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Sky spotter spies funnel cloud over Kinvara

A LOCAL woman who managed to get photos of a funnel cloud in the outskirts of Kinvara last week, says that she never feared getting caught up in a dangerous tornado.

Amateur photographer Kit O’Sullivan managed to capture the rare funnel cloud as it came over North Clare and South Galway last Tuesday evening, June 21. It is still unclear if the funnel cloud touched ground – thus making it one of the first ever tornadoes recorded in the Clare area.

“Myself and my sister Mary were looking out the window, watching the cloud because we could see it coming in and we knew it was a thunder cloud. The next thing we saw the funnel come out of the bottom of the cloud – it shot down, about half way down the sky from the cloud.

“We though straight away that it must be a tornado – just from watching all these American shows at the moment about tornadoes. As it happened I had the camera with me so I ran out and got a few pictures of the cloud. It is very hard to tell for sure but it certainly appeared to me that the cloud was over land and not still over the sea.

“I never thought that I might be danger at all. God no, my first thought was to get the camera out and get outside and get a few pictures. I love watching the weather, I love thunder storms and things like that so I am always looking at the sky to see what is going on. It is better than television.”

Instances of funnel clouds and mini-tornadoes are becoming more common on the west coast of Ireland. Locals people also spotted a similar funnel cloud close to the airfield in Spanish Point earlier this year.

“The weather is certainly changing. If you look at the weather we had last week and then the weather we had on Friday and Saturday – you forget that we are in the month of June,” continued Kit.

“When you see the severe winters that we are getting, that we have never gotten before, I think that this is a clear sign that the whole ecosystem is upside down and the funnel clouds are just an example of that.”

More pictures of the funnel cloud are now available on www.irishweatheronline.com.

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Tourist site ticket plan launched

FOUR of Clare’s prime tourism hotspots will come together this Friday to launch a major new ticketing strategy, which they hope can attract thousands of extra tourists to the Banner county in years to come.

By using a special Burren4Group ticket members of the public will now be able to access the Cliffs of Moher, the Aillwee Caves, Caherconnell Stone Fort in Carron and the Burren Centre in Kilfenora for a fraction of the previous costs.

Several thousands copies of the special ticket will be circulated to hotels and guesthouse around Ireland, allowing anyone access to all four tourism location for just € 18 – a saving almost half on the non-ticket price to enter the four sites.

The initiative is designed to both attract tourist to the area but to also encourage the more of the 700,000 tourists who visit the Cliffs of Moher each year to stay overnight in the area or possibly for a number of days or a weekend.

“This really came about following the realisation that we are living in recessionary times and people don’t have the money to go to all the different centres. This is a combination of offering people good value but also offering them something really special. We have the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Aillwee, the fort in Caherconnell and ourselves, so you have a bit of everything that you might want,” said Frances Connole of the Burren Centre.

“Hopefully that this will get people to stay longer in the area and ultimately that is what all of this is about. This is not a day trip, we have so many great facilities here are there really is something for everyone.”

The scheme will be launched on a pilot basis by the Minister for Tourism, Michael Ring (FG) in Kilfenora this Friday. It is hoped that the ticket will be rolled out on a widespread basis should it prove to be a success this year.

“If this is successful, we build on that success in future years. We don’t want to rush into anything. At the moment the ticket is aimed only for individual travellers but down the road we will look at things like family tickets and things like that,” continued Frances. “It is just too early to roll that all out now. We need to float the idea and make sure that people will be happy with it and that it will work. It is a new project and a big innovation for this region so we need to be sure before we proceed. I think people will be interested in it though. This is about working together and networking together instead of always looking over the water and being in competition. It is a good idea and I think that people will like it.”

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Record number brave rain for Clare 10K

RECORD numbers turned out to walk, jog and run the Clare 10K on Saturday in what has become one of the sporting highlights of the summer in the county.

The event, organised by The Clare People newspaper in conjunction with Clare Haven, was once again a major success. This is the sixth year of the event and the number of entries topped 1,300 for the first time.

Local athlete Seán Hehir won the race in a time of 29 minutes 42 seconds, while Veronica Colleran from Ennis Track Club won the women’s race.

All of the money raised from the run goes to Clare Haven, which provides support for female victims of domestic abuse and their families.

