Newsround Miscellany

Sunday November 7th

Thursday 11th November is the feastday of St. Martin otherwise known as Martinmas or 'Oul Halloweve' For an article on this go HERE

A Cross Quarter Day


Samhain the Cross Quarter Day is on November 7th this year, half way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. In ancient Ireland these solar events were observed in monuments known today as Megalithic Tombs. The most famous alignment is at Newgrange where the Winter Solstice sunrise illuminates the passage and chamber. At Samhain there are sunrise alignments
are Loughcrew and Tara:


Latest on Tubber banker Michael Fingleton
Former building society boss Michael Fingleton (see below) has taken refuge from the banking crisis in a luxury Spanish apartment that his creditors cannot touch. The former Irish Nationwide chief executive, being pursued by Ulster Bank over €13.6m in unpaid loans, has the use of two plush apartments overlooking a golf course in upmarket Marbella, the Irish Independent reports. The apartments cannot be seized by the bank as they are registered in the name of Mr Fingleton's wife, Eileen, and another relative. They were bought for a combined total of €1.2m in 2005, Spanish property records show and are located in the Hotel del Golf complex alongside the exclusive Las Brisas golf club, which boasts actor Sean Connery as a member.

Until recently the golf club was also frequented by disgraced former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick. The now bankrupt Mr FitzPatrick co-owns an apartment in the San Pedro area, 3km from the golf club. Mr Fingleton (72) has increasingly been spending his time in Marbella since retiring in April of last year. He was seen arriving into nearby Malaga airport from Dublin on Tuesday. He has yet to be investigated over his role in Irish Nationwide's spectacular collapse.

The Success of Failure

Another failed business man Sean Dunne, nursing serious debts after paying €380m for the Jurys and Berkley Court hotels in Ballsbridge as part of a €1bn plan to redevelop the upmarket Dublin suburb. has quit Ireland and is living in an exclusive private community in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is manned 24 hours a day by security personnel to protect its privileged residents. Mr Dunne has since become the newest resident in Belle Haven, a secure residential compound that is home to hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II and singer Diana Ross.

The former heads of IBM, Tom Watson and Louis Gerstner, the former CEO of Xerox, Peter McCollough and the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, John Weinberg, also live in the estate. Mr Dunne, dubbed the Baron of Ballsbridge, became the poster boy for the Celtic Tiger's excess in 2004 when he splashed out €1.4m for a 14-day party aboard the yacht Christina O to mark his wedding to former Sunday Independent gossip journalist Gayle Killilea. On Sunday, Mr Dunne, Ms Killilea and their three young children went "trick or treating" on Bush Avenue, where the family has taken up residence in the grounds of the Belle Haven Yacht Club, one of the world's most exclusive private members' clubs, where annual membership is reportedly $250,000 (€176,000).

The last set of accounts published for Mr Dunne's main company, Mountbrook Homes, showed it was losing almost half a million euro a year. Mr Dunne is among a number of former boom poster boys who have relocated out of Ireland. Derek Quinlan, a former tax inspector turned international property investor, has also quit Ireland with his family to take up permanent residence in Switzerland. (Sean and Gayle Dunne pictured at right)



Sligo Rape Trial Finishes

A jury in the Central Criminal Court trial of a Sligo man accused of raping and sexually assaulting his teenage daughter has been sent home for the weekend after failing to reach a verdict. The 46-year-old man, who can not be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of sexual assault on dates between September 2005 and June 2006. The girl was aged between 14 and 15-years-old at the time of the alleged offences.

The girl told a Central Criminal Court jury that he called her a “whore” as he raped her and kicked her in the face when she later called him a “pervert.”The now 19-year-old woman, giving evidence via video link, told Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, prosecuting, that her father used to come into her bedroom and “touch me up.” She said it happened “not every night but most nights.” She said she would be upset and when she woke up she told him to get off her but he wouldn’t.
She told Ms Kennedy that on one occasion when she was 15-years-old she took a shower while her father was out getting petrol. She said she got out of the shower and went to her bedroom wrapped in a towel. She said at that point her father, who had returned, came into her bedroom, pinned her on the bed and raped her. She said the alleged incident lasted 10 or 15 minutes. She said her father called her a whore towards the end when she said she would scream.

Jury sent home
The jury of four women and eight men have heard closing speeches from prosecution and defence counsel and have been charged by the trial judge. Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne sent the jurors home after they had been deliberating for just more than an hour and a half on day five of the trial and asked them to return on Monday morning.

Meanwhile another Sligo man pleaded guilty to raping and indecently assaulting his two daughters over a sixteen-year period. The 65 year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted his guilt in the Central Criminal Court last week to sixteen sample counts including indecent assault, rape, buggery and unlawful sexual intercourse of his two daughters on dates between 1980 and 1996. He was placed on the sex offenders register and was remanded on bail pending sentencing in December pending victims impact statements.

Update 25th October: With Halloween coming up next weekend you will find some useful information at these links, some of which are on Sligo Heritage and some on other dependable sites:
An Irish Halloween: The way it was

Updates 25th October
: Northwest Sigo has become a mecca for surfers with the biggest waves occurring off Mullaghmore Head. See this and be amazed: Click HERE

Most of us that are Irish, or have Irish roots, at one time or another have wished to be able to speak our native language. Now is your chance! Here's a website that makes it easy for all of us. Click HERE
"A nation without a language is only half a nation": Thomas Davis

Hello to friends in Boston, USA! Tune in to the the Seamus Mulligan Show tomorrow (Sunday 23rd Oct.) on at 3.00 pm, your time, for a discussion with Seamus and your web host on Halloween customs in Ireland.

Friday October 22nd 2010

Some rob banks with a gun, some do it with a pen.

It has been reported in the papers recently that the former head of Irish Nationwide, Tubercurry, Co. Sligo native Michael Fingleton, wrote to the Government just days before the tax-payer was forced to bail his bank out, confirming that his building Society was a "very profitable institution" and that its loan book was "sound". Despite these unfounded assurances, Irish Nationwide now requires €5.4bn state funding to survive and part of its loan book was later subjected to a 72pc write-down in value by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

Banker Michael Fingleton

Fingletons's lavish lifestyle
In the meantime the Tubbercurry man indulges his lavish lifestyle on his €27m pension fund and his controversial €1m retirement bonus, which he refuses to refund to the bank despite being requested to do so. It has since emerged that he also received over €400k in 'holiday pay'.
According to the Irish Independent, during the run-up to the state banking guarantee two years ago, Mr Fingleton wrote to the head of the Department of Finance to reassure him about the quality of Irish Nationwide's loan book. Mr Fingleton wrapped up his letter to the department's secretary general David Doyle on September 19, 2008, by saying his building society was a "very profitable financial institution".
Meanwhile Fingleton along with a Fianna Fáil Senator and two developers are opposing a bid to fast-track a legal action against them over unpaid property loans of some €13.5 million.  Ulster Bank has brought the case against Mr Fingleton, Liskillen, Shankill, Co Dublin; Fianna Fáil Senator Francis O’Brien, Corwillan, Latton, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan; and two Monaghan property developers, Noel Mulligan, Moyles, Castleshane, and Charles McGuinness, Tully House, Monaghan.

Sharks taken off Sligo coast
And speaking of sharks, Dubliners John Keogh and his son Paul landed a 160 pound shark 12 miles off Mullaghmore Head in the last few days. They were fishing off a boat skippered by Declan Kilgannon. This was the 12th shark landed on Kilgannon's boat this year since the season started in August. One hundred pounds weight is 'boat specimen' size for Ireland with the record standing at 206 pounds for a fish caught off Achill Island in 1959. Numbers caught off the Sligo coast have diminished considerably over the past few years as ten years ago it was not unusual for a sea angling boat to land six in one days fishing.

Your web host with a specimen blue shark c1993

Arriving in Irish waters, from mid June onwards, with the peak period being mid July to early September, the Blue Shark has an average weight at around 27 kg (60 lbs). The Blue Shark is fished for commercially, travels widely, and whilst it is a fast growing species, catch and release is practised. It is included in the Central Fisheries Board's marine sport fish tagging scheme.
Wire trace is essential for terminal tackle as shark skin is abrasive and can cut through mono or braid. The teeth of course can take your hand off, or worse. Normal bait is half or a full mackerel, usually atached to a balloon with chumming bags over the side.  A forged 8/0 or 10/0 hook is essential. Slightly rough weather - force 4 and a decent swell - is ideal sharking conditions.

Shark steaks
Blue sharks will on occasion eject their stomachs in an effort to break free and unfortunately this is frequently fatal.  Most people now catch and release, often using a tailer rather than a gaff, and whilst experienced charter boat skippers can unhook them with gloved hands, it is not a practice recommended for novices! During my years spend as a sea angling skipper I found that many fishermen took the head or dorsal fin for a trophy. In addition to tag and release there was also a market for shark steaks in the local sea food restaurant and in some hotels. Marinating is essential as sharks have no kidneys or bladder. They expel urine in the same manner that we perspire.

Draft Sligo Gaol Conservation Plan Public display and consultation – 13 October to 10 November 2010

Sligo Gaol

Siobhán Ryan Heritage Officer with Sligo County Council tells us that Sligo County Council in association with the Heritage Council has prepared a draft Conservation Plan for Sligo Gaol, a historic building of National significance. A conservation plan is a policy document which explains why a historic building is significant, what issues affect it and how that significance will be retained in any future use, alteration, development or repair.
Public Information Session and Sligo Gaol Open Day: Sligo County Council is now seeking the views of all the community on the draft Sligo Gaol Conservation Plan. A series of initiatives have been put in place to increase awareness of the draft conservation plan and to facilitate public consultation including; Public Information Session: Friday 22nd Oct 2010 at 7pm, Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo.
Sligo Gaol Open Day: Friday 22nd Oct 2010 from 12-3pm. Booking Essential. To book your place please phone Customer Services on 071-9111 111. Please note that places are limited, and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Friday October 8th 2010

House prices continue to fall

The average asking price for a house in Sligo has fallen by 103,000 euro from the peak and currently stands at €188,000. According to the latest House Price Survey by prices have fallen nationally by over a third since the peak, with the average asking price now at 195 thousand euro. The property report also shows that prices for homes in Sligo fell by 3.5 %, with 3.7% the national drop towards the end of the summer.

Sligo family defy bank repossession

John Devaney (Pic: James Connolly, picsell)

Against this backdrop a Sligo family who owe the banks about €250,000, have vowed they will go to jail before they hand over 35 acres of their farm on foot of a possession order. Easkey father and son are battling the banks in a bid to save their farm. John Devaney, aged 64, and his son Jonathan, aged 33, from Templeview, Easkey, have moved to prevent Bank of Ireland from taking 35 acres of land they bought in Killeenduff 11 years ago. On Monday there was a stand-off between the Devaneys and their supporters, as gardaí and bailiffs were brought in to seize the land. Signs erected by the Devaneys – warning “land grabbers” to stay away – were torn down as tensions heightened. Baliffs were prevented from entering the lands after the Devaneys blocked an access gate with a digger and boulders.

