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Blow to East Clare as Feakle Festival is cancelled

THE festival calendar for East Clare has suffered another major blow with the cancellation of the Feakle Festival, due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Organisers said they decided to cut this year’s event – which would ordinarily attract thousands to the region at the height of the summer season – “with deep regret,” in order to minimise the risk to the general public. Already, the legendary Spancilhill Fair has been called off, with organisers deciding that they could not guarantee social distancing at the event which draws thousands annually on the now immortalised date of June 23. A number of smaller community festivals, including the Bodyke May Bank Holiday Weekend, have also been shelved, with hopes of postponing some of them as the government’s road map for the re-opening of public life begins to unfold. In Feakle, a world-class programme of traditional music had been under wraps since February and there is widespread disappointment that the hugely popular festival won’t go ahead …

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Tulla Teen in Barretstown ‘Virtual Hug’ Campaign

BEING locked down and having to work and learn at home are challenges for everyone at the moment, but for one young East Clare native, who is battling a brain tumour, these are part of normal life. Sixteen-year-old Labhaoise Fitzgerald has had brain surgery twice, as well as gruelling rounds of follow-up treatment. As well as cocooning and keeping up with her studies, Labhaoise is undergoing chemotherapy at her home in Tulla. She is also taking time out to raise funds for the Barretstown charity, which runs medically-supported holiday camps for sick children at its base in Kildare. Like all charities, Barretstown is facing a major shortfall in its funding and urging people to send a ‘virtual hug’ donating €2 in the process. Labhaoise was recently chosen as the Clare ambassador for the initiative and took part in a video with fellow ‘campers’ sending their virtual hugs to friends, family and frontline medical staff. “Barretstown picked a camper from every …

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Tidy Towns still going strong in Ennis

THE national Tidy Towns competitions may be cancelled, but that hasn’t stopped the dedicated band of volunteers who have been keeping Ennis looking its best all year round. Just one of a number of initiatives underway locally has seen Ennis Tidy Towns join forces with the little ninjas of Ennis Coderdojo, asking them to develop Tidy Towns themed games and apps. The local Tidy Towns committee are looking forward to adjudicating what the youngsters come up with later this month. “If we don’t have actual Tidy Towns, we have virtual Tidy Towns,” smiles chairman of Ennis Tidy Towns Cormac McCarthy. He admits that there was disappointment in the community when it was announced this year’s contest would not be going ahead. The Ennis team, who have been hugely successful in the national contest, put in a “very strong submission” this year having worked right through the year. However, Cormac believes it was the right decision given the current Covid-19 crisis. …

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Spike in Illegal Dumping and Littering in East Clare

DUMPING and littering in East Clare have prompted calls from community organisations for more to be done to tackle the issues. While the Tidy Towns competition has been called off for this year, community leaders say they are still determined to address persistent littering in their areas. In Mountshannon, which scooped a national Tidy Towns title in 1981 and a Bronze Medal last year, large-scale dumping of household waste has been a recurrent issue. Joanne Dunphy-Allen, Co-Chairperson of Mountshannon Community Council said that a recent incident had generated anger locally. “It is very maddening, particularly because the Scariff Recycling Centre is just down the road,” she pointed out. “We’ve had refuse scattered around the pier and someone even managed to dump a significant amount in at the back of the bottle banks. That would not be an easy thing to do. The community has been very quick to go in an clear up, but this shouldn’t be happening in the …

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Ennis fashion retailers rising to the challenges of Covid-19

THE personalised, customer-focused shopping experience that has become synonymous with the town of Ennis is still continuing despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has resulted in retail closures throughout the county, with businesses increasingly focusing their efforts online in a bid to meet these new unprecedented challenges. The last few weeks have highlighted the importance of having an online shopping presence, according to Gwen Culligan of the County Boutique in Ennis. While Patrick Burke’s is set to launch a personal shopping service utilising popular apps so people can purchase while still maintaining social distancing. The County Boutique launched its website last year allowing people to buy the latest looks from the comfort of their own home. Gwen tells us they were “incredibly lucky” to already be online when the Covid-19 restrictions were introduced. “We’re selling every day at the moment. I had been spending some time over the last few months putting things on the site, but I’ve been …

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Helpline Launched to Support Those Cocooning in East Clare

A DEDICATED helpline to support those cocooning and self-isolating in East Clare has been established. The service, which can be reached at 085-8659889 from 9am to 4pm, is designed to ensure anyone in need of help can access it through the East Clare Covid-19 Community Response Group. The group, which works in collaboration with Clare County Council, is made up of volunteers from Flagmount, Killanena, Feakle, Scariff, Tuamgraney, Ogonnelloe, Bodyke, Mountshannon and Whitegate, and the helpline has been set up to ensure greater coordination and a faster response for those in need. Jim Collins from Mountshannon, who is one of those responding to helpline calls, told The Champion there is now “an army of volunteers” in place. “The support has really been overwhelming,” he noted. “There has been an amazing willingness to help and we have members from every sports and social club as well as the community sector.” To-date, the volume of calls to the helpline has been manageable, …

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West Clare Sparks Love of Acting for ‘Normal People’ Star

TO SAY that actor Paul Mescal has been “slightly busy” lately would be something of an understatement. While he may be under lock-down with his fellow Londoners at the moment, and a long way from Cree, where his father’s family hail from, this week has seen him basking in the glow of critical and popular acclaim for his lead role in the TV adaptation of novel ‘Normal People’. Playing the part of Connell, opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne, Paul portrays a young man struggling with the highs and lows of first love, against a background of social snobbery, peer pressure and the transition to adult life. His powerful performance has earned the twenty-four year-old plaudits from heavy weight critics nationally and internationally, and tipped the Maynooth native for greater things. Paul told The Champion that the last 48 hours have been “absolutely mad”. “It’s been a bit bananas,” he said, of the buzz around the first episodes in the 12-part …

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Laura Brennan documentary wins gold in New York

A DOCUMENTARY which followed the final months in the life of Laura Brennan has been given a prestigious international award. Laura Brennan: This is Me has won a Gold Award at the New York Festivals TV & Film Awards. The award was presented in the Health / Media Information category. The film which documents Laura’s battle with cervical cancer at just 26 and her campaigning work to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine was made by RTÉ. Reacting to the win, producer Sinead Kennedy commented, “Laura would have been so proud and rightly so! She gave everything to ensure her voice was heard. Well, it’s being heard around the world Laura.” On behalf of the Brennan family, Laura’s brother Kevin expressed congratulations to the team behind the film. “Particular praise goes to Sally Roden (Executive Producer), Sinead Kennedy (Producer) and Kenny Mac Giola Phadraig (Director and Editor). The award relates to the documentary by RTÉ following the final chapters in …

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