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Haven hits on winning formula

Thriving Ennis charity shop provides the perfect example of sustainable social enterprise supporting a vital service COVID-19 brought many challenges to the voluntary retail sector, however an Ennis “charity superstore” is not just surviving, it is thriving. Since opening eight years ago in Munster House in the Gort Road Business Park the Clare Haven Horizons Charity Shop has rapidly expanded. It is now made up of seven units including fashion, furniture and homeware sales, a specific donation drop-off point and an upcoming pop-up Christmas shop. According to manager Mairead Mannion the store’s location and business model allowed it to respond to the pandemic in a way that facilitated its growing success. The shop’s expansion hasn’t just been confined to the physical store however, with Clare Haven Horizons Charity Shop making the move online during the pandemic, attracting a brand new set of customers. Its profile also continues to grow not just locally, but nationally. The shop was recently awarded three …

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Win flight from Shannon to meet Santa in Lapland

A SPECIAL seasonal flight to the Arctic Circle will lift off this December from Shannon Airport. To celebrate, the airport is launching a special competition for a fairy-tale trip for a lucky family on Thursday, December 2 to Santa’s home in Lapland over 4,000 km away. “We are delighted that passengers from Shannon will have the opportunity to enjoy a magical visit to Lapland,” said Mary Considine, CEO Shannon Group. “It will be a really special trip. I expect the excitement and atmosphere on departure day will be palpable and, no doubt, a thousand stories told on return and a thousand memories made.” Lapland has the last remaining expanse of wilderness in northern Europe, including the coastline, forests, mountains and unspoilt rivers. In winter this becomes a wonderland of snow where visitors get to enjoy the fun of snowmobile adventures, toboggans and sleigh rides. The lucky family will fly from Shannon to the Santa Claus Village in the North Pole. …

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Clare big cheeses land national prizes

THREE Clare cheesemakers tasted success at the Irish Cheese Awards 2021, the Irish Farmhouse Cheesemaker’s prestigious gala. St Tola Goat Farm fared best with two gold awards and a silver. In the ‘Fresh/ Soft Cheese: Goat Milk’ category, the Inagh organisation took gold for their St Tola Divine. In the ‘Raw Milk Cheese: All milk types’ category, there was another gold for their St Tola Original Log. In the “Soft White Cheese: All Milk Types” meanwhile, they took silver for their St. Tola Ash. Burren Gold Cheese, Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan received the Bronze in the “Hard Cheese: Flavour Added’ category for their Burren Gold Cumin. Cratloe Hills, meanwhile, from Brickhill West, Cratloe, received the Bronze medal in the ‘Hard/Semi Hard Cheese Under 6 Months: Goat, Sheep, Buffalo’ category for its Cratloe Hills Sheep’s cheese. Organised by Cáis, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, the bi-annual event which took place in Bray, celebrates Ireland’s vibrant and thriving farmhouse cheese sector. Now …

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Minister’s praise for unique Clare food festival

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has praised the Burren Agritourism sector for a host of innovative food and farm initiatives which saw hundreds of visitors head to the Burren area recently.   Minister McConalogue said: “I was delighted to see the Burren Food Fayre returned for a series of unique food and farm visitor experiences with a return to in-person events.    “I congratulate the organisers, the Burren Ecotourism Network, who are marking their 10th year in operation.”   The Minister said that it was encouraging to see that agritourism initiatives were continuing to go from strength to strength, adding: “We are proud to be funding these projects under the Department of Agriculture, Rural Innovation and Development Fund.”   During the bank holiday weekend, the Burren region hosted food and farm tours, walks, talks, cattle drives and tree planting which took place in locations all over the Burren which showcased the strong collaboration between farmers and tourism business owners. …

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Toastmasters is again the talk of the town in Shannon

ZOOM kept the Shannon Toastmasters club running for 18 months, but its last few meetings have been in person once again, writes Owen Ryan. Of course the meetings now are quite different to the spring of 2020. “It’s a big change, we’re doing the same things, but we have to be conscious of social distancing so our chairs are more spread out and there’s mask wearing,” says President Maura Meaney. “You have to think of all that, but we have the same format of meetings.” The club meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month and Maura says the members adapted very quickly to the pandemic. “We went online straight away once the first lockdown came in. It was a big change for everybody, and it kept the club going and alive, but people were more than happy to go back to in person meetings. “There’s a better buzz about it, a better connection between people. Even just …

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Hoop dreams alive and well in Clare town

THE sport of basketball is thriving in Shannon, with numbers playing increasing very significantly during the pandemic, writes Owen Ryan. When he spoke to the Champion last Friday Shannon Jets club secretary Dean Flynn was waiting to see what restrictions were going to be retained, following the Government’s decision not to go for a full relaxation of them last week. Dean said that basketball has been quite heavily disrupted due to Covid. “Last year we were about to start the season when the October/November lockdown kicked in and the season ended up getting cancelled, so we’ve been a year without basketball really. “During the summer we were allowed to train, but only outdoors. Most of our groups started up in the middle of May and we had outdoor training through the summer. “The schools in Shannon were really good to us, they gave us the use of their facilities with no cost. That was brilliant, we had loads of underage …

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20-hour days in saddle all part of Clare men’s epic charity cycle

TWO East Clare cyclists completed more than 20 hours in the saddle in one day as part of their nationwide charity fundraising cycle, writes Dan Danaher. James Skehan (38), Bridgetown, and James Chaplin (41) Sixmilebridge, have cycled the length and breadth of Ireland to raise money for The Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Ireland. They were motivated to support the association’s fundraising efforts as James’s son has a cleft lip. More than €20,000 was raised for the association in Ireland this year including €3,000 from the two Clare cyclists, who just sought voluntary donations through WhatsApp messages and didn’t engage in bucket or other collections. (CLAPAI), a registered charity, is a voluntary group formed to provide support and information for parents of children affected by cleft lip and palate and to those directly affected by the condition. There are more than 100 new births per year and about 2,000 children in treatment at any given time. The association distributes …

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Spooky fun at Bunratty and King John’s Castle for Halloween season

A special programme of chilling events with hair raising surprises await visitors to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park in Clare and King John’s Castle in the heart of Limerick City this Halloween. Monsters, misfits and mayhem will be the order of the day. This Halloween midterm Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is returning to its Irish pagan roots and will mark the festival of Samhain in its own unique way. Focusing on the old Irish traditions associated with this time of year, visitors are invited to come and experience a traditional Irish Samhain (or Halloween) from Saturday October 23rd to 31st. As part of the events, Bunratty Castle will unveil a creepy crypt full of scary surprises. Should you dare cross the threshold of this ancient structure beware of ghostly voices and spooky sounds at every turn. The fortress’ creepy castle guides tell you all about the deadly dungeon or monstrous murder hole. Visitors are encouraged to dress in costume …

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