For Newsround items previously featured please go to Archive and scroll down to Newsround

November 9th 2005

Women are not just wearing the pants anymore, they’re wearing boxing gloves as well!

Are there any male preserves left! Can it be long before we have bearded women?

And, talk about emasculation! Like many a trend in the past, it started in the U.S.: Men, be warned! Lock up the family jewels before it’s too late! The first incident to hit the headlines was when John Wayne Bobbit’s wife, Lorena, of Virginia, U.S.A., sliced off his member, hopped in the car, and flung his estranged organ out the window miles down the road.

This was not an isolated incident. Last Saturday the Irish Times reported that Kenneth Slabby of Pittsburgh is suing his ex-girlfriend, the aptly named Gail O’Toole, for $16,000 for supergluing his genitals to his stomach.

Apparently Ms. O’Toole invited her ex over to her home where he fell asleep. We’re not told what transpired before he fell asleep, but when he woke up he discovered his genitals superglued to his abdomen. As if that wasn’t enough O’Tooles’ unfortunate victim had his buttocks glued together as well and ‘a profanity’ scribbled on his back with nail polish. ‘Payback time for their breakup’, she told him, and he had to walk a mile to a petrol station to call for help.

‘Hell hath no fury indeed…’

Pretty soon it won’t be safe for men to risk exposure even to answer natures more mundane calls! It's time for some enterprising entrepreneur to re-invent the chastity belt, but this time in the form of a safety belt for men whereby they can lock their precious bits safely away when they are asleep or off guard and vulnerable. The harness could be offered for sale in the local pub or supermarket.

And that’s not all! This week the newshounds at the Sligo Weekender tell us that an unhappy father, Dean Francois of Manhattan, is refusing to pay his ex-wife child support because he claims she stole his sperm to get pregnant. Apparently Chaamel forged his signature to unlawfully take his manly deposits from a sperm bank at New York University after their divorce.

Thirty six year old Chaamel, ‘is now claiming she is pregnant with a second artificially inseminated child’. Dean’s lawyer, John James, has declared: ‘We will fight this all the way. My client is a victim of reproductive rape!’

It could never happen here. Hell, Chaamel, if you had come to Sligo you wouldn’t have to take to robbing banks, as is alleged. There’s lots of red-blooded males here who would allow you to make as many interest free withdrawals as would make your head spin!

November 2nd 2005

Being a 'Chieftains' fan myself and one of those who believe that Galwayman Joe Cooley, and possibly Sligoman Michael Coleman, if you prefer the violin, were among the best instrumentalists who ever lived I may have been guilty of neglecting what many believe is the best thing, musicwise, to have ever come out of Sligo. Joe Who?, I hear you say, and Michael What? And what about Westlife?

Joyce Studier

Well, yes I was just getting to that, and additionaly, I will dedicate the following article to my friend and correspondent, Joyce Studier of Friedrichsdorf, a village near Gütersloh in Germany. Travelling here last year to meet her idol, Mark Feehily, she was disappointed that Mark was on tour but did meet Kian Egan at the "Perfect Day Surf Shop" in Strandhill. Joyce had a great time in Sligo and also met my good friend Denis Feehily and some other members of Mark's family. She is not disappointed to learn that Mark kicks with the left foot, and is still a fan. When she heard the news she said something to me in German that I didn't quite understand, but sounded like the old Irish expression: 'More fish in the sea than ever was caught'. Good for you, Joyce!

As usual Sligo's favourite newspaper the 'Sligo Weekender' has the story:

Sligo pop band Westlife

"It seems like a lifetime ago that five Irish lads sang "Swear It All Over Again" on Top of The Pops and set in motion a record-breaking run of No. 1 hit singles and international acclaim. Westlife were and still are a phenomenon.  With no sign of them splitting up any time soon, despite the loss of one of their members, the band continue to enjoy monumental success in Ireland, the UK, Europe and Asia.
Critics are quick to point out that they never conquered the US, but then again, do they really need to? The band's latest single "You Raise Me Up" is a gospel standard which finally gives Mark Feehily's voice the opportunity to soar which he hasn't had since "Flying Without Wings". It is currently flying out of record stores around Ireland, with their new album "Face to Face" doing similar, proving that their popularity and selling power is still formidable. A few deviations, a few decision which, in retrospect, may have been the wrong ones, but aside from that, Westlife have done little wrong over the seven years they have been together.

