Pride of place locally following the release of results in the 1997 Tidy Towns competition went to Ballyporeen, who gained an impressive 13 points from their 1996 tally. Neighbours Clogheen gained 13 points, with Lismore (+11) and Coolagown (+10) also notable movers. First time entrants Glenville were awarded 158 points. Fermoy gained 4 points, a similar increase to 1996, which at the time was noted as not being reflective of the efforts being put in by volunteers. Terryglass, County Tipperary won the national award in 1997, receiving 249 marks out of a possible 300.

Watergrasshill was proving an attractive location for house buyers, including those from Cork city seeking to put down roots, where prices were reported as ‘overpriced’. A residential development of 18 houses at Woodlawn, School Road in the village was nearing completion and according to builder Sam Kingston of Mitchelsfort Development, many of the houses were already sold. No wonder, with three bedroom semi’s having an attractive asking price of £63,000 – a far cry from prices some 21 years later.

A new Cope development, set to accommodate 10 permanent residents which would also see the provision of day centre facilities for 25 more, got under way at Duntaheen, Fermoy in September 1997, with a price tag of £1.25M. At the signing of contracts for the purpose built facility in The Grand Hotel, chairperson of the local committee, Anne O’Brien, welcomed all present and stressed the importance of the facility for those with special needs in the area. Chairman of Cope, Frank O’Flynn, echoed her sentiments and paid tribute to the local committee for their help, support and encouragement for the project. It was expected to take 12 months to complete.

“Like taking your life in your hands to try to get from Baldwin Street to the Clonmel Road” was how one concerned motorist explained the difficulty in crossing a busy junction in Mitchelstown, when the traffic lights were switched off. Aimed at improving the flow of traffic through the town during busy periods, the junction which was unmanned by Gardai when the lights were off, created a ‘potentially dangerous situation’. The gardai, who came in for criticism for the action, indicated to The Avondhu that such switch-offs only happened on Thursdays and at weekends, when traffic was at its busiest.

Cork County VEC had finally given approval to the setting up of a Youthreach training programme for Fermoy. Following intensive lobbying over a 4-year period, Anne Cowell, vice chairperson of Fermoy Community Resource Centre, was informed of the news by Dr Margaret Buckley, with a total of 25 places being made available on the programme. With the aim of benefiting young people between the ages of 15 and 19 who, for one reason or another, ‘would have left school early or who would not have any significant exam results to their credit’ and found themselves unemployed, the programme would run for a two year period, paying participants a weekly wage, plus a travel allowance if applicable. The local group had now to secure a premises for the programme.

A proud occasion for those associated with Kilmagner National School, when in September 1997 parents, pupils and past pupils gathered to witness the official blessing of the improvements made at the school. 1,000sq metres was ‘under tarmacadam’, which provided children with a ‘safe roomy area’, containing basketball and soccer facilities. An independent water supply had been installed, while sewerage and drainage systems were revamped. Other improvements included ‘a new floor in the master’s room’, spacious shelving in both rooms and the provision of television and video equipment for pupils.

Sporting success of note for the villages of Shanballymore and Kildorrery in September 1997. Shanbally’ retained their junior A hurling crown, defeating Kilworth 2-11 to 0-12 in Ballygiblin. Goals from Vincent Burke and top scorer Donie Curtin (1-8) proved decisive. Brian Barry captained the side and he accepted the trophy from John Dillon, chairman North Cork GAA Board.

The minor B footballers from the Hill captured the North Cork championship for the first time, when, captained by Eamon Coughlan, they overcame Erins Hope on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-7. ‘Careless passing movements, poor finishing and rushed free taking’ saw Kildorrery 0-4 to 1-7 in arrears after three-quarters of an hour, however a penalty by Sean Curtin in the 57th minute, having missed one in the first half (sorry Sean!), gave the Hill boys the lead for the first time and they never looked back.