from the Sligo and Environs Development Plan last December the proposed bridge over the Garavogue, it has now been reinstated by the Borough Council. They were told by the Department of the Environment that it was an integral part of the Cranmore regeneration project and no funds would be allocated if it was not included. The proposed bridge has been opposed by the residents of the Riverside, Martin Savage and Doorly Park areas on the grounds that there would be increased volumes of traffic in the area.
Tipperary: James will train with Russian ballet
James Berkery O’Brien from Nenagh is due to leave for St Petersburg in April where he has been accepted as a student at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. A former pupil of Gael Scoil Nenagh and Nenagh Vocational School, James is now studying at Coláiste Stiofán Naofa Cork for a Diploma in Dance specialising in ballet, modern, contemporary and jazz dance, and he recently played a leading part in the Cork City Ballet production of ‘Swan Lake’. James has already raised half of the €2,000 he needs to fund his travel to Russia and is working hard to raise the rest before he leaves next month.
Tyrone: Commemorative plaque for Strabane native
The Ulster History Circle last week erected a blue plaque in the library in Strabane to honour Dr George Sigerson who was born in the town in 1836. The society was supported by the District Council, the GAA, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Libraries NI. The unveiling of the plaque marks the centenary of the establishment of the Sigerson Cup, a football competition and the longest serving trophy in the GAA. Dr Sigerson paid for the cup from his salary at UCD and it originally involved UCD, UCC and UCG, with QUB joining in 1923 and TCD forty years later.
Waterford: New cemetery for Waterford
A new cemetery was opened in Waterford last week by Mayor Mary Roche, the first multidenominational cemetery in the city. Located at Kilbarry and costing a total of €1m, the cemetery includes a remembrance garden, a columbarium of natural stonework with granite plaques, a plot of angels, and space for four and a half thousand graves. At the opening of the burial ground blessings were given by Father O’Halloran and Roger Johnston, the latter representing the Quaker community, and a closing prayer was said by the parish priest of St Saviour’s Parish, Father Corish.
Westmeath: Extension work unearths treasure
Pat Tiernan’s preliminary work on an extension to his home in Rickardstown near Mullingar led to an unexpected discovery. The amateur archaeologist looked out of the window after a spell of wet weather and saw bones and a pot sticking up from the soil. He immediately recognised the significance of the skeleton and bowl he had unearthed, and a team from the National Museum confirmed the find as being human remains and a Bronze Age bowl, between 4,000 and 4,500 years old. The items will now be analysed and preserved at the museum.
Wexford: Kilmuckridge hotelier issues invitation to young couple
Among the invitations received, rather than sent out, by Prince William and Kate Middleton is one from Graham Bell of Seán Óg’s Hotel in Kilmuckridge. Sean decided to offer his hotel as the perfect getaway for the couple’s honeymoon and wrote to St James’ Palace to that effect. And although he is not optimistic about his chances of being asked to host the honeymoon couple, Graham was delighted to receive a reply from the palace, stating that his invitation would be carefully considered during the planning process.
Wicklow: Bray sportswoman to lead Dublin’s parade
The organisers of this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin have announced that the Grand Marshal will be world champion lightweight boxer Katie Taylor from Bray. Katie, who began boxing at the age of twelve, was the first woman to box in the country’s first officially sanctioned women’s bout when she was fifteen. With three world titles and two Female Boxer of the Year awards, the twenty-four-year-old was selected for her contribution to Irish sport and culture. Katie also plays with the Ireland Women’s Senior Football team.
Week of March 11
Antrim: A dip in the pool for McCausland
Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland was one of fifty people who jumped into a pool outside City Hall in Belfast last week but, unlike most of the participants, Mr McCausland jumped into the pool in full police uniform, and was the first person in. Having been totally immersed he then removed his cap, filled it with water and poured it over his head, to the amusement of the onlookers. The dip into the cold water was undertaken every hour on the hour for twenty-four hours to raise money for Special Olympics athletes.
Armagh: Dispute over fate of Armagh parish hall
Parishioners in Armagh are concerned at reports that a planning application to be discussed at this week’s council meeting concerns the demolition of the St Patrick’s Cathedral parochial hall. It is believed that the site is to be used for the construction of a retirement home for priests but local people, including Stephen Fields, secretary of the West Armagh consortium community group are opposed to the idea. For its part the archdiocese has said that no decision has been taken by the parish with regard to the parochial hall. Meanwhile parishioners have held protests outside the hall against its demolition. 
Carlow: Vice-principal leaves Ballyfin school
Frances Harney recently retired from her position as vice-principal of Ballyfin National School after spending her entire teaching career of twenty-eight years at the school. A local woman, four generations of Ms Harney’s family attended the school, where she was particularly involved in remedial teaching. A special Mass to mark her retirement was celebrated by parish priest Father Patrick Hennessy and a number of presentations were made. These included a specially commissioned piece by artist Gemma Guihan, presented by the school’s board of management.
Cavan: Mountnugent man wins Dragons’ approval
Despite having no previous marketing training, Terry Reihill fromm Mountnugent was successful in attracting investment from two of the judges on RTE’s “Dragons’ Den” programme for his business. The engineer has created a website,, providing stock for industry rather than the consumer, with items relevant to the construction industry as well as agriculture, electrical equipment and vehicles. The website has more than twenty thousand items and has received hits from ninety-six countries so far.
Clare: Chef launches eco-tourism network
At Cregan’s Castle in Ballyvaughan last week the Burren Eco-tourism network was launched by chef Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The owner of the hotel, Simon Hayden, is a founder member of the network which includes eighteen businesses which have taken part in a training programme over the past two years. The diverse threads that make the area attractive to visitors have come together to promote food, farming, accommodation, culture and heritage. All the businesses have been audited from an eco-tourism viewpoint.
Cork: New home for Arts Centre
The Triskel Arts Centre is to have a new home when a new venue opens in Cork city next month. The Arts Centre on Tobin Street is to be integrated into a refurbished building on South Main Street which they will manage on behalf of the council. Christ Church, originally known as Holy Trinity Church, dates from the eighteenth century and for the past three years it has undergone a €4.8m refurbishment programme carried out by the City Council. The refurbishment included the installation of a glazed link between the arts centre and the church.
Derry: Two cultures to fuse for national holiday
The centrepiece of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Derry will be a fusion of the two cultures, incorporated into the folk group Kintra. The twelve-piece group play both Irish and Ulster Scots music and they will be performing on the stage at the Guildhall. There they will be joined by Vocal Energy, a rock, pop and gospel choir which will bring together one hundred voices and will be raising money for the charity Children in Crossfire. The city will also see a number of events in the coming week at The Waterside Theatre, An Culturlann and the Central Library, to celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge.
Donegal: Mother Teresa relic to come to St Bridget’s
St Bridget’s Church in Leitirmacaward is to receive a relic of Mother Teresa, who was recently beatified. While it is rare for such a relic, a cutting of Mother Teresa’s hair, to be allowed out of the Vatican, parish priest Father Eamonn McLaughlin wrote to Rome and was given permission to display the relic. The church and the adjoining parish hall will accommodate the thousands of visitors, who will have the opportunity to be blessed by the sacred relic. Visitors will also be able to talk to some Sisters of Charity from Sligo who worked with Mother Teresa.
Down: Kilkeel artwork draws mixed reviews
A new piece of street art by Melanie Jackson marking the entrance to the town of Kilkeel was unveiled recently and has brought a range of comments. The £50,000 installation, entitled “Our Town – Land and Sea”, sits on a plinth of Mourne granite with the name of the town picked out in black lettering. Aluminium waves feature a shoal of fish while the other side shows a tractor harvesting and a couple carrying a basket of produce. While Annette McGrath, wife of Rev Ken McGrath of Christ Church Parish, commended the art work, it was criticised by Councillor Henry Reilly, who said it didn’t lift the area at all.  
Dublin: Layla’s design makes Google homepage
Google’s Irish homepage last week featured the work of a six-year-old Dublin girl whose design won the third Irish Doodle 4 Google competition. Layla Karpuz is in senior infants at Mary Mother of Hope Junior National School in Littlepace and her entry into the competition was selected by Google’s California-based web designer from a shortlist of sixty finalists. In addition to having her doodle on the search engine webpage last Wednesday, Layla also won a laptop for herself, one for her teacher and €10,000 worth of technology for her school.
