A political storm dominated North Cork life 21 years ago as a selection debacle hit one political party. Preparations were under way for Fianna Fail in the Fermoy Electoral Area for the 1999 Local Elections. But the selection process for the party was thrown into disarray when a High Court injunction was granted to then suspended party member, Councillor John Hussey. At the time, Cllr Hussey was suspended from the party and he went to court to complain that his suspension blocked him from competing in the local elections. The suspension arose out of a heated debate between Cllr Hussey and then Councillor Richard O’Leary.

A major plan announced the closure of Mitchelstown Mart and the relocation of Fermoy Mart to a new 37 acre site near Rathcormac, part of a rationalisation of facilities by Cork Co-operative Marts Limited. 

The community of Doneraile was completely stumped as their local phone box vanished. There were calls for the facility to be reinstated without delay, but Telecom Eireann said that it was part of an upgrade strategy. Locals were not happy and complained in the strongest of terms that they wanted their phone box back.

There were calls for housing developments for Clondulane as local people ‘felt aggrieved’ that the area had not been considered for a local authority housing scheme. There were also calls for the area’s school to be upgraded, which Cllr Joe Sherlock claimed was down to new development rules.

The conditions of North Cork roads was also under discussion by local representatives as a £50 million funding pot was announced for national roads. One of the projects included was a bypass for Fermoy that received £150,000, as efforts were being made to design the project. Councillors voiced their disappointment that the project had not received more funding to allow for compulsory purchase orders. 

A large-scale disturbance saw 17 people fighting in a public house in Mitchelstown – gardai rushed to the area and quelled the brawl. The guards vowed to take on drunken fighting and enforce the public order act. 

In other crime news, investigators were hunting for a burglar who made a failed attempt to break into a priest’s home. During the attack the curate, who was not named, found himself face to face with the intruder. 

A planned upgrading of the Kilworth water supply was announced with work beginning in late 1999 – a new reservoir was part of the plan. 

Mystery surrounded a kindly secret donor to the Mitchelstown Community Leisure Centre building project. Spokesman John Ryan would not be drawn on who made the ‘substantial contribution’. 

There was a reminder of the days before widespread digital television channels as RTE announced the installation of a new UHF transmitter for the Mitchelstown area after a lengthy campaign by local councillors. 

Tipperary South political representative Con Donovan was lauded on his retirement after 39 years of representing his community. He told The Avondhu: “I’m calling it a day, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Two well known Castlelyons GAA men, who were instrumental in leading their club to success in 1998, were recalled at an annual dinner. Paul Cotter and Ger Dorgan had emigrated to Australia and were spending 1999 in the Antipodean country, where they were working on building sites. 

Lismore marked the departure of the Christian Brothers from the town after 128 years of service. There were masses and council civic receptions as they were honoured for their work. 

Sr Pascal, a popular member of the St Mary’s Cistercian Abbey celebrated her fiftieth anniversary in Ballyduff. The nun, a native of Castletownroche, was a member of a community of 40 nuns who worked in farming, milking cows and gardening. They made eucharistic breads and produced Christmas cards.

The Southern Health Board came up with a novel approach to raising funds for local hospitals – it was set to lease out land attached to medical facilities in Fermoy, Mallow and Killarney. Farmers would then use that land to graze their animals. The cattle would join a number of Iamas already using the ground.      

In sporting circles, much of the reporting was about annual general meetings and appointments to committees. One tragic story was the death of Kilworth GAA legend Lar Sheehan. The club declared him ‘one of the greatest clubmen we ever had’. Kilworth paid a warm tribute to the sporting stalwart and lamented his untimely passing. 

Two handball players from Ballyporeen, Darragh Lyons and Michael John Meaney, were both honoured following their double All-Ireland championship success in 1998.