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 May:
ED. NOTE: If you are a new subscriber, this monthly news update is in addition to our regular newsletter. 
Week of May 7
Antrim: Centenary celebrations for the Nomadic
The SS Nomadic, a sister ship to the Titanic which carried passengers to the ill-fated vessel, celebrated its centenary last week and a plaque was unveiled on board to mark the event. The Nomadic, the last surviving ship of the White Star Line, is at present being restored in Hamilton Dock in Belfast after being purchased in Paris five years ago by the Department for Social Development. Gerry McAlinden of that department, and chairman of the Nomadic Charitable Trust Denis Rooney jointly unveiled the plaque.
Armagh: City pronounced good for coaches
A visit by members of the Federation of Passenger Transport to Armagh left them very impressed with all that the city has to offer coach operators. The visitors were given a tour of the two cathedrals and the Navan Centre followed by lunch at Uluru. They were then treated to a guided walking tour of the city by members of Armagh’s Living History Interpreters. This demonstrated to the coach operators the coach washing facilities as well as the accessible drop-off points, the itinerary planning service and the coach operators’ map.
Carlow: Supermarket comes up trumps for Nellie
When Nellie Shore from Old Leighlin nominated her son-in-law Jerry Hand to undertake a trolley dash around Dunnes stores she had won in a raffle, she specified that he should bring her home a turkey. However in the mad dash around the Graiguecullen store, even though he was helped by some of Nellie’s grandchildren, Jerry picked up a duck instead of a turkey. When he arrived at the checkout with the trolley full of goods worth over €400, the staff noticed the mistake and made sure Nellie also got her turkey for the Sunday dinner.
Cavan: Council offers Shakespearean experience
The production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by the Gonzo Theatre Company could be the opportunity for two people to learn the ropes of theatre production. The County Council is offering two places on the production team, to shadow the stage manager/director and the set designer during rehearsals and the run of the play. Directed by Kevin O’Connor, the first performance will take place in June and aspiring candidates will have to convince the judging panel of their commitment to developing drams within the county.
Clare: Girlfriend’s encouragement brings win for Ennis man
Niall Smyth from Ballyea in Ennis was encouraged by his new girlfriend Kim Madigan to place a €10 bet on the Aintree Grand National that netted him €200. This he used for a Paddy Power poker account and he qualified for the recent Irish Open event in Dublin. And his luck, and hard work, brought him further winnings in the shape of a prize of €650,000 when he defeated the former World Poker Tour champion Surinder Sunar, among more than six hundred poker players taking part in the event.
Cork: Locals urge council to take over Crosshaven House
Councillors who are members of the Carrigaline Area Committee have proposed a motion for debate in County Hall on the feasibility of the council buying Crosshaven House. The Georgian house has been placed on the market by its current owners, with an asking price of €1.6m. Crosshaven Tourism and the Rescue Camden Committee are both keen to see the house used as a centre for tourism in the lower harbour area. A similar venture saw the council purchase Mallow Castle last December for the purpose of tourism.
Derry: Owners sought for garden ornaments
The Derry Journal has published a photograph of nineteen garden ornaments which were left in the front garden of Sara Jane Murray’s home in Rosemount last week. Four gnomes, three dogs, three cats, a rabbit and Kermit the frog are among the items left in Sara Jane’s garden, and she says she has no idea how they got there. By publicising the incident the local paper is hoping that the rightful owners of the ornaments will recognise them and will then reclaim them from Sara Jane.
Donegal: Rossnowlagh surfer nominated for major award
Easkey Britton from Rossnowlagh is one of five nominees in the Girl’s Performance category of the 11th annual Billabong XXL Awards for this year. Easkey, who comes from a surfing family and who has herself been surfing since she was five years old, received the nomination for surfing a barrel wave in Mullaghmore in February. A four-time national women’s champion, Easkey, who is studying for a PhD in marine conservation, travelled to Anaheim in California for the awards ceremony at the end of last week.
Down: Mussels to return to Hilltown?
While freshwater pearl mussels were common at Hilltown on the Upper Bann in the 1920s and 1930s, a combination of pollution, and people searching for pearls, led to their demise. A scheme to reintroduce the mussels to the river, financed by Banbridge and Newry and Mourne District Councils, seems likely to bear fruit this year after ten years of growth. The mussels are only pinhead size initially and take ten to fifteen years to reach the size of a fingernail, but Danny Mussen of the Upper Bann River Enhancement Partnership and Clonduff Angling Club is optimistic that Hilltown will become the first place in Europe to reintroduce the pearl mussel.
Dublin: Minister gathers helpers to remove ties
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar has done his bit towards enhancing the look of his Dublin West constituency. The minister gathered together a group of volunteers, armed himself with a ladder and set about removing from the lampposts of the area up to ten thousand of the plastic poster ties often left behind when election posters are removed. He has now urged others to go out and help clean up their communities in a bid to have the whole country looking well for the coming tourist season.
Fermanagh: First wedding for Ballindarragh
The small rural Ballindarragh Union Church near Lisnaskea, built one hundred and fifty years ago, saw its first wedding last week when Julie Armstrong from Lisbellaw married David Johnston from Newtownbutler. The church is used by three groups, Methodist, Presbyterian and Church of Ireland and it has been maintained through the work of a local committee. With a seating capacity of one hundred, the church is used for a number of services each year led by members of the three church groups.
Galway: Festival resurrected after more than 50 years
A festival last held in Galway in 1959 took place once again over last weekend. An Tóstal was held in Salthill and featured currach racing which attracted crews from all over Ireland. Galway hooker racing also took place, as well as traditional music, tug-of-war and sandcastle building at Ladies’ Beach. The festival was officially launched at the Galway Bay Hotel by the winning currach team from the 1955 An Tóstal. The awards ceremony at the close of the festival was incorporated into a dance at the hotel which raised funds for the RNLI.
Kerry: Rapid transport for celebratory balloons
A bunch of helium balloons released to celebrate the royal wedding in London on Friday have turned up close to a Kerry village. The sixteen balloons, in red, white and blue, were released from a pub in north London at five in the evening on Friday. Remarkably, they were spotted by Nora Hickey close to the village of Barraduff at 11.30 on Saturday morning. Nora, who lives in the village, had to fetch a ladder to retrieve the balloons and found one of them had a name and phone number attached. She phoned the number of one of those who had been watching the wedding in the pub, and promised to send him photographs of the balloons’ landfall.
Kildare: World War I munitions found at castle
An army bomb disposal unit was called to Leixlip Castle recently after munitions dating from the First World War were found during building work. Five grenades and one hundred and thirteen rounds of rifle ammunition were among the munitions uncovered after work began on an old garden wall at the castle which had collapsed during the cold spell. Desmond Guinness, who has owned Leixlip Castle for more than fifty years, expressed surprise at the find. The munitions were made safe by means of a controlled explosion.
Kilkenny: Artists to be offered vacant premises
Arts Officer with the County Council Mary Butler has come up with a scheme which would benefit local artists and craftspeople and also benefit the county’s streetscapes. Ms Butler’s idea is to encourage people to allow artists or craftspeople access to vacant premises rent-free or for a nominal rent. This would improve the look of a street by occupying empty premises, and would also give an outlet to artists for their work. Those taking up the offer would pay electricity bills and would agree to vacate the premises with two weeks’ notice. However no property owner has yet come forward to offer their premises for the scheme.
Laois: Singing festival for Portlaoise
Next weekend thousands of people are expected in Portlaoise to enjoy the Gospel Rising Festival, the highlight of which will be the largest choral recital ever held in the county. Opening the recital will be choirs from local schools St Francis, Scoil Mhuire, Sacred Heart, Scoil Bhride and Maryborough School. Visiting choirs are also set to perform at Sunday Masses and services in the area, and the massed choirs will also perform on Sunday afternoon to round off the festival. Both local and international facilitators will officiate at a number of workshops held over the weekend.
