More signs needed after fishing tragedy

THERE has been call for extra warning signs at a popular fishing spot near Kilkee where an off duty garda tragically fell to his death last week.

Adrian Martin (46) had been fishing from a 75-foot cliff at Dunlickey Point near Kilkee on Thursday with his six year-old son when the accident occurred. Other fishermen in the area raised the alarm when they saw the Monaghan native fall into the sea. A double tragedy was averted when another man out fishing intervened to ensure Mr Martin’s son didn’t fall over the edge.

Members of Kilkee Marine Rescue Service received a call to go to Dunlickey Point at 1.14pm. The rescue boat reached the scene at 1.32pm and a body wearing a red tracksuit top was seen floating in the water. Mr Martin’s body was recovered from the sea at 1.32pm and brought back to Kilkee Marine Rescue Centre where it was attended to by a local doctor, members of the ambulance service and the parish priest. Gardaí were present and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Manuel Di Lucia, a spokesman for Kilkee Marine Rescue Service, said, “A terrible tragedy especially for his young wife, his young little six yearold boy, who was on the cliff at the time and saw his father fall to his death. Only for other mackerel fishermen on the cliff, there is no knowing to what might have happened to that boy. They held him back.”

Mr Di Lucia has urged fishermen visiting Dunlickey Point to be careful. He said, “This is the first tragedy from that particular spot. My advice for people that are going there is to be very careful. It’s a very popular fishing area. At this point in time there is no point in saying people shouldn’t fish of it. They will. I would request that Clare County Council put up another sign to tell people that this cliff is a very dangerous area for fishing.”

As members were being de-briefed about the tragedy, the service received a call between 3.30pm and 4pm that snorklers had got into difficulty in Kilkee Bay.

One of the snorklers had returned to the shore but re-entered the water in order to save his friend. Mr Di Lucia explained, “He was in danger of actually drowning and his friend saved him and brought him onto the rocks in Kilkee. But in doing that he got badly cut to his knees and to his hand and a couple of marks on his head. The man that rescued the man actually got some injuries as well”.

The man received treatment for cuts and bruises, initially from members of the rescue service and later at Ennis General Hospital. The men are said to have made a full recovery.


Merriman school backs plans to honour Fitzgerald

THE Merriman Summer School, which concluded in Lisdoonvarna on Sunday, has backed a campaign by a west Clare county councillor to create a bursary in honour of former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.

Fine Gael councillor, Gabriel Keating, was behind the motion that was tabled at the June meeting of Clare County Council, and now two months later, the 44th Merriman Summer School has endorsed his move that’s to be considered by local authority chiefs.

“Garret Fitzgerald attended a number of Merriman schools over the years and made a value contribution to this Clare festival,” a Cumman Merriman spokesperson told The Clare People on Sunday, “and it would be fitting indeed if this contribution was honoured in Clare,” he added.

Councillor Keating has called for “Clare County Council in conjunction with Clare VEC to award an annual bursary to promote the development of innovation in our secondary schools in recognition of Dr Fitzgerald”.

The motion won the backing of fellow councillors but Clare County Manager, Tom Coughlan pointed out that “the awarding of a bursary had financial implications” and that “the matter would need to be considered in the context of the 2012 Clare County Council Budget”.

“I would hope that this move to honour Dr Fitzgerald in Clare would happen,” Cllr Keating told The Clare People this week.

“Dr Fitzgerald was a man who helped shape modern Ireland and was a regular visitor to Clare and had connections with the county. In this context and as an educationalist, I think that it’s fitting that a bursary should be awarded in his honour,” added Cllr Keating.


Ennis moves in on All-Ireland Fleadh

ENNIS took another large step towards hosting the All-Ireland Fleadh in 2012 this weekend when it hosted a delegation from the National Standing Committee of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

With just 10 days to go until the announcement of who will host next years All-Ireland Fleadh, this was the local committees last change to influence the destination of valuable votes on the National Committee.

Ennis is currently in a three way competition to secure the Fleadh with Sligo and Cavan Town all bidding to host the event. Hosting the All-Ireland Fleadh is worth an estimated € 35 million to the locality which hosts it – and it could be worth a multiple of that in spin off tourism opportunities around the county.

“They seemed very pleased by what they saw in Ennis and we got a very positive response from them. There was a very impressive presentation for them, not just from he local branch but from the entire community here in Ennis,” said Rory Casey of the Local Steering Group.

“We took the delegation on a tour of all the prospective around the town and they were very pleased with what they saw.

