If you think the Garden of Ireland is a sleepy haven of unremarkable people and things - then think again.  A round up of the ideas and events from around the vibrant county.

The weekly, Wicklow This Week magazine program is presented each week by our own columnist here at IrishCentral, Jillian Godsil, who has lived in Wicklow for 20 years, so still a blow-in, and the show is a lively mixture of the county’s people and events.

Today on Wicklow This Week we opened with a news piece on the gorse fire on Bray Head. It was thought that campers had lit a fire and then abandoned tent and fire when it got out of hand.  Such was the accompanying smoke that at lunchtime yesterday people had to evacuate their homes. The air rescue helicopter was deployed to bring in seawater to dump on the blazing fire but some idiot decided to fly a drone which hampered their efforts. Eventually the drone left the scene and helicopter was allowed back to put out the fire. The Dart was closed as cables and signalling had been damaged but Irish Rail managed to get everything back on track. Barry Kenny was the Irish Rail officer who took the interview.

Next up was the No-Fry-Zone 4 Kids campaign based out of Greystones. On the line was Philip Moyles, an active member and parent. The ambition of the No-Fry-Zone was to ensure no fast food outlets were allowed within a 400metre radius of schools. Studies have proven when there is easy access to fast food then children in the vicinity tend to be 25% more obese. The campaign was very successful last year and even resulted in a ban on fast food within 400metres of schools to be inserted into the Wicklow county development plan – which won a national award as a result.

In April a fast food outlet requested permission (within 200 meters of two schools) for planning and Wicklow County Council granted permission. The Council said in their defense that it only opened at 5pm so they did not think it would affect the children. As neither petitioning councillors or the No-Fry-Zone group had objected – believing as they did it would not get permission – they were now not allowed to appeal this decision to an Bord Pleanala.

Philip and his group were incensed and a meeting made with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, last Monday. While this planning may not be challenged, he and his group have been invited to a national symposium later in the year in which Philip hopes to education all councils on this topic.

Next up was the National Event Awards, now in its 20th year, which had shortlisted three Wicklow companies for awards. The three companies were Gaelscoil na Lochanna in Blessington for ‘Best Sporting Event' for its Rith na Lochanna 5k, Miller & Lamb Events in Wicklow Town for  its 'Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ Launch and Ballybeg House was shortlisted for 'Best Unique/Private Wedding Venue'.

As it happens I have been in Ballybeg many times and know it as a beautiful wedding and event venue. Paddy O’Toole, owner of the venue, was on the line and he described the development of Ballybeg from his homeplace to one of the top private house wedding venues in the country, complete with its own chapel and shibeen bar for the next day bbq so beloved by modern brides.

Ballybeg now hosts in excess of 70 wedding every year and the results will be known on July 20th.

Sports next with Michael Sergeant with the round up of all the news. Here I have to give a shout out to the Bray Wanderers football players who yesterday announced they were to go on strike after 7 weeks of no pay and no pay in sight. As a former PRO of the club and a big seagulls fan I am very upset for the loyal Bray players. At least two of them had to undergo surgery at their own expense – for conditions and injuries fostered by the football. This is a shocking state of affairs and continues on from the scandals of last year where money was an issue but at least the players were paid.

I read some of the interviews online and they are really upsetting with players saying they knew nothing about strike action or what it meant but they could not continue without payment. All they want to do is play football.

Next up and in studio was David Cox from Lavender Fields in Kilmacanogue. His distinctive lavender field has been there for almost 20 years and right now is in glorious purple flower. He is the brains behind the Inis perfume – currently selling in more than 30 countries around the world. He also spoke about his love of the seas and how he sponsors the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, an NGO that surveys and supports marine life around Ireland.

I did not know it was possible to see whales off the Irish Coast and was in the mistaken belief that the only dolphin in Ireland was Fungi in Dingle. On the contrary, there are many dolphins and whales and I for one am going to try and join the Whale Watch in August.

David very kindly offered a hamper as a giveaway but when he saw our sad faces he promised a second one for the team and me. I now have a very nice smelling bedroom with lavender potpourri.  

Finally, we had Sine Fein spokesperson for West Wicklow complaining about the state of the footpaths in the west of the county. People were ‘lepping’ into ditches to avoid cars with the state of the overgrowth he maintained.

When asked he also suggested that his party would support a presidential election at its Ard Comhairle today and he was right as it turned out. Sinn Fein announced they would set up a committee to select a candidate to run against incumbent. I welcome this move as with the two main parties supporting his continued position it would be difficult if not impossible for anyone else to offer themselves for election.  To get a nomination, a candidate needs with 4 county councils to support them or 20 TDS. Quick sums show that 21 out of the 24 county councils are either FF or FG so that avenue is closed to would-be presidents. I like Michael D and he has done a good job but I would see an election.

So there we have it, Wicklow This Week this week. Come back again next week for more. 

Or listen live on Saturday morning 9am Irish time (GMT +1) 

Thanks again to Clare Hogan, executive producer, Sheila Nuaghton producing and Alex Petkov on sound.

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