Dissident Republicans were being blamed for shooting a man during one of two armed raids on legally held weapons in west Belfast last Thursday. Two men are being questioned in police custody after the victim, aged in his 30s, was shot in the leg after refusing to hand over guns when a gang burst into his home.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)    

With many of the county’s roads left in tatters after the recent bout of extreme weather, the cost of putting the damage right is expected to roll into millions of euros. Last week Carlow County Council has sought urgent emergency funding from central Government to offset the spiraling costs of repair and reconstruction of the county’s roads. Businesses and homeowners are also left counting the cost having battled through severe frost, snow and floods over the past month.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)

Best wishes and fond farewells were freely expressed to highly respected Chief District Court Clerk, Noel Brennan, at a retirement function in the Cavan Crystal Hotel last week. Noel who has 40 years service as an officer of the District Court was praised for his courtesy and professionalism by members of the judiciary present including Judge Sean MacBride, solicitors, members of the gardaí (police) and the Probation Service.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)

A leading earthquake expert from Derry has described the lack of preparation for an earthquake like Haiti's an "international disgrace" - and he's warned a bigger quake could happen soon, this time in Indonesia. Derry-born Professor John McCloskey, who works at the University of Ulster, said governments must act now to avoid repeating the disastrous scenes witnessed in Haiti recently. A study into Sumatran earthquakes, conducted by Professor McCloskey,  was published in Nature Geoscience, an earth sciences research journal and website. The professor said work must be done now to prevent further scenes of carnage.
(Source: The Derry Journal)

The publishers of the Lonely Planet Travel Guides had good news for tourism in Donegal last week, but Letterkenny’s traffic problems prompted some scathing comments. Launching this year’s Guide to Ireland on Wednesday last, they emphasized that their readers rate rural, traditional Ireland much more highly than our modern, cosmopolitan cities. Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall said: “Ireland needs to draw more on its unique culture and traditions in order to continue to attract tourists from around the world. If our regular polls of departing tourists are to be believed, traditional Ireland still holds the key to Ireland’s draw as a tourist destination.”
(Source: Donegal Democrat)

Panto queen Twink has revealed how her daughter Chloe Agnew wowed the Obamas on a recent visit to the US. The proud mum told the story of how the First Family are huge fans of Chloe's group, Celtic Woman. Michelle even issued Chloe with an open invitation to visit The White House when they next return to Washington. "Michelle actually came over to say hello to Chloe and shake her hand," Twink explained. "She asked her would she come and meet her daughters because they are both enormous fans of Celtic Woman, so naturally Chloe said she would. "She also met the President who said he was very taken with their group and told her they were welcome to come back and perform any time. "That's the third American President she's met since she and the girls started out. She's also met George Bush and Bill Clinton," she added. The Obamas personally requested that the group perform at the annual National Christmas Lights ceremony last month.
(Source: The Evening Herald)

A County Galway native is at the heart of the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti following the catastrophic earthquake that struck two weeks ago, reducing the city of Port-au-Prince to rubble and leaving as many as 200,000 people dead. Paul Conneally, from Ballinasloe, is coordinating the emergency response of the International Red Cross (IFRC) in the wake of what he describes as “the worst disaster in the history of the organization”. With no pre-existing infrastructure in place and the IFRC Haitian headquarters leveled to the ground, the Head of External Communications for the international agency has had to start from scratch as he launches their humanitarian mission on the tiny Caribbean island.
(Source: Galway News)

A Scartaglen man froze to death outside his house after he fell on ice as he struggling to get up the boreen (small road) to his remote home. The body of Thomas Cleary, who was aged in his 50s, was discovered by neighbors Friday before last, less than 30 meters from the front door of his home, in Kilsarcon, Scartaglen. Gardaí and paramedics rushed to the scene but were unable to get vehicles up to the house because of the ice. Gardaí were forced to call in Kerry County Council to grit the boreen linking Mr. Cleary's home to the main Scartaglin/Castleisland road so an ambulance could get to the scene.
(Source: The Kerryman)

