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Volunteers clock up over 8,500 hours

LAST year saw an increase of volunteer registrations with the Clare Volunteer Centre, bringing the total number of volunteers registered to more than 1,400 people, who contributed over 8,563 hours to the local community – up from 7,949 in 2013. These volunteers are only a small fraction of the estimated 41% of Irish people who volunteered in 2014. Of the volunteers who signed up in 2014, the most popular areas of interest were befriending/mentoring, retail and teaching/tutoring. The most popular reasons for wanting to volunteer were, to assist career/employment prospects and to make a difference in the community. Nearly two-thirds of the volunteers who signed up with the Clare Volunteer Centre last year had never volunteered before and more than 160 community and voluntary organisations are now registered with Clare Volunteer Centre. Commenting on 2014, Sharon Meaney, manager with the Clare Volunteer Centre, said, “Every year, we are delighted to see the registration figures for the Clare Volunteer Centre increasing. …

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Killaloe – the ‘Kinsale of the region’

RESIDENTIAL property sales clinched almost €15 million for home owners in South-East Clare last year, official figures have revealed. Some of the highest prices for homes were realised in Killaloe, Ogonnelloe and Broadford, where a stunning period house and lands netted almost €1 million, according to the Residential Property Price Register. “Killaloe is regarded as the Kinsale of the region. People aspire to come and live years over the years. Killaloe is a popular location for people who move into the area and can still travel a relatively short distance to work in Limerick, Shannon or Nenagh,” said John Phelan of Harry Brann Auctioneers. Even though the start of the year is usually considered to be a quiet period for auctioneers and property transactions, February 2014 proved to be an exceptional month, with total sales in South-East Clare netting an impressive €2.116 million. This compares with residential property deals worth €717,500 in January and €632,000 in March. Top of the …

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‘Irish Muslims have not been spared’

A WEST Clare Muslim convert has described last week’s murder of 12 people in an attack on the offices of a French satirical magazine as “an evil, cowardly and barbaric act”. It was reported that Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for planning and funding the Charlie Hebdo massacre in revenge for ridiculing Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. As the number of Muslim converts in Ireland grows, one Quilty man, who converted to Islam nearly a decade ago, believes the voice of Irish Muslims is missing from the discussion on the rise of extremism. Last week’s attacks in Paris were condemned by Christopher (Yusuf) Pender, who believes such incidents only serve to diminish the reputation of Muslims and do nothing to spread the message of the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an. Yusuf also compared what he sees as a creeping increase in Islamophobia here with the treatment of Irish people in Britain during the Troubles. “My father lived in London in the …

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West Clare-China links stretch back a long way

CLARE’S links with China stretch back to the early part of the last century, when several people from the west of the county served with the Shanghai police force and in the judiciary. In a week when Clare County Council voted to accept an invitation from the vice-president of Yunnan Province to visit the region in April or May, with a view to building links between the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the Stone Forest Geopark (Shilin Geopark), located in the south-west of China, historian Paddy Waldron has told The Clare Champion of the connection between Carrigaholt and Cross to Shanghai, in particular. Pat Keating from Fierd in Cross returned to Ireland from China in 1933 and later donated one thousand pounds for a marble altar in the Catholic church in the village, near his birthplace. He bought Plassey House, known as the White House to University of Limerick students, in 1933. He is thought to have got …

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China twinning needs cost benefit study

A cost benefit analysis should be conducted on a proposed twinning arrangement between Clare and a province in China, according to a local councillor. Councillor PJ Kelly has urged Clare County Council to complete a thorough review on the costs and benefits of sending a delegation to Yuman Province, to prevent members ending up like a “shower of fools”. While Councillor Kelly is not opposed to the council’s bid to explore establishing a new twinning arrangement, he stressed the importance of proper planning and research on what the Chinese like to do when they travel abroad, before a decision is made on the trip. While the Lissycasey councillor admitted that the public may not happy with the cost of the trip, he warned they would be even more dissatisfied if the delegation returned without achieving a defined set of objectives. The council has accepted an invitation from the People’s Republic of China to send a delegation to the country later …

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Search begins for Clare’s older person of the year

THE Clare Older People’s Council are looking to find the County’s Older Person of the Year. This person will be aged 55 or over and will be up to their neck in voluntary work for their community. Evelyn Henry of the council outlined what’s required, “It must be someone aged over 55, they must reside in Clare and we’re looking for someone who does a lot of voluntary work for their communities. We’re looking for nominations from community organisations; that can be a scout group, an active retirement group, the ICA, a community council, whatever. We’re looking for the sort of person who is always there to lend a hand, whether it’s picking up rubbish, washing up cups, whatever’s required.” Chairperson of the council, Stella O’Gorman added, “This is to recognise that older people have a very valuable contribution to make and should be rewarded for it.” Regarding the council’s role, she said, “We represent the views of older people …

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Michael Waugh pictured at his grandmother's house near Barefield. Photograph by Arthur Ellis.

US Tour Company seeks to expand in Clare

ALTHOUGH born and bred in The Bronx, New York, Michael Waugh feels a deep attachment to his late grandmothers home in Trinaderry, Barefield. In practical terms he is using his emotional link to Clare to help further develop US based Wild West Irish Tours which he operates with his wife Trish. Now living in Richmond, Virginia, Michael called Sligo home for five years but is hoping to spend a sizeable portion of 2015 in Clare in the company of his various tour groups. “We have tours from April right up to November 1. Around this time of the year I’m normally over in the US promoting our tours and going to Irish festivals. Then around April 1, I’ll be in Ireland and the tours start. We’ll pick up the people, who signed up over the winter, at Shannon or Dublin. Then we show them the real, authentic Ireland that I know from living here. The thing is while I do …

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Nature’s new year wake up

THE new year has arrived mild and wet. Nature is getting confused here at The Hogsprickle; we have flowers blooming that should be asleep. Our hedgehogs are all awake, hungry and grumpy and, unfortunately, it still too early to release them, so they will continue to enjoy their B&B here until the weather is mild enough for them to go into the outside runs to acclimatise, before release back to the wild. The birds that were released during last year are, mostly, still around, as the garden is full of birds looking for an easy meal. Fat balls and bird seeds are an important supplement at this time, as the birds now need to put on condition and attract a mate ready to raise this year’s family. Although it’s mild, you still need to keep an eye out for wildlife that may be injured or made homeless due to the heavy rainfall flooding ground nests of hedgehogs, foxes and other …

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