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July 27th 2005

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Jonathan Kennedy co-opted

Last Monday afternoon, Jonathan Kennedy, son of the late Cllr Peter Kennedy, was co-opted on to Donegal County Council. A large crowd of supporters gathered in Lifford to wish the young councillor well, including his mother, Nancy; fiancee, Stephanie; brother Pauric; and many more family and friends. When the meeting got underway at 2.30, Cllr Sean McEniff proposed Jonathan and Cllr Brendan Byrne seconded. McEniff said he hoped the selection would be unanimous and that Jonathan would have a successful year in the council.
Cllr Byrne, seconding the proposal, said it was a great honour for him to do so. “Jonathan was the unanimous choice of the party and the people of Donegal Town. He brings youth, energy and a new outlook in life which will hopefully spill over on to the council. He has a wide range of interests which will contribute greatly to his term and indeed it is only proper that the Kennedy legacy continue - as it will through Jonathan. I have no hesitation in seconding the motion.”
Then the Cathaoirleach Dessie Larkin asked was there any other proposals. When none other were forthcoming, he deemed Jonathan elected and asked him to sit in the chamber. This he did to a standing ovation.
Francis Conaghan, on behalf of the FF party, welcomed Jonathan, Nancy and family. “I know it is a big undertaking for Jonathan to fill the shoes of his late father but I have no doubt that he will do it particularly well. It gives us great pleasure to see another Kennedy in the seat where only a few months ago we lost one. On behalf of the party we offer our assistance to Jonathan and congratulate him.”
Cllr Slowey said he was sure that Jonathan would be a fine representative – especially for the people of Donegal Town. He would bring his own particular stamp to the council and that was good.
Cllr Ian McGarvey wished the new councillor well and asked to be associated with the remarks made about his late father and the way he conducted himself within the council chamber. He offered any assistance and help needed. He welcomed the family to Lifford and realised it was also a sad day for them.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Dessie Larkin then spoke – “I formally welcome Cllr Jonathan Kennedy to the Chamber and extend a warm welcome to his lovely mother, Nancy. There is one thing I want to tell you, Jonathan – you need a good woman behind you in this job - and I know you have one with your fiancée, Stephanie – whom I welcome. To your brother Pauric and his wife Jenni, a chead mile failte, to Margaret Boyle, sister of the late Peter, a very warm welcome - and to a very good friend of Peter’s, a stalwart on whom I rely on myself from time to time, Mick Kelly, I warmly welcome – and to Nancy’s brother Anthony McCauley, a welcome. I am sure, Jonathan, you are very proud to be following in the footsteps of your father. I am very glad you are following his legacy. He was a man who took the issues of Donegal Town very seriously and fought ferociously - but fought in a way that everybody respected. You know about duty and service to the community so it is a great honour for me to welcome you to the council and offer you my assistance.”
Cllr Blaney congratulated Jonathan and welcomed the Kennedy family and said that the Kennedy and Blaney family had a good relationship down through the years.
The County Manager, Michael McLoone then congratulated Jonathan on his own behalf and on behalf of the staff of Donegal County Council. “I want to say I have a great admiration for the Kennedy family and a great understanding of the legacy that Jonathan is inheriting – a legacy of very dedicated and long service to the Donegal electoral area, and particularly to the people of Donegal Town. While I have seen the profound sorrow and sense of loss of recent times, I trust that this will be a great consolation to Nancy and other family members. I want to offer you the full support of myself and the staff of the council. I know there will be a big adjustment and it would be unnatural if you weren’t nervous today but, when you get to know them, the natives are very friendly. I hope you will enjoy it - it is not all the pain and hardship it is portrayed. Well done – I look forward to working with you.”
Jonathan then replied. He thanked Sean McEniff for proposing him and Brendan Byrne for seconding. “It is indeed a great honour for me to be co-opted on to Donegal County Council to represent the people of the Donegal Electoral Area. I have to say that my father loved being a public representative for the past twenty years and some of his interest in politics has rubbed off on me. I look forward to working with all the council, management and staff. As the new boy in the chamber, I will be relying on all the support and help I can get from you who have been treading the boards for a while. I know I won’t get everything I will look for - but I will be looking - and hopefully, manager, some miracles will happen. Once again, I thank you all for your welcome here today and look forward to representing the people of Donegal to the best of my ability.”
As the group of well-wishers, family, friends and neighbours left Jonathan behind in the Chamber, I spoke to his mother, Nancy, who said “I feel honoured, but sad. I am delighted that, once again, the Kennedy name lives on in the Chamber of Donegal County Council.”