“It was a really good presentation and we think that nothing more could really have been done to try and sway them. Whatever way things turn out we can look back at this and know that we did everything we could possible have done to bring the Fleadh to Ennis for next year.

“We have been so impressed by the amount of local support that we have received. Everyone has gotten together behind the bid. It hasn’t just been the local Comhaltas, all of the state agencies, the business and tourism communities – everyone has pulled together to try and make this a reality. What was really great about the presentation is the sheer amount of other interested bodies who took part.

“This could be the making of the summer for Ennis. You are talking in the region of € 35 million and in the current climate that will be a major boost not just for Ennis but for all of County Clare. That is one of the main things that we are pushing – that this will be not just an Ennis event but something that can be spread out to all of the county and something that can benefit all of Clare.”


Gardaí probe house thefts

GARDAI have outlined details of a number of recent burglaries that have taken place around Clare in recent weeks.

Gardai in Scariff are investigating a burglary that occurred at a house in Furnace, Whitegate, between 8.40am and 6pm on August 25.

Thieves gained access through a rear window. Items taken include a small amount of cash, two gold wedding rings, one diamond engagement ring (two small diamonds set beside a large diamond on a gold band), a gold wishbone ring, a thick gold chain with a weave design halfway round, a gold bracelet with red stone on the top, a gold chain and a gold ring with three red stones.

A burglary took place at a house in Lenabeg, Ennis, between 2.50pm on August 24 and 5.50pm and August 25. A 19-inch plasma television, an X-Box 360 console, a silver chain, a small sum of money and a black Nintendo DS.

A house in Tullagower, Kilrush, was ransacked between 8pm and 10pm on August 28. Burglars gained entry to the house by forcing open the rear door. A landline telephone and television were taken in the incident.

In Knockera, Kilrush, a quantity of diesel was stolen from two diggers parked in the area. The burglary occurred between 7pm on August 23 and 9am on August 24. Also stolen were two sets of sockets, tool box with tools inside, two large spanners and three ratchets.

A burglary took place at a house in Clarehill, Clarecastle, between 11.45pm on August 28 and 3.30am on August 29. Items stolen were a Dell laptop, a house key and a lady’s purse.

Also in Clarecastle, an incident of criminal damage occurred when two back passenger windows were smashed in a car parked outside a house at St Joseph’s Terrace.

In Kilnamona, the front bumper, front grill, front headlights and two wing mirrors were stolen from a Grey Isuzu jeep that was parked in a field. The incident occurred between 6pm on August 25 and 8am on August 26. Gardaí in Ennistymon are investigating.


Former Senator gets Wikileaks mention

FORMER Clare Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Daly was the unlikely name mentioned in the latest round of leaked cable released by the WikiLeaks organisation last week.

Mr Daly, who departed political life after the 2007 General Election, was mentioned in a communication between the US Embassy in Dublin and the American Government in Washington in relation to the “Shannon Five” who damaged an US plane parked in Shannon Airport.

The leaked top-secret document claimed that Mr Daly, who was a Senator at the time, contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions and requested an appeal against the notguilty verdict handed out to the protesters.

Speaking to The Clare People last night Mr Daly said that it was no secret that he was in favour of the use of Shannon Airport by the US Military.

He also said that he had no direct contact with anyone from the US Embassy but did remember receiving a call from someone who identified themselves as being from US Homeland Security around the time of the trial but had assumed that it was a crank call from some of his “friends in Dublin”.

“I felt at the time the we were right to allow the US to use the airport and my opinion on that hasn’t changed. It is something that is creating jobs locally and if we said no to it then they would simply fly out through Amsterdam or some other airport instead,” he said.

“I do remember at the time getting a call from someone saying they were from Homeland Security in America but I assumed at the time that it was Dooley [Clare TD Timmy Dooley] or some of my friends up in Dublin making the call.”

The Shannon Watch Organisation have been critical of Mr Daly’s stance on the matter, saying that it showed a lack of respect for the Irish judicial process.

“This cable suggests that he was not satisfied to take the decision of an Irish court – he wanted to interfere and find some way that the decision could be overturned,” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch.

“We don’t know what contact Mr Daly may have made with the DPP – whether that it was official or non official contact – but we do know that it became known to the American Ambassador that Senator Daly wanted to overturn the decision of an Irish court.”


Clare respite for Bishop Casey

IT LOOKS certain that one of Ireland’s most controversial clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey, will never again say Mass in public after he was taken into a Clare nursing home last week because of ill health.

