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A journey to conflict hotspots

By Owen Ryan IRISH Times security analyst Tom Clonan’s memoir Whistleblower, Soldier, Spy– A Journey into the Dark Heart of the Global War on Terror brings the reader to some hotspots of conflict as well as exploring the heartbreaks and traumas he has suffered in recent years. The former Irish Army officer may be the only journalist ever to secure permission to interview soldiers transiting through Shannon. While much has been said and written about the morality of a neutral country allowing one of its airports to be used by the US, the human story of the soldiers, many of whom have come from very disadvantaged backgrounds, isn’t often heard. “There have been over a million troops going through since about 2002 and for me it was a very moving experience. We’re used to seeing images of the US troops going through the airport and on TV they’re always in that mid focus, you don’t get to see the faces …

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Gathering a pivotal moment in Mary Ellen’s life

ONLY in recent years did Mary Ellen Cardenas (née Finucane) discover that she had Lissycasey blood coursing through her veins. Currently living in Cary, North Carolina, Mary Ellen, a retired teacher and university lecturer, returned to her family’s old homestead in Lissycasey last October for the Finucane Family Gathering. “Our Gathering attests to a love of the land, musical tradition, a reverence for family and a welcoming spirit by showing a disregard for both distance and the passage of time. It was the first attempt to reassemble family in the old homestead since six of the 12 began their independent migrations well over a century ago,” is how Mary Ellen put it when explaining how the Finucane Gathering came about. The family home is in Leamnaleaha, Lissycasey and that was the focal point on October 6 when the event was held. “I can honestly say such a gathering was a most significant and profound experience, a story not to be …

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It’s time to learn

GETTING a pet dog or puppy also means trying to find someone who can help train your pet and with so many people claiming to be professional dog trainers and behaviourists, this can be a minefield. How can you determine who is best for you and your dog? The wrong person who uses ‘yank and yell’ techniques or has no recognised scientific background can have devastating consequences on the relationship between you and your dog. However, a good trainer will enhance the bond between you and your dog. Most pet dogs are not meant to enter obedience competitions and a good trainer will recognise the difference between training for competition and training for life as a family pet. Choosing your trainer Where did you hear about trainers? Internet or newspaper? All can have glossy, expensive ads or websites and promise a well-behaved, loving pet in a matter of days or, as some TV programmes would have you believe, 15 minutes. …

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Gather round to say ‘thanks’

THE Gathering  proved to be a winner with communities, larges and small, all over the country. An  event marking the success of the initiatives undertaken in  Clare in 2013 was held at Shannon Airport last night. Representatives of the 250 festivals and events held around Clare during 2013 were presented with “Thank You” certificates by Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins. He said they had made an important contribution to the positive year experienced by the local tourism industry in 2013.  Mayor Arkins was joined at the event by members of the County Clare Gathering Steering Committee, and representatives of Ireland Reaching Out and event sponsor Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. “Despite the scepticisn expressed in some quarters at national level regarding the potential impact of the Gathering Ireland initiative on tourism, it has become quite clear that the initiative was one of the primary factors behind the excellent performance of the local sector last year,” explained Mayor Arkins. He continued, “From …

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Orla’s desert run for Crumlin and Canteen

A CLARE woman will be running in the desert next month to raise money for two Irish organisations close to her heart. Just over a decade after her own cancer battle, Orla Derrane from Knockaderry, outside Ennis, will remember all those who helped her when she takes part in the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon, raising funds for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Canteen Ireland, a support organisation for teenagers with cancer. Orla has lived in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for over five years. She moved there when she was 20 and has been teaching there ever since. “When I moved out first, I moved with a friend and hadn’t done a whole pile of research. My mother encouraged me; she always said it was good to travel. When I was coming out first, I thought I would have to cover up all the time. I was really naive but I found it to be more liberal than I …

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New haemochromatosis patients’ service

MINISTER of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch has launched the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS ) service to haemochromatosis patients in Munster. BTS has been providing a service for haemochromatosis patients since 2007 when a dedicated service was opened at the Stillorgan clinic in Dublin. This clinic has reached capacity and is treating about 650 patients in total. In 2013 there were 1205 phlebotomies which yielded 967 productive donations. Last August a general access service for patients was established at the IBTS D’Olier Street fixed centre clinic, for the first time providing a service to patients who are not eligible to be blood donors, as well as for those who could donate. “Since opening 148 patients have attended, 131 have been treated. 80% of these patients have decided to become donors and are now on the regular donor programme,” said Andy Kelly, chief executive of the IBTS. As part of the roll out of the national programme, …

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Putting South-East Clare’s past in the frame

DIFFERENT facets of life in South-East Clare over a 60-year period have literally been put into the frame in a major photographic exhibition at Limerick City Hall. The Street, comprising photographs from The Haselbeck Collection, was officially launched by Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, TD and Mayor of Limerick Kathleen Leddin recently. In addition, the museum at City Hall hosts a display of his camera equipment, as well as some archival documents illustrating the professional and personal life of professional photographer Franz S Haselbeck. It will remain open to the public at Limerick City Hall from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm until the end of February. Admission is free. The exhibition follows the publication of a book, Franz S Haselbeck’s Ireland, which was compiled by his granddaughter, Patricia Haselbeck Flynn, with 200 selected images from the Haselbeck Collection. The book followed his career from Dublin to Kerry and concentrates on his work throughout the Mid-West, where he spent most …

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