Medium Sized Tuam, Fairly Big Dig

Lots of sto­ries didn’t make it to air on Break­fast with Hec­tor on RTE2Fm this morn­ing, so any­one dri­ving through Tuam, or hop­ing to parade a bin lorry or a trac­tor through the town on St Patrick’s Day will be well and truly pissed off that the ‘Big Dig’ is back! All this and more, below the fold… It was great to see the regional papers back on sure foot­ing after the elec­tion as they were full to the brim of decent yarns, includ­ing some vin­tage court cases, but we’ll spare you those (for the moment).

Just when you thought it was safe to drive into Tuam…

Bad news from the Tuam Her­ald. Less than six months after the main route through Tuam was closed to facil­i­tate ‘The Big Dig’, con­cerns are mount­ing that the entire town could be ripped up for a sec­ond time as dif­fi­cul­ties have arisen with the instal­la­tion of gas duct­ing in the project!

One lane traf­fic is back on Vicar Street, as Bord Gais get back to work with the dig­gers. The rea­son? The colour of pipes. They are not the req­ui­site yel­low colour that would make them iden­ti­fi­able in future years. Health and Safety experts have insisted on new pip­ing being laid.

Half of the town had been dug up for the upgrade, which was meant to be a two-year project. Now, it seems like the whole town will be ripped apart.

Randy dogs used by oil thieves

Oil rustling is on the increase and it’s a very seri­ous crime, espe­cially as peo­ple have been put to the pin of their col­lar by recent hikes in price. In this week’s Mun­ster Express, John O’Connor reports of an unusual method that a gang of thieves used on an unsus­pect­ing ladies home in South Tipperary.

The woman was robbed twice in as many weeks, and was won­der­ing why her nor­mally quite vocal dog didn’t raise the alarm. She then dis­cov­ered that the thieves were using a bitch in heat to dis­tract the woman’s male guard dog!

Winner’s medal returned – 102 years later

We love a story with a happy end­ing and the West­meath Inde­pen­dent, which has deliv­ered pos­i­tive sto­ries by the van load in recent weeks, has dropped another gem with the story of a Senior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onships win­ners’ medal being returned to its own­ers 102 years after the final. Reporter Kevin O’Neill charts the com­pelling tale of the nine-carat gold West­meath Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship medal which turned up in the medal box of a famous Gal­way foot­baller who had never donned the ‘other’ maroon.

The story began when Bal­li­nasloe man Cyril Dunne – who him­self has won three All-Ireland and six Con­naught titles with Gal­way – brought a box of his equally leg­endary fathers medals to a jew­ellers to be cleaned, and up popped this mys­te­ri­ous West­meath Medal from 1909. Cyril’s father was the famous John ‘Tull’ Dunne, Gal­way cap­tain in the 1930s. He brought it to a school prin­ci­pal in Creagh, who in turn passed it on to a teacher who just hap­pened to be research­ing West­meath GAA history.

A search led them to another Dunne fam­ily in Monksland, Athlone, the fam­ily of the late Joseph Dunne. His son, 90 year old Bill Dunne was over the moon to be reunited with his father’s medal. It turned out that the men were cousins who hadn’t seen each other for many years, but the mys­tery  con­tin­ued as they found out that Joseph played for Bal­li­nasloe, so it is not known how or why he lined out for Athlone on the fate­ful day he picked up his West­meath medal.

Top Prince William looka­like is an Athlone traveller

The top Prince William looka­like cur­rently work­ing in the UK is an Athlone man, accord­ing to ‘An Athlone Life’ in the West­meath Inde­pen­dent. Marc Rhat­ti­gan is busier than ever due to his uncanny resem­blance to the soon-to-be-married Prince. The 28 year old is proud of his roots, writes Tadgh Carey.

I am very proud of my Irish trav­eller roots and I would not swap them for the world. My dad’s side of the fam­ily still live on sites and they are amaz­ing peo­ple. I’ve never actu­ally lived on one but spent most of my time on them grow­ing up.”

Cur­rently work­ing as a radi­og­ra­pher, his career as a looka­like began in 1997, when he was just 14, after he was mobbed by a crowd while on a day trip to Lon­don Zoo shortly after the death of Princess Diana, writes Carey.

Rub­ber ban­dits rob tyre factory

The front page of the Meath Chron­i­cle fea­tures an intrigu­ing head­line that brings the fame of the Rub­ber Ban­dits to new heights. ‘Rub­ber Ban­dits strike in Duleek’ says the head­line, and just as you fold open the paper expect­ing a tale about a gig in Meath by our favourite Lim­er­ick boyos you instead get the sad tale about a a Duleek Garage and Tyre Cen­tre being robbed of every sin­gle tyre. John Lene­hen, the owner, was dev­as­tated and says his own future and that of his three employ­ees rests on the atti­tude of his insur­ance com­pany. But he is a deter­mined man, and despite being cleaned out he vows to beat the ban­dits and get the busi­ness mov­ing again. CCTV cap­tured the four Rub­ber Ban­dits as they car­ried out the theft and local Gar­dai are appeal­ing for witnesses.