Two senior Kildare projects linked by an exotic theme scooped first and second place in the same category at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition the week before last. Computer whizz kid Thomas Dunne, from Colaiste Lorcain in Castledermot, scooped first prize in the Senior Individual Category Award in the Biological and Ecological category for his ground breaking project that went in search of a killer gene linked to one million deaths annually from malaria. He was also awarded the prestigious IBM Special Award in the Biological and Ecological Senior Individual Category. Thomas used a computer program to identify why one specific insect's genetic information is responsible for over 90 per cent of malaria-related fatalities.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

Fr. Jack Skehan wants to come home. The 82-year-old, who was controversially jailed for fraud against his old parish in Florida, wants to return to his native Johnstown and Co. Kilkenny. He is due to be released on April 3 and will come back to Ireland if he thinks he is welcome, although many locals have strong feelings on the issue.
(Source: The Kilkenny People)

Ireland will be represented for the first time at the Winter Olympics in the Women’s Bobsleigh competition and the driving force behind the team is Portarlington’s Aoife Hoey. The Irish two-woman team of pilot Hoey and brake woman Leona Byrne, from Carlow, qualified for the Olympics to be held in Vancouver next month following their successful run in St Moritz two weeks ago. Along with Claire Bergin from Dublin, the team has had a very busy and successful season.
 (Source: The Laois Nationalist)

Ten percent of Special Needs Assistants in Leitrim will be made redundant from their posts by the end of this month, according to IMPACT Trade Union. Speaking to the Leitrim Observer, IMPACT Secretary, Philip Mullen said at least 10 per cent of all posts would be lost in the county according to figures released by the National Council for Special Needs in June 2009.
(Source: The Leitrim Observer)

University of Limerick president Don Barry will move into his new environmentally-friendly residence on campus next month, becoming the first UL president to do so. Prof Barry, the University's third president, will be the second only university president in the country to receive his own residence on campus, after Trinity College Dublin.
(Source: The Limerick Leader)

Longford Co Council has decided to grant planning permission for a €70 million euro retail development in Longford town. The multi-million euro development is made up of two inter-related projects, one in the heart of Longford town and the other on the Ballinalee Road roundabout on the N4. If there are no further delays in the planning process, the promoters say that construction could commence as early as this summer. One part of the proposed project consists of the entire redevelopment of the Longford Shopping Centre, which currently houses Tesco, Penneys and other retailers.
(Source: The Longford Leader)

The owners of one of the most famous traditional Irish pubs in Drogheda, if not the country, have confirmed they have called time out after 123 years. Teach Ui Cairbre, or Carberry's as it is more commonly known, on the North Strand, has closed its black door for the last time, with owner Aine Carberry declining to comment on the decision. A simple sign in the window states that 'due to the recession, the pub will cease trading from Thursday January 14th'. Regulars, who up until last week were attending the popular bar, said they were 'shocked'. 'It is an absolute institution in the town, and one of the best known pubs in Ireland, and it is a shame to see it closing,' said regular John Murphy, from Old Hill.
(Source: The Drogheda Independent)

A Cong man has been chosen as the Mayo Society Person of the Year in New York. Eddie Gibbons (73) will receive the award at the annual dinner dance of the Society, which will be held in Antuns in Queens on March 13. Eddie emigrated from Cong back in 1957. For 33 years, he was a flight steward with Eastern Airlines, which operated out of Kennedy Airport. He worked on the Puerto Rico flight for 18 years and also on the Mexico and West Coast services for many years. Eddie and his wife Mary operated the Potcheen Still and Irish Imports Store in Queens for sixteen years. His brother George was a well - known bartender at the venue during that time.
(Source: Mayo News)

The former Meath footballer, Gerry McEntee, originally from Nobber, is heading up the medical team looking after the health of the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, during his current cancer treatment. Mr. Lenihan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over Christmas, just after delivering his budget, and began chemotherapy in recent weeks. Mr. McEntee is based at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. He is also a neighbor and constituent of Mr. Lenihan in Dublin 15, and managed the Blanchardstown GAA side, St Brigid's, to win a Dublin senior championship in recent years.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)