Fermanagh: Ballinamallard syndicate scoop Lotto win
Twelve staff members at Beatty’s Spar in Ballinamallard were unaware for two days that they had won £25,000 on the Lotto. Jackie McGurn buys the ticket every week at Beatty’s where proprietor Lexie Beatty is also a member, but it wasn’t until Sunday that one member checked the ticket in a machine and was told to contact Camelot. Lexie took his staff for a celebratory drink at The Poachers in Ballinamallard after news of the win spread, and the syndicate collected their winning cheque from Enniskillen Post Office.
Galway: New convent for Galway
The Sisters of Mercy Western Province have been granted planning permission for the construction of a new convent at Rosary Lane on Taylor’s Hill in Galway city. The new convent will have both a two-storey and a three-story section and will comprise forty-three single bedrooms with some communal areas. The planning permission also stipulates the inclusion of forty-three car parking spaces, with access using the existing Croí Nua road. The site for the new convent also includes two protected structures, the Gatelodge and Lenaboy Castle.
Kerry: Local businesses rally round after school theft
Local businesses have rallied round to help the children whose school was broken into and money stolen. The thieves broke into Blennerville National School and ransacked the classrooms, taking money the children had been saving for their school tour. Toby World children’s entertainment centre in Tralee offered the children a free session, while O’Shea’s Coaches and 24/7 cabs offered their transport services. Among other attractions to offer the children an outing were Bowling Buddies, Tralee, Buddies Play Centre, Killarney and Kells Sheep Centre.
Kildare: Dalai Lama visit a sell-out
All six hundred tickets for the visit of the Dalai Lama to St Brigid’s Church in Kildare town on April 13 sold out in just twenty minutes. It took only ten minutes for the tickets sold through Ticketmaster to be snapped up, while the smaller number on sale at the heritage centre in Kildare were all gone in twenty minutes. The visit is being organised by Sister Rita Minihan of the Brigidine Sisters. In addition to his talk in the church, the Dalai Lama will also make a short appearance at an event in the Market Square and will pay a visit to St Brigid’s Cathedral.
Kilkenny: Welsh boat builders afloat on Barrow
A group of twelve Welsh boat builders recently took part in the Rising Tide project, a maritime heritage exchange programme, which saw them sailing two boats they had built themselves. The group came to Graiguenamanagh from Pembrokeshire to build the two boats in three days and then float them on the River Barrow, and they said they were overwhelmed by the welcome they received. The two handmade boats will now be presented to the local Sea Scouts and it is expected that a group from the county will travel to Wales later in the year to help with the construction of a Welsh Tenby Lugger.
Laois: Portlaoise property has lowest reserve price
In a property auction due to take place on April 15 in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel the lowest maximum reserve price has been attached to an apartment in Portlaoise. More than eighty properties will be offered for auction on the day, including a two-bedroom apartment at Bridle Walk in the Kilminchy area of the town which has a price tag of just €35,000. The auction is being held by Dublin agency Space in conjunction with the British auctioneers Allsops who specialise in selling for banks and receivers.
Leitrim: Seán Ó Heslin man to be honoured
A long-time member of the Seán Ó Heslin GAA club in Ballinamore is among those who will be honoured by the GAA in the coming week. Gerry Mahon, who served as Cathaoirleach of Leitrim Co Board from 1981-1984, has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2011 GAA President’s Awards. These awards are presented to those who make an outstanding voluntary contribution to the sports organisation over a prolonged period. The awards are to be presented during a special banquet which is taking place in Croke Park on the evening before St Patrick’s Day.
Limerick: Village brings Hungarian concept home
When former mayor of Co. Limerick John Gallahue noted the large numbers of people visiting Hungary for dental work, he came up with the idea of bringing the Hungarian cost-effective expertise home. A twinning arrangement between the village of Ballylanders and Ersekcsanad in Hungary led to the local Development Association setting up a dental clinic with a Hungarian dentist, and bookings are coming from all the neighbouring counties. The next plan is to build a factory for the manufacture of crowns, dentures and veneers, and construction work is due to begin in May.
Longford: Cinema award for Killoe native
An international film award recently came the way of Tom Begley, originally from Killoe, for his short film, “Cold”. At the Sabaoth International film Festival in Milan the film was awarded the title of Best Short Film. Centring on the abuse of woman, and domestic, violence, the three-minute film contained only one spoken sentence, with the mainly visual message impressing nine out of the ten judges. Tom, the son of Mickey and Mary Begley of Begley’s pub in Killoe, is now based in London.
Louth: Dundalk boxer for European Championships
Dundalk’s Stephen Broadhurst, a member of Dealgan Boxing Club, is to represent Ireland at the European Championships in Armenia in August, after becoming National Open Youth Champion. The seventeen-year-old is trained by his father Tony, though for the championships he will be trained by the Irish team coaches. However Tony and his wife Sheila will be travelling to Armenia to watch their son box. Stephen has now earned eight titles and is hoping to gain his ninth when he takes part in the championships.
Mayo: Autograph nets Charles €1,300
When Charles Mulchrone from Newport had John Lennon and Yoko Ono sign his autograph book while he was still a student at St Jarlath’s College in Tuam, he little realised how valuable the signatures would become. The young Charles heard that the famous couple were at the then Great Southern Hotel in Mulranny and asked his mother to drive him there. He found John and his partner Yoko sitting in the lounge and they willingly signed his book. Last week the book was sold at auction in Co. Laois for €1,300, some €500 more than Charles had been expecting to receive.
Meath: Bogus bull erected in Navan
In a publicity stunt to advertise the Dunderry Fair, the Market Square in Navan was adorned with a new sculpture, but not the one the populace was expecting. What is to be erected in the square is a sixteen-tonne limestone sculpture by Colin Grehan of two men holding the lead rope of a struggling bull. What local passers-by saw was a black bull which was actually constructed from polystyrene and which provoked some less than favourable comments. The bull is the mascot of Dunderry Fair, which takes place in May, while the limestone bull is due to be erected by the end of this month.
Monaghan: Launch of Blacksmiths event in Monaghan town
A large sculpture is to be created in Monaghan town later this year when the largest gathering of blacksmiths ever seen in this country takes place. The ‘International Forge In’ is a collaboration between the Irish and British Artist Blacksmiths Associations and it will be held over three days at the end of June. According to association member Eric O’Neill, blacksmiths were once associated with functional work but forty members are now making furniture and works of art. The six top blacksmiths in the world are expected to come to Monaghan in June where there will be lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions as well as a mediaeval market.
Offaly: Cowen no longer dethroned
While Brian Cowen’s days as Taoiseach may now be numbered, for one past pupil of Gallen Community School in Ferbane he is still worthy of respect. Alan Kelly, now studying at NUI Galway, had fashioned a wooden throne that was lifted on to the stage in the school hall when Brian Cowan, his wife Mary and his brother Barry, newly elected to the Dáil, attended the official opening of the college. The three also visited Banagher College to attend the official opening of that establishment.
Roscommon: Heritage posters launched in Roscommon
The courthouse in Roscommon was the setting last week for the launch of two new heritage posters, part of a series produced by the Heritage Office of the county council to promote the county. They feature Roscommon Castle and the Memorials of St Coman’s Church of Ireland Graveyard. The posters were launched by Dr Kieran O’Connor from NUI Galway’s Department of Archaeology who commended the drawings of the castle by Daniel Tietzsch-Tyler. He also noted the work carried out by Mary B. Timoney on the church memorials dating back to the eighteenth century.
Sligo: Second place for Paddy in Biggest Loser
There was somewhat less of Paddy Cunningham when he returned to his Calry home last week from England, where he is now based, after taking second place in the ITV programme “The Biggest Loser”. The son of Chris and Anne Cunningham and a radio presenter, twenty-eight-year-old Paddy lost a total of six stone eight pounds, having weighed in at twenty-one stone eleven pounds. He will now spend a few weeks at home before going to Dublin to spend five months learning to be a personal trainer.
Tipperary: Nothing ventured, nothing gained for Cashel
Members of Cashel Town Council agreed unanimously that they would issue an invitation to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to visit the town when she comes to Ireland in May. The council is basing its decision on the fact that the queen might pay a visit to nearby Coolmore Stud, given her interest in all things equestrian. The local paper also reports that Thurles could expect to be included in the itinerary since the queen is descended, through her mother, from the Duke of Ormond and many of her ancestors are buried at St Mary’s Church.
