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April 19th 2006


'Secret Police' and Gulags

In 1991 on the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising there was no official recognition of the event. In the absence of any national observance, Robert Ballagh with a group of other patriotic minded citizens co-ordinated a commemoration in celebration of the event in Dublin. What followed smacks more of Solzhenitsyn's gulags of the old Soviet Russia than 20th century Ireland. In a recent interview Ballagh recalled that he, 'soon had death threats and Special Branch surveillance.' He was walking up Parnell St. one day when, 'an unmarked squad car suddenly braked beside me, out jumped two plain clothes policemen who pushed me against the railing. They asked me for ID then jumped in the car and drove off.'

Mr. Ballagh, a very successful artist who has designed many of our postage stamps, went on to say that a Leaving Cert student who attended committee meetings suddenly disappeared. On investigation it transpired that the 'Branch', 'had gone to his school and told the headmaster that he was a member of the IRA. The headmaster told the pupil's parents and threatened him with expulsion.' The intimidation caused the student to drop out!

In Sligo, Superintendent of gardai, Kevin Ginty, and his wife, lodged objections, to the erection of a memorial to Constance Markievicz. They failed, but delayed the project for years.

Perhaps Fianna Fail feel that people like Robert Ballagh and Sinn Fein are taking over the high moral ground but now, suddenly, to commemorate Easter 1916 is back in vogue again. The Sligo Weekender reports that: 'TROOPS from Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal took part in the 1916 Commemoration Parade in Dublin on Easter Sunday. The 28th Infantry Battalion, which has its headquarters at Finner Camp, provided an infantry company and the 28 battalion¹s pipe band for the Dublin parade. The troops, 140 personnel in all, were are primarily from the counties of Sligo, Donegal, and Leitrim

Commandant Paul Keyes from Sligo was the Officer Commanding the north west troops on parade. Captain Jim Dillon from Bundoran was the second-in-command. Collectively, the troops marching on Easter Sunday have completed 306 overseas missions to Lebanon, East Timor, Eritrea, Liberia and the former Yugoslavia. Each tour of duty, under the Blue Flag, mandated by the United Nations is for a period of six months.
Each of the units on parade in Dublin were in different military uniforms to demonstrate the diversity of tasks undertaken by the defence forces.' (left: Irish UN veterans parade past the GPO)

Easter 1916 Celebration in Sligo: Repression lingers

Military commemorates 1916 Easter Rising, Dublin

In Sligo news of the new respectability doesn't seem to have filtered down. Two beefy plainclothes Special Branch men sat in a car watching the James Connolly Forum assemble and parade to the Republican Plot in Sligo's cemetery. It was quite an innocuous gathering so one cannot help but wonder what useful purpose they could possibly serve apart from lining their pockets on overtime at the taxpayers expense! Led by flag-bearers carrying the Tri-colour and the 'Starry Plough', a large crowd marched from Cairns Drive to the Republican Plot to hear ex Mayor of Sligo, Alderman Declan Bree, deliver an oration.

Addressing the attendance he said: "We are gathered today to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and to honour the men and women who gave their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom. On April 24th 1916, A Proclamation was read in Dublin declaring an independent Irish Republic.  The proclamation was signed by the leaders of revolutionary Republican and Labour thought in the country: Thomas J Clarke, Thomas McDonagh, P.H. Pearse,  Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett, James Connolly and Sean MacDiarmada.

The surrender on Saturday the 29th saw the beginning of a wholesale execution of the leaders by the British Government.    The first group to face the firing squad on May 3rd was P.H. Pearse, Tom Clarke, Thomas McDonagh.   From then until May 12th the executionscontinued.   By that time all the signatories to the proclamation plus the insurgent commandants had been shot by firing squad.

The British Government which claimed to be leading its own people in “a war for the freedom of small nations”, took a terrible vengeance on the champions of freedom for Ireland.

But the wrath of a frightened British and Irish establishment was not yet satisfied.  Between Saturday April 29th and May 12th there lay in Dublin Castle one of the signatories of the Proclamation, the second in command to Pearse and the representative of the revolutionary working class in the rising – James Connolly.

In answer to protests against the apparently unending daily list of executions and a demand for their cessation the British Prime Minister, Asquith, stated in the House of Commons that he intended to stop the carnage, but that there were two men still in custody whose lives must first be taken.   These were James Connolly and Sean MacDiarmada.

In its first appearance after the Rising, William Martin Murphy’s newspaper, the “Irish Independent”, in its editorial of the 10th of May opposed any clemency and called for the deaths of Connolly and MacDiarmada. The pages of the “Independent” did not exhaust Murphy’s hatred of those who supported the organised Dublin workers of 1913 – he used the “Irish Catholic” the organ of clericalism, which he also owned, to describe the leaders of the 1916 Rising as “criminal” and “insane”.