Principal filming of a short film set in Offaly and starring Brendan Gleeson has finished up.
'Noreen', a short film written and directed by Domhnall Gleeson and produced by El Zorrero Films, has wrapped production after shooting in various locations in the Faithful County.
The film, which stars Brendan Gleeson and Brian Gleeson, tells the story of two Gardaí who solve their own problems through the process of attempting to explain a mysterious death.
(Source: The Offaly Independent)

The Taughmaconnell Heritage and Historical Society launched an information booklet about a son of the area who rose to become the Governor of California, after emigration from poverty, at an enjoyable event held at McHugh's bar and lounge in the village on Sunday evening last. ’Governor John G Downey......A South Roscommon Native’ is the title and the publication was officially launched by local historian William Gacquin.

(Source: The Roscommon Champion)
Imagine Communications Group has announced the launch of its high-speed WiMAX broadband and phone network in Sligo city. The new fourth generation wireless technology provides super fast Internet and phone access at home and on the move for half the cost charged by current providers. Imagine has chosen Sligo as the first regional launch of its WiMAX network outside Dublin, which will deliver the 50 per cent cheaper services to thousands of customers.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)

Kenneth Reid. a self-employed gardener from Newmills, has been installed as the late Norman Badger's replacement on Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council.
Mr. Reid is married to Edith and has three daughters. He is Church Warden in Tullyanisken Parish Church, Chairman of Board of Governors at Drumglass High School and an active Member of Newmills Cultural Group.
(Source: Tyrone Times)

Staff at the Cliff House Hotel were in celebratory mood recently as its restaurant became the first outside of Dublin to be awarded a coveted Michelin star. Based in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, the Cliff House Hotel has made a positive impact since it opened less than two years ago, in May 2008. Head chef Martijn Kajuiters has prided himself on creating delicious dishes from local produce and his hard work has definitely paid off.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)

There was 'a lotto' luck for an Athlone woman the weekend before last when she scooped that first Lotto jackpot of the year, netting herself some €7.4m. Michelle Ryan, who lives in Fardrum with her partner Tommy Joyce and their seven-year-old son Dylan Thomas, couldn't believe her luck on Saturday night last when she realized she was holding the winning ticket.
Michelle, a native of Castlerea, said they had been out for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and when they got home at about 10pm she checked her ticket. Tommy, who is a native of Ballymoe, said: "She was saying 'I've four numbers', then five and then six and then she was crying and laughing all at once."  She revealed that it was seven-year-old son Dylan who had picked the winning numbers. He selected the numbers about four months ago and she had been doing them ever since. And while the couple spent close on €100 on Saturday's Lotto, they said it was money well spent. Tommy explained that they often spent quite a bit on Lotto tickets when the jackpot was big, but had said to Michelle on Saturday that they must cut back and just spend €10 on the Lotto each week. Luckily for them they didn't cut back then!
(Source: The Westmeath Independent)

Two grey seals that have become great pals in ' rehab' were returned to their natural habitat at Ballinesker Beach on Saturday afternoon last. Chris O'Brien rescued the tiny starving and wounded grey seal pup, which would later be named 'Spike', and drove him to meet the Irish Seal Sanctuary ambulance. Tommy Desmond and Ronan O’Keefe found ‘Torro’ with a huge propeller gash to his side. He was in a lot of pain and severely under weight. The Irish Seal Sanctuary in Garristown, Co Dublin, was full and with 22 animals they just couldn't take any more so local volunteer Kevin McCormack took care of Torro in Wexford until space became available at the sanctuary
(Source: The Wexford People)

Bray's Katie Taylor took boxer of the year at the Louis Fitzgerald hotel two weeks ago for the fourth year running. The world champion was named best senior boxer by the Irish Boxing Association. On February 13 she will be boxing in a pro-am show in the National Stadium before the all-Irelands on February 19. She is looking forward to an invitation-only bout in Russia this year featuring the top eight boxers in the world and of course will defend her world in Barbados in September. Katie will also go to Turkey to defend her European title.
(Source: The Wicklow People)