According to Services Manager with Clare Haven Denise Dunne, this event is the organisation’s biggest annual fundraiser.

“The Clare 10K is our biggest fundraiser for the year. Over the past couple of years it has become difficult to fundraise. We can’t keep the service open without fundraising,” said Ms Dunne.

“The people of county Clare have been very good in supporting the Clare 10K every year,” she added.

Colin McGann, of The Clare Peo- ple , said that while the weather was poor for the run on Saturday morning, the pouring rain didn’t dampen the spirits of most entrants.

“Around 1,100 turned up on the day, which was less than the 1,300 entrants, but thankfully the rain didn’t keep the majority of people away,” he said.

“It was a family fun day out and it is great to have the facilities at Lees Road. The running track adds another dimension to it. We are happy to support a good cause,” he said.

While several top class athletes take part every year, hundreds of walkers also participate in the event.

“And while it is becoming more competitive up the front, equally the numbers of walkers have increased every year,” he added.

Carmel Brady, of The Clare People , paid tribute to the participants and also the volunteers who helped out on the day.

“A huge thanks to all the volunteers. Complimentary refreshments were available for everybody for the first time, which was a nice touch,” she said.

“We are hoping to increase numbers again next year. People are becoming more health-conscious and there are a lot of Meet and Train running groups and walking groups across the county,” she added.

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Tony back ‘at the front of the house’

THREE culinary entrepreneurs will embark on a new business venture in Quin later this month.

Husband and wife, Tony Molloy and Clare Colleran McKenry and sister Colette Colleran are the team behind Quincy’s – a new 30-seater restaurant that will open in Quin in two weeks time.

Chef Colette has over 20 years experience working in restaurants and hotels in Ireland and England, including a nine-year spell in the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis.

She said, “That’s where the experience really came from. I just felt that the time is right to run my own place.”

Despite the difficult business climate, Colette explained that the trio aim to work hard to ensure Quincy’s becomes a success.

She added, “The opportunity arose, the location is great and we are local to the area for almost 50 years.”

Ennis native Tony is well known in Ennis from his days at men’s clothes shop Tony’s fashions.

Tony ran the business for 21 years prior to its closure last October.

Currently employed on a seasonal basis as a starter and caddy master at Lahinch Golf Club, Tony, who previously worked at the Old Ground Hotel, said he is looking forward to the challenge of starting a new business. He continued, “I’ve always loved dealing with people and I’ve missed that part of the job very much. My skills are meeting and greeting.” Along with Tony, Clare will have responsibility for front of house du- ties in the restaurant. A practicing barrister on the South Western Circuit, Clare also has experience of working in restaurants and hotels.

She said, “Quin is a beautiful village and the restaurant will have a homely feeling and ambiance that we hope will compliment that.”

Apart from the owner/operators, it is intended that Quincy’s will employ two full-time and three parttime staff. The restaurant, which is located in the heart of Quin village, will open seven days a week, serving what Tony called “top quality food at reasonable prices”.

The restaurant has also helped raise money for the local primary school – Scoil na Mainstreach. Students were invited to enter a competition to guess the name of the restaurant with all money raised going to the school.

A wine and canapés reception will take place at Quincy’s on Wednesday July 13 (5pm to 9.30pm) followed by an official opening on Friday, July 15.

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New tourism signs for Ballyvaughan

SIGNS directing tourist towards Fanore and the R479 coast road will be re-erected by Clare County Council later this week.

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Guilfoyle wins chain on 5-4 vote

INDEPENDENT councillor Michael Guilfoyle was last night elected as the new Mayor of Ennis.

Cllr Guilfoyle secured the backing of a majority of councillors at yesterday’s annual meeting of Ennis Town Council to beat off the challenge of Fine Gael councillor, Johnny Flynn by five votes to four. Cllr Guilfoyle replaces outgoing Mayor, Cllr Tommy Brennan (Ind).

He was proposed for the post by Cllr Peter Considine (FF) and seconded by Cllr Frankie Neylon (Ind).

Cllr Flynn was proposed by Cllr Mary Howard (FG) and seconded by Cllr Paul O’Shea (Lab).

Nominating Cllr Flynn, Cllr Howard said her party colleague had fought three elections and had been elected on either the first or second count on each occassion.

