Greetings & Blessings to all,
We hope you will enjoy these bits and bobs of news  from all over the country. As with the headlines and news on our web site, we purposely avoid murder and mayhem, opting instead for whatever we can find  in the way of Irish traditions, customs and culture. We also try to avoid repeating news we've already published in our daily updates. Here's the URL if you aren't familiar with that feature on the site:
We publish  links to seven stories gathered every morning from all the major Irish newspapers. These links are kept for two weeks just in case you can't visit the site every day.
Meanwhile, on with the county news for each week in February. 
ED. NOTE: If you are a new subscriber, this monthly news update is in addition to our regular newsletter. 
On with news:
Week of February 3rd
Antrim: Public art work for Portrush Promenade
A sculpture twelve feet tall and five feet wide will soon grace the East Strand Promenade in Portrush, funded by the Tourist Board and the Arts Council. The £100,000 sculpture, ‘To the people of the sea – sailing waves’, has been commissioned from artist Holger Lonze after a tendering process. Causeway Development Manager Kathleen McBride sees the potential of the art work to express the town’s maritime association as well as encouraging more people to visit Portrush, which has also been subject to a £900,000 improvement scheme.
Armagh: Two Crossmaglen men share winnings
Two men from Crossmaglen are this week enjoying a change in fortune after they won €122,900 on RTE’s Winning Streak programme. PJ McArdle was the contestant, but it was his cousin Aidan Joyce who had purchased the scratch card with three stars and he sent it to RTE with PJ’s details. A group of more than twenty travelled to Dublin to watch PJ in action and, although he was trailing the other contestants initially, he won the right to spin the wheel and the marker landed on the €100,000 slot.
Carlow: Celebrations to mark Presentation bicentenary
Last weekend a series of events took place in Carlow to mark the bicentenary of the arrival of the Presentation Sisters in the county. A civic reception was hosted by chairman of the county council Walter Lacey in the Town Hall, while a Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral on Saturday featuring music written for the occasion by Sister Cecelia Molloy. The choir comprised past pupils of Scoil Mhuire gan Smál and Presentation College, Askea. A plaque was unveiled in the Shaw Room of the County Library premises in Tullow Street which is the site of the former house of the Presentation Sisters.
Cavan: Connaughton to star in Cavan town play
Kingscourt man and playwright Shane Connaughton is to take the lead in his play which is being staged in The Gonzo Theatre in Cavan town at the end of the month. ‘The Pitch’ also features local actors Niall Lynch and Yvonne Hyneman and will be directed by Kerry Crabbe. While the play is based on a Sophocles work, Connaughton has set it in the county and given it a GAA theme. The theatre is the converted loft over the Imperial bar and nightclub on Main Street, made available by Donal Keogan.
Clare: Re-enactment in Glenwood
Last week a re-enactment took place in Glenwood, between Sixmilebridge and Broadford, to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the IRA ambush when six members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were killed. The ambush took place during the War of Independence and last week’s event was attended by more than a thousand people, including outgoing Minister of Defence Tony Killeen. The actors wore period clothes, and a Crossley Tender used by the Black and Tans and RIC officers was sourced for the event which was organised by Pat Neville of the Glenwood Memorial Committee.
Cork: Two Cork adventurers make further attempt on Pole
Pat Falvey from Cork city and Dr Clare O’Leary from Bandon are to make another attempt to reach the North Pole while hauling a sled without the assistance of dogs. This will be the pair’s twenty-second expedition together. The last time they set out for the North Pole, accompanied by John Dowd, they had to turn back when he developed frostbite on his fingers. They set out for Iqaluit Canada at the weekend and will fly to the starting point at Cape Discovery at the end of the month. They are aiming to reach the North Pole within fifty-five days.
Derry: New developments at Derry quay
The Loughs Agency has announced plans for development at Derry city’s quays comprising two new berthing facilities. A pontoon to be built downstream from the existing pontoon will allow sailing regattas, rowing events and the berthing of naval vessels and, most importantly, tall ships. A new berth for cruise liners is also to be provided at Meadowbank and both facilities, which are expected to be operational this year, are to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 
Donegal: ‘Wakes’ return to the county
Where once upon a time they were known as American Wakes, the gatherings taking place in Donegal in recent times could more accurately be described as Australian Wakes. Among those enjoying such farewells recently was Laura Cannon, daughter of James who owns the Atlantic bar in Dungloe. Another bar experiencing the phenomenon is the Lazy Bush Bar in Mountcharles, where Mark Dorrian has confirmed that he will be hosting four such gatherings over the next few weeks for six people leaving the parish of Inver.
Down: Extension at Finnard back on track
Although work on the extension to Finnard Orange Hall, due to begin last November, was delayed due to the icy weather it is now back on track. The completion date is now set for the end of March, according to chairperson of Finnard Rural Development Association William Mitchell. The hall, which is a hundred years old, will have a new kitchen as well as disabled access. The work has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Newry and Mourne District Council in addition to money raised by the organisation. While the hall is being renovated events have been held in Ryan’s Presbyterian Church Hall.
Dublin: Project will oversee horse safety
A project overseen by Fingal County Council and the Irish Horse Welfare Trust will see the provision of a temporary feeding and watering station on the one hundred and sixty acre site at Dunsink which is at present home to some sixty horses. The owners of the horses will be asked to bring their animals to be checked by vets, to be microchipped and to be issued with passports. The long-term aim of the project is to provide education and to encourage responsible ownership of the horses among the many young horse enthusiasts in the area.
Fermanagh: New venue for Concert Band
The local music group, the Fermanagh Concert Band, will give their first performance at Portora when they play a concert entitled ‘Good Company at Candlemas’ next weekend. The group, under the baton of musical director David Baxter, will be playing in the Steele Hall and their performance will be enhanced by the presence of historical re-enactment company ‘Footsteps Living History’. This Armagh-based group will link the music with their actions and will mingle with the audience. Saddlers of Enniskillen are to provide a supper, during which the band will continue to play.
Galway: Ceremony at Glenamaddy cillin
A committee has been formed under chairperson Evelyn Geraghty to honour with the erection of a plaque those interred at the cillin at Scotland, Glenamaddy, on the Kilkerrin Road. Father Paddy Mooney will celebrate Mass at the children’s burial ground, after which he will bless the graves. The committee members are hoping that those who have family members buried at the site will fill in forms to be dropped into the parish church so that their names can be recorded for posterity.
Kerry: US top ten pub owned by Annascaul man
One of the pubs included in the list of America’s top ten pub destinations is owned by a man who grew up in Annascaul. Bourbon and Branch is a recreated speakeasy in San Francisco owned by Brian Sheehy, whose parents Dan and Bridie still run a small farm in the village. Brian’s pub is located in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco and patrons have to phone in advance to book a table. They are then emailed the password of the day which they have to give to gain entry. With two business partners Brian also runs three other pubs in the city, Swig, Anú and Rickhouse.
Kildare: School knows how to handle rebellion
Principal Niall Hare and his staff at Confey Community College in Leixlip certainly know how to handle rebellious students. Recently a number of students announced that they were going to stage a protest, during school hours, at Leinster House against third-level fees. Wisely wishing to avoid a confrontation with the students, it was decided that only those who first received written permission from their parents would be allowed to take part. In the event just twenty-three out of the school’s more than six hundred students joined the protest.
Kilkenny: New radio station for the city
A radio station has been given permission to broadcast for a limited period within Kilkenny city and an area within an eight-kilometre radius. Community Radio Kilkenny City will go on air on Saturdays and Sundays for a period of fifteen weeks and it is expected to start broadcasting on February 19. The purpose of the station, according to community radio co-operative chairman Cathal Cullen, is to develop and sustain community awareness. Details of the new service were released at a meeting in the Ormonde Hotel in the city last week.
