Greetings & Blessings to all,
We hope you will enjoy these bits and bobs of news  from all over the country. As with the headlines and news on our web site, we purposely avoid murder and mayhem, opting instead for whatever we can find  in the way of Irish traditions, customs and culture. We also try to avoid repeating news we've already published in our daily updates. Here's the URL if you aren't familiar with that feature on the site:
We publish  links to seven stories gathered every morning from all the major Irish newspapers. These links are kept for two weeks just in case you can't visit the site every day.
Meanwhile, on with the county news for each week in December:
ED. NOTEI f you are a new subscriber, this monthly news update is in addition to our newsletter which will be sent out next week. 
Week of December  2
 Antrim: Belfast man solves literary puzzle
David McNeill and his wife Sheila have unravelled a mystery contained in a book written about the North. “A Year in the Province” included a number of clues to where a Spanish mediaeval coin was hidden, and author Christopher Marsh never expected the puzzle to be solvekjd. However David, who has represented the UK at the World Sudoku Championships, managed to follow the clues and he and Sheila went to Rathlin Island where they found the 15th century coin in the corner of a ruined building. The couple will now take the coin to Conor Cafe in Belfast where they will enjoy a meal for two and a bottle of Bushmills.
Armagh: From childminder to dog therapy for Bleary woman
Winnifred Pennington from Bleary has gone from childminding to providing dogs for therapy since she first took one of her dogs to visit her father in Lurgan Hospital. Now she takes her Great Dane Tiny and three chichuahuas, Titch, Lelo and Indi, to visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes and day care centres, as well as to schools. The general public had the chance to meet Winnifred’s dogs at the Millennium Court Arts Centre where the official switching on of the Christmas lights for Portadown was carried out.
Carlow: Girls attend premiere of their short film
Slaney Power, aged thirteen and from Ballyconnell, and fifteen-year-old Tallulagh Shulah Costelloe from Kilinure in Tullow, both students at Tullow Community School, were in Kilkenny last week for the premiere of a short film in which they had major roles. In “Holidays”, which was shot over three weekends in Kilkenny in May, the two girls play sisters. Slaney was accompanied to the premiere by her parents, Michelle and Niall and her brother Illann, while Tallulagh Shulah’s mother Yvonne and her sister EmmaJane were also there. The play raised a total of €700 for the Chernobyl Children’s Project.
Cavan: Lecture to mark beginning of Belturbet celebrations
A lecture by local historian Dr Jonathan Cherry on the history of the town from 1610 to the present day was one of the first events to be organised to mark Belturbet’s celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of its foundation. Although King James did not grant the town its charter until three years later, Belturbet was incepted in 1610. The occasion of the lecture also saw the unveiling of a plaque by the chairman of the Town Council, Seamus Fitzpatrick, and County Manager Jack Keyes.
Clare: Approval granted for seaplane base
The county is to have the first commercial seaplane base in Europe after An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development at Dooras, Mountshannon. It will be one of a network of bases for seaplanes run by Harbour Flights and will include a floating pontoon, mooring anchors, a reinforced concrete slipway and a workstore. Harbour Flights has to seek written permission from Waterways Ireland for the pontoon, and they must also restrict construction works to between August and April.
Cork: Oran to receive bravery award
Six-year-old Oran Manning from Masseytown in Macroom was in Dublin during the week for the presentation of an award for courage during an unexpected illness. In June of last year, after complaining of a stomach ache, he had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke. According to his mother Catherine, her son was unable to walk or talk for a while after the stroke and showed tremendous courage during his gradual recovery. She and Oran, accompanied by his father Martin and sister Ella, were at the Mansion House to receive his National Stroke Award.
Derry: Landmark clock to be wound down
The clock on the Guildhall in Derry city, which was first erected in 1891, is to be wound down in preparation for restoration work to be carried out. Once the largest and most powerful in Ireland, the clock has dominated the city centre for almost one hundred and twenty years. It will be covered from view for the next three months while the restoration work is carried out and, according to City Engineer John Kelpie, the quarterly chimes which have become a familiar sound in the city will also be silenced. The clock is due to be reinstated in March.
Donegal: Oakfield Park Estate to have licence
Sir Gerry Robinson, who opens up Oakfield Park Estate in Raphoe to the public each year for charity, has been granted a licence at Buncrana Circuit Court to sell alcohol at the train station on the estate. Using a law dating back more than a century, which stipulates that licences can only be granted in existing premises or in a railway refreshment room, Sir Gerry cited the narrow gauge railway which runs for almost three miles around the estate, and the court accepted that its refreshment area came within the meaning of the act.
Down: Asda coming to Banbridge
A planning application has been lodged by supermarket chain Asda for an outlet on a four and a half acre site on Newry Road in Banbridge, which is expected to give full- and part-time employment to up to two hundred and fifty people. The store will have a sales area of some twenty-five thousand square feet and will carry the full range of Asda products. In addition, a petrol station will offer low-priced fuel and there will be a recycling centre and up to three hundred car parking spaces.
Dublin: Brother and sister make medical history
Brother and sister Kate and Cathal Mooney from Griffith Avenue have made medical history by taking part in Ireland’s first donation of a kidney through keyhole surgery. The operations took place last week at Beaumont Hospital while Kate and Cathal’s parents, Breda and Charlie, kept vigil. Cathal had experienced kidney failure after contracting a rare disease during his teens, and had been on dialysis when Kate, a teacher at the Margaret Aylward School in Beaumont Road, was found to be a good match. Keyhole surgery means that both of the patients will make a much quicker recovery.
Fermanagh: Council under fire in Enniskillen
The council came under fire from traders in East Bridge Street, Church Street, High Street and Darling Street in Enniskillen who accused them of closing the streets without warning. Traffic was barred during the day to facilitate the installation of Christmas lights, a job carried out at night in previous years, and Maureen Wilkin of Leslie’s Bakery and butcher Gaby Stuart were among those who complained of loss of business. They claimed they had not been informed of the closures, though this was denied by Director of Technical Services Gerry Knox.