Eighth Won­der of Fore – kids thiev­ing wish­ing wells!

The vil­lage of Fore in County West­meath is world famous for its Seven Won­ders — the water that doesn’t boil, water that runs up hills, the monastery built upon the bog, the mill with­out a race, the tree that won’t burn, the anchorite in a stone and the huge lintel-stone raised by St. Fechin’s prayers and it now has money-thieving chil­dren with cold feet and nim­ble fin­gers. With­out a care i the world they pad­dle in Fore’s mag­i­cal waters to steal money thrown in there by vis­i­tors mak­ing a wish. Yes, chil­dren who steal dreams, or maybe they are work­ing for the dream brigade and they are tak­ing the money to make people’s wishes come true?

What­ever, an enter­pris­ing reporter with the West­meath Exam­iner cap­tured a pair of young­sters rolling up their socks on a bit­terly cold Spring after­noon last week just as a load of tourists departed hav­ing thrown coins into the mag­i­cal water and tied a wish to the mag­i­cal tree that doesn’t burn. The lads were armed with bags and started col­lect­ing the coins before they spot­ted the lens of the Exam­iner reporter and cycled off.

Moves afoot to rid Tralee of its ‘honky tonk’ image

Most regional news­pa­pers   fea­ture a ‘pages from the past’ setion, where a lucky jour­nal­ist gets to raid the archives in search of some golden oldies. There hasn’t been much old gold in recent months, but one old gem from 1981 is recalled in this week’s The Ker­ry­man newspaper.

A report from the March 1981 Urban Coun­cil meet­ing sees the local coun­cil try­ing to get the Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee to remove the year-round Christ­mas lights which hang from the streets. A young Dick Spring said it was ludi­crous to have the lights up all year round, say­ing they were grand for the Rose of Tralee fes­ti­val and Christ­mas, but apart from that they took away from the town, with a col­league say­ing they por­trayed Tralee as a ‘honky tonk’ town. Cllr Kay Cabal also said a news­pa­per com­pared Tralee to Chi­na­town, whilst other coun­cil­lors dis­agreed, with one say­ing vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries and del­e­gates to con­fer­ences loved the lights being on when they arrived. It was decided they should be removed, much to the joy of the youth­ful Dick Spring.

Cricket fever hits the regionals

The recent pur­ple patch by the Irish cricket team has seen sports writ­ers from at least eight regional news­pa­pers out into the great unknown to report on their local cricket clubs. Some reports are fine, oth­ers bor­ing, but the best of the bunch is in the Ker­ry­man, where reporter Kieran McCarthy, who last week com­piled a list of the great­est Irish soc­cer team from Kerry, catches up with Kerry Cricket Club Chair­man Dave Ram­sey. The head­line says he asked Dave the “age-old ques­tion – Can Ker­ry­men play cricket?” The answer? Well, kind of.

Yes they can!

We had a cou­ple of hurlers from North Kerry in a cou­ple of years ago. They were par­tic­u­larly good but the prob­lem was that they wanted to hit every ball for six. They couldn’t adapt to the patient approach. The game was too slow for them. Kerry men, by their nature, seem to be very ath­letic and very adapt­able when it comes to sport.”

But the paper unearths a stun­ning fact which will leave Kerry Gaels shiv­er­ing in their boots and O’Neill’s jer­seys: cricket was played in Kerry long BEFORE the GAA was formed!

Yes, a stun­ning fact for a GAA-mad county is that the first doc­u­mented game of cricket played in Kerry hap­pened 12 years BEFORE the foun­da­tion of the GAA. In 1872 The County Kerry Cricket Club took on the Valen­tia Cricket Club in what was allegedly a ter­rific encounter.

The game has under­gone a renais­sance in recent years, as Dave Ram­sey explains. “There was a time, and it’s not that long ago, when I would be ring­ing fel­las on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing beg­ging them to come to Midle­ton in Cork to play a game because we had no play­ers. But now, you have to prac­tice is you want to get your game. We are not short of peo­ple want­ing to play. There’s a lot of inter­est from young fel­las and that’s where the future of the sport lies.”

Queen to visit every county in Ire­land. Obama edges closer to Kilkenny

First Kilkenny and Offaly want Obama, then and now Sligo wants a big name! Yes, the Yeats County wants QE2, aka The Queen to visit, and accord­ing to the front page of the Sligo Cham­pion, if she doesn’t visit, maybe she’d like to fly over the county and see it from above. A ‘Fly­ing Visit’ as it were.