Inver Notes

By Sean Paul McHugh

Happy Birthdays to Ciara Boyle, Pauric McGroarty, Shaun Boyle and Kevin Furey.
Eany Celtic Football Club Committee would like to thank Mary Coughlan for her great effort in securing €40,000 Sports Capital Funding for further development at Eany Park. Eany Celtic would also like to thank all the people who supported and helped make the Annual Seafood Night the great success it was.
Eany Celtic are holding their Annual Barbeque Mackerel Night in the Milltown Bar on Saturday night commencing at 9.00 pm.
St Nauls seniors were in championship action at the weekend against Naomh Bríd and were victorious in what was a dull championship match. The reserves have a bye to the next round, as Naomh Bríd could not field a team. The minors are through to the next round of the championship after two impressive victories in the preliminary round against Bundoran. They now go on to play Four Masters in the next round.
The under 16s had a disappointing defeat against the Four Masters in the divisional final in which they performed well below par. However, they regrouped well and beat St Michaels in the county semi-final last Friday evening. They now play archrivals Four Masters once again on Friday night in Fintra at 7.30pm.
The under 14s played Ardara in the first leg of the championship last Monday. They play the second leg in Mountcharles this Monday at 7.30pm. Hard luck to the under 12s who lost out against a much more physical Mac Cumhaills team in the Division One final last Saturday. There was four points between the two teams at the final whistle. The under 16 girls lost out to Ardara last Tuesday with two goals separating the teams at the final whistle. They played away to Killybegs yesterday evening.

Assistant Commissioner moves to Headquarters

The former Donegal Division Chief Superintendent, now Assistant Commissioner, Catherine Clancy – who was in charge of the northern region – is moving to Gardai headquarters to take responsibility for human resources.

Rescue mission in Donegal Bay

Well done to Captain Billy Bustard and Darren Connolly who took the Waterbus out last week to rescue a stranded jet-skier. The jet-ski collided with a sand bank and the pilot was thrown over the handlebars into the water. Luckily the driver, who was from Enniskillen, had a VHF radio and was able to contact the coast guard. The Bundoran Lifeboat and a helicopter were deployed to the scene. However, the coast guard also contacted the Garda barracks in Donegal Town who relayed the distress message to Billy.
Our waterbus captain enlisted the help of Darren Connolly and they took the boat out the bay, found the stranded man, hoisted him aboard and brought him to safety. As Billy was first on-scene, the lifeboat and helicopter were stood down. The jet-ski was safely recovered later on that evening.

Guilty of Rape

A 33 year old Donegal man has been found guilty of rape at Dublin Central Criminal Court. Gary McHugh of Drumnacullion, Inver, had pleaded not guilty to raping a woman in a hotel room on 12th July 2003. A jury took four hours to return a guilty verdict at the end of the week long trial. Mr Justice Philip O’Sullivan placed McHugh on the sex offenders register and remanded him on continuing bail for sentencing on October 11th.

