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Dublin's Creative Quarter and Dame District, along with Ennis, Co Clare celebrate becoming the first town centres in Ireland to be awarded the prestigious Purple Flag award. Purple Flag is an international award which recognises excellence in managing town centres, with a focus on the night-time economy. Photo by: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Ireland’s Eye – A round up of top Irish news stories

\"Dublin's

Dublin's Creative Quarter and Dame District, along with Ennis, Co Clare celebrate becoming the first town centres in Ireland to be awarded the prestigious Purple Flag award. Purple Flag is an international award which recognises excellence in managing town centres, with a focus on the night-time economy. Photo by: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

School Finally Gets Toilets
THE days of children having to traipse across the yard to use outside toilets will soon come to an end at a Limerick school.

After a long campaign, Nicker National School in Pallasgreen has received additional funding from the Department of Education to start building works.

Numbers have been on the rise and the school has badly needed an extension for years.  The original school building dates back to 1894 and was last upgraded over 50 years ago. Classes are also taught in two pre-fabs over 40 years old.

But worst of all was the outside toilets.  Now they will be a thing of the past.

“The toilets will be included in the new build along with two main classrooms, learning support and resource room,” said principal, Karen Franklin.

She hopes that the work will be put out to tender soon and building on site and in the field adjacent, bought by the previous board of management, can start as soon as possible.

“We are delighted to receive the money and I would really like to thank teachers, staff, board of management, parents association, parents, pupils and their families for all their patience, support and help with fundraisers,” said Franklin.

Deputy Niall Collins said the issue with the toilets had caused a lot of concern among parents and he was delighted that the funding was granted to alleviate the problem.

“It’s fantastic community school. A lot of the conditions in the school are sub-standard and I’m glad the money has come through,” said Collins.

Limerick Leader

Stray Parrot Mystery

A LONGFORD woman had a very surprising visitor to her home last week when she discovered a

The bird eventually landed on the woman’s floor clearly tired, cold and hungry.

After feeding her new visitor, the woman started making some calls and ended up contacting the Kildare Animal Foundation which takes in exotic birds.

“We gave the bird a couple of hours rest before wanting to move her as the stress might have been too much,” Dan Donoher of the Kildare Animal Foundation said this week.

“That evening a very kind and great supporter of the shelter drove to pick the bird up and bring it to safety.

“By the time the Alexandrine Parakeet or Alexandrian Parrot as they are sometimes known arrived it was much brighter and just wanted more food.”

After a feast of fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts, the bird rested up and started to acclimatize to its new surroundings.

The bird is now in foster care with a member of the foundation to see if it is just an escaped pet, and Donoher believes that the bird could have Longford roots.

“It is more than likely that the bird is from the area,” he explained, pointing out that animals like this don’t get very far once they get out of their usual surroundings.

“When they get out, they are often chased by other birds or in some cases they starve to death.”
Now the search is on for the rightful owner. Already the foundation has had a number of calls from people claiming to own the bird, but the foundation has a special way of weeding out the fake calls -- they just talk to the bird.

“The bird says a good few words and knows its name. It’s very clever,” Donoher added.
Anyone claiming to own the bird should know its name and the extent of its vocabulary.

“If this bird isn’t claimed then we will find it a great new home where it will be well cared for and live with other parrots,” Donoher explained.

Longford Leader

Gun Technology
AN Athlone company is behind the development of smart technology for guns which has caught the attention of White House officials.

Triggersmart, developed by Athlone-based company Georgia Tech, is designed to ensure that only a gun’s registered owner is able to fire it.

The technology is the result of an idea developed by Limerick entrepreneurs Pat O’Shaughnessy and Robert McNamara, who were paired up with Georgia Tech through Enterprise Ireland. General manager of Georgia Tech in Athlone, Joe Dowling, explained that Georgia Tech has been working on developing the technology for the past two years.

“We looked at fingerprint and palm recognition, or grip recognition which measures the pressure points of a hand, but all of these take a while to register the user -- it could be several seconds. But we were looking for a more immediate solution. So we went for RFID, radio-frequency identification technology, which recognizes the user in 0.2 seconds,” he explained.

The RFID reader in the handle of the gun reacts to a tag either in a bracelet or ring, or even embedded under the skin, and is similar to the technology used to microchip animals.

“To fit the reader into the handle of a gun we had to design one of the smallest RFID readers in the world, 1cm by 1cm,” he added.

Dowling said the product has garnered huge attention since the school shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School and the ensuing gun control debate in the U.S.

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