Connolly’s execution was delayed owing to the fact that he was badly wounded.   The British Government had to make up its mind whether it would brush aside such trifles and bring its wounded captive before the firing squad.   British imperialist vengeance took priority over civilised behaviour and human decency, and on May 12th 1916 James Connolly was delivered to his executioners. History will record this deed as among the blackest crimes of imperialism against the Irish nation and against the international labour movement..."

Referring to current events the former Mayor went on to say that: "Political independence from Britain may have been achieved for the greater part of the country and for Northern Ireland the means of constitutionally achieving a united Ireland is laid out in the Good Friday Agreement. But the reality is that the current Government is politically and economically subservient to particular interests in the United States and the E.U.

The slavish attitude of the current government with regard to the war on Iraq is a prime example of this.  The use of Shannon Airport, in particular, as a gateway for U.S. troops en route to the war in Iraq is an affront to the wishes of the vast majority of the Irish people who have consistently opposed the immoral and illegal war on Iraq and the continuing occupation of that country by the United States military.   Under the Fianna Fail/PD administration there has been a growing shift in the traditional Irish policy of military neutrality to one of supporting George Bush’s view of the world.

Further proposals for Ireland to become part of international military alliances were contained in the proposed European Union constitution which was supported, not only by the parties of the right - Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the P.D.’s  - but also disgracefully, by the Irish Labour Party." 

Mr John Dunne, Sligo, recited the 1916 Proclamation.    Following the oration as a lone piper played a lament, Ms Brenda Barr, laid a wreath on behalf of the Executive of the Connolly Forum.    The ceremony concluded with the National Anthem.

April 12th 2006


Easter is a very special time in Sligo and in Ireland. In addition to the religious festivities it is the anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 when young Irishmen and women went out to free their country from British rule.

Around the time of Remembrance Sunday we see British people wearing the poppy in honour of their fallen heroes. And it’s right that they should! We Irish have a similar emblem that honours the men and women who fought in that Rebellion. It’s called the Easter Lily. Many of us wore it on our lapel at Easter in times gone by but it too seems to have gone out of fashion. Just because the Easter Lily has come to be identified with one party or another does not mean they have ownership of it — nor indeed do they claim any such ownership! The Easter Lily has no party political significance.

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 those who died for Irish freedom.

If there was all party agreement, and the lily freely available in the shops, wearing it could become as popular in Ireland as the poppy is in England . Let’s all wear the Easter Lily this year, and wear it proudly. Those who went out in Easter 1916 deserve no less.


Re the auction mentioned below I am happy to report that Markievicz's 'mug shot' along with two other photos has been acquired by Sligo's 'Markievicz Memorial Committee'. The guide price was €400-600 euro. Although the pictures sold for three times that amount, €1,800 euro, we feel they are priceless as they capture one of the great, if tragic, moments in Irish history and another facet in the life of this most remarkable Sligowoman. I am privileged to serve as chairman of that committee and can confirm that our intention is to hand the images over to the Sligo County Museum — when we have one.

The recruiting poster pictured in last week's article (below) sold for an unbelievable €1,200.00. A Fianna Eireann Handbook written by Markievicz sold for €1,500.00.

THEATRE: The Factory Performance Space are to be congratulated for bringing the classic tale of 'The Tailor and Ansty' to Sligo audiences:

April 5th 2006

Markievicz and Sligo memorabilia for sale

An auction of memorabilia of Irish, and Sligo, interest is being held by Mealey and Associates at the RDS Minerva suite galleries on Sunday April 9 from 10am to 1.00 pm. Various memorabilia associated with the Irish War of Independence will be on offer. Other items of similar interest from that period, including posters similar to that pictured at left, will also be for sale. This jolly poster and others of similar design were distributed by the Gore-Booths of Lissadell House to induce young Sligomen to join the British Army. While they were recruiting for the British, Constance was fighting them in the streets of Dublin. Her 'mug shot' (below), taken at her arrest following the suppression of the Easter Rising, is also for sale.

Catalogue description of poster (left): 'Issued by Department of Recruiting for Ireland 32 Nassau Street Dublin. Lithographed by Alex Thomas and Co. Ltd. 76 by 51cm., 30 by 20in.' This is one of several hundred items cleared out at a Lissadel House Contents Sale, Christie's and HOK, 25 November 2003, by the last owner, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth, prior to the final disposal of Lissadell House itself. He, in common with most of her family, had an abiding hatred of Constance. Lissadell House was an Orange stronghold and they never forgave her for taking the side of the Irish in the War of Independence.

