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December 8th 2004

Hold the Front Page!

As another year comes to a close, the people of south Donegal must be hoping that 2005 will prove more productive in terms of development, expansion and growth. After a series of disappointments at a local level, the final blow, delivered at the end of November, confirmed what many of us suspected from the outset, that decentralization was never capable of being delivered in terms of volume and location, as announced in last year’s budget.
This time last year, a call from the upper echelons of the Department of Social and Family Affairs advised us to ‘Hold the Front Page’ for an important announcement to be made by the Minister for Finance on his big day. And right on cue, Charlie McCreevy announced 230 jobs for Donegal Town. Twelve months later, another announcement...........
But the news that Donegal Town is not to be in the first tranche of decentralized locations was just another setback in a year that started out in a spirit of hope and expectation, only to peter out in dejection, as promises and pledges made at commencement proved to be empty and hollow.
Maybe it’s just as well the civil servants are being delayed from arriving in town. Firstly, we have nowhere to put them. After twelve months of deliberations, the O.P.W. has still not announced which site has been picked to house the expected officials. Secondly, there is no retail infrastructure in place. Revlin, The Mullans, Drumlonagher and the Mart, all still await planning approval, much to the bafflement and frustration of local people. Thirdly, the much vaunted town sewage scheme, essential to service projected increased population, and revitalise the bay area for recreational activities, has ground to a halt. Originally due to be finished by 2006, the contractor picked to do the job went bust without completing even the first phase. Deemed ‘a temporary blip’ by a council spokesman, months have passed with no sign of renewed activity on this front.
So much for decentralization – but this was just one of many disappointments that faced us in 2004. As mentioned, all four sites seeking retail status around town remain in limbo. Bennett sprang a surprise with the purchase of Mrs Brown and Mrs. Sweeney’s sites – Keeney could still be lurking in the shadows waiting to spring another one. But we still await our first national multiple. And this Christmas, as in the past, we will watch our own shoppers, and those from surrounding areas, by-pass Donegal Town and head for other centres to make their purchases. Indeed, with the weakening of sterling against the euro, adding to already startling price differences, all border towns in the republic, big and small, are looking at a bleak economic Yuletide period.
Another scheme, trumpeted now for some time, that once again failed to materialise in 2004, was the Town Enterprise Group’s ambitious blueprint to revitalise the far pier area, plans that include a sunk-back building that would house: a tourist office, catering facilities, an interpretative centre, booking office and a clean-up and shower area for crews, all serving a renewed, clean bay, accommodating a 60 berth small boat marina. A terrific development to enhance our town’s greatest natural asset – but, needless to say, when flagship projects and grants were announced by Bord Failte and North West Tourism, Donegal Town’s bay area did not get a mention. Very few towns in Ireland have in their centre the stunning bay and river feature that we do, but it seems we will have to wait longer for a more enlightened funding body to see its potential and enable us to progress this enlightened concept.

While the aforementioned are some of the major disappointments of 2004, there have been others. The recently introduced pay and display is working well on our main streets and car-parks, but it has led to additional problems in no-charge areas such as Tirchonaill Street, Waterloo place and New Row, which are now very difficult to transverse, such is the level of vehicle congestion. The lower charges should be placed on these as well. Also up at the Catholic church, Fr. Peoples is going to have to find some way of restricting the free-for-all, unsightly abandonment of cars that is taking place there now. Maybe introduce an exit charge like that at the cathedral in Sligo – doubtless the good father would have no bother finding use for monies collected. All in all, the parking charges are working and, with good policing and a few tweaks to the system, should free up the whole town and, at the same time, provide us with sufficient revenue to make a difference to our patch.
And there are many areas within which a relatively small amount of money could make a big difference. These include; the Bank Walk; better lighting down to far pier and around Old Abbey: extra seating for the Diamond and a scheme to bring more colour to this area; a river promenade extending from far pier to Water Street bridge; new car-parking behind the Diamond north; purchase of land to create town park behind the castle; town library; indoor recreation facilities and outdoor playground; help for Railway Restoration Society to lay track to Drumlonagher thus creating a unique attraction in the centre of town; better lighting along Sene Lane into carpark, and, as mentioned in our last issue, the roofing of the Donegal Castle’s Manor House, to enable banquets and other funtions to take place there.

