Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod
A look at what's going on in the Emerald Isle
Another Pub Closes
ONE of Glenties’ best known pubs is closing its doors after almost 50 years in business as it owners can no longer afford to keep it open.
Paddy’s Bar, which is owned by Kevin and Mary O’Donnell, closed on Easter Monday. The popular venue was opened by Kevin’s late father Paddy in 1962.
Falling trade and rising costs forced the couple into the move. The closure highlights the pressures facing the pub trade in the county.
Figures show that over 100 bars in Donegal did not renew their license last year. Just last week the Vinter’s Federation of Ireland called for a reform of the current rates system to help pubs survive.
Kevin O’Donnell said Paddy’s Bar used to be a hive of activity, but its downfall is reflecting the scars of what has happened in the country and Donegal in recent years. He said the drop in trade has also hit other publicans in Glenties, and the town is no longer the lively weekend spot it used to be.
“In the last four to five years the pub trade has changed drastically with the smoking ban, lower drink driving limits and the increase in the number of shops and off-licenses selling alcohol at cheaper prices,” he said. “This has made it hard to compete and people have found it much cheaper to socialize at home.”
Another impact on the pub’s trade has been the number of young people leaving the area to find work. Students who return home at the weekend don’t go out as often, he said.
Too Late for Booze
A CO. Limerick publican was in the process of filling two glasses of spirits at 4:15 a.m. -- almost five hours after closing time -- when Gardai (police) raided the bar.
Derry O’Meara, who is the proprietor of Derry’s Bar, Main Street, Bruff, pleaded guilty to allowing customers on his premises after hours under the licensing laws.
O’Meara’s solicitor, Audrey Browne, said the weather was extremely bad on that night and the town was very busy because Bruff were involved in a county final earlier that day.
Superintendent Tom Lundon said at 4:15 a.m. on Monday, November 22, Garda John Finnerty and Garda Christopher Cowen entered the bar through an open side door.
“There were five people including the proprietor who was filling two glasses of spirits. All the customers had full drinks in front of them and were intoxicated,” said Lundon.
He told Kilmallock District Court closing on time Sunday, November 21 was 11:30 .pm.
Browne said Bruff were involved in a county under-21 premier football final that day, and there were a lot of people in the town.
“The weather was extremely bad. The customers were waiting for taxis, and being a Sunday night there was a severe shortage of taxis,” said Browne, who added that O’Meara had apologized to Lundon.
Browne said that in her client’s 13 years as a publican he hadn’t come to Garda notice before and had no previous convictions. In hindsight, Browne said O’Meara should have put the customers out in the rain.
Judge Mary O’Halloran said the lateness of the hour was “remarkable” and fined O’Meara ****400.
Easter Egg Shotgun
A SHOTGUN hidden in a tree was an unexpected extra find during a children’s Easter egg hunt organized for Sunday, April 17 by the parents’ committee of Brannoxtown national school.
Over 60 children from the school had been searching the trees for hidden Easter eggs along the popular walking place, the Green Avenue at Gilltown. They had earlier undertaken a sponsored walk from the local Stray Inn. Two of the parents accompanying them made the find.
The shotgun, wrapped in a Killeen-branded black plastic bag, was secreted at the back of one of the trees which line both sides of the Green Avenue.
It appeared to be a fairly old weapon, a breech-loader pitted with a considerable degree of rust. The wooden stock was also very weathered, but did have a modern X-patterned recoil pad on the end of the butt. The trigger guard had also been removed, suggesting that it might have been prepared for non-legal use.
The gun was retrieved from its hiding place by Garda Joanne O’Sullivan, who had accompanied the walk to ensure that the participants weren’t in any danger from traffic. She took it away for forensic examination.
The manner in which the gun had been hidden, and the location, indicates that the owner hadn’t wanted any association with the weapon at the time it was placed in the tree. But the fact that it hadn’t been buried suggests that they may have planned to return for it in some short time.
Gas Station Thieves
GARDAI in Ennis have confirmed that there isn’t a week that goes by where a petrol station doesn’t report a car making off without payment for petrol or diesel.
The issue of absconding without payment at petrol stations is an issue that is presenting itself across the county in the last number of weeks, and Gardai are urging owners to install CCTV cameras to help in the prevention of this type of crime.
A senior Garda says that rising fuel costs has led to a number of thefts of diesel and home heating oil, and acknowledges that the making off without payment from petrol stations could also be a symptom of this.
He advised owners to be conscious of this type of crime and remain vigilant.
What’s Wrong With Me?
BUNCRANA man Martin Gill says he’s had enough -- he is going on hunger strike outside Letterkenny General Hospital unless someone will tell him what is wrong with him.
In just over three years the right hand side of his body has “gone,” his weight has plummeted to a little over 10 stone (140 pounds), and he says he is suicidal.
“This is the last throw of the dice,” said Gill last week, claiming his condition is visibly worsening but he’s being passed around the medical profession, as he describes it, “like snuff at a wake.”
He commented, “I was an alcoholic but I have been sober for five years, but this is doing my head in. My body has totally twisted to the right. My head and arms are now twisted, my leg has shortened, there is twisting of the pelvis.”
Claiming that he was living through a “bureaucratic nightmare,” Gill said it would take weeks to tell his story.
“I have had 30 letters of referral to various doctors and hospitals. Once I waited eight months to go to this specialist, and then when I got there I was told I was with the wrong doctor.
“About two years ago I got a heart attack and got a stint put in. When I went up they asked me to run on a treadmill. I told them they had to be kidding. I was in awful pain; I couldn’t do it.”
He went on, “Some time back I went to the A&E department in Letterkenny General and after waiting nearly four hours I saw a doctor. She said I needed to go see a physiotherapist.
“I then went to see a physio who told me that he couldn’t do anything for me unless I had gone to see a consultant who would refer me to him (the physio). It’s classic catch-22.”
He said unless his own eyes are deceiving him, he is in serious difficulties.
“I have a constant twitch on my right hand side. When people, friends of mine, stop in the street to talk to me the first thing they ask me is what is happening to me.
“How do you explain to people that you have been ill for three years but have had no diagnosis.”
He concluded, “This is not some spur of the moment stunt. I have had enough. This has been going on for more than three years and my life is a misery.
“I have lost my employment because of the pain; I used to have a barber’s shop but I can’t stand for long now. I’m on the dole and surviving hand to mouth.
“I feel my life has been discarded. I am suicidal.”
Tourism Boost Call
BUSINESS leaders have called on the government to abolish the travel tax and launch a fresh campaign to promote tourism.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) claims that thousands of jobs in the sector are under threat and a sustained drive to re-invigorate the industry is required.
ISME says that a lack of government support is hindering tourism. It proposes a number of measures, including the abolition of travel tax, the reduction of local charges including commercial rates, water and waste charges, and the provision of grant aid and direct funding to help promote restaurants, hotels and guesthouses.
ISME says Ireland should be promoted as a location for sporting holidays, and that “home holidays” for people living in Ireland should be incentivized.
The organization's chief executive Mark Fielding has said that the importance of tourism and the estimated 180,000 jobs it supports in Ireland, had been relegated for too long in favor of other sectors.
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