Clare’s ‘free stuff ’ site is a facebook hit

IT MAY look suspicious when a group of strangers meet up in car parks and at bus stops around the county to hand over packages and large goods, but the new phenomena is a lot more innocent than it first appears.

These people have met through a Facebook page that gives away used good for free.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” explained Ennis woman Tina Whelan, the brainchild behind the operation.

The Facebook page “Clare free to a good home” allows people advertise items that they no longer require and want to give away for free.

Everything from a three piece to a bicycle, phone to a playhouse, and even some wedding dresses have been given away.

With over 1,500 friends Ms Whelan set up the closed page as the original “open” page was too difficult to police.

“People were messing and causing offence so we closed the first page after 50 to 60 days and then set up the closed page that people have to ‘like’ to access,” she explained.

There are now rules associated with the page, such as the amount of items any one person can claim. People are only allowed to claim one item a day from the 50 to 60 items a week that are posted.

There remains a few minor arguments from time to time, Ms Whelan admits, but nothing too serious that the administrators can’t manage.

People also ask for items they may need from the other members.

Last week one man asked for old fertiliser bags so he could go to the bog and fill his turf.

Within hours he had four to five offers.

“Another girl came on looking for a wedding dress and someone gave her their dress which was worth over € 2,000,” said Ms Whelan.

“In the first week one girl came on looking for a mannequin. I thought she will never get that, but she had three to four offers.

“It has just taken off. I am absolutely stunned at the reaction. People tell me they are now addicted to the page,” she added.

Since the page was launched last week more than 2,000 items have been given away.

“Children’s clothes are the biggest draw,” said Ms Whelan.

And as children finish up at school this week, the woman behind “Clare free to a good home” has set up a new page where parents can offer school uniforms, books and other materials to other parents.

“I am encouraging people to swap on this page so everyone benefits,” she said. Clare School/Book Uniform Swap has already had a lot of hits and a number of followers.

And while “giving stuff away” may be at the core of Ms Whelan’s first two pages she has set up a third that allows employers advertise jobs in Ennis.

“Ennis regular jobs for regular people” contains what she describes as “ordinary jobs that don’t require degrees or qualifications”.


Dromoland to host aviation conference

THE opportunity for Shannon Airport to strengthen its place in the global business aviation sector will be explored at a major conference attended by key international players at Dromoland Castle this week.

The second annual Irish Business Aviation Convention, hosted jointly by Shannon Airport and Shannon Development, on Wednesday and Thursday, will hear a number of leading figures discuss not just Shannon’s emerging role in the sector but also a range of opportunities and challenges facing the industry globally.

Among those speaking at the event will be Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who will give a key note address on ‘Irish Aviation: Challenges and Opportunities’.

“The aviation industry presents enormous opportunities for Shannon, and for Ireland, in terms of job creation and economic growth. As we face into a crucial period for the Shannon’s future, the airport’s longstanding expertise in the aviation gives it a vital head-start,” said Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar.

“This conference is ideal opportunity to tease out options for the aviation sector in Shannon, and for Ireland as a whole,” he added.

Shannon Airport director Mary Considine said that the conference is a timely opportunity to showcase Shannon’s potential to become a key player in the global aviation industry in the years ahead.

“Last year’s inaugural event was widely applauded by the industry, with the presence of representatives from the biggest operators in the business being a real vote of confidence in relation to our global reputation in this industry,” said Ms Considine.

“This year’s event will build on that, with an even stronger line-up of national and international speakers set to give insights into this very significant and exciting aviation sector. Shannon already has an excellent international reputation for delivering a top quality service to operators of business (private and corporate) jets. It is regularly used by some of the world’s highest net worth individuals and corporate entities. Last year, in a challenging year, we had over 4,500 business jet movements in and out of the airport, a slight increase on 2010. Our plan now is to build on this and broaden Shannon’s role as a potential business aviation hub.”

“This is Ireland’s only business aviation convention and the fact that it is being held in Shannon is testament to our rich aviation history,” said Shannon Development Chief Executive Dr Vincent Cunanne.

Among the other guest speakers are CEO of Avolon, Ennis nativeDomhnal Slattery, aviation consultant Brendan McQuaid and former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander Bill Readdy.


