Monday, May 31, 2004

Saturday and Sunday seemed to be a popular day for First Communion and 15 children from the parish had their big day on Saturday in Clonmacnois.
Creagh school had a session on Saturday and Sunday to allow families find hotels and restaurants etc to cater for the celebrations.
Moore parish had Confirmation yesterday.
The Shannonbridge Active Retirement group meet on tomorrow morning after Mass at 10.30am.
Weather is back to lovely and grand after a few showers in the past few days.
Marietta Oberhuber is a well known fisherwoman around Shannonbridge. Her husband works at constructing the new power plant and they live in Michael and Madges house in Moore. Marietta has taken to the sport of pike fishing and was pleased to tell us that she caught her biggest one ever last week which measured 86 Cm and weighed about 14 pounds.She is e-mailing a photo to the weekly coarse and pike report that can be found under www.shannon-fishery-board.ie
Fishing continued good this week with bream.tench, roach, hybrids and pike and perch being caught and most released alive again.
Bob Tilley and Kevin Boltz from Bristol finish their annual visit today and fished Cappaleitra backwater a few times.Best bag 62 lbs
Bob cannot understand why other mates that used to come to Shannonbidge now prefer to stay at home and fish from 04.30 AM to 09.30 PM
The Shannonbridge football team were disappointed last evening when they were beaten by Ferbane by three points at their game in Clara. This more or less knocks them out of this years championships. Ferbane tried to have the game postponed and there was a rumour that seven of the Ferbane fifteen were due to play a match earlier in the day for the Ferbane soccer club Gallen United
Talking to a Polish construction worker yesterday and asked him did he fish. Was surprized when he said that he played tennis on the village tennis court with some of his workmates and some local people. Good to see the facility getting used.
Doggone-- A distraugh owner of a young black and white springer spaniel pup was busy putting up posters at the weekend. It appears he bough the young pup in Cloghan and when he got to his home near Ballinasloe the pup was missing.You can contact the owner at 090-9673994 should you see the nameless puppy.
Charles Carry tells us that progress is good on the construction of his brother Aidan's new house in Raghera Beag and the walls are now up to the lentils. Good to hear that Aidan is using local craft and trade such as blocklayer plasterer carpenter glazer and eplumbing and electric and tiler.Of course he is using Charles whenever he is free. Charles is working on the construction of the new east / west highway and so far they have reached Kilcock.When finished it will make it easier to get across the country but it will be a toll road.
Mary Margaret Reid always had the first roses to bloom and it is good to see that her cottage now Cora Kellys has the same roses in bloom.
Cottage lovers like Paulien might like to know that the cottage alongside Louis Darcy's on the Cloghan road and once known as Hollerans and then George Hynes and presently Gallahers is for sale with Rothwell Auctioneers in Ballinasloe.Tel 090-9642127.
Our Westlife group started cutting the grass on the roadside and embankment on the approach road from Ballinasloe and are full of vigour to get it looking well.All help is welcome. Noticed on Saturday at the funeral in Clonmacnois that Offaly Council are in the process of cutting the grass. Coming out from the graveyard there is a sign warning of a £9000 fine for littering so I picked up a brown bag and found three lovely postcards of Clonmacnois inside.
On Saturday Annie Price's husband Joe Greally was buried in Clonmacnois after his funeral Mass over in Galway and Annies sisters Lucy and Eileen and Ethel and Vera and brother Chris were all home for the funeral.
News this morning that well known GAA personality from Cloghan Michael Mc Intyre has died. Mick was in his mid nineties and was active right to the end. May they rest in peace.
On Saturday Michael and Susan Burke arrived in Shannonbridge with their children Catherine and Sean.They are in great form and father and son went fishing at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday morning fishing off the arches.Michael hooked a bream and had to play it across the river to land it in front of Macklins. Sean hooked and landed a fine two pound hybrid. Im sure that Martin will take them out in the boat for a spot of game fishing.
Great to hear from Kate in Uganda and of course Sarah and Ciara in Sydney.Orla filled me in about the house sharing over the weekend.Kate will be delighted to hear that her parents went to Dublin on Saturday night to hear Mike Colin and Louise play support once more to Lukka Bloom which features a brother of Christy Moore and the bold Christy was at the concert and met the Shannonbridge trio afterwards.This time they played for thirty minutes and again sold any CD's they had.Did not hear any direct comment from the Shannonbridge support duo as yet.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

