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Pope Francis faces a huge task in focusing his Church

  Like the election of Barack Obama when, for the first time one felt hopeful that the world was finding a fresh, more inclusive language, Pope Francis also fascinates within and without Roman Catholicism. Most immediately, the signs are encouraging: taking the name of the iconic servant figure of Francis with his commitment to the poor and as a Jesuit and bishop, his concern for social justice in testing times within turbulent Argentina. (We pray his record there will stand the light).We all have a stake in the Bishop of Rome as the significant figure in world Christianity. We must be united – the wide spectrum of believers under the so-called Protestant umbrella and Roman Catholics. Some of the former are not afraid to value the term Catholic or catholic, meaning universal and therefore are eager to share it with the universal Church of Rome. Others in their spiritual pilgrimage are less acquainted with and enthused by the concept. But …

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Centra stores get top marks for hygiene

FOUR Centra stores in Clare are celebrating after receiving the Supreme National Hygiene Award from Martin Kelleher, managing director of Centra, and Irene Collins, managing director, Excellence Ireland at the 2013 Centra Quality Awards in Killarney recently. The Supreme Hygiene Award identifies and rewards retailers that have performed to a consistently high level over a three-year period.The four Clare stores that were presented with the prestigious award were Lynch’s Centra, Gort Road, Ennis; Ryan’s Centra, Clonroadmore, Ennis; Donnellan’s Centra, Loughville, Ennis and Rodgers’ Centra, Scariff.A further six Clare stores – Deasy’s Centra, Clarecastle; Michael’s Centra, Kildysart; Johnston’s Centra, Kilmihil; Jones’ Centra, Miltown Malbay; Crowe’s Centra in Sixmilebridge and O’Keeffe’s Centra, Tulla Road – were also presented with the Excellence Ireland National Hygiene and Food Safety Certificate, which is independent verification of the highest standards of operational hygiene and food safety in the food sector business.A total of 343 Centra stores in the Republic of Ireland have achieved the much coveted …

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The life and death of Tomás Mac Curtain

When the Sinn Féin candidates had such a widespread victory in the 1918 General Election they immediately announced the setting up of Dáil Éireann. The War of Independence started on the day the Dáil first met and they set about organising their own system of local government. The Local Government Elections in January 1920 saw similar results and most of the local authorities in the country were then in Republican control. One of those was Cork Corporation and, on January 31, Tomás Mac Curtain was elected Lord Mayor of Cork, the first republican to hold the post. His term of office, however, lasted less than two months.Mac Curtain was born at Ballyknockane in 1884 and attended Burnfort National School. At the age of 13 the family moved to Cork City and lived in Blackpool – although he may have just moved to live with an older sister. He attended The North Monastery Christian Brothers Secondary School and, afterwards, worked as …

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Reintegrating child soldiers in Uganda

UGANDA is a tale of two countries. The south is relatively prosperous, where most children are able to attend primary school. The north, on the other hand, is a totally different land.In the Acholi region, more than one million people were forced to flee their homes due to the conflict between government forces and Joseph Kony’s rebel Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA).Children are among the main victims of the brutal and bloody 20-year civil war.In fact, Northern Uganda has been particularly blighted by the scandalous practice of abducting children from their homes and communities and forcing them to become members of the LRA.Conservative estimates from UNICEF suggest 25,000 children were abducted, based on the numbers who escaped and registered in reception centres.The real figure could be at least double this, when the number of children who were killed and unaccounted for is taken into account. Estimates suggest 66,000 young people, including those over 18, were abducted.According to a Human Rights Watch …

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Dream come true for Clare Rose

THE Clare Rose committee is making the final preparations for the Clare Rose selection night, which takes place next month. The closing date for entries is March 20 and last year’s winner, Orla McDonagh, is urging women around the county to take part for what she says is a “whirlwind of wonderful, lifelong, memorable experiences”.“It has been a privilege to have had this opportunity to represent County Clare as this year’s Clare Rose of Tralee 2012. As all young girls in Ireland, we can recall being brought up watching the Rose of Tralee each summer and the excitement of each rose being interviewed on stage, while guessing which girl will represent the Rose of Tralee in the coming year. Being selected as the Clare Rose gave me that feeling of accomplishment and pride after achieving a childhood dream to step into the shoes of a rose,” Orla said.The Gort resident and Ennis teacher explained how she took the first steps …

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Kaitlin battles to be ‘one to watch’

A WEST Clare designer will feature at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards in the Radisson Blu Hotel,Galway later this month.Kaitlin McGrath from Farrihy, Kilkee was shortlisted in this competition last year and won a prestigious award for her final-year collection, Still Grew the Beat of Our Wings. She was also named the overall winner of the Contour 2012 Fashion Degree Show at the Limerick School of Art and Design/LIT Gallery.Kaitlin is a past pupil of Scoil Réalt na Mara, Kilkee and St Joseph’s Community College, Kilkee and Limerick School of Art and Design.Katilin has been shortlisted in the “Ones To Watch 2013” category where she faces competition from Galway’s Zoe Wong, as well as Riona Treacy, Honor Fitzsimons, Jane McKenna, Rebecca Marsden, Angela Beaumont and fresh from the Oscars, Laura Jayne Halton.Galway designers are well represented at the awards, which will take place on Thursday, March 28. Milliner Mary White, jewellery designers Aoife McGough and Lynsey de Burca will share …

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The man who inspired My Wild Irish Rose

The Rambler from Clare was a name used by the famous circus entertainer from Feakle, Johnny Patterson and the Minstrel from Clare is a recording by the late Willie Clancy. Less well known is the Minstrel of Clare, a musical play that opened on Broadway in 1886 starring Chancellor John Alcott and featuring a score written by him. Better known as Chauncey Alcott he was the most famous Irish-American singer/songwriter of his generation and his stage career lasted from the 1880s until he retired in 1925. His life story was the inspiration for the film My Wild Irish Rose. Released in 1947 by Warner Brothers, it starred Denis Morgan, Andrea King, Arlene Dahl and the great Abbey actress Sara Allgood. It received one Oscar nomination for best music.Alcott’s mother had been born in Ireland but her family had all emigrated when she was only eight years old. His biographies list him as having been born in Buffalo, New York and …

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