Laois: Seventy new jobs for Mountmellick
As part of an expansion programme grocery chain SuperValu is to open a new store in Mountmellick early in the summer. The store, which will see an investment of more than €5.5m, will be located on the site of the former textile factory and will be the main outlet for a new town centre development comprising a health care centre, office units, a GP’s surgery, and retail and residential units. The SuperValu store will be owned and operated by local man Emmett McConville.
Leitrim: Two Lough Allen students gain national honours
Two students from Lough Allen College in Drumkeerin have received national honours for their Junior Certificate results. In the higher level metalwork exam Felim McHugh achieved the highest mark in the country, while fellow student Paul Hazlett was also placed in the top ten. The two boys are in the same metalwork class at the college and their achievements are a testimony both to their hard work and to the dedication of their teacher, Mr Brett. Felim and Paul received their certificates at a ceremony in Cork.
Limerick: Gary goes public with his weight loss plans
When Gary Kirwan decided to lose weight he first wanted to find out his exact poundage but the only scales he could find went up to just twenty stone. So Gary put forward a request to the Ray D’Arcy radio show and a company in Co. Meath supplied him with the necessary scales and he was weighed live on air last week – at forty-one stone. Now he is determined to lose at least half his weight, especially after all the positive messages he received from listeners. The former Limerick Strongman competitor hopes to go back to the show next month two or three stone lighter.
Longford: Belfast priest to attend Clonfin celebrations
The annual commemoration of the Clonfin ambush this weekend will this year be attended by Father Alec Reid from Clonard Monastery in Belfast, noted for the major part he played in the peace process. This year also marks the ninetieth anniversary of the ambush led by General Sean MacEoin and Father Reid will address the gathering at the Clonfin Monument on the Granard to Ballinalee Road. According to General MacEoin’s descendant Catherine Donohoe, the ambush was instrumental in bringing the British to the negotiating table.
Louth: Birdwatchers flock to Westcourt estate
Birdwatchers from all over Ireland and from Britain have been converging on the Westcourt estate in Drogheda for the past couple of weeks after the sighting of a rare bird. Kevin McGuigan first noticed the bird feeding in his back garden and asked neighbour Chris Honan, an ornithologist, to take a look. Chris called in the National Parks and Wildlife Service who confirmed that the bird is a Lesser Whitethroat usually found in Mongolia or on the Arabian Peninsula. It is the first sighting of the species in Ireland or Britain, though the identification has yet to be confirmed by European experts.
Mayo: A chance to join a record-breaker
Climber Ian McKeever has already set a record by climbing Croagh Patrick seven times in one day, and he is now to undertake a new challenge in mid-March. In support of Mayo Autism Action/Irish Autism Action he will attempt to reach the top of the Reek five times each day for seven consecutive days. McKeever made his mark in the mountaineering world when he knocked thirty-two days off the record for completing the seven peaks challenge, and he is now inviting people to join him on this year’s Croagh Patrick challenge, which is organised by Johnny Oosten and Pat Kearns.
Meath: Walkers support Sinead in Operation Transformation
Sinead Heffernan from Enfield, who is taking part in RTE’s Operation Transformation, was joined by almost six hundred people when she set off from the Hill of Tara recently to complete the four and a half kilometre Slí na Sláinte route. At the end of the walk all those who finished were rewarded with hot drinks at Maguire’s Cafe. Sinead and her husband Stephen have five bakeries which they bought two years ago. She is now undergoing the Operation Transformation programme to reduce her weight by changing her lifestyle, thereby improving her health.
Monaghan: Ballybay firm achieves EU quality award
Ballybay Perch Ltd, situated in Corkeeran, is the first such farm in the world to be accredited to an EU Quality Scheme. The company, established four years ago by John Connolly, Jim Kerr and PJ Finlay, has reached the Irish Quality Aquaculture Standard developed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara. Ballybay Perch produces fifty tonnes of perch each year, purchasing juvenile fish from a Gowna company. These are then kept in tanks at Corkeeran for six to eight months before going to market. Perch are seen as a great delicacy in some Continental countries including Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy.
Offaly: Full handbags make it through security
When two Offaly women travelled to Haiti to deliver funds raised to help the earthquake victims, they were lucky that their handbags were not searched at security. For Maeve Bracken from Clara, Tullamore councillor Molly Buckley, and two Kilbeggan women, Teresa Heffernan and Niamh O’Flynn, were carrying between them €24,000 in cash. Maeve had been working in Haiti when the earthquake struck and was asked if she would raise funds at home for a clinic. She soon joined forces with Teresa Heffernan and they enlisted their two companions to raise the money. When the clinic is built its name will combine the names of Clara, Tullamore and Kilbeggan to honour their efforts.
Roscommon: Boyle company on shortlist for award
A Boyle-based wedding stationery company has been shortlisted for the finals of the Stationery Designer of the Year Award. Samantha Gavigan established her company, Paper Republic, in Corrigneenroe five years ago and she was chosen by Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman to design the invitations for their wedding in Co. Leitrim last year. Coincidentally the invitations were also printed in the county, by Printworks at Deerpark in Boyle. The finals of the competition are to be held on St Valentine’s Day in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin.
Sligo: Filan brothers have more plans for the town
Shane Filan and his brother Finbarr, trading under the name Shafin, have lodged another planning application with the county council for a major development. The complex, to be located at Ballytivnan on the Manorhamilton and Dromahair roads adjacent to the Institute of Technology, comprises a supermarket, restaurant, medical centre, off licence and coffee shop as well as a number of residential units. If the application is granted the development will involve the demolition of a warehouse and a detached house on the site.
Tipperary: Oral hearing for Thurles casino
In some five weeks’ time An Bord Pleanála is to hold an oral hearing into the application for a casino on a nine-hundred-acre site outside Thurles. Former garda Richard Quirke has gradually built up the landbank in Two-Mile-Borris in recent years and is hoping to develop a €460m entertainment project which has already been granted planning permission by the county council. However An Taisce has objected to the development on environmental grounds in that it will increase both air and road travel.
Tyrone: John praised for fire rescue
The fact that he had a working smoke alarm and an established fire drill meant that John McMenamin was able to save his wife and two daughters from their burning house. Realising they could not escape through the downstairs area of their house on the Old Mountfield Road in Omagh, John put into action his escape plan, using a ladder and assisting everyone through a back window. He then ran the fifty yards to the fire station and the fire was quickly brought under control. Fire Service Station Commander Paddy Quinn commended John for following the rule, ‘get out and stay out’.
Waterford: Locals condemn removal of tree
Local people in the Comeragh area are angry after an iconic tree was chopped down. The tree marked a particular part of the road where it appeared that drivers were rolling uphill, though this was proved to be an illusion by a group of students from the Institute of Technology. Known locally as a fairy tree, people would hang objects from it and some farmers had complained that their sheep were being harmed by eating the items, though this has been denied by local man Thomas Walsh.
Westmeath: Little Theatre celebrates 75 years
Athlone Little Theatre is celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary with a gala banquet this weekend at the Sheraton Hotel. Among those to be particularly honoured are seven members who have served the group for some fifty years. Therese Byrne, Mary Corcoran, Paul Cushnan, Bina Deery, Mel O’Flynn, Harry Smith and Bridie Turner are the longest serving members of the theatre group. The company’s first production, in 1936, was “The New Gossoon” by George Shiels, and they are now rehearsing in their theatre in St Mary’s Place for “Seafarers” by Conor McPherson.
Wexford: Nicky Rackard to be commemorated in stone
Sculptor Mark Richards has been commission to create a sculpture of hurler Nicky Rackard which is to be erected at the bottom of Selskar Square in Wexford town, close to the entrance to Greenacres. The €110,000 statue will comprise an eight-foot high figure atop a two-foot plinth depicted about to hit the sliotar. Although some people felt the statue should be erected in Killane or Rathnure, the Borough Council voted to have it located in Wexford town where it could become a focal point.