In 1999, the Devaneys, who are dairy farmers, received a Bank of Ireland loan to buy 35 acres of land. The family are understood to owe the bank in the region of €260,000. They accept they cannot pay their debts to the bank except by way of asset disposal. But they say that the bank refused a viable alternative which would enable them to reestablish their dairy farm, and claim that the bank now refuses to even speak with them. The father and son received a letter on September 28 stating that a buyer for the land had been found and a sale agreed. But the Devaneys and their legal representatives argue that the tender received was far less than the debt owed. The family say they offered Bank of Ireland a plot of land of 38.5 acres which would enable them to keep farming but the bank refused. It’s time to rebel and stand up for yourself. All we’re asking for is a bit of fair play,” said Jonathan Devaney. “It’s another case of one rule for the big boys and another rule for the small fellas,” his father John added. Richard Rea, of Rea Property and Debt Resolution, who is acting for the Devaneys, said the bank has refused to meet with him and said its actions “will leave Jonathan’s future as a farmer on the scrapheap”.

Bank of Irelanfd had previously refused to comment but yesterdady they said it had been granted possession of the 33 acres by a High Court order in February 2007 following what it said were “lengthy legal proceedings”. It goes onto say “Should Mr Devaney wish to pursue the option recently articulated by his representatives, Bank of Ireland can put him in touch with the purchasers,”
However,  Mr Devaney said that no discussions had taken place prior to the sale of the land by the bank.

Funding for Mullaghmore Harbour
Funding of 90,000 euro has been granted for works at Mullaghmore harbour. The money is to remove a sand bank that has built up at the harbour entrance which according to Councillor Bree "has been causing significant problems for harbour users". He told a meeting of Sligo County Council that this summer a charter boat got stuck on the sand bank as it attempted to bring ashore a man who had been injured on Inishmurray Island. As a result the coastguard helicopter had to be called to airlift the man to Sligo General Hospital.
County Manager, Hubert Kearns said that part of the difficulty is that the sandbank cannot be taken away permanently as it will inevitably build up again.

A penny saved is a penny earned

Paddy Duffy, Mullaghmore, organic gardener

Klaus Laitenberger, head gardener at the Rossinver Organic Center in County Leitrim, has just launched a book called 'Vegetables for the Irish Garden'. Fionnuala Flanagan of the Irish Times 'Urban Gardener' column was lavish in her praise: 'There isn't exactly a glut of information when it comes to calculating how much to grow of any particular fruit or vegetable' she tells us. 'That's one of the reasons professional gardener Klaus Laitenberger's new book is very useful'
Really Fionnuala! And do you get well paid for filling space with stuff like this? And what book, pray tell us, do you read to tell you when you have had enough to eat? We want to know because we don't trust our stomachs to tell us at all, at all!

Celtic Tiger pups
Having grown up on a small, self sufficent farm here in the West of Ireland I am constantly amazed at the antics of the Celtic Tiger children! They pass by the houses of their elderly neighbours who farmed organically in the 40s and 50s long before the term was invented — or indeed before German experts on Irish gardening arrived on our shores. Paying exorbitant fees to foreign nationals they now learn gardening from people who know much less than their own neighbours of micro-climates and local soils, knowledge that has been handed down not just for years, but for generations.

Maybe it has something to do with being the 'good Europeans' that the politicians tell us we must be?

And where, oh where can one get potato bread or boxty anymore, or indeed a good mug of buttermilk in the new Koko Latte or Cafe de Paris shops that are springing up all over the place for the Celtic Tiger pups. Cappucinos we can get, or a Mocha, Cafe Latte or Americano. But where
has our own basic and healthy cuisine gone? Out with your 'pita' breads, 'wraps' and Skinny Lattes I say, and bring back our soda cakes, strong tay, barm brack and currant buns!
And recession! What recession? Its spend, spend, spend, 'because you're worth it' and very few remember or live by the old adages of 'a penny saved is a penny earned' or 'look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'? Compared to the Ireland of the 40s, 50s and 60s we're living in the lap of luxury. So lets get our heads down out of the clouds, grab a dose of reality, save your money, cut your own turf, and learn gardening from your friendly neighbour down the street!

Monday September 27th

Bonuses for Losers!

Another ripping yarn from the Potato Republic:
Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD, Dr Jimmy Devins (foreground pic on right) has been given €25,273 'hardship' money. The bonus is to soften the blow of having been returned to the back benches having been sacked from a junior ministry position in the Taoiseach's culling of ministerial portfolios in a show of cost cutting last year. This is the first instalment of a 'golden parachute' deal. The seven junior ministers demoted had bonus payments of about €25,000 each dished out to help smooth the path of transition. This is just the first payment with more generous amounts due later this year.

What about cutbacks on social services Jimmy! And savaged wage packets, with more to come. Shouldn't you be setting an example instead of lining your pockets with the very taxes paid by those suffering wage reductions?

Oh, right Jimmy, I get you, hell, let them eat cake!

Sligo Travellers Reckless Race
Travellers engaged in reckless pony and sulky racing recently when they took over the N4 highway between Castlebaldwin and Boyle. The registration numbers are clearly visible on the offending vehicles which should make the gardai's job of

catching the culprits and taking them before the courts. A precedent was established when gardai in Tipperary seized vehicles belonging to some youths who filmed themselves driving dangerously on the public road and foolishly uploaded the video to YouTube. You can see the Sligo incident HERE.

Gardai from Ballymote are studying footage of the video, which shows a convoy of vehicles belonging to the Traveller community spread over more than half the road behind the horses. At least two vehicles drove on the other side of the road, against oncoming traffic, during the race between horses named 'Limerick Lady' and 'The Duck Filly'. Traffic behind the race was held up for at least 10 minutes and vehicles travelling in the other direction were forced several times on to the hard shoulder. The horses were running alongside each other for much of the race, but when one gained advantage and went a couple of lengths in front of the other, a driver and a passenger in one of the 4x4s could be seen sticking their heads out of the windows to cheer on the driver of the cart.

Sligo Singer Patrick Feeney
in bizarre acident
Getting stung by a wasp inside your, mouth, throat or even stomach is a painful and sometimes fatal experience. But it only kept Sligo singer Patrick Feeney off the stage for one night, and hasn't slowed down his relentless touring schedule which will take him all over the country in the coming months. Patrick starts the 'Three Amigo' tour soon. With Jimmy Buckley and Robert Mizzell, he will travel the country until December 9. The trio also have a new album out this week and an Australian tour lined up for March. "We signed a deal with Warner music in Australia a few weeks ago" Patrick said, "and we are bringing the show in March to Australia.

Singer Patrick Feeney

Swallowed a wasp!
The Gurteen singer, who recently serenaded the new Rose of Tralee in Co. Kerry, was on his way to a gig in Letterkenny recently when he experienced extreme pain as he neared Collooney. As he hurriedly pulled in his car by the roadside in a distressed state, he remembered that he had accidentally swallowed a wasp in a bun a few hours earlier, thinking that, as he couldn't feel the immediate effect, it did him no harm. Luckily for Patrick, nurse Teresa Houston from Keash was diving on the same stretch and stopped when she saw Patrick was in difficulty. She gave him first-aid while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
The singer was rushed to Sligo General Hospital where he was treated for his internal sting and was detained overnight. Patrick said he still felt petrified when he thought of what might have happened, but he wanted to extend his thanks to the doctors and nurses in Sligo General Hospital who "brought me round pretty quickly". Although he had to cancel that Letterkenny concert, the very next night Patrick was back on stage entertaining again.

Rogue Sligo Gardai in Sex Trade

It was reported in the Evening Herald some time back that two gardai allegedly drove prostitutes and their clients to a Sligo brothel run by a third garda officer. Two more gardai have been implicated in a major sex racket which has already led to the arrest of one member of the force. Detectives have widened their probe into the allegedly rogue garda, and have now uncovered links to two other serving officers it was reported. One of the gardai effectively acted as a 'pimp', it is understood. Two other men, both serving gardai, are suspected of driving prostitutes and their clients to a house being run as a brothel by the third officer.

Despite arrest and occasional exposure the sex trade is still alive and well in Sligo. Eight men were quizzed recently following which Andrea Tarca, a Romanian national, with an address at The Weirhouse, Hyde Bridge Sligo was charged with being the leasee of an apartment used as a brothel on September 13th last. Garda Kevin Donegan giving evidence said there were a number of laptops along with condoms and sex toys in the apartment. A sum of €1,000 euros was also seized. Local information has it that one of the men, a local businessman, was caught in flagrante delicto, had a heart attack when the gardai burst in and had to be arificially resuscitated — not unfortunately by the lady in question but by a garda!.

Solicitor Mark Mullaney defending said she was merely a small fish in a big pool. Judge Kilraine imposed a fine of 200 euros and ordered that the sum of €1,000 euros be forfeited to the State with whatever amount was necessary to help her leave the country to be taken from that sum. It is not reported what was done with the laptops, condoms and sex toys!

Sligo: Radon gas kills!
High levels of cancer-causing radon gas have been discovered in almost 600 homes across the country so far this year. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) revealed six houses had more than 10 times the acceptable measurement, with the occupants of one home living with the radiation dose equivalent of 12 chest X-rays per day. The institute says radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland. Ann McGarry, RPII chief executive, said: "We know that radon levels in Ireland are among the highest in Europe and there are an estimated 91,000 homes out there with high radon levels.

There has been a renewed warning about the high level of radon gas in homes in Co. Sligo. It comes as the latest survey from the Radiological Institute of Ireland found that there was 10 times the acceptable level of the cancer-causing gas in some houses in Ballymote. It also found nearly 600 homes from across the country have high levels of radon- the highest number identified in any period since the national measurement programme began. The gas is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking – and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.
Senior Scientist with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland David Fenton said that people need to test their homes for radon. For more information on testing etc. go HERE

September 16th 2010

The Autumn Equinox

At the 5000 year old Loughcrew megalithic cairn T in Ireland, the rising sun on the mornings around the equinox illuminates the passage and chamber. The Office of Public Works will have staff at Cairn T, Loughcrew on the mornings of Monday the 20th of September, Tuesday the 21st September and Wednesday the 22nd September from 7.15am until 8.30am. Click HERE

Where did the money go?

Cllr. Declan Bree

Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree has given the Co. Council Executive two weeks to provide details on an un-accounted for 4.4 million euro from a sale of land by Sligo County Council. Councillor Bree has raised concerns over the fact that land at Lisnalurg was sold for 9.6 million euro but only 5.2 million of this was used to pay off the Council’s borrowings of 11.2 million for the original purchase. These are most serious allegations, he said.

He said there is now 4.4 million euro unaccounted for with local elected representatives in the dark over where the money is or what it has been spent on.

Cllr Bree said these serious questions need to be answered.

Death of actor Mick Lally

Actor Mick Lally, was buried on Thursday last after dying suddenly on Tuesday, August 31. He was remembered by one of the longest serving members of the Hawk's Well staff, Caroline Pilkington. Caroline attended Mick's funeral in Dublin and afterwards reflected on a man she considered one of the finest actors to grace the theatre's stage. "He was a perfect gentleman and was enormously considerate towards others. He was humble and he had no star-attitude whatsoever, in fact, I'd say he was shy, but when he went on stage he lost all that and you could see him come alive.

