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North Clare

Festival to showcase Burren chocolate factory

The world’s smallest and most remote bean-to-bar chocolate factory, based in North Clare, will be showcased at the first annual Bite Food Festival in the RDS from November 19-22. Hazel Mountain Chocolate will be one of the country’s top artisan producers showcased at the major new food festival, which is expected to attract over 20,000 Irish food and drink lovers. Based on a small farm near the Burren, the internationally award-winning factory is about to expand its products into Scandinavia, where their seaweed chocolate has already become a huge hit. Their success story started just four years ago when John Connolly and his Polish-born chocolatier wife Kashia decided to learn how to become chocolate makers. “We use uniquely-flavoured cocoa beans from Madagascar, Cuba, Costa Rica and Venezuela and ensure we get them direct trade from small farms in each country,” said John. “Our dark chocolate is made from just two ingredients, cocoa beans and unrefined cane sugar. “It takes about …

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Doolin photograph showcases clean coasts

A Clare castle has featured in a prize-winning photograph in a national competition. Brendan Cullen’s picture of Doonagore Castle, near Doolin, won him third place in the Heritage Section of Clean Coasts’ Love Your Coast Photography Awards, which were held in Dublin. Speaking at the ceremony, a spokesperson said, “Ireland is fortunate to have some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world. This competition encourages people to look anew at the beaches and coastal landscapes we sometimes take for granted. The overall mission of the Clean Coasts programme is to celebrate and preserve Ireland’s spectacular coast and this competition is central to that effort, as it gives people a chance to show their local coastline at its best.” A gallery of the winning photographs can be viewed online.

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Warm Burren welcome for 100 Europeans

More than 100 delegates from across Europe are expected to attend the Burren Winterage School in Corofin over the Bank Holiday weekend. The conference begins on this Thursday and continues to Sunday, October 25. Its focus is on supporting high nature value (HNV) farming in Europe. “More than 100 people are coming from Europe to Corofin for the school. It is a big event for North Clare and Corofin especially. This is our window to the world, in terms of Burren farming. It is an opportunity for the farmers here to show off what they do and to highlight the reasons we have programmes like BurrenLife in the first place,” Dr Brendan Dunford of the BurrenLife programme stated. The Winterage School will hear from farmers from diverse landscapes across Europe and will include a variety of presentations by speakers about how farmers can be supported through better policy, research, funding, innovation, empowerment and networking. “Many of the delegates will stay …

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British Empire Medal for Mary

A NORTH Clare woman was awarded an Honorary British Empire Medal recently for her contribution to her adopted home in the UK. Mary Daly from Lisdoonvarna was conferred with the award from the Queen of England in recognition of her voluntary services to the Ashford Community and the Kent Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre. Mary was told she was being considered for the honour in July and asked if she would accept it, if she was selected. “I had to keep it quiet, which was the hardest thing ever,” she recalled, adding that she was dying to let the secret out but “I could only tell Michael, my husband”. Official confirmation of her award came from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by letter in recent weeks. It cited her services to the Butterfly Appeal Campaign for Multiple Sclerosis Therapy, in which she raised more than £1.6 million for the opening of a state-of-the-art MS centre. Mary emigrated from Clare in 1989 …

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Tom and Gerry are cutting it fine

Monreel’s Gerry Mullins was presented with a silver medal in Portlaoise at the weekend, after coming second in the National Loy Digging Competition, held at The National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, County Laois last month. Tom Kennedy from Ennistymon also took part in the competition, securing fourth place overall. Gerry’s performance had earned him enough points in his national debut to win the competition but he was penalised for breaking a rule. Loy Association of Ireland special advisor, Tom Egan explained. “Gerry would have come first but for he was penalised. He received a 10-point penalty because he broke rule number two. When you are digging, you put down lines to nick the soil, then when you are finished, you lift the line and roll it up but Gerry must have forgotten that and left it down,” he said. It is not something Gerry will forget again. “I won it, sure I had the highest score,” Gerry said. “I had …

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A third of Cliffs visitors stay the night

