Trees, mostly noble fir and numbering about 20 which were found ‘snapped like matchsticks’ in Bloomfield Wood near Ballyhooly, had locals bewildered. A member of Castletownroche Gun Club originally ‘stumbled across the strange scene’ while out shooting. A circle of mature trees, having grown to a height of approximately 60 feet, ‘were found to have been cut in two by some extraordinary force….. snapped off about 10 to 15 feet from the ground’, while trees outside the area remained untouched. The most credible suggestions being put forward for the damage were either a lightning strike or an ‘intense localised whirlwind’.

Formed in July 1991, Araglin Valley Residents’ Association had become a powerful voice for the rural community and in January 1998, were ‘bracing themselves’ for the next phase of their struggle, in opposition to the setting up of a waste disposal facility in Ballard, Araglin. Sources close to Cork County Council indicated that a decision on whether or not to grant planning permission to a waste disposal company, was expected shortly. The construction of ‘lagoons’ (pits used for storing slurry/sludge) was central to the whole issue with locals fearful that, if developed, it would ‘form the first stage in the development of a waste centre in Araglin’. One impassioned spokesperson for the group told The Avondhu that the whole campaign had been about protecting our countryside ‘and ensuring that our children have clean air and fresh water to drink’. “It’s about the survival of a rural community,” he said.

Brian O’Reilly’s hit musical ‘Buskin’ was being staged at Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre in January 1998 and theatre-going patrons locally were eagerly awaiting its showing in Cork Opera House in February.

The ‘lack of suitable recreational facilities’ at Beechfield Estate, Fermoy was one of the main causes of the ‘harassment of elderly people living in the flats’, according to residents who spoke with The Avondhu in January 1998. Despite having made several appeals for help to both Fermoy UDC and the gardai, residents failed to receive any measure of satisfaction, with the problems being experienced by some residents ‘a direct result’ of the design and layout of the apartment blocks. The estate, which was built in the 1970s as a means of providing affordable accommodation for local authority tenants, consisted of 126 houses and a block of 21 apartments. Unfortunately, it was claimed, there was no follow-up investment and ‘serious consideration’ should be given to the provision of a community centre in the area. “Large groups of young people gather on the landings of the flats, with the loitering very worrying to old people,” a spokesperson for the residents said. They went on to state that they would like to see a situation ‘where both young and old could co-exist in harmony’. Residents were due to bring their grievances to the attention of Fermoy UDC at a future monthly meeting.

A six-year ‘plan of work’ was being committed to regarding the restoration of the once beautiful Kilmurry House which had fallen into a state of disrepair, by new owners, ‘Lord and Lady Johnson’.

There was cross-party support in January 1998 for the development of a light industrial park, situated on 9.2 acres, at Coolnanave, Mitchelstown. The proposed development on land owned by Cork County Council would provide for 13 serviced industrial sites, making the area ‘a more attractive location for those wishing to set up in business’. Though agreed in principal by the county manager, final approval from the council for the development was necessary, although was reported as being ‘a formality’. Cllr Kevin O’Keeffe and Cllr Conor O’Callaghan welcomed the news.

Work was continuing apace to develop Castlehyde Hotel outside Fermoy, under the watchful eye of owners Erik and Helen Speekenbrink. With May or June 1998 set as an opening date, the development, which would employ 12 people at the outset once up and running, would comprise of 14 bedrooms, 5 cottage suites and a restaurant capable of seating 55 patrons. “When people see what’s on offer here they will not want to leave,” Mr Speekenbrink confidently told our reporter.

Mitchelstown woman, Helen White from Flemingstown, received a gold medal from President Mary McAleese in Dublin Castle at the An Gaisce Awards, presented to those who make outstanding contributions to their local communities. A commercial secretary with Minister Ned O’Keeffe, Helen was already the recipient of bronze and silver Gaisce medals.