Mick Lally

Mick Lally first came to the Hawk's Well back in 1989 in a performance of "Playboy of the Western World" which also starred local actor Paddy Dooney. "He became very good friends with Paddy during the run of Playboy of the Western World and they had great times together, laughing and telling stories," recalls Caroline. Their friendship was recalled by another of Mick's friends, Mairtín James, at his funeral, when he described how Dooney, a strong Fianna Fail supporter and a deeply religious man, and Lally, a vehement Labour supporter and an atheist, would have regular heated debates about politics and God. Mick's last performance on the Hawk's Well stage was in May of this year when he played an abducted soccer referee in the comedy "God's Official".

Mick is also fondly rememberd by your web host who met him when he came to Mullaghmore to launch 'Echoes of a Savage Land'. He commented on several passages in the book and expanded on the theme of Ireland pre indoor plumbing by regaling the audience with comic stories of how the older people reacted when indoor toilets came to his native Tourmakeady in Co. Mayo.

Long Kesh escapee wins court case

Brendan 'Bic' McFarlane

The Irish Government has lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights brought by former senior IRA member Brendan McFarlane. The court ruled that proceedings taken against him have taken too long and has ordered that he be paid compensation. Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane was commander of the IRA prisoners in the Maze during the 1981 hunger strike and led the mass escape from the prison two years later. He went on the run and was re-captured in the Netherlands along with fellow Maze escapee Gerry Kelly.
Following his escape from Long Kesh he and several other escapees were shelterd in 'safe houses' in Sligo when they were on the run. They were again given shelter by Republican activists in the Northwest when they were on the run again following the freeing of supermarket executive Don Tidey by army and gardai in 1983.
He was arrested on a bus to Belfast from Dublin in 1998 having been released on parole from a prison sentence he served in Northern Ireland for his role in an IRA bombing in the 1970s. Following his arrest, Brendan McFarlane was charged in the Republic with the kidnapping of supermarket executive Don Tidey in 1983.
The case finally went ahead two years ago only to collapse when garda evidence was ruled inadmissible. McFarlane then took a case to the European Court pleading that there was unnecessary delay in the proceedings. The court in Strasbourg has upheld his complaint and dismissed the Irish Government's claims about domestic judicial solutions.

The State is to pay Mr McFarlane €15,000 in damages including costs.

Saturday August 28th 2010

Cromwells disciples return



An English West country vicar and his wife (pic left) has caused "uproar" among a small Irish community after staking a claim to their properties. The Rev Guy Chave-Cox and his wife Heather, from Barnstaple, are accused of issuing solicitor's letters giving locals 28 days to hand over their homes. Their arrival has shocked villagers in Rosses Point, County Sligo, with some elderly residents reduced to tears by the communications. Mr Chave-Cox claims descent from the Middleton family, who originally owned almost 400 acres on the picturesque peninsula, before departing Ireland up to 90 years ago.
Read the full article by Paddy Clancy: HERE

For the Facebook campaign click HERE



Cruelty to animals: Hare coursing

The practice of netting hares was condemned last week by The Irish Council Against Blood Sports as “plunder’ of Coney Island in Sligo. They claimed it was in breach of the Wildlife Act.  However, the chairman of the Tubbercurry and district coursing club Luke Kilcoyne said they have been using hares from the island for more than 50 years.  “We have now established a right by tradition to continue what we do”. He said they work in conjunction with the Kilcreevin/ Ballymoe coursing club.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, showed that in last October, 39 hares were netted from Hog island for Killimer Kilrush coursing club. Other documents showed that in December 2009, 34 hares were taken from Oyster island for use by the Tubbercurry/ Kilcreevin/ Ballymoe coursing club. The council said that when it contacted the owners of the islands, it was informed that permission to take the hares had not been given in either case.
“Furthermore, we were informed that in the case of Oyster island, the Rosses Point gardaí instructed the hare netters to leave the island on December 16th, 2009, and recorded 47 hares taken by them in contrast to the club’s figure of 34 hares,” it said.

Mr. Kilcoyne also claimed their activities enhances animal health in that they co-operate with projects done by Queens University who use the hares for DNA research. Complaints that the hares were netted on the Sligo island and also on Hog island off Clare Island without the permission of the landowners are being investigated by the Department of the Environment.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports also said they were informed that gardai instructed the hare netters to leave Oyster island on December 16, 2009.

Mr. Kilcoyne said they will making their annual hare netting to Oyster Island again this coming winter.

Sligo Gaol opens to public for first time in 200 years

Member of Sligo Youth Theatre playing part of a woman prisoner

As part of Heritage Week, Sligo County Council opened up Sligo jail to visitors and delivered a guided tour which took groups back in time almost 200 years to when it first opened in 1818. The stories of Sligo Gaol's most famous inmate, Michael Collins, and the last man to be publicly hanged there, the "Ballymote Slasher" Matthew Phibbs, were among those told by the tour guides during the event on Sunday.

Phibbs was hanged on August 19, 1861 after he murdered elderly shop owners William and Fanny Callaghan and their servant girl Anne Mooney in Ballymote.

During the War of Independence, 100 IRA men broke into the prison, in 1920, to free the leader of the South Sligo Brigade Frank Carty. Michael Collins was arrested and incarcerated there after giving a speech in Co. Longford in 1918.

When details of the tours were made available, the limited number of places were snapped up very quickly and Heritage Officer of Sligo County Council, Siobhán Ryan, said that the local authority are looking at staging a similar event in the Autumn for people who may have missed this event.





Friday August 20th 2010

A dangerous incident at Mullaghmore

For years now tourists visiting the seaside resort of Mullagmore in County Sligo have been complaining, for health reasons, about cows having the run of the beach. However cows have had access to the beach from time immemorial with no adverse consequences to health from cowpats. In fact a little research shows that: "Cowdung contains plenty of Menthol, Ammonia, Phenol, Indol, Formalin and specifically its bacteriophages eradicates the pathogens and is a recognized disinfectant."

Well now, who would've thought it!

But then didn't our grandmothers tell us that 'a little bit of dirt is good for you' before the multinationals took hold of the housewives of the world and convinced them that germs are lurking everywhere about the house. Purchasing their product is, of course, the only way to make the home a safe place again.

Well! Just when we were becoming comfortable with all this information haven't things taken a dangerous turn with a mis-behaving bull attacking a beach-walker and propelling Mullaghmore into the headlines once again!

Bull attacks group
The attack was deemed worthy of notice by the national dailies and reported that mother-of-four Sonya Byrne (46), from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and her 11-year-old son Patrick were walking their dogs at the back of Mullaghmore beach here in North Co Sligo when a bull, taking umbrage at the dogs appearance, charged the group. This happened on commonage land, which is not fenced off from the beach.
"They all started to stampede" Mrs. Byrne said. "I could hear the bull snorting before he butted me in the base of my back and I was knocked to the ground. I could see Patrick's legs and I could see other animal legs and I thought 'this is us. We are the last walkers here tonight and we will not be found until morning. We're goners'," she recalled yesterday.
"I knew it wasn't a cow because there was no udder over my head. At the time I wasn't aware of any injury. When I let go of the dog, which is a Great Dane, the bull went after the dog. I suppose it was what it was after," she said.

The Byrne family has appealed to the local authority to take action to prevent such attacks happening in the future. "Hundreds of people walk through this area to get to the beach with dogs and there has never been a problem before. Generally, the cows and calves are harmless. That big burly beast should be behind an electric fence. It wouldn't take that much to fence off one area," said Sonya, who is unsure whether she will return to Mullaghmore.

Local opinion
Local people agree that, while cattle always have had access to the beach, it was grossly irresponsible to have a bull in that area. As all cattle are tagged with an identification number (as part of a T.B. and brucellosis eradication scheme) it shouldn't prove difficult to identify the owner. Mullaghmore doesn't need this kind of publicity and lives should not be endangered in such an irresponsible way.

Sligo Suffers Success of Celtic Tiger

The 'Celtic Tiger' spawned a host of new roads, dual-carriageways and motorways designed to shorten journeys across the country providing enormous benefits for Sligo and other towns throughout the Northwest as the driving time to Dublin has been greatly reduced. On the down side, it has proved advantageous for Dublin's criminal gangs who all too frequently use the new roads to get to the Northwest in double-quick time to carry out their nefarious deeds. Sligo gardai have recorded a dramatic increase in crime within the region and believe that the rise can be attributed to criminal gangs utilising the newly improved road network.

"Dublin gangs can now hit anywhere they want, they can be in Sligo in less than two hours, carry out their crimes and be away from the scene in a very short time in high-powered vehicles. While towns close to Dublin are still their favourite, easily accessible towns like Sligo are now easy targets." said a garda source. "They have no delays anymore getting through towns because of the all the new by-passes and it is highly unlikely they will meet any garda checkpoints on the route back home, in most cases it's a straight run for them."

Lucrative time for criminals
This summer has been particularly bad for Sligo as gardai try to track gangs who have carried out a host of robberies in the county. These include a €40,000 heist from McCormack's garage in Carraroe, a €5000 robbery from the Mace Supermarket in Ballintogher, €12,000 of stock from Nairn's Supermarket in Riverstown (arrests in this case have been made). There have been numerous burglaries throughout the county with over €5000 worth of tobacco stock stolen from Cliffony's Gala Store, Calry's Davey's Station and Dunleavy's of Maugherow. There also has been a significant number of robberies on homes, especially isolated dwellings.
In an effort to combat this upsurge in crime Garda Traffic Corp cars and jeeps can now access the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system where hundreds of cars with criminal links have been logged. The system constantly scans number plates and any suspect plates are flashed onto the on-board screen alerting the officers. As part of the monitoring operation, hidden cameras have been installed along the main roads from Sligo, Galway and other towns and cities towards Dublin in an effort to set up advance road blocks to apprehend the criminals.

Sligo Gaol opens to public for first time in almost 200 years.

This Sunday 22nd August from 2-5pm, will see the jail opened to the public as part of Heritage Week 2010. Access to the gaol as part of the Open Day will be strictly limited and will be by way of guided tour. Sligo County Council is delighted that Sligo Youth Theatre have also agreed to become involved in the Open Day through bringing Sligo Gaol to life as part of the event.

Sligo's last hanging
The final public hanging at Sligo gaol occurred on 19 August 1861 when 26 year old Ballymote native Mathew Phibbs, also known as the "Ballymote Slasher", was hung for murdering William and Fanny Callaghan and a servant girl Anne Mooney in January of the same year. The last person to be hanged within the prison was a Mr. Doherty of Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim in 1903 who was convicted of murdering his son.

Friday August 6th 2010

You may have missed Cohen and Westlife at Lissadell last week . No matter! We have something else for you: This week your web host Joe Mc Gowan is giving a talk and slide show at the Beach Hotel, Mullaghmore on Sunday August 8th at 9.30 pm.  The images are an illustration of the changing times we have lived in with pictures of activities, people and places in fishing and farming communities in Mullaghmore and North Sligo in the 20th Century. Don't miss it!

