Despite being close on 3 hours late in arriving to Mitchelstown to press the flesh, presidential hopeful Dana Rosemary Scallon was warmly greeted by locals on arrival. In ‘irrepressible form’, the Alabama based singer set about spreading her message to the townsfolk, declaring she would be ‘a president for individuals, not for vested interests’. Dropping into Roche’s Supermarket, surprised locals looked shocked to see her, with handshakes aplenty. Asked by The Avondhu reporter as to her thoughts about the latest opinion poll (indicating she had ‘absolutely no chance of winning’), she declared ‘Polls are a snapshot of a moving picture, the race isn’t over yet you know’.

Claiming to have ‘some horticultural expertise’, there was severe criticism by Cllr Michael Hanley in October 1997 of what he termed the ‘vandalism’ inflicted on the trees in Fermoy town centre, due to the annual pruning undertaken by council workers. Describing the town’s trees as ‘five months of leaves, seven months of sticks’, he ‘poured scorn on the decision to prune the trees with power saws’. In seeking answers, he questioned the council’s policy on their maintenance and asked ‘what role the town gardener played’ in the pruning. However, town clerk Michael Cremin said the pruning was a ‘seasonal measure to promote new growth and was made with the consent of the town gardener’.

The official opening of a new extension at St Michael’s Hall, Ballyduff saw the building blessed by Bishop William Lee and Dean James Healy of Lismore Cathedral, at a well attended ceremony on October 1997.

Following much negotiation, a compromise plan drawn up for the redevelopment of New Square, Mitchelstown was expected to be formally passed at a council meeting in November 1997. The ‘biggest ever investment in the development of an amenity in the town’ saw the initial projected expenditure figure of £140,000 in 1996, increase substantially to £400,000. The plan, ‘widely acknowledged as one of the most positive developments in the town in decades’, would see an entry and exit point at the Mandeville monument and at King Street, running either side of the central plaza – a compromise which would overcome objections by local residents, who were opposed to the closing of the central road. The project, if given the green light, was anticipated to be completed mid 1998.

Plenty drama in the area. Oran O’Reilly’s ‘vision of Armageddon’, his first musical titled ‘A New Tomorrow’ took to the stage at St Michael’s Hall, Ballyduff in November 1997. Directed by Donn McMullin and choreographed by Tina Horan, some of the cast included Glanmire based rock musician Ken Weldon, Fermoy’s Frances Foley, John Hurley, Aoife Hayes, Tom Barry and Judith Clifford.

The talented young ladies at Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy were preparing to perform the musical ‘My Fair Lady’ – musical direction was in the capable hands of Marjorie Moran, while choreography was under the watch of Valerie O’Leary, with Sister Nuala as director.

The Palace Players meanwhile were on stage with ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’ in the Village Arts Centre, Kilworth. Cast members included Tom Dunne, Margaret Walsh, Kate Murphy, Mary Walsh, Ber O’Sullivan, Belinda Fitzgerald-O’Brien, Kevin McCormack and John Murphy – direction by Liam Howard.

Upwards of 200 people packed into the function room at The Firgrove Hotel in October 1997 for the 9th All Star Awards, organised by Mitchelstown Skittles Club in conjunction with Mitchelstown Credit Union. MC was John Casey, with Cork hurling legend Tomás Mulcahy as special guest. The Society of St Vincent de Paul were recipients of the Community Award, accepted by president Liam Roche. Recipient of the Hall of Fame award was Ned Coughlan, while Jim Moher of Ballygiblin Hurling Club won the Admin Award. An array of sporting awards were also presented on the night.

Killavullen’s junior A footballers won the Avondhu Cup with a hard fought win over a determined Kilworth side in Shanballymore. In what was reported as being ‘a difficult game to referee’, Daithi Ahern apparently ‘did a fine job’ – easy to say perhaps when coming from the eventual winners! Captain Ian O’Driscoll accepted the cup following a 2-7 to 0-8 victory.

Further sporting success for Watergrasshill – the village’s youngsters claimed the Sciath na Scol title in Pairc Ui Rinn, disposing of city side Togher. While the ladies footballers won the intermediate county final, following a replay against Newmarket, held at Bishopstown. Leading at half-time 1-7 to 1-3, the side captained by Margaret Buckley ran out winners 3-10 to 2-7. Mags Finn was top scorer with 1-6 for the Hill.