Tyrone: Strabane looking to coarse fishing for tourism
With the help of EU Interreg funding for the cross-border Riverlinks project, a canoe trail and walking trail are to be established along the Strabane Canal, as well as a habitat restoration project. However the District Council is also hoping that a coarse fishing attraction can be developed along the canal. Discussions have been taking place for the past eighteen months as there were health and safety issues to be resolved. Such an amenity would be jointly administered with Foyle Fisheries.
Waterford: Irish Brigade attend flag commemoration
Among the more than one thousand people who attended the ceremony in Waterford to commemorate the first raising of the Tricolour by Thomas Francis Meagher were four representatives from the New York 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the Irish Brigade. Waterford-born Meagher, who was a founder of the brigade during the US Civil War, unveiled the flag on Waterford city’s Mall in 1848. The ceremony also saw the largest gathering of Irish naval personnel in the city for thirty years and the presence of the Canadian ambassador Loyola Hearn and representatives from France. Meagher had modelled the Tricolour on the French flag.
Westmeath: Fun cycle to raise money for school
A Sponsored Fancy Dress Cycle taking place on St Patrick’s Day will raise money for the autism unit in St Joseph’s National School in Summerhill as well as enabling improvements to be made to an orphanage in Belarus. The cycle is organised by Athlone and Midlands Chernobyl Aid Project and it will set out on a round trip from the Left Bank area of Athlone to Connaughton’s pub in Clonark. The Left Bank Bistro will host a barbeque after the cycle. A group of sixty will spend some time in the early summer working on the orphanage in Belarus before returning home to work on the extension to the autism unit in the Summerhill school. 
Wexford: Restored motorbike for Gorey parade
A 1988 Honda 250 sports bike has been restored by members of the Ferns Diocese Youth Services over the last two years and it is to feature in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Gorey. The teenagers have been helped by Thomas Tutty of Thomas Tutty Lawnmowers and they are now putting the finishing touches to it. Some members of the group, with community worker Simon John, will accompany the restored motorbike on a float in the parade. The project is part of the Gorey Youth and Community Project and was funded by Leargas.
Wicklow: Dream comes true for two Bieber fans
Two young fans of Justin Bieber had their dreams come true when they came face to face with the teen idol outside an Enniskerry hotel last week. Twelve-year-olds Amy Mooney and Casey Duffy from Newtownmountkennedy had heard a rumour that Bieber was in the Enniskerry Ritz Carlton and persuaded Casey’s mother Sheila to drive them to the hotel. After waiting for three and a half hours, and on the point of giving up and going home, the two girls were rewarded when the singer emerged from the hotel and they were able to take photographs of him.
Week of March 17
Antrim: Taxi driver has an extra fare
Taxi driver Frank Ritchie from Newtownabbey picked up two passengers from Carnmoney to take them to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but by the time he reached his destination he had an extra passenger. Billy and Angela Fegan were heading to the hospital when their son Isaac decided to make an early appearance. Frank pulled his taxi on to the side of the Westlink and helped Billy deliver the little boy, who weighed in at a respectable nine pounds three ounces. The Fegans joked that they initially thought to call their son Francis Westlink.
Armagh: Lurgan taxi drivers to have their own rank
The subject of a designated rank for Lurgan’s taxi-drivers has been discussed for the past twenty-five years, according to one taxi driver, but now it looks as though there might be a decision. Taxi drivers have been fined for parking in the town in places designated for buses, particularly at the old post office on Market Street, but a meeting between Lurgan Forward and the Chamber of Commerce has now taken place and Carnegie Lane has been chosen as a location for up to twelve taxi places.
Carlow: TV show on lookout for Duckett’s Grove ghosts
A television crew from NBC has spent the national feast day at Duckett’s Grove in an attempt to record any ghostly sounds or appearances. “Destination Truth” was filmed at the castle, the home of the Duckett family until 1916, by Josh Gates and a team of paranormal investigators, with the team and crew totalling more than one hundred and twenty. They were hoping to record the sound of the banshee for their American audience, and the visit was welcomed by Eileen O’Rourke of Carlow Tourism.
Cavan: Local business people attend closing of McMahon’s
Large numbers of local business people in Belturbet called on Tommy McMahon last week as his furniture business closed its doors. The shop first opened in 1932 when Tommy’s parents, Jimmy and Julia, opened one half of the present premises as a grocery store. They gradually expanded their merchandise over the years until the early 1990s when Tommy took over. For the past ten years his daughter Tanya has been working alongside him. Some of the others employed in McMahon’s included Willie Millar, Willie Howe, Richard Gibson and Vincent McDonald.
Clare: Martin’s new skill helps to save a life
Martin O’Gorman, a member of Kilrush RNLI, had just completed a casualty care course a few days earlier when he was called upon to put his new skills into practice. He was enjoying a break in a cafe in Kilkee when his wife phoned him to say that a man had collapsed in the street in Kilkee. She collected him in the car and drove him to the place where the man had collapsed and he began full CPR. He was assisted by a nurse who had also stopped, and the Kilkee Marine Rescue Service were soon at the scene. Their public relations officer, Manual DiLucia, confirmed that Martin’s actions had undoubtedly helped to save the man’s life.
Cork: Community garden for Harbour View Road
A collaboration between the City Council and Safefood will see the development of a community garden on waste ground at Harbour View Road in Knocknaheeny. The idea behind the garden is to teach people how to grow their own vegetables and to give them a sense of ownership of the land in a bid to eradicate anti-social behaviour. According to Elaine O’Mahony of Safefood, it is the community that will decide how the space is used so that it will become a social area for everyone. Drainage pathways and a reed bed will contribute to the recycling of water, while an oven made from clay will also be constructed.
Derry: Derry student is UK Young Scientist
Hannah Eastwood from Coleraine has been presented with the UK Young Scientist of the Year award. A former student of Loreto College, the eighteen-year-old won the award for her research into removing chromium from drinking water. Now studying veterinary science at Bristol University, Hannah was also overall runner-up in the BT Young Scientist competition for research into green rust. This was carried out under the direction of her teacher at Loreto College, Brian McKenna. Hannah is the first female winner of the award.
Donegal: Reunion for Castlefin workers
The first ever reunion was held recently in Lynch’s Tavern in Castlefin for former employees of the old Porters factory, where shirts and pyjamas were manufactured. More than seventy cutters and smoothers, machinists and delivery drivers gathered for the occasion, which was organised by Martina McClay and John O’Dowd; John drove a lorry for the company for fourteen years. The factory closed its doors twenty-four years ago and many of the former employees had lost touch with each other over the years. Proceeds from the night were donated to the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Down: Banbridge kayakers tackle canal journey
George Bryans, Dennis Rice and Tony Megraw, who are all members of Banbridge Kayak and Canoe Club, have become the first people to travel the entire length of the Newry and Portadown Canal since 1937. The leading kayaker had to force a way through reeds and also had to hack at fallen branches to open up a passage. The trio were also hindered by a group of swans which steadfastly swam slowly in front of them before eventually taking flight. The expedition was supported by Councillor John Hanna who hopes that it will encourage others to use the canal and the towpath.
Dublin: Ruby makes an early entrance
Wayne Curtis from Rathcoole was quite relaxed when he set off with his fiancée, Niamh Fitzgerald, for Holles Street maternity hospital, as Niamh had experienced just a few cramps. However things turned out a bit differently when she told him the baby was on the way and, pulling into a side road near Bewley’s Hotel, Wayne delivered his baby daughter, Ruby, before asking a passing motorist to call the emergency services. Mother and child, with the electronics engineer turned midwife Wayne, eventually made it to the hospital where Ruby was pronounced to be in good health.
Fermanagh: Rachel’s work receives royal approval
When florist Rachel Gibson from Irvinestown was invited to address a floristry class and give a demonstration at Greenmount College in Antrim, she decided to create a bridal bouquet. This turned out to be fortuitous as the most famous prospective bride of the moment turned up at the college. Rachel, who works at Clare Flowers in Irvinestown, was more than surprised when Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived at the class and the bride-to-be picked up the bouquet of orchids for closer examination.