Wicklow: Heartsafe award for Dunlavin group
A group of seventeen volunteers from Dunlavin took part in a resuscitation programme organised by the Irish Heart Foundation and they have now become the first such group in the county to be awarded the Heartsafe standard. The Dunlavin Community First Responders Group also placed five defibrillators around the area and trained in CPR twenty members of the community from Dunlavin GAA, St Kevin’s Community College and Scoil Nioclais Naofa. The award was accepted on behalf of the group by Mark Lawlor, chairman of Dunlavin District Forum, at Rathsallagh House.
Week of February 11
Antrim: A new Samson and Goliath for Belfast
Named after the famous Harland and Wolff cranes, two horses being used to drag logs have become an attraction at the Minnowburn property in south Belfast, owned by the National Trust. Noel Donaghy purchased the two Jutland horses in Denmark along with the necessary rig, and the National Trust hired him to bring thinned larch logs to the roadside. The horses cause far less damage to the environment than would the heavy machinery previously used, and they also mean that the usual mechanical sounds associated with logging are no longer heard.
Armagh: Richard’s sculpture on display
The work on a piece of Armagh marble by artist in residence Richard Perry will be open to public view later this month at Armagh Marble Natural Stone Company’s premises. The company has designed the five-metre high piece and Richard is carving the surface of sixteen facets. He has been working on the StarStone sculpture since December and it is due to be installed in the city’s Market Square in the spring, between two sets of steps in front of the Market Place Theatre. The Armagh Marble company was set up thirteen years ago by Roy Reaney.
Carlow: Challenge day for Sive fund
A challenge day for children and adults is to be held at the end of the month in the Kilkenny Ormond Hotel and Leisure Club to raise funds for the Sive McDonald Neonatal Fund. Sive, the daughter of Bagenalstown native John McDonald and his wife Aisling, was born in June last year weighing less than one pound and became the country’s smallest surviving baby. Now her parents, in gratitude for the care she received at Waterford Regional Hospital, are raising money to provide a new incubator for the hospital’s Neo-natal unit.
Cavan: Sports award for Leona
Leona Maguire, who with her twin sister Lisa made sporting history when they became the youngest players to represent Great Britain and Ireland at the Curtis Cup in America, has won a Sports title. The sixteen-year-old was named as the Irish Times/Irish Sports Council Sports Woman of the Month for January after winning the Portuguese Ladies Amateur Championship by 15 strokes. Winning the award for the third time, Leona will now go forward for the title of 2011 Sportswoman of the Year.
Clare: O’Gormans refused planning permission
An appeal by Joseph, Daniel and Martin O’Gorman has been turned down by An Bord Pleanála and they will not be given leave to carry out fifteen blasts each year at their quarry at Aylevarroo, Ballynote West, Kilrush. Reasons given for the refusal included the fact that the public road is a designated scenic route in the County Development Plan 2005, and the presence in the nearby Shannon Estuary of a population of bottlenose dolphins. The O’Gormans had claimed that the county council had themselves used blasting to remove stone from the quarry in recent years.
Cork: Tantalising offer from Cork’s Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor of Cork Michael O’Connell is offering one lucky couple the opportunity to become the first to be married in a civil ceremony at City Hall. The City Council approved its use two years ago but so far no one has availed of the facility. Those selected in the ‘Win a Wedding’ competition will be provided with lunch for up to fifty people in the Ambassador Hotel, a free limousine, a €500 voucher for Brown Thomas, and €200 vouchers for the Moderne, Keane’s Jewellers and Bernard Hayes Travel.
Derry: No more frozen pipes for Banagher
During the recent cold weather over the Christmas period hundreds of the residents of Banagher were left without water due to frozen pipes. However work has now been carried out to ensure this doesn’t happen again. It was discovered that the problem lay with the pipes that run under Tireighter Bridge which had frozen solid due to the extremely low temperatures, and workers from NI Water have been busy lagging the pipes to reduce the chance of the same problem arising in the future.
Donegal: Eunan will try to regain record
Eunan Devenney from Balleybofey/Stranorlar set a record ten years ago for hitting a punch bag continuously for twenty-four hours and sixteen minutes, thereby earning a place in The Guinness Book of Records. However his total was beaten in 2004 in California, with a new record of thirty-six hours and three minutes. Now the forty-two-year-old has begun training with the aim of beating that time on May 20. A coach at Twin Towns Amateur Boxing Club, Eunan is hoping to raise money for the club and for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin.
Down: New trails for all at Castle Ward
Work began in mid-January on the construction of twenty-one new trails for the Castle Ward Demesne on the shores of Strangford Lough. The new trails will facilitate mountain bikers and horse riders as well as walkers, and an all-ability path will also be provided along the shores of the lough for use by those with buggies, prams or in wheelchairs. The work, which is to include the refurbishment of the Wildlife Centre building and the installation of a bike wash, is expected to be completed by June of this year.
Dublin: Disappointment for Christian group in Crumlin
The Assemblies of God Christian organisation, which has some twenty bases in the South and ten in the North, has had their application to operate from a disused factory in Crumlin turned down. Although initially granted planning permission by the city council for the unit in Stannaway Drive, the group were disappointed to learn that An Bord Pleanála had upheld two appeals, one from local man Martin Byrne. He claimed that the worship centre would devalue property in the vicinity and the noise generated would make it difficult for him to let his nearby rental property.
Fermanagh: Cross-America cycle for Enniskillen teacher
Damien Dempster, the head of physical education at Portora Royal in Enniskillen, is to set off in June to cycle from the west to the east coast of America, to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society. Damien’s father has the condition and Damian will be joining thirty-five other cyclists on the forty-day journey. The challenge is to be launched at the Killyhevlin Hotel on March 1, and Lakeland Cycles of Enniskillen are sponsoring a lightweight Cervelo bike and other equipment.
Galway: Pig adds note of interest to rush hour
Rush hour on the Headford Road leading out of Galway usually means drivers having to show great patience at the slowness of the traffic, but on one day last week there was something of a diversion. A black and white sow managed to escape from an adjacent farm and make her leisurely way on to the traffic lanes. One attempt to herd her to the side of the road was quickly abandoned when she turned to charge the motorist. Eventually the sow’s owner turned up with a car and trailer and motorists reverted once again to their uneventful journeys.
Kerry: Players vie for chance to play with champion
Darts players of all ages are testing their skills in order to win a chance to play against a leading British darts champion. On two dates at the end of March and the beginning of April Dean ‘Over the Top’ Winstanley will be in Browne’s Bar in Castleisland and the Three Counties Bar in Brosna to play the top six youth players and the top ten senior players. The events have been organised by Patrick Leahy of the Three Counties Bar who is encouraging the revival of darts in pubs as a way of meeting the challenge of the recession.
Kilkenny: Better late than never for Christmas party
It might be nearly the end of February before it takes place, but the senior citizens’ Christmas party for The Rower, Inistioge, Skeough, and Graignamanagh areas will take place on the last Sunday of the month. The original date had to be postponed due to the bad weather, but the Springhill Court Hotel will host the event, organised by senior hurling team kit manager Denis Cody. Michael Kilbride of The Rower is sponsoring the buses to carry people to the function, while the wine has been sponsored by car dealer John O’Neill.
Laois: Civic honour for St Abbans
Following their being named as the Athletics Ireland Club of the Year for 2010, members of St Abbans Athletic Club were accorded a civic reception by Laois County Council last week. Among those welcoming the club members was Councillor Ben Brennan, himself a club member. Those attending included Sinead O’Gorman, Brian Kelly, Barry Pender, Francis Egan, Liam Kelly and Jimmy Whelan and they were presented with a framed Certificate of Achievement by the Council. Another club member honoured this year is Conor Daly who was named as the recipient of the Tipperary Crystal Laois star award for 2010.
Leitrim: Trees to enhance Drumshanbo bridge area
The latest development in the Pride in Drumshanbo project features an invitation to local residents or those who have moved far from home to plant a tree close to the three-arched bridge known as the Tram Bridge. The bridge has already been restored by the group and seating is to be provided to provide a peaceful area for those visiting the adjacent graveyard. The idea is for more than twenty-five trees to be planted, with the names of those initiating the planting being recorded on a plaque, together with the occasion or loved one to whom the tree is dedicated.
