GAA Pitch Targeted
AN underage GAA pitch that has found itself the target of a sectarian campaign has been attacked once again. The Gaelic grounds on the Carginagh Road near Kilkeel have suffered a number of sectarian attacks since opening last month.
The site, which was previously a soccer pitch, is being temporarily used by underage members of Ballymartin GAC while their own pitch is redeveloped.
Vandals have previously erected British flags and sprayed graffiti at the grounds. The most serious attack took place four weeks ago when heavy cutting equipment was used to sever the metal uprights on the goal posts, reducing them to the size of soccer nets.
Newry and Mourne council erected new posts and the children continued to train on the pitch. However vandals struck again, cutting down the new posts.
South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane said the attack shows that there are still some people who cannot tolerate Irish culture.
“Over the 12th period we hear from Unionist community and political leaders about tolerance of their culture and tradition, yet at the same time it is obvious that Nationalist culture is not afforded the same respect," she said.
"The Ballymartin GAA Club provides a sporting environment for young people and I would appeal for the local community to ensure that their training area remains free from vandalism."
Mourne councilor Brian Quinn said the campaign against the pitch had sickened local people.
“This can be described as nothing other than sectarian vandalism and has really sickened people living in this area," he said.
The PSNI said that they are investigating all incidents at the pitch.
Kid Grave Outrage
A FORMER mayor of Antrim whose first born son tragically died at birth has blasted a decision by the Northern Trust which will see parents banned from leaving mementoes on the graves of their children.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councilor Paul Michael lost his baby son after his wife Angela began to experience difficulties during labor. Unfortunately, baby Paul did not survive.
Currently the tiny baby graves in Belmont cemetery are covered with tributes to much loved and missed children. However, the decision will mean that parents will only be permitted to leave floral tributes which will be removed every two months.
It is understood that the decision was made to keep the graves looking tidy. Left gobsmacked by the abrupt decision, Michael said he was “shocked” that the trust was “interfering in families' expression of grief.”
“Any death is sad," he said. "But the death of a baby or a child is something else altogether. There is no rhyme nor reason, no justification for it.
“Leaving mementoes for a much loved and missed child is an expression of grief for a family. To not be allowed to do that will be devastating and will force them to relive the loss all over again."
Strong Man, Strong Stomach
WHAT does it take to put yourself in the running for a strongman title?
Tullamore man Keith Maher knows the answer -- "7,500 calories a day, in the run-up to a competition, and 5,000 calories a day when you've no competition on."
That's the sort of calorie count that would have most rushed to hospital within a week, but Maher stays slim thanks to a grueling regime of gym attendance.
And that sort of discipline is what makes him strong enough to pull an articulated lorry -- all by himself.
Maher recently came second in the All-Ireland strongman competition in Derry. The August bank holiday weekend will see him join with Wexford strongman Paul Roberts to fly the flag for Ireland in the Ultimate World Strongman competition taking place at Columb Barracks in Mullingar.
Maher, originally from Tullamore, lives in Carlow with wife Olivia and their 10 year old daughter and six year old son, and Olivia reveals that he is very serious about his training.
"He goes to the Escape gym in Carlow every day and spends a couple of hours there -- every day except maybe he might allow himself a Sunday off," she says.
He also trains with the Kilkenny Strongman Club.
Maher’s immense strength has its benefits. By trade he's a carpenter, and he can lift quantities of wood that the average carpenter would baulk at.
At the competition in Derry, Maher pulled a 13 ton lorry 20 meters. He hardly broke a sweat.
"It wasn't that heavy," he says nonchalantly.
Stuck Horse Saved
A HORSE stranded up to its stomach in thick mud along the banks of a tributary of the River Swilly was saved by an heroic effort from volunteers.
Members of the Donegal Pet Rescue volunteer service were alerted to the stricken animal near the Riverside Shopping Complex on the Neil T. Blaney Road on Sunday, July 15.
This is the same stretch of river was where another horse lay dead for a number of days two months ago.
The drama unfolded when the first three volunteers arrived to find the animal submerged up to its chest on the muddy bank.
A photograph of the stricken horse was posted on Facebook through the Donegal Pet Rescue page asking for help after they alerted the ISPCA, which was unavailable, and local Gardai (police) who were delayed getting to the scene due to another incident.
The strong image of the stricken animal on the social media site prompted a lot of reaction, and within a short there were a number of helpers on the scene.
A spokesperson for the group said they would like to thank everyone who helped save the horse.
“Thankfully we have some of the best friends on Facebook who gave up their Sunday morning to come and help in any way that they could. As for posting a photo we feel that this was the only way people could understand the urgency of our plea and would continue to do so in order to help get matter out there and resolved quickly,” the spokesperson stated.
A NORTH Kerry school has closed after parents made the tough decision to take their children elsewhere rather than pursue the option of allowing the school continue with just one teacher.
Dromerin National School, outside of Listowel, was set to lose one of its two teachers because dwindling pupil numbers meant it could not meet the new pupil/ teacher ratio.
Parents were informed the school could continue with just one teacher school. However, many felt that this would be too small for their children and decided to take them elsewhere.
Parents in the area are unhappy with the loss of the school and the hike in school transport costs it will represent as they arrange for their children to attend other schools in the area.
"It's very disappointing that such a lovely rural school has gone," former board member at Dromerin Dave Fitzgibbon said. "There are so many young families living around the area, it is a real pity.”
Local woman Diana McCarthy said the closure would lead to greater costs for parents bringing their children to more distant schools.
"It is a shame it had to close and the three schools nearby are bursting at the seams. Parents have enough bills to contend with without this,” McCarthy said.
Parents are unhappy that they did not get more information about the pending closure of the school. "I had no official communication from the school saying that it was closing," parent Kathleen McNamara said.
"Parents were told at a meeting recently that it would have to become a one-teacher (school) due to new departmental guidelines on pupil/teacher ratios. When people heard it was going to be a one-teacher that was the end of it really.”
Many in Dromerin are now calling for the school building to be used as a community centre. "It would be great if the building could be used for community events," Fitzgibbon said.