Included in another sale by Adam's Dublin auction house is a collection of twelve personal letters from Constance to fellow revolutionary Kathleen Clarke.

March 29th 2006

Some things never change...

"... Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,/ His rash-fresh, re-winded new-skeined score/ In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour/ And pelt music, till none's to spill or spend..." (The Sea and the Skylark, G.M. Hopkins)

Spring is here, the skylarks sing. It happens this time every year and still it inspires. Sparrows are busy robbing pampas grass, lawn clippings and stray feathers to line their nests. Cattle look around curiously as magpies pull hair from their backs to wallpaper their new homes. The cattle don't seem to mind at all and graze away nonchalantly. After all when the ticks arrive later in the year to fatten on their blood, the magpies will pay their due and pick them off. Just as soon as we see the wild creatures preparing for a new season those of us who live by the sea will surely see fishermen and boatowners scurrying about with paint brushes and sandpaper in hand looking anxiously at the sky. Rain is never very far away in these parts.

Soon there'll be a new crop of calves and neighbour Seamus Mc Gloin was pleased to tell me that one of his sheep had triplets! Anna Mc Gloin is pictured (above) with the proud Mom! A busy time for sheep farmers who must watch out for grey crows and foxes expecting a handy meal this time of year. Nothing like a new born spring lamb for a treat for their family.

And other things are changing rapidly...

'Give us your poor and your huddled masses': Ranging from Acholi to Zulu, Ireland is now a towering Babel of 167 languages spoken by 167different nationalities! These figures are the result of research carried out by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The list ranges from Acholi, spoken in Uganda and Sudan, to Zulu. Lack of translation facilities is causing headaches for officials in the courts, Garda stations and in the health services — and how are foreign students to be taught!

Ireland is being compared to Mexico city where 20 per cent of the population are immigrants, where house prices are doubling and trebling and traffic is chaos. Economists at NCB, in a recent report, envisage huge immigration in the coming years and say that Dublin between the canals will be a largely non-Irish zone by 2021.. The projections are startling: population is set to rise by one million in the next few years. As many as one in every five Irish people will be foreign immigrants. The implications following from that are that we almost certainly will be facing serious social and racial tensions.

David McWilliams writing in the Sunday Business Post envisages a scenario where, 'Chinese landlords evict black tenants and a displaced white Irish underclass votes for a 21st century version of a National Socialist Party that promises an Ireland for the Irish with a strong state.' Is it only a matter of time before the riots we have seen in Britain and France are replicated here:

'Iron Mike' visits Sligo

A role model for children?

On last Sunday night over 500 people attended a black tie dinner with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in Dublin's Burlington Hotel. They paid from €200 to €400 per head for the privilege. Yes, P.T. Barnum, suckers are still being born ever minute. Saying that the boxer had 'done his time' sports commentator Jimmy Magee, who interviewed him, said he would not be mentioning the Desiree Washington rape case. Tyson also gained notoriety for biting off his opponents ear during a boxing match.

The little town of Gurteen in south Sligo was taken by storm when three helicopters swooped down from the skies with Tyson, minders and entourage. 'Reformed' Dublin criminal and high profile chaffeur Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch was in the second helicopter. He waited in the hotel for the arrival of his Humvee stretch limo. Not too many of them around Gurteen! 'Iron Mike', in the third helicopter, was surrounded by children from Gurteen Boxing Club looking for autographs as soon as he landed.

Joe Egan, a native of Gurteen, was Tyson's sparring partner at one time, hence the call to the little town. Sligo Rape Crisis Centre condemned the visit: 'Gurteen has welcomed a convicted rapist to its town', said Cliona Saidleir. 'What kind of message does that send out to people, parading a convicted rapist around and lauding him as a hero'.


March 22nd 2006


Our Minister for Justice, ‘FawPaw’ McDowell, has put his foot in it again. When Opposition T.D. Richard Bruton criticized him for lack of Gardai on Dublin streets recently he flew into a rage. Yes, a rage! Very unseemly for a man of his position — but that's what it was. In a lengthy tirade he called Bruton, ‘the Dr. Goebells of propaganda’. Phew! Heavy stuff! And this on top of, a few days ago, accusing the innocuous Deputy Gormley of the Green Party of being akin to the rioters that flittered O’Connell St. when the Orange marchers came to town. ‘Your kind of people’ he said.