ONE-third of all visitors to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in the past year stayed at least one night in the county, according to new figures. More than 1,660 people completed online surveys for the attraction in the 12 months from August 2014 to August 2015 and these figures show that 33.2% of visitors indicated they had spent either the night before their Cliffs visit, the night after or both nights, in County Clare. “This indicates a minimum of 536,174 overnights in the county, not taking into account those staying longer than two nights. In 2014, incentive pricing for group tours arriving before 11am or after 4pm was introduced, which further encourages an overnight stay locally,” Ger Dollard, director of services, Clare County Council, stated. The local authority, which owns the centre, reledased the new figures. Mr Dollard stated that while the average spend in the county per visitor to the Cliffs is not known, “by any measure the …

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Patients sought for RTÉ medical series

A new RTÉ medical series is making its final call for people to book free doctors’ appointments in North Clare this weekend. You Should Really See a Doctor has travelled around the country with its mobile clinic over the summer and the final show in the series will be filmed in Lisdoonvarna on Saturday (September 19). Dr Pixie McKenna and Dr Phil Kieran will be at the Matchmaking Festival, offering on-the-spot consultations and health checks. “We are particularly interested in hearing from people who have researched their symptoms online and would like a real doctor’s advice. “Most of us have been there; you feel a mild pain in the head and next thing you’re reading an internet article about a rare tropical disease that you think you might have. From stomach problems to sleep issues to skin problems – the real doctors want to hear from you,” a spokesperson for the show stated. The doctors are happy to hear from …

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Cliffs of Moher welcomes one millionth visitor in 2015

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience recorded its one-millionth visitor of 2015 on Monday (September14). 2014 was the first year  in which the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience saw more than one million visitors and last year the millionth visitor arrived on October 20.  The one-millionth visitor was recorded 36 days earlier this year. This year marks the fifth successive year of increased visitor numbers to the Clare County Council owned visitor attraction with figures for the year so far up 14.7% or almost 130,000 visitors on the same period (January 1 to September 14) in 2014. FITs (Fully Independent Travellers), including walkers, cyclists and those travelling by car or public transport, made up 55% of the total. Groups, mainly travelling by coach, accounted for 45% of the total. Visitors from the USA are the strongest visitor market, accounting for more than quarter of total visits with strong performances also noted in the French, German and Australian visitor markets. Domestic …

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Burren and Cliffs of Moher retain Geopark status

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher has successfully retained its Geopark designation for a further period following a reassessment and revalidation by the UNESCO supported Global Geopark Network. The designation is subject to review every four years and an assessment was  conducted by Dr. Klaus George from Germany and Dr. Margaret Wood from Wales in June. The announcement was made at the 13th European Geoparks Conference 2015 in Rokua Geopark, Finland. 18 Geoparks were up for revalidation with 16 receiving green cards, including the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Global Geopark status was first awarded to the Burren together with the Cliffs of Moher in 2011 for their outstanding geological and cultural heritage and has resulted in the region joining a global network of over 100 Geoparks worldwide. The Geopark is managed by Clare County Council and receives support and funding from the Geological Survey of Ireland and Failte Ireland. “Clare County Council has been working in the Burren since …

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Burglaries in North Clare

Gardai in North Clare are investigating a series of burglaries in Bellharbour, Ballyvaughan, Tubber and Crusheen during the past week. Between 12.15amand 7am last Saturday a shed was broken into in Turlough, Bellharbour by breaking the lock. A garden strimmer was stolen but was subsequently recovered dumped in a nearby ditch. The car that was parked nearby had its rear window smashed and a chainsaw stolen from the boot. Last weekend also, a shed in Muckinish, Ballyvaughan was also entered by breaking the lock. Stolen were a Netlfix Alto power washer, an MS 180 chainsaw, a pole saw and a pick axe. Earlier in the week a shed was broken into in Turloghmore in Boston, Tubber. Stolen in this burglary were a variety of wrenches and a Stihl orange-colured chainsaw. A double axle trailer was stolen from Clare County Council’s storage yard at Crusheen over the weekend. Between 4pm last Friday and 8am on Monday, the council yard in Clonmoney …

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