Jimmy Allard RIP, noted fisherman and nature guide

ENNIS bid farewell on Saturday to one of the town’s best-known fishermen and nature guides.

Jimmy Allard, who lived in Beechpark, passed away suddenly last week. He was a three-time All-Ireland flyfishing champion and international Gold winner and a former member of the Munster Team Championship winning team. In 1976, he finished third in the World Championships.

His exploits were the subject of BBC and RTE documentaries. After working in England, Jimmy returned to Ireland in the sixties and got a job driving for Roadstone.

He lived for a time in Newmarketon-Fergus before settling in Ennis.

Mr Allard captained his country in the home internationals, beating Scotland in 1990 in Lough Owel, just outside Mullingar.

He was the first person to introduce ducks and geese to the River Fergus in 1990 and served as chairman of the Clare Regional Game Council.

In 2011, Mr Allard advocated converting a stretch of land between Beechpark and the One Mile Inn into a wildlife sanctuary. He also brought tourists fishing on lakes around Clare, the American actress Connie Francis and the former Governor of California, Ed Brown, being among Mr Allard’s more famous guests.

In an interview with The Clare People in 2007, Mr Allard recalled his love of fishing and the great outdoors.

“I got into the flyfishing back to Ennis in the ‘60s. I had an idea about starting up a club. I used to go down to Stonehall – there was an old man from England I used to know. He showed me how to make casts and flies.

“I started entering competitions here in Ennis. I did pretty well, won the odd competition and got a few prizes. I went to the Munster championships and I qualified for the National and the first time I was in that in 1974, I won it. It was the first time anyone from Clare won it. I made the Irish team after that. I won a couple of the big competitions on the Corrib,” he said.

Mr Allard will be sadly missed by his wife Cauch, children Tyrone, Kevin, Seamus, George and Cait extended family and friends.


Elderly lady saved at Doolin Pier

AN elderly woman is recovering today after a fall at Doolin Pier on Saturday in which she sustained hip and head injuries. The woman slipped and fell at the water’s edge but she was brought to safety before she entered the water.

The Doolin Unit of the Irish Coastguard was alerted to the incident by one of the local ferry operators and were on the scene within minutes. The woman was given medical attention at the water’s edge before she was moved to a more secure location by stretcher.

The casualty complained of severe pain to her left hip and had a cut and swelling to her forehead. The woman was brought to Limerick Regional Hospital for further treatment.

Meanwhile, rescue services on Lough Derg took part in 25 different rescue operations on the lake this summer.

Figures released last week show that the Lough Derg RNLI launches nine times during the summer months, while the Killaloe Unit of the Irish Coastguard took part in 14 rescue operations since the beginning of June.

Among the call-outs responded to by the Lough Derg RNLI was a request to assist 15 people on-board a cruiser that had grounded by Cormorant Island, north of Illaunmore, some four nautical miles from Dromineer Bay.

The lifeboat also launched to investigate a vessel upturned in Youghal Bay, close to Garrykennedy, and on another occasion launched to assist four people after their cruiser grounded and they abandoned it to board a small tender.


Merriman Hotel up for auction

THE Merriman Hotel in Kinvara is going on auction again this week, with the guide price set at just € 400,000, or € 12, 500 per bedroom.

The 32-bedroom hotel, located in the very centre of Kinvara, was auctioned already this year but that deal was not brought to completion.

On that occasion, the hotel was sold to the highest bidder for a price of € 610,000 and it remains unclear whether it will reach those heights again.

Along with the 32 bedrooms, the hotel also boasts a bar with the capacity to seat 200 guests, a dining room with licence capacity for 100, a kitchen, study, entrance hall and private secure car parking.

During the property boom, a number of luxury six-bedroom houses in Kinvara sold for more than € 1 million, or roughly € 170,000 per bedroom.

If the Merriman reaches its previous auction price of € 610,000 from earlier this year, it will be sold for just over € 19,000 per bedroom.

The auction will take place on Friday, September 28 at 3pm at the Victoria Hotel in Galway unless it is previously sold.

The property is being brought to auction by O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.

Meanwhile, property prices continue to fall across Clare, according to the price change index.

Of the 48 houses whose asking price changed in the county so far this September, 46 reported a reduction in the asking price.