Recession! What recession?
Have you been laid off from your job? Are you looking for work? If that is so then you are only one of 452,500 people on the dole across the country, of which Sligo has 5,932 people unemployed. If you are seeking employment here's a tip: become a County Councillor! Why? Think about it: it requires no skill, there's no entry exam, it's recession proof, pays extremely well and if you're a good boy and don't rock the boat your pals will give you a gold chain to put around your neck every few years. There are honourable exceptions.
You don't believe me! Figures released recently show Fianna Fail’s Jude Devins was the top earner in Sligo, netting just under 71,000 euro, which is double the average amount recorded and 58,000 euro more than the lowest earner, Councillor Clarke, received.

Fat cats: Cllr Gerry Crawford on left, he and Cllr Conaghan spent €12,388.00 on a trip to NY for St. Patrick's Day. Also in pic: Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Mark Durcan and ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn

The Expense Racket
In a letter to the Irish Independent newspaper, Maurice Fitzgerald writes that "the expense racket is being milked for all it's worth by local councils across the country.  Everything, from overuse of corporate credit cards by local council employees to lavish expenses by councillors on top hotels, has been spent by the unashamed at local level.  Local councillors enjoy a range of privileges, including free parking, free luncheon vouchers, free library cards, and dispensations for things that ordinary people pay for in full in their daily lives.
Despite the obscene amount of expenses racked up by local councils around the country, the function of local councils continues to be criticised, with a litany of gross inefficiencies identified by government-commissioned reports and EU OECD studies. 
The public at large has given up on local authorities, especially on the issue of housing.  Countless local authority houses around the country are boarded up, while thousands wait endlessly for a shed to be allocated to them.
It is hard to know what local councillors are getting paid for in any case, with county or city managers firmly in control of day to day decision-making.  Local councillors have no executive decision-making powers. It is high time that well-paid worthless bureaucracy was brought to an end to improve the public finances, and put the taxpayers' money towards more deserving political causes."

Let them eat cake
We couldn't agree more — but if you can't lick 'em you might as well join 'em: Bearing in mind that the average industrial wage in Ireland is under €30,000.00, here's a few more figures:

Paul Conmy: €63,000.00; Ita Fox: €57,576.00; €52,000; John Sherlock: €52,000.00; Seamus Kilgannon: €58,500.00; Aidan Colleary: €57,500.00; Veronica Cawley: € €47,161.00; Jude Devins: €70,706.00 and so on... Two of the lowest earners were Thomas Colleary at €13,618.00 and Michael Clarke at €12,034.00.

At State level it's even worse. On the news this evening came reports of Minister Dempsey who racked up €100,000.00 for a private jet flight to a Summer School in Donegal. No, that's not a misprint. He took the plane to Derry and had a chaffeur driven limousine drive all the way from Dublin to pick him up at the airport to drive him to Glenties.

Aw, hell, who cares about dole queues. Let them eat cake...

Festival of Lughnasa
(pronounced Lou-na-sa) the Cross Quarter Day and Celtic beginning of Harvest Festival falls on August 7th this year, it is the midway point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. For more go here:

In Celtic mythology the god Lugh, established the Lughnasadh festival as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for farming. The first location of the Áenach Tailteann gathering was at Telltown in Co. Meath on the banks of the river Blackwater.

Leonard Cohen plays in Sligo

Leonard Cohen at Lissadell

Roads in North Sligo were jammed this weekend as Leonard Cohen, brought joy to 30,000 music fans at Lissadell. Following a very successful Friday night's gig by Sligo's Westlife, the audience, mood and style changed to a more mature, sedate display of enthusiasm.  With no support acts, Cohen, serene and smiling, followed his band and backing singers onto the imposing stage, the centerpiece of the specially constructed amphitheatre which nestled comfortably between the backdrop of the illuminated Lissadell House and misty Ben Bulben.

When the performances were over Cohen took some free time to visit the grave of Yeats in the nearby Drumcliffe cemetery where in the visitor's book he wrote, 'Leonard Cohen, Montreal' In the comment section, just one word, 'Sublime'. Staying overnight on Friday night at The Pier Hotel in the small fishing and holiday port of Mullaghmore, a few miles from the concert venue, Cohen enjoyed some walks and also went shopping in Sligo town.

There was no repeat of the delays of coach departures experienced by the Westlife audience on Friday which the organisers acknowledged was 'part of the learning curve for a new green field venue'. The amended traffic plan, agreed with the Gardai (Irish police), counteracted the previous problems and ensured an organised and orderly exit from the north Sligo venue.

For YouTube clip click HERE

Sligo has more ghost estates than county Leitrim according to latest figures

The Irish Independent recently published the amount of unfinished houses across the country. It comes as earlier in the year Leitrim was labelled as one of the counties with the highest number of so called ghost estates. These figures in the Irish Independent are quite surprising as it seems Leitrim is not the worst county in the country when it comes to unfinished housing. It’s also interesting to note that neighbours Sligo and Roscommon have a higher number of so called ghost estates.
This information comes as County Leitrim hit the headlines earlier in the year for being one of the worst counties when it came to unoccupied or unfinished homes. However these figures show there are more in Kildare, Cork, Wexford, Sligo,Roscommon and Cavan. The statistics were published as a new report reveals that thousands of homes across the country are being built as 300,000 are unoccupied. The publication also predicts 120,000 of these premises will never be sold, the bulk of which are said to be in the West and North West.

Tuesday July 27th 2010

Have you been to the Sligo Heritage Facebook page lately? There's always something new there!
Click HERE

Sligo Music online
There will be a special radio program of Sligo music on Saturday, 31 July.  It can be heard online around the world.  Here is the full link:  

Most listeners can simply type in  The program is called "Atlantic Weekly PartTwo," and will broadcast that day 10 am till 12 noon eastern U.S. time, or 3-5 pm Irish time.
All Sligo's great will be there: Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran, Kevin Burke, & Andy McGann. Flute players will include Carmel Gunning, Peter Horan, & Jimmy Murphy.  Joe McGowan will tell a story titled 'The Haymakers'. The band sound will come from Teada, Dervish, the Border Collies, & the trio of Andy McGann/Joe Burke/Felix Dolan. Singers to be heard include Cathy Jordan, Colm O'Donnell, Oisin MacDiarmada, & Liam Kelly.
The announcer is Kevin Donleavy, regular fear a' ti of the program. His next program can be heard on Saturday, 7 August at the same online link.

Half-price bargains in Cliffoney
THREE-bed homes on a half-finished ghost estate in Cliffoney, Co Sligo sparked a buying frenzy when they went on sale for the bargain-basement price of €125,000 a few days ago. Many of the 28 semi-detached homes in Ceol na Mara estate in Cliffoney village languished unfinished for several months after the builder ran into financial difficulties and was put into receivership.
The receiver brought in a new firm to finish off the housing estate and put 18 of them on the market at half the original asking price of €250,000. The housing estate had been regarded as something of an eyesore in the village until a few months ago, with inadequate lighting, unplanted lawns and green spaces, and potholed roads and paths. Last weekend, however, potential buyers queued to put down deposits within an hour of the houses going on view at 2pm.
The selling points included location, two miles from the seaside village of Mullaghmore and 20 minutes from Sligo town; lawns, front and back; fitted kitchens; solid oak doors throughout; and tarmac driveways.
Ceol na Mara was built by Bracklagh Construction Ltd, owned by local Cliffoney man Michael Roper. The company was put into receivership by ACC Bank last November on foot of unpaid loans.

Dirty Rosses Point

The Tourist Board slogan says: 'Sligo is Surprising', but, it seems Sligo can be disappointing too. It certainly was for one American visitor who wrote as follows to Sligo County Council:

My name is Daniel Burt, a professor from the U.S. who has visited Sligo annually for the last five years organizing workshops for secondary school teachers in the U.S. and Canada. Our workshops have been based in Sligo to take advantage of Sligo's incomparable physical beauty and cultural and historical riches. I have recently completed a three-week holiday in Sligo, enjoying the fine summer weather to walk and stroll along Rosses Point and to swim in its waters. Arriving at the beach on a Monday in late June following a fine weekend, I was shocked by the amount of litter that remained in the parking lot and on the beach: bottles and cans, trash of all sorts were piled up and blown along the strand. Moreover, the toilets were closed, presumably for cleaning. Returning on Wednesday of the same week, the litter remained and the toilets were still closed. What should have been a natural wonder of Ireland had become an eyesore due to a lack of proper maintenance of the beach.

I would like to receive a explanation from the Sligo County Council why weekend trash was still littering the beach three days later, why the toilets remained closed, and why caravans were allowed to park on the green areas adjacent to the beach where signs prohibit such parking and there were clearly spaces available in the nearby caravan park. Sligo is truly a wonder of Ireland in its great beauty, and it is a shame that litter and garbage should be allowed to spoil the view.

I look forward to hearing back from you what can be done to insure that Rosses Point and environs remain protected and policed. I have taken the liberty of sending a copy of this email to The Sligo Champion for possible publication.

Daniel S. Burt, Ph.D.

The letter was published and an explanation and apology received by the letter writer.

[Excerpt from one of the letters received today in response to the above article:
Just read your Newsround Joe and couln't agree more with the learned professor from the States.  It is not just Sligo but throughout the Republic that litter accumulates so and  always amazes me that it is tolerated.    My God, here in Canada there are serious fines for suchlike and enforced...] 

Cohen and Westlife Concerts

Huge crowds are expected for the Leonard Cohen and Westlife outdoor concerts which are to go ahead for 30 & 31 July &1 August.

A Fringe Festival has been organised to provide entertainment to the masses who will flock to Lissadell to witness the legendary Leonard Cohen in action. Sligo will provide a healthy serving of music from all over Ireland and further. Louisiana Joyride will be one such event playing over the course of the weekend at Hargadons on O’Connell St, 3pm on 31st July!

Still haven't got a ticket? Go HERE and you can snap up 2 Westlife tickets for one euro or a pair of Leonard Cohen tickets for £230.00 pounds sterling!

Westlife photographed in front of Lissadell House

Donegal wins out over Sligo
A war of words which has broken out between the former Mayor of Sligo, Jim McGarry and Donegal councillor, Sean McEniff. The 'battle' is being played out through the media in the Northwest.

Sligo Cllr McGarry's remarks on local radio irked the Donegal councillor when he accused Bórd Failte of favouring Donegal's tourism interests over Sligo's and stated that the national tourism body 'had lost it's teeth'. He also commented on the fact that there was only one tourist office in Sligo compared to five in neighbouring Donegal.

The Sligo councillor has questioned the number of festivals in Donegal and said, "Back when Ray MacSharry was chairman of Fáilte Ireland Northwest there were two locations earmarked as iconic attractions, - Ben Bulben in Sligo and Slieve League. Donegal got €1m for Slieve League, Benbulben got a car-park!"

Monday July 5th 2010

Perry wins out in Fine Gael Cabinet re-shuffle

Deputy John Perry


Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD, John Perry, has been promoted in the Kenny reshuffle to the party's front bench. The Ballymote-based Fine Gael Deputy has been given the Small Business portfolio. Owning several small businesses in Ballymote Perry is well qualified for the job. He was previously the Marine spokesperson from 2004 to 2007. He said that the Small Business position was an important brief in the country's rise out of it's current plight as the small business is the vital backbone in the recovery process. "I am particularly pleased to be working directly with such a powerful team of Michael Noonan, Richard Bruton and Leo Varadker to ensure economic recovery is the top priority of the party. Together, I believe we will make a significant difference."