The media were delighted with the brouhaha, and pressed him on whether he was going to withdraw what they felt were insulting personal remarks. Self-righteously declaring that he was not for turning the Minister glowered and bristled and insisted that he would not withdraw one word. That was Monday evening. Tuesday morning he was a changed man, and full of apologies. 'A Rottweiler trying to pass himself off as a Labrador', the Times said. His leader and Taoiseach, the bould Bertie did his talking for him with the air of a pet owner who feared his beloved mutt might have to be put down. Bertie wasn't afraid of a bit of name calling, he said: 'Sticks and bones will break my bones...' said our inimitable leader, coining another Bertieism. Never mind! Despite the circus in Dail Eireann the country is trotting along nicely, for those who can afford it!

Great stuff for the newsmen; grist to their mill. ‘Mood swings’ newsman David Davin-Power said was McDowell's problem, which leaves us wondering if the Minister, dare we say it, might be going through the male menopause in a very public way! Is there a doctor in the house?

It’s as good an explanation as any. Other than that, this is schoolyard stuff with the Minister flying into tantrums every time the other boys, or girls, take his ball away. And speaking about Nazis, am I the only person to see a resemblance in the two pictures above. The first person to contact me with 'who's who' gets a lollipop and gets to sit on teachers knee!


Sligo news: Drugs? We have them. Garda discovered €21,000 worth of cannabis following a stakeout of a graveyard in Kilmacowen. The stash contained nine bars of cannabis resin wrapped in black paper and buried inside the wall of the graveyard. Just a week ago a Sligo youth, Giles Forde, was jailed for two years when he was found in possession of €5,000 worth of cannabis. He also had €5,000 hidden which was believed to be the proceeds of drug sales. Do you know where your children are?

St. Patrick's Day in Sligo

The Sligo Weekender reports that: 'A leprechaun who was driving a tractor in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade has been arrested for drunk driving. The man, dressed as a leprechaun, was arrested by gardai near the start of the parade at Mailcoach Road. Gardai were on hand to take the little fellow into custody. An officer drove the vintage tractor back to the station.
Meanwhile a crowd of 10,000 lined Sligo's streets for the biggest parade in years. Parades were also held in Grange, Charlestown, Enniscrone, Boyle, Gurteen, Aclare, Dromore West and Manorhamilton. In Sligo, Ocean FM got the best float award which showed radio through the decades. O'Hehir's Bakery took the industrial and commercial category with the scouts award going to Tireragh Girl Guides. The Ursuline college took the school's cup while Sligo Road Safety Awareness Campaign took first place in the community section.
Sooey National School took first prize in their particular category.'

Have we lost sight of what St. Patrick's Day is all about? Some celebrate the festival as it has been done from time immemorial. See Heritage


Wed. March 15th 2006

Sligo Harbour changes hands

The 'Lone Baand' berthed near Hughes Bridge last week

Sligo harbour is in the news as management changes from the Harbour Commisioners, who have been in charge for the past 300 years, to Sligo County Council. The Minister for Transport will sign an order next month legalising the changover. It is quite an added responsibility as the harbour property extends to over 90 acres and is valued at over 50 million euro.

When the transfer move was first discussed members of the Harbour Commision claimed that this meant the closure of the harbour. The claim was reinforced by Co. Manager Hubert Kearns who stated at a Council meeting that one, 'had only to go down to the port to see that it was redundant.' It's anyone's guess as to the future of the harbour, but an encouraging sign is that the Council have invited submissions from interested parties and the general public towards drawing up a master plan for harbour development. For more information see the Sligo Weekender who have given me the following:

History of Sligo Port

AT its height in the late 19th and early 20th century Sligo was one of the most important seaports in Ireland with 500 ships a year using the port. Steamships first began to use the port in the 1830s, but sail was still being used on light vessels. During the Famine years of 1845 to 1850 thousands of people escaping starvation and disease emigrated on ships from Sligo to America, Canada and Britain. The deep water berths were built in 1884 and a railway was constructed which ran along the wharfs and linked on to the main train line, giving the port access to the rest of the country.

As the port began to attract more and more shipping large warehouses were built which could store more then 2,000 tons of grain. In 1880 alone the port attracted 549 vessels with a total tonnage of 90,932. The port provided substantial employment to the town and made Sligo the commercial capital of the North West. Ships mainly brought in maize, coal, flour, iron, salt and exported livestock such as cattle and pigs but there were also boxes of candles, pianos, brooms, tobacco and manure.

By 1903 the port was one of the busiest in the country and was at its height in receiving goods and exporting livestock and materials. But it was never to reach this level again. During the First World War, 1914-18, there was a large decline in ships entering the harbour and the income in the port became practically non-existent. Trade did pick up in the 1920s but with the Depression of the '30s and the 'Emergency' (World War Two). In the '40s the port began to decline further with less ships arriving into the dock and all the exports being kept to feed the people in the Free State.