Limerick: Oz returns to Limerick
The black swan that was given the name of Oz to reflect its Australian origins has returned to Limerick. Oz arrived at Castleconnell last September and after disappearing for three days he turned up with another black swan. They then disappeared but it is believed they spent the winter in Galway before returning to the city last week. It was amateur photographer Kevin O’Dwyer from Clare Street who noted the return of Oz whom he discovered on the water beside St Michael’s rowing club, but as yet there is no sign of his mate.
Longford: Ardagh student is on her way to Prague Olympiad
Alice Whyte from Ardagh, a fifth year student at Scoil Mhuire in Longford town, is to travel to Prague in April to represent Ireland at the ninth annual European Science Olympiad. The sixteen-year-old is one of just six students selected, all of whom gained the maximum mark in either science or maths in their Junior Certificate. Although Alice immediately phoned her mother with the good news, she didn’t tell any of her fellow students of her achievement, and even her teacher, Edel Rowley, was unaware until relatively recently that her student had been selected for such a prestigious event.
Louth: Dundalk actor attends major premiere in Hollywood
Colin O’Donoghue from Dundalk had a very special birthday this year as he celebrated it at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood where he was attending the premiere of “The Rite”. In the film the thirty-year-old shares the billing with noted actor Anthony Hopkins who has described him as ‘extraordinary’. Colin recorded a video of himself in a friend’s garden and sent it to the film’s director, Michael Hafstrom, who was so impressed he immediately arranged for the Dundalk man to be flown to Los Angeles. The film is already being shown in America and is due for release in Ireland at the end of the month.
Mayo: Portrait reunites nanny and her charge
The sale of a portrait at a Dublin auctioneers has resulted in contact being established between the subject of the portrait and the woman who looked after her. Liv Hempel, the daughter of the German envoy to Ireland, was painted by Irish artist Patrick Hennessy in 1939 and the sale received some publicity. It brought to attention Elizabeth Sweeney, the German woman who looked after the young Liv and who went on to marry Achill native Niall Sweeney. The article about Elizabeth was seen by Liv Hempel, living in New York, and she decided to call the now ninety-six-year-old Elizabeth who still lives on Achill. Both were delighted to re-establish contact after so many years.
Meath: Johnny off on his volunteering prize
Johnny Finnegan from Navan, who was one of the two winners of the RTE series “Do the Right Thing”, has set off for Ghana to begin his year-long volunteering stint. In Ghana he and Carol Leonard from Offaly will be building and advising on the use of sanitary facilities, before they move on to India to work with homeless children who are victims of child labour. The last task for the pair will take place in Thailand, where they will attempt to educate island fishermen on the importance of protecting the endangered turtle population.
Monaghan: Monaghan firefighter en route to Niger
Darren Geary, a member of the Monaghan Fire Service, is part of a team of five who are travelling to the city of Gaya in Niger to deliver a refurbished fire engine to the community. The engine has been donated by Dublin Fire Brigade and left Cork by boat on Christmas Day. The five firefighters will take the engine on the seven-hundred kilometre road journey to Gaya where they will ensure it is in full working order. During their ten-day stay they will also instruct local firefighters in its operation.
Offaly: A temporary setback for Siobhan
The nine-year-old from Walsh Island who took up Irish dancing just two years ago has had a slight setback on her journey to stardom. On Monday Siobhan Phelan opened the show at the live semi-final of Sky One programme “Got to Dance”, in front of an audience of more than one million viewers. She had heard of her success in reaching the semi-finals when one of the judges, Adam Garcia, came to her primary school in Geashill to give her the good news.The judges had already pronounced her routine, Damhsa Dreams, as absolutely outstanding but unfortunately she didn’t make it through to the finals. However it is certainly not the end of Siobhan’s ambition to become a professional dancer.
Roscommon: President visits two community centres
President Mary McAleese paid a visit to the county recently when she performed the official opening of two community centres. The president’s first port of call was to Kilteevan Community Centre where the event was hosted by the Kilteevan Community Development Group. Her second visit was to the Loughglynn Community Centre where she was given a short tour around the centre after the official opening, before addressing the local community in the main hall. The president also unveiled a plaque in the centre to mark the occasion.
Sligo: Sarah is crowned Warrior Queen
At an event held in the Radisson Hotel in Rosses Point recently Sarah Flynn was crowned the Warriors’ Queen for 2011. Sarah, who was representing Fiddler’s Creek, was one of fifteen entrants to the competition and she will lead the parade before the Warriors Run to be held in Strandhill in August. The evening was organised by Deirdre Healy-McGowan to raise funds for Special Olympics Connaught and the two Sligo representatives on the team for the World Games in Athens in June, Joseph Cullen and Adrian Cornwall, chaperoned the girls onto the stage.
Tipperary: A shining future for Drombane man
Isaac Kumari-Doyle, the son of Michael and Surjet Doyle of Drombane, has achieved the Professional Jeweller’s Diploma from the National Association of Goldsmiths in London. Isaac, who attended St Joseph’s College in Borrisoleigh, is one of only two Irish students to receive the diploma, having achieved A+ in both parts of the examination. Three days after completing his Leaving Certificate the twenty-year-old began working for the late Matty Ryan, whose jeweller’s shop was based in Liberty Square in Thurles.
Tyrone: Strabane couple graduate together
A Strabane couple who first met when they completed a diploma course in science in 1989 have just graduated together after attending a course at North West Regional College. Joanne Annesley works as a biology lab technician at the college while her husband Stephen works for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. It was Joanne who found the two-year National Certificate Countryside & Fisheries Management course which she thought would benefit them both, and as well as graduating, Stephen received a special award from his employers.
Waterford: Dedication of new home for Little Sisters
The official opening and dedication of the new home for the Little Sisters of the Poor took place last week when Bishop of Ossory Dr Seamus Freeman blessed the new building. The new St Joseph’s complex on Abbey Road in Ferrybank, which has been in use since last November, has living accommodation for the eighteen sisters on the top floor, while the remaining floors will have residential accommodation, a library, kitchen, chapel, medical centre, craft room and a shop. The sisters had been based at Manor Hill for the past one hundred and fifty years.
Westmeath: Gamers to aim for record
In order to raise funds for Midlands Simon and Athlone Community Radio, five men are to attempt to break the present record of thirty-three hours spent continuously playing a video game. Tony Flynn, Mark Gethings, Lorcan McKenna, Pierce McKenna and Stephen O’Connor, known collectively as Guna Screach, will play the Xbox 360 game Halo: Reach at the Golden Island Shopping Centre in Athlone, which is sponsoring the record attempt. All five men are volunteers with Athlone Community Radio.
Wexford: Athenaeum to be restored in Enniscorthy
It seems that the committee members of Enniscorthy Athenaeum Ltd, under chairman Tony McLean, are on their way to fulfilling their ambition to restore the Athenaeum building on Castle Street. Permission has been granted for the group to lease the building from the Diocese of Ferns and work is expected to begin soon on the restoration. Starting life as a theatre at the end of the nineteenth century, the Athenaeum will serve the community with a drop-in centre, a cafe and a small performance area with associated seating. 
Wicklow: Sailing club elects first lady president
Wicklow Sailing Club, based on the South Quay of Wicklow Harbour, has elected its first Lady President. Sadie Phelan, who is a long-time resident of the town, has been involved with the club for many years and has held the position of honorary secretary. She is also the club’s representative on the committee of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association and has managed to ensure that Wicklow hosts a race each year. Her contribution to ISORA was recognised when she was presented with an award at their recent Annual General Meeting.
Week of February 17th 
 Antrim: Islanders have vote restored
Following a campaign of protest by Rathlin Islanders Graham Shields, Chief Electoral Officer, has agreed to reverse last year’s decision to remove the polling station from the island. Its removal would have meant that islanders would have had to travel to Ballycastle to cast their votes, or use the postal voting option. The campaign against the change in voting arrangements was led by the Rathlin Development and Community Association who launched a petition that was presented to the Electoral Office.