Leitrim: Arts and Culture Awards in Carrick
Last week the inaugural Leitrim Arts and Culture Awards took place at the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon when the county honoured its leading artists. The awards are the initiative of the County Council and among those honoured were poet and dramatist Vincent Woods who presents the ‘Arts Tonight’ programme on RTE radio; film-maker Johnny Gogan; Father Patsy Young for his contribution to amateur drama; and Edwina Guckian, whose dance troupe Sean Nós ar an tSionnan reached the finals of RTE’s “All-Ireland Talent Show”.
Limerick: Ordination of Limerick priest first in six years
Ger Fitzgerald from Castleconnell, is set to be the first person from Limerick to be ordained a priest since the ordination of Father Chris O’Donnell in 2005. His ordination is due to take place in Castleconnell on June 19 following six years of study in Maynooth. Ger is the son of Patrick Fitzgerald and the late Mary, and he says they were always very encouraging. He first thought of becoming a priest at the age of nine or ten, but it wasn’t until he was twenty-three that he began to consider it seriously. 
Longford: Open Day for Drumlish garden
It is not long now until the annual Open Day held by Paddy and Mary Gilloley at their garden on Mill Road in Drumlish. The event takes place on the first Saturday in June and all proceeds will be donated to the Longford Wheelchair Association. It is just possible that Drumlish’s three newest residents will attend the Open Day, the triplets born to Evelyn and Joe Meagher who live in Derawley. The first babies for the couple were born in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and have been named Niamh, Áine and Conor.
Louth: Porcine hotel for Dundalk
Denise Woods, who turned to breeding micro-pigs after a successful career as a florist, is planning to open a ‘hotel for pigs’ in Dundalk. According to Denise, who introduced the animals to Ireland, they are becoming the ‘new dog’ for pet-lovers and they must be kennelled when their owners go on holiday. It was this fact that gave her the idea for the special hotel. Anyone wishing to own a micro-pig must first undergo an inspection by the Department of Agriculture before being granted a licence.
Mayo: Disagreement over fate of bog road
Some local residents are angry at a proposal by the county council to close a bog road in Swinford, while others have welcomed the move. The Carrabawn Road, known locally as the Old Bog Road, is used by landowners, farmers and pedestrians and is deemed particularly suitable for transporting cattle from Meelick to Balla Mart via the Kiltimagh road. However two councillors, Joe Mellett and Eugene Lavin, have expressed the views of other residents who believe that the closure of the road would halt the illegal dumping taking place on a regular basis.
Meath: New Athboy market to feature on RTE
This week the new farmers’ market in Athboy will feature on the RTE television show “Dirty Old Towns”, with horticulturalist Diarmuid Gavin. Over the past two months the Athboy Stables site, part of the former Dyas Estate on the Kells Road, has been restored in conjunction with the television series and it had its official launch recently, performed by the town’s Community Person of the Year for 2011, Padraic Staunton. The event was televised and will feature on this week’s programme, while the farmers’ market is due to take place every Sunday.
Monaghan: May Day Parade for Castleblayney
On Monday Castleblayney played host to the Annual May Day Parade which featured street performers, floats made by local school and businesses, and up to ten marching bands from all over the county. The local Chamber of Commerce, who organised the event, decided that the important role of Chief Marshal should this year go to local law clerk Liam McGrath and he was accorded a special presentation from the Chamber on the day. Following the parade a ‘beat on the street’ took place on Main Street in the town, including a performance from ‘Fuzzy Burgers’.
Offaly: Billy gets in on the Obama act
Billy Hayes from Moneygall has decided to cash in on the visit of President Barack Obama to his ancestral home. The twenty-six-year-old has set up shop in the village to print and sell Barack Obama commemorative t-shirts in a range of designs. The logos include ‘What’s the Craic Barack’ and ‘Is féidir linn’, a translation of the president’s catch phrase ‘Yes, we can’. One of the fifteen designs features the president’s face with an image of Ireland, and Billy plans to add the dates of the visit when they are confirmed.
Roscommon: Service defends new televisions
A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service has defended the installation of fifteen flat screen televisions in cells in Castlerea prison. He emphasise that the purchase of the seventeen-inch televisions was actually less expensive than it would have been to repair the existing televisions. He also pointed out that the less bulkier machines give fewer chances for contraband materials to be hidden in them and that the decision to replace rather than repair was practical rather than extravagant.
Sligo: Patients to have more comfort on journeys
Cancer patients in Sligo who have to travel to Galway for treatment will in future have a more comfortable journey. Former cancer sufferers Catriona McGoldrick and Valerie Finan endured bad conditions, including overcrowding and inadequate toilet facilities, on the three hundred and sixty kilometre round trip. It was they who spearheaded the campaign for the new purpose-built Mercedes coach which has air conditioning, a toilet with a grab handle, and comfortable and spacious seating. The new bus has been funded by the Friends of Sligo General Hospital.
Tipperary: Dining experience helps Sue Ryder home
When funds were needed for the purchase of seeds and materials for the community garden project at the Sue Ryder House in Stereame, Nenagh, a committee came up with the idea of a ‘Come Dine With Me’ night. Mossie Finn, Sinead Daly Dillon, Sheila Brophy, Tori McMorran, Therese Brophy, Ciara Gaynor and Paul Dillon set about contracting renowned chef Mark Anderson to take care of the culinary part of the evening. A total of eighty-four guests were invited and local businesses donated food, drink and other items for the dining event in the dining room and television room which had been transformed for the occasion.
Tyrone: New record for Dungannon motorcyclist
At last weekend’s Cookstown 100 road races Ryan Farquhar from Dungannon achieved five wins from five starts, making him the most successful rider in the history of Irish road racing. The record was previously held by Joey Dunlop, with four wins. The Blacks Farm section of the circuit was removed after Czech rider Michal Dokoupil crashed and broke his ankle and several vertebrae. Farquhar beat Michael Dunlop around the Orritor circuit, and went on to win the Supersport 600 race, the 650 Twins, the d450cc and the Cookstown 100.
Waterford: New shrine for Cathedral
This week on his feast day a new shrine honouring Blessed Edmund Rice was unveiled after morning Mass in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Waterford city. The shrine has been organised by the Past Pupils Union of Mount Sion School. Later in the day another Mass was celebrated, this time by Father Pat Fitzgerald of St Paul’s, at which Brother Martin Kenneally, Congregation Leader of the Presentation Brothers worldwide, gave the keynote speech. Both events were part of the Edmund Rice Celebration Week which concluded with a special Taize service accompanied by the Waterford Peace Choir.
Westmeath: New feature at Agri Show
The Athlone Agri Show, which takes place at the end of next month, will have a new feature this year in the shape of a ‘Made in the Midlands’ Food Village. Chairman of the show Michael Flanagan said there had been requests from both visitors and local food producers for such an amenity, and it will include demonstrations of a wide range of food. Arising from the Food Village will be two competitions, one for a Quirky Cake, open to all, and a Black Pudding competition for butchers.
Wexford: Rath family reunion
Colette Rath, the second youngest of the fifteen children of the late Willy and Molly Rath from Ballycanew, organised a family reunion in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford recently which was attended by seventy-five family members. The family, who had a small farm at Ballinamona, comprises Joe, Breda, Sean, Eileen, Maura, Anne, twins Catherine and Liam, and Martin and Gerard, Claire, Julia, Oliver, Colette and Teresa. They travelled to Wexford from all over Ireland and some came from England, Germany and Australia. It is the first time all the siblings have been together for fourteen years.
Wicklow: Moonlight Walk set for next week
The next Moonlight Walk in the Wicklow Hills is due to take place on Saturday week, setting out from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Powerscourt. Organised by Walkabout Wicklow, the walk will take a route to Cloonwood car park and on to the Dublin Mountains and Glencullen Valley. It is due to last between two and a half and three hours and will cover approximately six kilometres. Following the walk refreshments will be enjoyed, accompanied by live music, in McGill’s Pub at the hotel.