The 1950s were the same with annual tonnage of 20,000 and an average of 70 ships a year entering the port.
There was a pick-up in trade in the 1960s but more decline in the 70s and 80s, prior to an increase in traffic again in recent years. The belief among the Harbour Board is that with further works, such as the provision of dry goods warehousing (which would allow goods like grain and fertiliser to be brought in) the number of ships could be increased from 37 last year to over 100 a year.

First with the news: Read the 'Sligo Weekender'

Benbulben this morning on my way to work.

Wed. March 8th 2006

St. Patrick’s Day Exodus

One of the sure signs for Sligonians that St. Patrick’s Day is nigh is when we see our politicians, and an assortment of high ranking officials, fleeing the country. Eleven out of twenty five Co. Sligo councillors are off on junkets to New York, Chicago and Boston. What would St. Patrick say? And was it for this the Wild Geese fled? One wonders what they do when they are here because, whisper it, we wouldn’t even miss them if it wasn’t reported in the papers! Irate taxpayers tend to make a fuss about it. And why shouldn't they? After all is it fair they have to stay home to earn a crust while paying for all of this!

Be warned America! The lucky revellers headed your way are as follows: Bound for New York, Paul Conmy, Patsy Barry, Michael Fleming, Gerry Lundy, Mayor Rosaleen O’Grady and Town Clerk John McNabola. Off to Chicago we have: John Sherlock, Martin Baker, Gerry Murray and Co. Manager Hubert Kearns. Flying into Boston is Veronica Cawley, Deirdre Healy Mc Gowan and Aidan Colleary.

It's no better at national level so if some country wants to invade us, or Paisley and Donaldson, having failed to fly the Union Jack on O'Connell St. recently, want to stage a coup, St. Patrick's week is the time to do it. According to the Irish Times, twenty nine members of the Government are to fly to 22 countries in five continents over the next two weeks.

Accusations and counter accusation flew across the Dail floor. The Opposition condemned the Government for adjourning the House for a whole week so they could head off for foreign parts. 'Frauds' and 'hypocrites' thundered the Government in response. Michael Ring (Fine Gael) pointed out that the Government were elected to represent the people, 'not to be off in Cheltenham or America'. 'Frauds, you're a pack of frauds the lot of you', roared Michael McDowell who was probably feeling a bit miffed that he was only going to the races in London while his leader Bertie was off to San Jose and Washington. Sure even Noel Dempsey was off to Seattle and Noel Ahearn to Savannah, Georgia. The lucky holidaymakers are pictured below:

‘The Last Hangman’ puts his cards on the table

The Sligo Weekender reports that: 'A Sligo man will be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous when he plays in a poker grand final in Monte Carlo this week. Cliffoney man Paul Roper (34), who calls himself 'The Last Hangman' has landed the chance of a lifetime to compete in the crème de la crème of poker competitions, when he competes along with up to 500 players in the Monte Carlo grand final.

The grand prize is a five million euro bonanza. What¹s even more significant about Paul's achievements is the fact that he has only been playing poker for a little over seven months. He was only playing a week when he won two major competitions while playing on the internet. Much attention will be focused on Paul as he becomes the first poker player in the world to qualify for the Monte Carlo final through the internet.
While many have to pay as much as E20,000 to enter the final, Paul didn't have to pay a cent. By winning his way through the net, he automatically got free entry into the competition. Paul says he is looking forward to the event:
'I am really excited about it. It is a chance of a lifetime.' he said
So what will he do if he strikes gold and wins the grand prize. 'The first thing I will do is pay off my debts,' he laughed.
Paul flew out to Monte Carlo Sunday, March 5.  The competition begins today, March 8 and runs until Saturday. Paul has an even bigger date on May 26 with his partner Corina Fox of Sligo town. The couple will be getting married in Cliffoney Church with a reception afterwards in the Clarion Hotel.Wed. March 1st 2006

First with the news: The Sligo Weekender. Thanks to Ocean FM for the list of councillors.

March 1st 2006

Loyalist 'Love Ulster' Parade

A 'Love Ulster' parade in Belfast

A shopping trip to Dublin by Sligo Teacher, Eileen Rowan, of St. Cecilia's Special School in Ballincar, took an unexpected turn when she found herself caught up in the Dublin riot last Saturday. In an interview with The Sligo Weekender Eileen said: 'I was on Henry Street at the time when the rioting began. We were told to stay off O'Connell St. and under no circumstances to go there. Once you followed that advice then you would be okay. I felt safe."

