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Monday 24th July 2006

Last Week's News - Forward Week's News
Gortnahoe & Glengoole - Killenaule - Mullinahone - Ballingarry - Slieveardagh

Married Recently
Olivia Phelan, Strylea, Fethard and Mr. Sean Foran, Longwood,Co. Meath who were married on May 12th 2006 in the Holy Trinity Church Fethard, followed by a reception in Hotel Minella, Clonmel.

Stop the Decline in Fethard!
Following our article last week, we’ve received the following letter from someone who is concerned, like many others, of what we can do to help stop the decline in Fethard.

“So another census has come and gone and Fethard is again declining in population - down 10% on the 2002 census. This is indeed disheartening to say the least. Why do people not want to stay in Fethard? Why are we not attracting newcomers? It's all very well to say that Fethard is, “The most important small medieval town in Ireland”, but what good is that if nobody visits.

I've only seen a handful of tourists this year so far and they were mainly cyclists passing through! Fethard Historical Society does fantastic work in trying to put Fethard on the tourist map, but seriously, who wants to see a wall destroyed with litter, our oldest church with vandalised windows broken by the local village idiots, our Town Hall — our centrepiece— which hasn't seen a coat of paint in the last ten years! Or our lovely riverwalks (or drinking dens) frequently occupied by those same idiots.

What we need in Fethard is a serious Garda presence not just the two we have now. A Garda in the genre of the late, and much lamented, Garda Fallon who would patrol the streets of Fethard at all hours of the night and take pride in his job.

What we also need is industry, factories and such. The IDA factory is idle now for ages, what are the local politicians doing about it? Nothing, that's what! Would you think a factory like that would be idle for long in Clonmel or Cashel or Thurles? Of course not. Politicians need shoving, those towns have representatives who know which side of their bread is buttered and the larger the town the larger the vote, and that is where Fethard is caught, too small for anyone to care about. In the new school year there is only a handful of pupils going into secondary level education in Fethard and this in a country with overflowing classrooms, if we don’t lobby our politicians to get this so-called “masterplan” underway and attract workers and residents to Fethard we might as well say goodbye to our schools as well as our populace.”

With reference to the above letter, It is our understanding that the IDA Factory on the Killenaule Road was sold privately by the County Council after requesting submissions for its development and use. We would also like to hear your views as to the present situation in Fethard. Please email your comments to or hand them in to Newports Newagency, Main Street, Fethard, for collection.

Second Record Attempt
Encouraged by the recent story about Sean ‘Glamour’ Walsh and his world record attempt at playing cards in the most venues, two Fethard ladies, we have been reliably informed by Barry Connolly,  are considering throwing down the gauntlet and going for the same record. The ladies in question are members of Fethard Bridge Club. Annie O’Brien, the experienced hand at the game, has teamed up with rookie Anne Connolly. As the Fethard club has taken the annual summer sabbatical and the ladies in question desire to play more cards, they have taken a leaf from Glamour’s book and travelled further a field — all the way to Laffansbridge. It’s the first step on the way to breaking the record. We wish them well. At the rate that they are going, they should be close to the record by Christmas 2099.
— (N Gawe)

Paradise Lost Paradise Regained

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.
They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot . . . ooh la la la”.

So sang Joni Mitchell decades ago, referring to the over development of Hawaii. The song sprang to mind as I drove around Clonmel past the newly developed business parks and supermarkets.  Where once there was the Poppy Fields, there is now a car park. I’m not giving out about the developments.

A man I once met pointed out that the world was ever changing and that no amount of nostalgic dreams were going to prevent it. His name was Ut and we were chatting over a fire in a hut in the middle of the real Poppy Fields in Northern Thailand. He pointed out that as we, “the ferang” (as we tourists were called by the locals there), were going more native every day, discarding our Western dress, the locals were getting more westernised, wearing jeans, baseball caps and smoking American cigarettes. The younger tribes people, he said, would leave the ‘Hill Tribes’, and move to Chiang Mai where they would get jobs in factories and earn more money. Ut shrugged his shoulders and said one word, “evolution”.

