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Horses and hard work keep Tom young at heart

By Peter O’Connell HE doesn’t look 90 and can’t quite believe that he is. Tom Whelan, originally from Doonbeg, has been living and working in O’Dea’s Road, Kilrush for several decades. He has shod thousands of horses since training as a farrier with Barry’s in Kilrush many decades ago. These days, Tom still tips away in his forge across from his house. “Tis a pity,” he laughs when the 90-year figure is mentioned. “Hard work. A lad that sits down gets seized up. It’s like a car or a tractor that’s idle. It seizes up,” Tom replied when asked how he was in such fettle. “I was always on them,” he added, pointing to his finely polished work boots. Tom has been around horses since he was knee high to a foal. When he was growing up in rural West Clare, everybody had a horse. They were essential. “Everyone had a horse,  a pony and an ass. Creamery, ploughing and …

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Charlie to take a bow wow for award

By Dan Danaher CHARLIE, the Great Dane who became an international hero after a story in last week’s Clare Champion, is to be honoured with a national award. The two-year-old gentle giant, who has captured the hearts and imagination of people around the world, for his ability to detect when a Killaloe toddler is going to have a seizure, will be officially recognised by the Irish Great Dane (IGD) Club at a ceremony in Dublin. The IGD club, which is affiliated to the Irish Kennel Club, will present Charlie with a national merit award in the National Show Centre, possibly next March. This is just one example of the phenomenal response to last week’s Clare Champion story where Arabella Scanlan outlined the dog’s ability to detect her daughter Brianna’s frequent seizures, up to 20 minutes before the start of each episode. Following a week of national and international headlines, Arabella told The Clare Champion she is overwhelmed with all the …

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Frankie and Siobhan Lundy with their daughters Ava, Emily and Olivia.

Positivity in the face of uncertainty

By Jessica Quinn “I could go away and crawl into a corner and let it roll me over, or I can stand up and say no way, Jose”. These are the inspirational words of Frankie Lundy who, two and a half years ago, was diagnosed with the rare Huntington’s Disease. Speaking to The Clare Champion recently, Frankie and his wife Siobhan talked openly and honestly about the affect the condition has had on their family and their efforts to raise awareness. Originally from Belfast, 51-year-old Frankie has lived in Ennis for over a decade, having previously lived in Shannon. A former musician, the Lundy name is widely known in music circles with Frankie playing drums for a number of well-known bands. Huntington’s Disease is a hereditary disorder that causes progressive deterioration of the physical, cognitive and emotional self. Most people with HD develop symptoms between the ages of 30 and 50, with symptoms varying from person to person. A self …

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Cuimhneamh an Chláir receives high praise

The work of the award winning Cuimhneamh an Chláir, the Clare Oral History and Folklore group was praised as the Mayor of Clare, Councillor Joe Arkins launched the ‘Winter of the Cuaird’, Cuimhneamh’s winter collection programme for 2013/14. The group of volunteers, who have already conducted over 580 interviews with some of Clare’s oldest citizens, are hoping to add to their increasing archive of memories during the winter months, the traditional time for social visiting in the past. Speaking at the launch Councillor Arkins commended the volunteer Cuairteoirí for their hard work on behalf of the people of Clare and encouraged the group to continue and develop both their collection and dissemination work. “It is just so vital to record and preserve the social history and oral heritage of our county. I’ve been to many funerals over the years where those gathered have regretted the fact that nobody recorded the memories of those now gone from us. Cuimhneamh an Chláir …

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Elderly urged to be Safe at Home

SECURITY concerns of the county’s elderly were highlighted this week at a seminar in Ennis’ De Valera Library aimed at helping people to be ‘Safe at Home’. According to organisers, the seminar was such a success that it is hoped to make it an annual event. The Ennis event was the fifth in a series of nationwide seminars hosted by Bluebird Care. Kay Leahy, director, explained the seminars have been organised due to the evidence of growing worries among elderly people about their security. “There has been a 60% increase in calls to Senior Line, a free phone line for older people, worried about security at home. This is also reflected in our own network, as we hear anecdotal evidence from the thousands of older people that we work with on a daily basis.” The Safe at Home series was conceived as part of Positive Ageing Week, organised by Age Action. The seminar was open to members of the local …

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Zoe puts her heart into representing Ireland

By Peter O’Connell TWENTY-EIGHT hours of weekly training has transformed Zoe Kelly. The mother-of-two, who lives in Ennis, is to represent Ireland at the Arnold Classic Europe section of what is the largest amateur bodybuilding championships in the world. The event takes place in Madrid on the weekend of October 11 to 13. Zoe, who is originally from Surrey, will be one of six representatives on the Irish team. It’s hard to comprehend though that she is just 32 and has had corrective heart surgery in recent years. “I had corrective surgery for an underlying heart rhythm disorder. I was in intensive care for several weeks in Ennis. It was diagnosed in 2009. In 2010, I had two procedures in the Mater hospital,” Zoe told The Clare Champion last week. “I just kept having episodes of collapse. It’s important to say it wasn’t life-threatening. It was a quality of life issue. To carry on like that wasn’t feasible,” she added, …

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More than 19,000 visitors to lighthouse

By Peter O’Connell FIGURES released on Tuesday show more than 19,000 people (14,101 adults, 5,082 children) visited Loop Head Lighthouse during the six-month opening period up to Sunday, September 29. Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), said preliminary estimates indicate 75% of the total visitor figure was represented by domestic visitors, of which approximately 55% were holidaymakers and 30% were day trippers. Local visitors accounted for the remainder. Overseas visitors made up 25% of the total figure. The lighthouse was opened on a weekend basis from St Patrick’s weekend until mid-May, after which it was opened daily until the end of September. Opening hours were extended by two hours to 7.30pm during late July and August to accommodate the surge in visitor numbers to the West Clare landmark this summer. The visitor figures represent a jump of 2,000 on the same period in 2012. Last year’s figures showed that 17,423 …

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Business Profile: Bourke weathering another recession

INCREDIBLE though it might seem, when it emerged that Cypriots were having their bank accounts raided as part of the island’s bailout, it led to an increase in business for those selling clothes in small towns on the far side of Europe. Patrick Bourke found that people, particularly older people, were inclined to turn part of their savings into something tangible, lest Ireland’s dysfunctional banks be next in the firing line. “It helped us. People were afraid their money would be lost so they decided to spend their money instead of losing it. You’d notice it with older people rather than younger people, because younger people hadn’t the money sitting there.” He operates men’s clothes shops in both Kilrush and Ennis and is the third generation of his family in the business. “It started in 1928, we’re 85 years in business this year in our shop in Kilrush. My grandfather started it in 1928, my father took it over in …

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