Eileen witnessed the riot police try to bring the situation under control amid scenes of unprecedented destruction... "The silence that followed the riots was eerie," she said. "It took a while for things to get back moving again but I was impressed with how people tried to keep things calm."

Dublin last Saturday




The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell and the security forces should have anticipated that the sight of loyalists marching down O'Connell St. with Unionist banners, lambegs and Union Jacks was going to be inflammatory. Nevertheless the gardai were taken by surprise at the ferocity of feeling expressed by the rioters and, unable to cope, stated that the demonstration was totally unexpected. Fourteen people were injured including six gardai.

Freedom of speech versus the prospect of public disorder, and possible loss of life? The debate is now on as to whether it was wise to allow this provocative parade in the first place. One might ask what is the point of stirring tensions now that there is a peace process and the streets of Northern Ireland are relatively quiet. Could it be that Paisley and the DUP and their followers are afraid of a peaceful Ireland?

Exhibition by John Conway


Saturday 4th March, 12-8pm & Sun. 5th, 10am - 6pm at Branley’s Yard, Rathcormac, Drumcliffe, County Sligo

Further information from:

087 6820440 or

Wed. 22nd Feb. 2006

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times in Sligo

News on the manufacturing front in Ireland is not good — for the workers anyway. Heading RTE news this evening is the imminent closure of NEC Semiconductors in Ballivor, Co. Meath. High wages is the main reason given for the move. Three hundred jobs will be lost to locations in Singapore, Bejing and Malaysia. In Sligo, Saehan Media is phasing out its operation with the loss of 91 jobs. The company came to Sligo in 1991 and had 500 employees during its peak production phase in the mid '90s. Last week Platter Foods closed down putting 59 workers on the dole. In November 2005 Tractech told their 120 employees they would have to look elsewhere for work.

'The best of times and the worst of times' just about sums it up though as the Sligo skyline is still littered with overhead cranes. Shops, hotels and businesses springing up everywhere, Confidence in the economy is not dented and Dunnes Stores have just announced plans for a new shop and multi-storey five level car-park on a two acre site off Wine Street. The new store will be two storeys high with a total floor area of 9,376 square meters.

House prices in Sligo continue to rise and prospective buyers will have to hand over €10,000 euros more this year than if they bought last year. This, naturally, is good news for those who already own a home. The Permanent TSB house price index reports that the average price for a home last year was €241,217.00 and in 2004, €231,582.00. So how are people to live on low wages?

It could be worse, you could be looking to settle in Dublin: an average house there will cost you €370,000.00. Wicklow comes a close second at €350,000.00 and Cork City €305,000.00. If you're looking for a bargain you may go to Co. Leitrim where you can buy for €200,000.00.

Caticide at Gurteen

Do you know where your cat is? Francis Hannon of Gurteen didn't and lost his pussy to the marksmanship of James Murray. James is an environmentalist and the proud owner of 200 hatchling pheasants. When he spotted the prowling feline heading for Cuilmore forest, and his chicks, he, thinking it was a wild cat, reached for his shotgun and let fly.

The case finished up in court. The cat's owner, Francis Hannon, claimed his pussy was only going for a stroll to a neighbour's house. 'He was only out for a walk and did not go near the forest', said Francis. Defence barrister asked Mr. Hannon did he not know that cats will attack birds. 'It's their nature', she said.

Whether the cat was out for a pheasant stroll and a chat with the neighbours, or had dinner on his mind we will never know. We do know that James Murray was cleared of the Garda charge of cruelty and torture, prosecuted by the dauntless Supt. Kevin Ginty, but convicted of causing litter on the public highway and fined €200.00.

For more news of Sligo read the Sligo Weekender

Wednesday Feb. 15th 2006

The Easter Rebellion

"Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic. But will they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction." : Thomas Jefferson

In a recent address to a gathering at UCC President McAleese applauded the men and women who fought during Easter Week, referring to them as 'heroes'. In conclusion she said: 'This year the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, and of the Somme, has the potential to be a pivotal year for peace and reconciliation, to be a time of shared pride for the divided grandchildren of those who died, whether at Messines or at Kilmainham'.

Very generous of her, most would think, to include Irishmen who fought with the enemy in the remembrance. But no, it wasn't enough for the mad dog rump of anti-Irish Irishmen. The pack was led by Northern Unionists and by Kevin Myers of the Irish Times who labelled her speech 'imbecilic' and 'smug sectarian tribal silliness'. Well, nothing new from that quarter. As the old saying goes: 'What do you expect from an ass but a kick!'