hello from sydney!
well after a rather boring week in perth, we arrived safe and sound in sydney. i must say it's alot nicer here alright! sydney is nice, its soo big it's unreal. much bigger than i'd expected. the never-ending streets seem to roll on forever, and there are so many different streets, it's just so easy to get lost in the city. i'm desperate for losing my way anyway, i'd need a permanent compass in my hand. but i have to say, i'm doing ok now. i've definitely improved in that department!
it's been quite eventful already to say the least!
from perth, we booked a hostel over the internet, just for one night as we were arriving into sydney in the evening time. so that was fine, we printed off the booking confirmation and everything. so we landed in sydney after a 3hour flight, which, i have to say, has been the best flight so far, and got a taxi. however it was only then we realised that we hadn't got an address or contact number at all. we'd presumed that they would be included on the confirmation page. not alot to expect really! well the taxi driver had never heard of this hostel, he was very helpful though, had people from his office ringing operators and checking books searching for this place, but it was no use. then he told us that the area where it is supposed to be is actually a red light district! yes, we fancied getting work out there alright! he drove us around where it was supposed to be, but we couldn't find it. i was glad. the place was just a tip, horrible buildings and it just looked like a really rough spot. so we said we'd just go back into the city and get a hostel there. we booked into the YHA hostel, it was a bit more expensive than we wanted but at that stage we had no choice, it was dark, we didn't know our way around, and so, it would do!
we started looking for an apartment immediately, as it's nearly the same price to stay in hostels over here as to rent an apartment. we were lucky enough to get a house out in bondi junction. it's only a few minutes on the bus or train to the city. the house is in a good location. we're near to atm, internet, just round the corner from bus and train station. accross the road from shopping centre and everything. so it's pretty handy. two english girls moved in too, they're sound so we're all getting on well which is great. they'll be staying in the house for the 3months too.
of course we started looking for work straight away too. sarah got work for the week. she started thursday - she had to go to a university, approaching people to try to find postgraduate students from hong kong, of which there are only about 7 in the university.
i also had a go at working - now before i came here, i said i was willing to work at anything, and i still am, but there is a limit 'cos i had one experience i will never forget!!!
after day one of jobhunting i was fed up of reading my way through magazines, notices, internet and agencies. so on the second day i decided i'd just get out on the streets and search every shop window for staff wanted signs.
and so, early thursday morning, i headed on my way. i decided which road i was going to start from, and work my way down. so i headed up the road, and i walked until it was clear that beyond that point there was no possibility of finding a shop of some description. i crossed over the road, and began the walk of walks.
about three blocks had passed, and each window and door was beginning to seem the same. and then i spotted what i thought was a heaven-sent sign "waitress wanted". it was a little italian restaurant. i looked at the sign and was wondering if i should go in, after all, i have no waitressing experience, but hey, i was more than willing to lean. so i entered what i thought was a lovely little restaurant, neat and tidy, tables all well set and was met by the owner, mario. i was quite surprised when he offered me a trial there and then, even though i had none of the experience he was looking for. so he asked me to come back at 6 o clock. well i was delighted! over the moon doesn't come close to how i felt when i walked out that door.
so i headed to work at 6 o clock, praying on the way that everything would go ok and that this man would keep me on after the trial. but my god, if i'd known what was ahead of me, i'd have been praying to get struck by lightening!
i went in and it was fine, until i went in behind the dining area. i was only in the hall-way and my god the filth! oh i've never, ever, ever seen such dirt anywhere in my whole entire life! i nearly died, i realised then, that this man hadn't given me a chance because he was a nice guy, oh no, it was because he was a desperate guy! the walls were so dirty, black stains all over the ancient paintwork, and cracks in the walls. the carpet obviously had never seen a brush. there was a little counter there, with a layer of dust so thick, you could write your name in it. it was under this counter, in a filthy drawer, that the cutlery was kept. i felt sick at thought of any of it entering my mouth. already, i fely sick, and disgustingly dirty. i started to think that i'd have prefered if he'd hired me as a cleaner instead - until it got worse. we rounded the corner and entered the "bar" area. well i thought the hall-way was bad until i saw this. the floor had never seen a brush, never mind a mop, the walls were rotten and dirty, the counter tops looked as though a cloth had never touched them. the fridges were so disgusting, it looked as though they hadn't been cleaned out in decades. he asked me to wash the cups and saucers, i didn't find that a problem, until i realised that he expected me to wash them with just water! i couldn't believe it, there was no equivalent to fairy liquid. i nearly cried! i asked him for something to wash them in, he put a drop of soap or something in a tub which was used for soaking the cutlery in. it occured to me then that he uses only water to wash the spoons too. i had to spill some of that water into the sink to wash the cups. i felt terrible. people were actually going to have to drink out of these. glasses went into a glasswasher machine. i couldn't see any detergent for the machine, which was filthy too. and then i saw the coffee machine. oh the coffee machine! there was a thick layer of dried milk on the mixer (whizzy thing), and splash marks all over it. the machine was just covered in what was almost like mould. the utensil things were actually rusty. my stomach was turning even more now. everything was so dirty, i just wanted to start cleaning everything, but it was just so bad, i hated the very thought of touching anything. i thought things couldn't get any worse, until i entered the kitchen. i swear i nearly broke down when i saw kitchen. i could feel tears in my eyes, and i felt so physically sick that i couldn't open my mouth. as he talked to me, i could only nod or shake my head.
the cooker top had a thick, lumpy lair covering every inch of it. years of overspills and dirt that had never ever been wiped away. the counters were filthy and everything was just thrown everywhere. there was absolutely no organisation at all. the frying pans were covered in dirt, as if they'd been used for centuries, time and time again without being washed after each use. the floor was littered with dirt and scraps of food, and stains were everywhere. i couldn't see any fairy liquid at the sink. everything was black with dirt, pitch black. i just couldn't get over it. at the back of the kitchen was a coldroom. in this, he kept bottles of beer, meats, sauces, all kinds of stuff. but none of it was covered!!! meats left open, near tubs of sauces which were uncovered. everything just left down, no seperation of raw meats with other stuff, it was vile. this was the most disgusting place i ever saw and i'm sure, i'll never see anything like it for as long as i live. i feally felt like i had died and gone to hell.
another girl arrived, she was also on trial, but she left before an hour had passed. at the end of my shift, he offered me a job. very reluctantly, i said i'd work the next day. i'd stuck it out for the 3 hours, and when i left i fought with myself for hours as to whether or not i would take the job. i needed a job, and may find it hard to get work, but in the end i decided that it just wasn't worth working in such lousy conditions for $10 an hour. i swear, i wouldn't go back to that dirt if i was offered all of the money in the world. and so i'm jobless again, and jobhunting is back for another while, but that's better than working in that place. and so, i'll never eat an italian meal for as long as i live. in fact, i've gone off the idea of ever eating out again. (except in the old fort of course - i know thats good!)
well, thats really all for now, i shall update again, hopefully next time i'll have a job, and somewhere a bit more hygenic i hope!! bye for now.
Oly'otia from Uganda!
Well what an adventure this has been so far. First,I got upgraded to business class from London to Uganda and had the good fortune to be sitting beside a lovely man from Laois(Jim Scully)who was on his way out to some Ugandan priest. We were like a pair of kids reclining the seats, pressing all the buttons and drinking champagne to celebrate our good luck. I arrived into Entebbe airport at 6am on Wednesday morning and was taken to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. I couldn't believe the amount of people I saw walking along the road on the way, the population here is 24 million!
So far the weather has been very nice at about 25 degrees.
I am staying with the Wassa family in Kampala who run 5 schools. They have 5 kids of their own plus about 10 adopted kids, including one boy who was raised with monkeys for 3 years before someone found him and this family took him in! He competed in the special olympics in Dubiln and got a medal. It's hard to remember everybodys name in the house but I think I know them all by now.
I am being taken around the city in a hiace bus by a fella called Alex who is very nice and trying to teach me some of the local language. I dont know how he manages to drive here, it's the craziest traffic I have ever seen. 1.2 million people live in the city and most of them seem to be on bikes, honda 50's or in cars, vans, trucks, taxis and buses. There's only one set of traffic lights in the whole city so its complete chaos. Yesterday I saw one honda 50 with a driver, a passenger and her 3 kids on it! The city is bigger than I expected with about 20 skyscrapers, the suburbs are mostly shanty towns and there are people selling stuff everywhere.
The people who run the organisation I am with have 3 schools here in Kampala. I visited them all, and each time the kids came running to the bus shouting "muzungu" "muzungu" which means white person. They even run after the bus waving. Its very embarrassing really - I have to wave to them all like some celebrity and feel like a right eejit. The classes are huge and the rooms are very rundown. There were 90 kids in one of the rooms, with some kids sitting on the floor. The average class size is about 70 so I dont know how I'm going to cope. They seem very well behaved though. Yesterday there was a big parade at one of the schools, they were giving out badges to prefects - I was asked to say a few words in front of the whole school - about 800 people! They kids here really stare at me, some even come up to touch my skin. I thought there would be more white people around but I haven't seen many. On Monday I am going to Masaka which is about a 3 hour drive from Kampala. The school here is supposed to be alot worse than the ones in Kampala. I will be teaching in Masaka for 5 months.
Tonight I have been invited to a party by some Ugandan business man, we are going for a chineese in Uganda!
I could write all day but my time us running out and I have to get out of this shed (internet cafe) So until next time. Bye. kate

Friday, May 28, 2004

After what seems a record period of unbroken weather the Weathermen forecast correctly and strong southerly winds brought almost welcome rain last evening. Farmers gardeners ad fishingfolk were among the welcoming party and Mary had it timed to a tee as she put in new plants last evening just hours before the rain.Today is clear but blustery winds are noew from the East.
Colin K has set off for Dublin last evening to continue a series of camera classes so be warned. He will also be linking up with Mike Thornhill and Louise to provide back up for another Lukka Bloom concert tomorrow night in Dublin. See Louise web under entertainment section.
Library night last evening clashed with the Ireland v Romania soccer challenge game in Dublin and of course the reappearance of Roy Keane in an Irish jersey. Ireland won by a single goal 1 - 0 and the library took a heavy beating with only one adult and one child attending.Hopefully things will be back to normal next week.
The Corncrake people at Crank House Banagher tell us that the number of corncrakes identified so far is 18 birds. You can contact them at 0509-51676.
Today the bad news that there was two dead swans near the bridge at Shannonbridge was passed on to Crank House who will pass on the news to the Swan Sanctuary office and the Wildlife office.
One swan is near the sewage outlet pipe and the second one is upstream from the bridge. Many fatalities have been caused by swans flying into the overhead cables but ESB have placed coloured cones on their cables which has helped to reduce accidents to swans.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

There is a lesson to be learned from our Polish and Turkish friends presently working at the building of the new power plant.
Almost every one of them carries a shopping bag in their pocket. If we copied their example think of the combined effect it would have on the environment.
The sunshine seems to have had a knock off effect on fishing in the rivers and a number of anglers have tried the Grand Canal with surprizing results catchin bags of fish weighing from 40 to 60+ pounds in weight.
It continues to amaze us how holidaymakers return to the River Shannon with such consistency.Last night Ingrid Tode told us that they first came on a cruiser holiday in 1974 and have returned for 15 holidays since.Other years them have tried South America, the States and a variety of European and Asian countries but the Shannon keeps calling. This year they are spending two weeks using Silverline Cruisers in Banagher and then they are planning to visit Donegal for one week driving a motor home.Their business card features an attractive red and white lighthouse on the River Elbe which they purchased some years ago and can be seen at www.leuchtturm-elbe.de
Good news from Kate Thornhill that she arrived safely in Uganda and has written an e-mail home. Give her time to settle in and no doubt she will give us her impressions of Uganda over the next six months or so.
The brother Jim Killeen and his wife Maureen return to Chicago today after three weeks of exceptional weather.Mick John Togher and Brian from the barge took them on a cruise to Ballinasloe for their last day yesterday and Jim was fascinated with John Togher's recall going over people and events around Shannonbridge from over sixty years ago.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sad news on yesterday;s paper of the death of Joe Greally in Streatham England.Joe was a native of Ballygar and was married to Annie Price Shannonbridge.They had two children Michael and Leslie.There will be a funeral Mass in Streatham on Thursday with burial in Ireland.May he rest in peace.
Heard that Tom Rafftery Garage in Clonfad had a weekend party from Fri til Sunday for the launch of the new Peugeot 407. Along for the occasion was ex Correen musician Bobby Kilkenny.
The new showrooms have been built with just some finishing off work remaining. Shannonbridge man Simon Hynes is in charge of the Stores and Paul Barnes is giving a spring clean to cars like you never dreamed of.
A visitor on Sunday was enquiring if there was a Steam or Vintage Rally about and on enquiry nobody had heard of any.Then later in the day about 15 Vintage tractors passed through Shannonbridge which were taking part in a fund raising drive for Crumlin Hospital in Dublin.Never saw a bucket.
The Shannonbridge/Doon Lotto Jackpot bit the dust on Monday night when our new postmaster Richie Brown choose the numbers 2, 11, 15,and 23 to collect a cool 3,600 Euros. Congratulations Richie. The new Jackpot next week will commence at £2000 and each week £200 will be added to it.