Westlife's history prior to their formation in 1999 is well documented.  The first seeds of the group was sown on a Sligo stage when Kian, Mark and Shane and their friend Michael Garrett, starred in a school musical. Is from these humble beginnings that Ireland's most successful pop group were formed. Their first single was followed by a string of seven No. 1 records in the UK over two years as they could do no wrong in the eyes of their millions of adoring fans. If anything else is responsible for the recent boost in the profile of Sligo music stars it must surely be Westlife's own success.

Located on the very edge of Europe and on the very edge of our own country, Sligo has always seemed like a remote place, far removed from the East coast prosperity and showbusiness.
But in the wake of Westlife's success, musicians and performers in this area suddenly realised, anything is possible.  They proved that you didn't have to live in Dublin to be discovered; people will take notice of you if what you do is good enough, regardless of where you are.
Initially a glut of local youngsters hoped they could emulate Westlife's success and so pop bands were forming left right and centre. As with any fad however, soon only the serious musicians were left.  

Having spent all his life playing music in Sligo, Tabby Callaghan knew the problems with getting noticed if you're from a small town. But he was discovered and he did have the spotlight of international fame shone into his face with The X Factor programme. You might even say that Westlife are the reason shows like The X Factor or You're A Star held regional heats, searching for the next big thing in places other than the obvious (Dublin).

As a driving force for musicians and performers in Sligo, Westlife are unsurpassed.  They prove that Sligo can deliver, can be in the spotlight.  They proved that rural Ireland should not be dismissed in the search for talent. The result is clear today.  The Conway Sisters are enjoying their moment in the spotlight on ITV.  Westlife are riding high in the charts with their new single (and an album due soon). And Tabby proved many critics wrong, stuck to his guns when it was easier to sell out for a cheap but limited record contract and as a result released his first solo single "Number One" at the weekend.

Could Sligo have another pop success on its hands?  Well that depends on good fortune, good timing and great talent, but at long last, being from Sligo is not a hindrance, it's a help."

First with the news, read the Sligo Weekender

Wed 26th October

In a world awash with materialism contentment is hard to find. Many have discovered, when they found it, that material wealth does not bring peace of mind. Like Thoreau, the 19th century naturist and author, who found peace in the woods at Walden pond, a Sligo man has found his nirvana in a most unlikely place. The Sligo Weekender has the story:

Harry Hallowes

"A Sligo man who turned his back on a €3 million windfall has won the right to stay on one of the most valuable pieces of property in London. Calry native Harry Hallowes was told he could spend the rest of his days on a small piece of his beloved Hampstead Heath.

The 68-year-old has been living in a 12ft by 8ft wooden shack on the grounds of Athlone House, a Kensington and Chelsea Hospital NHS Trust nursing home. It was only when the Trust decided to sell off the home that Harry found out he was sitting on a gold mine.

Wealthy friends of the elderly man told him that he could claim squatters title to the site after living there for 19 years. But Harry was not interested. He said:  “I’m just delighted that I can stay here as long as I like. It would be a very mean thing for me to claim the property as my own. I don’t care about money and I value my health and living in this lovely part of Hampstead Heath much more than I want money.

He said he would like to carry on living life in peace and quiet: “I am not greedy and to me life is an adventure. I got my love of nature from the rolling hills and fields of Calry which I will probably never see again”.

Harry prepares for winter

Harry’s rich neighbours include George Michael and the Sultan of Brunei. He could have joined this set in a luxury retirement flat with plenty of change. Property Developers Dwyer Assets Management, who bought the land from Camden Council, will not be moving Harry. “We will not be moving Harry and if he subsequently leaves the land he is living on, there is provision for that land to be transferred”. Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Tom Hiller said that Harry was just one of those “people who live outside normal conventions and there is no need to disturb him. He is obviously very happy where he is and should be left in peace”.

