With a special thanks to the Irish Emigrant. What follows are news items that probably won't make the national headlines. But if you also want to see read the major stories, we have that covered too on our website. Click here to read two weeks worth from popular newspapers like the irish Times, the Belfast Telegraph and others:


Antrim: Play crosses both road and cultures
A nativity play being stayed in Ballycastle will cross cultures by the simple expedient of crossing the road between acts. The Cross and Passion Schoolk on Moyle Road in the town will be the setting for the first act of the play, written by Damian Gorman of the Ballycastle Nativity Group. The actors will then cross the road to perform Act Two in Ballycastle High School. Among actors taking part in “Stars – A Ballycastle Nativity” are Conleth Hill, Olivia Nash, Gordon Fulton and Abi McGibbon and they are joined by a group of amateur actors from the area.

Armagh: Gordon wants his gates back
Gordon Lyttle, who has lived in Richhill Castle for more than fifty years, has asked the Government for the return of the gates of the castle, which were removed in the 1930s and installed at Hillsborough Castle. Before removal the gates had a preservation order placed on them. The seventeenth century castle was bought by Gordon's father, a Harland and Wolff employee, for £5,000. The seventy-six-year-old, who is suffering from terminal cancer, has also said he would be happy to have a replica pair of gates installed at his home, and he has the support of local councillor Jim Speers as well as many of the local residents.

Carlow: Oscar nomination for Ballyhide woman
An award-winning animation by a Ballyhide teacher has received an Oscar nomination. Kathleen O'Rourke created Granny O'Grimm when she was doing stand-up comedy and working with a team known as the Fallen Angels. It was at a performance in the Spiegeltent in Dublin that animator Nicky Phelan saw the potential in the character of the old lady and asked Kathleen to send him the script. From there it all took off and the animation has already won awards at the Galway Film Festival and in Palm Springs. Kathleen now has to wait until February to see if the film will be shortlisted.

Carlow: Catherine is not deterred by flooding
The fact that the ground floor of her new premises was under a few feet of water did not deter Carlow businesswoman Catherine Harris from opening a new restaurant on Kennedy Street in the town. The ground floor D Bar was badly damaged and remained flooded for a week after the River Barrow burst its banks, but the Asian Palace restaurant upstairs was unharmed and it opened to the public just two weeks late. And a week later the intrepid restaurateur opened the D Bar to the public, having been helped in the repair work by interior designer Ann Gordon.

Cavan: Diaconite established by Bishop of Kilmore
Bishop Leo O'Reilly recently established a Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kilmore. The ceremony took place at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Cavan and welcomed from England Rev. Roger Evans, a deacon in Southwark, and his wife Maureen. The duties of a deacon include performing baptisms and funeral services, and presiding at weddings. They can also read the Gospel at Mass and deliver the homily and are ordained to assist both priests and lay people. The diocese is now encouraging those between the ages of thirty-five and sixty to put themselves forward as candidates for the diaconate.

Cavan: Gowna church to reopen soon
Parish priest in Lough Gowna Father PJ Fitzpatrick is hoping to celebrate Mass in the newly refurbished Church of the Holy Family very soon. The church, unique in the fact that its parish is half in Ulster and half in Leinster, was built more than one hundred years ago and it now boasts a new floor, altar, tabernacle and baptismal font as well as eight new stained glass windows which depict a number of subjects including the Holy Family, St Mel, St Ciaran, St Patrick and St Brigid. Part of the €200,000 refurbishment included the restoration of the Stations of Cross and the addition of four new mosaics to join the original ones.

Clare: A bright spot in the watery gloom
For one five-year-old forced out of her home by flood water there was one bright spot when she and other children received a surprise visitor. Shannon Walsh, with her parents Susan and Patrick, and seven-week-old Sumaya, was evacuated from her Ennis home and the family was put up in the Clare Inn Hotel. Shannon's main concern was that Santa would not know where she was on Christmas morning to deliver her presents. When Susan was interviewed on Newstalk radio she mentioned Shannon's concern, and presenter Eamon Keane and his team arranged a special visit to the hotel by Santa, in association with the Lions Club and World of Wonder.

