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April brings a sweet touch to Kilrush Library

ARTIST April Jarocka is adamant she cannot be held accountable for instant changes to the eating habits of anybody who happens to view her work. “I accept no responsibility for diets ruined,” April told The Clare Champion in Kilrush last Saturday.Given the Cappa-based artist’s skilled preoccupation with painting chocolate bars, she does acknowledge that people who visit her exhibition at Kilrush Library until March 1, might be unable to withstand a shop-visiting urge upon leaving.“If you see a painting of food, it makes you want that particular item. I’ve had a lot of comments from people that it has ruined their diets. They want to go out and buy a Twix or they want to eat a Mars bar,” she revealed.With around 30 chocolate paintings hanging in the library, local shops might have to stock up on a few key items in the event of a rush on them.“I had nothing to do last year and I thought ‘I’ll start …

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Death on the Ganges

In the modern crematorium, the coffined dead are carried by conveyor belt into a blazing furnace and reduced to ash, out of sight. The relatives are later presented with an urn containing all that is left of their loved one. It is quite a different experience to stand before a pile of blazing logs to watch the body burn in the open air by the banks of the River Ganges.That is how it is in Varanasi, the City of Light that used to be called Benares. It is the City of Lord Shiva, one the greatest of the gods and the most important pilgrimage centre for Hindu believers. Other Hindu gods have their place here but Shiva takes precedence over the rest. Temples, shrines, priests, holy men, vendors selling religious objects, all defer to his greatness. Varanasi is a mad, crowded, chaotic city of cars, ash-smeared holy men, cows, buffalos, monkeys, rickshaws, tuktuks and throngs of people engaged in a …

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Aoife’s short but wonderful life

AOIFE and Deirdre enjoyed a Christmas celebration with college friends on December 20. Strolling home at 2.15am, they fancied a tasty take-away. Entering the chipper, Aoife exclaimed, “My knees are so weak”.Suddenly, Aoife collapsed backwards and was dead before she hit the ground, a victim of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. She had not had even one drink, was absolutely healthy and, at barely 18, was on the cusp of womanhood.Aoife’s parents are heart-broken. Her mother is inconsolable and is practically mad with grief. She is irrationally convinced that had she been present, she would have saved Aoife. “She was unearthly; too good for this world,” she sobs repeatedly.The father endeavours to be strong for both of them and particularly for their only son Jack (21), on whom preliminary tests have shown “something” round the heart. A double whammy for Jack. The parents’ tests proved clear. Aoife’s grandma is my close friend. She mourns that “the sun has vanished; I cannot …

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The bombing of Dresden in 1945

THE indiscriminate bombing of civilians is one of the most horrific actions in times of war. Unfortunately, with the advent of the airplane it has become a regular occurrence and has figured in all conflicts for the past 100 years.Supposedly, the Blitz in the Second World War started when a German bomber on a mission to bomb factories and military targets accidentally dropped a bomb on London. The following night the British bombed Berlin and so it continued. A huge amount of damage was inflicted on London and Coventry in particular and British and American planes wrecked like havoc on German cities.Early in 1942, Bomber Command under Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris – a man who later became known as Bomber Harris – was instructed to focus on the morale of the civil population. The focus was to be any significant spot in the centre of cities, rather than military or industrial targets. Many of the bombers carried incendiary …

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Don’t cancel your health insurance just yet

AN estimated 6,000 people a month are abandoning health insurance policies. Since the start of the recession, 123,000 people have terminated their cover, leaving 2.17 million people still in the market.With the public health system already under-resourced and oversubscribed, it will struggle to cope with any increased influx of patients. This will result in longer waiting lists and poorer outcomes for patients.Pulling out from private health insurance has huge implications for the public system. People who withdraw from having insurance fall on a very overstretched public healthcare system and, from a healthcare economic point of view, they transform themselves from being a welcome income generator to the health system to being a cost burden.Having insurance is beneficial on many fronts but most particularly when it comes to accessing private and semi-private rooms in public hospitals and any stays in private hospitals.Getting to a private hospital usually means avoiding queues and waiting lists. It also gives you access to more hospitals …

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Report card gives Government a C+

THE Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government was recently awarded an overall C+ grade in the Children’s Rights Alliance’s Report Card 2012. It is the best grade achieved by any Government since the Report Card series was first published in 2009.The Children’s Rights Alliance is a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations working to secure the rights of children in Ireland. It campaigns for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.The C+ grade is in recognition of Government’s decision to provide the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with full status at Cabinet; the establishment of a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs; approval for a new children’s hospital and, most importantly, a firm commitment to hold a referendum on children’s rights in 2012.However, the alliance said it had marked down the Government owing to “glaring violations of children’s rights”, most significantly in Budget 2012, which failed to protect children, plunging vulnerable families further into …

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BreastCheck provides over 800,000 mammograms since 2000

ON World Cancer Day recently, BreastCheck announced that since it began screening in February 2000 and up to the end of November 2011, their programme provided 826,210 mammograms to 368,851 women, resulting in 5,071 breast cancer detections.The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day was together it is possible and BreastCheck is hoping that all eligible women, especially those who have not availed of their invitation for a mammogram before, will take the opportunity to consider the benefits. Majella Byrne, acting director of the national cancer screening service, said it is a quick, easy and free service that takes approximately half an hour. “In about 99% of cases, women who have a BreastCheck mammogram get a normal result and where breast cancer is found early, it is likely to be easier to treat. Participation in BreastCheck exceeds our target of 70% and is particularly high when women attend for a subsequent screening two years later. We would like to build …

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Hollywood glamour at Gold Cup

LIMERICK woman Emer Nash flew the flag for the Mid-West, making it into the final of this year’s Hennessy Best Dressed Lady competition. The Hennessy Gold Cup, which took place on Sunday, drew a crowd of more than 10,000, with thousands of ladies donning their best winter wear for the occasion.Emer, who was highly commended on the day, wore a black jumpsuit from Vanity Fair in Newbridge, which she customised herself. She added to her outfit with a headpiece from Galway-based milliner Edel Ramburg, who many will remember as the designer of last year’s best hat at ladies day in Galway. She accessorised with black heels from Marks & Spencer and a Paul Costelloe parasol.The coveted title of the Hennessy Best Dressed Lady 2012 went to Margaret Connolly from Mullingar, who was presented with a voucher for €7,000 to spend in the Design Centre, Dublin.Margaret impressed judges, international fashion commentator, Godfrey Deeny, Aishling Kilduff from the Design Centre and Caroline …

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