One would think there is no need to come to the defense, especially in Ireland, of the patriots of Easter Week. Sadly there is. Dr. Brian Murphy of Glenstal Abbey in response made the point that the President in her speech was reflecting the views of many Protestants of the time. On May 10th 1916 George Bernard Shaw wrote in the Daily News, as the executions of the leaders was taking place: ' Irishman resorting to arms to achieve the independence of his country is doing only what an Englishman will do if it be their misfortune to be invaded and conquered by Germany in the present war...'

Easter leader, P.H.Pearse

Protestant poets paid tribute to the Catholic poets who had died in 1916. Their views were encapsulated by the lines of George Russell's Salutation: 'Their dream had left me numb and cold, / But yet my spirit rose in pride, / Refashioning in burnished gold / the image of those who died / Or were shut in the penal cell. / Here's to you Pearse, your dream, not mine,/ But yet the thought, for this you fell, / has turned life's water into wine.'

Perhaps, following 800 years as a British colony, we should be surprised that we have any national identity or tír grádh (love of country) left. The kind of self-loathing demonstrated by the revisionist and anti-Irish classes is indicitave of a serious case of post-colonial syndrome. It seems that above all we must not upset the unionists or the English, even if that means distorting the truth or ignoring the facts. Decolonization of the mind can take centuries. Some may never recover.

Space does not allow further elaboration but, coming up to the 100th anniversary of the Rising, we can be sure there will be more bile forthcoming from Myers, and from other Anglophiles — a small but vociferous minority who hunger after Empire and the days when Irishmen knew their place: in the back of the bus.

Priests and Sex Abuse in Sligo

The news from Sligo stilll features the scandal of the Catholic clergy and child sex abuse. A former Marist brother, Br. Christopher Cosgrove, had his conviction set aside at the Court of Criminal Appeal, and a re-trial ordered. The details that came out during the original trial were sordid in the extreme, but his appeal succeeded on the grounds that the trial judge erred in failing to adequately warn the jury on the effect of gross delay on the part of complainants in sexual offence cases.

Brian Mc Hugh in his editorial in the Sligo Weekender this week reports that people, 'sat stunned on Sunday week last when Bishop Christ Jones told them that their priest, Canon Niall Ahearn, had stood aside pending the outcome of investigations into an allegation made against him.' In his statement Fr. Ahearn said that, 'It is tempting to feel some degree of injustice that any person, priest or lay, should effectively have to prove his innocence before he can resume his normal life?'

While not minimising the effect that child sexual abuse by the clergy has had on their victims and on the Catholic community in general, Fr. Ahearn has a point. Many spurious and unsubstantiated allegations have been made against the clergy in recent times. Should Fr. Ahearn have stood down before the charges were proven? It's a knotty question. Hell is not hot enough for the guilty who have ruined the lives of innocent children who trusted them, but we must feel sympathy for most of our priests who are so vulnerable in these very difficult times.

Sodom and Gomorrha and Tsunamai

In these decadent times of self-indulgence, mé-féinism, and spiralling crime should we look to the biblical example of Sodom and Gomorrha for the threat of God's retribution? For the unnatural sins of their inhabitants, and when ten just men could not be found, Sodom , Gomorrha, Adama, and Seboin were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" . Will vengeance come to us in the form of a tsunamai? John Bromley of the Sligo Weekender tells us of the danger:

'SLIGO could be hit by a huge tsunami, similar to that which devastated parts of south-east Asia last year. Along with the rest of the west and south coasts of Ireland, the county is directly in the path of tsunami waves which could be triggered by a volcano in the Canary Islands. Fears have been raised that a massive slab of rock twice the volume of the Isle of Man could collapse into the sea from the side of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma.
It has been the most active volcano in the Canaries, erupting at least once or twice a century. It last erupted in 1949.
Studies have shown it could generate wave energy equivalent to the combined output of America's power stations for six months.

Tom Blake, an experimental officer with the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS), has warned that tsunami waves resulting from a collapse of the volcano on La Palma could have potentially catastrophic consequences on Ireland¹s south and west coasts. And he told the Sligo Weekender that despite our location Sligo would be affected.
'It would definitely hit Ireland and the whole of the west coast is at risk.' He said there was evidence from what happened in the Asian tsunami to suggest that if a tsunami travelling from the south, such as from the Canaries, hit Ireland, the waves would be 'refracted' around the coast.

Waves travelling at 600mph could come crashing ashore here within four to five hours of the collapse of the volcano in La Palma. Mr Blake said that UNESCO had been proposing the setting up of a proper early warning system for such a situation. At the moment we would be unaware of the danger until the first waves struck. The government are now taking steps to have more regular monitoring of seismic activity. Marine Minister Noel Dempsey said that the Geological Survey of Ireland was co-ordinating a national initiative to develop a proposal for an early warning system within international frameworks.