Monday, May 24, 2004

A welcome visitor in the area at present is Martin Roissler from Darmstait Germany whose Irish home was once the home of Master John Walsh in Clonfinlough.This time Martin has his mother along and she paid her first visit to Shannonbridge at the weekend. She promised to come along to hear Paudge perform on Wednesday night. Hope they enjoy their holiday.
Bits and pieces.Corncrake people told us today that they have 14 birds identified including one hovering between Morans Island and Boranagh. He had not heard of the ones above Clonmacnois but will check them out this evening.
Our man Padraig Harrington was defending his title in the German Open at weekend and had a putt to draw but missed.Came second.
Good to see Christy Mc Evoy from Clonfert in Shannonbridge yesterday.
First Communion is in Clonfinlough next Saturday at 12 noon. Hi.
Declan Price has resumed the fishing game and caught a load of skimmers on the backwater.He is presently repairing a fiber glass rod and is also on the Westlife group --see below.
Mick Coakley has been in Ferbane nursing home recently but is now back in Portiuncula.
See two tickets on sale for Thursday's friendly soccer game with Ireland and Romania as owner does not want to see a certain player in the green jersey.Keen to sell.
Weather continues to be mighty.
Had lady looking for a birdbox on Saturday from Dublin as one she bought last year now has a pair of bluetits nesting in it. Seems great tits only weigh between 0.5 and 0.8 Ounces which continues to fascinate me.
Shannonbridge Diner and Takeaway was closed at the weekend in preparation for new owners moving in this week.Many are hoping that Mags Hairdressers will remain.
It pays to walk Moby as proven by Ernie Barry from West Brom who is on holiday with George Stokes.Ernie is not a fisherman and walked Moby for two evenings. Then he had a go at fishing and caught two tench weighing 4.5 and 3.5 pounds.He has been hooked.
Moby and I missed out on the walk yesterday when brother Jim took Maureen his wife and our cousin Kaye on a trip to The Cut which is the name for the small canal a mile downstream from the bridge.The easiest way of getting to it is by crossing the stile at the old jetty and follow the river crossing three other stiles on the way.The first field contains the ruins of Rachra Castle which according to The Four Masters was demolished by O'Melaghlin and the English soldiers from Athlone barracks in 1557.After which a war broke out between Mac Coghlan, who owned the castle and O Melaghlin.Michael Reddy told us that some of the stones from the castle were used in the building of the walls for the Magazine. This field is known as The Magazine Field. The field also contains a fieldworks which was built as a defence against Napoleon c1806 to hide cannon guns.Note the little hill near the river came about when the river was deepened for navigation.The sewage works is fenced in and gives a discharge of water into the river which is attracted to fish.Through the stile into Borranagh which is a meadow of about 55 acres divided by marking stones.One two acre lot has been fenced off as required by REPS the agricultural regulator.This is an area favoured by the Corncrake and our walkers got a pleasant surprize when they got to The Cut as a Corncrake called out Crek-Crek about thirty feet from where they were standing. When taking this walk consider taking a bag for rubbish as birds are inclined to remove items from the bin as well as careless humans.
If you missed Mass in Shannonbridge at the weekend you might also have missed the Quotes on the Parish Newsletter.
- An exhaustive study shows that no woman has ever shot her husband while he was doing the dishes...Earl Wilson.
- If it weren't for heredity, most of us wouldn't be able to leave anything to our children....Doug Larson
- The man who seldom finds himself in hot water is the one with a wife, several daughters and one bathroom....Anon.
- A home is the place where part of the family waits until the others have returned with the car....Anon
By the way Westmeath beat Offaly by a single point at Croke Park.
Looks like Westlife is coming to Shannonbridge. Not the popgroup but a plan being prepared by a group of our older youth including Gerry,Greg,Dan,Morny,Mike and hopefully others to upgrade the view on the Western approach road from Ballinasloe by carrying out work on the embankment, shrubs and roadside.They would welcome others to join in the clean up and they are also casting an eye on the area around the new jetty as a follow up.This is great news and hope there plans go well for them.
The Winning Streak TV programme at the weekend had some local interest and everyone was delighted when Mrs Yvonne Kenny from Ballydangan scooped the first prize of a holiday home in Spain valued at £250,000. Congratulations and well done.
The Scottish born nun that used to work in Daycare in Portiuncula for many years paid on visit to Shannonbridge on Saturday to enjoy the sunshine.She recently celebrated her Golden Anniversary as a nun but tells us she joined up in England and was three years in preparation before taking her vows.She is looking forward to the completion of a new retirement home near the hospital in Brackernagh which will cater for about sixty nuns.Many of these nuns will be from the missions as well as Irish based nuns.Remember her name ? Sister Phil.
Our webmaster Mike Thornhill is into the diving and recently got a new Dry Suit which means you don't get wet in the water. On Saturday night he was eager to try it out. Before jumping into the Shannon near the cruiser mooring a swan that was swimming nearby approached right up to the bank maybe attracted by the hissing noises from the air tanks as the swan hissed a warning to clear off that this was its territory.
Mike has set up Kate with a link and she will do the odd bit of writing from Uganda. Kate leaves tomorrow and we wish her a safe journey.

Friday, May 21, 2004

hello,
not much to report from perth really. we had a good night out the other night, it's organised by the hostel, you pay $10 and they bring you all to a pub, where you are given a meal (not vegetarian unfortunately), and then free beer for the night. it was the cheapest night out we've ever had. needless to say, the energy levels were running low the next day.
we spent two nights in a dorm, and the first night, everyone in the room was irish which was mad. one of the lads actually knows sarah's brother in law, so it is indeed a small world. everyone was really nice. some have moved on again.
one of things about travelling is meeting people - no sooner have you met people who you get on well with, you know where they are from, where they've been and where their next destination is. you know what they do for a living and you spend time with them. you get to know these people, e-mail addresses and even mobile numbers are exchanged and then just as quickly as you've met them, either they move on or you do. and it's quite strange, will they remember you in a few months, will you even remember them? what about all the people they and you are going to meet through your journey, why should some be remembered and some not?
it's like these people are pages in a chapter of a book. sometimes, they make that chapter really interesting and so memorable, that long after you've read that book, you'll think of that page. and others, well they were good pages, but they won't leave a lasting impression in your mind. i just find it strange.
we've had good weather so far, but we woke this morning to the sound of a strong wind and heavy rain belting the roof and the windows. it rained for hours, but it was still warm all the same. after a while it eased off and everywhere dried up again.
we actually haven't done anything in perth. tomorrow is our last day here, as we're flying out sunday morning - much to our liking. the week here has gone so quickly it's unreal, we're glad about that though - neither of us are really too fond of perth to be honest. a week here is definitely plenty of time. one thing is for certain, time is going quickly, we're almost a month away already, only 11 more to go!
thats all from here for the moment - bye!
Weather this week has been top drawer and the visiting anglers are having mixed luck.Water temperature has risen and bream, tench and roach are heading for maternity which are the backwaters and bays.Good fishing in Cappaleitra, Clonfert and Mickies Backwater. Feel that anglers should be more aware that fish are in spawn and should not use keepnets. Keepnets are lonk nets usually about three metres long that are placed in the water in front of the angler in which he places his catch.In the evening the keepnet is removed and the fish emptied out on the grass or onto a large sheet of plastic where they are either weighed or photographed or both.They are then released back alive into the water.How would you feel if you were a pregnant mother being placed in a tight net with maybe fifty or more pregnant mothers for up to twelve hours and then tossed out on a plastic sheet.
Declan Costelloe the Community Development Officer with West Offaly Partnership tells us that the next meeting of the West Offaly Community Forum will take place on Tuesday 25th May 2004 at 8.30pm in Rath Community Centre.
Agenda
1.Funding for the Community & Voluntary sector 2004.
- Applying for funding and drawing it down.
- Special emphasis on(1)"Supports for Voluntary & Community Groups" note closing date 31st May for West Offaly Enterprise Fund.(2) Lotto funding.
2.Update from Offaly Community Forum.
3.Creating linkages with Offaly Community Forum.
4.AOB
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT DECLAN AT CRANK HOUSE,BANAGHER.
Telephone 0509 51622