The former Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora has been in a virtual limbo in the parish of Shanaglish on the Clare/Galway border since his return to Ireland in 2006.

Bishop Casey has been technically a practicing priests for the parish but has not been allowed to say Mass locally and has instead had to content himself by saying Mass for himself in his home.

Bishop Casey, who is a popular figure in the locality, was admitted to a Clare nursing home last week for a period of “respite”. One local man, who is a close neighbour of Bishop Casey, says that the disgraced bishop is “a proud man” and is hoping to return to his own home as quickly as possible.

“I was told that he would be making an appearance in the local pub this week, that he would be given a passout for the night, but we will have to wait and see,” said one neighbour.

“I know that the woman from the shop in Gort will be asking me when he [Bishop Casey] be back in to collect his daily paper again. But we don’t know. He is a proud man and I have no doubt that he will want to back to his house in Shanaglish again soon.”

A spokesperson from the Galway Diocese declined to make any statement of the health of Bishop Casey yesterday saying it was a personal matter but did confirm that there had been no change is Bishop Casey’s position regarding saying Mass again locally.

Bishop Casey was one of Ireland’s most popular religious figures before it was discovered that he had fathered a child with an Irish American woman, Annie Murphy, in 1974. This was one of the biggest scandals ever to hit the Irish Church when it came to light in 1992 and prompted Bishop Casey to tender his resignation and leave the country.

After 1992, Bishop Casey then chose to embrace the life of a foreign missionary in South America and worked with members of the Missionary Society of St James in a rural parish in Ecuador.

After a number of years in South America he moved to England before returning again to Shanaglish in 2006.


Drink driving ‘more acceptable in Clare’

DRUNK-DRIVING is more acceptable in Clare than in any other county in Ireland with more than half of all Clare drivers would “take the chance” of driving while possibly still drunk from the previous nights drinking according to a survey from the Automobile Association of Ireland.

According to the survey, which had 14,000 responses and is the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken in Ireland, 52.4 per cent of Clare drivers would drive while still a little drunk compared to 49.8 per cent in Cavan and 49.7 per cent in Limerick.

The survey also revealed that Clare people were the third most likely in Ireland to get into a car with someone who was possible drunk.

Ennis man and head of the Irish Drivers Association, John Lernihan, says that people need their head examined if they get into a car driven by someone who is over the alcohol limit.

“Would you go on a flight with a pilot who had drink taken? I know I wouldn’t. It is the same thing, you could be killed in the car just as easily as a pilot in a plane,” said John.

“Clare is a rural county and people don’t have the public transport which is available to them in Dublin or places like that but there is no excuse to drink and drive. If you are down in a place like Kilbaha, let’s say, and want to go into Kilkee, it just can’t be done with public transport.”

Mr Lernihan has blamed the governments policy of allowing drunk drivers to pay a fine and collect penalty points for putting a price on human lives.

“The idea is to make money. They are saying that it’s okay to chance killing someone by being drunk behind the wheel and people can get away with it by paying a fine. They are doing away with the court route – it’s about fines and penalty points now and that is all about making money for the government,” continued John.

“They are putting a value on people’s lives and I think that this is an insult to the people who have lost loved ones through drunken driving. They are now saying you can take a chance and drink and drive – and buy back your license after that. The Irish Drivers Association would be in favour of a mandatory ban – it is an insult to people and their right, especially those who have lost loved ones.”


Confusion over pasteurisation

A PROPOSAL from the Food Safety Authority to ban the sale of all unpasteurised milk will not effect plans by North Clare farmers to sell milk directly to the consumers. New Quay farmers Brid and Roger Fahy had planned to develop a number of milk dispensers in shops around the North Clare area where people could bring their own reusable containers and buy milk directly from the farmers.

The Fahys, who also own the Linnalla home made ice-cream company, have put the project on hold for the moment because of the recession but do plan to return to the direct sales model in the coming years.

According to Brid Fahy, the proposal put forward by the Food Safety Authority, while unusual, will not hurt their own business.

“The Food Safety Authority seem to want to ban it [the sale of all uspasteurised milk] even though it is something that is on sale commonly in many other countries all over Europe. It does seem to be a strange one but honestly there is very little unpasteurised milk out there,” she said. “I think that it’s is a case of somebody making a job for themselves – there are so few people producing milk which is unpasteurised at the moment. I really don’t think this will make a huge difference for people.

