CELEBRATING THE ST LOUIS SISTERS IN CARRICKMACROSS

THE NORTHERN STANDARD, THURSDAY 16TH MAY 2019

An evening of celebration and acknowledgement of the contribution made by the St Louis Sisters to the lives and fabric of so many people in Carrickmacross and south Monaghan was held last Thursday evening at the Nuremore Hotel. Over five hundred people gathered to give their personal thanks to the nuns and to watch a new television documentary telling their story made by the videographer Pat Byrne. The evening was introduced by his friend and companion from schooldays, Brian Mohan, a retired Garda officer. 

Mr Mohan told the audience the nuns of St Louis and their convent on the hill at Castle Street had been part and parcel of Carrickmacross over the last 130 years. In that time they had made a huge contribution, not only to education, but also to those in need. He said it was a matter of great sadness that the convent had closed its doors for the last time. “Fortunately Pat Byrne has completed a video documentary on the history, joys and sorrows of the convent in Carrickmacross and the personal stories of some of the sisters who resided there,” he said.

He continued: “I have known Pat for most of my life and as young teenagers we had a particular interest. In the convent, because girls lived there. Despite our best endeavours, we were unable to breach the nuns’ security! But we always kept out interest in the convent alive.”

“Pat has a wonderful knowledge of the origins of the convent building and those that lived within. He has painstakingly and respectfully put together a video documentary in which it is evident that there is a passion and emotion in its making. It is certainly something very special, which I’m sure will stir many memories for the viewers.” 

DVD set of two video documentaries by Pat Byrne

TOLERANCE AND RESPECT

“We will get only a flavour of the video tonight. What you will see is only an edited version. The entire video is two hours long and I have no doubt that it is so interesting and yes, asks hard questions that anyone watching it will feel it was only a very short time.”

“The convent and its members have been a beacon of inclusiveness and a shining example of tolerance and respect. They have lived together down through the years with their neighbouring Church of Ireland community, and nurtured long and loving relationships.” He then introduced Minister Heather Humphreys.

IMPORTANT CELEBRATION

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said it was an important celebration and commemoration for Carrickmacross. She commended “the amazing women of the St Louis Sisters,” and gave a special welcome to those who had travelled from overseas, including as far as South Africa, to be with them. “Your commitment to service, charity and education is a sign of hope in our modern world,” she said.

She continued: “You are an inspiration to us all, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for your outstanding contribution to this town, county and region over 130 years. Our Lady’s Mount Convent, Carrickmacross, was your home from September 1888 to October 2018. We were all very sad to see you leave your historic home, but your legacy in Carrickmacross will live on for generations. 

Not only have you made a hugely positive impact in the education of young women, you also revived and sustained Carrickmacross Lace, a world-famous local tradition and industry. For all of these reasons and more, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan – and indeed Ireland – owe you a debt of gratitude. 

As we know, the Sisters of St Louis started out in 1888 by opening a small primary school, but gradually introduced a secondary curriculum to older pupils and, in 1899, a boarding school was built. 

Today, the school is a vibrant Catholic Voluntary Secondary School for girls, and I know that the Board of Management and hardworking staff, under the leadership of the Principal, Karen Patton, inherited the great tradition of ‘high standards in a caring environment’ from the Sisters.

The school has a long history of academic and sporting successes, which lives on to this day. Only this year, for example, the Under 19 basketball team won the All Ireland Cup and League competitions. 

The Convent’s many famous past pupils are a testament to the high standard of education provided by the Sisters over the years. They include Mary Daly, Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD; Monica Barnes, former Fine Gael TD; Natalie B. Coleman, the famous fashion designer; Catherine Martin TD; and of course, Kate Beagan, a well-known local artist, to name just a few.

Very importantly, the Convent also has links with schools in Liberia and Cambodia, running annual fundraisers and projects to support students in less fortunate countries. Thank you, Sisters, for instilling a tradition of social responsibility and charity in our young people here in Carrickmacross.

I’ve always been a big fan of Carrickmacross Lace. It is renowned all over the world and of course it was Carrickmacross Lace that was famously used on the wedding dresses of Princess Diana and indeed Kate Middleton.

For my own part, in December 2016, I was delighted to announce an investment of €150,000 towards the redevelopment of the Market House as the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery. However, none of this would have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the St Louis Sisters. 

The area around Carrickmacross was very badly affected by the Famine. Lace-making made a great contribution to the survival of many families, but by the end of the nineteenth century, it was under threat of dying out as patronage ended and commercial demand declined.

In their fight against poverty in this town, the Sisters founded their own Lace School to revive the craft. The School kept the technique alive throughout the 20th century, rebuilding its high reputation and quality, which is known and respected all over the world.

In 1984, they assisted in the formation of the Carrickmacross Lace Co-operative, which maintains the tradition to this day. All that said, I don’t think they ever expected that their efforts would mean international media attention through Donald and Melania Trump!

