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West Clare

Doonbeg marks centenary of double gold Olympian

OLYMPIAN Pat McDonald is being warmly remembered in his native Doonbeg, 100 years after he earned a place in the annals of sporting history, by winning a second gold medal. The Amsterdam Olympics of 1920 saw him reach the pinnacle of a long and illustrious sporting career. At over 40 years of age, when he took part in the world games in Holland, Pat McDonald still holds the honour of being the oldest Olympic track and field champion. Against rivals half his age, the towering 6’ 4’’ West Clare man was capable of throwing a weight of 56 pounds a distance of 11.26 metres, considerably further than his younger competitors. Former teacher Joe Hurley has a huge interest in Pat McDonald’s achievements and legacy, and has researched the story in great detail. The path the young Clare man followed was a well-worn one that took him from the rural west coast to the bustling and brash metropolis of New York, …

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Miltown volunteer on call to help during Level 5 restrictions

A FLEET of volunteer vans will be back out on the roads in West Clare supporting those who may need extra help as Level 5 restrictions return in an effort to control Covid-19. Miltown Malbay man Stephen Downes ran the initiative last March, and said that he hopes once again to support the community over the dark winter evenings. “People face new challenges this time around because we’re hearing into the long nights and cold days,” Mr Downes said. “There’s a lot of fear around and some people don’t like going out if they’re elderly or at risk. Once again, we’re offering to collect shopping for people and deliver it to their doors. We’ll drop around and pick up a list and do our best to help ensure that people are looked after.” The decision to go back out on the roads was prompted by news of the return to Level 5 restrictions. “We really need to try to pull together again,” he said. “People are feeling …

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Migraine suffers offered online support

THE devastating impact of migraine has prompted a West Clare woman to appeal to the public and the medical community to educate themselves about the condition, and to highlight the situation of those on public waiting lists who can face waiting up to two years to access diagnostic tests. Michelle is 36 years of age and has suffered debilitating migraines since her late teens. Her condition is so severe that she can have migraines for up to 25 days a month. She also experiences what are known as hemiplegic migraines. These cause symptoms similar to stroke and can involve inability to speak, loss of vision and partial paralysis. She has urged fellow sufferers to seek support from the likes of the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) and to advocate for treatment in cases where their GP or other medical professionals write off their symptoms as ‘just a headache’. Over the years, Michelle has been prescribed multiple kinds of treatments, none …

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Lisdoonvarna playground reopening restores vital community amenity

HUGE community efforts have been credited for the reopening last Friday of the playground in Lisdoonvarna. The venue, which is popular with kids and their extended families, has been described as one of the jewels in the crown of the facilities available for the town and a network of other centres in North Clare. The playground, which is next to the popular Cois Céim Childcare Centre, and part of a wider community amenity park, was closed as part of the nationwide response to the pandemic. An inspection discovered that in order to continue to meet standards set out by insurers, a significant – and costly – schedule of repairs was needed. “Fundraising during Covid-19 was difficult for everyone involved and they deserve huge credit, as do those who contributed so generously,” said Councillor Joe Garrihy, Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District and a board member of the community development association, Lisdoonvarna Fáilte. “Friday’s event was actually the first official …

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Heritage tourism boost for Kilrush with Turret Lodge reopening

HERITAGE tourism in Kilrush received a major boost this month with the opening of the renovated Turret Lodge in a project that saw collaboration between the community, the Heritage Council, the government and the local authority. Turret Lodge dates back to the mid-19th century and is a notable landmark in Kilrush, formerly controlling access between the town and the Vandeleur Estate demesne. Given that Kilrush House, the home of the Vandeleur family, burned down in 1897, the surviving lodges, walled garden and stable block have added significance as surviving links to the town’s history. It is now planned to use the building as a community-run heritage and genealogy centre. This project received funding under the Historic Towns Initiative 2019, which is a partnership between the Heritage Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with Clare County Council providing match funding. The delivery was based on a collaborative approach between Kilrush and District Historical Society, Clare County Council and …

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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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RNLI need funding support to stay afloat

THE RNLI  Lifeboat fundraising schedule, like that of every other charity, has taken a big hit  over the past six months with little or no income coming in to keep the fleet afloat. Clare has been at the helm in fundraising down the years, and in coming up with new fundraising ideas to involve people in walks, rambles, cruises, concerts and many more events. Over the past six months, the lifeboats have been as busy as ever and have answered every call to save lives and bring people back to their homes and loved ones. The Burren Ramble, which takes place at this time every year, has to be called off as has the Cruise to Galway Bay from Doolin pier. The risk is too high in Clare to put anyone at risk. There are, however, some fundraisers still in the pipeline at present. West Clare man Tony Henchy from Derryard in Doonbeg is doing a 100-day consecutive swim in …

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