Galway: Mass book signing at Kenny’s
Last Saturday Kenny’s Bookshop on the Liosban Estate in Galway was celebrating seventy years since Des and Maureen Kenny opened their first bookshop in the city’s High Street. To mark the occasion the Kennys had invited seventy authors to take part in a mass signing. While the weather deterred some from attending, there were plenty who made it including Michael D Higgins, storyteller Eddie Lenihan and local historian Peadar O’Dowd. Also attending was Mary Lane Heneghan from Loughrea, representing the local Creative Writing Group.
Kerry: Benjamin is youngest male black belt
The youngest male in Ireland and Britain to receive a black belt in taekwondo is Benjamin Lyne of Killarney. The nine-year-old is a member of the Killarney taekwondo club, as is his brother Jonas, another black belt who won a gold medal in games in Britain recently. Benjamin attends the club for practice sessions four times a week when competitions are approaching. He is the youngest child of Denis and Lotte Lyne of Ross Road in the town, and Lotte believes the sport gives a child great focus.
Kildare: Conor is heading to Athens next year
Conor McGearailt from Athy has won himself one of five places on the Irish equestrian team for the Special Olympics Equestrian Games in Athens next year. Twenty-three-year-old Conor is a former pupil of Athy Community College where he sat is Applied Leaving Certificate. He was introduced to horses at the age of fourteen when he visited his aunt’s stables near Kildare town, and he has completed a stud management course. In addition to representing his country at the Special Olympics Conor has also begun to take part in mainstream competitions.
Kilkenny: Graignamanagh has a new attraction
Hundreds of people are gathering at the Quay in Gragnamanagh every day to see the latest attraction, an adult otter which does not yet have a name. But mindful of the number of visitors drawn to Dingle by Fungi the dolphin, Brian Roberts of the Waterside restaurant is offering a free Sunday lunch to anyone who can come up with an appropriate name. It has not yet been ascertained whether the five-foot long otter is male or female, making the choice more challenging.
Laois: Emmy award for Barrowhouse man
Seamus Malone, originally from Barrowhouse but living in England for the past fourteen years, was in New York last week to receive an international Emmy Award on behalf of the company for whom he works, Aardman Animation. The award recognised the hit children’s show “Shaun the Sheep”, for which Seamus was one of the directors. He is the son of Jim and Mary Malone, and his mother is librarian at Ballitore. After attending Athy Community College he studied animation in Dublin before going on to further education in Bristol.
Leitrim: Kerry manager is guest at Sports Awards
At the inaugural Leitrim Sports Partnership Sports Awards which took place last week in the Grand Ballroom of The Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, the guest of honour was Kerry manager and three times All-Ireland winner Jack O’Connor. A number of presentations were made in different categories, with the Hall of Fame award going to Frances Cryan of Carrick-on-Shannon. Frances was being recognised for her career in rowing, during which she qualified for the Olympic Games in 1980.
Limerick: Community comes to aid of Kilteely widow
When Breda Heelan from Ballinlough, Kilteely was widowed suddenly last year she thought she would lose the home where she lived with her two daughters. Her partner Ged’s mortgage protection did not cover his death, nor had he any life assurance and Breda could not afford to pay the mortgage. However she asked retired councillor Eddie Creighton for help and, with local auctioneer Gerard Mitchell, he organised a fundraising campaign among neighbouring communities which raised more than €20,000.
Longford: Three wins for Clonbroney at Scor
At the recent county final of Scor Clonbroney had success in three different categories. The figure dancing group, trained by Jacinta Reynolds, took first place, as did the instrumental music group; they were trained by Deirdre Duggan and Mary Brady. A win was also gained in the recitation category. During the final a presentation was made to Margaret Farrell for her contribution to Scor in Longford, as she steps down from her post as Irish and cultural officer for the county.
Louth: Special guest switches on Ardee’s lights
A special guest arrived in Ardee last Saturday to perform the official switching on of the Christmas lights. A fire engine with full garda escort arrived at Ardee Castle carrying Santa who was accompanied by his elves. Prior to his arrival the Ardee Concert Band provided the music for Christmas carols. In tandem with the ceremony, organised by Ardee Traders and Business Association, the annual crib has once again been placed in McCabe’s shop window. The following day a Christmas Bonanza, Christmas Spraoi, was also held in the town.
Mayo: New hotel to open in Ballina
A new hotel, part of the Castle Hotel Group owned by Fionn MacCumhaill, is due to open in Ballina in the next few weeks. The former Ridgepool Hotel on Barrett Street will be opened under the new name of Ballina Manor Hotel, while the official opening will take place in February. However the opening depends on the granting of a licence, for which an application is to be considered this week. The refurbishment of the building cost a total of €4.5m and some staff have already been hired, with a further twenty-five to be taken on once the licence has been confirmed.
Meath: Navan has new bus shelter
Commuters who up to now have had to seek refuge from inclement weather in Tommy Reilly’s newsagents’ shop at Market Square in Navan can now avail of a brand new bus shelter. Traffic was diverted recently when a specialised crane lowered the shelter into position at the bottom of Metges Lane, where it forms part of the Market Square remedial work which is almost complete. While the shelter has been welcomed by Mr Reilly, a local councillor, he is also calling for a proper bus station for the town.
Monaghan: A special weekend for Inniskeen
Last weekend proved a special weekend for Inniskeen when it saw the holding of the Patrick Kavanagh Weekend. The keynote address was delivered by Eileen Battersby, Irish Times Literary Correspondent, while John F. Deane read from his third collection of essays. A walking tour of the Patrick Kavanagh Literary Trail in Carrickmacross was led by Larry McDermott, starting from the Valley Lodge opposite St Joseph’s Churc, and a bus tour of local sites of interest was conducted by Art Agnew. The annual Graveside Commemoration took place on Sunday afternoon.
