Environmental issues were to the fore in May 1999 as the problem of pollution from pig farming was the subject of a major report. An environmental survey by Cork County Council stated that the density of pigs in the Mitchelstown Rural District was 11 times that of the County Cork average. Nitrogen emissions from pig slurry had polluted the local environment with high nitrate levels detected in ground water. There were also concerns that the excessive spreading of slurry was causing a major nutrient imbalance on land across the area. The report warned that such emissions could have a severe impact on the health of both animals and humans. County Councillor Joe Sherlock asked if there was compliance with the planning regulations by the industrial units, to which the county engineering department said that there were a number of holdings that had expanded without planning permission. The council report cautioned that a major overall of intensive farming was needed to control the issue.
With the M8 motorway a very successful fixture on our landscape in 2020, it is hard to imagine that its construction came after a series of very difficult and frustrating planning phases that filled the pages of The Avondhu on an almost weekly basis over two decades ago. There were issues around traffic in towns and villages across North Cork, particularly in Fermoy, where the main Dublin to Cork road saw massive traffic jams daily. Despite the best efforts of campaigning locals, there was still a massive delay on the building of a bypass around the town.
A delay on land acquisition led to a stalemate in the planned construction of a new motorway in the Watergrasshill area, which then had a knock on effect on Fermoy. The National Roads Authority said that Watergrasshill would have to be bypassed before Fermoy could get its opportunity. But the local Fermoy Bypass Group said that a relief road at Watergrasshill would cause an increase in traffic congestion in Fermoy.
There was great praise for local Fermoy family, the Ryans, who had privately developed the Blackwater Valley Caravan and Camping Park. Councillors all praised the opening of the facility. The park, which is now unfortunately closed, was opened on a site at the Mallow Road and was, at that time, a state-of-the-art tourist facility.
The perpetual debate on the necessity for parking regulations in Mitchelstown made the news also. Councillors were calling on a desperate effort to obtain a two hour limit for Mitchelstown’s main street. The Mitchelstown Business Association had appealed for the introduction of the measure, as it claimed the town was ‘choked’ with traffic and people were unable to shop locally. There was also concern about the misuse of disabled parking bays in the town.
Under-resourcing of frontline services was prevalent back in 1999 as the garda serving in Doneraile was forced to use his own car to go to calls, because no one provided him with a patrol car to police his large area. Local garda, Willie O’Leary, told locals at a meeting that the garda was struggling to provide a service to them. There was a shortfall in staff in the area, as a garda who had retired was not replaced. The guard made an impassioned plea for help and told the meeting: ‘I am dealing with as much as I can, but unfortunately can’t get around to everything. From my point of view this is not satisfactory, as a lot of work is only being half done.’
Preparations for the turn of the millennium saw a meeting being held in Mitchelstown. There were discussions on what kind of a celebration could be held, with plans for a festival style event proposed for New Year’s Day. There were also plans to have all the church bells in the area rung to celebrate the new millennium. The plan was that local musicians and performers would lead the event in the main square, where they would entertain the crowds.
In sport – Plans were at an advanced stage for the annual rowing regatta in Fermoy with 138 races on the day-long programme. The Fermoy crews were leading the expectant medal haul, as they had recently picked up the coveted national title of ‘Best Overall Regatta’. Mitchelstown Celtic were celebrating victory in the Brian McCarthy Memorial League Cup, after a thrilling 4-1 victory over Kilworth’s Accrington Celtic. While Fermoy GAA Pitch and Putt Club was celebrating as their member, Paddy Power, was racking up trophies with multiple wins, having taken victories in the Dave Bane Memorial Trophy and the George O’Keefe Cup during the first few months of 1999.