Mr Blake also makes the point that we need to update our monitoring equipment because the La Palma volcano is not the only threat: 'It isn¹t as if there is no seismic activity here. We have had earthquakes in the Irish Sea. As recently as 1984 we had one measuring 5.4.'

Ireland has been hit by tsunami in the past. The most serious recorded was that triggered by an earthquake in Lisbon in 1755.'

Wed. Feb. 8th. 2006

Mayhem on Irish Roads

We love our cars. But we pay full price in death, mayhem, destruction, disability, broken hearts and broken homes. Every day we read about it in the newspaper, but of course that won’t happen to you or I. No! That’s for other people. The truth is, road travel is a ‘Damocle’s sword’. And we don’t know when the cut will fall on us.

This is a small country. Yet a total of 50 people have been killed on the Republic’s roads this year. Yes 50! The Government of course is ‘doing something about it’. They’re going to make another announcement, we’re told. For sure they won’t mention the one thing that, in my opinion, contributes more than any other to the death toll: narrow roads with no passing lane — even in some new ring roads. The roads of Ireland are full of little convoys of cars traipsing along behind some slow driver that they can't pass. Some become impatient — with disastrous results.

‘At the moment we’re killing about 33 people a month,’ Mr. Brian Farrell of the National Safety Council said. ‘If we are to achieve the Governments own targets we need to reduce that figure to about 25 people a month. But it hasn’t gone too well so far.’

Long ago people offered human sacrifice to the Gods. It seems that 25 people a month in modern times is an acceptable figure to sacrifice to the god ‘AUTOMOBILE’!

The War in Iraq

In a lengthy article in the current ‘Irish Law Times’ Mr. Justice Costello examines the reasons advanced by the administrations of the US and Britain for going to war in Iraq, and concludes that they contravene international law. The former Attorney General and President of the High Court states that the invasion was illegal and further, has weakened the power of international law to prevent war.

Stating that many issues of great importance were raised by the invasion, he concluded: ‘In the future other countries may try to use this example to justify the use of force in international disputes.’

It is unlikely the report will cause any distress to the American President who, according to accounts, believes he has a direct line to God — and that, my friends, is a much higher authority than the UN. If we believe ‘power comes from the barrel of a gun’, and who can doubt it, George has the wherewithal to smite anyone who disagrees with him! If any ‘international disputes’ manifest themselves it seems that for the foreseeable future the US will have its way.

The Return of W.B. Yeats

The poet observes the passing scene while, in the background, a new hotel rises in place of the old Silver Swan

The Sligo Weekender tells us that, “with a new pair of legs, a nose and a mended arm, WB Yeats has arrived back in Sligo in full health. Admiring glances from passersby welcomed home the dramatist/poet as he finally returned to occupy his lofty perch on Stephen Street , overlooking Sligo town.
His arrival back to Sligo on Monday was the stuff of dreams, in particular for its maker, Dublin-based sculptor  Rowan Gillespie. He said: ‘It is great to see him back. There is more excitement about his return today than there was when he was first put up. People here must have missed him. I am thrilled with how it has turned out, considering that he was hit in a very vulnerable place. I saw photos of it when it was knocked and I thought it looked pretty bad. But a bronze sculpture can be repaired.  His colouring is perfect and one could never tell the difference between his new and old parts’
Even with close inspection, one could never tell that WB Yeats was almost completely destroyed when he was accidentally knocked down by a motorist last August.
His glasses have become a collector’s item. So far they have had to be replaced five times. ’I find this very funny,’ added Rowan. ‘The last time I put a pair of glasses on him, a woman asked me if she could have a pair!’
Interestingly, Rowan’s connections with the Yeats family go back many years. His grandparents knew the family very well. When WB arrived to see his newborn daughter Ann in a hospital in Dublin in1919, he stumbled into the wrong room and visited Rowan’s mother Moira  instead, who had coincidentally been born on the same day.
’My inspiration for the statue came from both his genius and his arrogance. Yeats could be nasty when he wanted to be. The words that cover the statue show people that he was a talented poet and never short of something to say. The words are snippets of some 150 poems written by the Nobel prize winning poet.
The Yeats statue stands at eight feet tall and was erected on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death back in May 1990. It was unveiled by Michael Yeats, the poet’s son.
So, Yeats is back to spread his dreams under our feet. But, passersby and in particular motorists are urged to tread softly because you tread on his dreams.”

First with the news: read the Sligo Weekender



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