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Tens of thousands of people swapped dry land to try out their sea legs last Thursday making the opening of the Belfast Maritime Festival a huge success. Organizers said attendance figures had “far exceeded” initial expectations with unconfirmed reports indicating upwards of 100,000 visitors in the first day. Traders also reported a very busy day.  Visitors both young and old traveled from across the country to the city center for the first day of the major international event.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)    

Dozens of students from Newry and south Armagh returned home early from a Donegal Gaeltacht at the weekend after an outbreak of the swine flu pandemic forced the college to temporarily close. Coláiste Mhuire in Loch an Iúir shut down halfway through the three-week course after a number of the students were confirmed as having contracted the virus. On Friday, six students were sent home after testing positive.  The decision to close the college was taken the following day after a further five were suspected of being infected, while more than 80 children were seen by a local GP.
(Source: The Examiner)

Facilities in Carlow Train Station have been slammed after it emerged that wheelchair users can’t get off at the station. In certain situations, people with wheelchairs are being forced to travel to the next station on the rail line so they can get off the train safely and they are then taxied back to Carlow. A shocked train user reported the situation, describing it as “atrocious” and criticizing the transport umbrella body CIE for wasting money on taxis instead of providing proper facilities in the station.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)

As the Killinkere community mourns the loss of hero Simon Delaney (21) who drowned along with Matthew Gibbons (20) from Dublin after helping others who had got into difficulty on Lough Dargan, it has emerged that the tragedy need not have happened. The life-saving ring-buoy at the lake was not on its post, having been stolen some time previously. Gardaí (police) in Bailieboro have confirmed that the tragic accident is being investigated by The Marine Casualty Investigation Board.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)

A Fermoy man who was last year crowned with the title of Ireland's best carpenter is set to pit his considerable skills against the best the rest of the world has to offer. Barry Dennigan will represent Ireland next month at the 40th annual Worldskills competition in Galgary, Canada – ten years after his older brother Darren took part in the same competition. In March of last year Barry defeated 14 other chippies from around the country to win the National Apprentice Cup, earning the right to travel to next month's competition. He is quietly confident that he can go one better than Darren, who scooped the silver medal at the Worldskills carpentry competition in 1999.
(Source: The Corkman)

Drunk teenagers are skinny dipping in Creggan reservoir. The youngsters, who are believed to be as young as 12, are drinking alcohol and taking drugs before jumping into the water naked. Hugh O’Donnell from Creggan Neighborhood Partnership (CNP) said the situation was a “recipe for disaster.” He added: “CNP wishes to remind parents and guardians of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs, and that youngsters involved have been found in various states of undress, which raises other concerns as well”.
(Source: The Derry Journal)

Daniel O’Donnell's number one fan received a huge bouquet of fresh flowers from the star when she was bestowed as Gaoth Dobhair person of the year 2009 last weekend. The country crooner was delighted that Máire Rua was the chosen recipient for the much sought after title this year and he and Majella were quick to congratulate her with the huge basket of brightly colored flowers.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)

Kilkeel has been left reeling after one of its main sources of employment slashed almost 90 jobs. The jobs losses at BE Aerospace, which makes aircraft seats for US airlines, cuts the plant’s workforce from 651to 563. Managing Director Sean Cromie said the firm had been forced into the decision by economic pressures on the industry as a whole, which have resulted in customers pushing orders back.
 (Source: The Down Democrat)

Gardai (police) are believed to be on the verge of making a breakthrough in identifying the woman found stabbed to death in the Phoenix Park in Dublin two weeks ago. The woman's body was found by passers-by Wednesday before last. Gardai later took the unusual steps of releasing photographs of her face, clothing and jewellery in an effort to establish her identity. They have also been working with Interpol and various homeless agencies in Ireland and abroad to see if anybody recognized her. A Romanian family is now believed to have come forward claiming to be the woman's relatives.
(Source: The Evening Herald)

There were 574 physical and verbal attacks on health care staff within the Western Trust over a six month period. This breaks down into 362 physical assaults and 185 verbal attacks from October 2008 - March 2009. And the SDLP Fermanagh MLA Tommy Gallagher is calling for stricter penalties for offenders - including them having to foot the bill for prosecutions against them. The figures were released last week by the Minister of Health, Michael McGimpsey, who warned these attacks will not be tolerated.
(Source: The Fermanagh Herald)