Thursday, May 20, 2004

See on the pike and coarse fish Report section posted under www.shannon-fishery-board.ie that our visiting anglers are having good catches of fish and that they have a few photographs of their catches thanks to George Shadwell and Trevor Tarrant and their skill and of course their Digital Camera.The anglers seem to be concentrating on Correen Ford, Devenish Island, Brosna mouth and Meelick but I noticed this morning that Dave Stedford has his cruiser moored midway along Long Island upstream from the bridge.
Heard Ciara Macklin tell Pat last night that their dog did not have pups as yet. Moby will be so disappointed and we are not going to tell him.
Last evening Jim Maureen and yours truly set off to visit Clonfert and surrounding area.We went by Clononey Castle and Shannonharbour without stopping and crossed the bridge at Banagher to get to Our Lady of Clonfert Church where at 7pm people were already gathering for visitations and Mass at 8pm.There must have been 500 small candles lit in front of the altar housing the statue of Our Lady of Clonfert.Then we drove to Saint Brendans church nearby.The door was locked so we just looked at the main Archway over the door and looked at a few tombstones including Mansey Howes which we always pronounced Hough.We walked down to road to visit Emmanuel House with the ruins of the Bishop's Palace and Yew Walk on our left.Visited the large meeting/church building and the circular meditation chapel. There was a chorus of birds singing and there was a great peace around.Jim wanted to visit the old shooting grounds that Tom Coleman and he knew so well so we drove down the road that brings you to the railway line across from the power plant and he was trying to figure out some of the old ruined houses where Traceys and Mc Dermotts and Lucas and Comer and Howe families and others lived.Then it was on to my favourite church at Meelich which is the oldest working church in Ireland.Met some angling visitors on their way to have a look at the river nearby.Then home to hear Paudge Bennett and George Stokes singing The Fields of Athenry.
The Trip must have given Jim and Maureen the notion to visit Newgrange today and I would have gone along but was not contactable.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

hello all,

well we arrived safe and sound in perth after a rather horrible flight from johannesburg. firstly the airport in johannesburg is a very confusing place, nothing is clearly signed and it's very hard to find where you're looking for, and to make things worse, the people who worked there just weren't helpful. if you asked them anything, they just looked at you and their facial expression clearly stated that they just did not want to be there. the word hospitality mustn't exist in their vocabulary. the time on our tickets was 2hrs earlier than the actual flying time, and we were delayed even further when five people were late for the flight. we couldn't watch a film on the plane as they were having some difficulties with the sound and their music channels weren't very good either. luckily though on this flight we were allowed to have our discmans on so i was happy enough. they had no vegetarian food, after we'd told them at both capetown and johannesburg airports. do they think we're a rare breed or something? we don't understand it, it's not like theres very few vegetarians in the world! and i'm sure it wouldn't take long to organise a slice of bread with some lettuce or something! about three hours into the flight, all the lights were turned off, now this was ok for those who were sleeping - but we didn't sleep during the flight at all, so we were left sitting in the dark for hours, which seemed to make the hours drag out even longer. our personal lights above us weren't working either so we couldn't do a crossword or read a magazine or nothing. no, we had to sit in the dark. you'd really want the patience of a dead man.
we finally arrived in perth, and we were tired after the flight. it rained heavily and we had a little bit of lightening the first night, but since then the weather has been fine. it was lovely yesterday, today its not as sunny, but it's pretty warm all the same. perth is a nice place, it's streets are clean, and there's lots of shops to walk around in the centre of town. there's a free bus service that runs through the city, which is dead handy and it's a good job they are free as we took the wrong one the other day. they haven't got the amazing scenery here that we had in capetown, though that was to be expected, it is going to be hard to beat. we booked into a hostel today after spending the last few nights in a friends apartment. the hostel is about 10-15mins walk from the town, which is fine. we're leaving here on sunday, and flying to sydney, looking forward to it now.
thats really all for now, until next time - bye!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Moby took George Stokes and myself for a walk to the new jetty last evening and as we passed Cora's cottage which was once Reids we noticed that some of the lovely creeper has started to grow there again.By coincedence this morning Pat mentioned Mary Margaret Reid and how she used to keep her brothers suits immaculate by washing the suits in boiled ivy which was used long before the modern washing powders. Pat was using another Mary Margaret idea for cleaning fluff and dirt from a skirt which is to use a dampened nylon.
Checked on the other two birdboxes last evening but saw no sign of a bird.Must ask John Price to have a look.
Time flies and in another week Kathleen or Kate Thornhill will be off to Uganda to teach for six months.Ciara and Sarah will be joined by Kate as she has promised to send the odd update of Uganda whenever she gets near an Internet Cafe.Hope everything goes well for her and looking forward to hearing how Uganda is.
Great bit of excitement in Shannonbridge at lunchtime yesterday as police gave chase to four people in a car at high speed starting from Birr and passing through Shannonbridge and crossing the bridge . At Clonfad church the four turned right and ran into a police car which was blocking the road at Dermot Glennon Haulage. They tried to escape into Drumalga Wood but two were apprehended at once and the other two later. The police helicopter was in action. There were two men and two women involved.Tried to pick up more information on the midnight news but by then we were wiped off the map.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A great two weeks fishing holiday finishes today for Simon Preece and John Phillips from South Wales who came to Shannonbridge mainly for a pike fishing holiday but ended up in a wide variety of good fish being caught and released and good friendships being founded.Their best pike was 21.5 lbs with others weighing 18, 14, 12, 10,10 and many single figure ones.Best bream was 6.5 lbs, best perch 3.5 lbs,best tench 3 lbs and lots of good roach and hybrids.No wonder they have booked a return visit for next year staying with Patti Corbett at Rachra House.Catches from this area can be found under the Coarse and Pike report section at www.shannon-fishery-board.ie
Long time visitor to this area is George Stokes Leeds who arrived at the weekend and as well as catching fish sings a number of songs with his favourite being The Fields of Athenry.Hope Paudge Bennett gets him to sing tonight and Wednesday. Bet Lorraine from Pottstown would like to hear them. She is looking forward to hearing Ciara and Sarah talking Aussie for the next while.
Bit of Shannonbridge past played music in Shannonbridge when Noel Kirby from Castletown played his saxaphone. Noel was one time leader of The Kerbstones and as well as playing music in this area back in the early sixties he was one of the Mick Kirby contractors who built Saint Ciarans Park housing and the group of four houses opposite the church now occupied by Thornhills, Devines, Ryans and Keohanes.
Parish Newsletter yesterday told us that the Active Retirement Group will have their next get together on Tuesday 18th @10.30am after Mass, in the Hall.
Also has an interesting website www.babynamesofireland.com which has a wide selection of Irish names for boys and girls,with an explanation of their meaning and origin. Is there a hint there ?
Some months ago John Price - he of the Noel Keena/John Price pub smoking rooms fame was asked to throw an eye at the location of some bird nesting boxes in Killeen's garden and we are glad to report there is now a family of Blue Tits being reared in one of the boxes which he attached onto an old apple tree.
Went to Clonmacnois with Jim and Maureen on Friday evening to visit some family and friends graves.It was like walking through history as we searched for old friends last resting place. Just upstream from the cemetery we heard two corncrakes. One was on the Roscommon bank and the other in the callow land on the opposite Offaly side.Rang the corncrake people and left the message.
Golf hit the news big time in Shannonbridge at the weekend when two of our village golfers won the cups in Ballinasloe Golf Club.
Shane Kelly had a score of 73 Gross to win the Junior Scratch Cup.
Vincent Costelloe was the winner of the Intermediate Scratch Cup with a Gross of 80. Congratulations and well done to both.
Saturday the 15th May was Eurovision Song Contest night with the Irish entry getting seven points.Story going the rounds about our singer Chris Storan that he was seen doing 130MPH through a 30MPH area in an effort to gain 12 points.
It seemed it was a bad night for Louise,Colin and Mike Thornhill to play warm up for Luca Bloom in Dublin but people attending the concert said they played very well and no doubt Louise will tell you her feelings on her webpage under Entertainment section.
Fancy being sold out of CD's after the show.Aint that somethin'