Harry Hallowes left the Calry area in 1957 and spent 12 years working as a labourer in New Zealand. He came back to Britain in 1970 and has been living in his wooden home since 1987: “Most of my relatives in Sligo are long dead but it was a lovely place and I lived there until I was about 20. I had two cousins called Bill and Valerie Hallowes but I don’t know if they are alive or not. I have never gone back to Sligo and I would be afraid to because it would have changed so much and I have never had any contact with the place since I left”."

First with the news: read the Sligo Weekender


Wed. 19th October 2005

Quoted recently: "The nationalist community in Northern Ireland were treated almost like animals by the Unionist community. They were not treated like human beings. They were treated like the Nazis treated the Jews.": Fr. Alec Reid, at a conference in Northern Ireland.

The faces of unionism: Ian Paisley and friends

So! Whats new?

The revelation comes as no surprise. Sure everyone on the island of Ireland knows that! George Seawright, a unionist, declared some years ago that, 'taxpayers money would be better spent on an incinerator and burning the whole lot of them [Catholics]. The priests should be thrown in and burned as well,' he said.

What is surprising is that a prominent person dared to tell it like it is in a public place. The remark provoked inevitable outrage from the said Unionists and generated a letters debate in the newspapers. Here's one from the Times that goes to the heart of the matter:

"Once again we listen to the predictable outrage from unionists with regard to the recent comments by Fr. Alex Reid who compared unionist treatment of the nationalist community to the actions of the Nazis towards the Jews

We listened to the same outrage when President McAleese made a similar comparison based on her experience growing up in Northern Ireland.

The point that both were making is that the mindset of unionism in Ireland was similar to that of the Third Reich. The Nazis behaved as they did towards other groups because of an inherent belief in their own superiority. Unionists too have been guilty of this attitude towards the nationalist community. This is a bald truth and something that unionists need to engage with

They will not engage with it if credible individuals like President McAleese and Fr. Reid apologise for highlighting the failings of the unionist state. Apologies allow unionists to disengage from their responsibilities and give credibility to their outlandish belief that they are the only victims.

When respected individuals tell the truth about unionist culpability they should stand over that truth, forcing unionists to engage with their past and the appalling situation they created for nationalists in the North.

It is time to stop handling unionist sensibilities with kid gloves.

Yours etc,

Kate O’Dwyer”

October 12th

The Morris Tribunal: Truth Will out!

The widow of Garda John Keogh has told the Morris Tribunal that her late husband's name had been used to cover up for the, 'wrongdoing of other gardai'.

Handwriting expert James Nash told the court that ex-garda John Nicholson was responsible for four of the seven forged signatures. Nicholson, who will have to face the music when he is interviewed by Judge Morris in Dublin next week, had previously placed the blame on Garda Keogh.

In another separate development Superintendent Kevin Ginty has refused to comment on a case where a father claims that gardai ignored his daughter's complaint of an assault. Kevin Ginty has previously come to notice when he was the only person in Sligo to make strenuous objections to the erection of a monument to honour the Irish patriot, Constance Markievicz, in Rathcormack, Co. Sligo. The Sligo Weekender has the story:

"Father claims gardai ignored assault report"

A Ballymote father claimed that Ballymote gardai ignored his daughter¹s complaint about an alleged assault which he claimed resulted in the young mother being hospitalised. Gerry Davey said the family had written to the Minister for Justice and the Garda Complaints Board but got little satisfaction. He is now calling for an independent body to investigate complaints against the gardai.

"There is no point in them investigating themselves": Mr Davey said his daughter was assaulted on August 19 last year on the night that he was a contestant on Winning Streak. "I know it happened last year but I want the media to highlight the injustice of it all. My daughter was knocked to the ground and kicked in the stomach a short distance from her home while she was three months pregnant', he claimed. "There were witnesses to this also. The gardai in Ballymote only pretended to investigate this matter but they just did not want to know about it and that is why we wrote to the Garda Complaints Board which was a big mistake".

