There was much criticism about the appearance of Clondulane National School on a listing of ‘seriously substandard schools’, published by the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) in December 1996. It was one of 47 national schools described by the General Secretary of the INTO, Senator Joe O’Toole, as “inadequate and hazardous from the point of view of health and safety”. The INTO claimed they released the listing ‘to get the minister to release the necessary funding to carry out much needed repairs at the (named) schools’. However, president of Clondulane NS board of management, Fr Gerry Coleman, stated the school was generally ‘in good condition’ and was ‘not remotely like the typical sub-standard ‘rat-infested’ buildings as laid out in the report’. He stated that under ‘dynamic leadership’, the school provided ‘a good education to the pupils of the close-knit community’. Local county councillor, Aileen Pyne, was also critical of the school being listed.

A large quantity of home heating oil was stolen from a private residence, situated about a mile from Kildorrery village. About 100 gallons were taken in the raid – Gardai warned people with such storage tanks to be on the alert.

A red-letter day for the town of Fermoy, with the official announcement of over 300 jobs for the new advance factory located at Cork Road. Berg Electronics, ‘the world’s fourth largest supplier of electronic connector, socket and cable assembly products’, planned to hire approximately 310 employees over a 3-year period at the plant. Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Hugh Coveney TD, made the announcement in The Grand Hotel. With the support of the IDA, Berg planned to invest £7.4M in Fermoy, with an anticipated opening date of April 1997. The announcement followed ‘much speculation’ on the idle facility over the previous 12 months.

A novel cookbook, ‘A Taste Of Ballyhooly’ was finally launched in December 1996 to much fanfare. Dr Bridget Maher, ‘the driving force behind the publication’, was especially singled out for praise by Moss O’Connell, chairman of Ballyhooly NS Parents Association. Avondhu Development Group were providers of ‘significant’ LEADER funding towards the project. The 142 page book contained ‘a host of local recipes dating back to the early part of the century’, with contributors to the book ‘mostly female’ – yet four males made it into print, ‘so well done Con O’Brien, Brendan McCarthy, John Robert Ryall and Fr William Winter CC’. The highlight for many was the announcement of Mr Butterballs, with Brendan McCarthy ‘scraping home’ after a close run contest, ahead of Mark Condren, ‘Nelson Mandela’ (John O’Keeffe) and Bosco Creed.

Busy times for MEP Brian Crowley in December 1996: having attended the launch of Bill Power’s book ‘From The Danes To Dairygold’ in Mitchelstown, Brian made his way to Fermoy to attend a booksigning event of his biography ‘Against The Odds’; it was then onto Hyland’s Bookshop in Mitchelstown for another booksigning.

A video which briefly chaptered the 30-year history of what had become ‘one of the most impressive success stories since the foundation of Mitchelstown Creameries’, namely the establishment of Mitchelstown Credit Union, was launched at the association’s AGM in The Firgrove Hotel. The 35 minute production, outlining the achievements and benefits of credit unions locally, was described by one gentleman attending the event, as ‘a quality production which would do Bord Failte proud’ – copies were available at a subsidised price of £5.

Renovations costing in excess of £200,000 to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Watergrasshill were finally complete, with Bishop John Buckley officially reopening the parish church.

The next phase in the plans of local businessman, Sean Kavanagh, for the refurbishment of both The Royal and Grand Hotels in Fermoy, saw the official tape cutting of the new Café Royal performed by Mr Danny M Ssozi, the Ugandan Deputy Ambassador to Ireland.

In sport – A last minute pointed free denied Skeheenarinky juniors hurlers of the Tipperary county title in December 1996, drawing their final encounter, at Cashel, with Ballina 0-11 apiece. The St Colman’s College, Fermoy U14.5 team regained Corn Daithi de Barra after a lapse of three years, defeating Colaiste Chriost Ri 3-6 to 0-2 in the final at Carrigtwohill – the team was captained by Brian Murphy. While Shanballymore and Kilworth played out a drawn hurling league final at Glanworth, the sides’ junior hurlers drawing 1-6 apiece.