Isn't democracy great!

How's this for Alice in Wonderland stuff:
The newly appointed Fine Gael spokesperson for Rural, Gaeltacht and Community Affairs can't speak Irish! But he tells us that he does not feel his lack of knowledge of the Irish language will be a problem when carrying out his new role. Roscommon/ South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan said he is fully committed to taking grinds in order to bring himself up to an acceptable standard.
He was promoted to the role as part of  Enda Kenny’s reshuffle of the shadow cabinet yesterday. Understandably there has been a lot of criticism over the fact that the party’s spokesperson on Gaeltacht affairs cannot speak the language of his constituents.

Gongs in Sligo
We can sleep safer in our beds now secure in the knowledge that the world will be a safer place as gongs have been handed out in Sligo too! Councillor Joe Leonard has been elected Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council at the Council’s Annual General Meeting held on Monday 28th June.
Matt Lyons has been elected as the new Mayor of Sligo. He was elected at the AGM of the Borough Council on a vote of eight to four. The Fine Gael councillor enjoyed the support of his Fine Gael colleagues as well as Fianna Fail and Labour. He defeated Sinn Fein councillor, Chris Mc Manus , who received the support of his own party, as well as that of Independent councillor, Declan Bree.

Does this much sought after trinket confer the wisdom of the Oracle on the recipient I wonder? Like an instant PhD conferral that you don't have to do anything for except show up. Is this why it is so desired? A turkey today, first citizen tomorrow? I must ask Harry Potter!

No respect for the living or the Dead
David Large of Ballinfull is quite unmoved by all this distribution of titles and gold chains. On a recent trip to Dromore West graveyard he found the water tap disconnected and was unable to water the flowers he had brought. No prior notice had been given.
I am afraid this is typical of the way people are treated by the authorities", he said in a letter to the Sligo Champion newspaper. "There is no respect for the living or the dead!"

Lissadell again
With the High Court case about claims concerning public rights of way on the Lissadell Estate in North Sligo at an end after 58 days, it has now emerged that the legal costs of the case could be as high as €6 million - far more than it cost plaintiffs Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy to initially buy the historic house and lands.

The case, brought by the Lissadell owners against Sligo County Council, is one of the lengthiest legal actions to come before the High Court, involving 52 witnesses and 8,000 pages of transcripts. Barristers Walsh and Cassidy, both senior counsel, sought declarations that four routes through the estate are not subject to any public rights of way. The council has denied these claims.

The judge is presently considering his decision. Any bets on who's going to win, lose or draw? Email me HERE

Stil in the courts but in a lighter vein
A driver summoned for a parking offence claimed he didn't know he had to be in court on the matter. Before Sligo Court was Tom Ward summoned for parking on double lines at Pearse Road on November last.

Ward told the court that he received no summons in the post, or otherwise, and that he only found out about the matter when he came to the courthouse that day.

"You're here every day! You're the first person I see on the steps of the courthouse every Thursday. You'd think you were the caretaker," Judge Kevin Kilraine told the defendant. He imposed a fine of 300 euro and warned that he would disqualify the defendant if there were any further convictions.

"The word can go out. The same name keeps cropping up". said Judge Kilraine ominously.



Tawley Mass Rock
Mass is celebrated at the Tawley Mass Rock (pic right) on the 1st of July every year in memory of the time when the Catholic religion was persecuted in Ireland and Mass was celebrated in secret here in the Tawley woods. It is also said that St. Oliver Plunkett ordained priests at this spot. For more on Oliver Plunkett go HERE

Thursday 24th June 2010

Two pictures from our Bonefire Night, and no, not Photoshop enhanced! That's a real, fire breathing dragon:







Monday 21st June 2010
For a Summer Solstice alignment go to Sligo's Carrowkeel Cairn G: " The Carrowkeel cairns are in the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo. Cairn G has a roofbox above the entrance, similar to Newgrange. The sun enters the chamber through the roofbox at sunset on the days around the summer solstice, illuminating the back of the chamber..."

Don't forget Wednesday night is Bonefire night the Feast of St. John — or a celebration of the longest day of the year for all you worshippers of the early Religions!

Friday June 18th

Sligo's 'Blue Flag' beaches

Cattle on Mullaghmore beach

Three Sligo beaches have met with EU quality standards for bathing water. Rosses Point, Mullaghmore and Enniscrone have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The two North Sligo beaches came out with 100 percent marks under all headings. Enniscrone was deemed only “sufficient” in the water quality status and compliant with EU mandatory regulations. The beach failed to meet the higher rated EU “guide’ standard.
However Mullaghmore has fallen short in that it doesn't have a lifeguard. The last lifeguard reported that he was chased by a bull as the cattle have free access to the beach. He refused to go back. Locals say that it wasn't a bull at all that chased him but an inquisitive bullock. In Mullaghmore it's important to not alone have lifesaving abilities in the water, you must also know your bulls from your bullocks!

Sligo TD John Perry backs the winner

John Perry T.D.

Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD, John Perry backed a winner in the Fine Gael dissidents heave to oust their party leader Enda Kenny yesterday.  Following Enda Kenny's victory over his detractors within the now-fractured Fine Gael party Mr Perry confirmed his earlier affirmation that Mr Kenny was a 'man of steel, a true leader and the best person, by far, to lead the party into a general election and oust Fianna Fáil from government'.

One of the first TDs to publicly back the leader in the battle, Mr Perry said, "I am delighted that Enda has been again ratified as leader. It's important now that all the members unite behind him and prepare for the general election."  Deputy Perry described Enda Kenny's address as the speech of his life which confirmed his abilities as a leader.
When asked if he now expected to be restored to the front bench (he served as Fine Gael Spokesperson on the Marine from 2004 to 2007) Mr Perry said, "I currently have the honour to serve as chairman of the Joint Committee on EU Scrutiny which I am very proud to continue to do so. The front bench appointments are a matter for the party leader."

Fáilte go!
Now you're never far away from the Northwest! is an innovative new idea where you'll catch the very best in LIVE traditional Irish music sessions right here on the net! The next webcast takes place at The Harp Tavern in Sligo on Monday, June 21st at 10pm. If you're in the Sligo area, drop in for a pint and a tune, otherwise join up online where you'll never miss a beat on

The Cairde Festival
Sligo town is the place to be from July 3rd to 10th. The Cairde Festival is on and the town will be jam packed with theatre, music, cabaret, comedy, dance, children’s events, street performance and a great deal of fun, creativity, celebration and a fantastic festive atmosphere. For all the details go HERE

Other unmissable events include Eamonn Dowdican's exhibition of paintings at the Hawkswell on June 24th. For more information go HERE

A Moral Tale
I like this moral tale from an exchange I spotted recently on Facebook. It transcends national boundaries and is an exemplary lesson for life. Michael Fingleton, Sean Fitzpatrick et al please note:
"Back in t
he old days when the guy who owned the station would pump petrol for the customers, Mr. Murphy always pumped a couple cents more than you paid for. One time when I pumped my own and pumped a couple extra cents, just like he always did, he told me that I was stealing from him! When he pumped it, it was a gift, he said. To be more honest, I should always pump a few cents less. It made a huge impression on me. I always try to give a few cents more and take a few cents less than expected. One of the best lessons I learned in my life."

Michael Flatley pictured recently on a visit to Culfadda, Co Sligo where the locals built a special garden to honour Sligo musicians. His parents are from Culfadda

Friday June 4th

Drunk driving in Tullaghan County Leitrim
Does a publican who allows a customer to leave their premises while intoxicated have any responsibility to such an individual who may drive a car and kill him/herself or others because of the drink they have consumed on the premises?

It's an interesting question which is about to be decided by the courts. Concepta Kelly of Tullaghan’s Diamond Bar gave evidence recently in a case in which it is alleged she and her husband served too much alcohol to a customer who was killed in a car accident — in which another person also died — shortly after leaving their premises. The court is being asked to make the Kellys partly liable for a compensation payout by the estate of the late customer who drove on the wrong side of the road and collided with an oncoming vehicle, killing both himself and a woman passenger in the other car on the Sligo/Bundoran Road in 2005.

It is alleged the publicans acted negligently and in breach of their duty of care in serving alcohol to 79-year-old John Connolly of Kinlough, prior to the collision. In denying any resposnibility the owner,Concepta Kelly, said yesterday she was not the Garda Siochana, it is up to the person themselves as to how much they should drink. Evidence in the case ended yesterday and Mr Justice Kevin Feeney adjourned the matter until next month when he will deal with legal submissions.

Rachel Corrie freedom ship
There is great interest in Sligo in the Irish boat the Rachel Corrie which at time of writing is 150 miles away from Gaza in international waters. They will arrive on Saturday morning. The 1200 ton cargo ship is the last ship from the Freedom Flotilla and is loaded with construction materials, 20 tons of paper and many other supplies that Israel refuses to allow into the imprisoned people of Gaza.

The Rachel Corrie

Some of the high profile people on board include: Mairead Maguire from Belfast, Ireland, a Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) and Co-founder of Peace People, Northern Ireland.  She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace and a nonviolent solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Mairead went on the maiden Voyage of Dignity in October 2008, the second successful voyage for the Free Gaza Movement.  She was also on Board ‘Spirit’ when Israel hijacked the Boat in International Waters, taking all 2l humanitarian passengers to Israel, where they were arrested, detained for a week in an Israeli prison and then deported.

Denis Halliday, from Ireland, a UN Assistant Secretary-General from 1994-98. Appointed by SG Boutros Ghali, he served as ASG UN Human Resources Management in New York and in mid 1997 to end 1998 as Head, Humanitarian Programme in Iraq to support the Iraqi people struggling under the genocidal impact of UN Sanctions. Since resigning from the UN in 1998, Halliday has delivered numerous parliamentary briefings, provided extensive media inputs and has given public/university lectures on Iraq, human rights, and the UN, in particular its reform.

Matthias Chang Wen Chieh is a Malaysian of Chinese descent. He is a Barrister of 32 years standing and once served as the Political Secretary to the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He is the author of three bestsellers, “Future Fast Forward”, “Brainwashed for War, Programmed to Kill”, and “The Shadow Money-Lenders and the Global Financial Tsunami”, published in the US and in Malaysia. Mohd Nizar bin Zakaria,Perak, Malaysia, MP Mohd Nizar bin Zakaria is a Member of the Malaysian Parliament.

Protesters demonstrating outside Sligo Post Office Saturday June5th
The parade passes by the Yeats building








Thursday May 27th 2010

Na Fianna Banner
A motion proposed by Cllr Declan Bree to have the banner of Na Fianna Eireann returned to Ireland has been unanimously adopted by Sligo Co. Council. Bree's motion read as follows:

“Aware that an historic banner belonging to Na Fianna Eireann is located in the British Imperial War Museum in London, and aware that the said banner was seized by British forces from the Dublin home of Countess Markievicz in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, this Council calls on the British Government and the British Imperial War Museum to return the banner to Ireland and further we request the Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen T.D. and the Director of the National Museum of Ireland Dr Pat Wallace to contact the British authorities with a view to having the Banner returned to Ireland at the soonest possible time.”