Mr Davey said his daughter made a 999 call to Ballymote Garda station which was answered and gardai said they would pass on the complaint to Tubbercurry gardai. Mr Davey claimed this never happened. On the following week she was admitted to Sligo General Hospital for four days with haemhorraging. "My daughter did not report the assault to the staff in Sligo General Hospital because she was ashamed of what had happened". Mr Davey said his daughter only told him about the alleged assault in October last year for the same reason. "She then made a statement which the gardai reluctantly took. Nothing happened so she complained to the Garda Complaints Board and the Minister for Justice about the manner in which the gardai were handling her complaints".

Suptd. Kevin Ginty
Mr Davey said he complained to Superintendent Kevin Ginty about the matter. "Then in March of this year, the gardai came back to her and said that the assault charge could not be proceeded with as there were no medical records sent out from Sligo General Hospital. "And they said that the statutory time of six months for prosecution had elapsed. They only got the medical report after six months which was far too late. The usual procedure is if the report is not gone out within six weeks then the gardai would request it again. I understand that they asked for the records but did not get them initially and then made no follow-up call. I know this was a long time ago but it still annoys me that my daughter can be assaulted near her home and nothing is done about it".

Superintendent Kevin Ginty confirmed that the Garda Complaints Board had been informed about the matter. "I will not be getting into a public discussion with the media about operational matters" he said.

First with the news. Read the Sligo Weekender

October 5th 2005

The Sligo Pup

Development on site of the old Silver Swan

Any reports you may have heard of the imminent demise of the 'Celtic Tiger' have been premature. The pride of the litter, the 'Sligo Tiger', is alive and well. Not so long ago the sight of a tower crane anywhere in Co. Sligo would have stopped traffic — but no more. The monsters are on the march. Two have recently been erected in the tiny village of Ballisodare, last week there were 13 in Sligo town, this week the count has risen to an unbelievable 15.

And that's not all. Money! We have it in suitcases, under the mattress, in offshore accounts, in onshore accounts. Our pockets are bulging. Well, some pockets seem to be anyway. Reporters at the Sligo Weekender are just as bemused as the rest of us and report the following:

"In what is certainly the first of its kind in Sligo, 39 homes in Rosses Point have been sold without the new owners seeing a house plan, site layout or an advert for the development. It's every auctioneer's dream to sell homes on such a scale and in this way but it is a rarity. Such is the demand for a home in Rosses Point that 39 out of the 41 homes in the Oyster Bay development were sold purely by word of mouth.

Construction has only recently begun on the houses that come with a staggering price tag. The 26 detached homes in the development cost 700,000 euro each while the 15 semi-detached homes cost 425,000 and 450,000 euro. But, to anyone who has house hunted in Rosses Point, these prices are probably not that surprising.

The detached homes have four bedrooms and a total square footage of 2,000 square feet. The semi-detached homes have three bedrooms and a total square footage of 1,320 square feet and 1,420 square feet. Auctioneer for the development Walter Murphy says the homes were sold based on the location alone. He said: 'There is a huge demand to have a house in Rosses Point. That is what has sold these homes, it all about location, location, location. It is rare not to have to advertise and such was the interest in them that the homes were snapped up without buyers seeing a house plan. Avena Developments based at Ballisodare are on site at present. 'The minute the developer moved into the site, the interest was just unbelievable,' added the auctioneer.

Not many of the Point's soon-to-be new residents though are first time buyers. Most are owner-occupier, investors or those seeking a holiday home in Rosses Point. 'There is a mixture of those who have bought the properties. The majority of buyers are owner-occupiers although there are some who will use the house as a holiday home. These homes first came to light 18 months ago and some of these buyers got their names in as early as then.