Week of May 12
Antrim: Threat to historic Larne building
The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society has expressed its concern at the request from Edwin Poots, in his final days as environment minister, for the delisting of Ballyloran House near Larne. The building dates from the mid-nineteenth century and until it was sold a few years ago it was in good condition. The owner has suggested demolishing the house and providing a retirement village on the site but the Historic Buildings Council is reported to have unanimously rejected the delisting proposal.
Armagh: Newspaper picture reunites doctor and patient
A photograph in the Irish News of Dr Muriel Frazer celebrating her one hundredth birthday has led to a reunion with one of her patients from almost seventy years ago. When Eugene Conlon from Aughataragh near Killylea was a year old doctors wanted to operate on him for fluid on the brain. However Dr Frazer advised against it, saying he would survive for only a year, and Eugene’s parents took her advice. Last week he called to Our Lady’s Home in west Belfast to thank the former paediatrician in person.
Carlow: Borris teams up with Danish counterpart
When the pupils at Borris National School discovered two years ago that there was a town called Borris in west Denmark, it started a chain of events that led to a visit last week of twenty-one children from the Danish town. Teacher Pat Cody had telephoned the principal of the local school in Borris and after meetings of boards of management and parents’ associations in both towns, Mogen Hansen came to Carlow. When he brought his sixth-class pupils here to meet their Carlow counterparts they were welcomed by the Rathanna Marching Band and a series of activities were arranged for them.
Cavan: Training continues for world championships
A group of twenty-two young men who all live within a ten kilometre radius of Muff are under intensive training in preparation for the tug-o-war world championships to be held in Scotland next year. The Rockies Tug-o-War club from Muff was set up four years ago and, coached by Andrew Clarke, they have already won two All-Ireland novice titles as well as taking silver in Division Two in Donegal last year. The Rockies is one of only two tug-o-war teams in the county, the other being based in Ballinagh.
Clare: Surf festival for Miltown
The first weekend in June will see the Cold Pro surf and music festival take place at the White Strand in Miltown Malbay. In addition to a musical line-up, the two-day festival will feature twenty of the top professional surfers from Ireland Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. They will spend five days in the town taking part in the first Cold Pro Pan Celtic invitational. Among the line-up for the music part of the festival are Imelda May, and The Amplifetes. One of the event promoters, Martony Vaughan, hopes that the festival will highlight the area as a surfing centre.
Cork: Neighbours join forces to market buffalo cheese
Toby Simmons, who runs The Real Olive Company with stalls in markets around the country, has teamed up with his neighbour, farmer Johnny Lynch near Macroom, to produce mozzarella cheese from water buffalo milk. Prior to the venture Toby had been importing the cheese but found it would be possible to herd water buffalo in this country. He persuaded Johnny to sell off his dairy herd and the two imported thirty-six animals from Italy two years ago. The herd now numbers sixty, most of them female.
Derry: Waterside building in heritage trail
For the first time the oldest known building in Derry city is to be included in the heritage trail, a collection of local sites of particular historical significance. The ruins of St Brecan’s chapel in St Columb’s Park in the Waterside were included in heritage plans five years ago, through a joint proposal from the council and the Ilex Masterplan. The ruins are believed to date from the sixth century although the church was rebuilt by Redmond O’Gallagher who was Bishop of Derry in the late sixteenth century.
Donegal: Carrigans woman in world title fight
Natalie McCarron from Carrigans took up kick-boxing five years ago as a keep-fit measure, but little did she know then that this year she would be taking part in the Ladies ISKA World Professional Flyweight Kickboxing championships. The twenty-three-year-old was in Denmark last week, accompanied by members of her family to take on the reigning champion Mie Posselt of Denmark. Her training regime has involved sessions twice a day since the beginning of the year directed by Paddy Toland, who is himself a three times world champion kickboxer.
Down: McDades get their priorities right
It might have been Claire McDade’s wedding day but she knew she had to fulfil her duty to vote in the Assembly elections first. The twenty-six-year-old had an extra reason for ensuring she voted, her father was an SDLP candidate for Craigavon Borough Council. Claire made it to St Ronan’s Church in Magheralin in time to wed Paul Brown after first stopping at Waringstown Primary School, and her father also made it to the church in time to walk his daughter down the aisle.
Dublin: Surprise performance in Mount Merrion
Shoppers in Flanagan’s furniture store in Mount Merrion could be forgiven for their surprise at hearing a distinctly unseasonable rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” one day last week. However the singer was Bing’s nephew Howard, who says he is asked to perform the song wherever he goes although he sounds nothing like his famous uncle. The performance constituted the launch of a fundraising concert to be held later this year, organised by pianist Terry Browne, to raise funds for the Children in Crossfire charity based in Derry.
Fermanagh: Another epic journey for Elaine
Last year Elaine Alexander spent twenty-six days paddling around the coast of Ulster, and now she has taken on the bigger challenge of kayaking around the entire coast of Ireland. The outdoor instructor based at the Share Centre at Lisnaskea set off last week on the one thousand mile journey, and hopes to be the first female to complete the circuit. At the same time Elaine is hoping to raise at least £10,000 for the Share Centre, which provides activities for both disabled and able-bodied people.
Galway: A centenarian with a literary connection
Irene Lynch, who celebrated her one hundredth birthday recently, is a sister of Michael Bodkin, the first boyfriend of Nora Barnacle; he features in James Joyce’s “The Dead” as Michael Furey. Irene, who has lived in the long-term residential unit at Merlin Park for the past five years, enjoys the odd cigarette and a gin and tonic. She celebrated her birthday with her niece Mary O’Connor and her family at their Nuns Island home in the city. A former pupil of Taylor’s Hill school, Irene studied at UCG and taught for much of her life in Belfast, where her husband Val also taught.
Kerry: Museum receives royal gift
A gift presented to President Mary McAleese by Prince Albert II of Monaco during his recent State visit has found a new home at the museum in Valentia. The President recognised the montage of photographs as Valentia Island, since her daughter Emma is married to Mick O’Connell’s son Michael, and decided to present it to Valentia Heritage. The photographs were taken by Prince Albert’s great-great-grandfather when he spent two months on the island in 1882 after his ship became marooned.
Kildare: A bisected village next week
The village of Kilcullen will find itself cut in two next week when Queen Elizabeth makes her way to Gilltown Stud just close by. The Queen will be visiting Sea the Stars, one of the greatest racehorses, and her visit will be hosted by the stud’s owner, the Aga Khan. Before reaching Gilltown she will visit the National Stud in Kildare town and the cavalcade will then cross the Curragh plains and pass through Athgarvan and Kilcullen. A total of six hundred gardaí will be deployed in the county for the visit.
Kilkenny: Women gather for knitting project
The EU-funded Interreg Knitting Project in Kilkenny has seen the gathering of fifteen women who are shearing eighteen sheep, washing and carding the wool and spinning it in time for the Sheep and Wool Festival at Cillin Hill. The project is overseen by designer Deirdre Harte and the women will felt the wool and also knit with it to create an exhibition piece for the festival, which takes place at the beginning of next month. It will also feature international sheep-shearing and wool-handling competitions with entrants from Britain, Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as from within Ireland.
Laois: Restored Ballroan church in use again
St Patrick’s Church in Ballroan was rededicated last week after extensive restoration work had been carried out at a cost of €600,000. The rededication was celebrated by Monsignor Brendan Byrne, with Father Ger Ahern and Father Patrick Kehoe. New stained glass windows have been installed, there is a new layout to the sanctuary and the pipe organ has also been restored. The church, which dates from 1844, has been closed since last September to allow for the work to be carried out.