Cllr Considine said Cllr Guilfoyle had handled the position as Chairman of the Council before and had done an “excellent job”.

Councillors Brennan, Considine, Neylon, Guilfoyle and Brian Meaney (GP) voted for Cllr Guilfoyle. Councillors Howard, O’Shea, Flynn and Mary Coote Ryan (FG) voted for Cllr Flynn.

Cllr Guilfoyle was first elected to Ennis Town Council in 1983. He served as Council chairman in 1988 and 1991 and was the town’s first Deputy Mayor when the position was introduced in 2004.

In the same year, Cllr Guilfoyle lost his seat in the local elections. He regained his Council seat in 2009 and served as Deputy Mayor in the same year.

Cllr Guilfoyle told the meeting that as a person “born and bred” in Ennis he said it was “great honour” to be Mayor.

Cllr Guilfoyle acknowledged the role of outgoing Mayor, Cllr Brennan, highlighting the opening of new playground and youth centre facilities. He said he hoped to introduce a new civic awards scheme to recognize local people.

He also paid tribute to Cllr Flynn, hailing his commitment to the town before adding, “I hope you’re turn comes”.

Cllr Guilfoyle added, “I hope I will be as fair around this table as Cllr Brennan and other councillors were”.

Cllr Considine said Cllr Guilfoyle had represented the town with “great dignity and some panache”.

Cllr Neylon said people in the Turnpike, where Cllr Guilfoyle lives, had described him as “the comeback kid”.

Cllr Flynn wished the new Mayor every success, saying he had the energy and skills for the job.

Cllr Neylon was elected Deputy Mayor ahead of Cllr Paul O’Shea. He was proposed by Cllr Brennan and seconded by Cllr Meaney. Cllr O’Shea was proposed by Cllr Flynn and seconded by Cllr Howard.

Councillors Brennan, Considine, Neylon, Meaney and Guilfoyle voted for Cllr Neylon. Councillors Howard, Flynn, O’Shea and Coote-Ryan voted for Cllr O’Shea.

Cllr Brennan thanked his family, councillors, council officials and council staff. He added, “Without the support of family you won’t do much.”

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‘Bridge power lifter scoops world prize

A WORLD title is to make its way to Sixmilebridge this week, after Tom Cusack secured honours in powerlifting in the US at the weekend.

The 36-year-old, from Ballyliddane, Sixmilebridge, won the title at the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Championships in Chicago, in the 82.5 kilo dead weight lift. He defeated opponents from 14 other countries in winning the title.

Tom secured entry to the finals after he won a European title in Malta last October, having previously won the national title.

Tom, who runs Hillview Nurseries, set up his own gym and trains daily by himself.

His proud mother, Ita, told

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Council Offices may house Dev’s Dodge

THE headquarters of Clare County Council has been put forward as the new home for former President Eamon de Valera’s recently restored 1947 Dodge Plymouth.

The Dodge served as the state car for first, President Sean T Ó Ceallaigh and then de Valera.

The car had been stored at the de Valera Library in Ennis since 1998 until it was damaged by floods in 2009.

It was transported to a workshop in Sixmilebridge where it was fully restored.

The project was overseen by vintage car enthusiast and independent member of Clare County Council, PJ Ryan.

Yesterday, the Mayor of Clare, Cllr Christy Curtin (Ind), paid tribute to Cllr Ryan’s work.

He told the adjourned June meeting of Clare County Council that Cllr Ryan had restored the car at a 40th of the normal cost.

He said Cllr Ryan had done the county a “unique honour” by restoring the car, a comment that prompted councillors to deliver a round of applause.

Cllr Brian Meaney (GP) said there had been a number of important vehicles in the ownership of Clare County Council that could benefit from Cllr Ryan’s expertise.

He told the meeting that a 1930s fire tender is located in the Ennis Fire Station. Cllr Meaney asked if Cllr Ryan “could take a look at it”.

Cllr Patricia McCarthy (Ind) suggested that the car be located in the foyer of Clare County Council or in a proposed new library building.

Cllr Gerry Flynn (Ind) objected, saying that the car should remain at its present location in the de Valera Library. He said the Council could not afford to waste resources in finding a new home for a vintage car.

