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East Clare

Mystery yarn bomber lifts spirits in Whitegate

A MYSTERY yarn-bomber is being thanked for their colourful attempts to lift the spirits of the Whitegate community over the course of the lock-down. Residents were intrigued to wake up to a riot of colourful knitted and crocheted items festooning poles and signage over the last three weekends. Messages of hope and encouragement were emblazoned in the vibrant displays, some of which were in the Whitegate club colours. Among the phrases bedecking the town was ‘What’s the Craic?’, placed outside Mike Treacy’s shop and ‘Smile’, and ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy!’ on signs at McDermott’s Post Office. Expressing disappointment at the ongoing closure of licensed premises, the yarn-bomber put the words ‘Ah Feck’ outside O’Riordan’s Half Barrel pub. A reference to the 1980s Bon Jovi anthem, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, prompted local suspicions as to the age-group of the anonymous crafts enthusiast, but, for the moment, despite the best efforts of the community, their identity remains unknown. Local resident Sadie Monks …

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East Clare businesses take first steps on the road to re-opening

ADAPTING to challenging times is nothing new for the East Clare business community and, as some sectors of the local economy begin to re-open, the goal is to survive and thrive as the ‘new normal’ becomes apparent. In Tuamgraney, Nuala’s Bar and Restaurant occupies a premises that dates back over 150 years. It has had three different licensees over that time, and was formerly McCormac’s Bar and later Durack’s. A thriving food business began in 1999 and, in order to cater for her loyal customers, Nuala O’Brien began to offer a takeaway service once the restrictions kicked in. “I was aware very quickly that small-scale operations would not be viable, so it was a case of scaling up or shutting down,” she explained. “I’m taking on-line orders now and that works really well. Between 1 and 8pm, customers can order in advance, then pull up in the car park where I will drop the food straight into the boot, they …

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Feakle man’s ‘Covid cut’ head shave to raise funds for The Mater

AS hair salons and barber shops remain closed until July 20, some people have been going to extreme lengths while others have opted for a so-called ‘Covid cut’ – and choosing to do some fund-raising in the process. Among them is Feakle native Trevor Collins who will have his head saved live on Facebook on Friday night, to raise funds for The Mater Foundation. The organisation is very close to the hearts of Trevor and his family, as his dad Michael had a life-saving lung transplant at the hospital in 2017 and is currently receiving treatment there after contracting a rare form of meningitis. “We will be forever in their debt,” said Trevor. “There’s a doctor there for everything and when dad took ill first, we were nearly looking at palliative care for dad, but for the fact that we did our own research and got him treated at the Mater.” Almost a decade ago, Michael was diagnosed with pulmonary …

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East Clare angling competitions ‘unlikely’ in 2020

DESPITE the phased re-opening of inland fisheries around the region, some in the Clare angling community believe that it could be 2021 before any major competitions can go ahead. Last week, on advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) re-opened their facilities, with the exception of those in Galway and on the Moy. The ESB also re-opened fisheries, including those on the Shannon. In line with the NPHET road map for the reopening of the country, anglers can currently access waterways with 5km of their homes. From next Monday, angling in groups of up to four will be permitted. From June 8, subject to targets that underpin the road map, people will be allowed to travel 20km. At all stages of the re-opening, people must comply with social distance guidelines. In the east of the county, Anthony Weir of the Tulla and District Angling Club, said that while the re-opening of fisheries was a …

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East Clare inspiration for ‘Normal People’ actor Frank Blake

FOR a young actor, being in lock-down while some of your highest-profile work graces screens around the world, must be something of an anti-climax. For Frank Blake, the enforced isolation in his native Tuamgraney, during the height of the buzz around Normal People, is not without its advantages, however. Frank, who plays the complex character of Alan in the adaptation of the award-nominated novel by Sally Rooney, has been using the time to explore his own screen-writing abilities. Given that his great aunt, Edna O’Brien, is one of the country’s greatest living authors, it’s probably a safe bet that he has more than a little literary talent. Now based in Dublin, the actor has been clocking up significant screen and stage roles, including a part in Druid’s landmark production of Richard III. He returned to East Clare shortly before the lock-down was announced, and just as the BBC3’s Normal People, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was set for a stratospheric launch. …

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Scariff Harbour Festival cancelled due to pandemic restrictions

THERE has been a further blow to the county’s calendar of summer events, with confirmation in recent days that the annual Scariff Harbour Festival will not go ahead this year. The news follows the cancellation of a number of high-profile events, including the Willie Clancy Summer School, Spancilhill Fair, the Feakle Festival and more, and is in line with government recommendations and Covid-19 restrictions. The Waterways Ireland-sponsored festival, scheduled for the August Bank holiday week-end, is internationally regarded for the quality of its contributors, drawing key-note speakers, entertainers and performers of renown. The event, which was to have marked its 18th year, also showcased key attractions in East Clare and offered a host of free outdoor music, walks, talks, guest speakers, boat tours and children’s entertainment, making it a social highlight and a key driver for the local economy. “It is a huge disappointment for the community, festival-goers and the organising committee that this year’s festival cannot happen,” said Chairman, Mike …

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East Clare pays tribute to the late Nora Butler

FRIENDS and admirers of the late legendary Tipperary singer, Nora Butler, recalled the mark she left on East Clare, over her many years attending and performing at local musical events. Feakle’s Paula Carroll, presenter of The West Wind on Clare FM, recently remembered the Toomevara native, who passed away on May 3, with tributes coming from Gerry Shortt of Shortt’s Bar and Ballina-based singer Deirdre Scanlon. Nora was a frequent visitor to venues across Clare, through her work for Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann (CCE), as performer and adjudicator. She was particularly loved in the East of the county where she was a regular and popular guest, along with her late husband, Pat Swan, at gatherings in Spancihill, Tulla and Feakle. On The West Wind, Paula Carroll described Nora as “a gorgeous woman and a really sweet singer”. “My own encounters with Nora in recent years were mostly in Gerry Shortt’s Bar in Feakle,” she noted, “where she was a much loved …

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Historic bridges restored in Clooney

THE recently-formed Clooney Spancilhill Community Development Group have been making major strides lately in enhancing amenities in their area. A subcommittee, tasked with looking after local heritage, have completed the restoration of two stone bridges at Carrahan and Rylane, and are already planning future projects. The aim of the Heritage Group, which has around ten members, is to record and protect the history and heritage of Clooney-Spancilhill, and the bridge restoration project got under way after Clare County Council engineers conducted a survey and gave the green light. “People living locally could see one side of each bridge only because of the amount of vegetation that had grown over them,” explained Betty Murphy, a member of the Heritage Group. “There used to be a slipway at the bridge in Carrahan but that was completely overgrown and there had been a problem with dumping in that area too. There was a lot of hard physical work involved in uncovering the stone …

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