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Silent commemoration for Canada Cross attack victims

SILENT and sombre were the centenary commemoration of one of the bloodiest attacks on a Clare community during the War of Independence. Unfortunately, due to the Covid 19 crisis, plans for the Canada Cross, Miltown Malbay commemoration, as part of Clare’s Decade of Centenaries, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, were put on hold. The community was to honour Patrick Hennessy, John O’Loughlin and Thomas O’Leary, who lost their lives at Canada Cross on April 14, 1920. Instead, the victims were remembered in the hearts and prayers of their descendants and the wider community in their homes. Reflecting on the attack at the time, Dr Michael Fogarty, Bishop of Killaloe, said, “My poor people they have made a Calvary of your little square, but what was meant for a massacre has become a consecration.” The families of the dead and wounded in the attack, the Mid Clare Brigade Commemoration Committee and St Joseph’s GAA Club had organised a programme that will …

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Love still blooming in a time of lock-down

LOVE in a time of lock-down is still continuing to flourish, with many prospective couples using old-fashioned methods to get acquainted, according to match-maker Willie Daly. The Lisdoonvarna love guru told The Champion that the extraordinary times we are living through have seen a surge in the number of people putting romance to the top of their post lock-down priority lists. “Certainly, the restrictions are making life difficult. So many people have lost their jobs and the lack of social opportunities is making people very lonely,” he said. “It’s very hard on people living alone in small apartments at this time. In the last two to three weeks, I’ve had a definite increase in the number of people coming forward to ask for help in finding a partner and there’s a greater urgency too in their calls and letters.” Mr Daly, who claims credit for around 3,000 marriages over his half-a-century of match-making, said the unprecedented change in people’s lifestyles …

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Post-Covid ‘staycation’ hopes for East Clare tourism

TOURISM operators in East Clare have said they remain cautiously optimistic in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 lock-down, which has brought the sector to a standstill for now. The season would normally begin around Easter, and tourism providers are currently coping with a raft of cancelled tour bookings, as well as the shelving of key events and activities. Hope is being drawn, however, from the anticipated demand for ‘staycation’ breaks once the restrictions on movement are lifted, and from the development of key projects including the River Shannon Tourism Master Plan 2020-2030, which is currently in draft form and open for public submissions. “A good season in East Clare would be starting around Easter,” noted Arlene White, Chairperson of Tourism East Clare. “What we are now seeing instead is the cancellation of bookings for months ahead. It’s very tough for everyone, but we understand the need for the restrictions and we are hoping that 2020 won’t be a complete …

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A lifetime of cocooning for Poor Clares

COCOONING and leaving home only in limited circumstances is a new phenomenon in Ireland due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but it is a way of life for members of the Poor Clares’ community in Ennis. The nine sisters are engaged in daily prayer and contemplation and go outside of the walls of their Francis Street convent only for medical appointment or attend courses relating to their vocation or social issue. In earlier times, once a young woman joined the Poor Clares she remained in cloister for her entire life. “We have a constant quite atmosphere here in the convent but do not have a vow of silence,” said Abbess Bernardine Meskell. After five years as boarder at St Joseph’s Convent in Spanish Point, the Castleconnell, County Limerick woman joined the order in Ennis in 1963. “Our day is full, broken into seven different ceremonies, such as mass celebrated by one of the friars, morning and evening Divine Office and …

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‘There’s healing in the language,’ says Clare’s Irish Language Officer

“WHEN it comes to learning Irish, everyone has a story,” according Michael McCaughan, Clare County Council’s first Irish Language Officer in six years. “It might be a generational thing, but people very often have baggage that needs to be unpacked. There are bad experiences someone might need to move beyond, not to mention the fact that after spending 14 years learning it in a classroom, we can hardly order a cup of coffee through Irish.” As someone who is not a native speaker himself, Michael is uniquely positioned to understand the hurdles many face when it comes to using more Gaeilge, as well as the multitude of ways that people can enjoy and appreciate the language. His own story of “coming home” to Irish and choosing to live his life through that medium is likely to inspire many. Michael left school with a fluency in French and Spanish, before “a kind of mixture of punk rock and a sense of …

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Hats off to top milliner Ailish

IMAGINE a “sweet shop for grown women” crossed with Aladdin’s Cave of colour, and nestled in the rolling hills of East Clare. It’s a far cry from her native Rathfarnham, but this is where millinery designer Ailish McElroy has made her home and found her passion. Working from her studio and show room in Annaghneal, a stone’s throw from Bodyke, Ailish has been grabbing headlines recently, and award nominations, for her highly creative and environmentally sustainable approach to fashion. The Dubliner made the leap into self-employment after a downturn the graphic design sector, where she previously worked for a number of international companies, and has never looked back. Her bravery and creativity were rewarded when she was recently chosen to compete with the very best in the creative sector as part of the forthcoming Irish Fashion Innovation Awards  later this year. “I was notified back in January and it was as complete surprise and an honour,” Ailish explained. “It’s one …

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Gearing up for Mountshannon Arts Festival with Glór Event

MOUNTSHANNON Arts Festival is getting set to celebrate its 24th year, with an exciting programme for 2020. While the main festival take place from May 23 to June 1, organisers aim to have events running over the course of the year. Next month, for the first time ever, one of the key performances will take place later this month (March) at Glór in Ennis, as renowned pianist Alexander Ardakov makes a welcome return to Clare. Mr Ardakov, who lives in London, hails for the Volga region of Russia and as well as being an acclaimed musician is a Professor of Piano at a leading conservatoire. He played to a capacity audience in Mountshannon in 2019. The hope is that, by collaborating with Glór for a performance on March 28 – which is World Piano Day – people from across the region will get to hear him play. Roxanne Leonard who is a member of the Arts Festival committee had known …

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Remembering the four who fell

ON a quiet Tuesday morning of November 16, 1920, a steamer docked at Williamstown Harbour in East Clare, after making the relatively short journey from Killaloe. Locals who caught sight of the Board of Works vessel though little of it, believing ‘The Shannon’ had arrived to carry out much-anticipated harbour dredging works. Most people would have returned to their daily routine. Some getting ready for the fair the following day in Killaloe. Everyone was anxious to live as normal a life as they could. The second year of the War of Independence was drawing to a close. Tensions were high and the rhythm of rural life was in chaos. An attack on the RIC barracks in Scariff two months previously had triggered raids and reprisals by Crown forces and a number of IRA volunteers were on the run in the locality. Three of them – Brud McMahon, Alfie Rogers and Martin Gildea, officers of the Fourth Battalion of the East Clare …

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