Sligo and every other town too…

Sligo church, polit­i­cal, busi­ness and civic lead­ers are pulling out all the stops to get Brenda to come to Sligo, home of the FAI Cup Win­ners Sligo Town, and rep­re­sen­ta­tions have been made to Enda Kenny, Mary McAleese and the British Embassy.

While it would be unlikely that the Queen would visit Mul­lagh­more, she might like to fly over te area and view Classiebawn Cas­tle, where her cousin resided every summer.”

It is hoped she would attend a spe­cial inter­de­nom­i­na­tional ser­vice of heal­ing and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at a local church in hon­our of the late Lord Mountbatten.

She has also been invited to Kin­sale, accord­ing to the South­ern Star news­pa­per. The local coun­cil had mixed feel­ings, but they have sent an invi­ta­tion for the Queen to visit the town as it was the scene of the bat­tle of Kin­sale of 1601, where the Gaelic Chief­tains were defeated by the Eng­lish kick­start­ing a process which ended with the ces­sa­tion of the Trou­bles not so long ago.

Now is the time for the Monarch to see where it all started,” said one Coun­cil­lor. When Queen Vic­to­ria vis­ited Kilkenny it “put the town on the map” said another, “and 100 years later it’s still reap­ing the ben­e­fit!” Prov­ing the old wounds never heal, Cllr Noel Har­ri­gan from Sinn Fein said: “we never tried to con­quer Eng­land but they con­quered us for 800 years so I am against the visit.”

In a busy week for the Royal Mail, the Queen has also been invited to Castle­bar to visit the Peace Park, Kil­lar­ney to kiss the Ring of Kerry and Water­ford to see Lismore.

Mean­while, the Kilkenny mak­ers of the bril­liant ani­mated film ‘The Secret of Kells’ are to make Kilkenny’s case for a visit by Pres­i­dent Obama on St Patrick’s Day. The Car­toon Saloon received a per­sonal invite from Pres­i­dent and Mrs Obama, who are big fans of the ‘Secret of Kells’. Cre­ative Direc­tor Tomm Moore says he’s look­ing for­ward to meet­ing the Obama fam­ily, but admits he’ll miss the Kilkenny Parade. “I am a bit dis­ap­pointed to be miss­ing out on the parade, espe­cially as the Car­toon Saloon is tak­ing part but it’s an amaz­ing hon­our to be asked to the White House.”

Pine Mar­tins take on the Mink in Grey Squir­rel battle

To Kilkenny, where the return of the Pine Mar­tin is caus­ing worry for the Mink but great cel­e­bra­tion for nature watch­ers. Kilkenny City’s Cas­tle Park was being dev­as­tated by the grey squir­rels, who as well as killing the red lads, were gnaw­ing trees to the bone, but a silent assas­sin has been at work and local nature experts were aston­ished to see more and more red squir­rels and less of the grey hairs. At first they thought “Mink” but soon they spot­ted another killer, the Pine Mar­tin at work.

A sworn enemy of the grey squir­rel, the pine mar­tin (brown with a yel­low patch on his neck) was thought to have been gone to ground, and sight­ings across Kilkenny were very rare. But the ‘tree cat’ is back. Unlike the mink, who trav­els seven miles, the pine mar­tin trav­els up to 20 miles a night in search of food. Like the mink, he’ll eat any­thing, and nature lovers are delighted to learn that he’s eat­ing the grey lads.

Limerick’s float­ing Christ­mas tree makes a big splash sink­ing in the Shannon

Limerick’s float­ing Christ­mas tree will not be green on St Patrick’s Day after it top­pled into the River Shan­non last Wednes­day. Sub­merged in the river by Howley’s Quay, passersby thought the 100 foot metal tree was a goner but the tree will return, only not for St Patrick’s Day.

Some locals were hop­ing it was gone, accord­ing to the Lim­er­ick Leader. “It’s a waste of money,” said Pauline McK­e­vitt from Bal­lynalty. “They were going to turn it green for St Patrick’s Day. It’s a Christ­mas Tree like…” Mike Gough said: “The sim­ple fact of the mat­ter is that if you’ a Christ­mas tree at home, you’s would have it packed away by Jan­u­ary 6th”. The Coun­cil say it will be back, and they com­pare it to the Lon­don Eye.

It’s not the first time the tree has caused con­tro­versy. Accord­ing to reporter Petula Mar­tyn, the tree crashed into Shan­non Bridge in Nove­mebr 2009 after being car­ried away by fast-moving Shan­non water.  It is the tallest Christ­mas Tree in the coun­try and is made from recy­cled scrap metal from the old Thomand Park and Lim­er­ick Tun­nel. One the­ory of inves­ti­ga­tion is that the tree, which is held by four two-tonne moor­ings, fell due to an elec­tri­cal fault.

Regional News­pa­per report­ing at its best!

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