Galway: Aoife raises money in her father’s memory
Aoife O’Shea from Kinvara has organised a fashion show to be held next week in Gort to raise funds for the heart charity Croí. The sixteen-year-old, a student at Seamount College, has a special reason for supporting the charity, since her father Mike died from an undetected heart condition at the age of forty-nine last year. She is organising the event through her local No Name Club in Gort, to which she has belonged for the past two years. Mike O’Shea was a regular cyclist who had just returned from a charity cycle on the day of his death.
Kerry: Killarney is rallying round Japanese student
Members of Killarney Rugby Club are to hold a teenage disco to raise funds for those stricken by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, to support a young Japanese man who lived in the town for some years. Satoshi Otsuka attended St Brendan’s College while his father worked in Alps Electrical, and stayed in the town for two years to complete his education after his family returned to Japan. A keen member of the rugby club, he stayed with the Purcell family in Coolcorcoran. Although his home was destroyed, Satoshi has survived the events in Japan and his friends are now keen to help his country.
Kildare: Major tree-planting by Naas business
The Queally Group, one of the biggest employers in Naas, is working in collaboration with Naas Tidy Towns Committee to plant a total of one hundred and sixty trees in the town. The project is marking National Tree Week and is ensuring the completion of the project by the Tidy Towns Committee to replant three roundabouts. The trees are to be planted on the perimeter of the Queally plant on the Dublin road side of the town, as well as on the roundabouts and in two local schools. The tree-planting ceremony also included a commendation for local woman Kay Hartigan, who has been appointed as chairwoman of the National Tree Week campaign.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny to become age-friendly
An Age-Friendly strategy is to be launched in Kilkenny at the end of March, making it the second Irish county after Louth to be an official Age-Friendly county. Regional programme manager Debra O’Neill has invited veteran actress Maureen O’Hara to launch the project, which has as one of its aims to encourage people to retire to Kilkenny. The county is also due to celebrate ageing later this year when Kilkenny city hosts the first global festival for older people, to be known as Greystock.
Laois: Swan youth for World Games
Sixteen-year-old Robbie Lyons from The Swan is due to take part in the World Transplant Games in Stockholm in June, competing in the 100m, 400m and indoor hockey. Robbie had a kidney transplant at the age of fifteen but within twelve months he was playing in an under-sixteen football final and has also been selected for the Laois minor football panel. To finance his trip to Stockholm a fundraising event was held recently in Pedigree Corner, organised by St Joseph’s GAA, and Robbie is to do a sponsored climb of Croagh Patrick in April to raise the rest of the money he needs.
Leitrim: No shortage of entertainment in the county
There will be plenty of entertainment on offer for the next week, with a variety concert taking place this weekend to raise funds for Eslin Community Centre. During the evening a one-act play, “A Cure for Nerves”, will be performed by Eslin Drama Group. Meanwhile the Millennium Choir will give a series of concerts next week featuring St Manchan’s choir, Mohill and St Mary’s Girls’ choir from Carrick-on-Shannon. Music will be provided by Fintan Farrelly on organ, violinist Niamh Crowley and Sarah Moran on Flute. The concerts take place in St Patrick’s Church in Mohill and St Mary’s Church in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Limerick: Second river trip for Christmas tree
For the second time the metal Christmas tree located in the River Shannon in Limerick has come away from its moorings. Last year the tree was washed down as far as the Shannon Bridge before being rescued and reinstated, and this year a faulty pump saw it keeling over into the river once again. Now plans are in place to reinstate the one hundred foot high tree in time for St Patrick’s Day, when it will display green lights to mark the feast day. There are also plans to adorn it with red lights when Munster are playing at Thomond Park.
Longford: Line-up announced for Bealtaine Festival
This year’s Bealtaine Festival, to be held during the month of May to celebrate creativity in the older generation, has a line-up to sort all interests. The event involves a number of organisations including St Joseph’s Day Care Centre and Longford Older Persons’ Network, and offers creative writing classes in Longford Library and a concert in Thomond Lodge Retirement Home, Ballymahon. An arts and crafts exhibition is to be held in St Joseph’s, while two intergenerational events will take place. There will be a bog walk in Ballinamuch and an event in Currycahill Hall in Ballinalee. A tea dance in the Park House Hotel in Edgeworthstown will close the festival.
Louth: Motorbike with a difference is up for sale
A motorbike with an unusual side car has been put up for sale by its owner, Peadar Byrne from Dundalk, since he no longer has time to keep a unique enterprise going. Peadar, a coachbuilder with his father, has built a hearse attached to a Yamaha B Max 1200, and the vehicle has been used by a number of bikers for their final journeys. According to Peadar people who have little interest in motorbikes have also expressed an interest in having their final journey in the fibreglass vehicle.
Mayo: Feast day to be celebrated with walk
The coming weekend will see a three-day walking festival taking place which will finish at the foot of Croagh Patrick. The Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail, initiated by the Tóchar Valley Rural Community Network, will be led by experienced guides. The three stages are from Balla to Ballintubber, from Ballintubber to Aughagower, and from Aughagower to Murrisk, at the foot of the mountain. The festival is now in its third year and participants can choose to do one, two or three days’ walking.
Monaghan: Mushroom company plans expansion
Moanghan Mushrooms, which was founded thirty years ago in Tyholland by Ronnie Wilson, is planning to expand the company’s business in Europe and North America, and is hoping to recruit up to twenty graduates to achieve this. The company, which already employs some 2,300 people, is looking for graduates in all branches of engineering as well as a range of science disciplines, business, finance and marketing. Those taken on by the company will undergo an industry leading training programme in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute.
Offaly: Two share Person of the Year title
Two men have been chosen to share the title of 2010 Offaly Person of the Year, by the Offaly Association in Dublin, and both are involved in the charity Goal. Darren Hanniffy is from Birr and was recently in charge of Goal’s work in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake; he has also worked in Honduras and Uganda. Ronan Scully from Clara is preparing for a North Pole marathon run to raise money for Goal. He is now based in Galway. The men will be presented with their awards, sponsored by Noel Tynan of Coolderry, at the Offaly Association’s annual dinner in April.
Roscommon: Memorial walk for St Patrick’s Day
The sixth annual John Paul Corcoran memorial walk, organised by his wife Ann, took place on St Patrick’s Day, starting from Kenny’s Rockfield Inn in Oran and covering a route of ten kilometres. This year’s designated charity is Cancer Care West; last year the walk raised more than €11,000 for the Sacred Heart Hospital Comfort Fund. Immediately after the walk a raffle and auction will take place in Kenny’s, while refreshments will also be served, and music will be provided by Country Sundown.
Sligo: Kelly to join May cycle
It has been confirmed that cyclist Seán Kelly will once again be in Sligo for the An Post Tour of Sligo 2011, which takes place in May. Last year more than 1,300 cyclists took part, including Seán Kelly, and this year a new route has been added. In addition to the ten-kilometre Hazelwood Spin, the sixty-kilometre Lough Gill Circuit and the one hundred and sixty-kilometre Ox Mountain Challenge, there will be an Innisfree tour of one hundred kilometres. The Lough Gill and Ox Mountain circuits have been reversed this year for safety reasons and for variety.
Tipperary: Crumbling castles causing concern
A meeting of the North Tipperary County Council heard the concerns of Councillor Ger Darcy about the state of the seventeenth century Ardcroney Castle, situated beside the graveyard, from which large stones have started to fall. His concern was echoed by that of Councillor Jim Casey, who spoke of a similar problem with the fifteenth century Ballyfinboy Castle near Borrisokane, from which a large piece fell recently. This castle, while on private land, overlooks a public road. Area engineer Kieran Callanan said the council would first have to establish ownership before any remedial works could be carried out. 
Tyrone: Road racing and raw strength for Cookstown
Two days at the end of April will see the holding of the Cookstown 100 road race, which will be accompanied by an exhibition, “King of the Roads”, celebrating the life of road racer Joey Dunlop. This will be followed a few days later by the Northern Ireland competition for the Culcullen Warrior Prince Trophy and the title of Ulster’s Strongest Man 2011. The five top men in this event will qualify for this year’s Ireland’s Strongest Man contest from which one will qualify for the British competition, which is televised.