Leitrim: Rainbow ballroom to come alive again
Next week the Rainbow ballroom in Glenfarne, made famous by William Trevor’s “Ballroom of Romance”, will come alive once again with a fundraising event for the restoration which has taken place over the past year. A CD will be launched featuring many of those who sang in the ballroom over the years, including Margo, Big Tom, Larry Cunningham and Philomena Begley. Paschal Mooney will be compere for the night and a VIP guest will be Father Brian D’Arcy. Included in the restoration work is a museum outlining the work of John McGivern, the returned US emigrant who opened the ballroom in 1934.
Limerick: Time capsule replenished at Castletroy
A time capsule buried at the opening of the Carlton Castltroy Park Hotel in 1991 was brought to the surface last week when the hotel celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Among the artefacts was a copy of the county edition of the Limerick Leader, and before the capsule was replaced in the ground a current copy was inserted. A celebration event took place at the hotel which was attended by the university’s founding president Dr Edward Walsh, who had attended the hotel’s opening night.
Longford: Edgeworthstown twins are master athletes
Dorothy and Sheila Marnell, who lived in Edgeworthstown as children, have both become Master Athletes after Dorothy decided to run a marathon at the age of fifty. Dorothy started running after seeing an eighty-two year old completing the London marathon and has now completed twenty-two herself. The twin sisters first ran the Dublin marathon in 1985 and now, at the age of seventy-five, have won medals all over the world. They will both be taking part in the World Masters Games in September this year, Dorothy in the pole-vaulting event and Sheila in the javelin.
Louth: Drogheda remembers the Belfast Blitz
On Sunday a Belfast Blitz memorial is to be held in Drogheda to which family members of firefighters from the Dundalk area who helped their colleagues in the North have been invited. The driver of the Dundalk fire engine, one of twenty-one men from Dundalk, was Patrick Rooney, and also among the group were Dan Devenney, John Gray and Arthur Halliday. During the service on Sunday a tree will be planted to acknowledge the part played by the local firemen and volunteers during the Blitz.
Mayo: Clew Bay island is on the market
A once heavily-populated island in Clew Bay has been put on the market for just over €900,000. Since the middle of the last century Island Mor is now home only to those with holiday homes on the island, but it has its own water and electricity supply and also has a natural sheltered mooring for boats. Some local people believe that a large plot of land on the seventy-acre island may already have been sold, though this has not been confirmed by the selling agents. Another Clew Bay island, Dorinish, was bought by John Lennon in the 1960s.
Meath: Cyclists to descend on Dunboyne this weekend
This weekend sees Dunboyne becoming the stage start for the 59th holding of the An Post Rás, and the Dunboyne Cycling Festival will have lots of entertainment to offer. Experienced coaches will teach children bike-handling skills in the grounds of the Dunboyne Castle Hotel while the An Post Rás Sporting Legends Tour will also take place, with three different distances to suit all-comers. On Sunday one hundred and eighty-five riders from Ireland and overseas will set off from the town at the start of the race.
Monaghan: Multiples sought for Carrickacross parade
For this year’s Carrickmacross Lions Club Twins Parade the club has asked schools, both primary and secondary, to submit as many twins, triplets or quadruplets as they can, and they don’t have to be limited to students as friends and family can also be included. The school with the highest number of multiples will lead the parade and will also receive a prize of €1,000. From the submission so far received by the Lions Club Lisdoonan National School is leading, with four sets of twins. The parade is sponsored this year by Healthy Hearts, Healthy Lives.
Offaly: Birr company’s representative takes Rose title
At the County Arms Hotel in Birr last week Brianna Connaughton, representing Midland Web Print of Birr, was chosen as the Offaly Rose for 2011. Although now living in Waterford, Brianna lived as a child in both Clara and Tullamore, where her father Jim was stationed. A Youth  Juvenile Co-Ordinator working with the Garda Youth Division Programme, Brianna will now represent the county at the regional finals in Portlaoise. Also selected on the night was Damien Kearns from Guy Clothing in Tullamore, who now goes forward to Escort Boot Camp for possible qualification for the Rose of Tralee festival.
Roscommon: Louise is a winner at Punchestown
The winner of the Arnotts Best Dressed Lady award on the third day of Punchestown Races last week was Louise Lynn from Roscommon. The thirty-one-year-old interior designer wore a hat she had created herself teamed with black top and trousers and a pink bolero. Louise’s prize includes transfer to the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt by chauffeur-driven Lexus for a two-night penthouse stay, dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant and €2,000 to spend at Dudnrum Town Centre. Her win gained her entry to the final of the competition with a prize of €20,000.
Sligo: Cycling challenge for Curry resident
Before Donal Harrington’s father died last year he gave him his first bike and the Curry resident has now given up his job as a truck-driver to concentrate on training for a marathon journey. Donal, who is married to Elaine and has two children, has lost four stone and is to follow the Tour de France route in June and July, to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society. He has also begun a course to become a fitness instructor and regularly cycles from his home to a Fermoy fitness academy, averaging some one thousand kilometres a week.
Tipperary: Two Nenagh septuagenarians to embark on voyage
Nick Theato and Pat Kelly, both in their late seventies, are to set out next month on what is known as the Green & Silver Challenge. The Nenagh men will be accompanied by Pat’s son Andrew and they will cover more than three hundred kilometres, negotiating ninety-two locks. The circular route will follow the Royal Canal, the River Liffey, the Grand Canal, the River Shannon and the Camlin River. Both men are secretaries of branches of the RNLI and the journey will raise funds for Lifeboats Ireland.
Tyrone: Anglers stage ‘fish-in’
A group of anglers from Strabane Lifford Anglers held a ‘fish-in’ last weekend on a stretch of the river at Lifford Bridge in Strabane where fishing is not allowed. The anglers were protesting the decision by the Loughs Agency to ban local anglers from fishing the stretch of river for the past twelve years, though they claim they have a legal right to do so enjoyed for generations. Talks were entered into with the Loughs Agency but it appears the talks have broken down and the anglers feel they have no other choice but to take action.
Waterford: Belview Port workers collect winnings
A group of fifteen workers at ITW MIMA in Belview Port were celebrating with champagne last week when they collecting their Euromillions Lotto plus win. Each of the fifteen in the plastics manufacturing company received €33,333 on the ticket, which group organiser Derek Gordan bought from The Corner Shop on the Upper Yellow Road. The syndicate has been playing lotto for the past seven years and has had a few wins, the largest before the big one being €2,000.
Westmeath: Historic ceremony in Killucan
A historic ceremony took place at the centre of the Order of St Camillus in Killucan last week when the first Ugandan was ordained a deacon. It was the first time in the four-hundred year history of the order that there has been a deacon from the African country, when Rev Richard Lubaale was ordained by Bishop of Meath Michael Smith. A member of the Anglo-Irish Province of the congregation which opened a mission in Uganda ten years ago, Rev Richard will be ordained to the priesthood later this year in his native country.
Wexford: Enniscorthy castle reopens to the public
After a five-year period, following the closure of the Wexford County Museum, Enniscorthy Castle has once again opened to the public, and entry will be free until September. The castle has undergone extensive refurbishment including the installation of central heating and a lift, as well as access to the roof. Dating back more than eight hundred years, the last occupants were the family of Henry J. Roche and his wife Josephine. The first floor has been designated the Roche Floor and features memorabilia and photographs donated by the couple’s grandson, David Hasslacher.
Wicklow: Unusual headgear for Glendalough deer
A deer has been spotted by walkers near Poulanass Waterfall in Glendalough with a bright red lifebuoy attached to his antlers. But what is concerning workers at the Wicklow Mountains National Park more is that the line from the lifebuoy is firmly wrapped around the deer’s antlers. They believe that the only way to remove the encumbrance is to tranquilise the animal first. A mystery surrounds where the lifebuoy came from as it is much bigger than those generally used on the lakes in the area.