'The word just seemed to get around about them without us doing any promotional work. The price isn't putting them off at all because they want the location. There are only two left and it's unlikely that it will take long before they are snapped up also. And if there is to be any advertising, it will be mainly to promote the development, as by then there won¹t be any need to push for sales.
Some of the features of the homes include underfloor heating, marble fireplaces, double glazed windows and stone features to the front.
'The response has been excellent and of course we are thrilled. They will be finished to a high standard, added Mr Murphy.'"

First with the news, read the Sligo Weekender

September 28th

Morris Tribunal & 'Sligo Live'

The Morris Tribunal is back in town! John Nicholson was first up to answer questions (see 'garda corruption' in Newsround archives) but was unavailable. Where was he? 'In St. Patrick's Psychiatric Inistitution,' his solicitor told the court. 'Ya can run but ya cain't hide' John Wayne used to say. Following an independent examination Judge Frederick Morris wasn't having any of it and ruled that there was no reason why Nicholson should not appear before the court.

When Detective Sergeant John White's turn came he didn't bear up too well either. Denying allegations of corruption he broke down in court. 'I'm a bit upset' he told tribunal lawyer Paul McDermott, and the tribunal took a short adjournment.

Meanwhile Frank Mc Brearty, a member of the family that was harrased by certain members of the gardai and who exposed the corruption in the first place, was awarded 1.5 million euro in an action against the State for damages. It's all pretty grim stuff and makes frightening reading for anyone who may have come foul of the law or would turn to it for protection.

But let's turn our attention to better things and, happily, the ' Sligo Weekender' has good news for us:

The Sawdoctors will perform at 'Sligo Live'

"The launch of the Sligo Live festival in October means that for four consecutive weekends there will be a major sporting or cultural event taking place in the town... Next month's  activities begin with Rally Ireland, a three-day rally over stages on both sides of the Irish border which will have its headquarters in the Clarion Hotel in Sligo town.

Rally Ireland, which runs from October 14 to 16, has already attracted one of the world's top drivers, Belgian Freddy Loix, who drove for Peugeot last year in the World Rally Championship. It is expected that the rally will attract rally fans from all over Ireland to the North West, with the majority staying in and around Sligo.  Like Sligo Live, Rally Ireland is the first year of a scheme which is aiming for bigger and better things...

Just a week after the engines have died down, the Sligo Baroque Music Festival takes place, running from October 21-25. This festival is one of the more high-brow events in the Sligo cultural calendar, but it does have its own faithful following, drawing audiences from all over Sligo and the surrounding counties. Now in its ninth year, the festival is a regular feature of the October listings and as such has encouraged many people to return time and again.

Sligo Live itself takes place over four days, from Friday October 28 through to Bank Holiday Monday, October 31. Sligo Live will feature three major concerts beginning with the celtic/spiritual group Anuna in St John¹s Cathedral on Friday at 8.30pm. Saturday's concert, featuring Damien Dempsey, The Saw Doctors, Lunasa and Teada is expected to attract music lovers from all over  to the Radission SAS Sligo. The same venue will host two bands very much of the moment, Bell X1 and Turn, the following night, Sunday.

Rounding out a busy four-week period will be the Sligo International Choral Festival which runs from November 3 to 6. The Choral Festival has traditionally been the most popular cultural festival in Sligo in terms of attracting visitors from outside of Sligo. As well as the many competing choirs, thousands of visitors come from all corners of Ireland to enjoy the Choral Festival, the most prominent festival of its type on the West Coast. This year¹s festival will feature over 40 choirs from eight different countries including Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Holland and Sweden."

First with the news: read the Sligo Weekender

September 19th 2005

Michael Coleman Commemoration

The 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Coleman Traditional Society was celebrated recently at the Coleman Memorial Cenotaph. This monument to Ireland’s greatest traditional musician, Michael Coleman, is located at Mount Irwin some miles outside of Gurteen near Coleman’s birthplace of Knockraine. It was recently repaired and renovated. Reconstruction of the memorial was sponsored by the Markievicz Memorial Committee, Ned O’Shea, Seamus Duffy, Paul Conboy and Margaret Gormley.

