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East Clare wind farm planning application to be lodged in June

PLANS for a multimillion Euro East Clare wind farm are to be lodged next month, The Clare Champion has learned. Coillte has confirmed that it is currently finalising an application for 19 turbines on a 750 hectare site, around a-mile-and-a-half from Bodyke, on the slopes of Slieve Bearnagh. The proposal, which will seek 30-year permission for The Carrownagowan Wind Farm, will be lodged directly to An Bórd Pleanála as strategic infrastructure. “Our project team is targeting a submission date towards the end of June and this will be advertised prior to final submission,” outlined Andy Fox, Community Engagement Manager with Coillte. Mr Fox also noted that a detailed brochure on the project had recently been widely distributed across East Clare, and that consultations were continuing, in line with the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. The site is described by Coillte as an appropriate location to access the national grid via the substation at Ardnacrusha. The company also notes it is designated …

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Fears for future of Bank of Ireland branch in Tulla

FEARS have been expressed for the future of the Bank of Ireland branch in Tulla and a campaign to save it from permanent closure has begun. The bank, which is located on Main Street in the town, was among 101 branches nationwide to close temporarily from March 24 last, in a move which Bank of Ireland said would enable it to focus on priority services during the Covid-19 crisis. The branches in Kilkee and Miltown Malbay were also closed as part of the bank’s response. In Tulla, the Bank of Ireland branch is the only bank in the town. Its closure has left the people of the town relying on an ATM in the local supermarket to access cash over the last two months. Raising his concerns at the May meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Pat Hayes, called on Bank of Ireland to “come clean” about the future of the Tulla branch. “The branch was closed down very …

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12 O’Clocks Hills reopen popular walking trails

AFTER a 50-day shut-down, hill-walkers have been able to return to one of the county’s premier amenities at the 12 O’Clock Hills. The facility was closed in March to help with efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, even before official public health guidelines kicked in. Last Monday, the operators welcomed walkers living within five kilometres of the facility and issued new guidelines to ensure social distancing. Chairperson of the 12 O’Clock Hills committee, Patsy Neville said the co-operation of the public had been greatly appreciated during the lock-down. “We had a tremendous response,” he said. “For once, we were delighted that people stayed away. We’re delighted now to welcome people back. Once we announced the re-opening, we had 7,000 views on our social media, so there is a huge demand to get back hill-walking.” Mr Neville also advised that those intending to use the facility would take a little extra time to make themselves aware of new guidelines. “It’s …

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Wheelchair users raise concerns about access to new Local Link services in Clare

A SOUTH Galway wheelchair user has voiced his concern about the accessibility of vehicles on Local Link routes currently, and called on Minister Shane Ross to “cop on” and return the service to Clare Bus. Séamus Ó Donnacha from Kinvara, who works for Clare Crusaders in Barefield, has been using a wheelchair for 15 years, said the nature of the accessible buses currently on the routes removed independence from passengers with disabilities, and literally left them “stuck at the back of the bus”. “To my knowledge, there are some accessible buses in the fleet which are able to cater for wheelchair users,” Mr Ó Donnacha outlined. “Clare Bus had low-floor buses which meant that someone could get straight onto the bus. Now, what we have are vehicles with tail lifts at the back. That means that wheelchair user needs to be helped on board, and they’re left there away from everyone else and can’t interact with others. That’s an upsetting …

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Quin equestrian company moves horse sales on-line

NECESSITY is said to be the mother of invention, and that’s certainly true during the Covid-19 crisis. With severe restrictions on movement hitting the sale of thorough-bred horses, Quin equestrian specialist Johnny Hassett has responded by moving his business on-line. The Bloodstock Connection, at Ballyhannon House, specialises in producing what are called ‘breeze up’ horses. These are generally two-year-olds, who are galloped or ‘breezed’ along a track where prospective buyers can assess them before inspecting them at the sales arena. Taking the business into the virtual world was very much a “make or break” response to the coronavirus outbreak. “We made the decision around seven weeks ago,” Mr Hassett said. “It has gone well in that we’ve sold some horses, but the really big benefit has been to raise our profile and keep our names out there. As a breeze up company, we had doubled up on horses, twice as many horses and upped the calibre significantly and the spend, …

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Foróige ‘beebombs’ create colourful wildflower bed in Scariff

THE fine weather has been put to good use on the Connaught Road in Scariff, with the creation of a wild flower bed by junior residents. The activity combined social distancing with some lessons in gardening, and involved the planting of over 100 ‘bee bombs’ created by members of Scariff Foróige Youth Club. The bombs were made, as part of a community project, by combining pollinator-friendly flower seeds with compost, soil and water. “Every year, the club takes part in the Foróige Citizenship Awards in Dublin, so members pick a project that will be of benefit to the local community and this time around, it was the bee bombs,” explained Tracey Doyle, one of the leaders with Scariff Foróige Youth Club. “We thought we’d get together with Tidy Towns and the Community Council to distribute them, but Covid-19 had a different agenda.” When Anne Culloo from the Connaught Road decided to start a wild flower bed at the front of …

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Anger in Tulla after ‘heartless’ graveyard theft

THE Parish Priest of Tulla has made an appeal to people to be vigilant, after what he described as “heartless” thefts from a number of graves in the town. The incidents were reported to Gardaí last Friday after a visitor to the graveyard, which is on the Hill of Tulla, discovered that freshly-bought plants had been stolen from a grave. It is understood that a number of other graves were tampered with and that rose bushes were among the items stolen from two of them. The incidents have caused considerable distress locally and Gardaí are appealing for information. “People are so upset,” said Fr Brendan Quinlivan. “First and foremost, it’s very distressing that this should have happened in a place that is so scared to so many people. Something like this has a profound effect on everyone, but particularly on those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and are already carrying that very heavy burden. To do …

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Crowe and colleagues raise Clare Bus issue in Dáil Éireann

THE issue of Clare Bus has been raised in Dáil Éireann, with three of the constituency’s TDs appealing directly to Minister Shane Ross to intervene in the dispute with the National Transport Authority (NTA), which resulted in new contractors being appointed to the rural transport service in March. Deputy Cathal Crowe outlined the importance of the service saying, “We are not a leafy suburb with DARTs and Luas trams going down through it. We rely very much on rural transport.” The Fianna Fáil TD described the dispute over funding as “shambolic” and, referring to the staff of Clare bus said, “They are the only group of workers I can think of in the State at present who have been made redundant, not by the Covid crisis but by Government body hard-balling.” In her maiden speech in Dáil Éireann, Sinn Féin TD, Violet-Anne Wynne asked, “Will the Minister also step up and engage an independent mediator to resolve contractual issues between …

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