Eight month suspended sentence for Killybegs men

Two Killybegs men who pleaded guilty to stealing €7,600 from a safe in an office at Killybegs harbour have each been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence at Donegal Circuit cout.
The jury, which was due to hear the trial, was dismissed by Judge John Hogan after the two former workers at the harbour changed their plea.
Cian Brosnan of Old Fintra Road, Killybegs, pleaded guilty to the theft of €3,600 from Patsy Kelly, the harbourmaster, between July 1 and October 6th, 2003 as well as the handling of €2,000 of stolen money between July 31 and September 1st 2003. Aaron McCluskey of St Cummins Hill, Killybegs, pleaded guilty to the theft of €4,000 from Mr Kelly between the same dates.
They had originally pleaded not guilty to the theft of a total of €18,600. The two men, who were then employed by the Department of the Marine as general operatives at the harbour, claimed that they had stolen the money from Mr Kelly as they believed it was owed to them over a deal for a boat that they were involved in with the harbour master.
The court heard that Mr Kelly had installed a hidden video camera in the office where the safe was kept after he had reported to gardai that money that been stolen from it. Mr Kelly used the safe to keep wages he had saved in a general office that was accessible to ten other members of staff of the harbour.
He contacted the Gardai on October 7th, 2003, saying that video footage from the previous day showed two employees making an unsuccessful attempt to break into the safe.
Mr Kelly had claimed that a total of €28,000 had been taken but the court heard that there had been a dispute over the sum stolen from the safe.
Brosnan and McCloskey were arrested on October 21st and admitted taking money from the safe in statements made to the Gardai,
Sentencing Brosnan and McCloskey, Judge Hogan said both men had admitted what were, on the face of it, very serious charges. They had been working in an environment of stress which they had both found it very difficult to cope with, but the dispute with Mr Kelly did not excuse breaking into a safe and stealing money from it. “The consequences of what they have done is that they have lost their jobs which is very significant in an area that relies so much upon the sea and they have, in effect, been punished for very severely for what they have done already. They have no previous convictions for anything, not even not having a light on their bike”, he said.
Sentencing each man to eight month suspended sentences he said: “I don’t know what would be learned from sending them to prison. I don’t believe anything is going to be learned from it.”

Playground open soon?

The playground committee is very hopeful that both toddler and junior playgrounds will be open to the public within the next few weeks. Members of the committee held a very positive meeting last Tuesday night at which legalities that were holding up the opening were discussed. All the equipment is in place and they await the department calling to examine safety and standards. With both playgrounds costing in the region of €250,000, there is still a shortfall of €53,000. The committee are selling tickets to try and eliminate this deficit. The chamber has learned that there is funding for CCTV cameras and are considering installing these in the playground area - and possibly around the Diamond as well.

Great decor work on Laghey Barr Chapel

Congratulations to Fr. Danny McBrearty, Jackie Gallagher and the workers who did up Laghey Barr Church with a great decor and paint job.
A caller to the Times office commended their work and said

“the Blessed Sacrement is still present, and local people are still living in hope that Sunday Mass will return soon to Laghey Barr. There has not been a mass here since last year”.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,
My reason for writing this is that for the past year I have been researching the emigrants from the Kilcar and Carrick area who passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924, and I have decided to bring all the fruits of my research home to the Historical Group which is based in the Aisleann Centre at the factory in Kilcar. This information will then be available to all the local populice if they wish to check. I have researched a total of 730 passenger records with a lot of detail from the manifest passenger list. This will not be just a list of names but, in 90% of the cases, I have been able to identify who their next of kin at home was - also height, complexion, hair colour and eye colour. I have recorded where they sailed from, and whom they were going to - and what address in the US. I have been doing this research now 7 days a week for the past year. You’re probably wondering why I selected the particular area of Carrick and Kilcar. Well, I’m from Kilcar and, before emigrating in 1961, I worked at the Gaeltarra Eireann factory. So I suppose it is appropriate to give my research to the Historical group in Kilcar which is based in the factory.
So long,
Packie Byrne,