Offaly: Liam wins Age Action award
Liam Kirwan from Tullamore has been chosen as one of the winners in The 3 Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action. The seventy-year-old was nominated by his granddaughter Gráinne, a psychology lecturer whose research was inspired by his interest in the Nintendo DS. Liam spends much time on Skype communicating with his grandchildren, and is also heavily involved in the website of his local parish. Taking digital photographs and editing them using Photoshop is also a favourite pastime of his.
Roscommon: Town still waiting for its cinema
First it was an end of summer opening, then the people of Roscommon were promised that they would have a cinema by Christmas, but now it appears that it will be January before they can enjoy a big screen on their doorstep. The €6m entertainment complex at the Centre Point Retail Park is said to have the potential to provide employment for between forty and sixty people, but the project is running six months behind schedule. However Darren Corcoran of Flix Leisure insists that the complex will go ahead.
Sligo: Geevagh to lose its post office
This week the doors of Geevagh post office will close when the facility amalgamates with the post office in Ballyfarnon. Ballyfarnon postmaster Alan Benson is retiring and it was decided that the most practical move was to amalgamate the two post offices, which are only two and half miles apart. Geevagh postmistress for the past fourteen years Irene Kearns will take over the running of the Ballyfarnon office which has moved to a new location on the main street of the town, in Killoran’s Gala supermarket.
Tipperary: Nenagh dancer lands lead role
James Berkery from Lahorna, Puckane, who has been training with the Cork City Ballet Company for the best part of two years, has been given a major role in the company’s forthcoming production of Swan Lake. Unusually for the popular ballet, six of the swans will be males, with James being one of them. He took up ballet at the age of fourteen in Nenagh, attending Aisling Doherty’s School of Ballet, before moving to Coláiste Stíofán Naofa in Cork where he has completed a number of exams including reaching the grades to enable him to teach dance.
Tyrone: Six schools to share army base
The former Lisanelly army base in Omagh is the site for a planned campus comprising six schools in a £100m development. The plans for the shared campus have just been published, with each school having its own site, ethos and identity but having the opportunity to share state-of-the-art facilities, both academic and sporting. Provided the plans are approved and the funding is put in place, the first schools could be open on the one hundred and forty acre site in five years’ time, though to date no schools have been selected for the move. 
Waterford: Lismore to hold unusual auction
Next Saturday an unusual auction will take place at Lismore Castle when more than twenty framed recipes from celebrity chefs and food writers will be sold. Among those who have contributed their hand-written recipes are chefs Darina Allen, Loyd Grossman and Richard Corrigan, as well as food writers Tom Doorley and Paolo Tullio. There is a reserve price of €150 for each Food Framed item, and all proceeds will be donated to the local St Vincent de Paul Society. The event has been organised by local councillor Ken Madden.
Westmeath: Athlone church becomes interim cathedral
Following the fire which extensively damaged St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, an Athlone church has taken on an important role in the diocese. Last Sunday Bishop Colm O’Reilly inaugurated St Mary’s Church in Athlone as the interim Cathedral for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, an appointment marked by the delivery of a Bishop’s chair which had been used in the Cathedral for some eighty years. St Mary’s will now host a number of liturgical events until work is completed on St Mel’s, expected to take up to four years.
Wexford: Excitement mounts in Clonroche
Speculation and excitement are rife in Clonroche this week after it emerged that last weekend’s lotto winning ticket was bought at Kavanagh’s Service Station on the Enniscorthy to New Ross road. After Mass on Sunday a number of local people gathered in the shop to see if anyone knew who the lucky winner was, although proprietors Jack and Rita Kavanagh say they have no idea of the owner of the ticket. Those gathering to speculate on the identity of the purchaser were hoping he or she is a local and not someone passing through.
Wicklow: Des realises his dream
It might have been a long time coming, but Des Redmond from Manorkilbride has finally fulfilled his dream of driving at Mondello Park in Co. Kildare. Des is eighty-three years of age but that did not deter him from taking a race-prepared hatchback around one of Mondello’s Mazda 3 courses. In doing so the octogenarian also set a new record, becoming the oldest person to complete a Motor Racing School course at the track. The event was organised by a group of Des’ friends who had heard him say it was one thing he would like to have done.
Week of December 10
 Antrim: Oldest police station in Europe to be demolished
The old Musgrave Street police station in Belfast is to be replaced by a new building beside the original, and what is the oldest operational police station in Europe is to be demolished. Musgrave Street was built in 1886 in response to riots in the city, and until the 1930s it would have been home to the families of the policemen stationed there. To mark the end of an era, an exhibition of old uniforms and memorabilia was mounted at the station, attended by past and present police officers.
Armagh: Principal retires from Keady school
Pat McAleavey has spent forty years at St Patrick’s High School in Keady, thirty of them as principal, and he is now retiring. A special lunch was held to mark the occasion and among those who paid tribute to Pat was Minister for Education Caitriona Ruane. Also commending his teaching career were Bishop Gerard Clifford and Brian Hughes, vice-chairman of the Board of Governors, who said Pat had brought the community of Keady, Kilcluney, Madden and Derrynoose “from the backyard of the educational world to the top table”.
Carlow: Ballon to hold Christmas Fair
Ballon Community Centre will be the venue next Sunday for the second annual Christmas Fair, featuring stalls where local crafts, food and drink, including hot seasonal food, will be available. Also in attendance will be Santa Claus accompanied by one of his reindeer, Dancer, along with elves and penguins. There will be a number of other attractions at the fair, with displays of Irish dancing, carol singing, an appearance by the Wren Boys, and a pets’ corner for the children to enjoy.
Cavan: Not yet two, but an international model
Eden Kellett from Bailieborough is only twenty-two months but already she has become an international model. Her mother Lynda is delighted that Eden was the only international model to be chosen for a calendar which will raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston; Eden will model a designer outfit as Miss May. In addition, she has also been selected to be the face of the British company, Beautiful Princess, so it’s going to be a busy year for the Bailieborough toddler.
