Farmers in the rich grain producing areas of East Cork and West Waterford were coming to terms in September 1997 with ‘a disastrous harvest’. Unseasonably bad weather, particularly during the month of August 1997 which brought ‘persistent and heavy rain, backed by strong winds’, had flattened thousands of acres of oats, barley and wheat. Figures obtained by The Avondhu indicated that only 10% to 15% of the crop was deemed fit for malting barley, with oats of equally poor quality, as a result of ‘blackening’ due to rain. The story with wheat was even worse, with ‘tests revealing that none of the wheat harvested locally was fit for milling’. Moisture levels as high as 33% were being reported, which ‘in an ordinary year would be registering between 17% and 19%’. John McDonnell of McDonnell Brothers, Coolagown Cross stated that the harvest was the worst he had seen.

A concerned caller to The Avondhu was appealing for ‘help regarding the neglect of a lady’ who lived alone in Fermoy. It was reported that although a relative occasionally called to the woman, those involved in social work in the town claimed they had been told to ‘stay away’. It was feared the town would witness a repeat of the tragic incident in Mitchelstown earlier that year, when two aged sisters were found dead in their home. The caller to our offices, who did not wish to be named, stated “this person will die of malnutrition and proper care unless something can be done without delay”. The Southern Health Board was aware of the situation.

The tragic and untimely death on August 31st, 1997 of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris, saw books of condolence opened locally in both Fermoy and Mitchelstown. An excerpt from a poem ‘Diana – Queen of Hearts’ by Sheila Rose Hazelwood, Kilworth, sums up the affection the public felt for the late princess: ‘She leaves behind her a gap, a void; Which no one else can fill; Many people, can’t believe she’s gone; They feel she’s with them still; But Diana will be forever young; Admired as an icon, a work of art; At last she’s found a lasting peace; God rest the Queen of Hearts’.

Burncourt man, Brian Casey and his dog Pete qualified for the International Sheepdog Trials to be held in Thurles in September 1997, following his 2nd position in the national trials at Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, placing a mere single point behind the eventual winner, D Birchall.

Macra candidate, Pat Kenny defeated the outgoing Baron of Ballyduff, Paddy Jim Feeney to claim the 1997 title in the West Waterford village – held as part of the local festival, ticket sales in support of the duo yielded just shy of £7,000 for the community coffers.

The committee of Ballynoe Point-to-Points made an official presentation to Jimmy and Mary Mangan in the local community hall, in recognition of their magnificent success with Stroll Home in the Galway Place earlier that year. Chairman Eamonn Cotter spoke of the fantastic success the couple had achieved, stating it was great to see someone local making a major impact in Irish racing. Sean Lynch presented Jimmy with a Waterford Crystal lamp, while his wife Mary accepted a bouquet of flowers from Eamonn.

Veteran athletes Paddy McHugh, Catherine Flynn and Paul Cashman were confirmed as participants in the 22 mile charity cycle event for Fermoy Lions Club in 1997. At 69, Paddy was a life-long member of Grange Fermoy AC and although more accustomed to pounding the roads and track, was set to put his cycling skills to the test. He attributed his tremendous level of fitness to his ‘healthy outdoor life on the farm’ and was a great follower of international athletics, acknowledging the African domination of the sport. He had ‘an interesting theory’ on many of the days runners, stating: “I blame school busses for the lack of competitiveness in young people. Youngsters are driven everywhere these days”. Not much has changed!

Sporting briefs – Glenroe minor hurlers were crowned South Limerick champions, defeating Garryspillane ‘Bouncers’, following extra time in a replay, 1-15 to 1-13 – Gerald Coffey was captain; Kildorrery U14 ladies footballers, in defeating Rockban at Mourneabbey, were crowned county B champions – Ruth O’Connor was captain; While the Hill’s minor B footballers beat Erins Hope in the North Cork final, 1-9 to 1-7 – Eamon Coughlan captained the side.