Danny’s pipes don’t call
A Limavady councilor has blasted a decision not to call the town’s new civic center after the world famous song “Danny Boy” as a "golden opportunity lost."
From Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and even the Muppets, just about everyone and anyone has sung “Danny Boy,” which was written by Jane Ross after she heard blind fiddler Jimmy McCurry play it in Limavady.
The haunting tune has also been recorded by other music industry legends including Harry Belafonte and Roy Robinson. It featured in the Hollywood movie Memphis Belle when it was sung by Harry Connick Junior.
As Dungiven Sinn Fein councilor Anne Brolly said, "’Danny Boy’ is like Coca-Cola -- say it anywhere in the world and people know what you mean."
When naming the multi-million pound building due to open this summer, SDLP Councilor Gerry Mullan wanted to call it the Danny Boy Center but had no support.
Instead, councilors agreed on the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Center, and that the name would be used bilingually.
Councilors were also asked to choose names for the different rooms inside the center, but Danny Boy was not on the initial list of options.
Mullan then made a proposal that the main auditorium be called after Danny Boy. It was seconded by Brolly and adopted.
Despite this, Mullan still believes the real opportunity and the massive tourism appeal that came with the Danny Boy name have been missed.
"An absolute golden opportunity has been lost. This is absurd. This just shows the absurdity of the situation, the fact that Danny Boy was never even considered," he blasted.
"Not even to be considered worthy is disgraceful. How can this be justified?"
Mullan claims the move will be regretted in years to come. "The golden egg has been lost!" he said.
The ground floor exhibition space in the center will be named after a local physician, while names for the other rooms have yet to be decided on.
In addition, two specially commissioned carpets will be made for the centre, with one depicting the story of Jane Ross and the blind fiddler.
Irish Coffee Confusion
There may be a plaque honoring Joe Sheridan at Shannon Airport for inventing the Irish Coffee, but in Ballybofey it’s being claimed that a Donegal man actually came up with the drink.
After reading comments by Clare County Councilor Pat McMahon in which he claimed that Shannon was synonymous with the drink around the world, the editor of the Finn Valley Voice, Celine McGlynn, wrote to Clare county manager Tom Coughlan to complain.
“As the newspaper representing the part of Ireland where Irish Coffee was invented, we are requesting that you formally withdraw the motion proposed by Councilor McMahon and passed by your council in March,” she wrote.
“Councilor McMahon’s motion perpetrates the myth that Irish Coffee was invented in Shannon or Foynes by Joe Sheridan. It was in fact invented by Joe Jackson of Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey.
“There is overwhelming evidence that Mr. Jackson began serving Irish Coffee soon after he purchased the hotel in 1946.”
McGlynn said that Jackson had been inspired to create the drink by his experiences in World War II.
“He was a merchant seaman and in the war he had some leave in the Mediterranean and had an alcoholic drink that had cream and sugar in it.
“Later on, his ship was torpedoed off Newfoundland and he was dragged half dead from the sea. His rescuers revived him with rum and hot coffee. He had the idea in his head after that and he bought the hotel here in 1946.”
She said that a Scottish magazine had run an article about the new drink and a copy of it had hung in the hotel until renovations were recently carried out.
However, McMahon said he is still of the view that the drink originated in the Mid-West.
“The motion was only about quality of service at Shannon, but I knew two people who worked in Shannon all their lives and they knew Mr. Sheridan very well and they always swore blind that it was him and both of those people knew him very well,” he said.
Michael Collins is retired now but worked in the bar at Shannon Airport with Sheridan for over 40 years. He said Sheridan was definitely the inventor of the Irish Coffee and that he first served it as far back as 1942.
“People would be coming in off the flying boats and they’d be very cold. One time he gave a cup of coffee to a woman but she said it wasn’t very nice,” Collins said.
“He put in a drop of whiskey and then she said it was a little bitter so he put in sugar and the next thing he put on cream on it.”
Collins said that disputes over the origins of the drink is nothing new and that some Americans believe it originated in San Francisco, as it was popularized there by Stanton Delaplane, who discovered it in Shannon.
Historic Coffin for Sale
A second hand coffin that carried several bodies and helped smuggle whiskey and indeed other spirits across the border failed to make the reserve price at an antiques auction in Ballyshannon.
The 50-year-old lacquered casket was easily the most unusual item in the auction, but Geoffrey Simpson of Viewback Antiques in Omagh was surprised that people at the auction did not enter into the spirit of things.
“When I offered the coffin up for sale there was a grave silence and a deadly hush in the room -- people seemed to be somewhat nervous about putting a bid on what is a guaranteed future necessity,” Simpson said.
“There seemed to be a general consensus in the body of the attendance that maybe a flat-pack version from IKEA might be better value and assembled closer to its requirement date.
“Mind you, I also had a JCB digger for sale and was contemplating offering them both as a package -- they could have looked after the whole arrangements themselves.”
The coffin was originally used to ferry bodies from long distances, for example hospitals in either Belfast or Dublin to Ballyshannon where they would then be transferred to a coffin bought by the family.
“If the truth be known it was more often used to smuggle the likes of butter, whiskey and vodka. If the customs ever stopped a hearse they rarely wanted to look inside the coffin,’ said Simpson.
“In these days when everybody is talking about green issues, I would have thought that it would have been snapped up and re-cycled. It would have made a lovely coffee table or indeed a great focal point for a pub.”
Gas Prices Soar
IT now costs on average €15 more to fill up your petrol tank than it did less than five months ago.
And the bad news is that sharp rise in petrol prices in recent weeks is to continue for another few weeks because of oil price rises and the weakness of the euro.
Motorists in Sligo are probably facing a price of over 135 cents a liter over the next couple of weeks, which would be a record high. On a tank of fuel of 50 liters that’s a difference of €15 since late last year.
Diesel prices have also risen sharply too, but not to the same level as petrol. Diesel was actually a couple of cents dearer than petrol last November, but is now generally about 10 cents a liter cheaper.
Sligo prices are very much in line with those in surrounding counties and indeed are competitive at a national level.
While there are very cheap exceptions, with petrol as low as 125.9 at one station in Cork, there are also very dear ones -– an Esso station near Dublin airport was charging 139.9.
The AA’s Conor Faughnan has said it was certain fuel prices would not come down over the next month and if anything they could keep rising.
He blamed the fuel cost increases in recent months on a number of factors including the fall in the price of the euro against the dollar, the slight increase in refined fuel costs from wholesalers, the rise in the cost of oil (up from $30 to $80 a barrel in a year) and the new carbon tax which added five cents for petrol and four cents for diesel.
Around 70% of the retail cost of petrol and 58% of diesel is made up of taxes.
3D TV Mania
DUBLINERS are defying the recession in the rush to get their hands on the latest viewing phenomenon -- 3D televisions.
Ireland's first sets have just become available and already thousands are rushing to get a look in.
The Swords branch of Harvey Norman is one of the only stores in the country to preview the TVs and there's been a massive interest.
But the new TVs don't come cheap -- the smallest, a 40-inch model, costs €1,299.
Aaron Duff of Harvey Norman's in Swords is delighted at the boost to business.
"They're available to order now, but there are only three stores where they are on display now -- in Limerick, Cork and here," Duff said. "There has been a huge amount of interest."
The 3D TV phenomenon has taken the world by storm, following on from the success of the Oscar-winning film Avatar. Analysts believe it's as big a revolution as the switch from black and white to color television.
"A lot of people seem to have big rooms in mind for them, for their families to watch,” said Duff.