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Fr Des brushes off bishop talk

NEWLY appointed Killaloe Diocesan Administrator, Fr Des Hillery, has dismissed suggestions that he may have an interest in succeeding Bishop Kieran O’Reilly, who is now Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. A native of Miltown Malbay, Fr Hillery has been parish priest of Nenagh for two and a half years, prior to which he served as a Columban missionary in Lima, Peru for seven years. “We’re not going there. I’m coming back to Nenagh. We’re not going down that road,” Fr Hillery quipped when asked if he is interested in the vacancy. “My focus is certainly here in Nenagh. It’s a very fine parish; the people are extremely good to me. I certainly enjoy where I am and I intend staying here,” he added. The most controversial aspect of Bishop O’Reilly’s tenure was the issue over the proposed exclusion of women from the diaconate. Last September, following a number of public meetings, the then Bishop of Killaloe said he was delaying …

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Reprieve for small primary schools

SMALL primary schools facing the threat of losing a teacher due to falling numbers have been given some breathing space this week, as a result of a decision by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. Affecting schools mainly in rural parishes, new retention regulations will give a slightly improved pupil/teacher ratio in two to four-teacher school scenarios. Nationally, close on 60% of primary schools have four teachers or less. Minister O’Sullivan revealed that the new retention schedule for the 2015/16 school year will be 19 pupils, rather than 20, to retain a second teacher; 53 pupils, rather than 56, to retain a third teacher and 83 pupils, rather than 86, to retain a fourth teacher. While generally supportive of the decision to reduce the number of pupils required to retain teachers in small schools, Labasheeda National School principal, Liam Woulfe, said the change “will not greatly aid two-teacher schools”. Following two appeals, Labasheeda was able to show that it had the required …

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Kathleen going strong at 113

FEAKLE native Kathleen Snavely (nee Hayes) became the State’s oldest ever living person when she turned 111 and 327 days last year but, having reached her 113th birthday this week, she looks set to become the island’s oldest living person. Annie Scott was the oldest living person from the island of Ireland. She was born in Northern Ireland on March 15, 1883, living to be 113 and 37 days, having died in 1996 in Scotland where she settled. Kathleen was born in Garraun, Feakle on February 16, 1902. Indications are that she is in good health, so she looks set to make history once again on March 24 of this year, which would make her the oldest person born on the island of Ireland. However, she has a long way to go to outlive the longest living person in recorded history, who was French woman Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122 years and 164 days in 1997. The current oldest …

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New-look Niamh sheds five stone

NIAMH McMahon is feeling a lot better about herself these days. Everything changed when Niamh, who is from Tulla and lives in Flagmount, hit 40. The mother-of-three made up her mind that she had to lose weight and was determined to make it happen. Niamh rejoined WeightWatchers in Ennis in January 2014 and having attended 57 successive classes, has shed five stone. Feeling lighter, fitter and no longer a diabetes sufferer, Niamh is now able to partake fully in day-to-day life. “Even when I got married, I never wore a dress. Last October, was my school reunion and I wore a dress for the first time. Even my friend, Tina, who I grew up with, was shocked to see me in a dress. All the lads hadn’t seen me in years and would have all remembered me as being heavy,” Niamh recounted. She is certain that she wouldn’t have attended that reunion had she not lost so much weight. “I …

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Telling a tale of Endurance

HIS achievements ring out a century on but few will know some of the sides of Ernest Shackleton that Michael Smith shines a light on, in his biography of the explorer, By Endurance We Conquer. This book is a logical step on from Smith’s earlier book, An Unsung Hero Tom Crean – Antarctic Survivor. That work brought Crean into the Irish public consciousness for the first time and Smith, a former political and business journalist with The Guardian and The Observer, said he started writing it when he realised no-one else had chronicled the life of the Kerry man. “The more I read about people like Captain Scott and Shackleton and Amundsen, the more I came across this fella called Tom Crean and I thought I’d like to read about him. He seemed to be an interesting character, he cropped up everywhere. “Of course, when I looked for a book, there wasn’t one about him. That coincided with the time …

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Great times ahead for Lisdoonvarna

Lisdoonvarna looks set to attract even more visitors to its annual matchmaking festival this September after its most famous son featured in the New York Times recently. The North Clare Spa town, by all accounts, attracted record tourist numbers during the five-week festival last year. However, one local hotelier says interest is already surging, from the United States in particular, following Willie Daly’s extensive coverage in the well-known paper. “This article appearing in the New York Times certainly is a bonus for us. Usually, interest in the festival really gets going in May and June but this is worldwide coverage and getting into something like the New York Times, a well established and world-famous paper, is amazing. That type of press coverage will definitely help Lisdoonvarna this year,” said Marcus White of the White Hotel Group, of which the Hydro Hotel, the Imperial Hotel and the Burren Castle Hotel are all part. The socio-economic demographic of NY Times readers increases …

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Big Apple or Ennistymon dilemma for Willie

North Clare matchmaker, Willie Daly has been invited to New York for St Patrick’s Day, following the recent publication of an interview with him in one of the best-known newspapers in the United States. The Lisdoonvarna man was invited to the city by a group of publicans in Brooklyn, to conduct a matchmaking weekend there, after an article about him appeared in the New York Times on February 3. “I was invited off the back of the article but, really, I always have St Patrick’s Day at home with my grandchildren and we always participate in the Ennistymon parade, so I have to weight it up against that,” he said. Last year, following national headlines made by whistleblowers, Willie and his family entered the parade as the tin whistle blowers. “I have suggested to the people who have invited me that maybe April 1 or May Day might be alternative times for a matchmaking weekend. St Patrick’s Day is busy …

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Online resource to tackle bullies

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly has launched two new resources to help support young people affected by bullying. Tackle Bullying (www.tacklebullying.ie), an online resource for young people affected by bullying, was developed at the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) at Dublin City University and funded by National Lottery Funds. The centtre was established in 1996 by Professor Mona O’Moore and is led by Dr James O’Higgins Norman. It is the first forum of its kind and encourages teenagers to share their experiences with their peers or offer support to others. While the forum will encourage peer-to-peer conversation, all posts will be monitored by professionals and an option to contact one of the moderators directly will be available to those feeling very unhappy or have a serious issue they’d like to discuss. The website will also contain some useful information on the subject such as tips on staying cyber-safe and newspaper articles which might be …

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