Anyone with ‘the credentials to be a top class culchie’ was invited to participate in a heat of the National Culchie Festival, as part of a new event during the Lismore Community Festival in 1997. The call was out to locate culchies ‘of all shapes, ages and sizes’, with the winner of the ‘prestigious competition’ locally, going forward to the national finals in Mountbellew, Co Galway. 

Councillor John Hussey finally withdrew remarks he made at the February 1997 meeting of Fermoy UDC to sitting chairman, Cllr Richie O’Leary. However, the apology ‘was well timed insofar that Cllr Hussey did not appear until a new chairman, in the person of Cllr Michael O’Dwyer, had taken over’. Cllr O’Dwyer was proposed for the position of chairman at the June 1997 sitting of the council by his Fine Gael counterpart, Cllr Aileen Pyne and seconded by Cllr Mary O’Connor (PD). Cllr Hussey, when asked by Cllr Dunlea ‘to apologise directly to the person who had occupied the chair’, namely Cllr O’Leary, stated that in apologising to the chair, he had done what was asked of him, adding ‘I could not possibly have returned to this chamber while the previous chairman was still in office’. Before handing over the chain of office to Cllr O’Dwyer, Cllr Richie O’Leary thanked the members, executive and staff of the council ‘for all the help and support he had received’, during a ‘turbulent and very testing’ year.

Former Republic of Ireland soccer manager, Jack Charlton paid a visit to Ballyhooly in June 1997, indulging in his favourite pastime along the banks of the Blackwater. He was reported to have ‘caused quite a bit of a stir’ when landing an 11lb salmon. Local girl, Denise Cooney was lucky enough to be pictured with the popular figure following the catch, making the front page of The Avondhu.

An award for excellence in customer service was awarded to AIB Mitchelstown employee, Mairead Barry from Bridesbridge, Castlelyons. One of just nine recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious award, employees were subject to ‘a rigorous evaluation process’ following initial nomination. Ms Barry was presented with her cash prize and certificate by AIB North Cork senior manager, John O’Connor.

June 1997 saw ‘Con Air’, starring Nicolas Cage, on screen in Fermoy Community Youth Centre Cinema. A selection of live entertainment locally, saw Natural Gas playing at Winnie Murphy’s Traditional Bar, Fermoy; Louise Morrissey was on stage at The Greenwood Inn, Ardpatrick; Tom and Jack Coffey of ‘Bachelors In Trouble’ fame were special guests at the Ballylanders Macra na Feirme Field Evening; Jim McCann was at The Ramble Inn, Mitchelstown, while The Stuttering Bum was set to entertain patrons at The Piper’s Inn, Mitchelstown.

The summer of 1997 saw the opening of a new restaurant/craft shop in the south Tipperary village of Clogheen. Proprietor was well-known local bodhran maker, Klass Huisenga, and with seating room for approximately 30, business was initially reported as ‘brisk’. Catering for a ‘growing tourist trade’ in the village, the new enterprise was called the Tipperary Music Craft Centre.

Looking forward to a slower pace of life, following retirement after 37 years as post mistress in Castlelyons, was Margaret Regan. Having taken over the running of Castlelyons Post Office in 1960, Margaret told The Avondhu in June 1997, that the most welcome change during her tenure as post mistress, ‘was undoubtedly the change over from a manual to an automatic telephone exchange system’ in 1974. The ‘onerous task’ of operating the old manual system meant all calls for the locality had to be dealt with at the Regan homestead, which meant a 24/7 presence on the premises, something Margaret said they were ‘happy to see the back of’. Her successor was finally announced as John O’Donnell, O’Donnell’s Centra, allaying fears in the community for the future of the post office, as Ms Regan had stayed in the position longer than initially planned, to facilitate a seamless changeover.

Sporting briefs – Colaiste an Chraoibhin retained the PJ Doherty Trophy at Fermoy Soccer Club in June 1997, defeating TJ Goodtymes 4-0. Connie Corcoran as captain led Lindsay’s Dart Club, Ballyduff to triple success in 1997, as winners of the West Waterford Cup, League Cup and League Cup in the Cappoquin & District League. Denny Howard of Garrynacole, Rathcormac won three Irish titles at the 1997 BLE National Veterans’ Track & Field Championships in the O70 category, in the hammer, discus and shot putt events.