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North Clare

New book reveals murdered cleric’s Clare links

THE story of a Catholic priest who was brutally murdered during the War of Independence has been compiled in a new book by a Kilfenora native with a passion for history. Retired teacher Pat O’Looney, who lives in Loughrea, has painstakingly researched the history of Fr Michael Griffin, a man who himself had strong Clare links. The cleric’s death is one of the most notorious incidents of the dark year of 1920 and send shock waves around the world. Pat’s book A Zealous Priest tells the story of the young junior curate. As the war was reaching its height, Fr Griffin was a junior the parishes of Bushypark and Barna. A known IRA sympathiser, he was just 28 when he was taken from his home in Galway city and murdered by crown forces. “He had a number of Clare connections, though he was born in Ballinasloe,” explained Pat. “His grandfather was from Corofin and when Fr Griffin was ordained, his …

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Doolin dancer Tess is ‘Immersed in Blue’

AN INSPIRING video essay has been released by a Doolin dancer, urging people to use creativity and the natural world to support them in these challenging times. In the piece, filmed by Clem McInerney, Tess McGovern, an Irish dancer and teacher, relates how her world came to a stop last March and how she found solace in her native Doolin. The script, which Tess spent several months perfecting, describes the onset of the pandemic and how “waves of worry rose and the darkness set in, like a wild Atlantic storm the challenges grew, under siege by the westerly winds”. “Last March, I was working with the Milwaukee Irish Dance Company who, like all Irish dancers in America would be really busy around St Patrick’s Day,” Tess told The Champion. “It’s a time I would normally be teaching, gigging and lecturing. Then stuff started getting cancelled. The States were slower to go into lockdown but I got back on March 19 …

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Sharon Shannon partners with prestigious university music programme

ACCLAIMED Corofin musician Sharon Shannon is to open this year’s Arts in Action programme at NUI Galway, in advance of a partnership between the Clare woman and the university’s music degree programme. On Wednesday, February 17, the accordion player will feature, alongside guitarist Jim Murray, in a free online lunchtime concert. The event will be presented as the 2021 Jean Ritchie Lecture and will celebrate Sharon’s musical virtuosity as well as the future potential arising from her engagement with music students as the next generation of emerging artists. The partnership will see Sharon delivering a series of masterclasses that look at different facets of the creation, performance and production of traditional Irish music, along with her long-time collaborator, Irish-American fiddle player, Win Horan. These masterclasses will be used as part of the teaching of traditional music modules within the new BA in Music. Sharon and Win will follow up the masterclasses with six live workshops per year, in which they …

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Welcome progress with Ballyvaughan sewerage scheme plan

WORK on a new sewerage scheme for Ballyvaughan could begin next year, subject to planning permission, according to Irish Water. The utility outlined details in a response to a motion from Councillor Joe Killeen who asked for an update on schemes for Ballyvaughan and Kilfenora. In a reply sent ahead of the January meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, Irish Water said it anticipated acquiring lands and making a planning application this year for the Ballyvaughan Waste Water Treatment Plant (WwTP). “Irish Water is progressing with plans to construct a new wastewater treatment plant (WwTP) in Ballyvaughan that will serve a population equivalent of 1055, as well as a new pumping station and associated sewer network infrastructure,” the writte response outlined. “We are planning to acquire lands and submit a planning application to Clare County Council in 2021 for this project. Once planning has been submitted, these plans will be available for the public to view in the planning …

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Pedestrian Crossing Sought for Corofin

PLANS to install a pedestrian crossing in the village of Corofin have made progress, after a motion was tabled by Councillor Joe Killeen at this month’s meeting of the West Clare Municipal District. Calling for a new crossing, the Fianna Fáil members said it would be in the interests of the safety of all road users locally. “What we have is a cluster of facilities together – the GAA pitch and the playground – at the southern part of the village,” he explained. “Then, we have the medical centre just across the road. At the moment, we’re trying to encourage people to park in the car parking spaces adjacent to the GAA pitch and at the entrance to the play area. We’ve got Laghtagoona which has 100 houses and lots of the children from there come as part as the pitch and playground and we’re looking for a pedestrian crossing to try and facilitate those using the facility. It would …

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New Macra branch for Ennistymon

MACRA na Feirme, the rural youth organisation is to launch a new Ennistymon Macra branch this week (January 27). It has been more than 20 years since there was such a club in the town and the revival is seen as a major  progression for Macra in Clare which is 74 years old this year. Following on from the successful launch of the Kilrush club in 2019, the launch forms part of the Clare organisation’s five-year plan and will create a better geographical balance to the clubs in the county. While the new club will be based in Ennistymon, members from all different backgrounds across the surrounding areas of North Clare are welcome and people from non-farming backgrounds are also encouraged to join. On Wednesday, January 27, in an online launch, Clare Macra will make a short presentation outlining its activities and the  benefits of joining. National President Thomas Duffy will be in attendance. Guest speaker on the night will …

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Remote working drives Clare coastal property boom

DEMAND for property in coastal Clare continues to increase, to the point where the working from home phenomenon has been likened by a local businessman and public representative to a revolution. The potential for remote working created by digital technologies, and introduced out of necessity during the pandemic, is proving to be a game-changer for rural communities which up to last year had been facing the prospect of accelerating depopulation. Now, demand from city dwellers looking to relocate, as well as holiday home owners who have switched their primary residence has boosted the population of coastal communities. A property price survey conducted by The Sunday Times showed that while the median house price in Clare is down from €194,500 to €191,000, coastal property prices continue to rise. Demand for property in Kilkee and Lahinch was aid to be “insatiable” with a three-bedroom semi-detached home in the latter recently selling for €274,000, after multiple bids. “We are at a transition point,” …

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Inspiring hope through travel tales

Lahinch author Ruairí McKiernan writes about the challenges of writing his first book, overcoming initial rejection from publishers, and then launching what became a No.1 bestseller at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was never my dream to write a book, but it seemed life had other plans. The first call to write came when I was 23 and living in Canada. A publisher approached me after hearing me on the radio discussing globalisation. I was no expert on the subject, but I decided to give it a go. A third of the way through the first draft I gave up. Too hard, too time-consuming; the writing life not for me. “Never again,” I said. Fast forward a decade. I’m hitchhiking around Ireland on what I called a listening tour; seeking out hope for myself and my country. At that time I was burnt out, feeling lost and depressed, and so too was post-boom Ireland. I began meditating, bringing awareness to …

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