‘Fermoy failed to distinguish itself as a wheelchair friendly town’ following the visit of Minister of State, Mary Wallace ‘on a fact-finding mission during Awareness of Disability Week’ in December 1997. A combination of high kerbs, steep steps, uneven foothpaths, absence of ramps and no accessible toilets, showed the town in a bad light for wheelchair users, leaving ‘Fermoy’s planners with a lot to do to bring the town up to an acceptable standard’. It was noted that one of the ‘most persistent problems’ faced by wheelchair users were motorists whose irresponsible parking hampered their access. On a positive note, St Colman’s College was making great strides, with teacher Oliver Ryan explaining to The Avondhu that, due to the intake of a wheelchair bound student, works in the school to facilitate the student’s needs ‘proved very successful’.

Three locations in North Cork were identified by Cork County Council as having ‘unacceptably’ high levels of nitrates in their ground water supplies. Two of the three sources – Glanworth and Kildorrery – had been addressed, while moves to secure an alternative source at Kilmurry, Kilworth were ongoing. The problem was identified as ‘a direct result of overuse of fertilisers by local farmers’.

‘Traffic lights switch-out causes outrage in Mitchelstown’ read the front page headline. Members of the public ‘lambasted both the county council and the gardai over the town having been left without traffic lights for several days’. Following a week in mid-December 1997 which saw an elderly pedestrian involved in a fatal accident at Lower Cork Street, the issue of traffic flow in the town ‘accelerated dramatically’ with The Avondhu being ‘inundated with angry calls from members of the public’. Much blame was attributed ‘on the shoulders of the gardai’ for the regular switch-off of traffic lights, either at New Square or the Baldwin Street junction, however Cork County Council also came under fire, with ‘each (side) inclined to blame the other’. The occurrence of double parking in the town, which was ‘the norm’ according to one member of the public, was also cited as a reason for the ongoing traffic chaos.

Owen McAuliffe, the driver of the Fermoy based mobile library, retired in December 1997, having ‘been at the wheel’ since 1968. Very well known in GAA circles, training 11 Cork minor teams to All-Ireland success, Owen had much in common with the many book borrowers who were GAA fans, with the mobile van being ‘host to many a heated GAA discussion!’

Residents in the Sandpit area of Fermoy were both ‘angry and afraid’ at the number of dogs which had ‘apparently been poisoned’ within a 2 weeks period. 6 dogs had died, while a further animal was on a drip at the local veterinary surgeon. All the dogs had suffered the same symptoms, ‘foaming a yellow froth at the mouth, writhing in pain and eventually dieing in agony’. Families reported the matter to the gardai, however there were genuine fears for small children playing in the area, who were in danger of ingesting ‘some type of poison or bait’.

In brief – A top sheep award for Cork breeder Cheryl O’Brien from Kildorrery, who was awarded the prestigious Show Flock of the Year trophy at the Vendeen Sheep AGM in Portlaoise. Maria O’Connor, a TY student of Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy was awarded a Manager of the Year award in the Young Enterprise Schools’ Programme, sponsored by Cork Chamber of Commerce. While Tony Sheehan, Ballyclough, Kilworth convincingly won the first round of RTE’s Know Your Sport, advancing to the quarter-finals to be held in Athlone in February 1998.

Sporting briefs – Ballyporeen FC were crowned North Cork Shield champions of 1997, defeating Farrahy Celtic 3-1 in the North Cork Soccer League competition – Ian O’Donnell was captain. Ballygiblin were crowned Avondhu U15C hurling champions in 1997 – the side were captained by Richard Carey. The U15 footballers of St Colman’s College, Fermoy claimed the Munster Colleges’ football championship, defeating CBS Dungarvan 3-15 to 2-5 – captain was Stephen Coughlan.

A comprehensive 6-4 to 1-5 scoreline saw Glenville U13 footballers capture the B football championship title in December 1997, for the second year running, defeating Russell Rovers in Shanagarry. Playing against the wind in the opening half, it was all square at the interval, 1-2 apiece, however Glenville were a changed team on the turnaround, with left corner back Gary O’Driscoll ‘surely man of the match’. Team captain was John Forde.