Waterford: A busy time ahead for Waterford woman
Rosemary Nolan, the daughter of Waterford man Paul Nolan, will have her hands full for a good number of years after her Australian partner recently gave birth to quintuplets. Rosemary, a past pupil of St Angela’s and Yeats College and a twin herself, met her partner Melissa when she moved to Australia three years ago and they already have a daughter, Lily. Now the family has been joined in their Brisbane home by Noah, Charlie, Eireann, Evie and Abby and they will be helped to care for them by a group of some sixty volunteers.
Westmeath: St Aloysius celebrates golden years
St Aloysius College on the west side of Athlone first opened its doors in 1951 and is this year celebrating its golden anniversary. A day of events is planned for early in May, beginning with Mass in SS Peter and Paul’s Church after which a reception will be held in the school. In addition to refreshments, past pupils, former staff and friends will be able to enjoy a walk through the old house, the school yard and the new school. A commemorative book is also to be produced to mark the occasion.
Wexford: Mercy Order to be commemorated in Enniscorthy
The contribution to Enniscorthy of the Sisters of Mercy, who this year left the town after some one hundred and sixty years, is to be marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. The plaque is to be erected at the former home of the order in The Shannon by the Town Council, whose members gave their unanimous support to the proposal. Earlier in the year a special Mass was celebrated in St Senan’s Church at which one of the speakers was the present principal of St Senan’s Primary School, Henry Goff. He recalled that his grandfather, his father, himself and his nine brothers and sisters had all been educated by the Mercy Sisters.
Wicklow: Arklow man returned unopposed to USI position
Gary Redmond, who was previously student union president in University College Dublin, was elected as president of the Union of Students of Ireland in April of last year. This year, at the USI annual congress in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, the Arklow man was returned unopposed to the position of president. Late last year, during his first term in office, Mr Redmond was instrumental in organising a major student protest against the introduction of student fees proposed by the then government.
Week of March 24
Antrim: Competition will see distillery on the move
Bushmills has launched a world-wide competition which will see two whiskey-lovers spending two weeks at the Antrim plant learning how to blend whiskey, before a mobile distillery takes to the road. Leaving its base for the first time in more than four hundred years, Bushmills will set up in the country of residence of the winners, who will host the event, and they will ultimately mix a blend of their own. Travelling with the mobile distillery will be master distiller Colum Egan.  
Armagh: Outdoor space for Armagh playgroup
An Armagh playgroup has received £1,000 in funding in order to provide an outdoor space through which the children can learn life-skills and which will also produce food for their buffet breaks. Firs Playgroup is led by Donna Reilly, and she has invited the families of the children to come to the area each Saturday morning to help prepare the ground and to plant willow structures. The funding has come from the Southern Investing for Health Partnership and it will allow the children to enjoy outdoor activities all year round.
Carlow: Bagenalstown priest introduces Lenten tweets
Father Paddy Byrne, the curate in Bagenalstown, has embraced the new technology and combined it with church tradition by using Twitter during Lent. Father Byrne’s idea was to reach out to people who are not regular attendants at Mass and, from a total of one hundred followers on his first day, he now has one hundred and fifty-seven. Rather than using the social networking site for prayer and spiritual guidance, Father Byrne makes it personal by reporting on what he is doing. He also writes an online blog.
Cavan: Garda hailed as hero after lake rescue
Garda Tom McKenna from Bailieboro has been praised for his heroic rescue of a fourteen-year-old Dublin boy who was thrown into Lough Ramor when a wave caught his boat. He was about three hundred metres offshore near the Lakeside Manor Hotel when Garda McKenna dived into the lake in uniform, having first taken a buoyancy aid vest, and swam towards Michael Lynch. He continued to shout to him and Michael’s answers guided his rescuer. The two were then hauled into a rowing boat belonging to Sean Sharkey from Killinkere and Darren O’Dwyer.
Clare: William makes history behind the wheel
A twenty-six-year-old from Clooney-Quinn has become the first person in the country with Down Syndrome to pass his driving test. William Loughnane, who is a Special Olympics gold medallist, works in Barry Lynch’s Centra shop in Ennis. He only started learning to drive last November, helped by his father Liam, and passed both his theory and driving test since then. In 2007 he travelled to China to take part in the Special Olympics and came home with a total haul of six gold medals and one bronze.
Cork: Council looking to develop Spike Island
The county council has decided to seek tenders for the development of Spike Island with a focus on tourism although with a range of uses. The island was officially handed over to the council last July and they have plans to create a major tourism and heritage centre. In addition to its latter use as a detention centre for young offenders, Spike Island has been a monastic settlement from as early as the sixth century, when St Carthage settled there, and a military base. It was also used as a prison by Oliver Cromwell for those who were later sent to work on the Caribbean plantations.f
Donegal: Raphoe oil ‘healthier than olive oil’
Many chefs are claiming that an oil produced on a farm in Raphoe is healthier than olive oil. The rape seed oil is produced by Austin Duignan after he carried out tests and discovered that the oil is rich in omega 3, 6 and 9. It is also among the lowest in saturated fat. Austin, whose product has been endorsed by celebrity chef Nevin Maguire, has increased his workforce to nine and is expecting his company, Donegal Rape Seed Oil, to grow even further and to provide further opportunities for employment.
Down: A first for Ballymartin builder
David Charleton of FJ Charleton Building Contracts in Ballymartin has achieved a first by becoming the first Irishman to be named as Master Builder of the Year. David received his award, judged on technical ability and customer service skill, at a ceremony in London. He was nominated for the award by David and Freda Scott, in recognition of the excellent work on their retirement home in the Mourne mountains. The builder had to face a number of difficulties with the glass and zinc home as well as health and safety concerns, but the Scotts said he finished it on time and slightly below budget.
Dublin: Building work halted after artefacts found
Following the discovery of a number of artefacts under Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, work on constructing a retractable rain cover for the area has been halted. Work began early last week on the site and archaeologist Alan Hayden said they were not expecting to find anything. However it has now emerged that the square was the site of a mill, and timber beams, pottery and leather shoes have been uncovered. All the artefacts are well preserved since they were in very boggy conditions. The celebration of twenty years of Temple Bar, due to take place in the square, will now be held elsewhere, while the square will host an event in September.
Fermanagh: Chelsea’s design offsets dissent
A flag designed by a nine-year-old from Enniskillen was carried in the town’s St Patrick’s Day parade, warding off any dissent over the displaying of national colours. The tricolour was banned from the event and schoolchildren were asked to design a neutral flag. The winner was Chelsea McCullagh, a pupil at Jones Memorial Primary School, who based her design on a forget-me-not on a green background. Some three thousand of the flags were distributed to parade participants and those gathered to watch on St Patrick’s Day.
Galway: Philip puts his collection on web
A new website based on a collection of postcards and photographs of Galway has been set up by Philip O’Toole. A native of Galway now living in London, Philip’s postcards cover a number of areas of the city and its surrounds, including Salthill and Menlo. While most of the pictures date from the early years of the last century, there are also some from the 1950s and 1960s. One section deals with the remains of mediaeval masonry throughout the city, while the site also has a selection of magazines from Galway schools.
Kerry: Improved access to iconic tower
The tower close to Ballyduff which forms part of the logo of the Kerry football team has been made more accessible to the public, by the Office of Public Works. Stonemason Tim Lynch from Rathmore and foreman Tim Counihan from Ballyseedy have created a new archway into the mediaeval tower and they have also fenced off a special visiting area. Up to now anyone wanting to visit the iconic tower had to climb over a stile to gain access to the privately-owned field, but the new entrance will be open in the next few weeks.
Kildare: Keith hopes to set new record
Keith Whelan from Athy is hoping to become the youngest male, and the youngest Irish person, to cross the Indian Ocean on his own, when he sets out soon from Western Australia for the island of Mauritius. The thirty-year-old is to undertake the journey completely naked in a bid to avoid the problems caused by salt-caked clothes chafing the skin. In undertaking the one hundred and twenty day journey, Keith is also raising money for the Keep a Child Alive charity, which supports children and families in Africa and India.
Kilkenny: Principal of Stoneyford school retires
A céili mor was held in the hall in Stoneyford last week to mark the retirement of Máire Ní Mhóráin from her post as principal of Scoil Chiaráin Naofa. Máire, a Kerrywoman, has been at the school as vice-principal and principal for the past twelve years. The céili mor, with a buffet meal included, was organised by the Parents’ Association and a number of presentations were made to the retiring teacher. Ciarán Lennon presented her with a painting of the school, the Brennan children gave her a pair of binoculars and a bouquet of flowers was presented by Patrick Hickey. The children provided musical and dance entertainment before the whole gathering joined in with the dancing.