 Week of May 19
Antrim: One good turn deserves another in Portrush
When Portrush man Willie Gregg, the founder of a charity supporting orphans of the Thailand tsunami, decided to make a presentation to US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, he did have an ulterior motive. Willie presented the golfer with a drawing by local artist Mark Lee McMeekin, showing McDowell holding his trophy. However he had a limited edition of ten copies of the portrait made and asked Portrush’s famous sportsman to sign and number them. They will now go on sale in aid of Willie’s charity. 
Armagh: Seagoe couple celebrate diamond anniversary
In May 1951 Wilson Roney and Lily Bonas were married in Seagoe Parish Church by Canon Appleby, and last week they celebrated sixty years of marriage, accompanied by their seven daughters, one son, and twenty-two grandchildren. Both Wilson and Lily worked in the textile trade, Willie at Hamilton Robb’s linen factory in Edenderry and Lily at Spence Bryson’s. Latterly Wilson worked as caretaker at Seagoe Primary School. The anniversary was particularly important for one grandchild, Alice Gould, who celebrated her eleventh birthday on the same day.
Carlow: Carlow man writes poem for Obama
PJ Furey, from Rathnapish in Carlow, has written a poetic tribute to President Barack Obama which has been printed in the local newspaper. This is not the first time that PJ, a retired garda sergeant originally from Galway, has put pen to paper to write poetry, but it is all the more remarkable since he is ninety-six years old. According to his daughter, Anna Mulvihill, he remains in good health, is very involved in his local parish, and still enjoys a game of draughts.
Cavan: Rose undertakes first public engagement
Cavan’s newly-selected Rose Brioni Gallagher is undertaking her first public engagement in the middle of next month when she takes part in the Bailieboro Mini Marathon. Brioni is already in training for the ten-kilometre run, and she has been joined by the regional fundraising manager for the Irish Heart Foundation, Mairead McMeel, as all funds from the event will go to the foundation. First held fifteen years ago, the Mini Marathon attracted more than three hundred entrants last year.
Clare: Burren in Bloom has new festival
The Burren in Bloom festival, now in its sixth year, has a new festival incorporated into the last weekend entitled the Festival of the Valleys. This will be a weekend of music, song, food and sporting events over the last weekend of the month which will celebrate the Celtic and Mediterranean cultural fusion. Other events during the month-long festival have included the Burren Law School with the opening address given by Alan Dukes, the Gregan’s Gourmet Garden Gathering, and the Burren Marathon.
Cork: Cobh to receive anchor of gun-runner
The town of Cobh is to be presented with one of the two anchors from the gun-running vessel The Aud, which sank at the entrance to Cork Harbour in 1916. The Aud was captured by the British Navy while attempting to unload arms for Sir Roger Casement in Kerry and was escorted to Cork Harbour by HMS Bluebell. At the entrance to the harbour Captain Spindler ordered the scuttling of the ship and it has lain ever since in thirty-six metres of water outside Roches Point. Now a team of divers led by Eoin McGarry will bring up the anchors and present one to Cobh and one to Fenit in Co. Kerry.
Derry: Rededication of Derry’s oldest Presbyterian church
On Saturday last the official reopening took place of the First Derry Presbyterian Church, believed to be the oldest in the city. There has been a church on the site within the city walls and overlooking the Bogside since 1690 and the present building was closed for refurbishment nine years ago. Attending the official opening were members of the Catholic community as well as Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Minister of the church Rev. David Latimer expressed his pleasure at the presence of those who were attending a Presbyterian service for the first time.
Donegal: Return of church organ to be celebrated
The return of its organ to St Patrick’s Church in Ballyshannon was cause for a ceremony of rededication and blessing last Sunday. The organ, said to be the country’s second oldest, dates from the mid-nineteenth century and had been put into storage in 2002. Four years ago the parishioners raised sufficient funds to have it restored, as well as findind the funds for the restoration of the church itself. The rededication of the church was led by Bishop of Raphoe Most Rev. Philip Boyce, assisted by parish priest Father Cathal Ó Fearraí.
Down: Sculpture unveiled at Sugar Island
A bronze statue of a navvy has been unveiled at Sugar Island in Newry to commemorate the work of the men who dug the first canal in these islands in 1742. “The Newry Navvy” is the work of sculptor Barry Linnane and he and Councillor Karen McKevitt performed the official unveiling. Opposite the sculpture a bronze plaque and bench have been placed, while a new Maritime Education Resource Pack was also launched by Newry Museum. This will allow teachers access to Newry’s maritime history.
Dublin: Statues and trees to make way for tram
The plan for the Luas tramline on O’Connell Street proposed by the Railway Procurement Agency will necessitate the removal of a number of statues as well as the replacement of trees. The two Luas stops will be on the central median, to avoid bus stops, and this means that James Larkin, William Smith O’Brien, Sir John Gray and Father Matthew will all be removed. However their removal will be on a temporary basis as they will be re-erected after work on the new tramline is completed. The silver birch and mountain ash trees, planted in the last ten years, will be replaced by what are described as ‘more appropriate’ trees.
Fermanagh: Major leisure development planned for Killadeas
For the past two years proposals have been prepared for a major leisure development at Gublusk, Killadeas, the former base of the Catalina flying boats. A number of local business people have come together to develop a one-hundred berth marina, an eighty-three bedroom hotel and a waterside restaurant. The thirty-acre site will also feature a World War II heritage centre to reflect its former use. In addition a new lifeboat station will be provided for the RNLI, who will move from their temporary home at Lough Erne Yacht Club.
Galway: Bog butter said to date from Iron Age
A keg of bog butter found at Shancloon near Caherlistrane has been declared to be anything up to two and a half thousand years old by Padraig Clancy of the National Museum. The keg containing almost two stone of butter was found when Ray Moylan from Headford was having his turf cut by local contractor Declan McDonagh. It was buried three to four feet below the surface of the bog and, while the vessel was slightly damaged by the mechanical bucket, the butter remained intact. It will now be freeze dried and the keg will be put into a preservative solution.
Kerry: Ballybunion seaweed baths saved
An Bord Pleanála has turned down an application for the demolition of the seaweed baths at the Ladies’ Strand in Ballybunion, which developer John Walsh had hoped to turn into apartments, houses and a commercial unit. Daly’s Seaweed Baths are located in a corner of the beach which has been designated a Special Area of Conservation and an appeal against the granting of permission by the county council was lodged by An Taisce. Over decades the baths attracted patrons from all the neighbouring counties.
Kildare: University award for very mature student
Nancy Ó Broin, who is believed to be the oldest mature student in the country, has just been awarded a part-time Certificate in Local History by NUI, Maynooth. At ninety-one, Nancy says she is going to return to the university in the autumn to take a course on Irish place names. A resident of Maynooth, she attended one hundred hours of the local history course with her son Séan and researched the Connor family from Drumcar, Co. Louth, from where her mother’s family came.
Kilkenny: Change for the change in the Rose Garden
It has emerged that the Office of Public Works, which manages Kilkenny Castle, has no knowledge of what has been happening to the coins thrown into the fountain in the Rose Garden. It is known that the fountain is cleared of coins at regular intervals but there has been no formal process for their eventual destination. Now the OPW is to put in place an arrangement whereby the coins will be collected and donated to a registered charity in Kilkenny. Liam Heffernan of the St Vincent de Paul Society has already expressed an interest in his society being the beneficiary of such a scheme.
Laois: Octogenarian leads the way in motoring
Jack Keyes might be eighty-five years old but he is still leading the way when it comes to car purchases. Fifty-nine years ago he was one of the first car owners in The Heath when he purchased a Ford Anglia, and now he has become the first person in the county to buy an electric car. Jack took delivery of the car in Kilkenny, where Barlo Nissan opened especially for him on Good Friday. The founder of John Keyes Transport which is now run by three of his children, Jack can still be found behind the wheel of a forklift, a JCB or a Volvo loader.
