Champion jockey Walter Swinburn stopped off in The Avondhu Bar, Fermoy en route from Cork to Dublin, which he was walking in aid of three children’s charities. Regarded as perhaps the best big-race jockey of his generation, assisted by an exceptional coolness under pressure, Swinburn won the English Derby 3 times, including once on Shergar and received a lively welcome in Fermoy from ‘horsey enthusiasts’.
The proposed introduction of community policing into 85 rural Garda stations nationwide, which would include the Fermoy district, drew much criticism, with fears that some barracks in rural communities would face closure. Although proposals for the scheme were at an early stage in January 1997, some farming and rural organisations condemned the plans, with the ICMSA stating it ‘would be a devastating blow to any rural community to which it was introduced.’ Locally, community activist and advocate of rural regeneration, John Arnold from Bartlemy, stated that people much preferred ‘dealing with a Garda with local knowledge, who commands the respect of the community…. than to talk to ‘the Green Man’ fitted to the doors of the stations’. This, he felt, was a system which ‘built barriers between Gardai and the rural community’. However, Superintendent Eamonn Carey in Fermoy highlighted that discussions on the matter were still at a very early stage, stating such a system ‘would improve the Garda service currently on offer’ and that ‘no such threat (of closure) existed to any station in the area’.
After 18 years in situ above Credit Union House, Mitchelstown, The Avondhu moved their accounts/reception office to its present location at 18 Lower Cork Street, next to WJ Murphy Photographer, in January 1997.
A file was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution, following a number of alleged incidents involving the passing of forged £20 notes as payment for goods received in several retail outlets in the South Limerick area in early January 1997. The first incident of note took place in Aherlow, at which point Gardai were notified, followed by alleged incidents in both Ballylanders and Galbally. Subsequently, five people were apprehended, three males and two females, shortly after leaving Galbally village.
‘Hello Dolly’ was about to make a re-appearance to the stage in Fermoy back in 1997, with the local choral society announcing they were undertaking rehearsals. First staged in 1970 for a 10-night run, Michelle Donnelly told The Avondhu the show would bring back many happy memories to past cast members and audiences alike. The society’s initial staging of the musical saw John Butler (then manager of the Bank of Ireland) playing ‘a superb’ Horace Vandergelder, while the part of Irene Molly was played by Mairead Scannell.
Meanwhile, a cast of 140 were enjoying a well earned rest following the staging of the panto ‘Cinderella’ which completed a six day run at Fermoy Community Youth Centre.
The ‘Cat was out of the bag!’ – an advertisement in early January 1997 informed readers that Grandons garage had opened trading at Courthouse Road, Fermoy, as Alfa Romeo and Fiat dealers.
A tie-breaker was necessary for judges to decide the winner of the song contest at Paudie O’Driscoll’s Bar, Rathcormac – an event which had been running since September 1996. With £500 up for grabs, the event finale in January 1997 saw much excitement, with Barney McCarthy emerging victorious, Deirdre Fitzgerald as runner-up. The event was in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Fermoy Branch.
Kades Kounty was the venue in early January 1997 as parents and past pupils from the Glenville National School area invited two long serving national school teachers, Batt Dunlea (former principal) and Pat Moynihan, to say a very big thanks for their years of dedicated service. Both men were recipients of specially enscribed mementoes and travel vouchers. MC for the celebrations was Michael O’Donovan.
Sporting briefs – Colm Jordan from Fermoy Handball Club reached the USA Junior Handball Championship semi-finals, going down to David Silvers, USA, who was number one in the world in his section. In the 90 year history of Fermoy CYMS Snooker Club, local Ryan Conway was the first club player to win a senior Republic of Ireland Billiards Snooker Association tournament, when defeating Irish U16 champion Brendan O’Donoghue 3-2 in the Munster U17 championship in Limerick in January 1997.