Clare: Reprieve for Lahinch loos
The public toilets on the promenade in Lahinch will stay in situ for another while following an appeal against a decision by the county council that they could be demolished. John and Breda Galvin were granted permission to demolish the facility to make way for two retail units and two apartments. However the decision was appealed by Lahinch Community Council and a new decision is not expected until some time next year, giving the toilets, on a prime site, a further lease of life.
Cork: Cork pantomime has special cast members
Six actors taking part in the pantomime “Sinbad and the Sea Pirates”, at the Everyman Theatre, have special needs and are graduates of the CADA Performing Arts Academy run by Catherine Mahon-Buckley. Among the six is sixteen-year-old Jenny O’Halloran from Douglas who is now in her third year of taking part. A student at Christ the King secondary school, Jenny has also taken part in the school musical “South Pacific” and her mother Margaret says she lives for music and dancing.
Derry: New hotel in pipeline for Derry
The former Tillie and Henderson shirt factory could become the site of a four-star hotel if a planning application by the Andras House hotel group is successful. A one hundred and thirty-nine bedroom hotel will be central to the £10m development which will also include fifteen residential units, two shops and an underground car park. Entrance to the new hotel will be from Abercorn Road, while the residential and retail units will be accessed from Foyle Road. Diljit Rana of Andras House says that one hundred and fifty jobs will be provided during construction, while the hotel itself would need a staff of eighty.
Donegal: Daily phone call for those who are isolated
A daily phone call to older and vulnerable people within the county is to be initiated by the Donegal Family Resource Centre, who will alert other personnel if the call is not answered. The initiative, according to DFRC chairman Jim McLaughlin, is a response to both the economic crisis and the recent bad weather and will be spread throughout the county. It will be serviced by two paid workers in Buncrana, while volunteers for the ‘Good Morning’ service will be trained and will be vetted by gardaí.
Down: Bands join forces for charity concert
Two bands based in Newry that would not normally play together, since they come from different sides of the community, joined forces one night last week for a charity concert in Newry Town Hall. St Catherine’s Concert band, established almost ninety years ago, played alongside the Hunter Moore Memorial Flute Band which is even older, having been formed in 1884. St Catherine’s band is led by Noel Mathers while the Hunter Moore bandleader is Ronnie Bothwell. Proceeds from the concert went to Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Dublin: Free parking on offer in South Dublin
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has initiated a free parking period in the town in a bid to encourage shoppers into Dun Laoghaire. From Monday to Saturday cars will be allowed to park for free for three hours between the hours of four and seven. The free parking will apply in an area within Queen’s Road, Crofton Terrace, Clarence Street, York Road, Tivoli Road, Glenageary Road Lower, and Park Road. Don McManus from the Dun Laoghaire Business Association has welcomed the move and believes that, combined with the new Christmas lights and the firework displays, it will help to attract business to the town.
Fermanagh: Joe is to make his turkeys sing
Hotelier Joe Mahon from Irvinestown has a novel idea for this year’s Craft Fair, he intends to make his turkeys sing. With the help of Johnny and Sonny Donegan from Drumquin he will be connecting a contraption comprising thirty-three parts to his turkeys who will then begin to sing Christmas songs. The Turkey Thing A Me Jig will be part of the opening of the Craft Fair this weekend after which they will take their annual stroll up and down the town’s Main Street. All proceeds from the fair will go to the Children’s Hospice being built at Killadeas.
Galway: Joyce’s opens up in Tuam
Joyce’s Supermarket, established first in Headford before expanding to Galway city, has now opened a store in Tuam. Pat Joyce said he had been looking at Tuam for a while and was offered a site in Tuam Shopping Centre which had been empty for eight months. In the month since they moved onto the site they totally remodelled it before the grand opening last week. To give it a particularly Tuam-based theme, all the aisles have been named after sites in the town, including High Street, Chapel Lane, Bishop Street and Forster Place.
Kerry: Award for Beaufort farmer’s invention
Farmer Gerard O’Leary from Kilbonane, Beaufort has gained the top prize in this year’s South Kerry Development Partnership Farm Biz competition. Gerard has devised an electronic collar to be worn by bulls which will administer a shock should the bull become aggressive. The collar is activated by pressing a button on a pendant designed to be worn around the neck. For his invention Gerard was presented with a cheque for €2,000 and an equipment grant of a similar value.
Kildare: Three men spot a niche market
Two men from Maynooth and another from Clonee spotted an opportunity during the recent spell of wintry weather. Dave Robinson and James Hinde from Maynooth, with Andrew Nuzum, have been clearing ice and snow from car parks and industrial estates between the hours of five in the evening and five in the morning, and have also managed to keep their day-jobs with Andrew Nuzum’s road-marking company. They use three lorries with spreaders and gritters, and tractors to clear the snow and have received calls from Dublin as well as more local calls.
Kilkenny: Piltown boy writes letter to Taoiseach
Aoife and Andrew Tynan Geary from Piltown thought their son Evan was writing yet another letter to Santa and were surprised to discover that their eight-year-old was actually writing to Brian Cowen. He had seen one of the more dramatic newspaper headlines during the week and decided to put pen to paper to tell the Taoiseach that he had ‘hurt Ireland’. Evan went on to say that Mr Cowen had hurt his Mammy and Daddy as well as hurting the country. Aoife said she had explained the basics of the crisis to her son and will now post the letter to Mr Cowen.
Laois: Rathdowney musicians contribute to film
The film being shot in Fethard, Co. Tipperary featuring Hollywood actor Martin Sheen also has an input from three musicians from Rathdowney. Michael Creagh, Paul O’Brien and Dan Delaney are part of a ceili and old time band which also includes Liam and Willie Dunne from Urlingford and Pat Flanagan from Roscrea. Their part in “Stella Days” involves playing at a town hall social. The band was formed after producer Thaddeus O’Sullivan asked Michael Creagh if he could gather a group of musicians together for the film.