Scroll down this page to item reported onThursday April 8th 2010 for more information

Sligo couple accused of multimillion arms deals with Iran

Living in an unassuming cottage in the Sligo countryside a father and son are alleged to have ran an estimated €100m global smuggling network using two telephone lines, a computer and a fax.  The Criminal Assets Bureau has now frozen €7m held in bank accounts controlled by Mac Aviation Ltd which is run by Thomas McGuinn (74) and his son Sean McGuinn (40).  The McGuinns are said to have exploited Ireland’s lax banking regulations to receive millions in clandestine payments from the Iranian military. In most cases, lodgements were sent from companies in the Middle East to accounts opened in Ireland, Switzerland, Britain as well as other countries.

Sean McGuinn

Both are facing charges of providing helicopter parts to Iran after buying military and aircraft technology which was then sold on to Tehran via a network of middlemen.  The company were charged in a US court in March 2009 that between August 2005 and July 2008 they provided 17 Rolls Royce Helicopter engines to an Iranian company called HESA. US authorities have also been seeking to have the father and son extradited to face trial on charges of 19 counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Iranian Transactions Regulations.  If convicted the defendants could face sentences of 10-20 years for each of the IEEPA counts, five to 20 years jail for each of the conspiracy count counts and five years in prison for each of the false statement counts.

Military technology sold to Iran

In 1994 Thomas McGuinn was arrested in Miami, Florida and charged with illegally providing night-vision goggles to the Iranian military which were to be used by Iranian helicopter pilots. He was later convicted of this, but was sentenced to time served with his name placed on a US State Department list of individuals and companies barred from dealing in defence equipment or services.  Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy ordered an operation to identify and confiscate the McGuinn’s assets last year following a request from the US authorities.

Reporting restrictions on the case had been sought by the company, but these were lifted last week.
According to the Sunday Times CAB's investigation led to a financial trail which led to the discovery of secret bank accounts, front companies and transport firms across the globe.
These were used by the McGuinns to buy military technology from legitimate manufacturers which were then sold at inflated prices to the Iranian military.

Pictured above: Models Karena Graham and Lynn Kelly jumping for joy at the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Templehouse Festival to be held on the grounds of the Templehouse estate near Ballymote, Co. Sligo from September 10 to 12th. More details later...

Wednesday May 19th 2010

An archaeology team, led by Dr Marion Dowd of IT Sligo, has recently discovered a “stunning” 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in the Burren, County Clare. The team has been excavating Glencurran cave in the Burren National Park since 2004. Dowd described the find as a “significant discovery” for archaeologists. “The necklace is the largest Viking necklace to have been found in Ireland. There are instances where small numbers of Viking beads are recovered, but nothing like what has been discovered at Glencurran,” she stated. 

”It really is puzzling as to how this necklace from a high status Viking came to be in a cave in the Burren. There is no parallel for it in Ireland and it is unusual on a number of fronts.” Dowd suspects that the necklace may have been traded between Vikings in Limerick and Gaelic chieftains in the Burren.

The find was featured on RTE news. For this and other news on that date see:

Historic Sligo famine documents for sale  

Adam’s auction house in St Stephen’s Green is holding an auction under the banner “The Great Famine” featuring letters relating to several Irish estates, including Sligo landlords Lord Palmerstown and Colonel Wingfield. The letters come from the recently discovered archives of a firm of Dublin solicitors, Stewart & Kincaid (S&K), who acted as landlords’ agents on a large scale, representing the owners of very large tracts of land around the country. Many of the letters in this collection are from those agents remitting rent, or explaining why they were unable to do so. The letters have been in the possession of Des Norton a lecturer at UCD who placed them on sale with Adams.

A short correspondence from one of the Wingfield estate agents, William Ormsby, in December 1945 spelled out the oncoming horror of the famine, and the bottom-line reaction of the agents:  ‘[The potatoes] are getting worse every day, in a short time they will have none. What am I to do about the arrears, as from day to day I am put off without getting it.’  Another correspondence from Ormsby dated seven months later said: “We will not have a potato in this country, a good part of mine are going already, bad news for the children.”

The anger directed at landlords was typified by a correspondence to Lord Palmerstown from the principal of Benbulben School, Edward Cullier who claimed that a stone had been thrown at him and a shot fired through the portico (porch).  “I consider it necessary to get shutters on the windows in front,” Cullier wrote. “Also additional bolts on the door, and a supply of fire arms.”

Famine letters withdrawn

Since Sligo Heritage feels that it is a national scandal that such documents should be sold to the highest bidder we are pleased to report that following intensive successful negotiations, with Kennys of Galway acting as intermediary the Stewart & Kincaid Famine Letters (Lots 1-147 incl in the May 18th Famine Sale) are to be kept together as a Collection and given to an important archive here in Ireland, where they will, in due course, be available for academic research.

These are some items of Sligo interest for sale listed at

No blankets for the cottiers
Co. Donegal, Ballyshannon, Lord Palmerston's estate

ALS from John Lynch [agent], Kindle Cottage, 27 Jan. 1843, discussing a series of townlands and the prospects of 'squaring the land'. 'The last day Mr. Walker was down, I spoke to him about squaring the Barnaduffs and other townlands in lease, and he says if Lord Palmerston leaves all the sons-in-law that got land by their wives, and so on, that it might be done, I said I thought his Lordship would leave them on the land, as the tenants of Cluntyfrenelis [?] was not thinned out although the most of them had more or less land on an other Estate.' He enquires 'whether we should give any Blankets to the cottiers, if you do you will be encouraging them to stop, I think the very poor Tenant and Widows should be the people that ought to get them.'

A son who disobliged his father
Co. Sligo, Lord Palmerston's estate

Interesting manuscript petition dated 24 December 1844 on behalf of James Gilmartin of Newtown Ward, complaining that 'the land which is now a-squaring is not to be given to him Intirely and he understands it is to be given to the only Son who ever disobliged his father .. Your petnr is the only person who always paid rent for the land now in question for years past ..'

Lord Palmerston 'deserting his tenants'
Co. Sligo, Palmerston estate

ALS from John Lynch, Rundle Lodge, 6 Dec. 1846. 'I mentioned before to you the very great distress among the people, it is every day getting worse, a man by name of Gunning [?] died by starvation. He was one of Jones' tenants, but is Lord Palmerston's for the last year .. I trust you will be able to come down and do something about draining, if not there will be all the useless roads in the Parish presented for. I am sorry to have to tell you that the rich and poor are speaking of Lord Palmerston, about his as they say deserting his tenants these starving times.'
110 1846
Co. Sligo, 'Overwhelmed with beggars'

ALS from Wm. Ormsby, Moyville, 17 Dec. 1846. 'You can have no idea of the distress we have in this part of [the] country. I cannot get one shilling from the tenants and we are really overwhelmed with beggars.'

Co. Sligo, Wingfield Estate: A box file containing about 150 original autograph signed lettersconcerning Col. Wingfield's estate in Co. Sligo, mostly 1845-48with some earlier material, with some research material. Includesmuch about improving the property, 'squaring' or 'striping' land,public works, drainage, etc., some on potato failure, with manyletters from the proprietor himself in his characteristically tidyhand, mostly writing from his home at Stratford Place, London,and going into considerable detail about the management of hislands and tenants.Col. Edward Wingfield was a son of the third Viscount Powerscourt,from a family which came to Ireland about 1600 with the army. Hehad substantial lands in Co. Sligo and some across the countyborder in Mayo, mostly near the river Moy. His Irish residence was at Scurmore. His twin brother John, also a Colonel, took the additional surname of Stratford; he had lands in Clare and Limerick(see other lots).

And for some good news! Go HERE for this exciting new innovative site featuring Irish traditional music at its best.

Wednesday May 5th

Turf cutting ban

Jarlath Watters cutting turf on Uragh bog, Co. Leitrim
Jarlath Watters cutting turf on Uragh bog, Co. Leitrim 2009 (from photo section 'A Bitter Wind') Benwisken mountain in background.

Much to the disappointment of those who like to avoid rising fuel prices by being self sufficent the  ban on turf-cutting continues.  A spokesman for the Minister for the Environment John Gormley said he was adamant that the derogation, which had allowed cutting on the bogs for the past 10 years, could not continue. “The Minister is adamant the derogation from the EU regulation, which has allowed cutting for the past 10 years, will not continue and there will be no turf-cutting on these bogs this year,” he said.

Opponents of the ban, which was imposed by the EU to protect the 32 areas involved, included most of the farm organisations and many rural groups who claimed turf-cutting was not damaging the bogs. The department, on the other hand, has said the number of bogs involved is very small in relation to the overall number of blanket bogs, which is estimated to number 1,600, covering 200,000 hectares of the one million hectares of bogland here.

Traditional methods are best for conservation

Mr Gormley has defended the decision to ban turf-cutting this year:  “There are thousands of blanket bogs and other raised bogs out there but, specifically, we are talking about 32 of them,” he said.
The Irish Farmers’ Association had accused the Minister of being involved in a charade and a cover-up to impose restrictions on the 6,000 farmers and rural dwellers involved.  However it is well known that most mechanised turf cutting methods, as opposed to traditional methods (see pic), destroy bogland.
The areas hardest hit by the ban are in Offaly, Roscommon, Leitrim, Galway and Sligo, where opposition groups have been established.

Cohen concert at Lisadell

TWENTY-thousand Leonard Cohen fans will flock to Lissadell House to watch the singer perform on the August bank holiday weekend. Six thousand tickets for Leonard Cohen’s first Sligo show sold out in just ten minutes on Monday.

The Canadian crooner sold 4,000 tickets for his Lissadell House concert on July 31 to members of his fan clubs, prior to the remaining 6,000 tickets going on sale at 9am on Monday morning.

A second Cohen concert
However fans were delighted to learn that a second Cohen concert will take place the following night, Sunday, August 1 in the special 10,000 seat outdoor stadium which will be created for the weekend.

Brian Caliendo of Third Wave Music in O’Connell Street, the local agents for Ticketmaster, said the demand for tickets was unprecedented.

More good news
from Westlife and from Dervish
As if that wasn't enough good news Westlife has confirmed they also are going to stage a home coming concert at Lissadell House this summer on Friday 30th July as part of a major musical weekend in the North West. It’s the first time the historic estate will hold a musical concerts and thousands of revellers are expected to descend on the region for the three day festival. As noted above tickets for the two Leonard Cohen dates have already sold out while an official announcement on a sale date for the Westlife concert is due on Monday.

Dervish Sligo session

Sligo maintains its reputation as a leader in Irish traditional music with the announcement by Dervish that they are to play at Hargadon's Pub in Sligo on May 21st at 9.30pm. This is no ordinary session as it is to launch their new CD 'From Stage to Stage' and to celebrate 21 years on the Irish traditional music scene. Fans worldwide will be able to listen in live over the internet at

Full details are available on their website:

The Celtic Festival of Beltane (Beltain, Beltaine, Bealtaine) is a Cross Quarter Day, half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. While the Beltane Festival is now associated with May 1st, the actual astronomical date is a number of days later, for 2010 the date is May 5th. For more information go HERE

Padraig Pearse
From the pen of Padraig Pearse. Part 2 of a film series drawing on Padraig Pearse's own writings; his visionary views on an Irish Republic, education, Irish langiage, as well as on political and social change.Compulsive viewing! Click HERE

Thursday April 22nd

Yeats Link-up across the Continents

Vancouver Island Irish Literary Society has been appointed the Canadian link to the Yeats Society of Sligo. This is in addition to links already existing in New York, Australia, Korea and Japan.  The hook-up will be a first in Canada notwithstanding the long Irish connection with that country.