The largest drop in asking price was for a large thatched property in Doolin whose asking price fell by € 150,000, from € 500,000 to € 350,000.


‘It was never a runner from day one’

LABASHEEDA is a village on the Shannon estuary, an area of high environmental sensitivity, yet its people are asked to survive a recession, develop the area and care for the environment without any sewerage scheme.

And despite more than a half a century of promises from different governments and plans and funding being allocated by the second last Minister for the Environment, the plans have been cancelled and the money taken back.

This is of little surprise to the despondent local people, who have spent the last decade working with planners, the county council and government departments in developing the plan for the village.

Among those involved was local school principal, Liam Woulfe.

“I’m convinced that it was never a runner from day one, and the Department of the Environment were merely playing with figures and statistics just to show that a number of projects were being considered, to look good in Europe,” he said.

“They constantly changed the conditions relating to the type of system to be installed, and Clare County Council, in good faith, would have to go back to the drawing board. We were being regularly told that the money was ‘ringfenced’, a term I don’t want ever to hear in use again, it just seems to mean that the funding is never really there in the first place,” he added.

The “ringfenced” money for the Labasheeda and Carrigaholt Scheme has now disappeared and the goalposts have changed again, so much so that the council can no longer apply for a scheme for Labasheeda.

Sean Ward, Senior Engineer with Clare County Council told The Clare People , “The rules governing the 2011 Annual Review did not give us any leeway for re-submission of the Labasheeda element of the scheme.”

“As neither of the two villages (Carrigaholt or Labasheeda) was included in the new WSIP, the budget allocated in 2008 is no longer available. Clare County Council was reim- bursed by the department for the design and other planning costs, which it had incurred up to the time the scheme was dropped from the Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP),” he said.

The engineer was not confident of a resolution to the situation anytime soon.

“Unless and until the scheme can be reconsidered as part of any 2014onwards WSIP, it isn’t possible to say if and when a sewerage scheme can be built in either Carrigaholt or Labasheeda,” he said.


Funding withdrawal leaves Carrigaholt ‘at standstill’

CARRIGAHOLT has been waiting 40 years for a public sewerage scheme, but the withdrawal of Government funding for the project means the picturesque village now has an indefinite wait for this essen tial service.

The € 1.5 million allocated to the project in 2008, jointly with Labasheeda, has been rescinded, despite promises that the money was ringfenced for the work.

Carrigaholt postmaster Pat Gavin described the wait as a disgrace.

“We have no bus service, no roads, no sewerage system and they want us to pay € 100 – for what?” he asked.

“Carrigaholt is at a standstill and there can be no further development until we get a sewerage scheme,” he said.

Carrigaholt and Labasheeda joint sewerage scheme was on the 20062008 Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP). A considerable amount of design work was carried out on it by Clare County Council up to and including 2009.

The local authority re-submitted it to the department of the environment as part of the 2009 ‘Assessment of Needs’ which fed into preparation of the 2010-2012 (now re-designated as 2010-2013) WSIP.

The Department did not include the project on the list for 2010-2012 however, despite allocating funding as far back as 2008.

“In our submission to the DECLG (Department of the Environment) for the 2011 Annual Review of the WSIP, we re-submitted the Carrigaholt element alone, on the basis that there are designated shellfish waters off Carrigaholt and that the DECLG had prepared a Shellfish Water Pollution Reduction Plan which in the council’s opinion warranted re-inclusion of the scheme as a pollution reduction measure.

“However the DECLG didn’t accept our submission,” explained Sean Ward, senior engineer with Clare County Council.

He added that it was impossible to say when the scheme would be back on the Department’s books again.

Meanwhile, the people of Carrigaholt remain in the same development limbo it has been constrained by for the last 40 years.


FG TDs red-faced after goverment u-turn

THE Government has reneged on a promise to return almost quarter of a million euro to the people of Clare if they increased their payment of the controversial household charge.

The fall out has placed the county’s two Fine Gael TDs in the eye of a storm as they delivered the message from Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan just over a month ago that the cut to the county council’s Local Government Fund was a temporary measure.

In his address to councillors last August, Deputy Pat Breen (FG) said the loss of € 243,000 from the third quarter of the funding allocation would be returned to the council’s coffers.

“You will get back what is owed to you before the need of the year. I don’t think the council should worry about that,” he said.