Friday, May 14, 2004

hello all,
well our stay in capetown has come to an end after a very enjoyable three weeks. it's our last day and we're happy to say that the weather is fantastic here today. as great as south africa has been however, we are both looking forward to moving on to perth. and to be honest, the sooner we reach sydney - the better. it's been a great three weeks, and as nice as it is to get a break, we are looking forward to getting some work. personally i can't wait to get work of some description, i just can't wait to have a job again, i'll do anything, but i must say i'm really missing the barwork. we went for a drink lastnight and i said to sarah how i'd really love a busy nights work in killeen's! we fly out tomorrow afternoon, a 2hr flight to johannesburg, where we get a connecting flight to perth which is about 9hrs long. we'll be staying in perth for a week. i'm not looking forward to the flight but i guess it has to be done! once we're set up in perth i'll be back on line to report all about it. so until then - farewell from capetown!
Last evening at the library Ann Corbett and Patricia Coughlan were in charge of the bookwork when Paul Barnes from Clonfad arrived in with his two books and two bars of chocolate for the girls. Paul was telling us that he is now working with Tom Rafferty Motors who are right next door to him as Paul lives in the late Paddy Kelly's house on which the garage is built.He is kept busy cleaning and valeting cars and taking cars for their MOT tests.Paul was telling us about the new showroom that is being constructed by Liam Keena which will have space designated for all the different functions with office and canteen space upstairs.The origal showroom and workshop will be re-erected and used as a storage area.
Today is the sixth anniversary of the death of Frank Sinatra and was expecting Val Joyce on his Late Date radio programme last night to have a number of Frank's songs but he seemed to be celebrating the operetta composers Gilbert and Sullivan.Maybe tonight. He played a song sung by Ciaran Sheehan who is performing four concerts in Ireland next week. Maureen Killeen who is home from Chicago told us that Ciaran Sheehan's mother were both pregnant together for the first time and met in the hospital.Discussing names for babies Maureen had her mind to call hers Ciaran if it was a boy and Shannon if it was a girl. It was a girl and was christened Shannon. Mrs Sheehan's baby was born and she asked Maureen would she mind if she named her boy Ciaran.
And so it happened.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Tonight Shannonbridge Library open as usual from 7 to 9 pm and your support would be appreciated. You can help by either using the library yourself, encouraging other people to use it or byvolunteering to help run the library during the open hours.
There is a change in the system for writing to this webpage and Ciara and Sarah were caught out like yours truly by having their latest contribution pasted twice.
Good news for the girls.A couple who come down to Shannonbridge on Sunday and return on Monday evening tell us that if you are in Melbourne in Australia and interested in bar work then they have a good contact.
The Corncrakes have started to arrive.Brian who lives on the barge told us that on Tuesday night a corncrake singing kept him awake all night while berthed at The Cut downstream of the village bridge and Peter Howes from Basingstoke told us that he heard one calling while he was fishing at Clonfert.When we rang the Corncrake Help Desk 0509-51676 today , the girl Anita knew about the one at Clonfert backwater and one heard near the railway bridge downstream of the power plant but had not heard of Brian's bird. She said they will investigate it and so far 12 birds have been identified in the local callows with ten downstream of Shannonbridge and two upstream.Keep their phone number handy if you hear one.
Tuesday morning saw a full busload of the Shannonbridge Active Retirement group set off on an outing travelling through Loughrea and Gort on their way to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park with music for the journey from Joe the guitarist and Liam Keohane on tin whistle with almost everyone singing along in some fashion.I saw a woman sitting in front of me looking round to check what she was hearing.Hope it passed the test.Took about three hours travelling to reach Bunratty and there was a welcome stop at Gort for a break.There was an interesting tour of the castle and then a visit to the Folk Park nearby.There were eateries in the park or in Dirty Nellies pub.
Next it was onto Killaloe to see how people live beside the Shannon and time for shopping and eating again this time at The Lakeside Hotel or Mollies. Great that Mike Aine and Neal came along to see us away from home.For a change the bus came back through Nenagh and Limerick and the driver pointed out the house where Bing Crosby's housekeeper was born. Arrived home at 9.30.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

hi again from capetown!

well we've had a bad few days here to say the least. for a while nothing seemed to work out for us, everything seemed to be cursed, between trips getting cancelled and bad weather, it's all been going wrong for us lately, causing us to be somewhat stressed the past few days!

The complete opposite to back home, capetown seems to come to a standstill at weekends. everything closes before noon on a saturday and nearly everything is closed here on a sunday, even alot of the pubs. so the weekend for us was basically 48 hours of boredom!
We spent saturday taking the braids out of my hair. they were supposed to be left in for 3months but i just couldn't stand leaving them in for longer than a week. not being able to wash my hair properly just got to me, and that was it, goodbye to the braids!
Sunday started out a nice day weatherwise, so as we were very limited as regards things to do for the day, we decided to go to the waterfront and go on a cruise, and then head to the cinema to pass a couple of hours. so off we headed, and booked our cinema tickets. as we were about to go and book a cruise, the weather took a turn for the worst, it started raining. so that ended that! we ended up walking around the shopping centre for about four hours. now to some people that could be another version of heaven, but not to me! the film was ok though.

So monday morning came and we presumed things would be somewhat better for us, but we were to be proven wrong...
After being told by the lady in the tours shop that we could abseil down Table Mountain monday, we awoke early + went in to the booking shop and were told by a lad working there that it was necessary to make a booking a day in advance. yet another disappointment. but we booked it for tuesday morning. we were to meet our guide at the top of table mountain at 9:00am. after sitting in the hostel for a while, discussing our options we realised the only thing we could do was take the "City Topless Bus Tour". well that was most definitely the biggest waste of time in the history of my life. it was really boring and we saw absolutely nothing of interest during the torturous two and a half hours. i think the only thing that got me through it was the fact that we were sitting up on the top in the open air, though i was tempted to jump at times! i do think however that it may have been bearable had we done it on the first or second day of our trip, when we didn't really know where things were. you see, as we'd been here almost two weeks, we knew our way around and where anything of importance is located. i could have guided that tour! it took us by sea point, where we had lived for 3 days, and even long street, where we are currently living! it went to the base of table mountain where the cable car goes from, and we'd been there too because thats where we started our hike from. we drove around camps bay and had to listen to the house prices of the area, which we'd already been told about by the taxi driver who'd driven us to hout bay the day we visited seal island. there was nothing we didn't know about. so as you can imagine, we were delighted when that nightmare came to an end.

Tuesday saw our stress levels peak to a new high...
we quite literally dragged ourselves out of bed, as the boredom from the past 3 days had drained our bodies of all energy! we rang a rikki (taxi) and the lady on the phone said it was cloudy at the top and visibility mightent be great, but we said we'd better go anyway, besides we had a booking and chances are it would clear up anyway. we made our way to table mountain, and when we arrived there was a group, more like a herd, of a certain nationality of people. i can't say which in case i offend anybody. but i will say, they weren't paddy kavanagh's crew! they were just unbelieveable. we made our way up the steps to get the elevator to the cable car. the stupid idiots just kept piling into the lift as if they were trying to imitate sardines. it just seemed as though they didn't realise that there is actually a limit on the amount of people you can fit into one, while still leaving room for safety reasons. jesus, if the lift did get stuck, all of the air would have been consumed in seconds! it was a chlostrophobics nightmare! After leaving the lift and exhaling to return to my normal shape, we had to queue for the cablecar. we were the only english speaking people there, surrounded on all sides by these over-excited, idiotic, adults who seemed to have the mentality of toddlers. and they were so loud! now i have no problem admitting that i'm not a very good morning person but my god, they were like a bunch of gaggling geese. there must have been a hundred of them, and it seemed as though each of them was trying to talk louder than the other. we didn't need to be listening to that at 8:30 in the morning! and they were so excited, they kept pushing and shoving like schoolkids on a daytrip.
so we got in the cable car, and this seemed to excite them even more. i felt like screaming at them to calm down. its not like you could see anything anyway, all you could see was the thick, white cloud that surrounded us. well,as if being squashed in this trap with them wasn't enough, they started taking photos. now that would be fine - i am a photo lover - but these people seemed to think that every time they posed for a photo, they must bend backwards, creating a 90 degree angle with their spine. so stupid annoying heads kept flying at us like moths to light. And - as the cable car revolves, you are told to stand away from the railings and windows, now a child of 7 would understand this, but not the dummy that was beside me, oh no!up he jumps, trying to hold on to the railing, and not only does he hit me with his bag knocking me, which causes me to knock others, but this idiot, this middle aged man, actually seems to think that what he did was funny. now theres fun, and theres a serious lack of common sense and cop on.
Like a caged animal being released into the wild, i was so happy and relieved to reach the top of table mountain. finally i could get away from the irritants that were wrecking my head.
We weren't happy when we reached the top to find even thicker cloud, a cold wind and heavy rain. surely we wouldnt be so unlucky to have gone through all that + not be able to do the abseil, surely! so we waited rather impatiently, and sure enough, it was called out over the intercom that our abseil had been cancelled. well i could feel the blood boil and the rage levels escalate inside me! so that was that, the guides were waiting for us at the bottom and they were both really nice lads, we knew they weren't to blame for the weather but we were terribly disappointed. so we got our money back and that was the end of the abseil.

Today saw an improvement, but not in the weather...
We were doing a "best of the cape tour" today. we were picked up outside the hostel at 8:15am, yet another ungodly hour of the morning! as it started off i really thought it was going to be a horrible experience like the other one had been, but as we settled into it, it became a really nice day out, even thouth it rained for most of the day.
We travelled down along the coast, passing once again, sea point, camps bay and clifton with all its 4 beaches. we travelled to Cape Point, this is africa's most southerly point. this wasn't actually on the itinary but our guide was good. He took us to the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve, this stretches for miles and miles, covered in native african shrubs and plants. we saw some deer, ostriches and only when we left did we see some of the babboons. it was quite nice. the trip also took us to Boulders beach. this is where there lives a large colony of african penguins. they are the 3rd smallest penguins in the world, the same ones we'd seen at robben island. this beach is closed to locals, who arent happy about it, as it has lovely white sand and beautifully clear water. a paradise in the summer. however the crisp stench of the penguin droppings is very strong, and it does seem to linger in the air. we were taken along Chapman's peak (mountain)and driving along the mountainside, we were just so close to the clouds. our scenic views were stolen from us today, with heavy cloud hiding the mountains and lying low for most of the day. We were driven to a most beautiful estate in Stellenbosch, where we would partake in wine tasting. this was a new experience for us both. i'm not really a wine drinker but i couldn't let it go to waste! the next part wasn't on the itenerary either but our guide took us to see some cheetas. now i hate cats, they're all evil and posessed, but i loved these ones! for a small fee, we got to go into one of the pens and pet one of them and have our photo taken with him. he was just lovely! then it was time to go to another wine tasting session. to complete the day! it was pretty enjoyable after all and all the elderly ladies who did the tour with us were very nice and somewhat entertaining after all the wine!