Stella Mew at Yeats' grave in Drumcliffe, County Sligo

The Vancouver I. Society was formed some years back by a nucleus of eleven mature students who for 14 years attended Irish study lessons at the University of Victoria, B.C.  Founded some 40 years ago the University has close to 20,000 full time Students.  Following the demise of their professor, Patricia Riley, and with no prospect of a replacement, the group decided to meet independently and continue the work of studying Irish authors, playwrights and poets.  The Vancouver Group meet every 7 weeks or so and although only four are of direct Irish descent, all have a common interest in Irish heritage.  Following several months of study, concentrating on the works of W.B. Yeats, contact was made, through Sligo Heritage website, with Stella Mew of the Sligo Yeats Society.  Once connected the friendship blossomed very quickly to the benefit of the Sligo body and the Yeats students in Victoria. 

John Wrafter heads
The Canadian group is spearheaded by John Wrafter, a native of Sligo, who emigrated to Canada in the 1950s.  Joining the Banking profession he has seen service across Canada as well as many years spent in the Caribbean.  His last and final posting was to Victoria, B.C. in May of 1988 when appointed Main Branch Manager, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  Retired now he has a major involvement with the local Rugby scene, reading Irish History and now with the Yeats Society.

University of Victoria B.C.

Instrumental in forming Sligo Rugby Club, John and his brother Tom may best be remembered in Sligo for attempting to revive Rugby there in the early fifties.  Neither ever played for the club having emigrated before a team was fielded.  Their biggest regret was not having the Club entered as a sport at Summerhill College, attended at that time by both men.  During the temporary absence of the President, Fr. Kelleher, they played one game with the kind permission of the Dean, Fr. Egan.  The return of Fr. Kelleher, a keen advocate of Gaelic football and handball, put an end to Rugby although the game was eventually introduced many years later.   

Vancouver Island Yeats fans welcome visitors
The oldest member of the Vancouver Island Irish Literary Society will shortly be 93 and, notwithstanding her maturity, brings to the classes an enthusiasm and knowledge that is the envy of the Society.  The group are most appreciative of Stella Mew, C.E.O. of the Sligo society who facilitated the link and in fact offered a two-week scholarship to the Summer School this year.  “Regrettably none can take advantage of the offer at this time” stated John Wrafter, “although there is little doubt but it will be availed of in the coming year.  We are so delighted about the new appointment, and of course meeting visitors from Sligo who might venture to Vancouver Island.  The advances in air travel make it possible to travel to downtown Victoria from Dublin in a mere seventeen hours!”

 The Tricolour

Senator Mark McSharry at mike with national flag wrong way around in background. Function was "World premiere of TG4 documentary on Linda Kearins, Banaltra na Reabhloide" advertised in box below.

It is evident that the flag shown at right is in breach of protocol.  Not alone is it turned the wrong way around but it also breaches the following:

(1)  “When displayed on a platform, the national flag should not be used to cover the speaker’s desk, nor should it be draped over the platform”

(2) “Care should be taken at all times to ensure that the national flag does not touch the ground”

One would expect that at this function celebrating the jail escape of the Sligo patriot Linda Kearins, protocols would have been diligently observed. Former T.D., Minister for Finance, and European Commisioner Ray McSharry also spoke from the platform. Apparently high political office doesn't come with respect for, or knowledge of proper procedure, concerning the national flag!

It could only happen in Ireland!

(For information on the Tricolour go HERE)

World premiere of TG4 documentary on Linda Kearins, Banaltra na Reabhloide, will be screened at 9pm on Saturday 10th April in Skreen and Dromard Community Centre (goes out on air TG4 at 22.15hrs on Thursday 15 April, Ealu series). For more information contact: PRO Martina Kearins 086 1667216 or

Thoughts for Easter 2010
The economic boom in Ireland produced some strange results.  A new generation has arisen with scant acquaintance of thrift, no experience of poverty, and little concept of their nation's history: of the Great Famine, of Easter 1916.

'One of the things that acquisition and the pursuit of wealth induces is amnesia', said poet Eavan Boland.  'And those who seek them will not only forget, but want to forget, the levels of strength and survival and near-to-the-edge dispossession that we once had as a people.' 

This being Easter Week we are reminded of the sacrifice of the leaders who risked their lives for the ideal of a free Ireland.  How things have changed! The examples we have before us today are greedy and corrupt bankers, a Catholic church mired in scandal and crooked politicians.

  Was it for this the Wild Geese fled?

Politicians and pundits exhort us to be ‘good Europeans, to ‘embrace multiculturism’ — but nowhere do we hear, or are we encouraged, to be good Irishmen and women.  This months issue of History Ireland reminds us that Yeats once said ‘Romantic Ireland is dead and gone, it’s with O'Leary in the grave…’.  Now it seems traditional Ireland is gone as well.  According to the latest Lonely Planet guide Ireland is now so modern and European it has lost its distinctive character.  According to the guide the Emerald Isle is now the skinny latte isle with a dose of crappy tourist products on the side. 

What would O’Leary say? 

Monday April 12th 2010

Murder in Iraq

News of this event has been in the Irish newspapers for the past week. But it is happening far away from Sligo's tranquil shore I hear you say — so why should we be bothered?
No one has stated it better than John Donne (1571-1631):
"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

To see this shocking and classified, American military video click HERE

Thursday April 8th 2010

Na Fianna Banner: Return of An Gal Gréine
Following the suppression of the Easter Rising of 1916 Constance Markievicz was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol.  After a visit to the prison on May 6th by her sister Eva Gore-Booth, and her friend Esther Roper, the two women went on to Con’s home, Surrey House in Rathmines, Co. Dublin. When they got there they found it had been seized and ransacked by the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. E. C. McCammond.

An Gal Gréine, banner of Na Fianna Eireann

One of the items taken in the raid was the banner of Na Fianna, the youth organisation founded by Countess Markievicz in 1909. Emblazoned with a pike and sunburst on a field of green it carries the slogan: “Glaine ár gcroí, Neart ár ngéag, Agus beart de réir ár mbriathar” ('The cleanliness of our hearts, The strength of our limbs, Our commitment to our promise.)  Paul Mooney, in a letter to the Sligo Champion some weeks ago related that the banner is now held in the Imperial War Museum in London.  The Co. Sligo Markievicz Memorial Committee responded to his letter and is now supporting the repatriation to Ireland of this historical item.

The campaign for the return of the Na Fianna Banner is now gathering pace. Councillor Declan Bree in support of the campaign has tabled a motion for next Monday's meeting of Sligo County Council requesting the members to call on the British Government to return the banner to Ireland. The motion further requests An Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Dr Pat Wallace of the National Museum to contact the British authorities with a view to achieving this very soon.

For more information via press releases by the Co. Sligo Markievicz Memorial Committee to the newspapers go HERE and HERE.

Facebook campaign HERE Sign in and support!

Marion Harkin: Legal highs need to be tackled urgently
Following the hospitalisation of two youths after a party in the Hazelwood area of Sligo, in which it’s believed they ingested toxic drugs, Northwest MEP Marian Harkin has called for the issue of so called legal highs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.  Gardai issued a warning to parents to be extra

vigilant in the aftermath of last nights events as up to 30 teenagers were at the party.  Ms Harkin who described last nights events as disturbing said it exemplifies why so many people are concerned over headshops and legal highs.

'Head shops'

In a nationwide campaign against these shops three so-called “head shops” have been hit by fire.  Extensive smoke damage was previously caused to ‘Yutopia' to the town centre premises, which is also an adult shop.  Two men were arrested.  The Yutopia blaze came  the day after two viable improvised explosive devices were discovered outside head shops in Athlone, Co Westmeath.  Last month, two separate Dublin head shops were set ablaze in suspected arson attacks.  The Nirvana store in Capel Street was destroyed after flames ripped through the premises on February 12. Authorities were forced to order the demolition of the building for safety reasons in the wake of the fire.  Four days later, attackers walked into the Happy Hippy store on nearby North Frederick Street, doused the place in petrol and set fire to it. The blaze was quickly brought under control and caused only minor damage to the front of the shop.

Thursday April 1st 2010

Anyone for a swim? Mullaghmore Beach, Co. Sligo taken today, the first day of Laethanta na Bó Riabhac (Days of the Brindled Cow or the 'Reewoge Days')

The Rose Tree W.B. Yeats

'O WORDS are lightly spoken,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
'Maybe a breath of politic words
Has withered our Rose Tree;
Or maybe but a wind that blows
Across the bitter sea.'

"It needs to be but watered,'
James Connolly replied,
"To make the green come out again
And spread on every side,
And shake the blossom from the bud
To be the garden's pride.'

"But where can we draw water,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
"When all the wells are parched away?
O plain as plain can be
There's nothing but our own red blood
Can make a right Rose Tree.'

The Easter Lily

This Easter wear an Easter Lily. Despite the perception, it has no party political significance. It is the right of everyone of all political persuasions, or none, to wear it. It was not a political party, but Cumann na mBan under Constance Markievicz, that initiated and popularized the wearing of the Easter lily in 1926. The lily that is used as a seasonal decoration in churches during Easter inspired its design. The birth/death/resurrection symbolism of the lily is intended to commemorate all those who died for Irish freedom on an historic Easter Week in 1916.

Go HERE to vote for Padraig Pearse in an RTE poll for 'greatest Irishman'.

Sexual Harrassment in Sligo
A taxi driver who pulled the bra strap of a female passenger in what was described as a technical assault had a summons struck out on the payment of €300 to the North West Hospice at Sligo District Court. He was before the court for assault contrary to section two of the non fatal offences against the person act, 1997, at Strandhill Road and the Collooney roundabout on August 2nd last.

Inspector Paul Kilcoyne explained that the defendant responded to a request of a fare from the plaintiff at Kevinsfort Heath at 6.30a.m. on August 2nd last. She and the defendant were known to each other having used his taxi a number of times. They got on fairly well prior to the incident. On the journey from Sligo to Collooney a conversation struck up between them following which the defendant touched the injured party on the right shoulder and pulled her bra strap. It was a technical assault.

The defendant's solicitor Mr. McGovern said there was no violence at all involved in the incident and repeated that the defendant and injured party were known to each other and when she got into his taxi she would usually give him a hug. Inspector Kilcoyne confirmed that the injured party had stated that when she got into the car, Reynolds had asked her "where's my hug" and she gave him a hug because she normally did so.
Judge Kilraine struck out the charge on payment of €300 to the North West Hospice, commenting that a conviction would not do the defendant any good in the present employment climate.

