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East Clare

Drama on air as Scariff Bay gets set for feast of radio plays

WITH the normally vibrant amateur drama circuit among the casualties of pandemic restrictions, a new creative initiative aims to bring some of the best local acting, writing and directing talent to the airwaves early next year. Scariff Bay Community Radio together with The Clare Drama Festival have launched the inaugural Clare Drama Radio Play Festival, which will be broadcast on the community station in the spring. The station will also work with local national schools to bring short plays, written by pupils, to the airwaves. The Clare Drama Festival is one of the most popular and longest-running in Ireland and its loss, along with the cancellation of all other theatrical events, has been a huge loss to East Clare. “The amateur drama circuit like so many other cultural activities has been in hibernation since March this year,” said Eoin O’Hagan, PRO of Scariff Bay Community Radio. “Several festivals had been up and running and with the lockdown were forced to …

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McKernans weave strands of success in Tuamgraney

SUCCESS came as something of a surprise to husband-and-wife team Anke and Eugene McKernan, who set up their woollen mills in Tuamgraney in the 1980s. “We really didn’t plan it,” Anke told The Champion. “We were originally weavers, but realised that it was the market for hand-crafted scarves that was really going best for us. In 1995 we replaced our handlooms with a 120-year-old cast iron shuttle loom, and in 2012 we purchased our first knitting machine. We just couldn’t have imagined how the business would grow.” Now, McKernan Woollen Mills, produces over 500 different product lines which combine the crafts of weaving and knitting in innovative designs, textures and styles. With 70% of the pre-Covid business coming for export channels – to countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, the US and Canada – the company has had to switch gears to some extent because of the pandemic, and put more of a focus on retail business in outlets including …

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Fourth generation remembers legacy of ‘martyr’ Alphie Rodgers

SCARIFF businessman Mike Rodgers still lives in the house where his famous granduncle was born. Pictures of Alphie Rodgers and his family hang on the wall of the house in The Square where the man who was to become one of the legendary Scariff Martyrs came into the world in 1897. Alphie was one of a family of four and grew up alongside his brother Gerald – Mike’s grandfather – and his sisters Gertie and Kathleen. As respected shop-keepers, with a wide and loyal customer base, the family could never have imagined the devastation the events of the War of Independence would bring to their home. “Alphie was a bit of a golden boy,” Mike told The Champion. “We have letters that he sent when he was a pupil at Rockwell College, thanking his mother for sending him sweets. He was as good boy, but must have had a strong personality too.” Alphie was just 23 when he was fatally …

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Plans to further enhance 12 O’Clock Hills attractions

THE development of the stunning 12 O’Clock Hills walking trails in East Clare is to be marked in special calendar to be launched for the Christmas market. The calendar will include panoramic views from the hills, as well as the popular beauty spots along the routes, and mark the seventh anniversary of the creation of the three popular walking trails which are among the jewels in the crown of tourism locally. Funds raised by the calendar will go towards the part restoration of a ruined farmhouse in the area, as well as the creation of a carved wooden sculpture – both of which are set to add to the attractions along the Hills trails. The restoration of the house known locally as Mary Anne’s is made possible with 80% grant funding from the Heritage Council in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The stone farmhouse was reasonably intact up February 2014 but Storm Darwin blew the …

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Scariff students get set to contribute to new plan for Clare

LOCAL geography has come to life for second years at Scariff Community College, where students are making a submission to a review of the County Development Plan. Under the guidance of teacher Darina Sheridan and with support from Carmel Brislane, a planner with the council, the students are making their voices heard on the future of the school’s catchment area of Scariff, Mountshannon and Whitegate. Geography teacher Darina sees the call for submissions to the plan, which will cover 2022-2028, as an opportunity for some real-world learning. “I had looked that the plan previously with a Transition Year (TY) group and realised that there was potential here for the students to look at their own areas and to get to know then and what kind of amenities they would like to see,” she explained. Working with Clare County Council, Darina began to develop practical exercises built around the submission. “We have had Zoom calls with Carmel, which were great,” she …

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Mystery yarn-bomber returns to Whitegate

AS LOCKDOWN returns, so too has one of the most talked-about mysteries to grip East Clare this year. After an interval of several months, a person, or persons unknown, has once strewn almost every spare inch of Main Street in Whitegate – and a bit of neighbouring Mountshannon – with colourful knitted and crocheted items. Working under cover of darkness, the mystery yarn-bomber(s), have put their considerable craft expertise to use to try to brighten the dark days of Level 5 restrictions, and lift the spirits of the locality. Last week, in a coded message, the covert crocheter contacted The Champion to alert us to their activities. While swearing us to secrecy as to their identity, the yarn-bomber has pledged to leave their colourful handiwork in place until after Hallowe’en. This time around, the deer statue in Mountshannon has had his iconic antlers festooned in knitwear, while in Whitegate, there are colourful crocheted items on poles, with signs outside the …

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Flagmount woman’s poetry raises funds for IKA

A FLAGMOUNT woman is using her new-found literary talent to express her gratitude to an organisation to that supported her to donate a kidney to her husband. Reah Higgins and her husband Aaron underwent surgery in January 2017 so that the couple could share the gift of life. For a number of years up to that point, Aaron had been on gruelling dialysis to manage his chronic kidney disease. “I was a live donor in this instance and fortunately it was a success,” said Reah, “We were blessed to be a match and it was a miracle really and life changing, in that we could make plans again. We had been very restricted before with Aaron on dialysis three times a week and often ill or fatigued. He now has lots more energy, less hospital appointments and his spark back.” Together with their sons Fionn (12) and Stephen (10), the couple have been enjoying greater freedom until the pandemic hit …

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Report finds evidence of attacks on Clare birds of prey

EIGHT incidents involving the killing of birds of prey have been recorded in Clare over a ten-year period, a new report on the unnatural deaths of raptors reveals. The study was carried out by the Raptor Protocol (Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to Our Raptors), which involves the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Veterinary Laboratory Service and State Laboratory and published earlier this month. Incidents in this county included the poisoning of a White Tailed Sea Eagle at Lough Derg in East Clare in October 2017. Some of the other incidents recorded in this county concern the killing of peregrine falcons in the Loop Head area. The findings have prompted government to announced the setting up of a new unit within the NPWS to address wildlife crime. Nationally, a wide range of causes of death for the raptors are listed. These include poisoning, persecution, fence, road and turbine collisions. Some of the incidents would have had …

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