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A quiet day for love in Lisdoon

FRIDAY, September 9. The Town Hall in Lisdoonvarna was dimly lit and fairly stuffy, with only half the ceiling fans working. Shay O’Callaghan was onstage, providing the raucous soundtrack to the dancing, a mash-up of nostalgic melodies. The black curtains hung limply, contrasting with the blue, red and white of the walls rather meekly. Overhead, windows threw dapples of light on the floorboards, illuminating the dancers that limbered through them but also highlighting the glumness of the hall. While the dance floor had its attendees, they were sparsely arranged. The guys taking money at the door admitted that numbers weren’t looking great so far. Average age: probably around 60. All in all, love wasn’t really in the air. As I was to find out, or perhaps, as I should have already known, that isn’t so much the point of the festival anymore. Matchmaking, an age-old tradition and a prominent idiosyncrasy of our cultural backlog, is quite obviously dying out. Willie …

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A big step from Inch around the world

STORIES and memories of a Clare family’s history back to the early 1800s have been carefully woven together by a man who wants to keep it all in the mind’s eye. It’s a story typical of many Irish families, a continuous line remaining at the homestead, while other strands extend around the world.

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Is Michael D man for the job?

MICHAEL D Higgins is no stranger to presidential titles. He is the current president of the Labour Party and is president of the Galway Gaelic football and hurling teams but now he is aspiring to don another presidential role, that of Ireland’s 10th President.

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Getting down to earth with Clare history

Archaeologist, Graham Hull, responsible for shedding light on much of the hidden history of the county, offers John Rainsford an insight into his work By John Rainsford   THE rain is heavy over East Clare but for Graham Hull, it is just another day at the office. The muck, the sweat and the tears are all part of an archaeologist’s lot in life but he would not have it another way. Viewers of the Channel 4 archaeological series Time Team, will know the sort of person whose life revolves around stones and bones. Indeed, the presenter of the ‘reality archaeology’ show, Tony Robinson, provides a good comparison. His constant search for historical evidence to support one theory after another has become a byword for historical obsession. Graham Hull explains his own passion for the ‘dig’. “I am a professional archaeologist and director of TVAS (Ireland) Ltd, an archaeological consultancy based in County Clare. My research interests include the medieval period …

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Life-changing weight-loss for Therese

One year on from her momentous weight loss, Therese Young is maintaining her target weight and feeling better than ever, she tells Carol Byrne ‘THE pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change and the realist adjusts the sails,’ is a phrase that Kilrush woman Therese Young feels best describes her journey to weight loss, having lost 14 stone in a year and a half.“I lead a very active life in the community of Kilrush and am very involved in all aspects pertaining to the sea, swimming, sailing and fundraising for the lifeboats. I see myself as a realist, having adjusted my views so that I could utilise my positive approach to life to modify my lifestyle to embrace my target goal. That is what I had to do to get to where I am today,” she told The Clare Champion.Therese sought help three years ago from the Motivation Weight Management Clinic in Limerick, making the 120-mile …

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The shining light of Christ

‘WHAT is that tower?’ asked one of our recent companions on a spiritual walk around Loop Head. Coming from a landlocked African country, she had looked at the vastness of the Atlantic, then asked this question.Explaining the lighthouse, its purpose and how it functioned caused the rest of us to dig deep. We recalled the stories from childhood about heroism and danger, the work of the lifeboat service, hymns that spoke of the guiding beacon and the warning of danger, of the lighthouse as a symbol of faith. A straightforward question gave us much to think of. We learnt that things we take for granted might be new for others and that in explaining them, we find and value them again.It reminded me of learning new things when living in Norway.  This long, mountainous country with a population the size of Ireland’s was then coming to terms with newfound wealth from oil, as an asset for society. It was looking …

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Taking the plunge at Byrnes’s Cove

DOCUMENTARIES have been made drawing parallels between pilgrims bathing in the Ganges river in Varanasi, India, and swimming in Dublin’s Forty Foot. But I wouldn’t dare mention those pretentious theories to the down-to-earth swimmers of Byrnes’s Cove, Kilkee. You know what you have to do but you just don’t talk about it. Jump in. Get molecularly rearranged.  Say “lovely”.

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Ennis educator helps Californian homeless

FOR more than a decade, Blue McDonnell has been working with homeless children in Los Angeles, something she probably didn’t expect to be doing when she was growing up in Ennis.On a visit to Ennis last week, she told The Clare Champion about her long association with School on Wheels, a group that offers tuition to homeless children throughout Southern California.“I was volunteering with them for seven years and I’ve been working for them for about three and a half. There’s 1.6 million homeless children in the States and 200,000 in Southern California. We cover a wide range, we go through seven different counties and we reach an average of about 7,500 a year,” she says.The rate of homelessness there is absolutely colossal by Irish standards. While she attributes some of it to a weak economy, there are other factors. “It’s a cultural thing as well, families don’t have the same sense of intactness that they have in other countries. …

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