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East Clare

Dáil told of ‘loathsome’ timing of Clare Bus contract cut

MINISTER Simon Harris has undertaken to ask the minister for transport to engage with Clare’s Independent TD over the decision of the National Transport Authority (NTA) to terminate the contracts of Clare Bus. It follows an appeal by Deputy Michael McNamara who told fellow Dáil members that the timing of the NTA’s actions had been “loathsome”. “Just as the restrictions were introduced, [Clare Bus] had a contract for Local Link services, which was dropped by the National Transport Authority,” he said. “It’s one thing I think, we would all agree that private companies  shouldn’t use this as a cloak to break bad news and to do very Draconian things to staff members, but when the National Transport Authority does it, I think it’s a particularly loathsome thing to do… And, of course, for the staff who were protesting outside of this house last June, can’t protest. They can’t even protest at home in Clare because effectively, everybody’s locked down… I’ve …

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Anna clocking up 100km in fund-raising lock-down run

A YOUNG Whitegate woman is determined to show her support for East Clare’s older citizens during the lock-down, by pledging to run 100km before May 5. Through her challenge, Anna Madden, who lives in Galway City, has raised over €3,000 to-date for Raheen Community Hospital. The 28-year-old is meeting her goal, while sticking to public health guidelines of exercising within a 2km radius of home, and undertook the fundraising challenge after fearing that the Community Hospital was being forgotten about in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. “I found it a bit upsetting and sad to find that nothing was being done by way of fundraising,” said Anna. “All of the focus at the moment seems to be on the big hospitals and their facilities. My mum works at Raheen Community Hospital and almost everyone in Whitegate area has some kind of connection. They do such wonderful work and there’s an amazing atmosphere there.” Anna admits that her fundraising ambitions …

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Spancilhill Fair Called Off Over Covid Concerns

THE world famous Spancilhill Horse Fair has been cancelled for the second time ever in its 400-year history. Restrictions associated with Covid-19 have prompted organisers to make the decision, even before the revised government guidelines banning large gatherings until the end of August. They said they still maintain hope that the fair can run in 2021 to celebrate four centuries of horse-trading and equestrian competition since the event received its royal charter from King Charles in 1621. The fair, which had been due to take place on Tuesday, June 23, would simply not have been possible given the risk of Coronavirus transmissions said Chairperson Brian Clune. “It was inevitable and I suppose that given the risk to public health, it’s just one of those things,” he said. “The last time it was called off was in 2001 and that was because of the Foot and Mouth crisis.” Mr Clune said that because of the famous nature of the date of …

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Councillor Cooney receives assurances over Tulla social housing concerns

RESIDENTS of Tulla have been commended for highlighting issues of concern with a proposed social housing development which has just secured permission for a site at Doonaun on the outskirts of the village. The 25-home development, represents an investment of around €6 million, and was approved at this month’s meeting of Clare County Council. The proposals were the subject of 17 local objections – one of which included a petition signed by 45 local residents. Speaking to The Champion, Councillor Joe Cooney paid tribute to the efforts of the residents to work with elected representatives on identifying issues and said he believed these had now been addressed. “I am aware that residents had concerns and I met with them to hear their views,” Councillor Cooney said. “I would like to compliment residents on making their views known so that we, as local representatives, could refer these back to the local authority and have them addressed.” Among the issues raised was …

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East Clare retailers hope for ‘shop local’ business boost

BUSINESSES across rural East Clare have been pulling out all of the stops to support their customer base in a time of crisis, and are determined to keep services going in the midst of the Covid-19 restrictions. Even before the Coronavirus hit, many communities in the east of the county struggled with social isolation, meaning local businesses are a lifeline. But, with long commutes to work another facet of rural life, small retailers can find themselves overlooked and losing out to the big multiples in larger towns. Against the backdrop of the lock-down and strict controls on travel and social distancing, some smaller outlets have experienced a boost to their business and are hopeful that shopping locally could become more popular in the long-term. In Tulla, Kate Murphy who runs the popular Holly Tree Café on Church Road in Tulla, was facing into the prospect of long-term closure as the lock-down took effect. Now, with a little imagination, creativity and …

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Post-Covid ‘staycation’ hopes for East Clare tourism

TOURISM operators in East Clare have said they remain cautiously optimistic in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 lock-down, which has brought the sector to a standstill for now. The season would normally begin around Easter, and tourism providers are currently coping with a raft of cancelled tour bookings, as well as the shelving of key events and activities. Hope is being drawn, however, from the anticipated demand for ‘staycation’ breaks once the restrictions on movement are lifted, and from the development of key projects including the River Shannon Tourism Master Plan 2020-2030, which is currently in draft form and open for public submissions. “A good season in East Clare would be starting around Easter,” noted Arlene White, Chairperson of Tourism East Clare. “What we are now seeing instead is the cancellation of bookings for months ahead. It’s very tough for everyone, but we understand the need for the restrictions and we are hoping that 2020 won’t be a complete …

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Tulla Comhaltas Members Stay In Tune Despite Crisis

TULLA Comhaltas are making sure younger members stay in tune, while their regular music lessons and band practice sessions remain suspended as the Covid-19 crisis continues. The organisation, which has up to 100 members in the under-18 age category, has been inviting its junior musicians to record performances in their homes and share them on the Tulla Comhaltas Facebook page. The activity has proven hugely popular with audiences worldwide and has been instrumental in keeping young musicians busy and learning while the lock-down continues. The initiative is the brain-child of Youth Officer Aisling Hunt, who, up to the advent of the crisis, had been busy training junior members for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the All-Ireland Fleadh. “At the moment, there are no individual lessons going on, no group practices and no sessions,” she explained. “We don’t know if or when the Fleadh will take place. That was scheduled for August in Mullingar, but it’s now postponed. Our young members had …

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St Anne’s Virtual Community Offers Support for Students

LIKE thousands of schools across the country, St Anne’s Community College in Killaloe remains closed in a bid to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. And while the 500-strong student body are following the new rules of social distancing and staying apart, they are coming together online to keep their spirits up and to avail of support and guidance in these challenging times. School Chaplain Karol Torpey, who lives in Feakle, told The Champion that the school’s social platforms have come to fore in the current crisis. “Our Facebook page, Humans of St Anne’s Community College, is now operating as a virtual chaplain’s office. It’s a way of getting as much support and advice to people as possible and of gauging how people are feeling.” The importance of staying apart in order to protect the vulnerable is one key message that the school has been promoting across its social channels: “We have been working hard to get the message of …

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