For Donegal Town to be an attractive destination for shoppers, visitors and decentralised personnel, we have got to create an environment that makes them feel wanted and welcome. As well as amenities and services already mentioned, we also need major recreational facilities such as a swimming pool and cinema.
No doubt to achieve all the above is a wish-list beyond expectation. But to make our town self-sufficient and appealing for the tourist, shopper and civil-servant - it is one we must aspire to.

Happy birthday, Rita

Rita Faulkner (sitting, 3rd from right) who celebrated her 75th birthday with a party in the Harbour Restaurant recently with family and friends. Picture includes her 11 children, Tara, Jacinta, Caroline, Maureen, Sandra, Malachy, Pat, Sean, David, Martin and Jim. Photo by Jason McGarrigle

Mart Statement

The executive committee of Donegal Co-operative Livestock Mart wish to express their dissatisfaction with the ‘Opinion’ article in your issue of 24th November stating that the mart executive, among others, objected to a planning request for permission to build a mart at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy. The executive did not lodge an objection. They did submit to the County Council an observation concerning use in connection with Ardlenagh/Lurganboy planning application of a list of farmers supplied by them for use in Tullyearl planning application. It would be a simple matter for the Donegal Times to check at Drumlonagher Public Services Centre the objections and observations lodged in response to the Ardlenagh/Lurganboy planning application and we trust that it will do so and correct the statement contained in the 24th November issue.

FAS workers doing mighty job in Old Abbey

Martin Burke, Des Corley and Jackie Gallagher

Up in the Old Abbey graveyard, the FAS project workers are doing great work. Under the supervision of Jackie Gallagher, Des Corley and Martin Burke have cleared all the walk-ways and walls revealing graves and headstones long hidden from view. Jackie commented that the historic graveyard was badly overgrown, with the graves along the wall being lost under soil which was thrown there from other graves. Some of the gravestones date back to the 1700s. “Fr. Peoples has great admiration for this graveyard and he applied for the project. We began here on the 4th October 2004 and end in September 2005. This is part of the Townawilly Parish Project which covers Donegal, Mountcharles and Ballintra. People should remember that this is consecrated ground where loved ones are buried and it should be treated with respect, especially by the people who allow their dogs to roam freely and the AVS pupils who lounge around the graveyard and throw away their litter.” said Jackie.

Holiday Times

The Donegal Times office will close on Friday December 10th at 3pm, re-opening Tuesday 4th January 2005. During that period items can be left into ‘Forget-me-Not’, the Craft Shop, or dropped through the letterbox. Messages can also be left by phoning 074 9722860, faxing 9722937; or emailing Subscription requests will be processed up until the 16th December. Our next issue will be on January 12th.
We here at the Times, Liam, Margaret, Jason, Patricia and Pamela take this opportunity to thank all who supported the paper over the year, our contributors & especially our advertisers. We wish everybody a very Happy Christmas and peace and prosperity in the New Year.

Inver Notes

By Sean Paul McHugh

Happy birthday to the following people who are celebrating their birthdays this month, Pierce Connolly, Inver; Danny McDyre, Drimnakillew; Conal and Fiachra McGinley, Ardaghey.
The St Nauls GAA AGM is on in the clubrooms at 8pm sharp on Monday 13th December. All members are welcome to attend. The Club is also holding its annual dinner dance on the 29th of December in Pier 1. Any players wishing to book tickets should contact Brian McCabe or Paul Griffin.
The local lads involved with the St Nauls minors are due to play in the minor final next Saturday against Ardara. Good luck to everyone involved. See the January issue for coverage of the match! Mass in Ardaghey Chapel is also changed on that day to 6pm instead of 8pm.
Well done to Eany Celtic under 16s who won the South Donegal Schoolboys cup last Saturday. Well done to Seamas Meehan, Willie Mackay and all involved. The under 14s training starts on Monday at 7 o’clock at the Astroturf field.
Congratulations to Toni Griffin and Mike Callinan who got married in Ardaghey on Saturday. Best wishes to them in the future.
There was a variety night in Inver Community Centre on Friday that saw Country Stars Jimmy Henry and Fiona Ennis, along with rising local stars Green Rising, entertain the crowd.
Happy Christmas to all in Inver.