Well thats all for now, until next time!
hi again from capetown!

well we've had a bad few days here to say the least. for a while nothing seemed to work out for us, everything seemed to be cursed, between trips getting cancelled and bad weather, it's all been going wrong for us lately, causing us to be somewhat stressed the past few days!

The complete opposite to back home, capetown seems to come to a standstill at weekends. everything closes before noon on a saturday and nearly everything is closed here on a sunday, even alot of the pubs. so the weekend for us was basically 48 hours of boredom!
We spent saturday taking the braids out of my hair. they were supposed to be left in for 3months but i just couldn't stand leaving them in for longer than a week. not being able to wash my hair properly just got to me, and that was it, goodbye to the braids!
Sunday started out a nice day weatherwise, so as we were very limited as regards things to do for the day, we decided to go to the waterfront and go on a cruise, and then head to the cinema to pass a couple of hours. so off we headed, and booked our cinema tickets. as we were about to go and book a cruise, the weather took a turn for the worst, it started raining. so that ended that! we ended up walking around the shopping centre for about four hours. now to some people that could be another version of heaven, but not to me! the film was ok though.

So monday morning came and we presumed things would be somewhat better for us, but we were to be proven wrong...
After being told by the lady in the tours shop that we could abseil down Table Mountain monday, we awoke early + went in to the booking shop and were told by a lad working there that it was necessary to make a booking a day in advance. yet another disappointment. but we booked it for tuesday morning. we were to meet our guide at the top of table mountain at 9:00am. after sitting in the hostel for a while, discussing our options we realised the only thing we could do was take the "City Topless Bus Tour". well that was most definitely the biggest waste of time in the history of my life. it was really boring and we saw absolutely nothing of interest during the torturous two and a half hours. i think the only thing that got me through it was the fact that we were sitting up on the top in the open air, though i was tempted to jump at times! i do think however that it may have been bearable had we done it on the first or second day of our trip, when we didn't really know where things were. you see, as we'd been here almost two weeks, we knew our way around and where anything of importance is located. i could have guided that tour! it took us by sea point, where we had lived for 3 days, and even long street, where we are currently living! it went to the base of table mountain where the cable car goes from, and we'd been there too because thats where we started our hike from. we drove around camps bay and had to listen to the house prices of the area, which we'd already been told about by the taxi driver who'd driven us to hout bay the day we visited seal island. there was nothing we didn't know about. so as you can imagine, we were delighted when that nightmare came to an end.

Tuesday saw our stress levels peak to a new high...
we quite literally dragged ourselves out of bed, as the boredom from the past 3 days had drained our bodies of all energy! we rang a rikki (taxi) and the lady on the phone said it was cloudy at the top and visibility mightent be great, but we said we'd better go anyway, besides we had a booking and chances are it would clear up anyway. we made our way to table mountain, and when we arrived there was a group, more like a herd, of a certain nationality of people. i can't say which in case i offend anybody. but i will say, they weren't paddy kavanagh's crew! they were just unbelieveable. we made our way up the steps to get the elevator to the cable car. the stupid idiots just kept piling into the lift as if they were trying to imitate sardines. it just seemed as though they didn't realise that there is actually a limit on the amount of people you can fit into one, while still leaving room for safety reasons. jesus, if the lift did get stuck, all of the air would have been consumed in seconds! it was a chlostrophobics nightmare! After leaving the lift and exhaling to return to my normal shape, we had to queue for the cablecar. we were the only english speaking people there, surrounded on all sides by these over-excited, idiotic, adults who seemed to have the mentality of toddlers. and they were so loud! now i have no problem admitting that i'm not a very good morning person but my god, they were like a bunch of gaggling geese. there must have been a hundred of them, and it seemed as though each of them was trying to talk louder than the other. we didn't need to be listening to that at 8:30 in the morning! and they were so excited, they kept pushing and shoving like schoolkids on a daytrip.
so we got in the cable car, and this seemed to excite them even more. i felt like screaming at them to calm down. its not like you could see anything anyway, all you could see was the thick, white cloud that surrounded us. well,as if being squashed in this trap with them wasn't enough, they started taking photos. now that would be fine - i am a photo lover - but these people seemed to think that every time they posed for a photo, they must bend backwards, creating a 90 degree angle with their spine. so stupid annoying heads kept flying at us like moths to light. And - as the cable car revolves, you are told to stand away from the railings and windows, now a child of 7 would understand this, but not the dummy that was beside me, oh no!up he jumps, trying to hold on to the railing, and not only does he hit me with his bag knocking me, which causes me to knock others, but this idiot, this middle aged man, actually seems to think that what he did was funny. now theres fun, and theres a serious lack of common sense and cop on.
Like a caged animal being released into the wild, i was so happy and relieved to reach the top of table mountain. finally i could get away from the irritants that were wrecking my head.
We weren't happy when we reached the top to find even thicker cloud, a cold wind and heavy rain. surely we wouldnt be so unlucky to have gone through all that + not be able to do the abseil, surely! so we waited rather impatiently, and sure enough, it was called out over the intercom that our abseil had been cancelled. well i could feel the blood boil and the rage levels escalate inside me! so that was that, the guides were waiting for us at the bottom and they were both really nice lads, we knew they weren't to blame for the weather but we were terribly disappointed. so we got our money back and that was the end of the abseil.

Today saw an improvement, but not in the weather...
We were doing a "best of the cape tour" today. we were picked up outside the hostel at 8:15am, yet another ungodly hour of the morning! as it started off i really thought it was going to be a horrible experience like the other one had been, but as we settled into it, it became a really nice day out, even thouth it rained for most of the day.
We travelled down along the coast, passing once again, sea point, camps bay and clifton with all its 4 beaches. we travelled to Cape Point, this is africa's most southerly point. this wasn't actually on the itinary but our guide was good. He took us to the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve, this stretches for miles and miles, covered in native african shrubs and plants. we saw some deer, ostriches and only when we left did we see some of the babboons. it was quite nice. the trip also took us to Boulders beach. this is where there lives a large colony of african penguins. they are the 3rd smallest penguins in the world, the same ones we'd seen at robben island. this beach is closed to locals, who arent happy about it, as it has lovely white sand and beautifully clear water. a paradise in the summer. however the crisp stench of the penguin droppings is very strong, and it does seem to linger in the air. we were taken along Chapman's peak (mountain)and driving along the mountainside, we were just so close to the clouds. our scenic views were stolen from us today, with heavy cloud hiding the mountains and lying low for most of the day. We were driven to a most beautiful estate in Stellenbosch, where we would partake in wine tasting. this was a new experience for us both. i'm not really a wine drinker but i couldn't let it go to waste! the next part wasn't on the itenerary either but our guide took us to see some cheetas. now i hate cats, they're all evil and posessed, but i loved these ones! for a small fee, we got to go into one of the pens and pet one of them and have our photo taken with him. he was just lovely! then it was time to go to another wine tasting session. to complete the day! it was pretty enjoyable after all and all the elderly ladies who did the tour with us were very nice and somewhat entertaining after all the wine!