And in one way the new shops are a great development if you live on the Fethard side of Clonmel. No more crawling through the congested streets of  the town looking for parking spaces. No more searching for change to feed the meter. These are the obvious bonuses. But then, while out strolling on Jesuits Walk a few days later, another of the bonuses turned up. It appears that the top soil that was taken from the Poppy Fields was dropped in a landfill site on Jesuits Walk and we are now witnessing the first bloom of poppies brightening up the area. Clonmel got a parking lot and we got the poppy fields. “Ooh la la la !”
— (N Gawe)

Remembering the Town Hall

Fethard's 'Twilight Serenaders' band from the 1950s featuring L to R: Paddy Grant on drums, Paud O’Shea (trumpet), Tom Sheehan (sax), Patsy Carroll (accordion), Phil Vaughan (piano) and Mick Looby (banjo).

My first contact with the Town Hall was at the age of seven, when I saw my first picture “The Daughter of Officer Kelly”, sitting on a hard wooden seat in the dark mesmerised by this first introduction to moving, talking pictures. 

A short time later, around 1945, the Capital Cinema opened in Fethard and pictures were no longer shown in the Town Hall. The golden age of travelling shows was also over.  They had been a feature of life in every small town of Ireland. Anew McMaster, Louis D'Alton Players and lesser talents had entertained the people of Fethard in the Town Hall for decades.  The shows varied and were mostly very professional.  However, from time to time a ‘chancer’ did appear and brought mayhem with him.  There was the night of the famous ‘whistling lesson’.  The posters had boasted the greatest one man variety show to hit Fethard in years.  The townspeople had crowded into the hall in their hundreds.  A buzz of excitement filled the air as the lights went down.  The front curtains parted and a man stepped forward — the same fellow who had taken their money on the way in.  “Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Please sit back and relax, the first item on the show tonight is a whistling lesson.  Now, I want you all to join in, put your tongues behind your teeth, round your lips and take a deep breath.  That’s right! Now hold those positions.”  He then slipped behind the curtains and was never seen again.

In years to follow, I remembered the Town Hall being in constant use, both day and night.  Going to school I often saw Johnnie Skehan, a man of Dickensian proportions, emerging from his ‘Loan Office’ (the Library) and surveying the Main Street. Then there was Paddy McLellan weighing loads of corn or cattle on the old weighbridge in front of the hall.  This was also the era of the weights and measures man, and shopkeepers stood in trepidation as the law checked their stones, pounds and ounces.

The upstairs of the Town Hall was the most important part of the building — the dances, shows and the hundred and one uses it was put to, made sure it became common ground for all, both young and old. I remember standing with buddies on the steps of the Munster and Leinster Bank and watching the dancers pass from window to window, bobbing to the beat of the music.  The Twilight Serenaders giving the full treatment to Moonlight and Roses.  When old enough to venture inside the hall, we’d stand with all the other fellows in a bunch at the door and wait for the music to start.  The girls would be seated on forms along the opposite wall.  There would be a rush and those slow off the mark would be left empty handed.

Nell Mullins ran the ladies cloakroom and from her perch viewed the dance floor all night long.  The Town Hall had a good atmosphere and was very popular for dances. Dancers claimed the floor was one the best that could be found in any hall in the country; it had a great bounce to it.  Minerals, ham sandwiches, buns and teas were to be had in the ‘Commissioners Room’ — a place where one retired to several times during the night.  The dances were usually local affairs and were held mostly on Thursday nights.

Over the passing years my affection for the Town Hall has grown, it being the centre of so much community life in the past and I only hope it will continue to be so in the future.  Strangers to Fethard seldom give the hall a second glance and when they do their eyes betray their feeling of disdain and even amusement at its sorry state.  One could not really blame them.  The outside of the building is a depressing sight.  It has deteriorated over the past number of years and is now in desperate need of attention.  Those responsible for its upkeep, South Tipperary County Council, has a duty to perform.  A duty to past and present generations of Fethard people and to those not yet born.