Kayt runs Quebec Marathon for
Childrens’ Cancer Charity

Kayt O’Rourke of Drumcliff, Donegal, and her son Duncan at the Quebec Marathon in August this year. Kayt’s husband, Mike, can be seen on the sidelines (2nd from right)

Local woman Kayt O’Rourke (nee Duncan, Drumcliff) successfully completed the Quebec Marathon on August 29th this year. Kayt took part in the marathon in order to raise funds for Sherry’s House, an American charity dedicated to children suffering from cancer. Instead of being brought to hospital during chemotherapy the children are accommodated in a beautifully decorated and comfortable house where they and their families can avail of all the best in hot meals and accommodation, while having access to live-in nurses who caters for all the childrens’ needs. They also provide social workers for the parents and family members should they want to talk about their child’s illness. The house, which opened in 2003 in Worcester, Massachusetts, was founded by Terry Shepherd whose daughter Sherry came up with the idea. Sadly Sherry did not live to see the completion of the project. The charity also sends sick children to Disney World. So far over half a million US dollars has been raised for Sherry’s House.
Kayt, who now resides in Worcester, will be back in training soon for next year’s Quebec Marathon and also hopes to participate in the Dublin marathon in support of the same cause.

Killybegs suffers on

The air of suspicion that has been created in Killybegs by recent allegations has resulted in a downturn of business generally in the town. Local and foreign fishing vessels are not landing their catches at the harbour and because of this there is no necessity to employ casual workers in the factories this year. Local businesses, including the shops, hotels and pubs have cut down on staff. The winter months, which would normally be a hectic time for the port, look anything but busy at the moment. It is going to be a bleak Christmas for the many living within a 50 mile radius of Killybegs who depend on the town to provide seasonal work.

Seamount returns to Mountcharles

The new refurbished Seamount in Mountcharles is due to open on Friday 10th December with Kevin Meehan and Rosie Quinn at the helm. For the present they intend to open the bars only. This renowned premises, which already houses a cellar bar and back bar, will be opening a third bar to the front in what was previously the dining room.
This couple are certainly showing faith in the village, having firstly set up a carpet business at the lower end, then buying McColgans to which they moved their Meehan’s Carpet Centre and Northwest Floor Coverings. Next move was to purchase the adjacent premises, The Seamount Hotel. Kevin and Rosie are very excited about their new venture and by all reports this refurbished and revamped premises will be the place to be this Christmas. We wish them well in their new venture.

Mounties for Letterkenny, Paddywagon for Donegal!
(From our Crime Desk)

Punters coming out of the clubs in Letterkenny on Sat night got their first glimse of the Mounted Garda Unit which was brought in to tackle the ongoing yob behaviour on the streets. Arrests in the county’s capital are running at 4 times that of the rest of the county.
Meanwhile a gleaming white Paddywagon parked on the Diamond over the weekend was a welcome reminder for anyone thinking about acting the maggot in our own wee town (there was a disturbance on Friday night at a local take-away) Luckily enough, we’re not in the same league as Letterkenny - yet. But with the increasing popularity of Donegal as a weekend destination, we hope the Gardaí will continue the good job they have been doing and take no nonsense from young aggressive Rambos on our streets.  

Donegal man charged with burglary
at home of pensioner

Irish Times Report

Mr Dermot Wilson (21), of Duffy’s Flats, Main St, Donegal Town, was charged at Letterkenny District Court with trespassing and burglary at the home of Mr William Bartley, Clarcam, between November 16th and 17th.
Insp Eugene McGovern made an application to remand Mr Wilson in custody with consent to bail. He requested bail be set at a substantial amount in light of more serious charges to come before the court in relation to the defendant.
Solicitor Mr Patsy Gallagher said Mr Wilson lived with his partner who was expecting their second child in four months’ time and had fifteen month old child. He said Mr Wilson did not pose a flight risk. He was on social welfare and of limited means.
Bail was set at €6,000 with €300 in the defendant’s own bond. The accused’s father, Mr Patrick Wilson, of O’Cleirigh Avenue, Donegal Town and his sister Ms Deirdre Wilson, were approved as independent sureties for €3,000 each.
As a condition of his bail, Mr Wilson must sign on daily at Donegal Town Garda station between 9am and 9pm. He is not to make contact with any witnesses in the case and must surrender his passport and promise not to apply for a new one. He must also reside at his current address.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937