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Tracing descendants of ‘bride ship’ girls

IN 1852, Winifred Ward left Ennis and boarded a ship, along with other workhouse orphans, with the hope of starting a new life in Australia. Efforts are now being made to find her descendants here in Clare so that they can connect with their overseas relations. Plans are also underway to make a documentary about the orphan girls who travelled to Australia on these so called ‘bride-ships’, and to celebrate their lives with a remembrance service next year. The Mountbellew Workhouse Orphan Girls Project has been working on bringing the descendants of these girls together and to ensure that their legacies are not forgotten. Genealogist Paula Kennedy explains that one of the descendants of Winifred, who may have spelt her surname Warde, has been in contact with the project team and is eager to make a connection with her Clare cousins. “We are currently working on a project, tracing the descendants of the immigrants of the Palestine Ship, which left …

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New Year's Eve at St Enda's Well, Slieve Elva, Fanore. Tom Doherty of Doolin Coastguard lights a torch to leave inside the well chamber, in memory of all who have lost their lives at sea over the past year, Looking on are, Celina Kennedy, David Courtney, former Coastguard helicopter pilot, John Galvin, MD Clare Champion and Joe Queally of the RNLI. Photograph by John Kelly.

New Year’s wonder on Slieve Elva

Once you reach a certain age, New Year’s Eve should be spent in front of the telly, watching whatever rubbish is on, but sometimes you want to do something completely different. This New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a car, heading for Fanore in the company of Joe Queally, RNLI stalwart and Dave Courtney, a former Coastguard helicopter pilot. Our mission was to climb Sliebh Elva and light candles for the souls lost at sea and for our own families. Even leaving Ennis, the rain was coming down but by the time we hit Fanore and joined Doolin Coastguard, Tom Doherty and his partner Celine Kennedy, it was coming down like stair rods. I confess, I wasn’t well prepared. I forgot to bring my waterproof trousers and had to borrow a pair from Tom. My boots weren’t best suited to the conditions either. I really needed wellies to properly deal with the lakes of water that flooded the trail. …

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Maureen 100 years and counting

MAUREEN Cronin, a woman of indomitable spirit, had more birthday cards than Christmas cards to open this year. The writer and poet turned 100 on Christmas Day but hosted her big party a few days earlier in the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis. Surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a big number of other family members and friends, Maureen enjoyed a wonderful occasion. Born on December 25, 1916 in the musical and cultural heartland of Sliabh Luachra, the former Maureen O’Carroll made history in the education system when she defied the marriage ban for women by carrying on working for 12 months without pay, then continuing her career until well after the ban was eventually lifted in 1958. When Maureen married Sean Cronin, she wast teaching in County Limerick. After she was married, she went back to the school and continued to work without receiving a salary. For many she was a pioneer but in an interview a couple …

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TV documentary on Tulla Céilí Band

AN hour-long bilingual documentary, to be broadcast on TG4 on St Stephen’s night, tells the remarkable story of the Tulla Céilí Band. The Tulla Céilí Band tells the story of the band, which has been around for more than 70 years, and also offers a broader and more seamless social history of the times, revealing a tradition that has been handed down from father to son, along with exploring how this tradition was quite often slighted but yet continued to survive in an impatient and quickly changing environment. Directed by John O’Donnell and narrated by Doireann Ní Bhriain, the film explores the Tulla Céilí Band, both past and present, and looks at how their particular style and sound was forged and maintained over the years. When the band set out in 1946, no-one would have guessed that their unique sound would find a home in the hearts of many from Camden Town to Carnegie Hall, along with practically every dance …

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Bruni returns home after a year

BALLYNACALLY woman Maretta O’Hehir, who lives in the townland of Ballycorick, was stunned last week to discover that her missing cat, Bruni, had returned home after 54 weeks on the missing list. The seven-year-old black cat went missing on December 4, 2015 when he escaped from a cage while on a trip to Ennis. “He flew across the road, climbed a seven foot wall and into somebody’s garden. He was traumatised after getting an injection. I searched every place. I tried that evening and for several days afterwards. He wasn’t used to traffic and had no road sense whatsoever,” Maretta said of Bruni, one of two cats she again keeps at home. “I got them around the time Nicolas Sarkozy became president of France. His wife was Carla Bruni, so I called the female Carla and I called him Bruni,” she explained. Maretta, one of Ireland’s most celebrated sopranos, was about to feed Carla when she discovered that Bruni was …