Leitrim: Dromahair set for television contest
An announcement was made in Dromahair last week by musician Rossa Ó Snodaigh that Dromohair has been selected as one of twelve communities from around the country to take part in the TG4 programme “An G-Team”. The idea is for each community to improve their Irish and use it as much as possible in their daily lives. The village was nominated for the programme by Brid Donoghue who then had to come up with an itinerary for the initial visit of the judging panel from TG4. On G-Day the cameras will follow residents to record their use of Irish, and the winning community will receive a prize of €40,000.
Limerick: Dramatic weight loss for Corbally man
The Corbally man who in January appealed to broadcaster Ray D’Arcy for a weighing scales to reveal his true weight has recorded a dramatic weight loss since. Gary Kirwan was weighed live on air and proved to be forty-one stone. Now however, having joined the Motivation Clinic in Shannon Street, he has lost more than six stone and in the past few months he has taken part in two five-kilometre fun runs. He is now in training with Limerick Charity Boxing for their fundraising event in July.
Longford: A boost for Longford entrepreneurs
In what is soon as a major boost for entrepreneurs within the county a group of twenty local business people, pledging €50,000 each, have come together to form the Longford Business Angels Network. Anyone who has a business idea but who has little notion of how to progress it can avail of the expertise of the Angels. A free seminar is to take place in Longford at the end of the month at which entrepreneur Sean Gallagher will be offering advice and assistance to those who can help create jobs within Longford.
Louth: Lucky thirteen for Dundalk dog owners
A Dundalk family found luck in the number thirteen when that proved to be the number of puppies born to their Irish Wolfhound, Thingy. Eugene and Sharon McNamee were warned by their vet that Thingy would have ten pups but that they would probably not all survive. However the dog, over a fourteen-hour period, gave birth to thirteen puppies in all and all of them have survived, though Sharon had to give the second pup born CPR to resuscitate him. After the twelfth pup arrived there was a gap of three hours before the final delivery.
Mayo: Reek the location for another record attempt
While Matt Loughrey is aiming to climb Croagh Patrick every day for a year, another Mayo man is hoping to break the record for climbing the mountain twelve times in a period of twenty-four hours. Padraig Marrey, a fitness instructor from Ballinrobe, will also be climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest during the marathon ascent and, by completing twelve ascents and descents, will beat the previous record of nine climbs in one day. The thirty-eight-year-old is also hoping to raise considerable funds for charities.
Meath: Kells estate celebrates forty years
Fr McCullen Park estate in Kells is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year and the residents are to hold a party on the estate in mid-August. Many of the families who moved in in August 1971 are still living there, while others who have moved abroad will be contacted and invited to come home for the event. The town council has agreed to make a contribution of €200 towards the celebrations after a request from Councillor Tommy Grimes. He has also said that work on a contentious back wall of the estate should be completed in time for the anniversary.
Monaghan: A four-fold birthday in Carrickmacross
Four siblings came together last week to celebrate their thirtieth birthday in Carrickmacross. Thomas, Niall, John Paul and Orla Duffy are the country’s first known quadruplets and they were born in Craigavon Area Hospital with a combined weight of eighteen pounds. Their parents, Elizabeth and Peadar, were told they were expecting twins just a few days before the four babies were born. Orla returned from Australia recently, where she has been living for a number of years, and the quads were joined in their celebrations by their brother and sister Conor and Roisin.
Offaly: Birr designer showcased by Lady Gaga
When American pop star Lady Gaga appeared on the BBC’s Graham Norton Show last week she told her host she had worn an outfit from an Irish designer especially for him. And the singer went on to name the designer as Sorcha Ó Raghallaigh from Birr, who began to work for Lady Gaga when she was approached by Anna Trevelyan, assistant to the singer’s stylist. Sorcha, who is now based in London after graduating from Central St Martin’s, also works part-time for Irish jeweller Merle O’Grady.
Roscommon: Transformation of derelict site
Co-operation was the name of the game in Roscommon town last weekend when more than fifty people came together to transform a derelict site in a garden. The project was organised by the Tidy Towns committee and more than fifty people, including skilled trades people, cleared the site, built walls, painted, landscaped the area and planted shrubs and flowers. The town centre site is now no longer the eyesore that it was, but a magnificent garden, and the community’s efforts were shown on RTE television during the week.
Sligo: Official opening of Riverstown music centre
The official opening took place last week of the Morrison Teach Ceoil in Riverstown, performed by Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Donnchadh Mac Fhionnlaoioch. The centre, named to honour local fiddle player James Morrison who was born in Drumfin, contains archive material and a photographic record of all the Morrison Festivals. A special guest at the Morrison Cottage at the official opening was Labrhas Ó Murchí, the head of Comhaltas Ceolteori Eireann. James Morrison emigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen and became a leading music teacher in New York.
Tipperary: If one thing fails, try another
County hurling star Lar Corbett qualified as an electrician but when work became scarce in that area he decided to branch out into another career. And now he has opened his own bar in Thurles, Coppinger’s on Parnell Street. Hurler of the Year for 2010, Lar is not a total stranger to the licensed trade as his parents have run a bar on Cathedral Street for many years. In his new venture he has urged others not to be put off taking up something new by a fear of failure.
Tyrone: Lasting honour for three Dungannon men
Three men who were founding directors of Dungannon Enterprise Centre have been honoured by having three conference rooms named after them in the Enterprise Centre on the Coalisland road. At a special ceremony last week the names of Bertie McClean, Michael McLoughlin and Ralph Brown were unveiled on the doors of the three rooms. Bertie McClean was the first chairman of the centre when it opened in 1991; Michael McLoughlin was vice chairman from 1995 to 1998; and Ralph Brown was instrumental in securing funding for the centre.
Waterford: New book of Waterford photographs
A book of photographs taken by more than sixty amateur photographers in the city and county was launched last week by Mayor Mary Roche. In addition to the amateurs, a number of established photographers supplied images, and copies of the book were presented to business people in the United States during the Mayor’s recent visit. Most of the photographs included in the book are the result of last year’s Picture the Experience photo competition run by the City Council and each contributor was presented with a copy of the book by the mayor.
Westmeath: Lay principal for Bower
The Board of Management of Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School in Athlone last week placed advertisements for a school principal who will be the first lay principal for the all-girls boarding and day school. The current principal, Sister Margaret O’Reilly, who took over the position last summer from Sister Denise O’Brien, has informed the Board of her intention to retire at the end of the academic year. The school was opened by the La Sainte Union order one hundred and twenty-seven years ago.
Wexford: Celebrations at Gorey church
The parishioners of Christ Church in Gorey are this week celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the consecration of the church. The Songs of Praise service on Sunday, conducted by rector Canon Mark Hayden, had as its preacher Senator David Norris while the Garda Band followed the service with a concert. Historical walks, a school pageant and a teddy bears’ picnic are other events during the week, with a civic reception to be hosted by the Town Council in the new council offices on Friday.
Wicklow: Baltinglass takes Junior Inventor Award
A group of four sixth-class pupils from Scoil Naomh Iosaf in Baltinglass have taken the Junior Inventor Award, run each year by the Patents Office. Abbie Byrne, Roisin Connolly, Andrew Doran and Kate Dowling came up with the idea of the Cinema Seat Availability sign which would show which seats in a cinema are unoccupied. When the seat is upright a green light glows, but if a seat that is occupied is vacated for a period of up to ten minutes, a red light will show. This, according to the young inventors, will allow cinema patrons to pop out for more popcorn without losing their seats.
