Violence on the streets of Mitchelstown in late March 1998, as a dispute between two families attending the funeral of a well known Traveller spilled out of control. Starting in one of the town’s public houses, ‘up to 50 Travellers were involved in the clashes’ on the night prior to the burial. ‘A series of melees’, described by one eyewitness as a large number of men ‘kicking and punching each other’, was brought under control once garda reinforcements from Mallow, Fermoy and Cahir arrived to assist local officers. Up to 30 gardai were involved in quelling the fighting at its height and Mitchelstown sergeant, Kieran Barry, stated that those involved were not local, having travelled from Ennis and Limerick, with a ‘history of feuding between the two families’. The funeral itself, which was ‘heavily policed’ the following day, passed off without incident.
A card operated phone (remember those?) had ‘gone missing’ from a telephone box at the top of Richmond Hill, Fermoy, with local residents calling on Telecom Eireann ‘to rectify the situation’. The phone, which was ‘used extensively’ and located in a heavily populated area, had residents mystified as to its disappearance. Cllr John Hussey had raised the matter at UDC level, with no satisfactory outcome.
The acquisition of the Woodfab timber processing plant, located at Farran outside Fermoy, by Glennon Brothers, ‘owners of a large sawmill and timber yard in County Longford’, was announced. The merger was reported to ‘pose no immediate threat’ to the 55 full-time staff in Fermoy, however, it was understood that the new owners were ‘keen to restrict the amount of overtime … being worked by employees’. Woodfab manager Kevin Murphy, describing Glennon’s as a ‘dynamic and progressive company’, stated Woodfab were ‘delighted with the development’.
Two masked raiders held up the postmistress at Doneraile Post Office in late March 1998, fleeing the scene with approximately £3,000. The ordeal lasted about 3 minutes and the culprits’ getaway car was found abandoned at Oldcourt Cemetery, about a mile from the scene. Gardai were appealing for witnesses.
The spirit of self-help evident in Coolagown was described by visiting minister, Noel Davern, as ‘commendable’, a good example of the ‘bottom up’ philosophy, where members of the community took it upon themselves to improve their surroundings. Mr Davern, who had special responsibility for Rural Development, was interested to see how local communities were using LEADER funding. Tidy Towns committee member John Feeney took the opportunity to extend an invitation to the minister to visit the nearby Kilmagner National School, where the impromptu visit was a pleasant surprise for principal Tom Murray, staff and pupils. Before the minister’s departure, locals took the opportunity to raise the ‘long running situation’ regarding Coolagown’s water supply, which received a ‘sympathetic’ hearing.
18 long-term patients of St Patrick’s Hospital, Fermoy were moved across town to the comfortable surroundings of St Francis Welfare Home, to facilitate the building of an extension at the hospital.
The edition of April 2nd, 1998 saw The Avondhu publish an interview with recently deceased Glanworth man, Arthur (Attie) Wilson, who was selflessly volunteering his time as a puppy walker for the Irish Guide Dogs Association. Taking charge of 6-week old pups for a 6-month period at a time, Attie was a veteran of 5 years, with many pups , typically Labradors and Golden Retrievers, passing through his patient hands. ‘Valda’ and ‘Becky’ were under his care at the time of our reporter’s house visit, with Attie describing the process as ‘very satisfying’.
Maintaining a proud tradition, Ballygown National School pupils received awards at the annual Cork County INTO/EBS Handwriting competition. Liam O’Connell (Annakissa), Orlaith Carey (Loughquin) and Neill O’Rahilly (Gurranachole) shone in 1998, the sixth year in succession where the school had a winner.
An outstanding 70 years of unbroken service by John O’Keeffe to Fermoy Rowing Club was marked at a function in the rowing club pavilion in late March 1998. Joining the club in 1928, he served over ten years as an oarsman, before club president Mr O’Keeffe became an active committee member, and would eventually hold every position in the club. Some of those in attendance included John’s club colleagues of many years, John Heffernan (honorary vice president) and Dick Stritch (vice president), along with dignitaries Tom Fennessy, president of the Irish Amateur Rowing Union; Michael O’Dwyer, chairman UDC and Superintendent Kieran McGann. MC was Anthony Cleary.