Fethard & Killusty Community Lotto
The numbers drawn in the Fethard & Killusty Community Lotto on Wednesday 19th July were 4, 13, 21 and 31. There was no Jackpot winner and one ‘Match 3’ winners who received €150:
Nellie Heffernan, 19 Barrack Street, Fethard.

The three €50 Lucky Dip winners were:

Maggie Napier, 1 The Green, Fethard;
Paula O'Meara, Grove road, Fethard;
Paul Meaney, The Valley, Fethard.

Next weeks Jackpot is €5,850 and the Jackpot ticket sellers prize is €585.

Launch of Heart-Safe Town
Final preparations are currently underway for activities to celebrate the arrival home of the Fethard-on-Sea to Fethard Cyclists and the launch of the Slí na Sláinte (Path to Health) designated walking route.  We would like to see a big turnout for these events which are scheduled to take place on The Square on the afternoon of Saturday 29th July from approximately 2-5pm.  Entertainment and Refreshments will be provided. (More details next week)

The Fethard to Fethard Sponsored Cycle, the training spins for which have been so entertainingly documented by 'BiKe' in this column, is a fundraising initiative to finance the purchase of defibrillators to be placed in strategic locations throughout the town.  These devices, combined with the prompt assistance of trained lay-responders, will provide immediate emergency care should the need arise.  We urge you to come along on the day to applaud the cyclists for their efforts.  We also ask you to support this costly initiative — each machine costs approximately €2000 — by means of sponsoring a participating cyclist, by making a donation to the Fethard Heart-Safe Programme (to Jimmy O’Sullivan, Liam Hayes, Jimmy Connolly or Edwina Newport) or by participating in the fundraising Table Quiz which will take place in Butlers Bar at 9pm on Friday 21st July.

In addition to the Heart-Safe Programme Fethard & Killusty Community Council are also promoters of the Slí na Sláinte walking route.  This initiative, in conjunction with the Irish Heart Foundation, is an ideal way to improve your health, simply by walking.  This signposted walking route will be launched towards the beginning of proceedings on Saturday 29th after which some of the route will be walked.  Representatives of the Irish Heart Foundation will be in attendance with information sheets and booklets.  The Community Council would like to take this opportunity to thank Jonathon Cooney, Area Engineer, Jimmy Horan, Over-seer, and Council staff from the Fethard depot for their assistance and co-operation with the erection of the signage for this route.

The combination of these two initiatives, the Heart-Safe Programme and Slí na Sláinte, will confer the status of ‘Heart-Safe Community’ on Fethard – one of the first towns in Ireland to achieve such distinction.

Fethard Cycling – Nearly there!
Wednesday 12th July saw the group leave the car-park at 7pm and cycle towards Clonmel.  At this stage, we nearly look forward to Market Hill.  Unfortunately the main roads are very busy and each and every new car is in a hurry, probably home to watch TV.

In Clonmel we decided to go towards Kilmanahan.  We turned right at the Hidden Inn and up the very steep hill towards Knocklofty.  This was where the boys were separated from the men, resulting in the group splitting in two.  However, we carried on.  Over the bridge and straight on, rather than up the hill, pointed us straight in the direction of Cahir.  At the next T-junction we cycled left for Carrickoneen, under the railway bridge and out to the main Clonmel-Cahir road at Derrygrath.  Continuing towards Cahir, we took the next right opposite Pollards Fork-lifts in the general direction of Poulmucka via Angle Hill.  At the next cross roads we asked a girl for directions – she was from Ohio but was able to tell us how to get to Ballingeary School House! Leaving the school on our left we cycled to Poulmucka and on for D’Arcy’s Cross and back to Fethard.  A distance of about 33 miles was covered.

A reminder to all young cyclists intending to take part in the final leg of the cycle from Kilsheelan to Fethard that Sponsorship Cards, which must be obtained, are available from the Community Office or from Newport’s Newsagents.

