Several ‘irate callers’ to The Avondhu office expressed horror at the state of the roads in the Tallow/Conna area, which stemmed from subsidence of part of the N72. As a result, the road was blocked to through traffic with motorists forced to use a series of little-known by-roads, not designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic. One resident who contacted our offices, stated that it was the residents living on the by-roads who were suffering, saying it was ‘becoming intolerable’. However, there was no positive news regarding a quick fix, as Fermoy engineer, Flan Groarke told The Avondhu that the situation was ‘very complex’ and at ‘a delicate legal stage’.
Two local establishments were amongst 175 pubs on the island of Ireland to be included in a new initiative by the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), being named ‘Irish Pubs Of Distinction’. Willie Andies in Mitchelstown, owned by Billy and Mary English, along with Charlie Browne’s, Fermoy, owned by Dave McCarthy, were regarded as ‘premier pubs offering the highest standards’.
There were ‘negative vibes’ surrounding the future of Fitzgerald Camp in Fermoy, according to Deputy Paul Bradford, following on from the release of the Price Waterhouse Report in December 1997. The report, according to reliable sources, which was commissioned to review the workings of all aspects of the defence forces, contained recommendations that a number of army barracks around the country be closed.
A flavour of some seasonal Christmas and new year entertainment in the area: Home Alone 3 was being screened at Fermoy Community Youth Centre; The Singing Dutchman along with Stefan & Pierce were in O’Casey’s Lounge, Ballyporeen; Hangover Zone with the Heineken Slumber Party, including a special guest DJ, were entertaining in Paki Fitz’s, Mitchelstown; Philomena Begley was starring at the Glenview Lounge, Goatenbridge; ‘Arsenic & Old Lace’ was being staged by Conna Dramatic Society; Larry Cunningham was in Kilbehenny at the Three Counties Inn; while The Celtic Bandits were back at the Castle Tavern, Ballyhooly.
January 3rd, 1998 was the date set for the official opening of the impressive ‘specially built dance hall’ at O’Driscoll’s Bar, Rathcormac, with the popular Zodiaks providing the entertainment for the first official function, namely the Bride Rovers GAA dance. The pub was under the ownership of Paudie and Anne O’Driscoll for seven years and the impressive hall measured 80ft x 24ft, able to accommodate 400 to 500 people.
With ‘serious concerns’ expressed about the standard of transport infrastructure in the locality, chairman of the Mallow Area Roads Committee, Cllr Conor O’Callaghan, stated that ‘serious consideration should be given to looking at the extension of our rail service to include the towns of Mitchelstown and Fermoy’. With the advance of the Celtic Tiger, Cllr O’Callaghan told The Avondhu that the road network, particularly the N72 and N73, was totally insufficient to meet with demands brought about by increasing volumes of traffic – with infrastructure in the North Cork area ‘at best, bursting at the seams and at worst, about to collapse.’ Estimating the cost of extending the rail service locally at ‘between one and two million pounds per mile approximately’, with at least 30 miles of rail required, he stated that ‘a large percentage of this funding could be provided from structural funds if a successful application was made’. The costings would compare favourably, he stated, in comparison to the investment required to bring the road network up to standard – between €130M and €140M.
Movement on the N8 Glanmire/Watergrasshill Road Improvement Scheme saw the publication of 5 full pages of notices in The Avondhu by Cork County Council in late December 1997. An environmental impact assessment was publically available, upon request, for the 10Km stretch of proposed roadway, to consist of the construction of a dual carriageway as a continuation of the Glanmire Bypass N8 northwards, and would incorporate a bypass of Watergrasshill, involving the construction of 7 bridges and one pedestrian bridge. The compulsory acquisition of land made up four pages of notices.
Young Bartlemy jockey Garret Cotter was experiencing somewhat of a purple patch, recording several good victories for different owners and trainers. Attached to the stable of Dessie Hughes, he rode his 27th winner of the season at Navan on board ‘Super Dealer’ in late 1997, capturing the feature race, the 3-mile Christmas Presents Extended Handicap.