A Coleman album

Seamus Duffy of Midwest Radio conducted the proceedings. Fiddler Vincie Harrison and piper Neily Mulligan paid musical tributes. Vince Hearns read the Roll of Honour of the Coleman Traditional Society founding fathers who have passed away since the memorial was erected. The 23rd psalm was read by Father Doherty P.P. Gurteen followed by a decade of the Rosary. Flags were lowered and two minutes silence observed in memory of Coleman and the great musicians of the Sligo countryside.

Seamus Duffy paid tribute to piper Johnny Gorman and his influence on the Coleman brothers: “It was just to our right hand in an old lock-up forge and across a steely grey anvil, in the early 1900s, that Piper Johnny Gorman passed on this ancient tradition in music to two young boys Michael and Jim Coleman. The stones of that old forge are memorialised and were buried deep in the foundation of this Memorial Cenotaph when it was erected and unveiled in 1974.

Another place in the heart of the Killavil countryside, the now ruined home of Ladd and Phil O’Beirne at Ballineck bridge, will always be remembered as the place where Michael and Jim Coleman learned how to play their fiddles”

Seamus Tansey leads the Seisiun at the Coleman Memorial Cenotaph

A wreath made up of wild flowers, heather and foliage from the mountain, bogs and fields of the Coleman countryside was then placed at the monument by Cathleen Mc Keon mother of Peter Mc Keon, founder member of the Coleman Society. Speaking of the great Sligo musicians Seamus Tansey in an oration declared that, “As the autumn winter’s leaf falls to earth they shall forever remain golden in our memory”

In a grand finale the fields and meadows of the Coleman countryside echoed to the sound of pipes, fiddle and accordeon as the proceedings came to an end with an open air musical seisiún. Participating musicians are household names today in Sligo and in the wider world of Irish traditional music: Peter Horan, Killavil; Una Devlin, Newry; Philomena Cunningham, Bunninaden; Vincent Harrison, Leitrim; Paddy Sweeney, Leitrim; John Gara, Killavil; Eamonn Duffy, Aughamore; Padraig Kearns, Riverstown; Seamus Tansey, Gurteen; John Regan, North Sligo; Tommy Grehan, Arigna; Mary Corcoran, Dublin; Catherine McAvoy, Dublin.

September 14th 2005

Sligo Supports the Rossport 5

The Sligo Weekender covered the demonstration in support of the Rossport 5 imprisoned because of their objections to the Shell pipeline in Co. Mayo:

"Up to 300 people turned up to a protest in Sligo last Saturday afternoon to show their support for the Rossport Five men, who will spend their 76th night in jail tonight (Tuesday). The march through Sligo town took off at 3pm from the Market Yard. The peaceful demonstration then assembled outside City Hall where families and campaigners rallied around and listened to speeches including one from Independent TD Jerry Cowley.

Some of the banners held aloft at the march had the words: "Saint Patrick, please come back and rid us of the snakes in Dail Eireann, Coillte and Mayo County Council," emblazoned across them.
Later on that evening, a benefit gig was held in the Trades Club on Castle Street.

The five Mayo farmers who are in jail at Cloverhill Prison now for over two months are refusing to purge their contempt, in protest against the building of a gas refinery on bogland in county Mayo.
The five men, Willie Corduff, Micheal O¹Seighin, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath have been imprisoned at the request of Shell Oil for objecting to what they call 'an illegal and dangerous gas pipeline' being built on their land. The men have been in prison for over seventy days now and appeals to have the court injunction lifted have repeatedly failed.

The Rossport Five and their supporters believe that it puts local lives at risk, it will pump up to 20 billion euros worth of gas out of Ireland and is the result of a corrupt and immoral planning process which has no safety authority to look after it. After last Saturday¹s protest, the wives of the jailed men thanked the people who turned out in Sligo to show their support.

The five wives were among a host of people and politicians, including Sligo councillors, Chris MacManus and Declan Bree, who addressed the crowd outside the Town Hall, all vowing that the campaign would be intensified.  Mayo Independent TD Jerry Cowley who organised the march said it's important that the Government and Shell Oil realise that the majority of people believe the five Mayo men have been unfairly imprisoned. A bigger march is now being planned for Dublin in October."