His colleague Deputy Joe Carey said, “The money is not being cut. It is being withheld.”

“We don’t have to face the cuts if we get the allocation up to 70 to 75 per cent. I got that assurance from Phil Hogan,” he added.

On Friday the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government confirmed the money would not be paid back to Clare County Council under any circumstances but as the county surpassed a 65 per cent payment rate it would not be further penalised during the last quarter of the year.

Deputy Carey told The Cla re People yesterday (Monday) that while the reduction is “disappointing” the overall allocation was € 10.8 million. “The reduction is two and a half per cent within the budget,” he said.

He added that reassurances given to the council by him and his colleagues was done in “good faith”.

“Notwithstanding that, at that meeting I said if Clare County Council got up to 75 per cent there would be a reimbursement, it is still only in the high 60s,” he said.

Since then he said the budgetary situation had changed.

Deputy Breen said he was disappointed, frustrated and angry.

“I am disappointed with the fact he assured us funding would be there and then I got informed that the department cannot deliver on promise,” he said.

He added that he “always tells the truth” and the information was given in “good faith”.

“The return of the household charge is not as good as it should be,” he added which impacted on the loss of the funding.

Asked if his relationship with Minister Hogan was now strained, he said he had a good relationship with all ministers and this was not a personal decision by the minister.

He added however, “I am going to have strong words with Minister Hogan.”


Clare TDs to confront minister on cuts

MEMBERS of the Fine Gael party in Clare are to tell the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan that a carrot rather and stick will reap more rewards in the county when it comes to collecting the household charge.

The loss of almost a quarter of a million euro of council funding last month will not be returned to Clare County Council, despite reassurances from the Minister through the two local Fine Gael TDs that all funding would be paid if a certain threshold was met.

On Saturday, Fine Gael councillors and Oireachtais members met and discussed the announcement following Friday’s developments.

It was agreed that there was little incentive left for the collection of the charge if the council and its public services were to be penalised regardless.

In a statement after the meeting the party in Clare said’

“There is a € 1.5 million shortfall in the household charge collection in Clare from 15,000 households who have failed to pay the legally due charge brought about by the collapse of the economy.”

It said the issue of the refunding of the € 240,000 from the third quarter payments from Government was discussed on the agenda.

“There is a Clare Fine Gael proposal being put by the Oireachtas members to the Minister for his urgent consideration to enable the refund that € 240,000.

“The proposal seeks the refund if a significant further improvement of payment rate is achieved in Clare over the next number of weeks.

“Essential council services need to be funded and unless we all contribute and pay we will fail to improve our collection rate,” it stated.

As the Fine Gael members prepare to meet with the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan on Saturday next at a party fundraising dinner, many admit privately that he has lost credibility with them.

This means any reassurances they might receive will be coated in more salt than the € 100 a plate dinner.


Council to cut €240k from services

SERVICES will be cut in the county to cover the € 240,000 withdrawn from the council coffers by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Last August, council members agreed to continue with services as planned under the budget adopted at the beginning of the year, on re- assurances from the county’s Fine Gael Oireachtais members that the money cut from the third quarter of the budget would be returned.

Now the council must take an axe to services during the last three months of the year to make up the unplanned shortfall.

The county’s councillors were angered on Friday when it was announced that the money would not be returned as promised.

Instead it must face a meeting on Monday where it will be asked to consider cutting certain vital services in order to balance the books.

Former mayor of Clare Tommy Brennan (Ind) proposed last August to go ahead with the budget as planned given the reassurance from the Government members present, and this week he was angry at the u-turn.

“I am calling on them [TDs] to see the Minister and return the money to Clare County Council. A lot of services will be cut back otherwise,” he said.

Mayor of Clare Pat Daly (FF) described the minister’s decision as “totally wrong”.

“The council is living on the edge at the moment.

“The last thing we need to do it cut services and there is a real danger that this could happen.”

He added that there was a real danger that those that did not pay will not pay the household charge now.

“Two thirds of people have paid the charge and they are being penalised by this man,” he added referring to the minister.

“He has let down his Fine Gael colleagues, especially Pat Breen and Joe Carey in a big way.”

Fine Gael councillor Joe Cooney was equally incensed by the decision.

