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Holy Island at centre of new plan to develop Lough Derg tourism

THE conversion of historic buildings in Tuamgraney, Scariff and Mountshannon for use as visitor accommodation is among the recommendations of a new tourism plan for the area around Lough Derg. The draft Visitor Experience Development Plan for Lough Derg (2020-2024) is currently open to public submissions, and puts a focus on the development of Killaloe-Ballina as a lakeside destination, as well as the promotion of Inis Cealtra and urban centres close to it. The new draft plan builds on the Lough Derg Road Map of 2014-2017 and outlines a vision for tourism development for the next four to five years. One of the key stakeholders promoting the document is the Lough Derg Marketing Group (LDMG) which has drawn down funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as well as the agencies from Clare, Tipperary and Galway, who feed into its activities. The draft plan sets out coordinated priorities for the LDMG in developing the visitor economy around Lough …

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Seed Savers on track for bumper harvest season

FUNDING crises, climate change the Covid-19 are among the challenges faced and overcome by the conservation organisation, Irish Seed Savers, over almost a quarter of a century in Clare. The centre in Scariff has just re-opened to the public from Tuesdays to Saturdays, after coronavirus forced it to limit access over the summer months. Because it is a farm, Seed Savers was designated an essential service, and work continued throughout the lockdown and beyond, in order to build up seed banks and respond to a huge rise in public demand for its stocks. “We had re-opened to the public on Saturdays only, from July,” said Jennifer McConnell, General Manager of the facility. “From September 1, we opened five days a week for the public. During lockdown, because of our designation, we were working away with outdoor staff coming in for staggered hours, in accordance with our Covid-19 plan. We’ve had a very busy time, with a 220% increase in demand …

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Songs of Sanctuary in Tulla

KEEPING spirits up in challenging times is the aim two special, socially-distanced concerts coming up in Tulla next week. One Tuesday and Thursday, September 15 and 17, during Culture Week, Songs of Sanctuary will take place at St Peter and Paul’s Church. “What we want to do is to give people an opportunity to dress up and come out for the evening,” said one of the organisers, Joan McNamara. “While many of us involved are members of the Tulla Parish Choir, this isn’t a night of religious music. We’re grateful for the use of the church, because we need the space for social distancing. We have five wonderful singers who have picked two songs each and we five musicians. Our singers have picked songs from the likes of Christy Moore, Ennio Morricone, Christy Hennessy, Kate Rusby and more.” The Songs of Sanctuary idea has its origins in the weeks of the lockdown when Joan and fellow singers wanted to show …

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Residents of Summerhill ‘bearing unfair burden’ over mobility plan

ANGER has been expressed by those living on of one of the last remaining residential streets in the centre of Ennis, over the introduction of two-way traffic to facilitate the new mobility plan. Residents of Summerhill have told The Champion that the introduction of two-way traffic for the third time in recent years is the last straw in terms of noise, inconvenience and danger. Nancy O’Brien who has lived in the town since the 1950s said residents are frustrated and in fear. “We have gone along with everything, up to now, for the good of Ennis,” she said. “We had two-way traffic to facilitate works on Parnell Street and two All-Ireland Fleadhs, now we have just had enough. People are speeding through the area and won’t let residents out into the traffic. They’re coming through at all hours and parking and blocking people in all day.” Her son Brendan has made numerous representations to Clare County Council and said residents …

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Anger in Tulla over third incident of theft from graveyard

A SPATE of thefts from graves in Tulla has sparked outrage in the local community, and an appeal for vigilance from the authorities. Six incidents have been reported to Gardaí in recent months, with the latest taking place between 9pm last Thursday (September 3) and 1pm on Friday. A number of grave ornaments, including lanterns, were removed from graves, in a theft which has been condemned by Gardaí. “These items have relatively small monetary value, but have a huge sentimental value to the families involved,” said Inspector Adrian Queeney of Killaloe Station. “These thefts cause huge distress and I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward.” Inspector Queeney said that there is no suggestion, at this point, that any particular family or individual is being targetted. “The thefts seem to be random. We don’t suspect that there’s any issue of targetting, but these thefts are now something that seems to be ongoing and we would appeal for anyone …

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History made as Scariff Mart goes online

HISTORY has been made at Scariff Mart, with facilities now available online as well as in the sales ring. Since the mart facility re-opened at the start of this month, brisk trade has been reported with strong prices and many satisfied farmers as they adapt to changing times and changing technology. Councillor Pat Burke, a board member of Clare Marts and member of the advisory committee for Scariff Mart, said that Covid-19 had forced through a number of changes which had been in the pipeline for a number of years before the pandemic. “We had been looking at an online sales facility in Clare Marts for a number years,” he explained. “We had been out in France and seen systems there, where farmers are given what I would describe as a zapper, and they can make a bid from anywhere in the mart building. Covid came along and forced through some very big changes in a short space of time.” …

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Missed opportunities as fishing sector struggles – Murphy

AN APPEAL has been made for greater support for what remains of Clare’s fishing industry. Figures seen by The Champion show the total value of fish landed at ports in Clare last year was worth just over €350,000. That accounts for around 0.1% of the national total of fish landings which came to more than €282 million. Councillor Cillian Murphy from Kilkee, who spent much of his working life in the fishing industry, said the data was an indictment of the policies of various governments since the 1970s. “The reality is that a decision was made to sacrifice fishing for farming and this has been the approach for decades,” the Fianna Fáil member said. “What’s happening now is that most of the fish landed is fired into the back of a truck and exported. Fishermen are only getting a commodity price. Jobs and income are being sent out of communities.” On foot of the Clare figures, which show that Quilty …

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New Ballynacally café at heart of the community

THE heartbeat of Ballynacally is strong, thanks to the recent opening, in the scenic village, of a new community café. The Estuary Way Café, which has to-date been catering for socially distanced chats, pop-up music sessions and high quality food and beverages, is credited with brining a new vibrancy to the village. “It’s been just amazing, everyone is delighted and the feedback we’re been getting is so positive,” said Dorothy Madden, Secretary of the Ballynacally Development Association. The project dates back to 2018 and, after securing funding from sources including the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and Leader, through Clare Local Development Company (CLDC), opened in July. “There has been a massive amount of work by everyone in the development association, with support coming from right across the community of Ballynacally,” Dorothy said. “Deirdre Mulpeter who leads the team at the café is doing a great job and there are two full-time and at least three part-time staff there, so …

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