Woman principal a first for Flannan’s

AN ENNIS teacher has made history by becoming the first woman to be named as principal of St Flannan’s College. Carmel Honan, who grew up in College View directly opposite St Flannan’s, is also thought be the first ever female principal of a diocesan college in Ireland.

A former student of Holy Family National School and Coláiste Mhuire in Ennis, Ms Honan has worked at St Flannan’s since 1990, teaching English and History.

The Ennis native said she is “deeply honoured” to have been named principal of one of the country’s largest secondary schools.

She added, “I have been really fortunate to work at what I love doing, which is teaching. I am going to miss the classroom.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge. I suppose I am excited about the challenge ahead.”

She replaces retiring principal Colm McDonagh, who became the first lay person to be appointed principal of the college.

Ms Honan said, “I certainly want to pay tribute to Colm. He was an inspiring colleague and an inspiring principal. He is a person of tremendous vision.”

She said she regards the appointment as “huge privilege”.

Ms Honan continued, “It’s a challenging role to ensure in the present climate that we cater for all of our diverse community.

“I grew up across the road from the school and I never once dreamed I’d be principal.

“I’ve always been happy at St Flannan’s because St Flannan’s is a place that was always concerned about people and motivating students.”

The history of the school dates back to 1846. It currently caters for over 1,200 students.


Farmers fear further rustling

GARDAÍ are investigating an incidence of cattle rustling in East Clare with a Quin farmer losing almost € 5,000 worth of livestock in a nighttime raid last week. Three mature animals were taken from the farm of Anthony Flannery in the Knappogue area of Quin last week, with a further five animals managing to escape capture.

This is the third instance of cattle rustling to take place in Clare in recent month, sparking fears among farmers that an organised gang may have been responsible. The animals were taken from a locked field on June 13 last, between 2am and 4am.

According to the Clare chairperson of the IFA, Andrew Dundas, farmers are becoming more and more fearful that their animals will be stolen.

“The animals were stolen from a field with a locked gate, so they had to cut through the lock to gain access. The animals were herded into a holding pen in the field and five of the animals managed to knock the wall of the pen and break out,” said Andrew.

“The farmer is very distressed after this. These people came prepared to do this job. They certainly had transport and were organised.”

The stolen cattle were each one and a half-year-old limousins which could have reached between € 1,100 and € 1,500 at the mart. These animals will not be able to be sold at any mart in Ireland with their current tags and it is likely that the criminals will try to use tags taken from dead farm animals, who have not be disposed of legally.

“People are scared, I have been talking to the milk truck driver and he tells me that gates are locked that never used to be locked. There was a major theft in Bridgetown in March with 13 animals stolen from inside a shed,” continued Andrew.

“I also heard of a large number of calves stolen from out of a shed over in West Clare, so it is all over the county. We would appeal to anyone who may have heard something on that night to get in contact with the guards. These animals can be traced. If we can locate them, even with their tags taken off, we can trace the DNA and confirm that they are the right animals.”


Euros 1 – Cliffs of Moher 0

THE UEFA European Championships seem to have had a negative impact on visitor numbers coming to County Clare, with a marked decrease in tourists coming to the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Centre since the start of the competition.

Despite a largely positive start to the year, numbers visiting the Cliffs of Moher have dropped by more than 10 per cent in June, coinciding with the start of the competition.

This could mean further bad news ahead as the London 2012 Olympics, which had been thought of as a means of attracting tourists to the county, could follow the same pattern and draw tourists away.

According to figures obtained by The Clare People , overall visitor numbers between January and May of this year have shown a 6 per cent increase on the previous year.

This increase has been driven largely by an increase in group tours.

“The outlook is still unclear and we are hoping that we will see a pick up in individual business when the school holidays in Ireland and across Europe arrive at the end of the month,” said Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Experience.

“It is possible also that the European Championships are having a negative effect on visitor numbers, as European nationals stay at home to watch their teams or, if they do travel, it’s to Poland and the Ukraine.

“The growth so far this year is in the group tour business which is substantially up on last year. Individual visitors for the period of January to May are flat with 2011 for the same period.

“Our busiest season is June to September. So far, the month of June is slightly down on last year and, while group business is continuing to do well, the individual visitor numbers are more than 10 per cent down.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the decision to remove any charge for entering the Vandeleur Walled Garden in Kilrush is paying dividends. Visitor numbers attending the historic site have grown by between 10 and 15 per cent so far this year.