Describing it as “desperate” and “unbelievable”, he fears for the future of essential public services.

“My belief is that minor and local roads are going to suffer, and we are asking people on those roads to pay taxes and household charges,” the councillor added.

Cllr Joe Arkins (FG) said he was concerned that there was “now no incentive on Clare County Council, Clare county councillors or the householders of Clare to contribute to the charge.”


D-Day approaches for 2014 Fleadh bid

THE last Saturday in January has emerged as the new D-Day for hopes of traditional music enthusiasts in Clare to bring Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to Ennis in 2014, which – if successful – would bridge a 37-year gap to when the event was last held in the county. The Clare People has learned that Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann chiefs have brought forward the date for the Ard Comhairle of the organisation to make a decision on where the 2014 showpiece of the traditional music year takes place.

Traditionally the decision is made every September, but the decision to put what Comhaltas chiefs called “the special application” of Derry to host the Fleadh for the first time to a vote last January is set to be continued for the second succesive year.

“This is a good thing,” said a spokesperson for Clare Comhaltas, “because if the Ennis bid is successful, it will give a longer lead-in time to organising what is a huge undertaking to stage this international event.”

And key figures within the county organisation of Comhaltas are hopeful that Clare’s role in helping bring the 2013 Fleadh to Derry will result in a successful Ennis bid. Last January, this view was aired by Michéal Ó Riabhaigh of the Abbey Branch of Comhaltas, which is spearheading the campaign to bring the Fleadh to Clare, when he defended the decision to withdraw Ennis’ bid in favour of Derry.

“The decision we took to withdraw our bid was a risk worth taking and a gesture worth making. I would hope that the sacrifice that we made this time around will be appreciated when Ennis bids for the Fleadh in 2014,” he said.

Last September, Ennis narrowly lost out to Cavan on being host town for the 2012 Fleadh. In a three-way contest involving Ennis, Cavan and Sligo, Cavan won the right to host the festival for the third successive year on a 14-13 vote.

Ennis, Sligo and Derry were the three competing centres to host the 2013 Fleadh until the surprise move by the Abbey Branch of Comhaltas to withdraw the bid bring the festival to Ennis for the first time since 1977.

Now Ennis is set to go head-tohead with Sligo, with Drogheda also mooted as a possible late entry into the contest. The Ennis application is backed by the strength of traditional music in the county as showcased in the recent Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Cavan where the county won 134 medals in 42 categories. This was higher than any other county. 30/09/2012


North Clare a cyber-bullying blackspot

CYBER-bullying is more common in rural areas of North Clare than in Dublin City, according to digital media expert Brendan Smith.

The proliferation of online- or cyber-bullying in rural Clare is also a contributing factor in the rise of youth suicides in the county.

Mr Smith, who is the outreach education officer at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI, Galway, will address groups of parents in Ennistymon next week to educate them of the warning signs for cyberbullying.

He also says that high-profile cases, such as the tragic death of Fanore teenager Phoebe Prince, demonstrate just how serious cyber-bullying is for young Clare people.

“This is a hidden world for a lot of parents who are not familiar with Facebook and other social networks. Children in rural areas are being harassed more than ever before. Before, the bullying would stop at school or on the street; now it can follow them into their homes,” he said.

“The home used to be a sanctuary but that is no longer the case. The bullying can take place right in the bedroom if they have a laptop or a smartphone.

“We have been talking to guards and they say that this is now a bigger problem in rural areas than in cities. If you live in North Clare, there is a much bigger chance that you talk to your friends online rather than meeting up with them, as people can do in the cities,” continued Brendan.

“Phoebe Prince is one of the most famous incidents of cyber-bullying but, trust me, every village and every townland in Clare has some form of cyber-bullying going on. It is difficult to say exactly what the level is but I have never come across an area where it wasn’t a problem.”

Brendan is one of a number of speakers who will address teachers and parents at the North West Clare Family Resource Centre in the coming weeks. There will also be free talks about teen mental health, teen use of drugs and alcohol and teen choices – which is about encouraging teens to make positive choices for themselves.

Each talk is free and will take place at two different times, to allow as many parents as possible to attend. For more information, including the exact times of all the talks, contact Barbara Ó Conchúir, Community Development Worker with the North West Clare Family Resource Centre on 065 7071144 or email