Week of May 26
Antrim: A new way to tour Belfast
While black taxi tours of Belfast were a novel way of seeing the city, a new mode of transport is now open to tourists. Some years ago Sam Toan spent a holiday in Tunisia and came up with the idea of horse-drawn tours of his native city. He already had the horses and he managed to locate carriages in England and in Dublin, and Belfast Horse and Carriage Tours was launched last week. The route takes in City Hall, St Anne’s Cathedral, Albert Clock, Victoria Square and the Royal Courts of Justice.
Armagh: International recognition for Armagh apple
There are hopes that the Armagh Bramley apple will be given a unique identity under the European Commision’s Protected Geographical Indication status. Publication of the Official Journal at the end of June will give a six-month period for objections and final registration will take place early next year. Apples have been grown in Armagh for more than three thousand years and the first Bramley Seedling was sown by Mary anne Bralsford in her garden at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Her property was later bought by Matthew Bramley, who gave the apple its name.
Carlow: Tullow flag flies at Heineken Cup match
At the Heineken Cup match in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last weekend Carlow man Seán O’Brien waved a Tullow flag brought to the match by one of Leinster’s greatest fans. JP Byrne is known as Leinster’s Lucky Charm as they have never lost a match which he has attended and, thanks to the generosity of neighbours and friends he, his father Brendan, his mother Anisa and his sister Ellen were able to travel over to see the Leinster victory. The six-year-old has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and he attends Holy Angels school.
Cavan: Ballinagh cyclists saddle up for charity
Some thirty people have already signed up for a charity cycle from Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo to Ballinagh, a distance of two hundred kilometres. The idea for the cycle came from Conor Shields from Corduff, John McDermott, Sean Smith and Frank Cronin and all moneys raised will be donated to St John’s Ward in Crumlin Children’s Hospital. While the cyclists head for Ballinagh another fifty people will be undertaking a sponsored climb of Croagh Patrick, with the money also going to the children’s hospital.
Clare: One of original State cars restored
The 1947 Dodge Plymouth used by Eamon de Valera and Sean T O Ceallaigh when they were president has been restored by Independent Clare councillor PJ Ryan, who is also a mechanic. The car, sold to President de Valera when Sean T O Ceallaigh stepped down in 1959, was given to the local council by the de Valera family and it has been kept at the De Valera Library in Ennis for more than twenty years. Now, after four months of work on the car which was badly damaged in flooding two years ago, it is ready to go on display once more.
Cork: Get me to the church on time
For one Cork person last week’s visit of Queen Elizabeth presented something of a last-minute problem. Maureen Dennehy from Lovers’ Walk in the city was due to marry Dubliner Alan McGill in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Dennehy’s Cross on Friday when many of the city’s streets were closed. However the manager of the Imperial Hotel, Joe Kennedy, came to the rescue and arranged for the bridal party and guests to be bussed across the city under garda escort to ensure they reached the church on time. Following the ceremony the wedding party and guests returned to the hotel for the reception, guided once more by gardaí.
Derry: Navies join forces for maritime festival
The Irish Navy vessel LE Eimear and HMS Severn of the Royal Navy were both moored at the quay in Derry to take part in the Foyle Days festival over the weekend. The two ships were joined by a two-masted wooden schooner, the Johanna Lucretia, as well as the city’s official yacht for the 2011/2012 Round the World clipper race. The latter vessel, which is promoting Derry as the City of Culture in two years’ time, was officially blessed by church leaders on Sunday. The Foyle Days festival promotes water-based activity along the river.
Donegal: Killygordon man finds WWI medal
While walking on Rosses Point beach in Co. Sligo with his metal detector, Stephen Hunter from Killygordon discovered a tiny medal which had a regimental number on the back. He set about going through army records from World War I until he discovered the original owner of the medal, Edward Lewis Brunswick from Aylesbury, Buckinhamshire. It had been presented when the seventeen-year-old was honourably discharged from the army in 1918. Stephen was able to return the medal to the recipient’s son, Roy Brunswick, but the eighty-six year old has no idea how his father’s medal finished up on a Sligo beach.
Down: Unveiling soon of new artwork
A new piece of public art, symbolising the importance of both the linen and fishing industries to the Banbridge area, will be unveiled in the near future. Created in Portland stone, “Spins the Reel – Rings the Wheel” is the work of Banbridge native Jason Mulligan. It overlooks Corbet Lough, an important part of the linen industry, and stands on a base of Mourne granite. The sculpture is one of three commissioned by Banbridge District Council as part of the Mourne Public Art Programme, the other two being the Luck Penny in Rathfriland and a plaque placed on Peter Morgan’s Cottage in Finnis.
Dublin: Blackrock model is face of Alexander McQueen
The new face for Alexander McQueen’s ‘lookbook’ is Rebecca Fleetwood from Blackrock. The twenty-three-year-old,  who won the title in a contest involving a number of international top models, has been spending much of her time recently modelling at fashion shows Paris, London, Milan and New York. Known as ‘Bex’ in the modelling world, she started her career at the age of seven when she made the final two in a competition for an An Post campaign. Her next ambition is to move into the world of acting.
Fermanagh: Donella appeals for funds for cancer charity
Donella Meade, who lives in Lisbellaw, has urged people to enter the Enniskillen 10k on June 11 to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children. Donella has a special reason to support this charity, as it helped her and her family when her twelve-year-old daughter Naomi was diagnosed with cancer last year. The charity provided counselling for her other children, who missed their mother while she stayed in the hospital with Naomi, and the young girl has also benefited from spending time with other children suffering from cancer.
Galway: Search for landing place of historic plane
People skilled in archaeology, engineering, geophysical and historical research have come together to try to locate the exact landing place of the plane flown by Alcock and Brown in 1918. The team will also endeavour to find the site of the Marconi station which was burned down during the War of Independence. The search has been prompted by the disappointment of many visitors to the area three miles south of Clifden who complain of the lack of information about the historic flight.
Kerry: This is pub television with a difference
Forget about the big screen showing all the top matches in the corner of your local pub, one Camp pub has a screen which is proving a hit among its customers. Mick O’Neill of the Railway Bar has installed CCTV at a swallow’s nest and his customers are happily sitting at the bar nursing their pints while observing the antics of the mother swallow. And the ‘show’ has reached an interesting stage since the eggs are due to hatch this week and Mick’s customers are eagerly looking forward to seeing the new arrivals.
Kildare: Local businessman buys Monasterevin hotel
Last week an auction was held in the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin which saw the business purchased by Mick Phibbs, owner of a haulage company in Naas. The hotel, which would have had a sale price of €4m at the height of the boom in 2006, was sold for €630,000 on the instructions of the liquidator. There were up to one hundred and fifty people at the auction and such was the activity that three people, thinking the hotel was open for business, came in looking for soup and sandwiches. Mr Phibbs has not indicated what his plans are for his new acquisition.
Kilkenny: Good work rewarded at Good’s
Twelve employees of W.H. Good Ltd on the High Street in Kilkenny were rewarded last week for their long service. The company held a Service Award dinner in the Ormonde Hotel attended by more than sixty staff members. The longest-serving employee, Anna O’Keeffe, has been with Goods for more than forty years and she was presented with a Nicholas Mosse pottery set. Not far behind her were Mary Massey, Kitty O’Halloran and Marie Delaney who have all worked for the company for between thirty and forty years. All award winners were presented with Nicholas Mosse pottery while Anne Connolly received a special presentation for her work on the company’s Facebook page.
Laois: Minister opens Stradbally Library
On his first official trip to Laois as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan unveiled a plaque to officially open the Stradbally Library and Arthouse. The Minister praised the people of Laois for preserving and restoring the old courthouse, which now has a library of eight thousand new books as well as an arts complex with studios and accommodation. Also speaking at the event were the director of the National College of Art and Design Declan McGonagle, and chairman of the Arts Council Pat Moylan, who is a native of Portlaoise.
