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Kilrush barber cuts a deal for giant Springsteen passport

THE giant Irish passport presented by Kilrush-based barber, James Coughlan, at Thomond Park in July 2013 is to be included in the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection at Monmouth University in New Jersey. The presentation was made to the American singer in front of a 30,000-strong crowd at a concert in the stadium. “The director of performing arts at Monmouth University contacted me recently and said they are honoured to have the generous donation included in Bruce Springsteen’s collection, after many offers from people wanting to purchase the original signed passport,” James Coughlan explained. “I am happy to donate it to a place where it will be seen forever and become a part of history. What this means is this collection is going to be preserved and accessible to future generations of fans, educators, students and researchers,” he explained. The Kilrush barber said the collection is the largest in the world of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia and is where the singer has …

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Daisy on the Sky Road Loop outside Clifden.

Five woofs for pet friendly holiday

I’ve hijacked this week’s column from my friend, Bev, to tell you of my travels. Every year around this time, I like to take my humans on a little trip. It’s surprising how hardly any Irish hotels take dogs, but a few enlightened ones do, including Brook Lodge in Wicklow, where we went last year. This time around, we all went to the Twelve, in Barna – just a few minutes outside Galway city – as a birthday treat. I was told about the hotel by my good friend Siobhán. Because they only have one dog-friendly room, I was guaranteed exclusivity, but it meant I’d have to be on my best behaviour at all times having no other dogs to blame in the event of any accidents. We drove straight out to Clifden on our first day as I had never seen any part of Connemara. What a beautiful, rugged landscape. We stopped in Clifden for a coffee but I’m …

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Forging a long link from India to Clare

A tour operators from India has visited Clare this week, in advance of attending a B2B workshop with Irish tourism enterprises in Dublin on this Thursday. The visit is being organised by Tourism Ireland, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, to encourage the visiting tour operators to extend the Ireland content of their existing programmes or to include Ireland for the first time in their 2015 programmes. The group’s itinerary included lunch at The Tea & Garden Rooms in Ballyvaughan, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, a site inspection at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, as well as an evening at the medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle. The group stayed at the Bunratty Castle Hotel. Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s head of Australia and developing markets, said the visit of the group is particularly timely following the launch of the new British-Irish Visa Scheme last week. “The introduction of the British-Irish Visa Scheme is really good news, making it easier …

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The social welfare elements of Budget 2015

Budget 2015 will help families back to work, provide extra financial support for children and a range of vulnerable groups, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton. “Through the Pathways to Work strategy to reduce the Live Register, the Department has placed an unrelenting focus on helping jobseekers return to work, with unemployment down from a crisis peak of 15.1% to 11.1% now. This focus will continue in 2015, and will produce significant savings from reduced jobseeker payments, which produces a number of benefits. “Firstly, it means that overall welfare spending continues to decrease, contributing to the stabilisation of the public finances. Secondly, it ensures there will be no reductions to any social welfare scheme in 2015. Thirdly, we can use some of the savings to increase payments in certain areas to assist the most vulnerable,” she said. Main social welfare elements in Budget 2015 Return to Work Initiatives – €1.1 billion to be spent on employment …

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Pioneering project for teenagers with Aspergers

THE first Irish social inclusion skills programme, to assist over 30 Clare teenagers with Aspergers, will be pioneered by a local disability advocacy group next month. The Disabled People of Clare will run a 15-week programme based on the acclaimed PEERS project. This innovative programme will provide a step-by-step coaching/mentoring approach to helping young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and similar challenges to develop positive social skills and relationships within family, community, educational and employment situations. The project will be a collaborative initiative involving members of the School Age Disability Team from Clare Early Intervention Services (CEIS) and DPOC representatives. The HSE Disability Team will provide a psychologist and a social worker to help run the project. DPOC is delighted to be able to work in partnership with the intervention team to produce what is expected to be pioneering quantitative information on how to address social skills deficits for teenagers with high-functioning ASD. If this programme meets initial expectations, …

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Doonbeg conference on role of rural women

NEXT Wednesday evening, Doonbeg community hall will host an evening to mark International Day of Rural Women. It will be the first time the day has been formally marked in Clare. The West Clare Family Resource Centre in Kilrush, who are organising the event, has noticed that, despite policies and strategies being produced to improve rural life, there is very little recognition of the contribution of women to rural Ireland. Esther O’Rourke, who lives with her husband Damien and their two daughters, near Cree village, will be one of the speakers next week. From Irvine in Scotland, Esther has lived in Cree for six and a half years. Similar to many married women who move to rural Ireland, she has found that she has had to work hard to adjust and make friends. Her husband is from Ennis and although he has cousins in Cooraclare and Kilrush, the couple didn’t have a network to fall back on when they moved. …

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Ailish heads in new direction

Bodyke-based milliner, Ailish McElroy has recently launched her own line of handmade, bespoke hats and headpieces. Ailish is originally from Rathfarnham in Dublin and worked abroad for a few years, before returning to Ireland to settle in Bodyke with her family. Her designs are classic and edgy, with maximum elegance, creating that finishing touch to complement any outfit. Specialising in unique and imaginative headpieces, she was the official milliner for the Clare Rose at this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Millinery is a craft form that has been rapidly expanding of late and Ailish explains how she got involved in it. “I have always been a very creative person and I have been a graphic designer for many years. I always had an intense interest in all types of design; fashion, interiors, architecture. After attending Ladies Day at the Galway Races last year, I developed an interest in millinery. I was soul-searching for an area I could devote myself …

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Belgians latest to view Wild Atlantic Way

Some 750,000 Belgians are the latest TV viewers who will be given an insight into the Banner County the Wild Atlantic Way. A crew from one of the most popular weekly travel shows, Vlaanderen Vakantieland (Flanders on Holiday), on VRT, a national Belgian TV network, travelled on the invitation of Tourism Ireland to film along the Wild Atlantic Way this summer. They captured footage for four different episodes, which are airing this month in Belgium. Two well-known Belgian actors are featured enjoying the relaxed pace of a holiday by horse-drawn caravan along the route. Filming was carried out at various locations, including Clare Heritage Museum, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. The TV show will also feature sea-kayaking at Ballyvaughan and Dolphinwatch conservation in Carrigaholt. The episodes filmed in Ireland are also being promoted by Tourism Ireland on its website, www.ireland.com, by email marketing and social media activity; as well as on the Vlaanderen Vakantieland website.  

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