Leitrim: Josie enters Hall of Fame
When this year’s Leitrim GAA County Board award winners were announced last week among the names was that of Josie Torsney from Dromahair, who is the Hall of Fame winner for 2010. The County Player of the Year award went to Michael Foley, while there were three awards for Club Player of the Year. The senior club award winner was named as Adrian Croal of Glencar/Manorhamilton; Michael Quinn of Aughawillan took the intermediate award; and the junior award went to Conor Beirne of Eslin. The awards will be presented at the end of January.
Limerick: Romantic proposal from shooting victim
A twenty-year-old from Ballinacurra Weston, who was given up for dead earlier this year after being shot in the head, was well enough to leave hospital last week to make a surprise appearance at a twenty-first birthday celebration. After treatment at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire Daniel Phillips climbed into a gift-wrapped box to surprise his girlfriend Sarah Power with a proposal of marriage as she celebrated her birthday. And happily for Daniel Sarah accepted the proposal.
Longford: Elderly to receive garda visits
Some sixty elderly people who are living alone and are isolated are to receive regular visits from a local garda to ensure that they stay safe. The initiative has been set up by the Gardaí in Ballymahon and it was launched last week at the Day Care Centre. Each of the four gardaí stationed in Ballymahon will visit fifteen elderly people each month, and a meeting was held recently to give advice on security in the home. Those attending were also assured that gardaí would help them to become safe and secure in their own homes.
Louth: Yearbook launched this weekend
A series of events are to take place in Dundalk and Drogheda this weekend for the launch of the official yearbook of the Louth County Board. Attending the launches in the two towns will be manager Peter Fitzpatrick, JP Rooney and All Star winner and captain, Paddy Keenan. Sponsored by the Cooley Distillery, Louth & Proud 2010 has been produced by the Dundalk Democrat and printed by Anglo Printers in Drogheda. Proceeds from the sale of the yearbook will go to the County Board.
Mayo: Another post office closes
The post office in the village of Castlehill, which has been run by members of the Maye-McDonnell family for more than one hundred years, closed its doors last week. While the post office was first opened in 1852, the first member of the family, Thomas and Ellie Maye, are listed as post office assistants in the 1901 census. Seven years later, Frank Maye’s great-uncle Pat was appointed postmaster. The position of postmaster/mistress passed down eventually to Frank, who has been running the post office with his wife Helen. They made the decision to retire in light of the computerisation of the system which An Post wish to introduce.
Meath: Replicas of stone to be placed in Navan
Replicas in bronze of the stone which is the last remaining piece of Navan high cross are to be installed on plinths in the town’s Market Square this week. Casts were taken from the stone, which is kept in Collins Museum in Dublin, by local artist Orla de Brí. The remains of the sixteenth century cross were found more than one hundred and sixty years ago by W.F. Wakeman and were first housed in the Royal Irish Academy. Where once the cross stood there was a pump, which is now long gone.
Monaghan: School initiative aims to boost tourism
A joint initiative between students at Castleblayney College and Our Lady’s Secondary School, and Castleblayney Community Enterprise will see a new website,, which will aim to promote the tourism potential of the town. Part financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund through Monaghan Peace III Parnership, the site will feature a video which has been recorded in a number of different languages including English, Irish, Latvian, Polish, Lithuanian, German and Nigerian.
Offaly: Rhode youth features in TV programme
Christopher Furlong from Rhode was featured in a recent edition of the TG4 arts and culture programme “Imeall”. The sixteen-year-old was shown preparing to leave for London where he has become only the second Irish mail student to train at the Central School of Ballet. Christopher, who began ballet five years ago and trained with the National Irish Youth Ballet and the College of Dance in Dublin, will study in London for the next three years. He is totally supported in his career by his mother, Elizabeth, who said she would go to any lengths to help him fulfil his ambition.
Roscommon: St Nathy’s student wins talent contest
Megan Burke, a fourth year music student at St Nathy’s College in Ballaghaderreen, has been named as the winner of the County Roscommon final of the ‘Our School’s Got Talent’ competition. Megan reached the final in the Hyde Centre after earlier heats in Boyle, Castlerea, Roscommon town and Strokestown. A member of the school choir, she studied music for Junior Certificate with Ms Sheridan and is now taking the subject at Leaving Certificate level with Ms Sheridan and Ms Kielty.
Sligo: Longest-serving coast guard retires
Noel Donelly, originally from Co. Tyrone, is retiring after thirty years’ service with the Sligo Coast Guard search and rescue group. Having been a helicopter pilot, a diver for an engineering firm and an ambulance driver, Noel became one of the first crew members stationed at the base in Shannon and among the rescues in which he was involved was that of the seventeen crew members of a fishing vessel that caught fire west of Shannon ten years ago. Noel swam to the stricken men with the winch cable attached to him and stayed with the Spanish and Portuguese fisherman until all were rescued.
Tipperary: Shop windows get unique designs
Shop windows in Nenagh have their own specially designed displays after it was decided to cheer up the town with a Winter Wonderland theme. Up to eighty shops have been visited by Deirdre Ryan of Creative Business Promotions, and an empty premises on Kenyon Street has become the centre for a large group of people, including Transition Year students, who are executing Deirdre’s designs. The team has also constructed a Christmas Grotto which has become the centre for live music from bands and choirs.
Tyrone: No weather for rare monkey
David Wilson of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has voiced his concern following the sighting of a small monkey, believed to be a marmoset, in the county. The rare breed was last seen on the Ballynahatta Road between Omagh and Fintona and, given that its natural habitat is the South American rain forest, it will have difficulty surviving in the present cold spell. The USPCA has urged the owner to come forward so that the animal can be found, stressing that it is not illegal to own such an animal, nor is it illegal for a pet shop to sell one.
Waterford: Waterford couple to open their doors to needy
Boxing coach Billy O’Sullivan remembers how, in his younger days living in Brown’s Lane, neighbours would help each other out in hard times, and he and his wife Elizabeth have resolved to do the same today. The couple, who live on the outskirts of Waterford city, will be opening their home to a hungry family at least once a week, when they will offer a meal to a couple and their children. They have been prompted to offer this help after hearing stories of hardship and need among people living in the city.