Armagh: Return to status quo for Lurgan post office
It had been planned for the post office in Lurgan to relocate to 10 Market Street but the landlord has now withdrawn his offer on the premises. However Post Office Ltd has announced that the branch will be moving back to its original premises at 2 Market Street which are at present empty. The new sub-postmaster intends to totally refurbish the building and include a convenience store beside a modern post office and it is expected that the new facility will be open next month.
Carlow: Orla receives compliment from President
Among those who met President Mary McAleese during her visit to Barretstown Castle last week to mark International Childhood Cancer Day was Orla Jackman from Tullow. Orla, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblaastic Leukaemia a year ago, lost her hair as soon as she began chemotherapy. It has now begun to grow back and President McAleese complimented the thirteen-year-old on her curly brown hair and the cream bow she wore in it. Since it was set up in 1994 by actor Paul Newman, Barrentstown has welcomed some twenty thousand children with cancer, and their families.
Cavan: Lisa to tour North America
Singer Lisa O’Neill from Ballyhaise has been selected to be the support act for David Gray on a two-week tour of American and Canada. The daughter of Bud and Carmel O’Neill, Lisa got her big break after DJ Donal Dineen sent her CD to David Gray, who requested a meeting. She is a regular at the Electric Picnic and has also toured with Mick Flannery. The twenty-eight-year-old is planning a homecoming gig in Gonzo theatre in Cavan at the end of March, after which she will be working on her second album.
Clare: Dance extravaganza for the Cliffs
The Cliffs of Moher will be the setting on two days in September for a performance of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, with an audience capacity of five thousand for each performance. Already some groups in America and Canada are arranging package holidays to take in the event, which will coincide with the final stages of the selection for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The Cliffs of Moher are shortlisted to be included in the title. The shows will comprise forty dancers as well as local musicians Michael O’Connell, Hugh Healy and the Kilfenora Ceili Band.
Cork: Visionary to visit Cork
Vicka Ivankowic-Mijatovic, one of the six young people who claim to have been visited by Our Lady in Medjugorie, Bosnia thirty years ago, will be making two appearances in Cork. Vicka, who experiences the four to five minute vision at the same time every day, will be in the Town Hall in Mitchelstown on Saturday and at the Silversprings hotel in Cork on Sunday. The visit has been arranged by Niall Glynn of the company Marian Pilgrimages and he reports an upsurge in interest in pilgrimages since the demise of the Celtic Tiger.
Derry: Children collect autographs for their parents
While almost all the children from St Eugene’s, Long Tower, Gaelscoil Na Daroige and Gaelscoil Eadain Mhoir were unaware who the Undertones were, a number of them collected autographs to give to their parents. Bass guitarist with the group Mickey Bradley spoke to more the one hundred young children at the Gasyard Centre in Derry city as part of the “From Columba to Conflict” programme. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and co-ordinated by Michael Cooper, the programme aims to give the history of the Bogside from the time of St Columba to the beginning of the Troubles.
Donegal: Loughanure brothers show initiative
Two young brothers from Loughanure somehow manage to fit in a manufacturing enterprise between school and homework. Ronan Garvey, aged fourteen, and his ten-year-old brother Conor have set up Donegal Pens, which they individually make by hand from bog oak, ash, yew, elm, beech and plum using a wood-turning process. Established since September 2009, the young entrepreneurs now export to the US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe and they are the youngest members of the Irish Woodturning Guild.
Down: Matt is in search of Banbridge society
Matt Bankhead from Banbridge, who now lives in Edinburgh, is endeavouring to trace the origins of a family heirloom, a silver chalice which was left to him by his grandfather Matthew Davidson, who was a tailor on Bridge Street. The chalice, engraved with the inscription ‘Banbridge Literary Society presented by WJM MacCaw MP’, is believed to date from 1915. Matt has searched the internet to no avail and is hoping someone might have some information on the society that presented the chalice.
Dublin: Skerries man on record-breaking crew
Adam Burke from Skerries was one of six crew members who have succeeded in breaking the record for rowing across the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados. The purpose-built Sara G, skippered by Matt Craughwell, set off from Morocco on January 5 and arrived in Port St Charles, Barbados on February 8, beating the record set three years ago. In addition to being a record-breaking voyage, it was also a fundraising one, and Adam chose as his two charities Energy Action, which ensures the elderly and those in need have warmth, and a charity that helps the long-term unemployed.
Fermanagh: Lucky escape for students
Two Fermanagh students had a lucky escape while on a St Valentine’s weekend break in Galway. Rachel McClean from Lisbellaw and Ryan Jones from Lisnaskea were travelling in Rachel’s car down a boreen in the Murrough area of Galway city when they found themselves on a level crossing with a train about ten metres away and travelling towards them. Ryan managed to reverse the car just a couple of inches before the train struck the front of the vehicle and spun it away. Although the front of the car was sheared off Rachel and Ryan were unhurt, though very shaken.
Galway: New watersport centre for Galway city
A premises provided by Cold Chon Ltd for a nominal rent is to be officially launched as the Galway Ocean Sports Centre at Galway Harbour this weekend. Located in the new Galway Harbour Enterprise Park on a site given free by the Galway Harbour Company, the centre is adjacent to the slipway built for the Volvo Ocean Race two years ago. It will provide facilities for all water sports organisations and is the base for Let’s Do It Global which is working towards hosting the finish to next year’s Volvo Ocean Race.
Kerry: Council to test houses for Radon
Tralee Town Council is to test all houses on council estates in the town for Radon, following a survey which revealed that two thirds of homes had dangerous levels of the gas. A total of eighty-eight homes were tested in the survey in Ballonagh Estate and St Joseph’s Estate, and owners of private property in areas with heavy concentrations of radon will also be advised to have their homes tested. The gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, and has been found to be particularly prevalent in the Tralee and Castleisland areas.
Kildare: Deadline approaching for Entrepreneurial Awards
The deadline for the Kildare Entrepreneurial Awards will be reached on Monday, when final nominations for the nine different categories will be accepted. The awards are an initiative of the Kildare Entrepreneurial Committee, a non-profit voluntary organisation established to promote companies in the county. At the Kilashee House Hotel in Naas in April each category winner will receive a specially commissioned piece of sculpture by Derek Malone of Clane, while one winner will be presented with the overall Kildare Entrepreneur Award 2010.
Kilkenny: Bus driver turns author
Jimmy Phelan, who has spent the past forty years driving buses, has published a book of poems and short stories entitled “A Busman’s Musings”. Jimmy was born and reared at Mooneen, Graignamanagh although he now lives in Rosbercon. After working on the family farm for some years he attempted to continue his education, without notable success, but secured a job in the milling division of John M. Murphy & Sons where he worked for five years. More recently Jimmy has attended creative writing courses, including the one led by Frances Cotter at Castlecomer Library.
Laois: Portarlington garda to jump for charity
Garda Gavin Tracy, based in Portarlington, has organised a communal parachute jump in Clonbullogue, involving up to thirty of his colleagues from all over the country, to raise funds for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Last year Garda Tracy’s daughter Lauryn had heart surgery at the hospital and the jump is his way of saying thanks to the hospital for the care of his daughter. Both Portlaoise and Portarlington garda stations are involved in the effort and he is hoping that each participant will raise at least €500 in the event.
Leitrim: Lifetime award for Kiltyclogher musician
Ben Lennon, the traditional fiddler from Kiltyclogher, is to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at TG4’s Gradam Ceoil 2011 in April. Ben came from a musical family and had his first music lesson at the age of ten. He has made a number of recordings over the years, including a tribute to local fiddle player John Gordon which he recorded with his brother Charlie and his son David. Ben and Charlie were the subject of a TG4 documentary four years ago and both brothers have been awarded the Freedom of Leitrim by the county council.