First with the news: Read the Sligo Weekender

September 7th 2005

Emperors and New Roads

Shutters clicked and flashguns flared. It was the opening of the new Sligo ‘bypass’ road and everyone who was anyone was there. Photocall followed photocall as the assembled politicians jostled and preened for the cameras. Everyone nodded sagely and told each other how well the Emperor looked in his new clothes. The Emperor, Minister for Transport Martin Cullen, responding to the shouts and cheers of the blue bedecked students of Summerhill College, said: ‘It’s their future they’re looking at here…’

Waiting for Godot at the opening of the New Road

Reporters scibbled down his words of wisdom and nodded to each other: How wise an observation and how sagacious — but then of course the man is, after all, a MINISTER.

Some observers reckoned that had Mr. Cullen listened a little more attentively what the students were telling him was that he had no clothes. Even those oft quoted wise canines, ‘the dogs in the street’ know that what Sligo really needs is a ring road that diverts traffic around the town, not through it. All traffic through Sligo and to points north must still pass through the bottle-necked Hughes bridge. In the short stretch from the Bundoran road to Carraroe motorists still have to negotiate eight sets of traffic lights. Following the opening, improvement was shown on some routes while traveling time on others had risen from six to eleven minutes.

All is not yet lost however. The Mc Donaghs and the Wards will be relieved to know that the tinker trade is not yet dead. According to a report in the Sligo Weekender, Director of Services, Seamus Concannon, by a process of ‘tinkering with the traffic light systems’, will solve any residual traffic problems. Okay Seamus, but can you make a tin can?

Never mind! There was a euphoria abroad and the ribbons had hardly fallen to the ground before local T.D. Jimmy Devins, hammer and nails in hand had new billboards erected on the approaches to Sligo town declaring that he alone had delivered the new road for Sligo. Some say he was also claiming responsibility for all the good summer weather we had this year but was too modest to put it on a billboard!

You know, that boy will go far. Appearances are everything. Aren’t they? And John Healy, you may rest in peace, Ireland will never be short of ‘cute hoors’.

August 31st 2005

“Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Weep, and you weep alone:
For this stolid old earth
Has need of your mirth,
It has troubles enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will echo it:
Sigh, and it's lost on the air;
For they want full measure
Of all your pleasure,
But nobody wants your care.
Feast, and your halls are crowded,
Fast, and they'll pass you by;
Succeed and give,
And they'll let you live,
But fail - and they'll let you die."


According to the Sligo Weekender, Sligonians, with oil becoming scarcer and more expensive every day, may soon become the new energy barons:

Energy to power Sligo lies beneath our feet

"An energy source that could potentially provide most of the electricity needs of Sligo town and county lies beneath our feet. It's not literally under Sligo but it¹s close enough. The rock formation that bears it can be seen in the cliffs at Mullaghmore and because of that carries its name.

The Mullaghmore Sandstone formation runs across what is known as the North West Mississippian Basin or Lough Allen Basin at depths of about 1,500 to 3,000 feet. It covers about a million acres in five counties, Sligo , Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan and Fermanagh. Test drilling over the past 40 years has shown that this sandstone is a reservoir for natural gas.

Gerald Rolf, who has been living at Larkhill Road, Sligo, for the past two years, has long experience in oil and gas exploration. A Texan, he has a B Sc and M Sc in Geology and Geophysics. He worked for around 15 years with oil companies Shell and Occidental Petroleum before becoming an independent oil and gas geologist. He is now retired but remains very much up to date with developments in the field.
His wife, Anne Sweeney, is a native of Sligo.

Sligo-based oil and gas exploration geologist Gerald Rolf believes that if new efforts to extract this gas are successful it could provide enough electricity for most of the needs of Sligo and other towns for about 20 to 30 years. The area which has excited most interest from exploration companies stretches from Belleek in the north to Arigna in the south and from the Ox Mountains in the west to roughly half way between Blacklion and Enniskillen in the east.