Clare: Plans lodged for railway museum
Jackie Whelan, the man responsible for the preservation of the West Clare Railway, has lodged plans with the county council for what he says will be the largest road and rail museum in the country. The museum will be based in Moyasta and it is hoped that construction work will begin early next year. Work on the museum will run alongside the extension of the West Clare Railway a further two and a half miles. Mr Whelan is in negotiations with the National Roads Authority with regard to the line crossing the road between Kilrush and Kilkee, and he hopes eventually to extend the line to Kilrush.

Cork: Kinsale auction of Tiger trophies
An estate agent in Kinsale has held the first of what will become regular auctions with a difference, for the lots on sale represent purchases made during the boom times which people are now trying to offload. Kevin Kelleher put his own 1993 Wrangler Jeep up for auction, and among other items are a rigid inflatable boat, cherrywood skirting boards from a hotel, new jewellery and an old pine dresser. The items were available for inspection before the auction day and Kevin feels sure the days will be successful since “thrift is the new cool”.

Cork: The decorations that have to be insured
The Christmas decorations put up by Denis and Mary Connolly each year at their home on the outskirts of Bantry are insured for €20,000. But when you take into account that the collection numbers almost five thousand, collected over the last twenty years, then it becomes more understandable. The Connollys began decorating their house a month ago and it is now open to the public each weekend to raise funds for the Bantry Hospice and CoAction. Their main Christmas tree, one of three, is eight feet tall and has a working miniature railway running round its trunk.

onegal: The birds can't tell the balls from the eggs
Mistaking the balls for eggs is one reason put forward for an increase in the removal of golf balls on the Greencastle course by crows. It has apparently always been something of a problem but club manager Billy McCaul says the incidences have increased recently and the missing balls are playing havoc with matchplay results. While playing recently club member Phonsie McCole had his golf ball lifted by a crow on the fourth, while his playing partner suffered a similar loss on the seventh. Birdwatch Ireland official Niall Hatch believes that it is younger crows who are the culprits, mistaking the golf balls for eggs.

Derry: Paddy is top lollipop man
Paddy Ward from Claudy, who is on duty every school day outside St Colmcille Primary School in the town, has been named as Northern Ireland's favourite lollipop man at the regional finals of the Kwik Fit Insurance Lollipop Person of the Year Awards 2009. Paddy has retired from his duties as caretaker at the school but he continues to ensure that it is locked up at the end of each day, and also comes in early in the winter to turn on the central heating and to ensure that the paths are cleared of ice and snow. At a special school assembly Paddy was presented with his trophy and a holiday voucher for £500.

Down: A visit to the palace for George
George Gracey, a firefighter in Dromore, paid a visit to Buckingham Palace last week where he was presented with the MBE awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth earlier this year. George, the Station Watch Commander in the town, received his medal from the Prince of Wales and said he enjoyed every minute of his visit. Although he had been there on a previous occasion some ten years ago, as a member of a group of twenty members of the emergency services, it was a first visit by George's fiancee, Jennifer Whan, who accompanied him to London. He received the medal for thirty-six years' service to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Dublin: David's way to beat the recession
One Dublin taxi-driver has decided to be proactive in a falling market and he has become the owner of the first karaoke taxi in town. David Dennis from Walkinstown has installed in his seven-seater taxi an imported Chinese karaoke machine with three video screens, two in the back and a master touch screen. The taxi has become particularly popular with groups of women heading for a night out who, with the two microphones provided, can choose from three hundred songs. David's taxi does normal runs at standard prices but it can also be hired for an hour's karaoke run, and he is now considering starting bingo sessions in his cab for tourists.

Dublin: Fingal women’s panto opens in Skerries
A pantomime written by two women from Fingal is opening this weekend in Skerries and will run until January 3, with a short break over Christmas. Ashling Coleman and Elaine Courage are the authors of “Follow That Star”, which is being staged by the Magic Carpet Art Group in the Little Theatre. Among local people taking part are Jane Mehigan, David Grimes, Kevin Carney, Alan Cash and Richard Norman-Wright. The two authors will be taking the parts of a fairy and a witch respectively. Skerries Gymnastics Club, Dance Dimensions and John Rochford will also be taking part in the performance which is directed by Anne Stack, while Susan Keogh is in charge of production.

Dublin: Fifteenth living crib for Mansion House
For the fifteenth year the Irish Farmers' Association, in conjunction with the City Council, has set up the Christmas Crib with live animals on the forecourt of the Mansion House. The crib, which includes donkeys, goats and sheep, was officially opened by Lord Mayor Emer Costello and Padraig Walshe, president of the IFA, with the Lord Mayor also turning on the Christmas lights. All the animals in the crib are brought there on a daily basis and are returned to a farm on the outskirts of the city each evening. More than €120,000 has been raised over the past fifteen years for the Lord Mayor's Charity Fund.