Westmeath: Helen and Jim light up their house
Last week saw the switching on of the lights at the house owned by Helen and Jim Dunne on the Dublin Road in Moate. For the past seven years the couple have lit up their house and have raised €150,000 for the Share A Dream Foundation which helps seriously ill children to realise their dreams. The lights were switched on by Luke Lynam from Knockdomney, while the Carmelite Gospel Choir sang Christmas carols and Santa Claus handed out goody bags to all the children who turned up to watch the spectacle.
Wexford: Reunion held for 1966 team
The reunion of members of the under-14 1966 Nicky Rackard League winners took place in Glynn recently, with many travelling long distances to enjoy the evening. Forty-four years ago the Glynn/Barntown team beat Oulart-the-Ballagh by seventeen points in Bellefield in what was their first ever final. At the reunion each member of the panel was presented with a photograph of the team and when thanks were being given the members of Barntown ICA were not left out. They provided refreshments on the day of the victory and surviving members of the group also received a presentation at the event.
Wicklow: Two awards for Garden County
At the Liveable Communities (LivCom) awards which took place in Chicago recently the county received two awards, one Gold and one Silver. The Gold was awarded in the category for communities with a population of up to one hundred and fifty thousand, while the Silver Award was claimed by the East Coast Nature Reserve. A special tribute was paid to Gráinne McLoughlin by Tom Fortune, chairman of Wicklow County Tourism, for her energy and time in co-ordinating the project and for submitting the county for the awards.
Week of December 16
Antrim: Peace wall artwork unveiled
On Tuesday of last week a one hundred foot long mural celebrating the work of Belfast poet John Hewitt was unveiled on the peace line at Cupar Way. Created by artists Deirdre Robb and Lesley Cherry, “Hewitt in the Frame” was completed with the help of more than one hundred people from cross-community groups. The artwork includes a large scale depiction of landmarks in the Shankill area featuring lines from the John Hewitt poem “Memorandum for the Moderates”. There is also an interactive frame where visitors can write their own comments.
Armagh: Armagh GAA selling naming rights
The new stadium in Armagh, built on the former site of the Athletics Ground, is to have its name chosen from outside the city. In a break with tradition the local GAA has decided to sell the naming rights of the new stadium, and among the bidders are expected to be insurance companies, mobile phone companies, and major drinks companies. It has already taken place in the South, with the Cavan ground named after local company Kingspan, and Paul Kelly, chairman of the My Armagh fundraising committee, has said he hopes that stands within the stadium will be named after GAA figures.
Carlow: Actor joins in taxi celebrations
When Carlow Cabs celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary recently the ‘cab driver’ from RTE’s “Fair City” was in the town to join in. Dave Duffy, who plays the part of Leo Dowling in the programme, joined customers and businesses from around the county, while KCLR broadcast live from the cab office on Dublin Street led by presenter John Keane. Leading the celebrations were Patsy Whelan and his wife Helen, who were accompanied by their three adult children, Andrea, Rick and Kris.
Cavan: Cavan joins ‘free parking’ towns
Cavan town is the latest in a group of towns within the country who are offering free parking in order to encourage shoppers into the town centre. Members of Cavan Town Council agreed that all car parks in the town, including the multi-storey car park behind the cinema, should offer free parking last Saturday, and will do so again on the coming Saturday. Then from next Monday through to Christmas Eve parking will be free every day, though the multi-storey car park has limited opening hours on Sundays.
Clare: Dorothy’s idea wins award
The first prize in the Clare Farm Idea Awards 2010 has gone to Dorothy Minogue Landers of Clondanagh Cottage in Tulla, who has proposed establishing two commercial lakes on her farm to extend the tourism potential of angling. Already running a successful B&B, Dorothy also caters for anglers on nearby lakes but she is hoping that the development of two lakes with associated walkways and a shop will encourage elderly and youth anglers. She now intends to apply for planning permission to make her idea a reality.
Cork: Fermoy to celebrate army link
Fermoy, which became a garrison town at the end of the eighteenth century and had a military presence for the next two hundred years, is to open a museum to celebrate the link with army life. The museum is to be located in the centre of the town and will have a database of all the British soldiers who served in Fermoy as well as details of members of the Irish Defence Forces. Avondhu Tourism Association chairman Sean Lomasney said the group also has plans to open a tourist office in Fermoy.
Derry: Jade on her way to Taiwan
Nineteen-year-old Jade Roberts from Greysteel, a model and fashion student, will be heading for Taiwan in the New Year to take part in the Miss Ocean International competition. Jade, who is a student at University of Ulster, has already won the title Miss Teen Queen Northern Ireland where she came fifth out of a total of sixty-six entrants in the British-based contest. She was also among the twelve from her degree course named as the top upcoming designers and one of her designs was displayed alongside those of John Rocha.
Donegal: Call goes out for new-born lamb
The people of Carndonagh are getting ready for the opening of their live crib next Sunday, but they are missing one vital cast member, a new-born lamb. Six local families take it in turn to play the part of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and there is no shortage of cows, sheep or donkeys. However Ailish Tully says there is always a problem with finding a lamb, since the lambing season isn’t due until January. The live crib was established nine years ago and every year up to two hundred local people are involved.
Down: Kelly family cycle across America
Mark Kelly, a farmer from Moira, together with his five children, has completed a marathon cycle across America in memory of his daughter Margarita who died from cancer aged twenty. Before her death she had asked her father to carry out the trek as he had already cycled extensively in Ireland for charity. Tom’s wife Kathleen was in Rhode Island when her husband and children arrived after their four and a half thousand mile journey, and the money raised is to be shared among Macmillan, Royal Hospital Children’s Ward, Shine a Light, and the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.
Dublin: Anniversary celebrated at Kilmainham
A campaign to restore Kilmainham Gaol was supported by thousands of veterans of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence and last week the fiftieth anniversary of the completed project was celebrated. The gaol fell into disuse in the 1920s and it was the trustees of Kilmainham Museum who were given the task of restoring the building, though it was felt they wouldn’t be able to finish the task. Among those who started work on the derelict building was the current chairman of the Trustees, Damian Cassidy.
