“As long as the legs hold out, I’ll keep at it”, 86 year old Ballindangan man James Condon determinedly told our reporter in January 1998. The lifelong cyclist, who won 12 Munster championships in the 1940s and 1950s, would make the weekly trip from Ballindangan to Mitchelstown to do the shopping, “Once the legs are sound, you can keep going alright, I take my time and go at a steady pace,” he stated. Much of his time was spent repairing and restoring old bikes and his model of choice in 1998, was ‘about 50 years old’ – “it’s a case of the old bike for the hard road,” said James.

An upgrade of Lismore Fire Station was urgently required, with a source close to the station describing conditions in January 1998 as ‘primitive’, adding that female members of the brigade were ‘forced to change in an open area’ that afforded no privacy. This was ‘grossly unfair’ on the women, with the individual stating the least they were entitled to was a suitable changing area. The improvement in conditions had been raised on several occasions previously by the Town Commissioners, with allocated funding subsequently withdrawn in 1997. It was estimated £13,000 was required to ‘bring the station up to scratch’.

A somewhat ‘casual’ deer was causing inconvenience for motorists travelling the Ballyhooly to Castletownroche road, with several motorists encountering the mammal “walking in the middle of the road” in early 1998. Reported as being ‘quite tame’ and making no effort to avoid cars, one early morning motorist claimed to have been behind the deer for several hundred yards before managing to overtake it, “I expected him to jump over the ditch or something, but he was very casual. I beeped the horn a few times but he still wouldn’t get out of the way”. Deer oh deer…

Conna native Bridget Noonan celebrated her 100th birthday in January 1998 – the much loved resident at St Francis Welfare Home at Rathealy Road, Fermoy was presented with £300 and a letter of congratulations by Fr Winkle on behalf of President Mary McAleese. Matron at the home, Bridget Daly, told The Avondhu that she was in very good health and much loved, “The men here are very protective of her, they always keep a close eye on her. She is very lucky to have enjoyed such wonderful health and is a very special person to us”.

A major sponsorship deal had been secured by organisers of the Mitchelstown Music Festival, ensuring the popular event would be staged in 1998 over the August bank holiday weekend. Due to the failure of securing a financial backer in 1997, the festival had to be cancelled. The estimated cost to host the festival was £40,000 and although the support of a sponsor was now forthcoming, event PRO Conor O’Callaghan urged the public to get behind a number of fundraisers, as a portion of the overall cost would have to be raised locally. A Garth Brooks Experience event, the first planned fundraiser towards the 1998 event had to be cancelled in November 1997 due to illness, however this sold out event was set to go ahead in late January 1998.

Confirmation was received from officials at the National Roads Authority (NRA) that Fermoy would have to ‘take its place in the national queue and hope for the best’ with regard to a bypass for the town. With the project to be considered, ‘among others’, for inclusion in the post 1999 roads programme, those ‘closely associated with the bypass campaign’ told The Avondhu it was “not desperately surprising”, given the NRA’s ‘lack of enthusiasm for what would have been a multi-million pound construction’. Consequently, a meeting of concerned bodies was scheduled for early February 1998 in The Grand Hotel.

The Grandon Motors Fermoy Snooker Invitation Championship, hosted in Fermoy CYMS in January 1998, proved an outstanding success. The high standard of snooker entertained the crowds in attendance, with Stanley Murphy from the Victoria Sporting Club in Cork defeating Michael Howley from St Michael’s Snooker Club, Limerick 5-3 in the final. With a special prize of a Fiat Cinquencento on offer for any player achieving a maximum 147 break, sponsored by Grandon Motors, the semi-final encounter between Michael Howley and John Torpey saw the car enter the reckoning, as John potted 13 reds and 13 blacks before failing on the 14th black, for a total break of 104.