It was a case of ‘a childhood revisited’ for Minister for Education, Micheal Martin when he took time out from his busy schedule to stop off at Ballindangan National School in November 1997. Returning to the place where he spent his holidays as a boy, the minister renewed links with his ‘country cousins, the Walshs, and spoke fondly of his carefree days on the farm of his Auntie Peg’. Recalling the ‘wonder of gathering eggs and feeding the pigs on his cousin’s farm’, the minister dispelled the notion that he was a ‘city slicker’ and made special mention ‘of the pleasant atmosphere that existed at the school’.
While the November 2018 edition of The Avondhu reported on news that farmers in the Kilworth locality experienced the theft of gates from their properties, an issue in November 1997 noted the ‘lucrative trade in stolen signposts’. With many of the old style, cast iron direction signs ending up in ‘Irish theme bars’ in Ireland and the UK, an increasing number were being reported seen in bars throughout the USA and even Russia. Costing county councils nationwide a considerable amount of money to replace, a garda spokesperson told The Avondhu ‘it’s the old black and white ones they go for, the ones with the distance in miles. They seem to have become very fashionable’.
‘We are sick of being fobbed off by Cork County Council, we need to know now when this bypass will come on stream’ – the frustration expressed by Jim Bermingham, chairman of Fermoy Traders Association in November 1997, following the announcement that priority was being given to the Watergrasshill bypass, ahead of the Fermoy project. A meeting of the Mallow Area Roads Committee heard that the route for Watergrasshill had ‘already been identified and the design plan complete’, with the compulsory purchase order to be published and submitted to the Minister for the Environment by December 1997. There was, therefore, no intention to advance the Fermoy bypass ‘until after the Watergrasshill scheme had been formally approved’ and the funding timescale became ‘more definite’, something which did not meet with the approval of local councillors Aileen Pyne, Carey Joyce and Kevin O’Keeffe. Cllr Joyce voiced his concern over the funding for the Fermoy project which, he stated, could ‘dry up’, as the EU were intent on cutting back on structural funds.
Apathy and confusion topped the poll in the 1997 presidential election and Cabinet Confidentiality referendum. With early morning reports predicting a very low turnout, one experienced polling clerk in the area informed The Avondhu that ‘in the evening, the trickle (of voters) turned into a dribble’. There seemed to be ‘genuine annoyance’ at the emphasis put on the opinion polls in the run up to the 1997 presidential election, with many declaring a winner even before a single vote was cast (sounds familiar!). Some voters were even surprised at being handed ‘another sheet of paper’, seemingly unaware or not understanding the proposed amendment to the constitution, on Cabinet Confidentiality, that was also being voted on. Of course, Mary McAleese was elected first citizen in 1997.
Following ‘a deal of controversy’ on the delay in upgrading Fermoy hospital, news in early November 1997 that the Government had made a commitment to provide £2.5 million for the building of the proposed 30-bed unit was warmly welcomed. Local Fianna Fail TD and Minister of State, Ned O’Keeffe, noted that he had initially made the announcement ‘over three years ago’ when last in government, however he blamed the Rainbow Coalition (FG, Labour and DL) for the lack of progress, who had ‘left the issue drag’.
Following a three game marathon with Knockainey, the U16 footballers from Galbally, captained by John Sheehan, annexed the South Limerick football title 1-5 to 0-5.
The junior footballers of Ballyduff bridged a 33 year gap at Fraher Field, Dungarvan in November 1997, capturing the divisional title for the first time since 1964. Defeating Kilrossanty by a 2 point margin following a closely contested final, the sides were level on six occasions, with Ballyduff trailing by a point at the interval, 0-6 to 0-5. However, a John Twomey goal from a penalty less than a minute after the restart proved the difference, as the men in red, led by captain Michael Molumphy, emerged victorious 1-8 to 0-9.
A comprehensive win for Kilworth junior B hurlers, who took the North Cork title, defeating neighbours Fermoy 1-11 to 1-4 in Ballygiblin. Will Hegarty top-scored with 0-6, Pat ‘Chopper’ Shanahan the goalscorer. Brian Sheedy captained the winning side.