With only one more Wednesday at 7pm to look forward to, may I remind our readers of a Table Quiz to be held in Butlers Sports Bar at 9pm on Friday 21st July.  A table of four costs €20 and all are welcome.  Please support this sure to be a good night of questions, quotes and good craic!  It’s a far cry from the days when you could cycle the by-ways of Fethard and hardly meet a stray bullock, now-a-days when you ask for directions, make sure the person you ask can speak English or even a cupla focail as Gaeilge! Slán go fóill.
— (Bi.Ke.)

Gibson Cup

This year 2006 marks the 70th Anniversary of the first playing of the Gibson Cup Tennis competition in 1936.  Promoted originally by Kilsheelan LTC who won the cup that season, Fethard won the cup the following year 1937 and by their three successive victories in ’37,’38 and ’39 became outright winners.  The cup, when competed for, has since been promoted by Fethard Tennis Club.

A one time big day in Fethard and Tipperary Tennis circles the Gibson Cup like Fethard Tennis now seems to be at an all time low.  Pictured holding the Gibson Cup is Mrs Josie Casey, a member of the Fethard winning team of 69 years ago.  She recalls the glory days of Fethard Tennis and recalls cycling to Mullinahone, Killenaule and Ballingarry to play tennis matches.  Pictured with Mrs Casey is Tony Newport who was President of Fethard Sports Centre Tennis Club the last year in which the Gibson Cup was run.

This week a Tennis Camp for juveniles is taking place at Fethard Sports Centre.  We have mentioned before and we do so again, how sad to see three beautiful flood-lit hard-courts lying almost unused in a town like Fethard that for so long was one of the top tennis clubs in Co. Tipperary.

Town Wall Hangout

The banks of the Clashawley river, down by the Town Wall, seems to be the place to hang out if you are a teenager in Fethard.  Groups of youths meet daily by the stone commemorating the visit of President Robinson to the town, though you would be hard pushed to read the writing on the stone as it has been badly vandalized over the years.  Most of what goes on there is harmless enough, boys meeting girls, playing football and hurling and admiring each others first cars.

Unfortunately, there exists among the groups that congregate, a more thuggish element, that have taken to vandalism. These idiots have been breaking windows for 'fun'.  Many of the windows in the Holy Trinity Church have been broken, as well as in the school and convent.  A man who left his jeep by the river returned to find one of his side windows smashed.  Locals have seen the same group firing stones at people and houses.  Some older residents are afraid to use the walkway in this area as some have been intimidated over the past few years.  If anybody knows who the stone throwers are or have any information, contact the Gardai at 052 22222.

Irish Heart Foundation - Thank-you
Organisers of the Church Gate Collection, held recently, in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation would like to sincerely thank all those who contributed.  €1000 was raised from your efforts.

The Well Golf Society
Our third outing of the season took place at a sun-drenched Mountain View Golf Club on Sunday last.  The results are as follows:

Nearest the pin: John O'Brien and Vincent Phelan.
First Place: Tony Phelan and John O'Brien.
Second Place: Vincent Phelan and Chris Coen.
Third Place: Martin Fanning and Aidan Grant.

Our next outing is due to take place in August, players will be notified when the date and venue are confirmed.

Fethard GAA Club News
Due to the un-availability of players on the night we were forced to give a walk-over to Athea (Limerick) in the Senior Football Munster League last week.

Commiserations to the Tipperary Intermediate Hurling team and to our own Aiden Fitzgerald who were defeated in Cork on Sunday last.  Best of Luck to our players who take on Waterford in the Tommy Murphy Cup on Saturday 22nd July in Dungarvan.

