2013 was a hard year for some, but perhaps a great year for many, and for The Avondhu journalists Sandra Quinn and Ellen Lynch, it brought with it stories of hardship and joy, tales of gut wrenching defeats and tear inducing victories.
Over the next two issues, we will look back at the stories that were in 2013, starting with this first instalment covering January to June.
In January, there was some great news on the business front in Mitchelstown, as Eight Degrees Brewing announced through The Avondhu, that they had some great expansion plans on the horizon. While their Christmas was blissful and wonderful, it was a hard time for two families in Araglin and Anglesboro, as two homes were ravaged by fires over the Christmas period, but thankfully no one was injured.
January also saw the Irish UN Veterans Association Post 25 in Fermoy launch a bid to secure the Fitzgerald Barracks and compound for a new base. They have ambitious plans to establish an interpretative centre including a military museum on the site. The bid follows the controversial decision by the Defence Forces to move the Reserve Defence Forces (formerly known as the FCA) from Fitzgerald Barracks in the town to Mallow. Ellen Lynch was at Fitzgerald Barracks on the day just a couple of months later when officials arrived to lock the gates at the empty barracks, bringing to an end the town’s long association with the army.
There was heartbreak for owners Noel and Annemarie Costello when their landmark Tallow pub, The Bride View Bar, was destroyed by fire. Luckily no-one was injured in the blaze. The well known pub hasn’t been rebuilt.
In February, Sandra Quinn covered two particularly unusual stories, one which came with shocking and disturbing images was that of a large sheep kill in Anglesboro, where dogs which had been kept as pets had gotten into a farm and destroyed most of the herd.
Another was a little unorthodox and almost hard to believe and it was about Bus Eireann making taxi’s available and covering the cost to get customers to their destination if the bus wasn’t on time – this perhaps doesn’t seem the best use of funding, when the company encountered so many budgeting issues this year.
Meanwhile, a happy occasion was the 100th ‘birthday’ celebrations for the chapel at St Colman’s College in Fermoy. The significant milestone was marked by a special Mass in February attended by college students, staff and guests. It was concelebrated by college chaplin Fr. Eamon Barry and former president Canon Sean Cotter DD, Parish Priest of Charleville.
Local councillor Noel McCarthy raised some eyebrows with his proposal that the site at Kilworth camp previously considered as a location for a new prison be considered instead for a new sugar factory. BEET Ireland, one of two groups making proposals for Ireland’s re-entry into the sugar beet market, plans to build the new factory with the help of investors. Cllr. McCarthy insisted the Kilworth site was a viable proposal.
In March of this year, as the news about the property tax was leaking out into the public domain, panic and uproar spread like wildfire through the veins of those living in ghost estates, as it was made clear that even though many of the estates did not have any of the required work done and they were not availing of council services, they would still have to pay the controversial property tax.
Many of us were glued to our television sets on Sunday nights to watch no less than three north Cork competitors battle it out in the popular ‘Voice of Ireland’ singing competition. Kelly Mongan from Fermoy, Shannon Murphy from Castletownroche and Charleville’s Keith Hanley were the local interest and excitement mounted as they progressed through the various stages of the competition in the following weeks with The Avondhu charting their progress.
Kelly Mongan being in the final stages of her first pregnancy added to the excitement as viewers wondered if she’d make it to the final or have to bow out to give birth. Make it to the final she most certainly did, along with Keith and Shannon. Kelly come second to Keith Hanley while Shannon came in 4th. This was much pride in the fact that north Cork had three singers coming first, second and fourth in the competition.
It was in March that doubt was cast on Fermoy Rowing Club’s biggest event of the year, their annual regatta in June, going ahead. It was looking like it would become a casualty of delays in completing the flood protection works at Ashe Quay. As it transpired the event was cancelled in what would have been it’s 50th consecutive year to be held. Club chairman, Pat Granville described it as “A major disappointment.”
April brought with it a milestone event for local actor Joe Mullins, as the film he had starred in, Pilgrim Hill went on general cinema release, after it had wowed critics and audiences all over the world in various film festivals and award nights.
Around the same time, Susan Burke, a blind woman from Mitchelstown, who has since sadly passed away, took a stand against the council and demanded (to no avail) that they put blistered paving in place so that she could regain some independence and cross the road to get to her local shop.
We reported on the mean-spirited thieves who broke into the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Tallow on Easter Sunday night and stole the proceeds of the collections from the Easter weekend Masses, filled Trocaire boxes and the proceeds of a ‘Holy Places’ collection taken up on Good Friday. They broke in through the sacristy which they ransacked and wrecked. Their actions were widely condemned.
Meanwhile in Rathcormac in April, the pupils of Scoil Bhride made the short but very significant journey from their old school to their brand new one, straight across the road and we were there to record it. The new school was the culmination of a 20-year-long campaign and the occasion was a joyous one for the children, staff, Board of Management and the entire local community.
For years, the CBS Primary school in Mitchelstown have been slowly adding things on and getting things improved, but this summer came with a big development, as the new and final extension was officially opened by Minister Sean Sherlock.
This month also came with a trade boost for Mitchelstown, as the town was filled with cycling enthusiasts from all over the world, who had come to the North Cork town to see a stage of the An Post Ras.
In our edition of the first week of May, we also marked the sad passing of political stalwart Dick Barry. The former Fine Gael TD and Fermoy businessman passed away peacefully at Cork University Hospital. He was 93. His had been a long career in an often turbulent time in national politics in Ireland. Among the many tributes that were paid to him on his death, the word ‘gentleman’ was oft repeated.
One of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities came the way of young Fermoy boy Edmond Roche in May when he was chosen to travel to Rome to be confirmed by the new pope Francis. 12-year-old Edmond was picked, along with a young girl from Cobh, from a group of dedicated young altar servers in the Diocese, to make the special trip.
Edmond said afterwards he would never forget the moment the Pope confirmed him. “It was wonderful, it’s a memory I will have for the rest of my life.”
In June of this year, the power of the people was well exercised, as residents from Kildorrery took a stand against the council after putting up with years of low water pressure and a leaking reservoir. In June, they were told that there was no budget for works, despite the fact that in some houses you couldn’t shower or use the washing machine.
Then through a host of public meetings with councillors, it was agreed before Christmas that a programme would be put in place to get the situation fixed. This campaign ran from June until November and the people of Kildorrery will probably still be waiting some time before the problem is fixed, but at least now there is some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
On the longest day of the year, June 21, the ‘Light Up the Munster Blackwater’ initiative got underway, as part of the Gathering. The riverside and quays of Killavullen, Ardsallagh, Ballinaclash, Coolbagh, Newport, Ballyduff, Cappoquin, Killahaly, Dromana House and Villierstown were lined with people who gathered to celebrate the river that has given so much life to the communities over the years.
Bad weather on the evening didn’t stop people from turning out to light up the river with lamps and lanterns, car headlights, bonfires and various other means.
The idea of a ‘food valley’ been developed in north Cork was mooted and in June two key elements to its future development took place. The signing of a memorandum of agreement between Teagasc and Science Foundation Ireland was one.
The agreement set out both agencies’ commitment to jointly fund research grants for scientists from the agriculture and food disciplines, as well as from other scientific and engineering disciplines that will see an investment of €4M in research and development.
The second was the announcement by Minister of State, Sean Sherlock of Government funding of €36M for research at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in Cork, designating it as a national centre for food and medicine research excellence. The APC includes Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork.
* See next week’s Avondhu for a look back on what stories made the headlines from July to December, 2013.