Visitors to the centre are normally charged € 5 per adult during the summer season. However, the decision was made this year to scrap the entry fee in an effort to attract more tourists and allow the centre to make up lost revenue from entry fees.

According to Susie Matjeha, who manages the walled garden, there has been a marked increase in visitor numbers since the fee was waved. Ea rly in d ic a t io n s fo r n e xt we e k a re fo r t e m p e ra t u re s t o g e t wa rm e r w it h su n sh in e o n t h e wa y – fin g e rs c ro sse d !


Merriman school to discuss rural Ireland’s future

THE future of rural Ireland will be up for debate at this year’s Merriman Summer School, which takes place in Lisdoonvarna this August. The line-up for the summer school was confirmed yesterday with the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney (FG), set to speak as part of the event.

This year’s school is being directed by the Chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and former Director General of RTÉ, Bob Collins, who has chosen ‘Thriving at the Crossroads: Rural Ireland in a Globalised World’, as the theme.

“For a long time, the focus of Ireland’s identity was its rural, its agrar- ian base. Frequently romanticised, regularly misunderstood, it had an important part in the shaping of ourselves and of a sense of our ideal selves,” said Doireann Ní Bhriain of the Merriman Summer School.

“The world that gave us that approach is long gone. The face of the country has been transformed. Urban life and the urban experience dominate the international media and shape contemporary identities.

“And yet, rural Ireland continues to exist. Its landscape still proclaims its beauty. Its people make an impact on the life on the country. Its fields produce food that is consumed in many lands.”

Alongside Minister Coveney, the summer school will also feature Professor Kevin Whelan of the Univer- sity of Notre Dame, Professor Chris Curtin of NUI Galway, Dr Ruth McManus and Eddie Downey, Vice President of the IFA.

Some of the specific topics earmarked for discussion include how the new virtual community relates to rural Ireland as well as questions about the future of farming, food, landscape, tourism, sustainability and the environment.

“This year’s school sets out to offer a positive but realistic perspective on the reality that is rural Ireland, It will look at the possibilities and potentials of the future,” added Doireann

The Merriman Summer School will run from Wednesday, August 15 to Sunday, August 19, at the Pavillion Theatre in Lisdoonvarna and other venues in the locality.


Injured Burren cyclist airlifted to Cork

A NORTH Clare man was recovering in hospital yesterday after an accident during the An Post Tour de Burren cycling race in Ballyvaughan. 49-year-old Martin Clancy came off his bike at the foot of Ballyella Hill in Fanore on Saturday morning, sustaining head injuries in the collision. The Ennistymon native, who is currently living in Ennis, was attended to by a doctor who was taking part in the race before being airlifted to hospital in Cork. The Clare People understands that Mr Clancy was fully conscious in hospital yesterday (Monday), and is expected to make a full recovery.

Mr Clancy was one of an estimated 2,200 cyclists who took part in the various stages of Saturday’s Tour de Burren, the largest number ever to take part in the seven-year history of the event.

“There was a doctor in his own party who attended the gentleman, and from this point on our emergency plan was activated. The medical team on site requested immediate transfer by helicopter to Cork University Hospital, and we tasked the Coast Guard to co-ordinate this,” said John Sweeney from Clare Sports Partnership, one of the organisers of the Tour de Burren.

“Conditions at the time were dry and no other cyclists were involved. We would like to wish the gentleman a speedy recovery and also we would like to thank all who attended at the scene and to Doolin Coast Guard for their help and co-operation.”

Besides the single accident, this year’s Tour de Burren is being hailed as a great success by the organisers. Due to strong headwinds, this year’s tour was considered to be the most difficult in the event’s history.

Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly was one of those who took part in the event, which has become a key part of Clare’s sporting and tourism calendar.


Cow YouTube hit an udder surprise

A PEDIGREE cow from Barefield has become an internet sensation around the world in little over a week, after her curiosity got the better of her and he strayed from the long acre around Ballyalla to go ‘shopping’ for some bathroom ware.

That’s the story being told and viewed around the world in a threeand-a-half-minute YouTube clip that has gone viral in the past week as nearly 10,000 internet users a day log onto the young heifer’s interest in shopping.