The South Semi-final of the Minor Football B took place on Friday 14th in Cloneen.  We were unfortunate not to secure a draw after conceding 1-2 in the first five minutes to finish on the final score of Fethard 0-14 to Mullinahone 2-9.  Team: Glen O’Meara, Pat Holohan, Liam Ryan, Adrian Lawrence, David Prout, Niall Hayes, Alan O’Connor, Chris Sheehan 0-8 (7f), Thomas Gilpin 0-2, Dean Tobin 0-1, Richard Gorey 0-1, Peter Gough, David Conway 0-1f, Declan Doyle, Ed Sheehan 0-1. Subs: Aaron O’Donovan and Eoin O’Connell.  Well done to all involved.  Best wishes to Mullinahone in the South Final.

Minor B Hurling second round was to have taken place on Sunday last in Cahir but Skeheenarinka failed to fill a team.

We played Kilsheelan in Junior B Hurling on Wednesday 12th July but lost on a scoreline, Fethard 2-6 to Kilsheelan 4-12. The team consisted of:  Mike Kelly, Connie Flynn, Ian Kenrick, Gavin Aherne, Patrick Aherne, Paul Hackett, Glen O’Meara, Philly Croke, Gabriel Horan, Ronan Maher, Kevin O’Donnell, Daniel Lonergan, Paul Kenrick, Tommy Gahan and M J Croke. Subs: Paddy Cooney for Patrick Aherne (injured), John Hanrahan for Ronan Maher (inj), David Kelly for Tommy Gahan (inj) and David Flanagan for M J Croke (inj).

Lotto Jackpot €3,100 was not won with one match three winner of €150, won by Shem Butler, Garrinch.   €50 Lucky Dip was won by Joe Walsh, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles.  Numbers Drawn were 7, 14, 18 and 23. Tickets are kindly sponsored by Harrington Construction.

Fixtures: Wednesday 19th July - Junior B Football v Swans in Kilsheelan at 8pm; Sunday 23rd July - Junior Hurling B Fethard v Marlfield in Ned Hall Park at 7pm; Wednesday 26th Minor Hurling B Fethard v Clonmel Og in Monroe at 7.30pm and on Sunday 30th July Fethard take on Carrick Davins in Junior A Football in Ned Hall Park at 7pm.

Famine 1848 Walk

The Famine 1848 Walk will take place from the village of The Commons to the Famine Warhouse pictured above.

There will be a public walk in Ballingarry parish to commemorate all those who died during the Great Famine and the 1848 Rising which took place in the middle of the Famine.

The Walk takes place on Saturday, 29 July at 3pm and all are welcome. The Walk covers a distance of one-and-a-half miles of gently ascending ground on the public road.

It commences from the 1848 national flag monument in the village of The Commons. The Walk will proceed to the Famine Warhouse, an OPW national heritage site, which was the scene of the 1848 Rising.

In the two-storey house walkers and visitors will have an opportunity to see a wide-ranging exhibition on the Great Famine, mass emigration and the 1848 Rising set in its European context.

Famine Warhouse 1848 is situated on the Cashel-Kilkenny scenic route through the Slieveardagh hills. The house is located at Warhouse Hill, a high point of 1,000 feet. Visitors will be able to enjoy views from the fields around the house as far as the Wicklow mountains.

In the Great Famine, one million people died. In the exhibition in the house one can read how the Ballingarry priest, Fr Philip Fitzgerald wrote during the Famine that ‘if there were another week of the same kind there would be heaps of unburied dead in the parish’.

The 1848 Rising led by William Smith O’Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher and John Blake Dillon was a response to the events of the Great Famine. The events at the house led to a State trial for High Treason. Death sentences were commuted to penal exile in Australia from where several leaders escaped to the United States of America.

The event is organised by the Ballingarry 1848 Committee who intend that the Walk will become an annual event on the last Saturday in July.

Senior Day at Fethard Day Care Centre
The Fethard & District Day Centre will hold their next Senior Day on the last Friday of this month, 28th July. The Centre will open to all our senior citizens from 11.30 to 2.00pm. A hot meal will be served during these hours at a cost of €5. A qualified chiropodist will attend and the cost of this service is €10. The district nurse will also be in attendance. All are welcome.


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