Leitrim: Award for Carrick hotel worker
The Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon is to organise the presentation of an award to night manager Bartosz Teclaw in recognition of his actions in saving a man from drowning. Mr Teclaw, who has worked in the hotel for five years, was told that a man was wandering around the rear car park of the hotel early in the morning. He kept an eye on him as the man headed towards the Shannon, and followed him to the river where he found him under the water at the jetty. Mr Teclaw pulled him out of the water then administered first aid until the gardaí and medical personnel arrived on the scene.
Limerick: Adare man breaks record almost a century old
An Adare man has broken a record set in 1918 for placing the highest number of rivets, at the same time creating the world’s largest metal mosaic. Conor McCarthy celebrated his fiftieth birthday and the seventy-fifth anniversary of Aer Lingus by placing 12,613 rivets in a time of five hours and thirty-two minutes. The mosaic depicts the original wings and shamrock emblem of the airline and it is due to feature in an exhibition in Dublin to mark the anniversary. In the preparations Conor was assisted by Michael Fitzsimmons and the two are now heading for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
Longford: Goldsmith Festival launched in Ballymahon
Appropriately, this year’s Goldsmith Festival was launched in the Goldsmith Room of the newly refurbished library in Ballymahon. Starting off in the Rustic Inn in Abbeyshrule with the official opening performed by historian Eliza Pakenham Chisholm, the festival also includes the Goldsmith Literary Tour which takes in Pallas, Forgney, the Three Jolly Pigeons in Tang, the Busy Mill, the Parsonage and Kilkenny West. The theme of the festival is ‘Recession; Retaliation; Recovery’.
Louth: Record attempt plea to musicians
Musicians in the Dundalk area are being urged to join an attempt to break the record for the longest traditional music session, a record currently held by a group from Ennis in Co. Clare. The event is being organised by Evelyn Campbell whose father John, a traditional singer, died in St John’s Hospice in Newry. Evelyn is hoping to raise money through the record-making attempt for the hospice. It is due to run for thirty hours with different musicians playing for an hour at a time. All the musicians will come together then for a final concert.
Mayo: New artwork for Kilkelly
Although two limited competitions attracted nothing suitable for a new piece of art in Kilkelly, the judging panel commissioned Cork artist Vivienne Roche to create a piece of public art as part of the rejuvenation project of the town centre. The resulting steel, bronze and stone sculpture, part of the Percent for Art Schemes, incorporates an exhibition space for children from the local national school. The two and a half metre high piece cost approximately €30,000 and it was unveiled this week by Tommie Gorman of RTE and Michael Burke, Cathaoirleach of the county council.
Meath: Tree-planting marks KPRC anniversary
The tenth anniversary of the Kells People’s Resource Centre was marked last weekend by the planting of an oak tree in the grounds by the Cathaoirleach of Kells Town Council, Conor Ferguson. The centre was established in premises on Church Street to tackle poverty and disadvantage in the town through community development activities. It is now based in the Old Carrick School which was renovated by volunteers in the community and was officially opened last year by President Mary McAleese.
Monaghan: Castleblayney joins international peace event
More than one hundred and sixty people gathered recently at the Peace Labyrinth at Hope Castle in Castleblayney to take part in the International Peace event ‘Walk as one at 1’. A labyrinth workshop was conducted by Tony Christie and then participants, carrying flags of the eighty-five nations represented in the county at present, processed slowly through the labyrinth to the beat of a lone drummer. A second procession then took place, with the participants holding hands and moving to the music of uileann pipes.
Offaly: Disappointment for forest conservationist
Tom Roche, who founded Just Forests, the forest conservation organisation based in Rhode, travelled to Pennsylvania to receive a gift of a guitar from Chris Martin of Martin Guitars. The company use Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and Tom was planning to use the guitar to raise funds for an education programme. However when he flew in from New York last week, customs officials at Dublin Airport refused to accept that the guitar was a donation and, believing he had purchased it, took it from Tom.
Roscommon: Notable anniversary for Killina church
Killina Church, a landmark on the road between Tulsk and Boyle, is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary this year and a special Mass is to be celebrated by Bishop Christopher Jones. His concelebrants will be priests who have ministered at the church over the years. The congregation will be welcomed to the church by the Raheen Pipe Band and the school choir will provide the music during the Mass. Bishop Jones will also launch a commemorative book which outlines the history of the church.
Sligo: Parents’ long fight for parking
Parents of children attending the Holy Family National School in Tubbercurry have spent fourteen years looking for car parking space to bring to an end the traffic congestion that occurs regularly at the school. They have produced a petition signed by one thousand five hundred people in support of their campaign, which is now said to be under consideration by the Minister for Education. The parents would like to see land owned by the Health Service Executive handed over for the provision of a car park.
Tipperary: Six local heroes honoured
Mayor of Nenagh Seamus Morris hosted a ‘Night of Heroes’ last week at the Hibernian Inn, when six local people were honoured for their contribution to the town. Brendan Treacy was recognised for his collections of photographs of the town, while the work of Milo Gleeson with Nenagh Ormond Rugby Club was honoured. Dedication to the local AFC led to Aidan Ryan’s inclusion on the night, and Vincent Savage was chosen for his work with the Irish Pilgrimage Trust. County hurler of the 1950s and 1960s Mikey Burns was described by Mayor Morris as the ‘prince of half backs’, and Jack Kennedy was honoured for his contribution to sport in Nenagh.
Tyrone: Centenarian still drives herself to church
She may have reached her one hundredth birthday but this does not deter Gortin resident Mae McGarvey from getting behind the wheel of her car to drive herself to church or to the shops. Mae retired thirty-five years ago from her post as a maternity departmental nursing sister at Tyrone County Hospital, and keeps herself busy with a number of hobbies including gardening, woodwork and embroidery. Celebrations for the birthday included a Mass followed by refreshments in Rouskey and a lunch in the Gallery Restaurant at South West College in Omagh.
Waterford: From painting to cruising for Vincent
Vincent Coffey from Ballinamona was a self-employed painting contractor when the recession hit, and he has now turned his love of boating into an alternative career. Vincent bought a Class C motor launch some years ago with a capacity for eight passengers and he is now offering cruises on the River Suir going as far as Dunmore East and Grannagh Castle. He has taken on as crew member former construction worker Philip Fitzgerald; both men are involved in the Waterford Marine Search and Rescue organisation and have extensive knowledge of the river.
Westmeath: More than grass to cut to tidy up Athlone
While most Tidy Towns committees are concentrating on planting shrubs, keeping grass tidy and picking up litter, the committee in Athlone also has another problem to deal with. The volunteers have had to acquire a number of traps designed to catch wild mink, which are decimating the numbers of waterfowl in the area. According to Seamus McCann large numbers of the animals are living around the Shannon and the committee is helping in their cull. On a more positive note, they also plan to put up bird and bat boxes in the area.
Wexford: Ballast Office to be restored
The county council has received funding of €100,000 for the restoration of the Ballast Office and is hoping to appoint a local company to carry out the work. The building is believed to be one of the earliest surviving purpose-built civic institutions in the area and it gives testament to the maritime tradition of the town; there are marks on the window sills at the side of the building where sailors sharpened their knives. For the last number of years the Wexford Chamber of Commerce has been based in the building.
Wicklow: Kilmacanogue company rescues ‘the Beast’
It was a towing company from Kilmacanogue that was called in to rescue the heavily-armoured US Presidential vehicle known as ‘the Beast’, which became lodged on a ramp while trying to leave the US Embassy in Dublin on Monday. Eamon Kelly and his son Keith of Kelly’s Towing Service were called in and it took them three hours to effect the move of the Cadillac. The removal of the limousine was complicated by the fact that lifting points on American cars are different from those on European vehicles.
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Until next time, many thanks for reading  and we hope you enjoyed this edition of County News.
Slan agus beannacht,
Bridget & Russ 
May the bearer of the news be safe
Gura slán an scéalaí