Fermanagh: First bursary goes to Nadine
The first Janet O’Neill Travel Bursary has been presented to Nadine Gilmore, a past student of Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School who is now studying at Oxford University. The bursary, administered by Enniskillen Soroptimists, is a memorial to former member Janet O’Neill who died last year. Noted for her voluntary work overseas, Janet’s name is remembered in offering a bursary of £500 to enable those with experience of volunteering the opportunity to travel overseas. The award was presented by Janet’s sister Caroline.
Galway: Diversity celebrated at Galway school
Coláiste Einde in Salthill, Galway can boast forty-three different nationalities among its students and on Tuesday of last week they celebrated the fact with a multicultural exhibition. Drama, music and dance comprised the events of the celebration as well as a debate, as the school’s debating team are the current All-Ireland champions. Students were encouraged to adopt a country for the day and to wear the national dress, while parents, local restaurants and members of the asylum seeking community from Salthill also took part.
Kerry: Killarney student to appear on TV reality show
Emily Piggott from Killarney was selected on the John Murray Radio Show as one of five leaders to appear in the fourth edition of the RTE programme Operation Transformation. The twenty-one-year-old, who lives with her sister Linda in Cork while studying at University College Cork, admits to having been overweight since she was a child and she is determined to lose weight during the course of the programme. She will be joined in her endeavours by her father Joe, a taxi driver.
Kildare: Gaisce Award for Lauren
Among the group of young people who were presented with Gaisce Awards by President Mary McAleese recently was Lauren Martin from Athy. On the 25th anniversary of the awards Lauren received a Gold Gaisce, having received both the Bronze and Silver awards previously. In order to gain her award the twenty-year-old undertook diving courses in Egypt, led children’s camps with the Athy canoe club, and learned sign language, sewing, ballroom and salsa dancing. She also spent two weeks learning French while living with a family in Biarritz.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny limestone to be used in London church
Black Kilkenny limestone has been used in the creation of a baptismal font in St Andrew’s Church in Fulham Fields in West London. The font has been commissioned from London-based Anna Sikorska, whose grandmother is from Roscommon, and she was familiar with the stone. She came over to Ireland and stayed with the parents of a friend while she sourced the stone from Old Leighlin quarry where she was overwhelmed by the help she received from the workers. The completed font is to be mounted on four pieces of yew and will be officially unveiled in the church in February.
Laois: A sparkle in Abbeyleix
Last week a sparkle was put into Abbeyleix when Enda Thompson-Phelan presented an evening entitled “Sparkle of Christmas”. The presentation of floral designs with a Christmas theme was originally scheduled for the first week of the month but it had to be postponed until last week due to the adverse weather conditions. All proceeds from the evening, held in the Manor Hotel in Abbeyleix, were donated to the Laois Kidney Association, as were proceeds from the day in the summer when Ms Thompson-Phelan opened her gardens at Clonaghil, Coolrain.
Leitrim: Emmet is dancing around the world
Emmet McMorrow from Rossinver has been dancing his way around the world as part of three different Irish dancing groups. The former St Clare’s Comprehensive student has just returned home from a tour of Russia and Slovakia with Gaelforce, and he is now touring Germany with Dancemasters. Last year he also toured America with Tony Kenny. The son of dance teacher Clare McMorrow and set dancer Pat, Emmet has a younger sister, Romai, who has already won the title of Connacht Champion for two successive years.
Limerick: Mark hopes to make record climb
Mark Quinn from Limerick is hoping to become the youngest Irish person to reach the summit of Mount Everest when he tackles the ascent in March. At present the title is held by Samantha Carroll from Cork who was twenty-eight when she reached the summit six years ago. Mark, who is hoping to raise funds for the Shane Geoghegan Trust from the climb, will be only twenty-seven if he is successful in his attempt on the mountain. He has already conquered the highest peak outside of Asia, Mount Aconcagua in the Andes.
 Longford: Runners and walkers to the fore in Lanesboro
Christmas Day in Lanesboro will see a number of hardy people taking part in exercise to raise money for charity. The Christmas Day Run/Walk from Newtowncashel to Lanesboro will be raising money for the Longford Multiple Sclerosis organisation, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. Meanwhile the thirty-first annual Christmas Day swim is also taking place, in aid of the Lough Ree Sub Aqua Club and other local charities. Over the past thirty years the swim has raised significant amounts of money for the Sub Aqua club, one of the leading clubs in the country.
Louth: International award for Dundalk photographers
With just sixty members the Dundalk Photographic Society is considerably smaller than the more than one hundred and twenty against whom it was competing, recently, but it still managed to bring home the top prize in an international competition. The society’s submission of twenty photographs led to their being presented with the top prize by the Federation for International Art Photographers. According to society chairman Gabriel O’Shaughnessy, Irish clubs don’t usually rank in the top ten of the competition but in addition to Dundalk, Celbridge Photographic Club was placed third.
Mayo: Killala company applies for reef funding
The Killala Bay Reef company has applied to Fáilte Ireland for funding of €4m to develop an artificial reef in Killala Bay which would attract overseas divers. The plan, for an old destroyer to be sunk in the bay as part of the artificial reef, is the subject of a feasibility study which is expected to be completed in the New Year. Funding for the study has already been sourced from the ESB’s Bellacorick Enterprise Fund and the company is now seeking additional grant aid.
Meath: Plans drawn up to keep Newgrange roads open
With the expected return of Arctic weather apparently about to coincide with the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, the county council, the Gardaí, and the Office of Public Works have met to draw up a plan to ensure that the roads to Newgrange are kept open. From Saturday until next Thursday the sixty lucky winners from the twenty-five thousand who applied will enter the passage tomb at Newgrange to witness the sunlight striking the stone at sunrise. Among the VIPs attending this year is Astronomer Royal for Scotland Professor John Browne.
