The Dublin Chinese New Year Festival for 2011, the year of the rabbit, was launched last week, with Amy Yin-Zhang of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival Committee doing the traditional Chinese New Year lion dance. 

American Wakes Revived
As yet another family packs their bags and says goodbye to Donegal, pubs across the county are seeing a surge in emigration parties, or so-called “American Wakes.”
Publican after publican said that they're hosting even more emigration parties than in the “bad old days” of the 1980s.
James Cannon, owner of the Atlantic Bar says that, in Dungloe at least, all the young people are heading for Australia.
"We're calling them Australian Wakes here. Nearly every day last week, there's people left Dungloe for different parts of Australia,” he said.
“Our daughter Laura went just last week, to Perth, and the first day she was there she went into a restaurant and ran into someone from Dungloe. She said there's another batch of girls heading out next week.
"A lot of the lads are trying to get into the mines, where the big money is. They work 10 days on, four days off. There's quite of few engineers gone out, and lads in construction and trades.
“There's more and more talking about going out there. As far as I know, it's mainly single people in their twenties.  I haven't heard of any families going out.
"There were a good few came home at Christmas and headed back out again.
"I remember the ‘80s when they were all going to America, but this is far worse. There just doesn't seem to be anything for them.
“Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen says we don't want to go back to the ‘70s and the ‘80s but if we had the ‘70s and ‘80s back, we wouldn't need any Celtic Tiger, business was flourishing in West Donegal. We had all the fishing ports and all the factories, there was plenty of work for everyone, even entire families, and the industrial estate in Gweedore was thriving. Now there's not a job to be had here."
In the next six weeks, the Lazy Bush Bar in Mountcharles will host four going away parties for six people who are leaving the Parish of Inver, all of them hoping to forge new careers in the U.S., Australia and elsewhere.
Publican Mark Dorrian says that while the extra business generated by the parties may be welcome in the short term, he'd rather see his customers staying in Donegal.
"I suppose it is a reflection of where we are at as a country. In our case we have three young lads from the parish who are holding a joint going away party before they travel to Australia, while two other women are heading off to work on cruise liners, while in another case the person is heading for the U.S.,” he said.

Donegal Democrat

Finally, a Cinema
Despite long delays, it appears that the much-anticipated plans for a cinema in Roscommon town have taken a major step forward with news that a 25-year lease has been signed.
Darren Corcoran, of Flix Leisure, the company behind the proposed cinema, said the lease had been signed earlier this month for the building at the Centre Point Retail Park. He added that he and his team were constantly on site.
“We are delighted to confirm that a 25-year lease has been signed with Mid Town Property. We would not be entering into something of that length if we were not fully committed to the project. The cinema will be opened this year, it is just taking longer than we had anticipated,” he stressed.
Corcoran also hit out at what he described as “unhelpful comments” which have been posted on Facebook in relation to the delays in the opening of the cinema.
“We came in for a lot of criticism from the Facebook page when we did make replies, and it created a greater uncertainty for people. I understand that. With the times that are in it, things are taking longer to progress,” he said.
“However, we remain 100% committed to this project. It will happen. We have made the mistake previously of naming dates when it would be open and it did not materialize.
“We are bringing digital equipment of the highest standard to this cinema and there is a slow turnaround time in purchasing and fitting it out. But be assured, we are pushing forward with this project and are excited about bringing a fantastic entertainment complex to Roscommon,” he said.
A Facebook page entitled “Roscommon has no cinema, who wants one in the town?” was set up last year and now has more than 3,000 fans. Members of Roscommon Cinema Committee previously expressed their frustrations at the delays.
Roscommon Herald

Horses on the Loose
The number of loose horses roaming the roads of a number of housing estates in the town is on the rise in recent days, according to the local authority which warned that they are causing a dangerous hazard for motorists and pedestrians alike.
“It’s definitely getting more frequent,” Michael O’Reilly, staff officer in the environment section of Westmeath County Council said of the issue.
He confirmed that the council has been dealing with reports of loose horses in Bower View, Willow Park, and of people racing horses in Sarsfield Square over the last few days. One horse has already been seized in Willow Park as a result of reports from the public in the last week.
“They should not be wandering on the street, they are a potential hazard to pedestrians and motorists alike,” O’Reilly complained, pointing out that Athlone town, along with Moate and Mullingar, are horse-controlled areas and horses cannot be kept within the town boundary without council permission. 
“The big problem is that horses are not worth anything. If we pick up horses it’s very unlikely the owners will come forward. You can’t give them away. If horses are breaking out they are not being looked after, not getting fodder or water,” O’Reilly highlighted, adding that the council is limited to the amount of horses they can stable at the pound at present with just four bays.
He said the cost of picking up the horses, stabling them and disposing or re-homing them is a considerable expense for the council at present, warning that the council will have to take hard line on the issue in the months ahead.

Westmeath Independent

Stray Dog’s Golden Life
A greyhound called Aldi had a rough life in Limerick but he has struck gold in America.
Aldi was found over a year ago outside the supermarket that gave him his name on the Childers Road covered in mange and scavenging for food.
Now thanks to Limerick Animal Welfare and his new owner in America he is being treated like a king and even sports a gold crown.  Marie Quirke, of Limerick Animal Welfare, said they couldn't believe it when they heard Aldi's latest news.
"I don't know of any other dog who is sporting a gold tooth," laughed Quirke.
His new owner Barry Simmons in Athens, Georgia, who is a dentist, noticed that Aldi's teeth were in a bad condition from his poor diet and life.
"He brought him to a doggy dentist. All his teeth were given an overhaul and cleaned as they showed wearing and tartar. He had a concern for one of Aldi's teeth which he though needed attention.
"Aldi had a fractured lingual half of his upper lateral incisor with lingual decay and exposure of nerve chamber. Aldi had root canal treatment followed by a gold crown," said Quirke.
Aldi is certainly chomping down plenty of food as he is like a different dog now.
"A kind lady brought him straight to us. He was covered in blood from the open sores on his body, had little or no hair and no body fat," said Quirke.
They treated the mange and fed Aldi up, but he kept on being overlooked by prospective adoptees until one day Simmons emailed from America.
"Now he sports a gold tooth to smile on the people who saved and comforted him in his hour of need," said Quirke, adding that ever dog does have his day!

Limerick Leader

Young Prostitutes
Girls as young as 12 are being groomed for prostitution, it has been claimed.
An investigation by the Tallaght Drugs Task Force reveals how there are 106 prostitutes operating in Dublin 24.
Local Gardai (police) are reported to know of 10 to 12 girls, aged 14 to 16 years, who were vulnerable to grooming, and reports a man giving mobile phones to teenagers in exchange for pictures of themselves.
"One girl was known to be exchanging sex for goods, i.e., new trainers, and there were reports of 12- to 14-year-olds exchanging sex for money to feed their drug habits," the study stated.
Ten locations were observed in the report as being used by outside sex workers, and soliciting activity was identified there.
The average age of women working in prostitution was early thirties, and the average length of time women had worked in this area was nine years.
Of the 106 women involved in prostitution, 52 of them were drug users, of whom 47 were in drug treatment, 45 were intravenous heroin users and 42 were on methadone treatment programs.
The report is aimed at highlighting the urgent need for greater support structures for women affected by prostitution in south Dublin.