Fermanagh: Turkey trot in Irvinestown
Main Street in Irvinestown played host last Saturday to a flock of some fifty turkeys who were on their way to the Turkey Fair which was held in conjunction with a Craft Fair. Some consternation was spread in the preceding weeks when Joe Mahon said he would be launching the turkeys from the Irvinestown Clock Tower to see if they would fly, but this turned out to be a publicity stunt. One of the turkeys was on a string, as she is described by her owner as a good guard dog. Teresa O’Hare of Orchard Acre Farm in Lisnarick says that Ozzy has survived two Christmases so far and seems to have become a family pet.

Kerry: Spanish sailors remembered in Valentia
A ceremony took place at Kylemore graveyard in Valentia recently to remember twenty-six Spanish sailors who lost their lives at sea between the years 1931 and 1989. The sailors, who came from the Galicia area of Spain, are all buried in the graveyard and a headstone was arranged by the workers of the local rural social scheme. Carrying out the unveiling of the headstone, commissioned from the local slate quarry, were Spanish Ambassador Mercedes Rico Carabias and Minister Éamon Ó Cuiv. Much of the work in identifying the sailors and retrieving death certificates was undertaken by one of the project workers, Gerald O'Sullivan.

Kilkenny: Papal medal for Tullaroan man
A man who left Tullaroan fifty years ago has been presented with the Benemerenti medal in his parish church in Manchester, to mark his service to the local diocese. Joseph Fitzpatrick was one of eleven children of Patrick and Anastasia Fitzpatrick and is a builder by trade. He put his skills to good use during restoration work on church and school buildings, and also built a grotto at his church, St Patrick's in Collyhurst, bringing home from Lourdes the statues of Our Lady and St Bernadette. He was presented with his medal by Father Michael Buckley of St Patrick's parish.

Kilkenny: A new departure for Kilkenny bakery
In the New Year the Oldtown Hill Bakehouse is to embark on a new product, baking up to eighteen thousand doughnuts every week. The company, based in Tullaroan, is run by Joy Moore and she has extended her premises to deal with the new business. Beginning ten years ago to use up surplus milk on the family farm, the business is now run from a purpose-built bakery and the idea for the doughnuts came when Joy found that most of those sold in Ireland are frozen imports. She and her husband James now supply some ninety outlets along the east coast, including retail chains and independent retailers.

Laois: Bellingham name to be ousted from Portlaoise
Portlaoise Town Council has moved to change the name of the roundabout and the housing estate which commemorate one of the more infamous former residents of the county. Sir Edward Bellingham was Lord Deputy of Ireland in the sixteenth century, crushing the O'Connor Rebellion during his time here. Now Town Clerk John Clarke has confirmed that the developers have agreed to remove the name Bellingham from the roundabout on the Mountrath road, and the council will also be endeavouring to have the name of the Bellingham estate changed. The replacement name suggested by Councillor Brian Stanley and supported by his fellow councillors is Timpeall an Bogh Chluain.

Limerick: Christmas tree is reinstated
The Christmas tree in Limerick which was one of the casualties of the recent flooding has been refloated on the River Shannon. The one hundred foot tree, made of locally salvaged steel, came away from its moorings some weeks ago, hitting the side of the Shannon Bridge, and had to be removed from the river. Now, however, it has been placed back on its pontoons, donated by Hegarty Recycling, after repair work was carried out on a voluntary basis by workers from Speedline Engineering. The floating tree, designed by White Young Greene consulting engineers, is the largest in the country.

Louth: Jerry retrieves grandfather's medals
Jerry Kane has been reunited with First World War medals belonging to his grandfather, Patrick Bennett, who emigrated to Britain from Nicholas Street in Dundalk. The medals, a photograph and an ID card were found following a Remembrance Day service in Coventry two years ago but, despite advertisements being place in the local paper and later in the Dundalk Democrat, the items remained unclaimed. However at a recent ceremony in Coventry attended by Jerry, his son handed him a flyer seeking the owner of the medals, and Jerry received them from the present Lord Mayor of Coventry, Jack Harrison, and the 2007 mayor, Dave Batten.