Laois: Prison governors take their punishment
Governors from Midlands and Portlaoise prisons took their own punishment last week when they lined up in Grellan Delaney’s to be waxed and shaved. Governors Barclay, Carey, McCormack and Mullins answered the call to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society and prison officer Regina Farrell had organised the event. They had their chests waxed by students from Portlaoise College of Beauty while Shay Kehoe from Vindee’s Salon in Portarlington carried out the ‘shave or dye’ part of the event.
Leitrim: Fundraiser to help Ballinamore woman
A gala fundraising night took place in the Commercial Hotel in Ballinamore at the weekend to help in the conversion of the home of Teresa Brigdale-Dean. Teresa was badly injured in a car crash in Botswana last year and at present can only spend a few hours at a time at her home with her husband Michael as it is not adapted for her wheelchair. Some grant money has been forthcoming but more funds are needed to complete the work, and the event on Friday featured a number of musicians including Evan O’Donnell, Andy Murphy and Brendan Brennan.
Limerick: Surprise guest for Mayor’s Ball
This year’s Mayor’s Ball in the Strand Hotel at the beginning of May will feature a surprise sporting legend, according to Mayor Maria Byrne. She has nominated as the benefiting charities from the ball, which will have a sporting theme, the Lourdes Invalid Fund and St Gabriel’s School. Ms Byrne will be making her twenty-first visit to Lourdes as a helper this year, and for the past thirteen years she has been on the development board of St Gabriel’s School. The ball was launched last week by Mayor Byrne, Miss Limerick Gemma Reilly, Kate Sheahan of St Gabriel’s Centre and Carmel Sheridan from the Lourdes Invalid Fund.
Longford: Local historian delivers lecture in US
Local historian Jude Flynn was in New York last week where he delivered a lecture at Glucksman House, New York University on “Fireside Tales”. Hosted by Glucksman Ireland House and the County Longford Association of Greater New York, Jude received the invitation on the strength of the latest edition of his “Fireside Tales”, a collection of stories and folklore. He has been collecting folklore since the early 1980s and has so far published eight editions of his book in as many years, with a ninth book due for publication in the near future.
Louth: Rare lobster caught off Clogherhead
Fisherman Séamus Kirk recently brought back to Clogherhead a rare lobster which has a one in thirty million chance of turning up in Irish waters. Séamus found the three hundred gram yellow-orange coloured lobster in a pot he hauled onto his vessel Niaroo and immediately contacted Declan MacGabhann of the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency, who said the lobster was about five years old. The skipper of Niaroo named his unusual find Billy, and it is expected that the lobster will now find a new home at the Dingle Oceanworld aquarium in Co. Kerry.
Mayo: Tree-planting to honour Land League activist
A tree-planting ceremony took place in the cemetery in Castlebar during the week to honour James Daly, one of those linked to the founding of the Land League. Born in Lahardaun in 1838, he was involved in the Tenants’ Defence Association and was later elected to the committee of the Irish National Land League. According to his great great grand-nephew Padraig Daly, his ancestor’s role in the Land League and his association with Michael Davitt have been largely overlooked by historians and last week’s ceremony aimed to remedy that.
Meath: Cosmetics firm to plant trees in Kells
As part of its undertaking to plant a total of fifty million trees around the world, the Yves Rocher company is to plant thirty thousand broadleafed Irish trees at the People’s Park at Loyd outside Kells. Twenty-six acres will be developed with woodland with small copses from a design by a landscape architect, with walkways and educational and ecological information also provided. The Irish tree charity Crann will oversee the €230,000 project which will see oak, ash, birch, hazel, alder and Scots pine planted.
Monaghan: Slí na Sláinte developed at Carrickmacross
Following a council decision a Slí na Sláinte (path to health) is to be established by the Irish Heart Foundation in Carrickmacross. It was decided to follow a route already established by walkers in the community and to provide adequate lighting so that evening and night time walks can also be undertaken. The three-kilometre route will start and finish at the top of Main Street at the gateway to St Finbarr’s Church and will follow the stone wall of St Louis convent before going out on to the Ardee road to the junction with Oriel Road. After the roundabout on the Dundalk road, the route will turn towards the town centre close to Lisanisk Lane and Park and continue on down Farney Street to the starting point.
Offaly: Banagher boy’s song is Cheltenham hit
A thirteen-year-old boy from Banagher became the toast of Cheltenham after performing a song he wrote about the festival at the start of Channel 4’s coverage of the race meeting. Last year Mark Boylan was flown over to the race festival after his version of a charity song for injured jockeys was heard by the song’s producer. That inspired him to write the song “The Festival”, and he has also performed his composition on TV3 and RTE. The song gained more than ten thousand followers after being featured on YouTube.
Roscommon: Opposition grows to removal of library
Opposition is growing in Boyle to the plan by Roscommon County Council to move the town library into the ground floor of King House, the restored Georgian mansion. While the council seems determined to relocate the library in May, the organisers of Boyle Arts Festival are totally opposed to the plan. Chairwoman Irene Madden, who described the decision as “ludicrous”, is also a member of the Friends of King House action committee, formed to fight the decision. They believe the long gallery on the ground floor of King House is of great architectural significance and not suitable for a library.                                                 
Sligo: Walk of Dreams takes place this weekend
The Walk of Dreams, aimed at raising funds for the John Giles Foundation and taking place in fourteen different venues around the country, will be setting out from the Showgrounds in Sligo on Sunday. The Foundation encourages participation in football for the whole community, and guest at the walk will be Irish international Seamus Coleman, a former player with Sligo Rovers. Mayor of Sligo Matt Lyons and Michael Toolan, chairman of Sligo Rovers, will also be taking part. The route of the walk goes through Maugheraboy, down to the Strandhill Road and back via Knappagh Road and Lord Edward Street.
Tipperary: Double transplant patient returns home
William Bresnan from Bansha, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, returned home last week from a hospital in the North of England after having received a double lung transplant. The son of Margaret and Billy Bresnan, William was on the waiting list for two and a half years, and travelled to England on two previous occasions but it was found his lungs were not in good enough condition to go ahead with the operation. His father Billy, with the help of Mary Behan, John Redfern, Garda Bill Lynch and Billy Breen, is organising a motorbike run to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.
Tyrone: Centenarian joined by first great-grandchild
When Joseph Somerville from Ballygawley celebrated his one hundredth birthday earlier this month he had a very special guest at the party. In addition to his wife Marian, their children Alan, Ivan and Evelyn and their ten grandchildren, he was joined by his first great-grandchild Joshua. He is the son of Mark and Donna Somerville from Legaroe. A farmer at Ballyreagh for most of his life, Joseph and Marian now live at Glenview Private Nursing home and they are due to celebrate their seventieth wedding anniversary in September.
Waterford: Local newspaper on the move
The Waterford News & Star has a new home and last week the Mayor of Waterford city, Mary Roche, performed the official opening. However the local newspaper has not moved far as its new home, Gladstone House on Gladstone Street, is close to its original premises. After the official opening Father Gerry Langford and Dean Trevor Lester performed an ecumenical blessing, and Murry McDonald, chief executive of the paper, welcomed everyone, including the city’s two new TDs, John Halligan and Ciara Conway.
Westmeath: Concern over missing sculpture
It is not the first one to go missing in the country, but members of the county council are very concerned at the disappearance of a four-metre high piece of public art that was removed from the Moate interchange last week. The bronze and stainless steel sculpture, Gráinne Óg, was created by Meath artist Ann Meldon Hugh at a cost of €64,000 and stood on a concrete base. The theory is that the piece, which weighed just over one tonne, was stolen for its bronze content, since the price of bronze has risen in recent times.
Wexford: New exhibition centre for Dunganstown
The county council has granted planning permission to the Office of Public Works for a new exhibition centre to be established at the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown, New Ross. The single-storey, stone-clad building will have a lightweight free-standing canopy linking it to the present exhibition centre. After receiving funding of €1.5m in the budget of 2009, the centre will chronicle the origins of the Kennedy family. It will also have a special section devoted to the relationship that the late Senator Edward Kennedy enjoyed with the country of his forebears.