Lissadell Court Case
The cost to Sligo County Council of the ongoing High Court case over alleged rights of way across the Lissadell Estate will only be accurately determined after the case is finalised and much will depend on how long the case runs and its outcome, members of Sligo County Council were told at their March monthly meeting.
Clr. McGarry said the Lissadell High Court began on January 19th and the costs associated with High Court cases were well documented. He went on to ask the county manager the estimated spend on this case, including expenses such as accommodation fees for members of the council executive and if the council's legal counsel had indicated the length of time it would take before this case concluded. Clr. McGarry also asked if the county manager had given any thought to where the money would be found to pay the debt the council would possibly incur.

In response, Council Senior Executive Officer Joe Murphy said the current position was that hearing of the case resumed on January 19th. Counsel for the plaintiffs and Sligo County Council had indicated to the court that they were of the view that the case would last about six weeks. Mr. Murphy said it was difficult to give any accurate estimate of the costs incurred by the council because much would depend on how long the case ran and its outcome:
"It is the nature of proceedings such as this that the level of costs will only be accurately determined after the case is finalised," Mr. Murphy concluded.
Clr. Declan Bree asked if transcripts of the case were available for the elected councillors.

Mr. Murphy: "I will check with our legal advisers to see what the situation is."

Clr. McGarry proposed that the transcripts be made available. Clr. Bree seconded.

County Manager Hubert Kearns pointed out to the council meeting that the council was defending this case. "This action is taken by the Walsh/Cassidy family," he said, adding that the council took every effort to have mediation in this case but "our efforts were rebuffed."

Thursday March 16th

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Sligo Heritage readers (Pic: taking the water at St. Patrick's Well, Corbeg Co. Leitrim)

For more on St. Patrick in Sligo go HERE and scroll down

Listen in to RTEs 'Sunday Miscellany' on St. Patrick's Day after the 9.00 a.m. news to hear short stories in celebration of 'Seachtain na Gaeilge' and St Patrick's Day. One of the stories is contributed by your web host and describes a very traditional celebration on Achill Island! More information click HERE

Sunrise at Loughcrew
At the 5000 year old Loughcrew megalithic cairn T in Ireland, the rising sun
on the mornings around the equinox illuminates the passage and chamber. The
Office of Public Works will have staff in attendance at Cairn T, Loughcrew
on the mornings of Saturday the 20th of March, Sunday the 21st March and
Monday the 22nd March from 6.15am until 7.30am.

Saint Patrick's day is celebrated within a few days of the Spring Equinox,
could it be that the Spring Equinox Festival was christianised to Saint
Patrick's day and that this knowledge has been lost over time?

Lissadell residents assert their rights

The Lissadell estate in Co. Sligo was considered an open access area by locals with its roadways available for use by everyone long before the Cassidy/Walshes came to Sligo, the High Court was told yesterday. Mr Justice Bryan McMahon, who is hearing the long-running action over whether there are public rights of way across the historic 410 acre estate, was told of “big changes” in relation to access when the estate was bought by current owners, barristers Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy.

Lissadell owners

In proceedings against Sligo County Council, the couple are seeking orders and declarations that four routes in the estate are not subject to public rights of way. The council contends such rights do exist, including on the basis that public monies were spent in 1954 on certain roadways. Angela Darcy, who bought a property close to the estate in 1984, taking the stand told Nuala Butler SC, for the council, that she, her family and neighbours “often walked through the estate” for “pleasure” and also to gain access to a nearby beach. She said such activities continued until Lissadell was sold in 2003 and “the gates went up”. Ms Darcy, a native of Dublin, said she was “never alone” when travelling within the estate and did not consider the routes to be “anything other than public”.
Under cross-examination from Brian Murray SC, for the owners, Ms Darcy said she believed public rights of way existed and stemmed from “customary” use by local people “over time”.

Lissadell a 'nice place to play'.
James Harron (65), a carpenter who grew up about a mile from Lissadell, said he spent much of his childhood “in and out” of the estate. He said Lissadell was considered by locals as “a nice place to play”. When his own children were growing up, he regularly returned and drove around the estate with them and went to the beach.
For all of his life, he had never heard of anyone being told they needed permission to use the roads within the estate, he said. The recent closure of routes was “unfair” as they had been in use for many years, he said.

Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy whose principal address is Morristown, Lattin, Naas, Co Kildare, but who use Lissadell as a holiday home, bought the 410 acre estate for almost €4 million in 2003. They claim to hae spent spent some €9.5 million restoring it and say they cannot operate it as a tourist amenity if public rights of way exist. The case continues.

Friday 26th February

The Fairy Faith

Cnoc na Sidhe at Mullaghmore, County Sligo (Note entrance middle right) Classiebawn Castle in background.

It is with great pleasure I can report that the Fairy Faith is alive and well with our Celtic cousins over in Scotland. Here in Ireland we know where the Sidhe (pronounced Shee) or Fairy folk reside in the hills and 'gentle' places. We know where they plant their fairy thorns. Even among the scoffers and unbelievers only the very bravest, or the foolish, will interfere with their homes or cut down a fairy bush.
Sure there might be nothing in those old tales — but then again there might — better to play it safe! And everyone knows at least one person, or a family, who came to grief by disregarding ancient taboos.
In 1999 a bypass here in Ireland at Ennis Co, Clare was rerouted around a fairy 'sceach' when locals warned that no good would come from destroying it.

Just a week ago a Scottish newspaper 'The Daily Record' reported the following:

Fairy Residence: Builder forced to design estate around it

'A BUILDER was forced to design a luxury estate around a rock - because locals said fairies lived under it. Work on the multi-million pound development ground to a halt when villagers complained that the fairies would be "upset". Marcus Salter, of Genesis Properties, estimates the colony of

Perthshire's Fairy Rock

fairies believed to be under the rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000.
He said he first noticed possible problems when his diggers moved on to the site outside the village.

He said: "A neighbour came over shouting, 'Don't move that rock. You'll kill the fairies.' Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn't go down very well." The bemused builder then went to a meeting with the community council, where chairman Jeannie Fox told him: "I do believe in fairies but I can't be sure that they live under that rock. There are a lot of superstitions going about up here and people do believe things like standing stones and large rocks should never be moved.

The new development now centres on a small park with the "fairy" rock in the middle. The Planning Inspectorate have no guidelines on fairies but a spokesman said: "Local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when applying for planning permission."'

Tuesday February 23rd

Puppeteer Eugene Lambert has died.

The Sligo native entertained generations of Irish children with well known characters like ‘Judge’ the dog and played the role of ‘O’Brien’ in the popular television series Wanderley Wagon.  He also owned the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Dublin, the team of which was behind shows such as ‘Bosco’.
Mr Lambert died on February 22nd peacefully at his home, aged 82.  He is survived by his wife Mai and eight children.  M
inister Cullen has described him “a master of the art of puppetry” and said his work has “enriched the lives of both adults and children” across the country.  His daughter Paula – who is the voice of Bosco – says he’ll be sadly missed.

Sligo's Reverend Christy Jones, Bishop of Elphin speaks out following meeting with Pope

Bishop Christy Jones

In an interview with Niall Delaney of Ocean FM the Bishop of Elphin has said he had no idea of the abuse that was taking place within the Catholic Church. He was speaking following the meeting of bishops with the Pope in Rome this week over revelations of child sexual abuse  detailed in both the Murphy and Ryan reports.

There has been much criticism by survivors of abuse of the inaction by Bishops and the Catholic Church in dealing with the issue. Bishop Jones said he is not sure if he were Bishop at the time if he would know how to deal with the situation as he was never before aware such abuse could happen.

Speaking on Ocean FM, he said that he genuinely did not know that people were exploiting children for pleasure.

“I did not know that kind of thing was going on in society. It was never discussed in Maynooth, not even in the text books. When psychologists and psychiatrists were asked for their advice in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, they were told you can send this man away for a few months for treatment and you can re-appoint him. Not only did we, as bishops and priests, not know, but they didn’t know and they were the professionals... You have no idea what it is like for a priest or a bishop to walk out to a congregation the morning after the report is published, the embarrassment, the shame, that our colleagues have carried out such horror and such crimes.

He said that the bishops had conveyed this to the Pope, who said he was “very sad” at what had happened. “He not only admitted it was a horrible and heinous crime, he also put it in the faith context that it was an offence against God and against the dignity of the human person.”

Shell to Sea Protester Pat O'Donnell sent to jail

Pat O'Donnell protests in his fishing boat the John Michelle. It was sunk last June at 2 a.m. by four masked raiders alleged to work for Shell

The mighty monoliths of State and Multinational have combined to crush the cause of the Corrib gas protesters. in Castlebar Circuit Court, Shell to Sea campaigner and local fisherman Pat O Donnell (52) was sentenced to 7 months in jail after being found guilty of an alleged “breach of the peace” and allegedly "obstructing a Garda". A number of high profile Shell to Sea campaigners including 'the Chief' Pat O'Donnell and Maura Harrington sought to appeal certain criminal convictions in cases heard last week at Castlebar Circuit Court from 9th - 11th February. A few of the appeals were successful but some of the convictions were upheld by the court.

More information HERE

Feb 13th 2010

Happy St. Valentine's Day to all you lovers out there!

And don't forget:

"No man is truly married (or truly wise) until he understands every word his wife/partner is NOT saying."

Lissadell House rights of way dispute

RtoL: Justice McMahon, Eamon Giles.

A HIGH Court judge stopped off at the grave of WB Yeats recently on his way to Lissadell House to view for himself the disputed rights of way. Mr Justice Bryan McMahon travelled to Sligo as part of the hearing into a dispute between the current owners of Lissadell House, barrister couple Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy, who brought an action against Sligo Co Council claiming rights of way over the estate don't exist. (Pic left: Justice McMahon on right with usher Eamon Giles left)

Mr Justice McMahon, who is chairman of the boardof the Abbey Theatre, made a brief stop in the North Sligo village of Drumcliff, where the poet and Abbey co-founder, W.B.Yeats is buried beneath a headstone with the famous inscription "Cast a cold eye on life and death, Horseman, pass by". He then travelled the remaining 6km journey westwards to the 410-acre estate on the shores of Sligo Bay that is at the centre of a dispute which has ended up in his court. Mr Justice McMahon spent several hours inspecting the roadways through the estate.

Walsh/Cassidy V Sligo County Council
Mr Walsh, a high profile and very wealthy barrister himself, says that the claim to rights of way are designed to "humiliate, embarrass and undermine" everything that had been done on the estate since it was purchased by him and his wife in 2003. Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy, whose principal address is Morristown, Lattin, Naas, Co Kildare, but who use Lissadell as a holiday home, bought the 410 acre estate - which was once the home of Countess Constance Markievicz - for almost €4 million in 2003.

Sligo County Council and local action groups say these paths and roads are traditional rights of way

to the seashore and other points. Among various claims in its counter-claim, the Council contends the dedication and/or acceptance of public rights of way over the roads in question can be inferred from various materials, including the passage over the roads by members of the public “throughout living memory and since at least 1900”. It also relies on various maps and the use of public monies for the upkeep of roads at Lissadell. The council also claims public rights of way may be inferred from the making of grants by the Grand Jury for the County of Sligo on dates form 1813 to March 1834 to the owners’ predecessors in title for the purposes of building or repairing the roadways. (Pic above: Barrier at right of way to 'Burra')

The hearing is expected to continue for several weeks yet.

For more information click HERE and scroll down

For previous Newsround articles go HERE



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