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11% boost in Shannon Heritage visitor numbers

Shannon Heritage has announced that an 11% increase in visitor numbers was recorded in 2014, offering further evidence of a resurgence in local tourism and indeed in the domestic economy. Shannon Heritage employs more than 300 people during peak season and it operates seven daytime visitor attractions, including Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Craggaunowen, Knappogue Castle and Walled Garden, Dunguaire Castle, the Brian Boru Heritage and Malahide Castle and Gardens. It also has another four evening attractions, with medieval banquets at Bunratty, Knappogue and Dunguaire Castle, as well as a traditional Irish night at Bunratty Folk Park. Overall, they drew 637,000 visitors last year, with the day attractions up by more than 13%, while there are said to have been particular gains from Britain, America and Europe. Indeed, last year was the company’s most successful in terms of visitor numbers since 2007. The single biggest success among the Shannon Heritage operations last year was at King John’s Castle in Limerick, …

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Garda numbers down 16% in Clare

ENNIS councillors have called for garda numbers in Clare to be restored, following a drop in strength of one sixth of the force since 2010. Despite the drop in garda numbers, the Mayor of Ennis Municipal District (EMD) has congratulated Superintendent Derek Smart from the Ennis Garda District on what he described as “probably the best work done in the country”, following a crackdown by gardaí on moneylenders targeting vulnerable people. The figures on the fall in garda numbers were outlined to Ennis Municipal District (EMD) councillors by Superintendent Smart during a quarterly meeting at County Hall. He said, since 2010, 53 gardaí have retired, two have died and a further two resigned. In the past two months, two more gardaí have retired and three have commenced three-year incentivised career breaks, with four more to take this up before April 1, and another due for transfer. As a result, Garda numbers in the Clare division are down by 53, or …

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Private King remembered 100 years on

ONE hundred years ago this week, 26-year-old, Private Patrick King, who was born in Kildysart and lived in Turnpike, Ennis, died of “exit wounds” near Bailleul in France. According to information from the Clare Museum, Private King arrived in France with the 2nd battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment on August 14, 1914, just 10 days after war was declared. The South Lancashires were part of the 3rd Division that engaged in winter operations between November 23, 1914 and February 6, 1915. His division was involved in an attack on Wytschaete on December 14, 1914, which had resulted in high casualties. Private King was wounded just a few days before the ending of winter operations and died of his wounds on February 2, 1915, in a hospital close to where he is buried. In 2008, a successful effort was made to reunite Private King’s World War I Victory Medal with its rightful owners, following a Clarecastle man’s discovery that it …

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Dooley clashes with Shannon Airport strategy director

THE current Aer Lingus ownership structure gives no guarantees on the provision of Shannon-Heathrow services, group strategy director of Shannon Group, Patrick Edmond said at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communication. Various political interests have called for the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus to be retained, claiming it ensures connectivity for the Clare airport. However, Mr Edmond said that is not the case, pointing out that in 2007, Aer Lingus management, under the same ownership structure as exists now, transferred all of the Heathrow slots serving Shannon to Belfast. While Clare TD Timmy Dooley challenged him, Mr Edmond stood firm on his observations. In his first contribution to the sitting, Mr Edmond said that if the Government does opt to dispose of its 25% holding, it should make sure it gets some guarantees around connectivity. “We would, therefore, expect that any Government decision to sell the State’s Aer Lingus stake to IAG would be conditional on an enforceable …

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Ennistymon public meeting on controversial community centre ‘constructive’

The board of directors of Ennistymon Community Centre will meet next week to discuss the outcome of a public meeting about the centre, which was held in the town earlier this week. According to a statement from the board, its members are “at a complete loss” to understand some of the allegations being made about the centre and its governance. A public meeting was held in The Falls Hotel on Monday, organised by a newly-formed group called the Ennistymon Community Action Group. The group was set up “in response to concerns in the greater parish and community about the current vitality of the Community Centre”. The board of directors of Ennistymon Parish Project Community Centre Ltd did not attend the meeting but refuted claims the centre was unavailable to clubs, that it was alienating young people and that it was not meeting its objectives. The board acknowledged that it had been invited to Monday’s public meeting but declined to go, …

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Nine million hear Clare woman’s voice

A North Clare woman wowed judges on the hit television programme, The Voice UK at the weekend. More than nine million people tuned in as Burren resident, Sharon Murphy sang Bob Dylan’s Forever Young in the show’s blind auditions broadcast on BBC 1 on Saturday. “To be honest, I have done gigs here and done gigs in other countries but I was not prepared for my nerves. It is very surreal because you are dealing with cameras. I normally play the guitar but this time I decided to focus on my voice because that is the show,” she explained. “I got on the stage and there were two Xs on the ground. You do the rehearsal and there is one X and then, when I went out, there were two so I didn’t know which one to stand on and then, on the very last note, I thought, this might not happen for me,” she added. Throughout the performance it …

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Clare golfers to tee off in LA Special Olympics

TWO Clare-based athletes are busy preparing for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles next July. Seventy-two-year-old Patrick Rutherford is very excited to have been selected as a playing partner for 29-year-old Paul Kirrane from Ennis. Apart from being “shocked and surprised” at being selected for the games, Patrick is also “very happy”. “At my age it is marvelous,” he said. With seven centrally planned events, Patrick won’t be taking his foot off the pedal and will be training four times a month at Ennis Golf Club. Not content with just playing golf, which he has been doing for over 25 years, Patrick also enjoys triathlons and athletics. When he’s not on the golf course or completing triathlons, widower Patrick is kept busy with his family of two sons and six grandchildren. Paul is very excited to be competing in this year’s Special Olympics as part of Team Ireland. The moment Paul heard the news that he had been …

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Families call for extended maternity review

Pressure is growing on Health Minister, Leo Varadkar to extend the timescale and scope of a review of maternity services in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, after claims that the number of babies who died or have been deprived of oxygen is more than double the official figures. Many women from the East Clare area avail of maternity services at Portiuncula. The Saolta Group, which runs Portiuncula Hospital, has sanctioned a review into maternity services at the hospital, after the deaths of two babies and oxygen deprivation for five more. This review covers the nine-month period from February to November of last year. However, Warren and Lorraine Reilly, Loughrea, who lost two babies in Portiuncula Hospital within two years, have requested Minister Varadkar to extend the terms of the proposed inquiry from 2008 to 2014. The couple lost babies Asha and Amber, in 2008 and 2010 respectively, in the hospital. Asha was stillborn, while Amber had to be rushed to Holles Street …

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