Wicklow: Plans begin for Tractor Run
This year’s Hillbilly Tractor Run, Field Day and Blessington Parade will take place on the last Sunday in June and already the organising committee members have been meeting to co-ordinate events. Once again the Run will be hosted by Theo Clarke in Lacken and there are to be some innovations. The committee is hoping to attract a number of trade stands to set up in the field, and they will also be producing a souvenir magazine featuring articles by local residents and photographs of tractor runs over the past six years.
Week of March 31
Antrim: James continues to set the pace
After becoming the first student in his school to pass a GCSE examination James Young has now sold one of his paintings to Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI Duncan McCausland. A student at Glenveagh Special School in south Belfast, the eighteen-year-old achieved an A in his GCSE Art exam, a feat celebrated at the school according to principal Fionnuala Leneghan. The painting will hang in the PSNI training college at Garnerville and proceeds from the sale will be divided between James and his school. 
Armagh: Gerald’s daughters walk for Craigavon Hospital
The five daughters of Gerald Hamill from Portadown, who was seriously injured in a gas explosion last year, were among those who took part in a sponsored walk recently for Craigavon Hospital. Catriona, Gemma, Rachel, Michelle and Megan were in the group which set out from Shillington’s Quay to walk eleven and a half miles along the towpath to Madden Bridge, Tandragee. Damian Byrne, a friend of Mr Hamill, organised the walk to raise funds for two wards at Craigavon Hospital, where Mr Hamill received his treatment. He and his wife Karen waved the walkers off at the start.
Carlow: New cup for Burrin club
Burrin Rangers Juvenile Club have received a donation of a perpetual cup from their parish priest, Father Brendan Howard. This year the cup will be presented to the winners of the under-twelve camogie blitz, while next year it will be the turn of the victorious team in the under-fourteen girls’ football blitz. On an as yet unspecified date in the next few weeks a formal presentation ceremony will take place at which Father Brendan will hand over the perpetual cup to the committee, coaches and players of the club.
Cavan: Tenth anniversary celebrations for Bishop Clarke
Two events were held recently to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the ministry of Bishop Ken Clarke in the Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. A service was held in the Cathedral Church of St Fethlimidh in Kilmore where a composition by John Rutter was sung by the Cavan Royal School Chamber Choir. More recently a meal was enjoyed in the Bush Hotel where Bishop Ken and his wife Helen were joined by some three hundred guests from all the parishes in the diocese. Their four daughters, Ali, Tanya, Lynda and Nicki, made a surprise appearance at the event.
Clare: Walk for breast cancer in Killaloe
The “Walk the walk” event, which takes place at the end of May, is expected to attract one thousand women to take part to raise funds for those being treated for breast cancer. The ten-kilometre Killaloe Pink Ribbon Walk will follow a route along the shore of Lough Derg and all walkers will be dressed in pink, while many of the shops in the town will also dress their windows with pink items. Barbara McMahon, patron of last year’s event, is hoping that the May walk will raise more than the €80,000 raised last year for Action Breast Cancer.
Cork: Youghal fisherman nets extra large lobster
Youghal fisherman Kevin Murphy was hauling in his nets just over a mile offshore when he discovered an exceptionally big lobster among the catch. Named Lucky by Kevin, the lobster was thirty-one inches long and weighed more than ten and a half pounds, with the average length of a lobster about twelve inches. Kevin took his catch to Aherne’s restaurant in the town where it just fitted into a special holding tank. Lucky was eventually marked with a V to indicate he should be thrown back if caught again, and sent to John Griffin’s Aquatrek sea training school for release.
Derry: City of Culture title brings £10m fund
Social Development minister Alex Attwood announced during the week that £10m will be made available to the city of Derry for its year as City of Culture. The money will be used for a number of different projects as the minister said he wanted communities to benefit as much as possible. A demountable pavilion will be erected, able to accommodate eight thousand people, and a number of retail areas on both sides of the Foyle will be enhanced. A second piece of good news was announced by the minister, with the news that ninety-five Social Security Agency jobs are to be transferred from Belfast to Derry.
Donegal: Faye will be model for fashion model
International fashion model Faye Dinsmore has been selected by Rootstein Mannequins to be the basis for a new dummy. The twenty-three-year-old from Laghey, who is now based in New York, has had her double created by British sculptor Steve Wood and the company has donated the first mannequin made to the National Wax Museum in Dublin, where it will remain on display for a number of weeks. Rootstein have been providing department stores and fashion houses with dummies based on famous models for more than fifty years.
Down: Duke promotes Newry student’s invention
An invention which will monitor the amount of harmful radiation people are exposed to from mobile phones was so admired by the Duke of York at a London exhibition that he made sure that its commercial application was noted. Now Blackberry is considering developing the idea of Ciara Mooney from Newry Grammar School. It has already won her the UK Key Stage 4 CREST award in the Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology category of the Big Bang competition in London. Ciara, who lives on Rathfriland Road in Newry, is hoping to gain a place in engineering at Queen’s or the University of Ulster.
Dublin: Disney store to open on Grafton Street
The Walt Disney Company is to open its first superstore in Ireland in May. The store on Grafton Street will have two floors of technology, interactive story-telling and merchandise exclusive to Disney. However no Disney emporium would be complete without its characters and the company is now hoping to recruit Snow White, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and a number of other well-known characters.  Other facilities at the store will include a Disney theatre and magic mirrors.
Fermanagh: Polish community attends equinox ceremony
Since they have a similar ceremony in Poland to mark the spring equinox and the end of winter, a significant number of Polish people attended the burning of the wickerman effigy carried out by the Mummers Foundation. The burning of the thirteen-foot effigy took place at the Aughakillymaude Mummers’ Centre and, following the ceremony, a lecture was delivered by Seamas Mac Annaidh on the history of mumming in Fermanagh, traditional music was enjoyed and everyone was treated to a hot cross bun supper.
Galway: Great interest in long-empty kiosk
Recently Galway City Council offered for rent a kiosk on the Promenade in Salthill which had lain empty for some twenty years. More than twenty calls were received by the council about the kiosk and nine submissions of interest were received from local businesses. Most people seem to see it as an opportunity for a cafe or for the sale of seaside articles such as buckets and spades, and an assessment panel will decide over the next week or two who will be accepted to rent the kiosk. It is hoped that whoever takes it over will have it open for business by the June Bank Holiday weekend.                   
Kerry: Sports heroes celebrated at Glanageenty
A picnic table and plaque were unveiled recently at Glanageenty to honour four people from Ballymacelligott who have excelled at mountain racing. Eoin McKenna, John Lenihan, Ann Reid Mangan and Mary Lenihan are the four who were honoured, with the former three attending the occasion. The table was designed by Lilly Lenihan and made by carpenter Tom McCarthy, and it is hoped that more tables can be erected in the location in future to honour other sporting legends from the area. Funding for the table and plaque was raised by the Munster Mountain Racing Association.
Kildare: Unusual shop opens in Kilcullen
A shop with a difference has opened on Kilcullen’s main street after the couple involved decided it provided a good window. The Dresser Shop, as the name suggests, sells traditional Irish dressers, but these are all handmade by Brendan Talbot at his joinery in Kilmead near Athy. He and his wife Mairead have spent the last few weeks doing up the premises, with the name prompting the curiosity of potential customers. Now Brendan and Mairead are hoping that their shop, which opened for business last Friday, will continue to attract both attention and paying customers.
Kilkenny: Athletes launch Special Olympics fundraiser
Three Kilkenny Special Olympics athletes helped to launch this year’s fundraising campaign in the city last week. Swimmers Diarmaid O’Flynn and Ciara Trait were joined by Bocca player Connor Ryan and all were on hand to launch the campaign before they head to Athens in the summer. Music for the event was supplied by the Kilkenny Gospel Choir. The day when collectors will hit the streets of Kilkenny city is April 15, and they will also be out in Gowran, Thomastown, Callan, Castlecomer, Ballyhale, and Graignamanagh.
Laois: Council to restore workhouse
The county council has purchased the old buildings of the workhouse in Donoghmore, Portlaoise and has plans to refurbish them for use as council offices. In later years the buildings were used as shops and stores for the Donoghmore Co-operative Society, which was founded in 1927, and a museum featuring the society, as well as an Agricultural Museum, are also included on the site. The county council also has plans to restore the church that belonged to the mid-nineteenth century workhouse.