A man with close links to Connemara is one of the frontrunners in the Boston mayoral race. A grandson of Connemara emigrants, Michael Flaherty was born in raised in Boston but has strong local connections, with relations living in Clifden, Camus and Leitir Mor. A city councilor in the Boston area, he is now one of the strongest threats to current Mayor Thomas Marino, who has held the position for 16 years. Clr Flaherty said his family had a very strong connection with Ireland and that the plight of the undocumented Irish is something he plans to address if his campaign is successful.
(Source: Galway Independent)

A record for the greatest number of threshers ever assembled to work the one field might just have been set in Knockanure last weekend during the annual Vintage Day in the village. As part of the plans — which includes making space for over 300 vintage machines — organizers are hoping to assemble the biggest fleet of working threshers ever seen in the one field. "We're confident we will break the record for Munster, if not all of Ireland," Treasurer of the Vintage committee, Dan Hartnett, said
(Source: The Kerryman)

Workers at a Newbridge service station were subjected to a terrifying ordeal on Friday last when an armed raider entered the shop and pointed a gun at counter staff while demanding money. Sergeant Mary Keane of Newbridge garda station said the raider entered the Topaz shop on Moorefield Road at 5.10pm on Friday last. Described as very tall and wearing black track suit bottoms and a black top, he also wore a balaclava and spoke with an Irish accent. “He was carrying what appeared to be a gun and he pointed it at the staff and asked them the money in a bag,” said Sgt Keane, adding that the raider then made away with a relatively small amount of cash, making his escape on a black mountain bike.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

This is a time when every penny counts, especially for people who have been made redundant from their jobs. Yet a group of former workers from the Ormonde Brick factory in Castlecomer have taken the unselfish decision to donate the remainder of two staff funds to charity rather than dividing it amongst themselves. The former staff presented a check worth $11,000 to the Friends of Castlecomer District Hospital last Thursday morning, and are giving the same amount to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
 (Source: The Kilkenny People)

It is not every day that a Laois athlete returns home with eight medals from a world championship, but that is exactly what young Nicole Turner from Garryhinch did the week before last. Nicole swept the boards at the World Dwarf Games in Belfast winning five gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Nicole won three gold medals for swimming, two gold and a silver in athletics, and her bronze medals in football and hockey, playing with the Irish team.
(Source: The Laois Nationalist)

The economic down turn is really starting to bite in Co Leitrim with the latest figures showing that, not only have redundancies doubled on figures for the same period in 2008 but unemployment has also dramatically increased. The latest redundancy figures for Co Leitrim show a massive increase on figures for the same period last year. The figures, released by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment last week, show that between January 1 and July 31 this year, 162 people in Co Leitrim were made redundant, up substantially from the same period last year where only 77 were faced with a similar fate. (Source: The Leitrim Observer)

Tributes have been paid to disabled rights campaigner Ger South, who died on Thursday last.
The Corbally resident, 78, was praised for his work with Limerick Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped, of which he was chairman for 25 years."He was a man of shining honesty and always led from the front. He was a great activist of social causes, especially for the under-privileged," said his friend and former Mayor and TD Frank Prendergast, 76.
(Source: The Limerick Leader)

A Longford businessman is trying to set up a fund to provide as many girls in the county with the Cervical Cancer Vaccine as possible. Eddie Valentine from Longford town says he is happy to donate money into the fund and is now trying to get other business people from the county involved to sponsor the vaccine."Hopefully it will show up the Government for their selfishness in failing to get the vaccine scheme up and running. "It's children we're talking about and this is a life saving vaccine. Nothing should stand in the way of this program, recession or not."
(Source: The Longford Leader)

One lucky local has become an instant millionaire last week after scooping the top prize in the Lotto's Monday Millions draw. While most of us are caught up in the woes of the recession, one local shopper was celebrating this week after buying the winning € 1m ticket in Easons on Monday last. The winner, who had not come forward to claim the prize at the time of going to press, purchased a € 5 quickpick on the day of the draw and scooped the prize with the winning numbers 1, 3, 19, 35, 38 and 39. 'We are absolutely delighted to have sold the winning ticket,' said Easons manager John Belson. 'It's always great to have a bit of good news in a sea of bad news. Someone walked in, bought a ticket and walked out a millionaire.
(Source: The Drogheda Independent)

Gardai (police) in Swinford now have two men in custody for questioning in connection with the murder of 24-year-old Frankie Heneghan in Kiltimagh in the early hours of last Thursday morning. The first man was arrested after the Gardaí launched a murder inquiry and just before lunchtime on Thursday a second man was taken into custody. The Ballyheane native died from multiple stab wounds following an incident in a laneway at the rear of the Kiltimagh’s Main Street. Both men are now being questioned at Swinford Garda Station where the murder investigation team is based.
(Source: The Mayo News)