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Santa cleared for Irish air space

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has confirmed that permission has been granted by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for Santa Claus to enter Irish air space this Christmas Eve. There had been worries that Storm Barbara may have interfered with the big man’s travel plans, but the IAA have assured themMinister that Mr Claus is good to go. It is believed that Mr Claus will be accompanied with a team of nine reindeer and a large flying sleigh, however it is not yet known whether he will be accompanied by Mrs Claus, who is sometimes in charge of navigation. In addition Minister Ross said that the Coast Guard had issued a special Christmas Navigation Warning for all Irish coastal waters and the Irish Sea. Minister Ross said, “I have been informed that a large, jolly man on a low flying sleigh, assisted by reindeer and perhaps some elves, will be entering Irish air space tomorrow evening. I …

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Ennis hospital’s place in history of psychiatry

ENNIS Mental Hospital, the now closed Our Lady’s Hospital, features prominently in a new history of psychiatry in Ireland. Brendan Kelly, consultant psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry in Trinity College, Dublin, in his new book, Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland (Irish Academic Press), gives an insight into what life was like in “public asylums” in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In Ireland, the history of psychiatry is dominated by the vast network of public asylums that opened across the country during the 1800s. This extraordinary mass institutionalisation was underpinned by genuine concern for the destitute mentally ill, who lived lives of vagrancy or languished in prisons in the early 1800s. Despite the initial idealism, however, the asylums were soon overcrowded, anti-therapeutic and extremely unhealthy places. This large gap between rhetoric and reality was demonstrated vividly in 1843, when a select committee of the House of Lords provided a hard-hitting report on the “state of the lunatic …

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Eddie a cut above the rest

WORKING as a butcher for 50 years, recently retired Eddie O’Loughlin has many great memories. But none better than hearing the sound of his newborn daughter’s first cries down through the telephone line. Eddie, who has just retired from Ryan’s Centra, starting off when it was Pat Hanrahan’s back in 1966, recalls, “Like everything else, you have sad and happy memories. I think one of the happiest was in 1978, when the telephone was in the old shop and people would come in and ring and get phonecalls. “I remember I was using it one time – my late wife, Marie, was expecting our first child, Sarah, and she was after breaking her ankle so she was in hospital with her feet up. I was just ringing to see how she was and the nurse at the other end said this is the maternity. I heard this bawl at the back and she said, ‘would you believe it, your timing …

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Curtain call for Doonbeg Drama Festival

THE Doonbeg One-Act Drama Festival takes place this weekend with a host of drama groups from around the county and the country treading the boards. Sliabh Aughty, Mountshannon; Amphitheatre Company, Kilkee and Castlewood Players, Cratloe will fly the Clare fly and will be joined on stage by groups from Cork, Kildare, Wexford and Waterford. The Sliabh Aughty group has selected Chasing Butterflies, which is written by Mountshannon writer Siobhán Donnellan, while Amphitheatre Company, Kilkee will perform Healing The Dead by John Hanrahan. Cratloe’s Castlewood Players will perform Faint Voices by John McKenna and all three groups are competing in the confined section. Also competing in the confined are Skibbereen Theatre Society with No Romance Act 2 by Nancy Harris and Coolgreany Drama Group (Wexford) with The Quiet Land by Malachy McKenna. Competing groups in the open section are Kilmeen Drana Group (Cork) with Whodidit, Insight Theatre group (Kildare) with Love in a Glass Jar, Rasper Players (Wexford) with Me and …

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Valery helps knit the world together

PEOPLE from all over the globe have been wrapped up in a world-record attempt initiated right here in County Clare. Inagh woman Valery Larkin has sparked a record-breaking plan to knit the world’s largest blanket which, when completed, would be able to cover an Olympic-sized swimming pool with room to spare. In tackling this endeavour she has put out a worldwide call to knitters to donate a 6” square of knitting in any type of wool for the blanket. The self confessed “wool addict” has got responses from knitters in such diverse locations as Iceland, the Falklands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan and India. The blanket will need around 70,000 squares and Valery has just received her first knitted piece all the way from Canada. She is also putting out a local call for people to help with sewing up the giant blanket, when all the squares are received. The existing Guinness record holder is 1,378.28m², or 14,835.68ft² and …

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