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I could get very used to travelling in a convertible. It's the human's 325i.

Lockdown Staycation Part II

So, this is the second part of our lockdown staycation. After visiting the Twelve Hotel in Galway, I got a taste for another adventure so last weekend we went off to another of my favourite places, BrookLodge in Co Wicklow. Because the weather was so nice, the humans decided to take that funny car with a tent instead of a proper roof. It was bought last year but it seemed to spend most of the summer in the garage with bits being done to it but it seems to be ready now. I only half listen but I believe it’s had softer springs fitted since I drove in it last and it really makes a difference. I can snooze comfortably in the footwell now and that’s all that matters. Even though rain was threatening as we arrived in Aughrim, the roof was folded down for the last bit of the journey, allowing me to sniff the air. As we pulled …

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Harsh realities inspire jailers’ tales

PRISON might seem an unlikely environment to inspire a creative career. For Lisdoonvarna’s Bill Bradshaw, however, working in that tense, high-pressure environment did exactly that. The Rathkeale native is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist, and credits a long career as a prison officer with his unique writing style, as well as some of his subject matter. Bill has just published his third book, Delphine, which draws on influences such as horror writer Stephen King and explores moral taboos and family dynamics. Two more novels are in the pipeline and Bill is actively fundraising to turn Delphine into a six-part Netflix series. He is also part of a Clare-based publishing initiative, backed by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and bringing together a number of other creative minds. While his work in the Irish Prison Service is partly responsible for Bill’s approach to his writing, it is a career that has taken a heavy toll. “There is a raw reality in a …

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‘We need more dissenting voices,’ says emerging Ennis poet

AT 74-years of age Ennis man Martin Knox admits he left it rather late to start publishing poetry, but the trained chemist is certainly making up for lost time. After a fruitful working life, which took in stints at Syntex, later Roche; as well as teaching at some of the country’s most prestigious educational institutions, Martin made the leap into poetry and has just published his first book. Entitled, Words Without Song: Vignettes of Reflective Dissent and Childhood Reflections, the volume is a collection of over 100 poems which “go against the establishment” and give voice to Martin’s long-standing belief that the purpose of literature is to highlight uncomfortable truths. “Racism, poverty, mental health, corruption, environmental damage, the unequal distribution of wealth, suffering, those are some the main themes of my poems,” he said. “Writers should ask serious questions. For a long time, I didn’t have the time to write. When I retired, I found that time. So many questionable …

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Comment: Toddling TDs take six-week nap

PERHAPS like toddlers up past their bedtime, TDs were just over-tired as they hurled abuse at each other across the floor of the Convention Centre last week. As the first term of the 33rd Dáil drew to an end with a blazing row over speaking slots, the Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly noted that it was very late and everyone was very tired. And after all, forming a government had taken a full four months. The gruelling process caused at least one minister to sink into those plush-looking Convention Centre seats for 40 winks, once the three-way coalition deal was finally done. Toddlers, we can easily forgive. With seasoned politicians, it’s more difficult. Several aspects of first term for the history-making coalition have been unedifying. We have had conflicting messages from the parties and internal wrangling within them. After packing their bags for a six-week break, TDs engaged in further back-biting; online and in the national newspapers. You could be …

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Remote hubs a lifeline for Clare’s remote workers

THE remote working revolution prompted by the Coronavirus pandemic would have been impossible to predict at the start of this year. A life-time ago, back in January, working away from the office was still a fairly fuzzy concept for most of us, tied in with worthy but not-always-attainable aims like reducing our carbon footprint, cutting down on daily commuting and achieving a better work-life balance. Now that we have all been thrown into reality of having to meet our work commitments without venturing into crowded offices, finding an appropriate space for remote working has become a real challenge. Kitchen tables across the country have been acting as board room bases for video conferences, while serving as virtual classrooms at the same time – not always with harmonious, or productive results. In Clare, thanks to a synergy of two key departments, the local authority has been better able than many of its counterparts to respond to the surge in demand for …

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Daisy enjoying the view over Galway Bay toward the Clare coast.

Twelve Stars for Barna Staycation

What a great weekend. I knew something was up when I saw the case coming down from the attic. I haven’t seen that since before the lockdown. I hoped I was going to be included, even though I love going to my dog-minder and I was reassured when I saw my bag being packed too. I knew we were heading North and I suspected we were going to one of my favourite places, The Twelve Hotel in Barna and I was right. As soon as I came in the front door it was like I had never been away as I was greeted by name before going to the dog concierge area to get my picture taken. I never get tired of posing. We just had time to look over our lovely room and have a quick stroll before it was time to go down to the bar for dinner. The Twelve is one of those enlightened places where dogs …

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Sixmilebridge family call for access to life-changing therapy for newborns

WHEN Laura Collins and her husband Paul held their new born baby on New Year’s Eve not quite two years ago, it was a celebration the Sixmilebridge family will never forget. The couple had barely been allowed to hold their son since he was born, four days previously. A few hours after he came into the world, little Luan had had to be rushed to a neonatal care centre in Cork. Diagnosed with a form of brain damage known as Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE), Luan was in a race against time to secure treatment. His parents faced an agonising wait – first for a specialist ambulance to come from Dublin, then the transfer to Cork. All the while, the clock was ticking down on the crucial six hour window for the start of a breakthrough treatment to bring down Luan’s body temperature and stop progressive damage to his brain cells. “To us, Luan seemed fine,” Laura said. “His condition was …

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Hendrick to cycle for bone marrow charity

THE experience of seeing his brother-in-law endure the traumatic process of a bone marrow transplant has inspired Hendrik Ketelaar to undertake a long-distance charity cycle. Hendrik, from Ballinruan, Crusheen is to set off on Saturday morning to cycle 2,220 kilometres of the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Derry to raise funds for the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust (BLMT), which supports people in Ireland who had or may need a stem cell transplant. It’s a big “thank you” to the organisation that helped somebody very closed to him. His wife, Laura’s brother, Gary O’Callaghan from Shannon was a recipient of the BMLT funded life-saving support in 2015 and has since made a full recovery. BMLT is the only facility in Ireland where an adult can receive a sibling or matched unrelated donor stem cell transplant. It does not receive financial support from the government and relies on fundraising. BMLT supports research and provides accommodation and vital day to day …

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