“We haven’t started up the milk vending machines yet but we had planned to put pasteurised milk into that and not unpasteurised. The only difference between our milk and milk that you would buy in a shop is that our milk would not be homogenised – which is something that many people would see as having a lot of health benefits.

“We haven’t been able to go ahead with that plan yet – we have been concentrating on getting the ice-cream business on a firmer footing but milk vending machines are something that we would intend to do in the future.

“Most of the people who want unpasteurised milk really want it because they want unhomogenised milk. In homogenised milk the cream on top or fat cells have become mixed with the milk so that you can’t take the milk without the cream.

“There is a wave against homogenised milk because it is believed that the broken down fat cells can go straight into the blood stream and in that way cause more damage to the body.”


Certificate could bring visitors with Irish roots

THE establishment of a Certificate of Irishness could bring five million tourists to the mid-west region over a ten-year period.

That’s according to Clare County Councillor James Breen, who is strongly in favour of the establish- ment of the scheme, as proposed by Quin resident Gerry O’Neill.

Cllr Breen has endorsed the campaign established by Mr O’Neill and raised the issue at a meeting of Clare County Council last year.

“There are over 80 million people of Irish decent living in the US. I think this can turn Shannon Airport into what it was like in the Brendan O’Regan era,” he said.

He said that if the scheme is put on a firm footing by the government, the mid-west should be given priority, given that it is the brainchild of a man living in County Clare.

“It should be in the mid-west. We should get chartered flights into Shannon again. We want something in the west to make Shannon viable.”

“The idea was hatched in the midwest. There should be a central point in Shannon and people can travel around Ireland from there,” he told The Clare People . “I personally believe that it would bring over five million tourists into Shannon over 10 years. It will lead to strong links being forged,” he said.

He said that the introduction of such a scheme would bring pride to those of Irish ancestry. “Irish people are so proud of their heritage. The economy can be boosted. We can make Shannon Airport viable and into profit.”


A fascination with the US sparked idea

A LOVE for Shannon, coupled with a fascination with the US, are behind an international initiative born in Clare which is expected to be introduced later this year.

81-year-old Gerry O’Neill started out his career in Roscommon County Council before joining Clare County Council in 1958. He moved to Clare as a senior staff officer, dealing mainly with housing and water supplies.

“After a short while in the office I was sent out on the road buying land. I used to go down to Shannon. I was always interested in Shannon. Shannon was a whole series of temporary buildings. Anyone who had a job was working in Shannon. The planes going across the Atlantic were propellor planes.

“I was interested in the Irish. I sat down in Shannon and watched what was going on. I watched people emigrating to America. You were never sure what time a plane was coming in at. People came in from America very well dressed and speaking with fancy accents.

“I got to know Brendan O’Regan. He set up the first duty free shop in the world in Shannon. I was very anxious to go to America and see what America was,” he said.

There the fascination with the US was born. It was developed over the years. His love for Shannon, coupled with his interest in the US, prompted him to set about coming up with an idea to form a permanent link that he hoped would boost Shannon.

In the 60s he looked on as various initiatives were organised in an effort to attract tourists to the mid-west. He feels the formation of a Certificate of Irishness would emulate this in the future.

“Medieval tours were organised and groups visited all the villages along the way like Newmarket-onFergus, Sixmilebridge, Quin and Ballyvaughan. People waved at the buses along the way and made the visitors feel welcome,” he said.

Gerry’s first visit to the US was in 1966 and since then he has built up connections with several people living there. “I went to a Clare Association dinner in New York. There was a huge crowd there, mainly people who went there from Ireland in the 1920s. I heard the band playing The green, green grass of home. I saw old men with tears in their eyes. About 400,000 people left Ireland in the 1920s. There was nothing here so they went to America. I got talking to a few of those. Some of them wanted to come back to Ireland to retire,” he recalled.

Inspired by this, Gerry decided to come up with a way he felt could help those living in the US and at the same time ensuring the Irish economy would be boosted.

“Over the years I brought back a good few people to Ireland and helped them to make contacts to get houses here,” he said.

In 2008, he spotted an article in a national newspaper about the government reaching out to the Irish in the US. He was contacted by a government representative. Arising out of this, he later met with government officials, during which he put forward his idea. He says the proposal was welcomed and is looking forward to it becoming a reality later this year.

He believes a Certificate of Irishness would inspire those with Irish roots to visit here in huge numbers.

“Tourism in Ireland would benefit. They would come all year around,” he said.