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County Fleadh on track for Kilrush

FIFTY-five years ago this month, the West Clare Railway was trundling towards Moyasta from Shragh when the driver started pumping the breaks. The train was packed and en route to the County Fleadh in Kilrush, which will be held in the town again later this month. Among those on board were the U-14 Shragh Flagellate and Accordion Band. The Whelan brothers, Frank and Joe Joe, were seated on the train when it ground to a sudden halt. “We heard the hooter blowing and we just pulled up,” Frank recounted. “I stuck my head out the window. There was a cow on the track with the calf sucking the cow. We sat there until the cow walked away when the calf was finished.” Their adventurous journey to Kilrush wasn’t over. The train pulled into Moyasta Station and was next due in Kilkee. However, a technical issue in Kilkee meant the West Clare Railway couldn’t turn there. “The roundabout in Kilkee wasn’t …

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Yeats auction raises €10,000 for tower

A LETTER from Maud Gonne donated to the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society made €5,200 at a special auction held at Yeats’ tower on Sunday last. A Salthill couple secured the letter, beating bids from Dublin and Washington. In total, €10,000 was raised for the reopening of Thoor Ballylee, the former summer home of WB Yeats in South Galway. The auction took place from the rooftop of the tower by local auctioneer, Colm Farrell MIPAV, acting as Yeats himself. Enid McAleenan donated Maud Gonne’s autobiography; Servant of the Queen, originally owned by her aunt, Eileen McAleenan. The book contains a letter from Gonne to McAleenan, where she tells her about the importance of living a full, adventurous life and to stand up for a free Ireland. Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, chair of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, was beaming at the end of a very successful auction. “The power and generosity of the local community is remarkable. Like Maud Gonne’s advice in her letter, they …

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When the Wolf gave up the sofa

THERE are lots of theories on how wolves decided to interact with humans. Did we ‘adopt’ the cutest or the abandoned wolf cubs? Highly unlikely, as we now know, with scientific research, living with a sociable wolf as a family pet is next to impossible. Domestic dogs evolved from a group of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago; this wolf has since died out. Can you imagine 32,100 years ago trying to hunt to feed your family, let alone a large wolf, who could kill you over a meal. The hunting hypothesis, that humans used wolves to hunt, doesn’t hold up. Humans were already successful hunters without wolves, more successful than every other large carnivore. People have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them. Over the last few centuries, almost every culture has hunted wolves to extinction. The most likely explanation is that they probably domesticated themselves. …

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Gathering tales from the Great War

A HERITAGE project in Clarecastle and Ballyea has established that more than 100 local men served in the British Army during World War I, while a local historian believes there are at least the same number again of men from the area that they don’t know about yet. The Clarecastle and Ballyea Heritage Group are continuing to collect stories about The Great War and parishioners involved and a number of people have come forward recently with medals, photographs and fascinating stories of their grandfathers’ roles in that war. “We’ve been at it for the last couple of months; we’re trying to build up a database for people from the parish of Clarecastle and Ballyea of people who might have gone off to The Great War. “We know the men who went off and were killed, we’ve plenty of information on them, but there’s a lot, we reckon from the parish, who went away and served, then came back and never …

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Immigrant domestic workers ‘virtual prisoners’

A NUMBER of disturbing incidents relating to the treatment of immigrant domestic and childcare workers in this county have been revealed by Orla Ní Éili, project manager at the Clare Immigrant Support Centre in Ennis. “Some domestic and childcare workers in Clare have been held virtual prisoners in their employers’ homes,” she declared. Her shocking statement comes in a week when a report from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) indicated that urgent action is needed to ensure that Ireland guarantees the safety and welfare of the thousands of migrant women caring for children. Launched on Wednesday, Childcare in the Domestic Work Sector: Who’s Minding the Children? draws on Irish and European data. “I remember hearing of one girl, who was doing English classes in the evening, being brought to Ennis. She was dropped with all her bags and told ‘We’ve had enough of you. You’re not doing enough work.’ That was it. It was a winter’s evening and she …

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40,000 to attend Shannon airshow

Shannon Airport has announced it will deliver an air display extravaganza on Saturday, July 18 to mark the 70th anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight at the airport. An estimated 40,000 people are expected at the airport for the airshow, which will provide a visual treat from some of Ireland and Europe’s leading aerobatics performers, parachutists, helicopters, jet fighters and stunt fliers during the six hour event. In addition to the sky manoeuvres on the day, there will be plenty of on-the-ground action, including a static aircraft and tank display, entertainment zone, live music and a catering zone with an array of dining choices.  

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Civil marriage outside of ‘office hours’

Civil marriage ceremonies shouldn’t be organised just to suit regular office hours, according to Clare TD Michael McNamara. “It is no longer acceptable that people wishing to marry in a registry office should be confined to a ‘Monday to Friday office hours’ ceremony,” the Clare Labour deputy said. “Following the historic vote on same-sex marriage at the weekend more people will now be seeking a civil marriage ceremony. I believe we should extend the hours at which a registrar is available to solemnise a ceremony, not just because same-sex couples are limited to a mid-week wedding, but so too are heterosexual couples who do not wish to have a religious wedding ceremony,” he added. “It is only fair that couples can marry at a time and venue of their choosing. People should have the right to marry at the weekend and celebrate this special occasion with family and friends. Currently those wishing to marry in a registrar office, or have …

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Bridie’s 60 years in the Pioneers

HAVING been a member of the Pioneers since she was a teenager, it’s no surprise that Bridie Hendrick describes herself as “very loyal” to the organisation. Bridie will receive her 60-year pin at a ceremony on June 12 at SS John & Paul Church, while others who have also reached certain landmarks will be recognised. Speaking about her decision to throw her lot in with the organisation, she says, “I joined it when I was 14 in Armagh. At that time, you’d go into the probationers and the Pioneers when you were 16. There were eight in my family and we all joined. One of them broke his pledge but all the rest of them stayed Pioneers. Non-smokers and non-drinkers the whole lot. In those days, there were no women going into pubs or things and you didn’t see drink much. It was easier for people than it is now.” While times have changed since her Armagh childhood in the …

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