Limerick: Local firm to repair statue
Randel Hodkinson of J. Hodkinson & Sons Ecclesiastic Decorators on Henry Street in Limerick city has been chosen to repair a statue which has been subject to vandalism. The timber statue of the Virgin Mary was pulled from its plinth in the Dominican Church in Glentworth Street, the third time it has been attacked. Brought to Limerick in 1640, the statue was kept at numerous locations before being placed in St Saviour’s in the early years of the nineteenth century. On previous occasions the statue’s gold crown and rosary beads were broken off, and a rope was tied round the statue in an effort to bring it down.
Longford: President to donate artwork to cathedral
President Mary McAleese and her husband Marti1n are to donate to St Mel’s Cathedral, when the restoration work is completed, a painting entitled “Consecration of St Mel as Bishop”. The couple purchased the painting at an antique shop at Powerscourt House more than twenty years ago. The work on the cathedral is progressing, with the recent appointment of two architects, Dr Richard Hurley and Colm Redmond, to lead the design and restoration. Joan O’Connor has been appointed as Director of Interactive Project Managers.
Louth: Taoiseach opens new education facility
Taoiseach Brian Cowen was in Dundalk recently to perform the official opening of the new home to the Institute of Technology’s School of Informatics & Creative Arts. Part of a €38m investment, the department is housed in the former PJ Carroll & Company factory, to be known as The Carroll Building. A listed building standing on a forty-five acre site, the former cigarette factory was designed by Ronnie Tallon of Scott Tallon Walker and attracted international attention when it was built more than forty years ago.
Mayo: Ballina duo through to talent show semi-final
Patrick Lacken from The Quay in Ballina, and Cian Harrison from Cloona, known as Politically Correct, are the only Mayo act in this year’s All-Ireland Talent Show, and they have managed to make it through to the semi-finals. Last Sunday night the duo achieved thirty-four out of a possible forty points from the judges, and then they went on to top the public vote. Patrick and Cian have been singing for many years under the direction of voice coach Lavinia Slater-Gilmartin and both are soloists with the Rejoice Gospel Choir.
Meath: Villages join forces to take action
Businesses in the villages of Bective, Kilmessan and Dunsany have joined together as the Skane Valley Action Group in order to increase their impact when lobbying for facilities for their area. In addition the group will act as a focal point for leadership and a base for future projects. Initially they will ask to meet representatives from the county council in the Dunshaughlin, Navan and Trim areas. There has also been a proposal that the Pride of Place initiative be re-established in Kilmessan, that a daily bus service be provided to Dublin, and that proper signage be erected to the villages from major routes.
Monaghan: Carrickmacross aims for another record
Last summer Carrickmacross Lions Club managed to attract a total of two hundred and thirty-one sets of twins to the town in one day, making the gathering the largest of its kind ever recorded in Ireland. This year the club is extending its ambition and on June 4 they will be inviting not only twins, but also triplets and quadruplets to what has been named the Twin(s) “plus” Parade. With twins and other multiples already registering, and with a number of bands lined up for the day, Carrickmacross Lions are confident that this year’s event will break another record.
Offaly: Mary’s winnings will buy a new house
The special St Valentine’s weekend Diamond promotion offered by the National Lottery brought an extra €100,000 to one Birr woman. Mary Foley bought a mixed selection ticket at Square News on Emmet Square in Birr, and it was the Quickpick line that netted her five numbers plus the bonus in the Lotto Plus 1 draw. Mary’s share of the regular prize was €3,500 but this was supplemented by the special Diamond promotion to bring her total to €103,500. She is now planning to buy a house with her winnings.
Roscommon: New restaurant for Portrunny
An Bord Pleanála has given permission for the development at Portrunny on Lough Ree of a cafe bar and restaurant with a retail outlet and a two-bedroom apartment. Gerry Nolan had also applied for permission for six holiday homes on the lakeshore development but these were turned down. Original planning permission from the county council had been appealed by the Department of the Environment, An Taisce and two individuals on several grounds which included the negative impact on the Special Area of Conservation at Lough Ree.
Sligo: Rosses Point residents focus on pier
In the run-up to the general election local boat owners and other residents of Rosses Point are focusing on the need to regenerate the local pier. A number of plans have been mooted for the area over the past twenty years, including a marina close to Sligo Yacht Club, but nothing has ever materialised. Among the defects of the present pier are the unsuitability of the slipway which is inclined too steeply, cracks and subsidence affecting the pier itself, and poor access to boats. The slipway is the only accessible one within twenty miles of Sligo town.
Tipperary: Nenagh loses traditional business
After one hundred and sixteen years Ryan & Harty Menswear in Kenyon Street, Nenagh, is to close. Founded in 1995 by Michael Harty, the shop’s present proprietor is his grandnephew Seamus and although he has three daughters and two sons none of them is interested in carrying on the business. The other founder was Willie Ryan, a granduncle of undertaker Philly Ryan. The closure will unfortunately leave two men, Jim Shanahan and Brendan O’Donoghue without jobs, but Seamus is adamant that he wants time to enjoy his retirement and not be behind the counter six days a week for the rest of his life.
Tyrone: Party time for Castlederg centenarian
Ardgort House in Castlederg was the location for the one hundredth birthday of Oonagh Hemphill from Eden Park, who was joined by family and friends for the occasion. Oonagh is the last surviving member of her family who hailed from Lisnacloon and, despite her great age, she is a regular visitor to the residents of a nursing home in Omagh, with her youngest daughter, Valerie Gailey. Married to Gilbert who died thirty-one years ago, Oonagh had twelve children and her eldest, Margaret lives in Victoria Bridge.
Waterford: Replica jacket for New York regiment
A replica of Thomas Francis Meagher’s Club ’82 jacket, which the patriot would have worn during the 1848 rebellion, is to be presented to representatives of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment. They will be travelling to Waterford to take part in the 1848 Tricolour Celebration which takes place at the beginning of next month. The original jacket, worn by Meaghar when he unveiled the Tricolour, is at present on display in the Museum of Treasures in Waterford and the replica jacket is being made by local man Tony Fitzgerald of fitzgerald’s Menswear.
Westmeath: Donna is trying her luck in Malta
Donna McCaul from Athlone who, with her brother Joe, was Ireland’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest six years ago, is this year hoping to take part once again in the event, though not as part of the Irish entry. Donna is in Malta where she is providing backing singing to one of the island’s possible entries, but she has ambitions to represent Ireland as a solo singer next year. She has been working with songwriter Niall Mooney and has already recorded two possible entries for the 2012 contest.
Wexford: Multiple soccer talent in the county
When the Irish U-16 development squad lined out in Dublin recently it included three young players from Wexford. Peter Goldsmith from Killinick, Jonathan St Ledger from Arnestown, New Ross, and Kevin O’Connor from Screen all play also for the county team and are members of the Leinster squad. At the training match in Peamount there were a number of scouts from British clubs, though the three are still very young and will all still be in the U-16 side next season. Jonathan is not the only soccer player in his family, since his sister Amy plays with the U-12 Ross Town girls’ squad.
Wicklow: RTE programme becomes the generation game
For one Baltinglass family the television show Winning Streak became something of a generation game. Chelsea Keogh’s grandmother, Teresa, entered her in the draw for the programme but since Chelsea is only thirteen years of age she was too young to take part. So it was her mother, Sandra, who went on the television show last weekend to play for her daughter, and she came away with €65,800 in total. Although Chelsea will not have access to the money for some years, she intends to use it for her college education.
Week of February 24
 Antrim: Man who fought off burglars turns 100
There was a special reason for John Dunne from Andersonstown to celebrate his one hundredth birthday last week, for three years ago he suffered a heart attack after facing down burglars with a poker; they left empty-handed. Mr Dunne’s home has been targeted on a number of occasions, the most recent last year when a young neighbour bore the brunt of an attack by a would-be burglar. Mr Dunne celebrated his birthday in Musgrave Park Hospital with family and friends, including an American relative he had not met before, tracked down by his family.