Well thats all for now, until next time!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day so Moby took Jim and Maureen who are home from Chicago and myself for a walk.He chose Ragherabeg - one of his favourites and when we crossed the bridge we were joined by a friendly golden labrador for the trip.The rivers fields and callows looked in prime condition as we used the footpath that brought us to the entrance to Ragherabeg.After the Burren trip we were concious of the wild flowers and shrubs in bloom.We counted about ten different flowers including primrose, cowslip,dandelion,daisy,crows foot,bluebells,wild crocus,and many more with no names but will the wild orchids in the Burren.We went to see Fergal and Linda Moran;s new home with an all round view.Back down again we met Adain Carry working on the site of his new house being build close to O'Briens old homestead.The foundations and ground floor are laid and Adain has arranged neat rows of blocks ready for the blocklayer.The old house is in poor condition but have no doubt Adain will transform it later.
We varied the return journey by crossing the hill at Frank Guinans house and visiting the Old Street where Vincent Darcy will be building his home.Less than a mile further on the bog road we took the Island Road and enden up at the river where the strem that runs from Jarlath Kennys house runs into the river.Looked at the Fortifications from the North view and came up the steps in front of the Fort resturant and home.
Felt on the walk that there is a need for a more active Tidy Town to re-emerge from somewhere.
Friday evening was runaway car evening in Shannonbridge. Somebody parked their car outside the priests house and left the handbrake off. Mary Killeen was dropping off the Alive paper in the church and was walking home thinking of people that like to have the paper dropped in. Suddenly there was a crash into the wall beside the gate of the church and as it was a holyman that owned the cr there immediately flowed out water due to the radiator being damaged.Mary was just feet away.
Friday evening Peter Howes arrived leading a party of 19 fishermen on their annual trip to Shannonbridge and Peter set a hard pace for the others by catching 35 large bream on Saturday.
Two pike anglers from Wales Simon Preece and John Phillips were delighted to catch a pike weighing over 21 lbs ( How do you type a half ?) on Friday and recorded it on their digital camera so we were all able to see Simon's catch from Devenish Island. On Saturday they caught a 14 pounder at Correen Ford on a blazing day and when they fetched their camera from the car the sun had wiped out the pike snap. So be warned.
Ciara and Sarah are doing an excellent job on their travel log and a file has been started of their reports to date.Heard Oliver Darcy asking for the folder the other night. Comments later.
Lorraine in Pottstown is enjoying your e-mails very much and showed them to Father Tom Duffy who declared Ciara quite a poet and Lorraine agrees. She does not know Colin Farrell. Shame.
Ken and Betty in California are also enjoying the update from South Africa as they were there a few times.They enjoyed a dinner at the Country Inn so much that they intend returning when they are next there.Find it under cybercapetown.com/Constantia if you want to have a look.
Jurgen De'hann from The /Netherlands was over for a friends wedding near Dublin and decided to spend some time to visit Ireland using campsites as his base.Previously he had done the Kerry bit and this time he headed for Galway, Connemara and Achill Island.The caravan and campsite located at Clonfinlough attracted him to this area.Jurgen had exceptionally good English and he explained that when he was a child his parents brought the family for five weeks each year to either England Scotland or Wales.Ireland was omitted.He plans on visiting Clonmacnois and the Clonfinlough Stone today and we were telling him about the Bog Village found near Fin Lough some years ago.He was enjoying his holiday and the Guinness but missing his girlfriend.Said he will return again.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

hello again,
jus a quick note to let you all know that after missing out on colin farrell earlier in the week, we got to meet him lastnight. we were in the same pub as before, Joburg, and i spotted him walking in. he was wearing the hat, but hadn't got the fake moustache on this time. obviously i'm not as big a fan of colin as pricey is so i asked her if it was him, to be sure. and she was definite! so we went over, i tapped him on the arm, told him we were from ireland and just wanted to say hello. he was so nice, really friendly. we were chatting to him for quite a while. he was quite surprised to hear we were from offaly. he was asking all about our trip and said he'd been in sydney about ten years ago and had loved it. and that he'll be here in capetown for about another maybe eight weeks. he really was so nice. he shook our hands and gave us both a kiss. i got two actually cos he got my hair the first time! unfortunately it was the only night neither of us had bought a camera out with us, but what harm. anyway, thats all for now!

Friday, May 07, 2004

hello again from capetown.

not much to report i'm afraid. we've been taking it easy as it took the past two days for our legs to recover properly after the hike. but we're fit again, and rearing to go. thursday we went, accompanied by another girl from the hostel, to Seal Island. we had to get a taxi from long street to hout bay first. the journey there itself was pretty incredible. travelling all along the coast, around the sea, just amazing. we passed by sea point, which had been our home for the first three days of our journey, it was nice to be back there, even though we were only passing through. it was still as beautiful there as it had been the day we arrived. further along the coastline, we passed camps bay. a fantastic place, white sand and clear blue water, creating a most heavenly looking beach. surrounded by massive boulders which made it look so much more interesting. its the richer part of capetown, the taxi driver told us that prices for houses around there start at between 10 and 15 million rand. i doubt i'll ever be able to afford to live there, but at least i can always say i've been there! we plan to go back there to the beach before we leave. we actually haven't been to a beach here yet, we've surprised ourselves really.
ok i got a little side-tracked there, as i was saying - we went to hout bay and from there we took the boat out to seal island. altogether the journey lasts approximately an hour. with some amazing views along the way, of the mountains, and lovely houses built over the sea, we reached Seal Island. basically it's just a group of large, dark rocks, settled together in the middle of the water. the blue waves crash up against the rocks, and on impact, like some sort of paint balls, explode into a pure white colour, spraying the seals nearby. relaxing on top of these huge boulders are hundreds, i reckon, of seals. they just sit there, ignoring all the people leaning out of the boat to look at them, and ignoring the cameras watching every move they make. they're just so used to it i guess. the livelier ones swam around in the waves, playing with each other, just like little children. not a care in the world. afterwards, when i'd found out that there are loads of great white sharks in this area, because their favourite food is seal, i wondered did those playful little creatures realise that at any moment they could be taken from their playmates and eaten. but i suppose thats the way with all creatures. after watching them for a while the boat turned around and made its way back to hout bay. the trip back was rougher as the waves seemed bigger and rocked the boat alot more than on the way out, but it wasn't too bad. we'd enjoyed it.

today we went to the botonical gardens. now i'm not exactly a garden expert, basically all i know is that my favourite flowers would be roses and lillies, but i have to say that those gardens were simply beautiful. we had a little map to use to get around, but to be honest it just made no sense to us, so to anyone who does go there i suggest you just wander around yourself, you're sure to enjoy it more anyway.
it was lovely there, located just at the foot of a mountain, it seemed as though that mountain was just a barrier, protecting the gardens from the outside world, because it was in itself, a lovely little world of its own. it was so peaceful there, so calm and so quiet. in the background you could hear the humming of the traffic, but as i walked around and spent longer in the garden that seemed to disappear. every so often, the serenity was shattered by the screaming of a group of children who would run about, chasing each other and the birds. they were just playing and didn't realise they were creating so much noise and distraction. there were some spectacular statues scattered throughout the gardens, each with a name and a meaning, some of them were just lovely. i know nothing about plants or flowers - but some of them were so attractive to the eye, and i was delighted when i saw one i recognised, a lilly. it was so nice just wandering around, quite aimlessly really, it was quite relaxing. each time i took a different path, i had no idea where i was going, but i didn't care - because the last thing i was thinking about was leaving this beautiful place. it really was fantastic. anyone who's interested in gardening, plants and flowers - like my dad and mary killeen, would have loved it there.