Monaghan: Former barracks site to be education campus
The former Monaghan military barracks on the Armagh Road in Monaghan town is to become an education campus offering primary, post-primary and further education facilities. A planning application has been lodged by the VEC for a sixteen-classroom primary school for Gaelscoil Ultain, a post-primary school for Coláiste Oiriall with space for four hundred pupils, and a replacement for the Post Leaving Certificate college in the town. The plans also include a range of sports facilities to be shared by the schools.
Offaly: Wind farm to go ahead
Despite objections from a group known as the Concerned Residents of Drumcaw, An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the wind farm at Mountlucas, which will have generating capacity of 80MW. Bord na Móna has said that up to thirty jobs will be provided during the construction stage, which will take up to two years, but the objectors believe that there is no guarantee that these workers will come from the locality. Following its completion Mountlucas Wind Farm will have a small number of maintenance and operation personnel.
Roscommon: Drum lady celebrates centenary
A native of Crannaghmore, Drum who moved to Dublin early in her married life, has just celebrated her one hundredth birthday. Camilla Nolan, better known as Ciss, was one of the six children of James and Margaret Higgins from Crannaghmore and she met her husband, Dubliner Jim Nolan, when he came to the area to work as a carpenter on the building of St Peter and Paul’s Church. The couple had four children, sons Joe and Seamus and daughters Maura and Rita, who were all at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park in Dublin to help their mother celebrate her centenary.
Sligo: Commonsense prevails on land purchase
Pensioners who had been hoping for some while to be able to buy their own back gardens have now been told by Sligo Borough Council that they will be asked for a purchase price of just €100. The elderly residents of Bell’s Terrace off Pearse Road in the centre of the town were originally given a price of €5,000 for their gardens, which had been dumping grounds before the pensioners transformed them with flowers and shrubs. The residents also created a right of way through their three-metre plots to give access to services.
Tipperary: Joint winners of Roscrea talent show
At the “Roscrea’s Got Talent” show held recently at the Damer Court Hotel in the town, the joint winners of the competition were named as Elaine Ryan and Robert and Kate Flynn. In second and third place were James McKelvey and Darragh Carey Kennedy respectively. Organised by Paddy Bergin, Paddy Collison, Paul Dwyer, Sandra Hutchinson, Pauline Maloney and Marie Tooher, the evening was overseen by MC Andrew Walsh. All proceeds from the event went to three local charities, the Abbey Hall Renovation Fund, the Martin Cunningham Trust Fund, and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Tyrone: Comedian visits mother’s home town
After finishing his five-night run at Belfast’s Odyssey, comedian Peter Kay headed west to visit his mother’s family in Coalisland. Deirdre Kay was born in the town and her sister, Bernie Gervin, lives in the Gortgonis area while his grandmother, Madge O’Neill, is a resident of Meenagh Park. The comedian always visits his relatives, and especially his eighty-six-year-old grandmother. On this latest trip he linked up with cousins Sinead and Moninne before heading for Meenagh Park.
Waterford: Powerlifting title for Waterford man
Richie Penkert, a Waterford businessman, was in Co. Monaghan recently taking part in the World Drugfree Powerlifting Championships and he  not only brought home the World title but also broke the European record. A window cleaner by day, Richie is a member of the Waterford Weight Training Club and has to organise his time carefully between training for European and World Championships and expanding his business. His club, which next year will be celebrating fifty years since its foundation, is organising a charity truck pull from Reginald’s Tower to Rice Bridge in aid of the WLRFm/Lions Club Christmas Appeal.
Westmeath: Printing award for Athlone company
Snap Printing in Athlone won an award at the Print of the Year Awards held in Dublin last weekend. The winning entry, a brochure entitled “Wineport Lodge Treatment Suite Brochure” took first prize in the Digital Print category of the awards. Snap Printing on Pearse Street is run by Aengus and Lisa O’Rourke, who opened the centre five years ago and now employ a staff of eight. The judges were of the opinion that Snap Printing in Athlone epitomised the refusal by Irish design companies to compromise on quality in difficult times.
Wexford: Tommy didn’t forgo his usual swim
Tommy Delaney moved to London from his home in Lower John Street in Wexford many years ago but he comes home at least once a year and always goes for a swim in either Wexford Harbour or Rosslare Harbour. This year Tommy’s visit home coincided with the Arctic weather and Bridie Hore, whom he was visiting at her home in Davitt Road, presumed he would not be swimming this year. However the sixty-eight-year-old proved her wrong and took his usual dip in the icy waters of Wexford Harbour, describing the experience as “quite pleasant”.
Wicklow: Baltinglass closed for filming
Part of the Main Street in Baltinglass was closed recently to facilitate the filming by TG4 of the historical re-enactment of the attempted bank raid in 1924 in which Garda Patrick O’Halloran was killed. The shooting took place on the bridge and it was here that the filming concentrated, though they also filmed on a section of the street from Horan’s Pub to the bridge. A further scene was shot on Edward Street, opposite the Dutchman’s Pub. Two men who attempted to rob the then National Bank were later captured, found guilty of the killing of Garda O’Halloran, and executed in August 1924.
Week of December 23
The good people at the irish Emigrant have not published the county news for this past week due to the holidays. Most people in Ireland try to take an extended holiday between Chfistmas and New Years. Hoever, we do have a  coupld of ets snippets to share, though not by individual county. 
Tuesday being the winter solstice, a number of invited guests, and others chosen by  lottery, assembled inside the Neolithic tomb at Newgrange before sunrise. They had hoped to see the rising sun's rays flood into the chamber but it was an overcast morning and 
they were disappointed. 
National Lottery Winning Numbers: 
? Wed: 7, 16, 25, 38, 42, 44 (30) – one winner of jackpot of €5.89m 
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Until next time, many thanks for reading  and we hope you enjoyed this edition of County News.
Athbhlian faoi mhaise!
Happy New Year!
(pronounced Ah-vleen fwee wash-eh)
Slan agus beannacht,
Bridget & Russ