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Anger at Fáilte Ireland response on Atlantic Way signs for Miltown

A NORTH Clare councillor has been sharply critical of the decision by Fáilte Ireland not to erect Wild Atlantic Way signage in Miltown Malbay. Councillor Róisín Garvey told the June meeting of the West Clare Municipal District that sometimes local authority members knew better than Fáilte Ireland when it came to tourism development projects. In response to the Green Party member calling for Miltown, “the real gateway to West Clare” to be put on the route, using new signage, the tourism authority said it had no plans to do so. A written reply to Councillor Garvey’s motion from Miriam Kennedy, Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, said it was felt that Miltown was already part of the destination marketing plan. “Being on or adjacent to the Wild Atlantic Way,” Ms Kennedy said, “offers destinations an opportunity to influence the visitor’s travel patterns as they navigate along the route and given Miltown Malbay’s immediate proximity to the route, it is considered …

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Web series showcases Miltown’s musical youth

THE wealth of musical talent of the young people of the Miltown Malbay area is set to be showcased to audiences around the world in a new web series to be released from this week. The series, which was the brainchild of the Miltown Malbay Development Committee (MMDC) and was filmed by Neil Hynes, the manager of the state-of-the-art €1.4m community centre in the West Clare town, features some of those who have taken the tradition into the 21st century. The initiative was prompted after the pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s Willie Clancy Summer School. Mr Hynes explained, “Realising the streets wouldn’t be heaving this July with musicians and tourists from all over the world, we felt that it may be easy for the public to assume that the spirit of the area had been sucked out of it, that it was no longer there. No Willie Clancy, no Miltown Malbay. Nothing could be further from the truth.” …

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Scariff Bay Community Radio awarded second 100-day licence

AFTER outstanding service to the communities of East Clare during the lockdown, Scariff Bay Community Radio has been awarded a second one hundred day FM licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The station is also pursuing plans to open new studios in O’Callaghan’s Mills, Tulla and Killaloe in the near future. The licence came into effect last Monday, and once again allows the station to broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am on both 88.3FM and 92.7FM, throughout the east of the county. The station will also continue to stream all shows on-line and on its website scariffbayradio.com, as well as on the Tune In app for smart devices and phones. Led by Chairman Jim Collins, the roster of 30 volunteers has continued to present its shows during the Covid-19 crisis. Using a range of remote working technologies, they have broadcast to the local communities and a wide diaspora abroad. Hosting shows and interviewing guests using social media including WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook and …

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Call for Council to Take Over Craggaunowen Vistor Centre

ONE of the pioneers of tourism in Clare would be “turning in his grave” at the decision to curtail access to Shannon Heritage facilities, a local authority member has said. Councillor Pat Hayes has slammed the decision to keep Knappogue Castle and Craggaunowen closed until further notice, in response to the pandemic, and to limit the season for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. He said the situation flew in the face of the legacy of Dr Brendan O’Regan, who was instrumental in developing the amenities. “Given how important domestic tourism will be this year, and the fact that people are looking for facilities close to home, the decision is very disappointing,” he said. “As well as their importance to tourism in the midwest, these are vital facilities in terms of Irish history and heritage. Dr Brendan O’Regan would be turning in his grave over this.” The Fianna Fáil member there is now a strong case for a local authority take-over …

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Sheepdogs demonstrate social distancing in the Burren

WITH strict Covid-19 social distancing guidelines still in place, John Davoren has trained his famous sheepdogs at Caherconnell cashel fort in the Burren to demonstrate the concept. It makes for interesting viewing in an online Facebook video for those who might be contemplating visiting the award-winning visitor attraction after it reopens next week. The Border collies separate the sheep into small groups and get them to stay there no matter what distractions there might be. Farming in an area where his family has lived for centuries, John began training dogs, teaching a variety of dogs to work with both sheep and cattle when he was a teenager. Unable to open for 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic put the country into lockdown, John now has everything at the ready to allow visitors walk through the ancient stone fort and see the sheepdog demonstrations without any worries of being too close to anybody else but family members. His unique enterprise attracts people …

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East Clare Buddhist Centre Reaches Community Online

THE woodlands nestled along the The 12 O’Clock Hills, in East Clare, might seem a world away from the tropical forests of Thailand, but both provide inspiration for reflection and retreat from the world. And, tucked away along the woodland trails, a stone’s throw from Kilkishen, the Sunyata Buddhist Centre is dedicated to teaching a form of meditation associated with the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism. As well as welcoming a growing community of Irish Buddhists, in pre-pandemic times, the centre regularly welcomed Buddhist monks from South East Asia on retreat during the rainy season from July to October. Like all places of religious practice, the centre shut down in response to the coronavirus and has also succeeded in reaching its community and keeping activities going on-line. “In ordinary times, people would be welcome to visit the centre at any time, outside of the dates when retreats would be going on,” explained Heike Griffin, a member of the Sunyata …

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New West Clare Cathaoirleach Optimistic About Region’s Recovery

WEST Clare must stand ready to capitalise on the opportunities coming its way, despite the challenges of Covid-19, according to the new Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District. Councillor Joe Garrihy said that while 2020 would be a difficult one, in light of the pandemic, there was strong potential to develop West Clare if members work together on strategically important projects. “It is a challenging time for the district in terms of tourism, agriculture and the overall recovery from the impact of Covid-19,” the Fine Gael member noted. “We have a great team, but we will need help from central government and strong representation. We will also need to diversify and end our over-reliance on tourism.” Councillor Garrihy, who was elected last year as a first-time member of the local authority, identified opportunities in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the investment in climate change projects. “Sustainable energy projects will be possible across West Clare,” he noted. “A new town …

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Clare Bus Hope Covid Restrictions Won’t Impact on Tender Plans

LIMITS on the number of passengers who can safely use public transport could have implications for the ability of Clare Bus to tender for nine local transport routes. Earlier this month, the National Transport Authority (NTA) sought Expressions of Interest for the routes, which had been operated by Clare Bus until the end of March. Due to a funding dispute, the Feakle-based accessible transport service lost a total of 12 routes and is hopeful of being able to tender again for nine of them. The chairperson of Clare Accessible Transport (CAT), which trades as Clare Bus, told The Champion the board would have to examine the tender documents in detail before making an application. “We have expressed our interest and the next step is that the NTA will issue nine individual tender calls,” he said. “We expect to receive those this week, but until we look at them, we don’t know exactly what will be required. Once the management team …

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