thats all the news from here really until next time, bye!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Active Retirement group have almost a full busload for their trip to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park next Tuesday May 11th. Jim and Maureen Killeen arrive from Chicago on Monday and hope to join the trip. Kay Fitzpatrick is the contact.
The Crows Nest package latest is to be found in our Photo Gallery.Thought we would beat the rest for a change.The steak knife is beside a dessert spoon and James Dean was used as a background. In Ryans garage we found a 50x30 inch photo of Dean and the back of the picture was virgin white. Hope you can make out the screws, nails,peg,assorted wires and cable ties.Declan tells us that this was dropped off in about ten days as well as an amount of sticks and other material not in the picture.
Was this a part of Clean Up Week recently. ?
Paddy Kelly from America a neighbour of Paddy Kenny was reminiscing about the late Canon Horan from Moore and his involvement in producing plays.He had a preference for plays by John B.Keane and when he was younger set up some kind of record while working in Africa on the missions. The Irish Catholic newspaper had written the words of a play in the Irish language written by John B.Keane in one of their weekly editions and the then Father Horan had received a copy of the paper in Africa. He selected an African cast in his mission and produced the play in Irish . Buala Bos as they say or clap your hands for Father Horan.
See that Celtic News Group who are a subsidiary of Scottish media group Dunfermline have bought the Westmeath Examiner newspaper for around £20m. They also own the Westmeath Independent, Offaly Independent, Meath Chronicle and the Anglo Celt.
Our security tells us they have been looking at this site but are still only looking.
Declan Ryan was telling us last night that Michael Viney used the Crows shopping basket items in his Saturday column on 24th April and that Stephen Heery has been in contact to know if they still have the pieces as he wants to take a photograph of them. Stephen lives across the river near Eyrecourt and is a well known writer on the environment and nature. Hopefully we will get a photograph and show the collection to you all soon.
Sales of Esker stones took a sudden leap last evening with sales of 11.80 Euros the proceeds going to the mission box. Seems they were priced too low as a number of people gave two euro to choose and name a stone and take it as a keepsake.
Ken and Betty Smith from California agree with Lorraine that Ciara and Sarah are doing a great job on describing their trip. Ken and Betty were in Capetown and on Mount Table but they took the cablecar.
Weather here turned cold last evening with wind and rain so we took Lorraine Mc Kenna's cure and played Paudge Bennett live for two hours. And it seems to work as today is much brighter.Paudge told us that all the CD's are gone and he played a song especially for Lorraine. His daughter Tammy arrived back from her sojorn in Australia on Holy Thursday and is now back in London playing her music. Sarah Ann is at college in Dublin and is doing fine. She is still in fine voice as she won a singing competition in Offaly recently so she must be good.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Pottstown Mc Kennas are enjoying Ciara and Sarah's travel news as we all are.
Lorraine has a cure to get over the dreary cold rainy days they are having at present.She plays her CD of Paudge Bennett and Sarah Anne. Must get Paudge to play a request for her tonight.
Enjoyed Rose's jackdaw collection and was telling Jimmy Mooney about it last night. Jimmy said he was doing some tidying up around the old house and came across a small stamped silver spoon probably used for mustard that had not tarnished and he remembers finding it when cleaning the rain gutters about 35 years ago obviously dropped off by an upperclass crow.
Noticed last evening that the entrance track to Mark Carty's site has been laid. The site is on the village side of Ashbrook Farm on the same side of the road.
Was in Raghrabeg on Monday and saw the site for Aidan Carry's new house alongside O'Briens old house. Glad to hear that Aidan plans to restore this old house later.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Spent a very enjoyable weekend at The Burren Law School 2004 whose theme was "The Environment and The Law". There were a number of interesting half hour lectures and three field walks out on the hillsides with Brendan Dumford who has produced a booklet on The Burren and told us there is an amount of information on the website www.burrenbeo.com. The lovely wildflowers depend on the farmers grazing the higher ground during the winter which clears the grass and allows the flowers to grow just now when the cattle come back down to the lowland.
We visited the ruins of the Church of Colman and Brendan did not think he had been in Clonmacnois. This trip was named The Slieve Corron Nature Reserve.
Another field trip they took us to the Burren National Park where there seemed to be something interesting at every step. Wind breaking walls in a T shape to give shelter to cattle, passage graves, hazel trees a foot high and about twenty foot long growing between the rocks so as to avoid the wind. The highlight was a stone fort on top of a steep high ground that would remind you of Dun Aengus ? on Inishmore.
The best trip probably was on Saturday morning at 7.30am for Michael Greene's Mornig Walk led by local historian Jim Hyland. Meet in the square in Ballyvaughan at 7.30. Doc and Nora and me fein took up the offer and were there at 7.20 to find three girls waiting. Parked the car and Doc ran back to find a group of men had now arrived. Told them she was going back to the car to collect two others and when we got back they were gone.We had no program and found out they had visited Ballyalban Forts and Mass Rock. Dick, Betty and Molly the dog made the wise decision and stayed in bed. Reminded us of the late Sally Kennedy (see Tue Apr 27)
By coincidence I arrived back in Shannonbridge yesterday afternoon and soon afterwards Sally's husband Joe dropped in for a visit. Joe is in good form and among the news I was interested to hear that Father Tommy Daly's brother from Rashina is in the retirement home in Clara.
Offaly has a famous jockey from Rhode named Pat Smullen. Over the last few days it was good to see Michael F Watts from Belmont have his first winner at Punchestown.
Seems that Michael was only a few weeks in his apprenticeship when he was offered the ride and produced a top class performance. Congratulations Michael and next time let us all know about it beforehand.
The death occured at the weekend of Peggy Soden Tullamore widow of the late Doctor Michael Soden who worked in Portiuncula and later in Tullamore.Her remains will be removed to Mucklagh church this evening with house private. May she rest in peace.
Dont know as yet if Rose of Birdwatch Shannonbridge is going to hold a garage or booth sale but Lorraine Mc Kenna from Pottstown wants first option on the steak knife from the crows collection.
Good to see that Oliver Hilliard's creation The Irish Golfers Guide to Open Fixtures has arrived. Oliver tells us that he has clocked up nearly 3,000 miles in a few days delivering it all over the country. Perhaps he should do a follow up with a Guide to Irish Open Roads.
Good to hear from Ciara and Sarah in Capetown. Hope they call to see some of you during their trip. Ciara's sister Orla was telling us these girls are moving in high places -- not just Table Mountain as they tell us below. The girls noticed a character in the restaurant they use that looked like Colin Farrell the actor with a growth of beard but they ignored him.Next day they saw his photograph on the papers.Now they are sorry they did not say hello.
For their information Shannonbridge was busy for the weekend with good sitout type weather so I am told as I was in Clare.
Times chane judging by Peter Mooney from Doon. Last night he was leving his sonAlec back to boarding school after the Bank Holiday weekend and Peter was wondering if everyplace would be locked up but Alec said it was open as he spotted a line of glowing cigarette ends in the dark outside the building.
Alec was a member of the Athlone U18 rugby team who won at the weekend.The team was captained by Julian Walshe and a number of the Saint Sarans school team who had a recent big win were also playing.
A seminar hosted by West Offaly Partnership will be held in Teach Lea, Boora on Tuesday 11th May@7pm which will discuss the future for Community Transport in West and South Offaly. More information from 0509-51622
Big day today for about a dozen children from the parish when they will be confirmed by Bishop Colm O Reilly in Clonfinlough church at 4pm.
Parish Bulletin tells us that the total amount collected for Trocaire in the parish during Lent was £3,230. Trocaire is the agency set up by the Catholic Bishops to help fight Famine.
May is the month of Our Lady and Clonfert is among the leaders in celebrating this. Every day for the month of May some religeous ceremony takes place in Our Ladys Church Clonfert and Joan Farrelly tells us that the church has been packed every day or night so far.

Monday, May 03, 2004

hey all!
hope it was a nice bank holiday in the bridge. We've had a nice few days here in capetown.
yesterday we went into the waterfront and went to the aquarium it was lovely. great value, you pay to get in and get a stamp. this entitles you come and go as often as you like throughout the day. we went in twice cos it was so nice. the big tanks were definitely the best, they were massive with big sharks and stuff. you could just sit there for hours looking at them, it was almost like meditation.

later in the evening we went on a sunset cruise along the coast. it last an hour and a half, it was just lovely. we sailed accross the water, sipping champagne and admiring the view.
ahead of us the sun was setting into the horizon, painting a lovely orange shade accross the sky. behind us, the sun was high up in the blue sky. as it got darker and the sun disappeared as if it was swallowed by the water, the sky behind the mountains and below the moon seemed to adopt a magnificent colour of pink and purple, blended together to create a fantastic outline for the mountain. we could see the lights of the city begin to sparkle as capetown came alive in the night below the mountain. it was just fabulous. we liked it so much, we've decided to definitely do it again before we leave, possibly on our last night here. we both thought that was the highlight of the trip so far, until today...

today we hiked up table mountain. now that was just brilliant. it is definitely the best thing i've ever done. it really wasn't that hard, but i think i was so mesmorized by the beauty around me that it just made it alot easier. i loved it, i really did, every second of it. as we looked around we had the most amazing view of the city below us, we could see far accross the sea and we could see robben island too. i haven't travelled much, not at all actually, but i'm positive that today i saw the most beautiful sight in the world, the view from table mountain. as i neared the top my legs did start to ache but i didn't care, it meant i was getting somewhere. i think the farther up the mountain i went, and the sorer i got, the happier i got, cos i couldnt wait to reach the top. eventually i did and it was incredible. i walked around, capturing the amazing views around me, and i really felt like i was on top of the world. it was paradise, i just can't imagine anywhere in the world being more amazing.
coming down the mountain was harder and alot sorer on the legs. it seemed so much steeper than on the way up and my little legs had alot of stretching to do, but i didn't regret any of it - not for a moment. i'd definitely do it again.

thats really all the news from capetown, a very happy birthday to mammy finn!!

bye 4 now from ciara + sarah !

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Shannonbridge Birdwatch.
A few weeks ago we cleaned the chimney, a fireplace that has a fire lit in it every day. The jackdaws took it as an invitation to build. Over the next number of days, along with the usual twigs and wool etc., the following were thrown down the chimney:

Bull wire - 8 inches long,
Iron press handle
Wire S hook,
Clothes peg spring,
Strip of aluminium,
Bamboo cane 16inches,
Cable ties x 2,
Firework holder,
Bean can lid,
Pieces of wire x 4,
Nails x 10,
Conker x 1,
Clothespeg,
Pieces of rusty metal x 8,
Length plastic tubing 5 inches,
Steak Knife,
Dividers (like school compass),
A chain,
Fish bones.

The variety and strength needed to carry some of the items is amazing. The majority of metal objects were not shiney, which seems to contradict the belief that jackdaws only pick up things that glitter. Also the belief that if there's a smell of smoke in a chmney, jackdaws wont build, didnt apply here.
The list appeared in Michael Viney's column in the Irish Times last Sat.
Now if you know of anybody who has lost a steak knife!!

Bird feeding is no longer required now that summer is officially here. If you want to keep feeding, to keep birds in your garden or whatever, please make sure you crush food such as peanuts. If not, this year's young birds, now appearing, would choke on them.

Not birds, but interesting - A red squirrel seen down Coreen Wood this week. They are scarce enough so good to see there are some nearby.