Cllr Meaney said the car could be threatened by floods if it remained at the library. Cllr Curtin said the Council would prepare a report on the cost of re-locating the car.

In a motion submitted to the meeting, Cllr Curtin requested that the “manager inform the Council of the arrangements for the re-location of the Motor Taxation Office and the restored De Valera’s car within Áras Contae an Chláir.”

The meeting heard that the Motor Tax Office will be re-located to the Council’s main offices on New Road within the year.

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Demands on Clare Haven doubles

THE number of families seeking help from Clare Haven for the first time has doubled, compared with last year, according to the group which provides support to female victims of domestic abuse and their families.

81 families presented to the outreach clinics – which run in Ennis, Ennistymon, Scariff, Kilrush and Killaloe – for the first time during the first five months of the year, which is double the figure for the same period last year. Financial stress is a contributing factor in the increase.

Yet, despite the increase in demand, Clare Haven is forced to contend with funding cuts.

Up to the end of May, 60 families attended the refuge operated by Clare Haven in Ennis. Among those who attended were 104 children. Those figures are on a par with last year’s. 136 families stayed at the refuge during the whole of 2010. However, the demand for the outreach clinics has soared.

The increase in numbers of victims coming forward has led to some of them being referred on to centres in Limerick and Galway – to ensure they have places to stay and are not left waiting.

Services Manager with Clare Haven Denise Dunne said the service is stretched.

“The refuge is full the whole time and has been for the past two years. We have seen a bigger increase in the number of new families coming to the outreach service. This year alone we have had 81 new clients to the outreach service. That’s a huge amount in five months. We had about 40 last year so the figures have doubled,” she said.

“The total number of support visits to the end of May was 482. Every time someone comes to our outreach clinics, we have a support visit with them and do safety planning, outline their options and provide emotional support,” said Ms Dunne.

“A lot of people coming to us we refer on to St Vincent de Paul and MABS (the Money and Budgeting Advice Service),” she said.

She said that an increased level of public awareness and the media highlighting the services has played a role in more victims of domestic abuse coming forward.

“This year we have been cut [in funding] again. We have been cut every year since 2008, with a cut of between two and three per cent this year on top of previous cuts. We are striving to maintain the same service. Our service is very, very stretched at the moment. We have cut the ancillary services like talks to schools. We have put a volunteer programme in place for the past two years for things like fundarising and accompaniments which is a great help,” she said.

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Ennis Fleadh Cheoil team lodges bid

ENNIS’ bid to host the 2012 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was formally lodged with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireannn on Friday, with the working group behind the submission confident that the submission to bring the traditional music festival back to Clare after an interval of 35 years will be successful.

Securing the Fleadh for the first time since 1977 would be worth an estimated € 30 million to the county capital – a financial windfall that has seen a coalition of forces emerge behind the Ennis bid.

“We are supremely confident that we would make a great job of hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2012,” the chairman of the Fleadh Cheoil Working Group, Micheál Ó Riabhaigh told The Clare People this week.

“We are also confident that we have made a very strong case to bring the Fleadh to Ennis, the best case that we could have made. Everything that we have done in making the submission was based on the premise that we would have the Fleadh coming to Ennis. That’s not to pre-judge the deliberations of the Ard Comhairle of Comhaltas either,” Mr Ó Raib- haigh added.

The Ennis bid to host the 2012 Fleadh, was launched in April when the local committee that draws together the local branch of Clare Comhaltas, Clare County Council, Clare GAA, Ennis Town Council and Shannon Development met with Comhaltas Ceoiltóirí Éireann chiefs.

Ennis is one of three competing towns to host the 2012 Fleadh – the others are Cavan, which in August will host the festival for the second successive year, and Sligo, which last hosted the event in 1991.

The Fleadh proposal has identified 25 venues in Ennis that would facilitate the 2012 event, catering for up to 200,000 music lovers from across the world, with new Clare County Council headquarters on New Road designated as the hub of operations. Ennis previously hosted Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 1956 and 1977.

“The big work was identifying suitable venues and getting support from the hoteliers, vintners and local authorities in Clare,” revealed Mr Ó Raibhaigh.

“We are happy that everyone in Clare is very supportive of the application and everything has been done,” he added.