ROYAL PROTEST - Members of the Republican group Eirigi protested outside the British Embassy in Dublin on Saturday over the Queen's visit to Ireland in May.

Lennon Autograph Cash-In

NEWPORT man’s teenage passion for The Beatles yielded a rich dividend when he was paid 1,300 for an autograph album containing the signatures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Charles Mulchrone, 61, encountered Lennon and his then girlfriend during their famous visit to the Great Southern Hotel in Mulranny in June 1968.  Lennon had recently purchased Dornish Island in Clew Bay and was visiting Newport with a group of friends, including Ono.

Mulchrone was in the hotel on the day and plucked up the courage to approach the famous duo and ask for their autographs.

“They were as sweet as pie,” he recalls.

Mulchrone kept the album for more than 40 years before bringing it to Sheppard’s auction house in Durrow, Co. Laois, last week where it was sold for the impressive sum of 1,300. The purchaser was 42-year-old Andrew McCormack, a graphic designer who lives in Berlin.

Lennon’s visit to Mulranny in 1968 has gone down in legend, not least because he joined in a music session in the hotel, giving locals a sneak preview of material from the soon-to-be iconic album, Revolution.

Dornish Island subsequently became a “hippy commune” before it was eventually sold to a local farmer after Lennon’s assassination in New York in 1980.

Western People

Clare Town ‘Dying’

KILRUSH town center has been described as “dying on its feet.” This bleak picture of the West Clare capital’s prime retail and business area has been presented by long-time local public representative, Councilor Tom Prendeville.

Prendeville said up to 70 premises in the middle of Kilrush are presently vacant. 

“It’s obvious to anybody there that the town center is dying on its feet. In Moore Street alone, you’d have 25 or 30 vacant premises. I would say that there would be anything up to 60 or 70 vacant premises in the town center,” he said.

While noting that concerns over rates, town-center parking, rental costs and access to credit are contributing factors towards the commercial demise of the center, Prendeville also feels that Tesco and Aldi supermarkets, both of which are located on the Ennis Road, have impacted upon the town retail trade.

“There is no doubt about that. They have had an effect and the same effect has been experienced in all towns where major multi-nationals came in,” he said.

“A lot of the businesses that have gone under over the past two or three years have done so because they weren’t able to compete with what was on offer in the multi-nationals and, certainly, that is a concern.”

Prendeville feels Kilrush Town Council must play a role in helping to reinvigorate the town.

“Although the rates were frozen this year in Kilrush, which is good, maybe the time is right for a reduction in rates? And parking, is that an issue? Is that a barrier to people coming in and shopping in the town center? Rents are another problem. It’s up to the town council to see what we can do.”

Prendeville cites Moore Street in Kilrush, which was once the town’s prime retail and business quarter, as a clear example of the reversal in the town center’s economic well-being.

“Moore Street to us sums up exactly what we’re on about. There isn’t a shop available in Moore Street now to buy a pint of milk, which is certainly a huge problem.  There’s only one or two enterprises still remaining on the street. The street is dying on its feet,” he stated.

Clare Champion

Sligo Land Value Slip

LAND prices in Sligo fell by over a third last year, which was the second biggest decrease in the country.

The value of an acre of land in the county fell by 34% from 10,505 in 2009 to 6,923 last year, according to a new national survey.

The first ever 32-county agricultural land price report carried out by the Irish Farmers Journal shows that prices in Sligo fell by 46% from 2007, when the average price per acre was around 15,000.
However, that is less than the rate of decline nationally, which is 57%.

The survey shows that the national average price for an acre of agricultural land in 2010 was just under €8,800 -- down 14.5% on the year before.

The fall in prices in Sligo, to what is now the fifth lowest nationally, is explained to some degree in the amount and type of land which was sold last year.

The report points out that in 2009 a number of prime quality parcels along a vein of land from Skreen to Strandhill came on the market which commanded premium prices in the region of 14,000.

“This was not repeated last year when not one farm surpassed the 9,000/acre mark,” the report said.

The survey states that estate agents reported the timeframe to sell a property has moved from three months to 12 months in the current environment.

Access to money and the absence of confidence are major barriers and, as a result, negotiations are taking longer to complete.

Sligo Weekender

Mind St. Pat’s Alcohol

A CONTROVERSIAL image of a child asleep at an alcohol-filled table in a bar is being used to urge Derry parents not to bring their children to licensed premises this St. Patrick’s Day.

Derry City Council’s Civic Alcohol Forum together, with a number of other agencies, launched the campaign as the image was rolled out across prominent city centers billboards and bus shelters.
Derry Mayor Colum Eastwood said he hoped it would make parents think carefully about how they choose to celebrate the day with their children.

“We want everyone to have a positive experience at this year’s spring carnival and will be reminding parents to show their children how to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day in a positive way. The message we are trying to get out there is that you are not responsible for someone else’s behavior, but you are responsible for your behavior while caring for your child,” he said.

Joanne Smith, partnership manager with local alcohol awareness group Drink Think, said, “We are asking parents to think twice before taking your children into a licensed premise this St. Patrick’s Day.

here are a number of premises throughout the city that provide a family friendly environment for you to enjoy good food and maybe some entertainment, but please remember that St. Patrick’s Day is increasingly becoming a day when people drink a lot and places become very packed which may not be ideal for children to be present in.

“Take advantage of the alcohol free events taking place throughout the city if you have young children.”

Derry Journal

Borrowers Can’t Pay

THE heartbreaking cost of financial hardship was laid bare in Carlow District Court last week, as many local financial institutions confronted their debtors before the law.

A significant number of enforcement and committal orders were sought at the court from the institutions, all owing significant sums from Carlow borrowers.

The human tragedy of the economic crash was very evident as solicitors argued that in many cases sums of 30 a week or 50 a month simply couldn’t be paid back by their hard pressed clients.

One solicitor described how his client was “in dire financial circumstances” and finally agreed on a payment of 5 a week to an institution that is owed thousands of euro.

Another solicitor explained, “My client owes three quarters of a million to one financial institution. He has no income and no other means ... there is little point in agreeing to an order he simply won’t be able to pay.”

One builder owed 70,000 to his local credit union, while evidence was also given of a former company director whose business had collapsed and whose home mortgage was now in arrears.

In each of the cases, it was clear that the financial institutions, while turning to the law, were also willing to work with their clients to clear the debt.

During the court session, on many occasions the financial institutions accepted an installment order for far less that the one they had originally sought, once their customers’ personal stories became public.

Carlow Nationalist