In the wake of two armed robberies in Meath where staff members were threatened, Garda (police) resources to tackle serious crime will be boosted in the coming weeks with the rollout of the Gardai's new Regional Response Unit. The new unit is to be based in Mullingar but will be deployed throughout the region, including County Meath, in response to serious crime incidents as they happen.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)

 A homecoming party was held in Threemilehouse last Friday night in honor of Monaghan’s first-ever world amateur boxing champion. Young Smithboro boxer, Shane Murphy, claimed his prestigious title at the Ringside World Amateur Boxing Championships held in Kansas City two weekends ago. It was the ideal birthday present as Shane had just turned 17. It was also an historic occasion as this is the first time a Ringside World Championship title has come to Monaghan – despite such names as Barry McGuigan and Kevin McBride having represented the county through the years.
(Source: The Monaghan Post)

A track from Offaly rapper Rí Rá featured on popular crime show CSI:New York two weeks ago. “25 O"Clock In The Mornin" could be heard several times during the TV program entitled "Communication Breakdown”. After a Native American chief is shot on the subway, the CSIs struggle to translate which one of the several foreign suspects including an Irish character Finn Wexford may have caused his death.
(Source: The Offaly Independent)

Up to 68 teaching jobs in the region could be axed in September as secondary schools bear the brunt of savage cuts in the education system. The job losses, which average about five teaching posts per school, come in the wake of widespread education cuts announced in the Budget.
(Source: The Roscommon Herald)

Construction work on a €15m retail and residential project at Carraroe could start as early as next January following a decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for the project. The development, which will be carried out by Shafin Ltd, the development company owned by Westlife superstar, Shane Filan, and his brother, Finbarr, is expected to create up to 200 jobs and provide a timely boost for the local economy. (Source: The Sligo Champion)

Members of North Tipperary County Council last week issued a statement expressing their anger at County Manager Mr. Terry O'Niaidh for the decision to press ahead with the letting go of up to fifty temporary workers at the end of the month, despite the fact that the council is one of the stakeholders in promoting business and employment in the county. Such was the annoyance on the part of the elected members that they decided to hold a meeting behind closed doors with no media or council executives present.
(Source: The Tipperary Star)

Record numbers of Tyrone patients with serious heart conditions are having to travel to the South for surgery so overwhelmed are medical services in Northern Ireland. In 2008/09 a total of 66 people from the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency went to the Mater Private Hospital and Blackrock Hospital, both in Dublin, to have heart surgery, a rise of 200 percent from 2006 when only 22 patients had to make the journey. They were accompanied by a nearest relative who was put up in overnight accommodation.
The government figures were released in response to an Assembly question tabled by DUP MLA Maurice Morrow, who has been lobbying to have seriously ill constituents taken off the waiting list.
(Source: The Tyrone Times)

Waterford’s first ever Gay Pride march took to the streets last Saturday and the committee urged everyone to “come out” and support the celebrations. Ally Cullen, one of the committee members, said people came from Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Wexford and Limerick as well as Waterford. Before the parade, she said 70% of the people who have taken part in other pride marches are straight and urged everyone to support the event, whatever their sexuality.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)

The late Joe Dolan's family has last week condemned singers who are performing what they have called 'illegal' Joe Dolan tribute acts. The family spoke out after the latest tribute, a musical about the showband legend, was launched last weekend. The show, which was to tell the story of the late singer's life, has since been canceled. It was due to premier in the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin on October 10 with a tour planned for next year.
(Source: The Westmeath Examiner)

A pilot had a miraculous escape on Tuesday evening last after his light aircraft crashed into the sea near Tuskar Rock. The man, who is believed to be from England and heading towards a landing strip at Wellingtonbridge, was rescued by the crew of a rowing boat which witnessed the crash. A mayday message was relayed to the Irish Coastguard immediately after the the accident happened. Rosslare Harbor and Kilmore Quay lifeboats were dispatched to the scene along with the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based in Tramore, County Waterford.
(Source: The Wexford People)

Fears are growing for the safety of missing Wicklow man Stephen O'Meara as the search for him intensifies. The 26-year-old father of three hasn't been seen since Thursday two weeks ago. Garda (police) searches have concentrated on wooded areas near Redcross and Avoca. The possibility that some form of foul play might be responsible for his disappearance hasn't been ruled out by the gardai. 'It's something we are looking at. We will be looking into every possible avenue until we have concrete proof of his whereabouts,' said Supt. Pat Ward.
(Source: The Wicklow People)