Louth: Sunday's Gate pub reopens
Moore's Pub at Sunday's Gate in Drogheda has reopened under the new owner, Mick Daly, formerly of Daly's in Donore. The pub had closed three years ago when Peggy Moore decided to retire at the age of eighty-five, having served behind the bar since she was a teenager. Peggy's father, Michael Moore, was the original owner, having opened the premises in 1908, and Mick Daly acknowledged her connection with Moore's by inviting her to cut the ribbon on the new premises. Mick has retained many of the original artefacts and also has on display the orginal licence and a photograph of Michael Moore.

Mayo: Westport pub to reopen
Uncertainty has surrounded the fate of Campbell’s pub in Murrisk at the foot of Croagh Patrick following the recent death of Owen Campbell. However it has now been confirmed that the pub will reopen following the construction of a dwelling house for Owen’s surviving brothers, Michael and Patrick. Before his sudden death he had signed a contract with his nephew, Padraic Fitzpatrick, to take over the pub and build a house for the three brothers, and now a new licence is to be granted when the construction work is completed. The local development association has welcomed the news that the popular pub is to reopen.

Meath: Footballer becomes choir soloist
Robbie O'Malley, the former county player, has turned his talents in a new direction to become the soloist in a male choir. He is a member of St Peter's Male Voice Choir, based in Drogheda, and features as the solo singer on the choir's newly released CD, “So This is Christmas”. The CD was launched earlier this month. Following a successful football career during which he won two senior All-Ireland medals and was named Texaco Footballer of the Year, the former Meath captain this year took up the position as one of the selectors for manager Eamonn O'Brien.
Monaghan: Local authority honours athletes
The council in Monaghan paid tribute to its own athletes during the week when a civic reception was accorded to three World Champions and a football team. Attending the reception were Padraig McKenna and Darren Doherty, students at St McCartan’s College, who between them won three World Handball Champion titles in Portland Oregon this year, along with Shane Murphy from Smithboro, who holds a World Boxing title. The Local Authority also honoured the members of the Donaghmoyne Senior Ladies’ football team who this year won the All-Ireland final for the second time in four seasons.

Offaly: Will he? Won't he?
A visit to the village of Moneygall by the US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, has sparked rumours that a visit from President Obama might be on the cards in the near future. The Ambassador has said that he aims to visit every county in Ireland and a spokesperson for the embassy said that the choice of Moneygall definitely did not indicate a presidential visit. However it is known that Mr Rooney is constantly in touch with President Obama and it seems more than a coincidence that he should choose to visit the village where the president's ancestor, Fulmuth Kearney, grew up.

Sligo: Major rescue operation saves Sam
A major operation carried out by the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue team effected the rescue of a springer spaniel which had been missing for five days. Annie Gilmartin’s dog Sam went missing from her home in Ballintrillick and was eventually located twenty-four kilometres away on a small ledge on the Tormore Cliffs. Spotted by a hiker, the thirteen-year-old dog was rescued in a four-hour operation which involved one member of the team abseiling eight metres down the cliff to the small ledge and then continuing to the foot of the cliff carrying the weakened animal. Since Sam is not known for wandering it is suspected that he was taken away by car and left at Tormore.

Tipperary: President visits Roscrea
President Mary McAleese was in Roscrea last week at the invitation of the local Heritage Society to see the restoration work that has been carried you on the Castle. Greeted by a guard of honour comprising local scouts, the President met representatives of some forty local groups as well as members of the clergy and local representatives. George Cunningham presented the President with a number of recent local publications including works by Dom Laurence Walsh, Pat Joe Whelan and George Cunningham himself. She also received a painting by local artist Mary Dillon.

Waterford: Casino planned for burial site
An Bord Pleanála has given its approval to a plan by gambling company Blazin’ Aces Partnership to turn into a casino two retail units at St John’s Lane in Waterford city, close to a four-hundred-year-old Quaker burial ground. The original application had prompted a number of objections, one from Brendan McCann, and another from Councillor Davy Walsh. The Clerk of the local Society of Friends Meeting has also expressed his opposition, since Society members do not agree with gambling. The burial site was presented to the local authority by the Quakers nearly sixty years ago on the understanding that it would be kept as an open space in perpetuity. It was subsequently used as a car park.