Leitrim: Raffle to raise funds for hosting Fleadh
The County Fleadh is this year being hosted by the Killargue/Manor and Glenfarne branches of Comhaltas, and a raffle is taking place at an event in the Clubhouse in Dromohair in two weeks’ time to help raise funds for the event. The evening will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. The Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne and St Clare’s Comprehensive School in Manorhamilton are among the venues for the various competitions taking place over the weekend of April 15-17, while a ceili will also be held.
Limerick: Redemptorists hope to redevelop monastery
The Redemptorist Community in Limerick has applied to carry out a multi-million euro development of their monastery. A protected structure, it is located beside Mount St Alphonsus Church and the priests and brothers have moved to temporary accommodation while work is carried out. While there will be a decrease in the accommodation offered by the building, the facilities will be refurbished to make them more user friendly for the elderly. The application is on a smaller scale than was originally envisaged, given the downturn in the economy, but Father Adrian Egan hopes work will begin next year.
Longford: Contract for new bypass signed
Last Monday Longford County Council signed the contract for the construction of the new N5 Longford Bypass, one of only four major projects in the country at present. Construction work is expected to begin in the next two weeks to link the N4 and N5 national roads and, it is hoped, to divert heavy goods vehicles away from the centre of Longford town. The two-kilometre stretch of road will pass through the townlands of Aghareagh, Ballyminion, Mullagh, Cartrons, Moneylagan, and Aghadegnan.
Louth: Public vote Noeleen and Fracis as winners
Noeleen Casey and Francis Bellew have been named as the winners of Paddy Clarke’s Wedding of the Year 2010, after gaining most votes from the public. Photographer Paddy, whose studio is in Jocelyn Street in Dundalk, established the competition last year. Noeleen, from Kilcurry, and Francis were married last July and their wedding photo at Roche Castle was the most admired. The couple have received a framed print as their prize. Sonya Donn, meanwhile, won a €300 portrait voucher for leaving the best comment online during the voting process.
Mayo: A magic moment on top of the Reek
When Brian Farren took part in the Croagh Patrick Challenge earlier this month there was more on his mind than just reaching the summit. For Brian had decided to propose to his girlfriend Lee Kennedy in the church at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately the church was locked so it was in the open air that Brian went down on one knee to propose. The organisers of the climb had been told of Brian’s plans, with the result that the proposal, and acceptance, were broadcast live on Mid-West Radio as well as receiving the cheers and applause of their fellow-climbers.
Meath: New technology for Longwood pupils
The first year pupils in St Fintina’s Post-Primary School in Longwood have become the first in the country to be provided with tablet PCs. The sixty students each have a Fizzbook Spin tablet-style laptop which has seven of their textbooks installed, meaning they no longer have the heavy schoolbags most students suffer. The students in the school’s second year were given Dell Netbooks when they started at the school, with four of their textbooks uploaded. The Fizzbook Spin laptops were imported from China.
Monaghan: Sinead is master Tweeter
Instead of the title going to a celebrity with a big fan following, the title of Ireland’s leading Tweeter goes to Sinead Duffy from Montfort. Sinead began tweeting in April 2009 to publicise her website and she now has more than 425,000 followers, with most of them overseas. Her website, Greatest Quotes, directs traffic to her business, Great Minds, through which she has developed a series of personal development courses and workshops; with overseas clients she conducts sessions on Skpe.
Offaly: Obama’s cousin refutes Tipp claim
A claim that Tipperary can claim President Barack Obama rather than Offaly has been refuted by his cousin Henry Healy. The controversy has arisen as Moneygall play their hurling in Tipperary but Henry has declared categorically that Obama is an Offaly man. The village is greatly looking forward to the presidential visit and Dulux paints have offered to give it a facelift free of charge. Among the places it is hoped will be on the itinerary are the Kearney ancestral home, in front of which an information board has been erected, the school house and Templeharry Church. No agreement has yet been reached as to whether President Obama will sink a pint in Ollie’s or Joe Healy’s bar.
Roscommon: Another fishing competition for Boyle
Following the successful boat-only Open Pike competition held by Boyle & District Angling Club two weeks ago on Lough Skean, the club is to hold another competition this coming Sunday. The Paddy Sharkey Perpetual Memorial Cup will be vied for in a boat-only fishing contest on Lough Gara, with entries taken at Templeronan Pier. The winners in the strict ‘catch and release’ competition will be presented with their prizes at a function in Moylurg Inn in Boyle that same evening.
Sligo: Ballymote student wins Chef title
After completing in the final of the 2011 Connacht Gold Junior Chef competition against twenty-five other students, Angela Nally from Ballymote was named as this year’s Connacht Gold Junior Chef. A student at Coláiste Mhuire in Ballymote, the fourteen-year-old won a specially commissioned trophy, a one-day working scholarship at Neven Maguire’s McNean House Restaurant, a €100 voucher for Ticketmaster and a Connacht Gold super family hamper. Meanwhile a trophy will also be presented to her school and a weekend away to her teacher, Helda Griffin.
Tipperary: Street entertainment to come to Clonmel
Shellikybookie, a local slang name for the snail, is the name of a new artistic group which hopes to bring street entertainment to Clonmel and other towns around the country. Artistic directors Anthony Lawless, Des Dillon, Ciara Connolly and Ursula Mullins are joined by musical directors Laura Cotter and Peter Taylor, and choreographer Alison Cronin, all under the direction of Shane Dempsey. The group has already been booked for a Walled Towns Festival and for the Field Shows in the summer staged by Banna Chluain Meala.
Tyrone: New bridge for Strabane
Consultants are expected to be appointed soon to begin work on the construction of a foot and cycle bridge in Strabane, to be known as Melvin Bridge. The seventy-metre span bridge will be situated two hundred and fifty yards upstream from the current road bridge on the River Mourne. In addition to providing greater access to the sporting facilities in Melvin Park, the new bridge will also offer safer routes for students going to local schools. Funding of £3m for the construction was announced by Minister for Social Development Alex Attwood during the week.
Waterford: City to confer freedom on two musicians
In June of this year the Freedom of the City of Waterford is due to be conferred on two musicians, Brendan Bowyer Val Doonican, in a joint ceremony at City Hall. Brendan Bowyer was the lead singer with the Royal Showband, the first Irish artists to have a number one in the Irish charts, with ‘Kiss Me Quick’. He now performs on a regular basis in Las Vegas. Val Doonican has recorded more than fifty albums, with many of his songs making the Top Ten, including ‘The Special Years’ and ‘Elusive Butterfly’.
Westmeath: Unique festival for Mullingar
The Irish name for Mullingar, ‘An Muileann gCearr’, translates as ‘The Lefthandwise moving Mill’, and the name has given the people of the town an idea for a unique festival. Since Mullingar is seen as the left-handed capital of the world, August 13 will see the start of the Left-Handed Festival, when it is hoped that left-handers will gather from around Ireland and overseas to celebrate their difference. This year also marks the fourteen hundredth anniversary of the town.
Wexford: Taghmon celebrations for Daniel
Celebrations took place in the Ramada Hotel in Dublin and in Taghmon to mark the winning of the All-Ireland Talent Show by thirteen-year-old Daniel Furlong. He is not sure yet just how he will spend the €50,000 prize money but some will certainly go into voice training and he is planning on buying presents for his parents, and his brother and sister. Daniel is no stranger to the stage, having appeared in productions with the Wexford Light Opera Company, the Tops group in Taghmon, the Oyster Lane Theatre Group and Festival Productions, and the musical societies in Rathnure and Taghmon.
Wicklow: Christening interrupted for an emergency
In St Patrick’s Church in Wicklow town Nick Keogh and David O’Leary had just attended the joint christening ceremony of their daughters Gracie and Megan when a number of lifeboat pagers began sounding in the church. The two men are both members of Wicklow RNLI, with Nick being Coxswain and David third Coxwain, and they both immediately left the church to assemble at the lifeboat station. However the two men were able to return to the christening celebrations after they had contributed to the successful rescue of a kayaker who had capsized off the Wicklow coast.
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Slan agus beannacht,
Bridget & Russ 
May the bearer of the news be safe
Gura slán an scéalaí