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East Clare

Holy Island at centre of new plan to develop Lough Derg tourism

THE conversion of historic buildings in Tuamgraney, Scariff and Mountshannon for use as visitor accommodation is among the recommendations of a new tourism plan for the area around Lough Derg. The draft Visitor Experience Development Plan for Lough Derg (2020-2024) is currently open to public submissions, and puts a focus on the development of Killaloe-Ballina as a lakeside destination, as well as the promotion of Inis Cealtra and urban centres close to it. The new draft plan builds on the Lough Derg Road Map of 2014-2017 and outlines a vision for tourism development for the next four to five years. One of the key stakeholders promoting the document is the Lough Derg Marketing Group (LDMG) which has drawn down funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as well as the agencies from Clare, Tipperary and Galway, who feed into its activities. The draft plan sets out coordinated priorities for the LDMG in developing the visitor economy around Lough …

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Seed Savers on track for bumper harvest season

FUNDING crises, climate change the Covid-19 are among the challenges faced and overcome by the conservation organisation, Irish Seed Savers, over almost a quarter of a century in Clare. The centre in Scariff has just re-opened to the public from Tuesdays to Saturdays, after coronavirus forced it to limit access over the summer months. Because it is a farm, Seed Savers was designated an essential service, and work continued throughout the lockdown and beyond, in order to build up seed banks and respond to a huge rise in public demand for its stocks. “We had re-opened to the public on Saturdays only, from July,” said Jennifer McConnell, General Manager of the facility. “From September 1, we opened five days a week for the public. During lockdown, because of our designation, we were working away with outdoor staff coming in for staggered hours, in accordance with our Covid-19 plan. We’ve had a very busy time, with a 220% increase in demand …

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Songs of Sanctuary in Tulla

KEEPING spirits up in challenging times is the aim two special, socially-distanced concerts coming up in Tulla next week. One Tuesday and Thursday, September 15 and 17, during Culture Week, Songs of Sanctuary will take place at St Peter and Paul’s Church. “What we want to do is to give people an opportunity to dress up and come out for the evening,” said one of the organisers, Joan McNamara. “While many of us involved are members of the Tulla Parish Choir, this isn’t a night of religious music. We’re grateful for the use of the church, because we need the space for social distancing. We have five wonderful singers who have picked two songs each and we five musicians. Our singers have picked songs from the likes of Christy Moore, Ennio Morricone, Christy Hennessy, Kate Rusby and more.” The Songs of Sanctuary idea has its origins in the weeks of the lockdown when Joan and fellow singers wanted to show …

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Anger in Tulla over third incident of theft from graveyard

A SPATE of thefts from graves in Tulla has sparked outrage in the local community, and an appeal for vigilance from the authorities. Six incidents have been reported to Gardaí in recent months, with the latest taking place between 9pm last Thursday (September 3) and 1pm on Friday. A number of grave ornaments, including lanterns, were removed from graves, in a theft which has been condemned by Gardaí. “These items have relatively small monetary value, but have a huge sentimental value to the families involved,” said Inspector Adrian Queeney of Killaloe Station. “These thefts cause huge distress and I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward.” Inspector Queeney said that there is no suggestion, at this point, that any particular family or individual is being targetted. “The thefts seem to be random. We don’t suspect that there’s any issue of targetting, but these thefts are now something that seems to be ongoing and we would appeal for anyone …

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History made as Scariff Mart goes online

HISTORY has been made at Scariff Mart, with facilities now available online as well as in the sales ring. Since the mart facility re-opened at the start of this month, brisk trade has been reported with strong prices and many satisfied farmers as they adapt to changing times and changing technology. Councillor Pat Burke, a board member of Clare Marts and member of the advisory committee for Scariff Mart, said that Covid-19 had forced through a number of changes which had been in the pipeline for a number of years before the pandemic. “We had been looking at an online sales facility in Clare Marts for a number years,” he explained. “We had been out in France and seen systems there, where farmers are given what I would describe as a zapper, and they can make a bid from anywhere in the mart building. Covid came along and forced through some very big changes in a short space of time.” …

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Well-known livestock haulier calls it a day after almost 50 years

James Treacy IF YOU asked patrons in your local pub in East Clare whether they sold cattle in the mart that day, they might not tell you how much they got. One thing is for certain, though, if they were asked who brought the cattle to the mart and if they said, “TJ brought them,” you would all know instantly who they were talking about. Recently, however, Scarriff native TJ O’Callaghan, one of the most famous men at the mart down through the years, retired after almost 50 years in business. Over around half a century, he was well know as a cattle haulier all over Clare, Galway, Limerick and North Tipperary. TJ said that he encountered many close shaves in terms of dangerous situations. In particular in Ennis last year, he was chased and almost attacked by an animal who jumped out of his trailer. Thankfully, TJ made a miraculous escape. By comparison, TJ said that horses were very quiet and safe to transport. …

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Publicans plea for chance to prove they can open responsibly

THE proprietors of an East Clare pub are appealing to the government to give them the chance to prove they can re-open and operate safety. Susan McMahon and Martin Butler have been running The Cobbler’s Rest, a so-called ‘wet’ pub, in Bodyke for the last 16 years. They have expressed anger at the fact that while they are sticking to the rules, a number of pubs are flouting regulations on serving a substantial meal, in order to stay open. Like all other pubs who don’t serve food, The Cobbler’s Rest has been shut since March on the direction of government and The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). Its proprietors have seen three false dawns and been preparing to re-open at different stages in July and August, only to have their hopes dashed at the end of last month. “I don’t think they’re going to let us open at all this year,” said Mr Butler. “It’s desperately unfair. Every pub …

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Craggaunowen closure ‘ideological’ says McNamara

FUTURE development of tourism in East Clare will require new strategies to ensure that key historical sites are sustained as drivers of economic activity, according to a local TD. Scariff’s Deputy Michael McNamara has made the case, once again, for an alternative management structure for the Clare sites operated currently by Shannon Heritage. Since the advent of the pandemic, sites like Craggaunowen and Knappogue Castle outside the village of Quin have remained closed, amid a steep fall-off in international visitor numbers. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, which had been set to close in the autumn, secured an eleventh hour reprieve after a government funding injection of €2.6m. The money will enable it and King John’s Castle to stay open until the end of this year. Speaking to Scariff Bay Community Radio, the Independent TD said he had raised the need to support the wider Shannon Group, with Micheál Martin, before and since his election as Taoiseach. Deputy McNamara added that …

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