It’s all to do with the Charolais heifer belonging to a local farmer that strayed into the Ennis Supply shop on the Gort Road last Saturday week, was filmed on a mobile phone and posted on the internet and, as of Monday night, had nearly 70,000 people viewing the footage.

“It’s amazing really,” Ennis Supply owner Stephen Flaherty told The Clare People this week. “I’m not from the YouTube age and I didn’t even know that it was put up on the internet, but the fact that it was and has had so many hits in unbelievable.

“It was on Saturday afternoon and the heifer just walked in the front door of the shop and walked around for about 15 minutes.

“She did no damage and we were eventually able to guide her out of the shop.

“She belonged to a local farmer, who farms at Ballycoree, and strayed from a field when a gate was left open and she eventually made her way up to us. While she was walking around, a young fella by the name of Damian Corry, who works with us on a Saturday, started filming him.

“When we got him out, I thought that was the end of it, but now loads of people are calling me to say they’ve seen it on the internet.

“I suppose you could say it’s some advertising for the business,” added Mr Flaherty.


New station manager joins RCB radio

RAIDIÓ Corca Baiscinn has entered a new era, with a new manager overseeing proceedings at the community radio station.

Conn Ó Muíneacháin has been appointed station manager, taking over from Conan Brophy.

Mr Ó Muíneacháin is an experienced broadcaster who comes to the south west Clare station with a wealth of knowledge from the world of media.

Since 2006, he has run his own media production business based in West Clare, supplying radio programmes to broadcasters such as RTÉ and Clare FM, as well as podcasts and video for the web.

In 2007, his company, Edgecast Media, won the Grand Prix at the Irish Digital Media Awards in 2007 for An tImeall, the first podcast in the Irish language.

Originally from Kerry, Conn has lived in Ballyncally for over 20 years with his wife and three children.

Mr Ó Muíneacháin’s predecessor was delighted with his replacement.

“These are exciting times for RCB as we develop new programming ideas, and look towards studio refurbishment. I have enjoyed my time at RCB and hope that Conn will enjoy working here as much as I have,” said Mr Brophy.

“I’m very excited at the prospect of taking on the role of station manager at RCB. I feel the community radio sector in Ireland is strong and growing in popularity, and RCB is at the forefront of providing interesting and different programming,” said Mr Ó Muíneacháin.

“I’m looking forward to this role, and in particular to working with the volunteer broadcasters who bring such unique skills to RCB, and enable our listeners to listen to truly innovative programming.”


Plan sees Shannon as a ‘key hub’ for travel

A NEW roadmap for the development of Shannon into an international gateway has been laid out by Clare County Council in the terms and conditions of a new development plan for the town.

Taking on from where the 20112017 Clare County Development Plan left off, the new Shannon Town & Environs Local Area Plan has set out its goals for the development of Shannon, with the promotion of the airport and its hinterland seen as the key driver in the town’s progress over the next decade.

The local plan has pledged to play its part “to facilitate the development and expansion of Shannon”, which could now be in the offing as the airport prepares to take control of its own destiny with independence from the Dublin Airport Authority in the coming months.

And, part of these expansion plans for the airport envisaged in the council blueprint include the development of “an international air freight cargo hub” and “the development of innovative initiatives that harness the potential of the airport including a residential flight school, global logistics centre for humanitarian aid, unmanned aerospace systems and a centre for space collaboration”.

As part of paving the way for these ambitions plans for the airport, what has been termed a “core strategy” of the local area plan is to “ensure that sufficient lands are zoned at appropriate locations to meet all envisaged land use requirements of the area over the lifetime of the local area plan”.

The local area plan has also pledged “in collaboration with other agencies, to prepare a high level Strategic Plan, to identify key priority projects and developments capable of being accommodated at the Shannon Airport lands, Shannon Free Zone and Westpark”.

The draft goes on to highlight Shannon as “a key hub” both for national and international air travel, “a gateway to Ireland’s primary tourist locations” and “a driver” for county and region’s economic development.

“In this regard the plan will seek to ensure the growth and development of Shannon Airport and to harness its full potential, in line with national, regional and county development policy. The designation of a Strategic Development Area encompassing the airport lands reinforces this commitment,” it says.

‘Strategic Development Areas’ are areas identified within the plan area where specific planning and development objectives, land use policies and or master development plans have been identified for the future development of such designated area.