Snake in the Graveyard

Gardai (police) were called to apprehend an unexpected visitor in West Clare after a woman reported an unusual apparition while she prayed in Kilmihil Graveyard.  The woman contacted Gardai at about lunchtime on Friday, September 16 and reported seeing a snake in the cemetery.

Upon arriving at the scene Gardai caught and detained the four-foot corn snake but not before calling the Clare branch of the Irish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA).

“It is not an ideal situation for a person, who could maybe have a phobia, to go into a graveyard and see a snake,” said Frankie Coote, inspector with Clare ISPCA.

“The Gardai got in touch with me and enquired about the protocol for dealing with a snake. I explained that the main thing is to exercise caution and take a photo so that we could identify him. We would then examine the photograph, take it to a pet shop or look on the Internet to see what type it is.

“There was an incident a few years ago when a poisonous snake was loose in Ireland and bit someone, so you have to be careful.”

The corn snake is native to the southeastern part of North America and can live 20 to 25 years in captivity. They are often found in woodlands, meadows and abandoned buildings inhabited by mice and rodents.

According to Garth de Jong, reptile expert and Dublin zookeeper, the four-foot snake found in Kilmihil has little growing left to do.

“That would be a decent size. I’d say it is definitely an adult. That snake would be eating adult mice, maybe small birds comfortably. It could even manage a decent-sized rat if it was hungry enough.

“They constrict the rodents and squeeze the life out of it before eating them. They don’t have venom to kill their prey so they are fairly inoffensive,” he said.

De Jong says the reptile trade in Ireland is “booming” and believes there may be “hundreds” of snakes kept as pets in Clare alone.

“It seems likely that this was an escaped pet or a dumped pet. Corn snakes are very common in the pet trade.  Reptiles are a lot less demanding than a cat or dog or an aquarium full of fish.

“There are probably hundreds of reptiles being kept as pets in Clare. The likelihood of one escaping is fairly high and it happens reasonable often in Ireland. We have responded to a number of escaped pet removals,” he explained.

Coote is now seeking to find the owner of the Kilmihil corn snake.

“We are looking for the owner who may have lost it and if they have a genuine reason or explanation why it escaped, then we will return it to them but if it is not going to a proper home then it is a welfare issue and we will not return it,” Coote said.

The Clare Champion

Half Price House Sale

One of the biggest construction companies in Galway slashed up to €185,000 from its boom time house prices for a special one-day sale last weekend, to offload unsold stock.

The half-price sale – which saw three-beds in the city selling for €215,000 –heralded a temporary halt in construction for the company until late next year.

“What we have for sale was ‘specced’ during the boom. We can’t continue to build at that high spec, we’d be losing money,” a spokesperson for O’Malley Construction said.
Since the sale was announced, booking deposits were taken on three properties, and the builders have reported strong viewing levels.

The company cut prices by up to 45% in its Boireann Bheag and Réileán developments in Roscam on the east side of the city and at Leargán in Knocknacarra on the western side.

During the day-long sale this Saturday, 1,400 square foot four-bed semis in Réileán were selling for €235,000 (down from €420,000); with 1,600 square foot units at €245,000.

Connacht Tribune

Dog Duty

Limerick County Council have never issued a fine for dog fouling in a public place, it has been confirmed.

The revelation comes as the local authority prepares to roll out new pooper scooper dispensers on a trial basis, in a bid to get pet owners to tidy up after nature has called.

Responding to a question on the matter by Councilor Damien Riedy, Mary Killeen Fitzgerald of the County Council Environment Department confirmed that no fine has ever been issued for dog fouling due to the “difficult” process involved.

In order to hand out the €150 fine for dog fouling, a litter warden has to see the dog create the waste and be able to identify the dog’s owner.

Likewise, if a member of the public makes a complaint about dog fouling, he or she must be willing to identify the owner and possibly give evidence to be used in court.

Killeen Fitzgerald said that given these administrative difficulties, the council is now placing extra emphasis on prevention.

In the next two months, trial pooper scooper dispensers are to be installed in the park in Castletroy and the Demesne in Newcastle West.  If these prove successful, they will be expanded to other areas.

Riedy said that dog waste is creating a serious public health hazard in areas like the Demesne, and needs to be tackled.

He added that parents have approached him with concerns about dog waste near playgrounds in parks.

Limerick Leader

Ready for Snow

Kildare is ready if we are hit with another big freeze this winter -- that’s the message from Kildare County Council.

Salt stocks are being stockpiled and the local authority is prepared to tackle a recurrence of last year’s conditions, which paralyzed many parts of the county.

A council spokesperson said, “Salt supplies have been centrally purchased by the National Roads Authority (NRA) and on behalf of the Department of Transport. These will be available for purchase by local authorities. The amount of salt required will depend on the severity of the weather.”

It has been revealed that 7,590 tons of salt were bought for Kildare last winter at a cost of €566,805.  Up to 6,000 tons were used to free the county from snow grid lock. Grit was also purchased at a cost of €29,214.

The local authority said personnel will be available to respond at the same levels as last year.  Priority routes for salting are currently under review but have not yet been finalized.

Sean O’Neill of the National Roads Authority (NRA) said there are 80,000 tons of salt in stock nationally from last year with a further 70,000 tons due to arrive over the next few weeks.

Reports that Ireland could be hit by severe winter conditions as early as the end of October due to the link between solar activity and cold winters, were greeted with skepticism by Met Eireann.

Last year, heavy snow and ice left many elderly people stranded in their homes and many workers unable to reach their places of employment. The army were called in to some Kildare towns to clear footpaths and assist meals on wheels groups to reach the most vulnerable.

Leinster Leader

Children’s Worries

Children feel less close to parents who work long hours, a survey has found.

Nine-year-olds also revealed they expect to feel peer pressure to smoke or take illegal drugs as they grow up.

A total of 120 youngsters and their parents were interviewed for Growing Up in Ireland, which is part of a larger study tracking the lives of 20,000 children.

Professor Sheila Greene, co-director of the study, said it offered youngsters the opportunity to give, in their own words, information on a range of areas in their lives.
"The design of this part of the study gives us a unique insight into the world in which nine-year-olds live and allows us to capture the diversity of children's experiences and circumstances," she said.

Researchers said key findings included that relationships between children and their parents were broadly positive, but youngsters felt less close to parents who worked long hours and were less available.

The study also found that parental separation had a considerable impact on children's routines.

The youngsters predicted that growing up would offer more independence and responsibility, but understood they might experience peer pressure to do things such as smoking and taking illegal drugs.

The study is being conducted by a team of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College Dublin.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who launched its latest report, added, "The Growing Up in Ireland study is of critical importance as it provides a comprehensive and highly valuable evidence base which can be used to inform and guide our development and delivery of targeted and effective programs for children and young people."

Press Association

One of the four public art sculptures on the N52 Tullamore By Pass in County OffalyEamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland