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Broadband frustrations increase for East Clare residents working from home

FRUSTRATION at poor broadband across large sections of East Clare has intensified as more people try to work and study from home in response to the pandemic. One Tulla resident has told The Champion of her efforts to improve her family’s service which has involved contacting ten different providers, to no avail. The women, who lives just a few kilometres from the town, is a customer with Eir and uses a mobile broadband dongle. “I originally had broadband through the phone line and the service was very poor,” she explained. “The mobile device is supposed to provide wireless internet for up to ten devices, but if you have any more than two connected, it is a disaster. I’m working from home and my daughter was in Leaving Cert, so her studies had to take priority. At best, the service is okay, but that’s all. It is affected by bad weather too, which doesn’t help.” After trying ten different service providers …

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Tulla employer pioneers staff wellness projects

OVER 400 employees at Beckman Coulter in Tulla, can look forward to adding an extra spring in their step – the company just opened a beautiful 5k nature trail and walkway at its farmland site. The biomedical device maker is situated on an 85 hectare farm that includes a number of lakes and the ruins of an old castle can be viewed– as well as a walled garden and hardwood forest. The site is also home to bees, bats and a wormery that helps to recycle water. The walkway was completed in time for World Mental Health Day, last Saturday, and Mental Health Week. Commenting, Site Director Orlaith Lawler said, “Our engineering and facilities team worked with our Environmental Health and Safety officers to put this in place. It offers all our employees a stunning new amenity where they can enjoy some relaxation, exercise and mindfulness.” The trail is part of a range of innovative new measures designed to help …

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Quin residents say Knappogue and Craggaunowen have been ‘abandoned’

CONCERN in the Quin area over the ongoing closure of two local Shannon Heritage sites has prompted a call for an action committee to ensure their future. With the advent of the pandemic last March, five sites in Clare and Limerick faced an uncertain future, due to the collapse in overseas visitor numbers. Only Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and King John’s Castle in Limerick have managed to stay open after intense campaigns involving staff, unions and politicians, and a promise of funding from government – the exact details of which are still being ironed out. Ger O’Halloran of Quin, a businessman and former local election candidate, has pleaded with those responsible not to abandon Knappogue Castle and Craggaunowen, and called for a local action committee to be established. “To look at Knappogue now, it is locked up and unkempt looking,” he remarked. “The longer it is closed, the more it will cost to get it open again. To maintain …

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Scariff links for writer who has made ‘novel’ debut

A FASCINATING novel on the fortunes of an Irish man who fought in World War One has just been published by a man with strong East Clare revolutionary roots. Dubliner Brendan Lynch is the son of a Scariff native and spent many happy summers in the Banner County. Brendan Lynch is the author of nine books to-date, and The Old Gunner and his Medals is his first novel, which he has published at the age of 80. A former racing cyclist and driver, railway clerk and journalist, Brendan was imprisoned in the 1960 for his activities with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). His books include City of Writers, inspired by his acquaintance with Brendan Behan and JP Dunleavy. Author Colum McCann said of the book that that it showed “the who, what, where, when, how and why of a place that is built on the intricacies of language”. Brendan’s interest in history is probably inspired in part by his …

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Covid restrictions put further pressure on Clare’s rural post offices

PANDEMIC restrictions are putting increased pressure on rural post offices, as the move towards a cashless society accelerates, according the post master for Scariff and Feakle. Brian McMahon said that while rural post offices had been commended as centres of help and support for the community, there was no real recognition from government of the pressures created by Covid-19 restrictions. “The government is striving for a cashless society,” he said. “That has meant more payments to bank accounts, rather than in person at the post office. The reality is that communities need cash and in some cases, we are the major supplier in places where there is no bank or cash point in many areas.” Mr McMahon added that the terms of the new contracts issued to post masters were not as favourable as those issued two years ago. “Under the old contracts, we counted our transactions over a three-year period,” he noted. “Now we are counting them month-by-month. As …

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Deer hunting licence delays prompts concern over farm and forest damage

DEER are said to be causing significant damage to farms and forests in East Clare, with the pandemic being blamed for a slow-down in the processing of permits for hunters, five weeks into open season. Concerns have also been raised about the ongoing issue of illegal deer hunting, which a major conservation and management organisation described as a recurring problem in the east of the county. “There are landowners in East Clare who might go out to find 30 to 40 deer on their grazing,” said William Shortall of the IFA  said. “As the population of deer expands, they’re competing for food and that’s what drives them into grassland areas and tillage. What we need in the long term is an agency with responsibility for the overall management of deer, who will be able to put effective plans in place to control their numbers. We’re entering the rut now, where stags move off their territory in search of females, so …

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Inis Cealtra project takes major step forward

EAST Clare tourism interests have warmly welcomed progress with the long-awaited project to develop a visitor centre for Inis Cealtra. Clare County Council announced this week that consultants, McCullough Mulvin Architects, Tandem Partners Ltd and Tobin Consulting Engineers, have signed a contract for the design of the Visitor Experience centre. The council is leading the project, along with a wide range of partners. Chairperson of East Clare Tourism, Arlene White welcomed a number of aspects of the plans to further the next stage of the project. “It is very encouraging to see the emphasis on sustainability and connections with the local community,” she said. “We want to avoid a situation where there are buses of visitors flocking and just barely touching down in the area. I think lessons have been learned, in that respect, from the situation at The Cliffs of Moher.” Ms White added that the challenge would be to ensure real benefits to the wider East Clare region. …

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Call for better access to amenity park in Killaloe

ACCESS to those with disabilities to one of East Clare most popular amenity areas needs to be improved, in the view of members of the Killaloe Municipal District committee. There was strong support for measures to improve access to Two Mile Gate Lakeside Amenity Park, following a motion tabled by Killaloe-based Councillor Tony O’Brien. Located a few kilometres outside the town at Ballycuggeran, it is a designated Blue Flag bathing area and has seen record visitor numbers over the summer months. “As things stand currently, people with disabilities are unable to access the amenity park and improving the infrastructure is essential,” the Fianna Fáil member said. “The park is a fantastic facility on the eastern shore of Lough Derg. It’s a major tourist attraction and very popular. It’s necessary that everyone should be able to access it.” Councillor O’Brien welcomed the response from the executive of the council which said the authority had applied for Clár funding to carry out accessibility …

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