Waterford: It's Kilkenny – Waterford – Kilkenny – Waterford
A silent battle is waging on Mount Misery overlooking the Plunkett Railway Station, a battle featuring paint and paintbrushes as its weapons. It began when some Kilkenny fans painted their county colours on a rock after their All-Ireland victory this year. It wasn't long before three intrepid Waterford supporters visited the spot and replaced the black and amber with blue and white. They have now had to carry out the procedure four times and, since the Kilkenny supporters keep enlarging the size of their flag, the Waterford men have to follow suit.

Waterford: New sculpture unveiled in Dungarvan
Following the switching on of the Christmas lights in Dungarvan last week a new sculpture was unveiled on the town's High Street to commemorate its former use as a centre of the dairy industry. The sculpture, depicting a man rolling a churn, was unveiled by the Mayor of Dungarvan, Damien Geoghegan, with Liam Herlihy, chairman of Glanbia. It was commissioned from sculptor Patrick Barry from Kinsale, Co. Cork and the unveiling was attended by current and former staff members from Glanbia as well as farmers who supplied the business with milk.

Westmeath: Rosemount man is new Seattle Consul
John Keane from Rosemount has been appointed as Honorary Consul of Ireland in Seattle with responsibility for Washington State. John, an uncle of Westmeath dual All-Star John Keane, emigrated in 1967 and moved to Seattle eleven years later. There he immersed himself in the Irish-American community, playing for the Seattle Gaels, serving on the Board of Directors of the Matt Talbot Center and becoming an active member of the St Thomas Moore parish in Lynnwood. Married to Maureen for the past thirty-five years and with one son, Micheál, John also writes a monthly column for the Celtic Connection newspaper.

Westmeath: Victims helped and a record broken
In Mullingar recently, a day-long Christmas Fair was held in aid of the victims of the recent flooding and, at the same time, a new record for the town will be entered into the Guinness Book of Records. For a total of seven hundred and nineteen people donned Santa hats to beat the record set last year in Brockton, Massachusetts. The day was organised by local business people and artists, and more than one hundred market stalls took part in an area where cars had been banned for the day, with all proceeds going to the Lions Club Christmas Food Appeal.

Wexford: Kennedy homestead to be developed
The Office of Public Works is to begin consultation shortly with the owners of the Kennedy homestead in Duganstown with a view to developing it, possibly as a visitors' centre. The project has a predicted cost of €1.5m and it is anticipated that such a move would greatly increase the tourism potential of the area. The present owner of the home is Patrick Grennan, a third cousin of the late Ted Kennedy, in whose honour the development is to take place. The original suggestion came from Jean Kennedy Smith last year when she was in the area to unveil a statue of President John Kennedy.

Wexford: Strange visitor for Jim
Jim Kehoe, who keeps a number of birds in the back garden of his home in Rosemary Heights, Ferns, was feeding them recently when he noticed a strange bird in the garden. It was a grey tit with a metal band around its leg and, while Jim is used to seeing pigeons tagged in this way, it's an unusual accessory for a grey tit. Jim was able to read the inscription on the metal band, which included the words 'London Museum', and when his daughter contacted them she learned that they were conducting a survey into the habits of the species. The museum had released a large number of them and Jim's visitor had travelled more than three hundred and fifty miles from its starting point.

Wicklow: Glendalough wood commemorates ship
A plaque was officially unveiled last week at Wicklow Mountains National Park by Minister for the Environment John Gormley to mark the area’s association with a Viking vessel. More than one thousand years ago a vessel was constructed from Irish wood and in the last few years the Danish Government oversaw its reconstruction. The Sea Stallion of Glendalough was subsequently sailed to Ireland and was put on display at the National Museum at Collins Barracks before returning to Denmark. Two years ago, on a hill close to Glendalough, a small oak wood was planted and last week’s ceremony was also attended by the Danish Ambassador, Henrik Ree Iversen.

Wicklow: Llama on the loose
Several motorists have reporting seeing a llama on the road and gardaí are now on the look-out for the straying animal. The animal, which is reported to be wearing a red halter around its neck, was seen on roads around Aughrim in the south of the county, but it was also reported by motorists on the Aughrim to Arklow road. Although no one has yet come forward to report a missing llama, gardaí have been told that a local woman had been keeping one as a pet. The wooded terrain makes their search more difficult and they have asked motorists to drive with extreme care.

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Until next time,

Slan agus beannacht,

Bridget & Russ

PS. Just for laughs:
Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.
George Bernard Shaw