Outdoors by Pan

‘Cresting’ is an art – or at least a pursuit – which I have taken to over the years. It means climbing to the top of a hill or mountain in a range and then keeping to the highest ground you can as you make for the next crest. The hills circling the Glenaddragh valley above Fintragh are an example. You can climb on the first of these, Crownarad (Cruach Anard – Very High Hill) and crest north to Mullnanaff (Flat-top of the Stags), which is a watershed for several rivers flowing north towards Ardara, east towards Killybegs and west to Kilcar, then cross through forestry on to the crests on the far side of the Glenaaddragh, Craccheo (Cruach Cheo - Mist Mountain) and Crownasillagh (Cruach na Saileach – Willow Moumtain).
Frank Harvey, Donegal Town poet, who trekked every mile of the Bluestacks over the years, once told me of ‘cresting’ every peak from Carnaween to Barnesmore in one day. Not for the fainthearted – maybe for the intrepid leaders in the Bluestack Ramblers who recently completed yet another great Bluestacks Challenge for local disabled children groups. You can still send in sponsorship contribution via this paper to this worthy cause.
Whether you take on a long trek like these or climb a gentle hill close to a road in this lovely county, now is the best time to do it because the the ground is at its driest and easiest and safest to climb. I was at the summer gathering in the Island of Doagh in Inishowen at the weekend where all kinds of interesting activities were in full swing from dancing and chanting in groups on the beach to demonstrations of earth-friendly therapies and Renewable Energy appliances to Green Building skills such as an improved version of Yeats’ famous cabin ‘Of clay and wattles made’. The clay is now a mix of hydrated lime and hemp fibre but the wattles are still of hazel or willow and the resultant building warm and economical and environment-friendly from every aspect. In another of the many marquees and tents erected for the Gathering at Doagh Island I met Donegal Town woman Karen Stewart who runs her own Holistic Health Centre, with services from Magnetism to non-invasive blood and cardio testing. You can contact her on 071 9663311.
What struck me most about Doagh Island was how the crowds could sit about on the bone-dry grassy meadows around the beach to dine and enjoy all the fun. And this was the day that Rosslare, County Wexford, recorded a full month’s rainfall in 24 hrs while Cork Airport recorded 73ml – nearly 3 inches!! Let nobody complain of Donegal weather again!
Indeed don’t complain of Irish weather generally. Frank McWilliams, that invariably interesting Irish Times meteorology correspondent, recently told us of how lucky we are in these days of climatic extremes, Places in the south of France and particularly in Spain and Portugal are absolutely parched. People are enduring massive livestock and crop losses not to mention raging forest fires that have claimed many lives. In the east of Europe unprecedented floods are being experienced as the opposite extreme hits those regions. We enjoy very moderate conditions, the wonderful ‘Golden Mean’ that is as desirable in weather matters as much as any other human experience! Some people are predicting a growth in ‘Climate Tourism’ for Ireland as visitors come to enjoy that ‘Soft day, thank God’ experience!
In the meantime, enjoy a Frank Harvey poem:

The Rainmakers
For Esther

We shake the young birches
hung with fat raindrops:
local showers that drench
only you and me; witch
doctors, I know, do it
better but this is
personal rainmaking,
private weather. Listen
to the laughter of myself
and my daughter under
the dripping birches.

Famous Mountaineer in Donegal Town Courthouse

Sammy Leslie, Sharon Scally, Constance Cassidy and Dawson Stelfox pictured outside Donegal Town Courthouse on 21st July after their licence hearing. Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Ireland’s leading mountaineer, Dawson Stelfox – who conquered Mount Everest 12 years ago - was recently welcomed to Donegal Town.
On May 27th, 1993, he and co-climber Frank Nugent became the first Irishmen to successfully climb the world’s highest mountain. The historic occasion was recorded when Stelfox, from Belfast, contacted base camp via a short-wave radio call.
He delivered the memorable lines: “Everest calling Rongbuk, come in please. Dermot, the altimeter is reading 8848 metres and I’m sitting on top of the world.”
The moment was remembered when Mr Stelfox was called as an expert witness at Donegal Circuit Civil Court on July 21st on behalf of Samantha Leslie, owner of Castle Leslie where Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills celebrated their wedding.
Mr Stelfox is the architect for refurbishments on the 1,000-acre estate at Glaslough, Co. Monaghan, where a hunting lodge is being converted to an hotel and a top-of-the range international equestrian holiday centre.
The court awarded formal approval of the plans when they were outlined by Ms Leslie and after Mr Stelfox told Judge John O’Hagan that fire officers had indicated no objection on safety grounds.
The judge remarked approvingly: “I can’t help but make comment that I see no disco in the plans.”
Earlier, when Mr Stelfox was taking the oath, the judge inquired if he was related to the famous explorer and mountaineer. Mr Stelfox replied that he was that person. The judge welcomed him to the town, and also welcomed Ms Leslie’s lawyer, licensing expert Constance Cassidy, S.C.
Judge O’Hagan observed that Ms Cassidy was, perhaps, already familiar with Donegal since she had property in a neighbouring county – a clear reference to her ownership along with her husband Eddie Walsh of Countess Markievicz’s ancestral home, Lissadell House, in County Sligo.
In addition to approving the plans for Castle Leslie, the judge also gave the go-ahead for major refurbishment of Redcastle Country Hotel near Moville, and a new Radisson Hotel on the Farnham estate outside Cavan.
The judge paid tribute to all three applicants. He said it was very refreshing that they were plunging huge investments into tourism projects along the border. He added: “Hopefully they will get a bountiful return.”

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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