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Pensioner Punches Priest

A Donegal pensioner who punched a priest in the head appeared at Letterkenny District Court last week.

Seamus Doherty, of Churchill, appeared charged with assaulting Fr. Michael McKeever at St. Colmcille’s Church in Glendowan last January 15, 2011. He was also charged with a number of public order offenses on various other dates.

Garda (police) inspector David Kelly told the court that at 7:45 p.m., Doherty entered the church sacristy where McKeever was preparing for evening Mass.

Doherty attempted to offer a donation of money but McKeever refused to accept it and asked him to leave, which he did.

When Mass began a short time later Doherty was in the congregation and got up and left. The priest then noticed him causing a disturbance at the back of the church before walking up the aisle towards the altar, drinking from a bottle of whiskey.

McKeever attempted to lead him away and was assisted by three church-goers after he refused to move.

Doherty became abusive and began shouting allegations that the clergy were responsible for the suicide of a local man, whose family were present in church at the time.

As he was being led out he punched McKeever in the forehead.

The court was told the defendant has 13 previous convictions.

Defense solicitor Frank Dorrian said most of his previous convictions related to intoxication, and he also has serious mental health problems.

This resulted in his behavior becoming “erratic” at times, but now while he was sober he wished to apologize for his “outrageous conduct,” the solicitor said.

He said he was intoxicated and “beyond reason” at the time and made “an absolute show of himself” in his local community.

McKeever was uninjured in the assault, the court heard.

Judge Paul Kelly said the defendant was a “serious risk” to himself and members of the community by his behavior.

“I can think of few things more distressing than the comments made to the young man’s family,” he stated.

Kelly said a medical report “clearly indicates a problem.” He adjourned the case until March 15 for a probation report.
-Donegal Democrat

Baby Battles for Life

A miracle baby who was born weighing a mere one pound and five ounces is putting up an “amazing” fight for life at the maternity hospital in Limerick after being born three months premature.

The little girl -- who is so delicate that she has been held just once by her mother -- is receiving round the clock expert care at Limerick Hospital.

Aimee Laura Hennessy is so tiny that her parents, Nicola and John from Kilmallock, refer to her as their “little Thumbelina” after the fairy princess who was no bigger than her mother’s thumb.

“We are allowed touch her -- I got to hold her the other day just while they were changing her incubator. It was lovely,” said Nicola this week.

“John has changed her nappy but he hasn’t got to hold her yet. He is a bit nervous, she is so small,” she continued.

Nicola gave birth to Aimee, the couple’s first child, on January 6, just 24 weeks into her pregnancy. She had been an inpatient of the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital on the Ennis Road since Christmas Day.

“I was hospitalized for two weeks beforehand. I was on complete bed rest because they kind of knew that something wasn’t right. She was born in her waters which they say is a good sign,” she explained.

The 32-year-old and her husband have maintained an almost constant vigil at the side of the incubator in which Aimee rests. The little girl is connected to a range of medical equipment to aid her in her determined fight for life. She wears a little pink and white hat to insulate her head.

“It’s an emotional roller-coaster. You have a good day and then Sunday was a very bad day. We didn’t know if she was going to pull through on Sunday or not. Her lungs are very underdeveloped so that will be her big battle, her big fight. Everything else seems to be okay, it’s just her lungs,” Nicola said.

“She is good. She is well settled,” Nicola added, describing her daughter’s determined spirit as “amazing.”
-Limerick Leader

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Leaving Kilmihil

A recent survey in Kilmihil has revealed that at least 87 people have emigrated from the West Clare parish inside the last two years. The vast majority of the recent emigrants are aged between 20 and 30.

Gerry Johnson, one of the local people who put the figures together, has said the deluge of emigrants from the community has led to Kilmihil losing a generation of people. He maintains the current crisis is worse than emigration figures from the parish in the 1980s.

“We’re missing a generation in Kilmihil now. That generation is gone. We’ve the younger people and the older ones like myself. But we’ve nothing in between,” Johnson said.

“That’s basically what’s happening in Kilmihil. I think it’s way worse than in the 1980s. Things weren’t as bad here as they are now. It’s lasting so long this time and there’s no sign of it getting better.

“My own son, Neil, is 30 years of age and he’s just come home from Australia. He was going out socializing recently and I asked him who was he meeting, He said ‘I’ve no one to meet.’

“It’s that age group from 20 to 30 that have left Kilmihil. They’re the age group that make things happen. They get involved in every activity that’s happening in the parish.” 

Approximately 50% of the recent emigrants from Kilmihil now live in Australia, while the remainder are based around the globe in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., Canada, South Korea and New Zealand.

The collapse of the construction industry is a major factor in the high emigration figures from the parish, although a sizeable percentage of the emigrants are female. In recent weeks, it has emerged that the Kilmihil ladies senior football team may have to re-grade to intermediate, such is the impact of emigration on their playing numbers.

Prior to investigating how many people had left the parish, Johnson said he believed the figure was significantly smaller than it is.

“We had no idea. If someone had asked me how many were gone, I’d have said probably 15 or 20 people gone from Kilmihil was the maximum. I couldn’t believe it. We’ve 16 male footballers lost and there are 10 of those senior players who played in either 2010 or 2011,” Johnson said.

“To come up with a figure of almost 90 people who have left Kilmihil is shocking. We’re only talking about 2010 and 2011. It’s frightening stuff. It’s been devastating for the whole parish. It’s across the board devastation.”

Some entire families have emigrated, and Johnson is also fearful that the figure of confirmed emigrants from Kilmihil may rise beyond 87.

“We’re going to put these findings out to the broader community in Kilmihil and find out the real figures. This is only going to get worse. There’s two or three families I can think of where there’s six plus of that family emigrated. That’s an unbelievable statistic,” he said.

Ironically, the population of Kilmihil village rose by 8.3%, according to preliminary 2011 census figures.
According to those figures, 627 people lived in the village when the census was conducted.
-Clare Champion

Pensioner Left to Cope

Health officials came under fire this week after it was claimed a Longford pensioner, recuperating from a broken hip, was sent home in a taxi from a leading midlands hospital unaccompanied.

Insights into the claims were disclosed at a meeting of Granard Town Council by Councilor Eddie Kelly.

The individual concerned is an elderly woman in her late seventies or early eighties, and is a resident of Granard.

Taking the floor at the end of the local authority’s monthly meeting, Kelly said he had only learned of the matter earlier that day.

“The Health Services in this country must have reached an all time low,” he groaned, as other elected representatives looked on in stunned silence.

“This patient had a broken hip and was sent to Tullamore (Midland Regional Hospital). When they were discharged they were sent back in a taxi to Granard. This person couldn’t get up the stairs,” he said, before branding the controversy as an “absolute disgrace.”

He added, “I think we should write to Tullamore Hospital and the Minister (of Health, Dr. James Reilly) and ask why that person was discharged. James Reilly should be held accountable.”
-Longford Leader