In what has been described as a one-in-a-million success story, a brother and sister, separated for over half a century, have finally been reunited thanks to chance discovery of a message on a Mohill website.
Desmond Beattie and Mary McGonigle were separated and raised by different families over 55 years ago.
Years later Desmond, who was born in 1947, began a search for relatives of his mother's family, Josephine Beattie, unaware that he had a younger sister still living in Leitrim.
In 2002, Desmond posted a message on Mohill town website www.mohill.com appealing for information on relatives of his mother, Josephine Beattie.
Although he received some details from his cousins, it was only when local woman Maura Mahon visited the site that he realized his younger sister, Mary, was living in the Ballinamore area.
"When I saw Desmond's message posted on the website I couldn't believe it," Maura admitted.
"I had been going to bingo with Mary in Cloone for a number of years and she'd told me how her mother was Josephine Beattie from Mohill."
After contacting Desmond, Mary and her long-lost brother were finally able to meet up for the first time in half a century last week. Sadly their mother, Josephine passed away in the early 1980s in England, but the siblings have enjoyed the chance to catch up on a lifetime of memories.
"I'm just delighted that this story has had such a happy ending. It was just by chance that I happened to be on that website but I'm glad I was able to help," said Maura.
- Leitrim Observer
Oldie But Goody
The pffice of President Mary McAleese has confirmed that O’Callaghan’s Mills man Paddy Gleeson, who celebrated his 106th birthday on May 20, is Ireland’s oldest man.
Gleeson, who resides at Raheen Community Hospital in Tuamgraney, ranks seventh, however, among Ireland’s oldest people, with six women ahead of him on the list, the eldest of whom is 108.
Gleeson now boasts six presidential medals for each birthday he has celebrated since turning 100 in 2004.
He moved to Raheen Community Hospital in 2006 but lived independently there in Knockatullish until 2008 before he was welcomed into the main hospital.
Like many birthdays before, the staff at the hospital rallied around and held a party for Gleeson in the day center for all his family and friends.
He was formally presented with his sixth commemorative medal from President Mary McAleese by staff at the hospital and he was delighted at such an achievement.
Maggie Atkinson, acting director of nursing at Raheen Community Hospital said, “All who were present were very proud to be part of such a significant milestone in Paddy’s life.”
“Paddy took pride of place at the party and reminisced about his past when he was a young man getting the better of the Black and Tans,” she said.
Atkinson also remarked about Gleeson’s attitude to life. “He remains very positive about his life, and his reasons as to why he has lived to such a huge age are due to his being nice to everyone and that they were nice to him. He never drank or smoked and he never got married.”
Local historian Tomás MacConmara commented on the wealth of local knowledge Paddy continues to provide to his community.
“One of his interesting stories about the War of Independence describes the time he had to climb a tree to escape the Black and Tans. He was up the tree from 7 p.m. to midnight watching them raiding houses. It is just a powerful connection to have,” MacConmara said.
“To have the recollections of someone who was a teenager at the time, I just can’t emphasize enough how unique it is to have his memories.”
- Clare Champion
Rental Market Soars
Property sales may not be a hot topic at the moment, but the ever-expanding rental market in Ireland is generating some interesting new trends.
“Because people can’t get finance they are resorting to long-term rental. So all those properties not sold are being channeled on to the rental market until it picks up again,” reports Westport auctioneer Teresa Walsh.
However, because of this new demand for rental properties, those most commonly on the wanted list are creating new shortfalls.
“My experience in Westport is that good quality three and four-bed properties are in very short supply. Because it’s more difficult to get finance people have no alternative but to rent,” Walsh says.
“However, the type of properties prospective tenants are seeking are difficult to find top end properties, with the best of furnishings and fittings and a good garden for the family.”
Olivia Needham of DNG Needham auctioneers has experienced a similar trend.
“We’re definitely under serious pressure with some clients who can’t get a house. There is a reasonable supply of apartments but a lot of them are unfinished so the supply is choked up,” she says.
“The flow is gone in the rental market too as in the past people would rent for six to 12 months but they’re not moving out anymore. If they’re happy with their house the tendency now is to stay and renew the lease.”
The pattern of people upgrading to bigger and better houses after a few years has also died away, and this in turn has meant one-off houses within 10 minutes of Westport have managed to hold their own in terms of selling price.
“People who bought properties in the last five or six years are no longer selling unless they absolutely have to because the priority now is just to keep the loans paid,” Needham says.
English buyers are also enjoying the good value to be had from the drop in the value of the euro.
“One client who agreed to a sale less than a month ago held out before closing the deal at the better exchange rate so the sterling rate is definitely in favor of the English buyer right now,” she added.
Despite these new rental trends, the Irish tradition of home ownership hasn’t gone away, according to Walsh.
“Property ownership is in Irish people’s blood and at the end of the day they still want to own their own home. It’s the national dream,” she says.
- Mayo Advertiser
Police Bribe Alleged
A Derry joiner has claimed the Police Service of Northern Ireland offered to pay off his mortgage and set up in a new business if he agreed to provide information on local dissident Republicans.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said he is not a member of any political organization but explained that he is friendly with a number of people involved with the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.
He said two police officers approached him on an isolated road in Ballykelly after arranging for him to be in the area for a bogus job.
Explaining what happened, the man said, "I got a phone call last week from a woman asking me to come out and give her a quote for fencing and decking at a house in Ballykelly. I asked for her address and she said it was a new build in the county and gave me directions to get to it.
“I followed the directions but when I got there I couldn't find a house, but two policemen stepped out onto the road from behind a hedge and flagged me down."
The man claimed the police then offered him money in exchange for information.
"They mentioned a few people I know who would be Republicans, and then said they knew how difficult it was to have your own business these days and said they could help. One pulled out a bundle of cash and tried to give it to me but I refused,” the man said.
"He said they wanted me to keep an eye on certain people and give them information about who they were meeting and when and where. He also mentioned that my girlfriend had been stopped and searched and said he could make it stop.
"I kept refusing and they offered to pay my mortgage and build me a new house if I agreed. One mentioned that he had been in my workshop and said they could set me up in a new business and they would pay for anything I wanted if I agreed to provide information," he claimed.
A spokesperson for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said, "Here we have a hard working man trying to earn a living being drawn into black ops by British intelligence. This is what the British presence in Ireland is all about and it is putting people's lives in danger."
Smoke Ban Upheld
A Co. Down man convicted of breaking the smoking ban in Northern Ireland has lost a legal challenge to the legislation.
Chris Carter, 56, had likened the smoking ban to a fascist law in Nazi Germany.
Carter challenged the conviction, arguing that the smoking ban breached his human rights under European laws.
Carter, a security consultant, was fined £1,250, which included court costs, when he was convicted of lighting a cigarette in the council offices in Bangor. A High Court judge threw out the case, saying it was utterly devoid of legal merit.
Carter, who received public donations to fund his case, said outside the court that he would lodge an immediate appeal against the ruling.
- RTE News