Armagh: Portuguese national to stand for council
In the May elections to Craigavon Borough Council one of the candidates is making history by being the first Portuguese national to stand for election in the North. Daniel Gouveia is a resident of Portadown, as are his mother and brother, and he will be standing as an SDLP candidate. He works as an interpreter and volunteers at the Migrant Support Services office at the Mayfair Business Centre on the Garvaghy Road. One of his main concerns is the need for immigrants to learn English, and he would like to see an increase in language classes for the unemployed.
Carlow: David loses his hair in a good cause
David Rea from Bagenalstown has been growing his hair for the past twenty-one years but now his long pony-tail is hanging in the hallway of the family home in Bothar Mor. For David was one of those who took part in Today FM’s Shave or Dye campaign in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and, at two and a half feet, his hair was by far the longest on the day of the cut. He was joined on the day by his wife Eleanor and their children Caitlin and Cameron, while Edel Byrne from Tullow Street in Carlow was also one of those who faced the chop.
Cavan: Pauline and John take dancing honours
A Strictly Come Dancing competition to find the best dancers took place in the Hotel Kilmore last week to race funds for Laragh United, the Stradone-based club. A total of twenty-four dancers took to the floor and the winners, announced by Laragh United chairman Padraig Rudder, were Pauline Lynch and John Higgins, for their expertise at the tango. The couple, who were accorded a standing ovation, were chosen by the judging panel comprising Ronan Carolan, Dr Paddy Halligan, Marian Smith and dance instructor Lynn Jackson.
Clare: Mediaeval fish trap to be lost to posterity
University College Dublin archaeologist Dr Aidan O’Sullivan has warned that a thirteenth century fish trap possibly used by monks from the Augustinian Abbey on Canon Ireland will be washed away. The fish trap is located on shifting mud banks and water channels more than a kilometre out from shore in the Fergus Estuary and it will eventually succumb to the forces of nature. Dr O’Sullivan warns that, with the Heritage Council being hit by budget cuts, there will be no funds to record and analyse the wooden and wattle structure.
Cork: Kinsale is the centre of a dolphin swarm
Members of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group are hoping that the more than one thousand dolphins sighted around the Kinsale Gas field will move inshore to provide the public with a spectacular display. The dolphins are feeding on migrating shoals of herring and sprat and they were spotted about thirty miles south of the Old Head by fisherman Michael Cottrell, who runs summertime Baltimore Sea Safaris. He said the pod of dolphins was larger than he or any other local person has seen in the area before.
Derry: Two ceremonies to remember babies
Two ceremonies have been held in Derry city to remember those babies who were buried in unmarked graves, in accordance with the then teaching of the Catholic Church. A new monument was unveiled at the City Cemetery close to where the unmarked graves are situated, and a blessing was performed by Father Stephen McLaughlin of St Mary’s Chapel in Creggan. The ceremony was attended by the parents and extended families of the babies buried in that part of the cemetery. This weekend another monument was unveiled in a similar ceremony at Altnagelvin Cemetery.
Donegal: Inishowen dancers bound for Italy
A group of dancers from Inishowen will be heading to Italy for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations this year as part of an Irish cultural event. Irish dance teacher Janet Coyle will accompany the dancers from the Coyle School of Irish Dancing to Florence where they will contribute to Irlanda in Festa. The troupe comprises Sarah Doherty and Debbie McCallion from Carndonagh, Laura Ivers, Shauna Kelly, Michelle McGonagle and Elana Harkin from Clonmany, Jennifer McLaughlin and Kieva McBride from Isle of Doagh, Breda Crowley from Glengad, Deirdre McLaughlin from Gleneely, Peter Wilson from Redcastle and Kelly Shiels from Letterkenny.
Down: More shells around, according to John
John Fisher from Ballymartin believes that there are many more shells dating from the Second World War than the two found at the Percy Bysshe quarry outside Kilkeel last week. The two unexploded shells were destroyed in controlled explosions but John’s belief that there must be more is based on the fact that the area was used by both the US and British armies during the war. His own family land in Ballymartin was used by the British for the country’s first radar station, while some six hundred acres of land at Cranfield/Greencastle was used by the US army as a firing range.
Dublin: Expansion planned at Airfield
The thirty-five acre Airfield working urban farm and gardens on the Upper Kilmacud Road in Dundrum has been given planning permission to expand its grounds and facilities. The nineteenth century Airfield House is to be refurbished and the cafe, at present housed within the protected structure, is to be relocated to a purpose-built pavilion. The space vacated will be used as an archive exhibition. A new garage will house a display of vintage cars and there will also be a new teaching and event space.
Fermanagh: Two Enniskillen students in top awards
Among the fifty students who received awards for achieving first place in GCSE exams from The Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment last week were two from Enniskillen. Stephanie McConkey, who is a student at Enniskillen Collegiate, was placed first in Technology and Design and received the David Mack award. Meanwhile John Major from St Michael’s College received the Top Candidate Award for Drama. Both are now studying for their A-levels, Stephanie in a range of science subjects and John in Maths, languages and drama.
Galway: Locals make road an election issue
The residents of Tulai, Baile na hAbhann ensured that the election candidates knew of their dissatisfaction with the state of the road from the TG4 headquarters to the crossroads at Baile na hAbhann. It is more than thirty years since the subject was first raised, with the eight-hundred metre stretch of road having been the site of many accidents over the years. Some funding for the provision of a footpath is already in place, with 75% from the Government and another five per cent raised locally. However the county council has so far failed to come up with the remaining 20%.
Kerry: Dingle residents still waiting to reclaim town’s name
Four years ago the community in Dingle made an election issue of the change in the name of the town by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, and they are doing so again in a bid to revert to its English version. In 2005 the then Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs ordered the town to be known by its Irish name of Daingean Uí Chuis. However it is seen locally as detrimental to the tourism potential of the town as many visitors do not recognise the new name as referring to Dingle. Some seventy people held a protest on the road into the town last week to remind candidates that the controversy continues.
Kildare: Local man witnesses fall of tree
When Naas man Eddie Maher was driving home to Devoy Terrace at Jigginstown Green in the early hours of the morning recently he witnessed the demise of a tree more than a century old. Eddie was driving a heavy SUV but still felt it almost lifted off the road by a sudden gust of wind that lasted for a mere second. The same gust proved fatal to a tree which is believed to be between one hundred and two hundred years old, as it crashed to the ground just opposite Eddie’s vehicle. He reported that it split open, revealing that it was rotten inside.
Kilkenny: Loughboy woman escapes injury in earthquake
Rebecca Noonan from Loughboy, who is pregnant with her second child, escaped injury during last week’s earthquake in Christchurch by taking shelter under her desk. Rebecca and her husband Seán Naylor, were working in the same building and both managed to escape unscathed. Rebecca’s sister Bernie also lives in the city but she was at her home when the earthquake struck. The sisters’ mother Helen, and sisters Catherine, Gadie and Monica, who all still live in Kilkenny, were relieved to hear from them that both were safe.
Laois: Motor rally inspired by Bobby
When Oliver Stanley heard that his friend Bobby Kent had been permanently hospitalised with Alzheimer’s disease he decided to organise an event to raise money for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. Knowing Bobby had once owned a rally car, Oliver asked the Birr and District Motor Club to bring their vehicles to Abbeyleix for The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Stages Rally 2011 which was launched last weekend. The rally takes place this weekend and Oliver is expecting some one hundred and twenty cars to take part.
Leitrim: Second award for Carrick cinema
Two years ago the Carrick Cineplex was badly damaged by flooding, but this didn’t preclude it from going on to win the Best Independent Irish Cinema award this year. And this is the second time in four years that the four-screen cinema in Carrick-on-Shannon has won the award. With just four hundred seats it is probably the smallest cinema in these islands to have received one of these awards from RAAM Management of Glasgow. It is undoubtedly the ambition and determination of the directors, Liam Farrell and Sean Kielty, that has led to the success.
