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Ennis dive expert lauds Thai rescue as ‘amazing miracle’

AN ENNIS cave-diving expert, who played a major role in rescuing 12 school boys trapped in a Thailand cave, has described the rescue operation as an “amazing miracle”. Jim Warny flew into Shannon Airport on a flight from Heathrow on Friday morning where he was greeted with a warm welcome from onlookers. Mr Warny’s exploits has gained international media attention after reuniting the 12 school boys trapped in the flooded Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Thailand with their families. Jim flew out last week to help in the massive rescue effort, which saw divers from all over the world get involved in rescuing the boys and their football coach from the caves in Thailand’s Chiang Rio province. Originally from Belgium, he has been living in Ennis for more than a decade. Shannon Airport visitors burst into applause when Jim came through the arrival’s area flanked by his father, Réne, his financée, Asia Mania and Brian McCoitir from the Irish …

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Call for village ‘health checks’

A CO-ORDINATED and planned approach is needed to regenerate rural towns and villages throughout Clare, according to RGDATA director general, Tara Buckley. Her comments came after a Clare Champion survey of retail outlets has revealed numerous villages in West, North and East Clare no longer have a grocery shop. Several towns and villages in the county face the classic “chicken and egg” scenario – declining populations mean the numbers aren’t there to sustain certain rural services, and new people will not come unless these services are already in place. RGDATA is involved in a pilot project with the Irish Heritage Council to complete a health check in 10 towns throughout the country. Ms Buckley believes one of the best ways to tackle rural decline is to complete a town and village health check and devise a strategic plan to address its challenges and opportunities. In an interview with The Clare Champion, she acknowledges this approach may not benefit all rural …

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Contractor withdraws from Ennis flood relief scheme

AN €8.6 million flood relief scheme that will protect more than 120 homes, along with businesses and St Flannan’s College, in Ennis is being delayed as a result of a “contractural issue”. Clare County Council has confirmed that the preferred contractor for the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme has formally withdrawn their tender and works are now not expected to begin until next year at the earliest. It had been anticipated that the project would get underway this summer. The scheme now has to be re-tendered “at the earliest juncture” and “works on the ground will most likely not commence until the spring of 2019,” the local authority stated. Councillor Johnny Flynn expressed disappointment at the delay in “this crucial piece of infrastructure”. The scheme represents the final phase of flood defence works in the town and includes the townlands of Clonroadmore, Ballybeg and Clareabbey, which suffered badly during the floods of 2009. Minister of State Pat Breen assured that …

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Government under fire for “neglecting Kilkee and Kilrush”

  The Government has come under fire for “neglecting” two of the main West Clare towns – Kilkee and Kilrush. Michael Haugh from Doonbeg is keenly aware of impact of rural depopulation in West Clare, having seen the closure of Baltard National School in recent years. He believes that urgent action is needed to secure a major new industry for West Clare. “The Government has neglected towns like Kilkee and Kilrush. They are putting no new industry into these towns. “I have been to towns in Kerry where ministers like Dick Spring got in industries to places like Tralee and Killorglin. “What can be done to create jobs? A big factory should be brought into Kilrush. They have these factories in places like Killorglin, Kenmare and Cahersiveen but not in Clare. “Our problem is we don’t have a senior minister. Brendan Daly brought the Kilrush Creek Marina to Kilrush, nothing else has happened since then. “We need a big industry …

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West Clare schools battle for survival

DISTURBING new figures have revealed that the projected number of enrolments in seven West Clare schools, in just three years’ time, will just be sufficient to fill a single classroom. Additional statistics also found that there is significant decline in full time residents living in Doonbeg village, with only 41% of houses occupied permanently. According to information obtained by the Clare Champion, the combined influx of Junior Infants in the three most westerly parishes on the Loop Head Peninsula, Kilkee, Carrigaholt and Cross, will be just above 30 pupils in 2021. Co-parish priest of Kilkee, Cross, Carrigaholt and Doonbeg, Fr Gerry Kenny warns that more national school amalgamations will have to be considered in the peninsula, unless there is a dramatic increase in population. Fr Kenny expressed grave concern about the generation gap, pointing to the lack of young people in their 20s and 30s, settling down to live in West Clare. “While urbanisation will always be a factor, current …

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Eric Trump arrives in Doonbeg

ERIC Trump has arrived in Doonbeg and it is expected that he will be staying there for the few days. President Trump’s 34 year old son is understood to be visiting with a group of friends and as well as playing golf, some business is also on his agenda. Security personnel have been in the Doonbeg area for a few days already, making preparations for his arrival. “I have 60 ice creams sent up to him this morning,” said local retailer Rita McInerney early this afternoon. She said she was pleased that Eric was visiting and that the fact he is bringing friends here may result in further benefits for the area. Mr Trump’s visit comes at a time when Doonbeg is experiencing its highest temperatures for many years. On another recent visit of his the Long Village was battered by a storm which saw the hotel’s power going down, so he has certainly seen extremities during his trips to …

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Person Detained Over Mountshannon Arson

Gardaí in Killaloe have arrested a person in connection with the arson attack on the Holy Island Tours trailer which occurred at Mountshannon Harbour in the early hours of Tuesday morning [June 26] and are currently investigating a second arson in the same location. Inspector David Finnerty of Killaloe Garda Station said they have arrested a “person of interest” in relation to the arson attack at the harbour on Tuesday and are detaining this individual under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. Under this provision the suspect can be detained for up to a maximum period of 24 hours. The arrest has come as a result of enquiries carried out by garda on Tuesday and due to the cooperation of members of the public. Gardaí received a report this morning, Thursday, of a fire on a boat in the vicinity of Holy Island Tours, however they confirmed that the boat was unconnected to this business. Although it is …

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Power outages in North Clare and Ennis

Faults in the electricity network left almost 7,000 homes and businesses in North Clare and Ennis without power overnight. More than 5,600 premises and homes in Ennistymon, Lahinch, and Lisdoonvara were left without power, while 8740 customers in Doolin were  left in the dark. Almost 1,000 customers in the Ennis area also experienced a power outage. ESB crews are working both areas and it is expected power will be restored everywhere by mid-morning (Thursday). Austin Hobbs

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