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Under starter’s orders for Cheltenham

By Saddlesource THE Cheltenham Festival ignites images that all jump racing fans instantly recognise with next week’s four-day extravaganza set to dominate the sporting landscape worldwide. The action kicks off at 1.30pm next Tuesday when a deafening roar from the packed enclosures will signal the start of Cheltenham 2014 and the best National Hunt fare on offer anywhere in the world. The crème de la crème of horses and jockeys competing against each other for the most sought after and valuable prizes of the entire season will see fierce action on-track. There is always something special about Cheltenham and these four days can make or break a season for owners’, trainers and jockeys whose entire year can be judged on just how they fare at Prestbury Park where the world’s spotlight is firmly fixed. The highlight on Tuesday is the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle where Willie Mullins’ Hurricane Fly will bid to land hurdling’s crown for a third time. This fellow …

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Ennis councillors refuse to back NY parade boycott

By Dan Danaher ENNIS town councillors have rejected a proposed boycott by their mayor of the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade as show of solidarity to gay rights groups. Amid heated exchanges between rival town councillors, Ennis Town Council members voted by seven votes to two for deputy mayor, Councillor Brian Meaney to accept an official invitation to march in the New York parade. Mayor Blasio has decided not to march in his own city parade over the long standing exclusion of American gay and lesbians  publicly express their sexual orientation under a banner. Despite passionate appeals from Councillor Paul O’Shea and Councillor Johnny Flynn to support this boycott, other members steadfastly refused to support the right of the town mayor to attend the parade as first citizen of Ennis. Participation in the parade was supported by Ennis mayor, Mary Coote-Ryan, Brian Meaney, Michael Guilfoyle, Peter Considine, Frankie Neylon, Mary Howard and Tommy Brennan. It was opposed by Councillor …

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The memory lives 100 years on

Ollie Byrnes THIS year marks the centenary of Clare’s first All-Ireland hurling championship win.  As we continue to enjoy being current holders of the Liam MacCarthy Cup, it is only fitting that we look back 100 years to honour and remember the men who won the senior and junior hurling championship double in 1914. It was a very different world then.   In European terms, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand lit the fuse that plunged the continent into the Great War in August 1914.  Women didn’t have the vote and Emily Parkhurst, pioneer of women’s emancipation, was jailed for protesting outside Buckingham Palace, and not for the first time.  In Ireland, we still lived under British Rule.  Independence was on many people’s minds and life was a struggle. In hurling terms, life and work impacted on training and opportunity.  These days, the All-Ireland championship is a sophisticated journey involving coaches, motivators, nutritionists and media appearances.  In 1914, it was a …

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Kilkee Strand Line ‘war zone’

THREE weeks after Storm Darwin resulted in serious damage to the seawall and the Strand Line in Kilkee, the damage is still evident on the seafront. The issue was raised at this week’s West Clare Electoral Area meeting by Councillor Patrick Keane, who asked for a report on what he called “the sinking Strand Line road,” in Kilkee. Loop Head Tourism chairman and Kilkee business man, Cillian Murphy has also expressed concern at the state of the Strand Line, comparing it to a war zone. “I’m standing here looking at a hole that has been dug out of the pavilion in front of the Esplanade. It must be 30 feet by 40 feet. There was a small breach but the sea is after widening the breach and sucking everything out from underneath it. A load of concrete would have shuttered up the front of it and prevented further damage,” Cillian Murphy suggested. “From the esplanade down as far as the …

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Ennis shop closures a worry

THE recent closure of a number of high profile long established businesses in Ennis has prompted calls for a Government strategy to revitalise rural towns like Ennis. The decision of Leavy Shoes to close its O’Connell Street outlet after 36 years in business  last weekend surprised local retailers and shoppers. Customers with any outstanding gift vouchers and credit notices are being advised to present them at their retail outlets in O’Connell Street and William Street in Limerick City. Moody Cow Milkshakes, Abbey Street, Clowntown tattoo parlour and Charlie Stewart’s pub in Parnell Street,  Ennis have all shut their doors. Efforts by the Clare Champion to obtain a comment from the operators of these premises about the circumstances that led to their business demise proved unsuccessful. A spokesman for Seasons 22 confirmed that while Charlie Stewart’s pub had closed the restaurant would continue to operate upstairs in the premises. Leavy Shoes director, Thomas Leavy confirmed the Ennis retail unit employed one …

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No €250,000 camogie grant

DESPITE receiving confirmation this week that they are not to receive LEADER funding of up to €250,000, Clare camogie officials have said that the development of Fr McNamara Park on the Quin road will go ahead “We are very disappointed that we won’t be getting this money but the project is going ahead and will be completed”, Clare board PRO, Brid McNamara told the Clare Champion. The grant, in two lots, was announced at the beginning of 2013 towards the Clare organisation’s purchase and development plans for their new headquarters, Fr McNamara Park. During the summer concern emerged that the funding might be withdrawn as the eligibility of the project for funding was being assessed. “There is a procedure there whereby all projects are assessed, Clare camogie treasurer, Michael Maher told the Clare Champion at the time. President Michael D Higgins attended the official opening of the new pitch in Autumn 2012 and the venue has been used regularly for …

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Greg Norman has designs on Doonbeg visit

By Peter O’Connell DOONBEG Golf Club designer Greg Norman has told The Clare Champion that he expects to hear from Donald J Trump if any changes are to be made to the course. Speaking from the US on Wednesday, ‘The Great White Shark’ also revealed that his company had been asked if they were interested in buying the club. The two-time Major winner spoke to the new owner of the West Clare club, on hearing that Mr Trump had bought Doonbeg Golf Club, which entered liquidation in January. “I put a call into Donald and said ‘congratulations.’ I knew the golf club was in play (on the market) for a while. I had actually been approached earlier on, a couple of months earlier, to see if we had any interest in it or any recommendations,” Mr Norman said. “I knew Donald was on the acquisition trail of iconic properties. That has been no secret, especially here in the United States. …

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€408,000 hospital security for brain-damaged man

By Dan Danaher A BRAIN-damaged, assault victim requires 24-hour security at Ennis hospital psychiatric unit, at a cost of €408,000 last year, it has emerged. Health authorities have not responded to Care Champion queries about the six-year delay in providing an appropriate high secure facility for the 31-year-old man suffering from organic brain syndrome following a serious assault. Solicitor Marie Keane said this week that her client is inappropriately placed as an involuntary psychiatric patient in the high observation unit of the acute psychiatric unit at Ennis Hospital since February 2008. He is not a psychiatric patient. She has called on the Department of Health to fast track the provision of a proper small residential facility for patients suffering from frontal lobe injury that affects affect their comprehension and can result in unpredictable and sometimes unintentional violent behaviour. Ms Keane has confirmed there is no suitable facility for his specific condition in the Republic of Ireland to accommodate her client, …

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