Limerick: Early voting in Bruree
For the residents of a care facility in Bruree election day came early as fifteen of the residents at Beech Lodge Care Facility are on the Special Voters List. Among those casting their votes last Wednesday morning was Paddy Sheehan from Ballylanders who believes it should be made compulsory to cast a vote. John Kennedy, listed as Seán Ó Cinneide, from Garryowen and Eamon O’Carroll from Manister, Croom, were also ready to cast their votes, as was Margaret Barrett from Highmount, Kilmallock, who wasn’t giving anything away as to her voting intentions.
Longford: Children ousted by burst pipes return to school
Stage One of the repair work necessary at St Matthews national school in Ballymahjon has been completed, a temporary heating system installed, and first and second year pupils have returned to their school building. The school was damaged in January when the heating system failed and now two classrooms have been rendered habitable with the help of parents, who cleaned and painted the rooms over two days. Stage Two of the work will involve the redecoration of a further eight rooms and the installation of a new heating system for the entire building.
Louth: An Italian flavour to Ardee parade
Chairman of Ardee Town Council Padraig McKenny has called on those taking part in this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade to make sure their floats and costumes have an Italian theme. The Italian twist to the parade will honour special guests to the town from the central Italian town of Nettuno, which is in the process of twinning with Ardee. In addition to the parade the visitors will enjoy a civic reception at the golf club, a major banquet, a tree-planting ceremony and a recital at St Mary’s Church by an Irish-Italian choir.
Mayo: Major anniversary for Kilkelly couple
Bill and Mary Hunt will be celebrating their sixty-seventh wedding anniversary this week and they were recently named as the Longest Married Couple in the East Mayo electoral area. The couple, from Derrynalecka, were married in Swinford Church and had a drink in Douglas Kelly’s shop before a party in the Hunt family home. They were nominated for the title by their granddaughter, Karen Hunt, and among the prizes they received was a meal voucher from Julian’s of Midfield. Julian’s stands on the site of Campbell’s dance hall where Bill and Mary first met.
Meath: Bats determine height of proposed bridge
The flight path of bats has been taken into consideration in the design of a bridge that is part of the proposed bypass around Slane. An oral hearing took place last week into the need for a bypass, given the number of accidents that have taken place in the village over the past number of years. The county council is seeking permission to build a dual carriageway around the village which would incorporate a three-span bridge two hundred metres long. The engineers have recommended that it be at least twenty-one metres high in order not to interrupt the flight path of the bats.
Monaghan: Gala variety concert in Castleblayney
A Gala Variety Concert is taking place this weekend in Castleblayney featuring a range of local talent in a fundraiser for six local events. Castleblayney Drama Festival and May Day Parade, the Pipe Band Competition, the Muckno Mania Festival, the Castleblayney Show and the Irish Bog Snorkelling festival will all benefit from the Glencarn Hotel event. The local drama group, Castleblayney Players will take to the stage, as will a number of dancing groups, as well as the winner of Monaghan’s Got Talent, nineteen-year-old Marie Fox from Derrynoose.
Offaly: Is Obama Offaly-bound?
According to Henry Healy, an eighth cousin of Barack Obama, if the US president doesn’t visit Moneygall this year then he never will. Speculation is rife following the announcement that Obama and his wife Michelle have accepted an invitation to visit England, as it is felt that he might well include a visit to Ireland while on this side of the Atlantic. And since his ancestor Fulmouth Kearney grew up in Moneygall it seems the obvious destination for the president. Henry Healy is hoping that, should such a visit take place, he will be joined in Moneygall by local rector Canon Stephen Neill, who has Fulmouth Kearney’s birth certificate.
Roscommon: Golden years leads to generous donation
When Frank and Julia Mollahan from Lecarrow, Croghan, celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary recently they used the occasion to raise money for the local hospice movement. The golden anniversary party was held in the Four Provinces in Rathallen, Boyle and the couple organised a collection among those who attended. The generosity of their family and friends raised a total of €2,100 and Frank and Julia have now presented a cheque for that amount to Peggy Feely and Mary Ryan of the Boyle Support Group, Mayo/Roscommon Hospice.
Sligo: Dragon’s Den investment for Dave and Martin
When Dave Roberts, a Creative Design lecturer in Institute of Technology Sligo, appeared on RTE’s Dragon’s Den programme with a business idea he attracted investment from two of the judging panel. Now he and his business partner Martin Hendricken are developing Flat Pack Garden Solutions Limited which produces Grow Rings which make gardening more accessible. The rings, filled with compost or soil, can be placed on concrete, grass or soil and they can be put in place in seconds. Since many gardens have poor and stony soil, the rings provide a perfect base for growing vegetables in particular.
Tipperary: Templederry man to raise funds for research
Paddy Ryan from Templederry is one of the smallest adults in Ireland, measuring only three foot six inches as a result of suffering from Primordial Dwarfism Type II. Only one hundred and forty people in the world suffer from this type of dwarfism and Paddy has started a fundraising campaign for research into the condition. His campaign for the non-profit Walking With Giants Foundation begins on March 18 in Michael Hogan’s pub in Templederry. The foundation was set up by the parents of Alex Connerty of Liverpool who was diagnosed with the condition five years ago.
Tyrone: Plumbridge will remember Sperrin Mountains crash
Next Sunday Glenelly Historical Society will hold a commemorative event in Plumbridge hall to mark the sixty-sixth anniversary of the plane crash to the west of Sawel Mountain in 1945 which claimed the lives of four men. Relatives of the crew members will attend the event, including Doreen Shaxson, the widow of the only survivor of the crash, Michael Shaxson. The group will also visit the actual site of the crash. A memorial plaque is to be unveiled on the day, and a display of aircraft is to be mounted by Omagh Model Flying Club.
Waterford: Denny is Person of the Year
At the Tower Hotel in Waterford Denny Corcoran was last week named as the Waterford Person of the Year for 2010. For more than forty years Denny has dedicated himself to the theatrical life of the city, in particular the musical theatre. A director of the Waterford Pantomime Society for fifteen years, he also toured as a singer in both Ireland and America, recording a single, ‘Memories of Waterford”. Denny won the very first Tops of the Town in Waterford, representing Waterford Iron foundry, and also represented the county in Gaelic football for ten years.
Westmeath: Local radio broadcast McCormack programme
During the week there were two airings on local radio of a documentary about John Count McCormack. Entitled “The Golden Voice of Athlone”, the one-hour programme was broadcast by Athlone Community Radio with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Most of the material was recorded at the home of Noel Henry, who supplied his own commentary as he played on his gramophone the operatic, musical and traditional songs associated with the world-famous Athlone tenor. Also involved in the production were Gearoid O’Brien, who wrote the script, presenter Fionnuala O’Connell, Tony Donovan, Mary Lennon and Irena Cvetkovic.
Wexford: Tara hill couple escape from Egypt
Caught up in the recent unrest in Egypt was Leone Frater from Tara Hill, her husband Jamie and their four-year-old daughter Trudy. Now safely back at home, and with Trudy enrolled in a pre-school in Ballymoney, Leone has been paying tribute to the personnel in the Irish Embassy who helped them leave the country. They needed twelve security men to ensure their safe journey from a town near Alexandria to Cairo Airport, where the embassy had arranged for them to board a Turkish plane for a flight to Istanbul. Leone’s husband is now working in the London office of the company for whom he worked in Egypt.
Wicklow: Peter has his medal back after 59 years
In 1952 Peter Doyle from Baltinglass attended a dance in St Joseph’s Hall in Blessington to celebrate winning the county minor football championship. That night Peter lost his winners’ medal and had given up all hope of ever seeing it again. However a recent refurbishment of the hall led to the discovery of the medal and at the Baltinglass Ladies GAA Juvenile Awards recently he and his championship medal were reunited. At the same ceremony his granddaughter was presented with her first Under-16 county medal.
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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