Starting with Marathon Oil away back in 1964, several companies have prospected there. All have got shows of gas to varying degrees but because the earliest efforts were really only interested in oil, the gas was largely ignored. Another reason that what could potentially be quite a large quantity of gas has remained untapped up to now is the difficulty in extracting it at an economical flow rate.
But in recent times a company called     Finavera believes that it can get around that problem with a different approach that involves horizontal instead of just vertical drilling. They say it is 'a natural gas field of national significance'.

They say that a recently commissioned independent report on the exploration potential and resource, estimated 1,068 billion cubic feet of gas-in-place in one of at least three reservoirs in the basin (in the Glangevlin, Blacklion and Derrygonnelly areas). They suggest that there exists an 'upside potential' of three trillion (3,000,000,000,000) cubic feet of gas-in-place. They point out that Shell's Corrib gas field off Mayo has estimated reserves of 1.5 trillon cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

But there are no certainties in the oil and gas game and long experience has bred a caution in Gerald Rolf. He said: 'The big unknown is what volume of gas is recoverable.' However, he says that if gas is recovered here it will not be possible to pipe it elsewhere because of the low pressures.
It will have to be used practically on site to generate electricity.

This is done by drilling perhaps eight to ten wells over a two or three acre area, connecting them all by pipe and then connecting to a small power generating station, about the size of an average room. There would be a series of these over the gas field. However, before any of that happens Finavera will have to raise several million euro just for its test drilling. If that proves the project to be commercial full development cost could approach a billion euro and could take 10 to 15 years to complete and fully deliver electricity."


"Rolf, who has spent most of his life working in the oil and gas exploration business, believes that Ireland has never been confronted by an energy threat of the magnitude we now face. He is concerned that the Irish government is not taking sufficient action to stave off the catastrophic consequences for our economy and lifestyle if we don't make plans for the fast approaching oil shortage.

Oil facts

… 20 countries produce 83% of the world¹s oil
… 20 countries consume 81% of the oil
… Around 84 million barrels of oil a day are used in the world
… World demand for oil is increasing by two million barrels per day each year but only 1.5 million barrels per day are being added to reserves in new deliverability each year

It has been recognised for some years now that the world¹s supply of oil is limited and that one day it will run out. However long before it actually runs out there will be a severe shortage and unfortunately for Ireland that day is not far off. Mr Rolf predicts that unless the government acts now there will be a permanent oil and gas shortage in Ireland and the need for petrol rationing before 2020. That¹s just 15 years away. He has been examining an expert study carried out for the US government last year which presents a pretty stark picture of the future for oil supplies.

The problems will start long before the last barrel of oil is taken out of the ground in perhaps 50 to 60 years time. The real difficulties will start when we reach the 'peak' of oil production, that is when world demand (increasing at about two million barrels per day annually) outstrips supply. It's 15 years since the oil industry has annually added more reserves than the annual consumption, so in that time the world has been depleting its reserve base.

The peaking out of production means that production can no longer be increased and will start declining and over time the decline rate will accelerate. Of 10 experts listed in the US study, six have the peak occurring within the next five years, with the others between there and 2025. However, even the very perception in the markets that peaking may be nearing will be enough to drive oil prices up sharply.  Mr Rolf believes that perception of peaking has already occurred, hence the recent steep increases in oil prices.

The big difficulty that Ireland faces is that we don't have any oil ourselves and in the future those who have may not want to share. Major countries like China , India , Japan , the United States , Russia and few European countries will manoeuvre to control world supplies. There will be no open market.
Mr Rolf warns that the Irish government now needs to take action or Ireland will be heading back to a 1970s style recession and worse. He suggests the Government should be allocating funds to support recommendations as to how best to handle the situation from those who have the proper education, training and experience in the field., as Ministers don¹t have the expertise.

He believes that we now need to negotiate a contract with some country to guarantee a supply for at least 20 years to provide time for alternatives to oil and gas to be put in place. Refining, storage and port facilities will also be necessary."

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