But in all seriousness, without the Sisters, we most likely would have lost what is now one of Ireland’s greatest cultural assets, not to mention the economic lifeline it brought to the town throughout the years.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Pat Byrne, who has not only organised this event, but also made two documentaries to commemorate the history of the St. Louis Sisters, and Carrickmacross Lace. I know that Pat has put a huge amount of personal time and commitment into ensuring that this important part of County Monaghan’s rich heritage is protected and recorded. Thanks to Pat’s work, we have a record of their stories for present and future generations. 

In closing, I would like to once again say ‘thank you’ to the St. Louis Sisters for the enormous contribution they have made to the town Your legacy will forever be woven into the story of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan and this wider region. We are deeply grateful everything you have done and continue to do.” 

Brian Mohan then called on Pat Byrne, a school pal from national school days, to introduce his video documentary on the St Louis Sisters. It was the first of two DVDs he has recently produced, the other dealing with the history of Carrickmacross Lace.

Pat Byrne thanked Minister Humphreys for her support. He pointed out that she had been instrumental in getting the government to accept a piece of legislation drafted by local solicitor Tony Donagher and Professor John Wylie, a leading land law academic, as a result of his documentary on ground rent, “What’s next for Carrickmacross?”, presented by this reporter. “That bill was entered in the Seanad by Senator Robbie Gallagher, accepted by Minister Charlie Flanagan and received cross part support. The bill is now due to be entered into the Dail for its final stages. Hopefully we will have cause to celebrate this in the near future,” he said. He went on to thank Senator Robbie Gallagher for introducing the bill in the Seanad and Minister Humphreys for her continued support. 

DOCUMENTING THE LIVES OF THE SISTERS

Pat Byrne explained: “When I started out on this project a few years ago, what I wanted to do was to document the Sisters going about their daily lives pictorially, such as a picture essay, with the view of having a photographic exhibition. But as time went by, I started to create video documentaries and to date with these two documentaries, it brings my total to six.” 

“I approached Sister Marie Byrne with the idea of doing a video documentary; she agreed and asked if I would get a storyboard together on what I wanted and she would put it to the other Sisters.
All was agreed by the Sisters but we did not have a starting date. A short time later I received a phone call from Sister Marie saying that if I was going to do something I should “start as soon as possible because the Sisters would soon have to vacate the Convent building, because of electrical problems.” 

The first interview was conducted in April last year, when Pat got Sister Marie Byrne to interview Sister Mary Jo Hand in the parlour of the Convent. The only other interview in the Convent was with Sister Ann Matthews in the oratory, who provided a perfect ending for the documentary.

Pat continued: “It was obvious the Sisters were going through a difficult time, so I put a hold on interviews and concentrated on gathering footage to complement the documentary. The remainder of the interviews happened in various locations from Monaghan to Dublin. I knew at some stage I was going to have to face the problems the Sisters faced in leaving the Convent.”

“There were a number of topics I had to deal with:

1. What was going to happen to the building?  2. Where were the Sisters going to live ?
3. Who owns the building? and so on.” 

“I hope you like what I have put together in this edited short version of the documentary I am showing. Finally, I would like to thank the St Louis Sisters for their generosity and encouragement in allowing me to tell their story through difficult times. I hope that both documentaries will be viewed as an historical and social record of the Sisters’ time in Carrickmacross. There are a lot of people including the Sisters who encouraged me to create this documentary, I hope they are happy with what I have produced.”

HOW THE CONVENT WAS BUILT

The first video which includes spectacular aerial footage shot by Ken Finegan from Ardee using a drone was then shown to the audience.

Brian Mohan used the opportunity before the DVD started playing to delve into some 19thC newspaper reports around the time the original Convent building was being extended. 

On 20thApril 1889 The Dundalk Democrat carried a report on the new wing that was to be added to the Convent. It outlined how the good people of Carrickmacross put their own work in abeyance; got the stones, brick, sand and lime; placed themselves, their horses and carts at the disposal of the good nuns and delivered all to the site for the contractor.

“Not to be outdone by Carrickmacross, the people of Magheracloone sent horses and carts by the score to draw bricks from Kingscourt to the Convent. On hearing of this, brave old sterling Killanny stated that they would make a turn out for the new building that would astonish the natives. Donaghmoyne were eager to get in on the act and threatened to eclipse all other parishes.”

“So even then there was a rivalry between parishes to see which of them would perform the most work to lessen the expenses of a new building which the St Louis sisters found it necessary to erect for the efficient working of their schools. Obviously some things haven’t changed, with Killanny and Donaghmoyne still all talk and no action, and not a word from Corduff!” Mr Mohan said, prompting laughter amongst the audience. 

Following the showing of the first documentary, a representative of the retired teachers at St Louis Secondary School, Chris Johnston, was invited to make a presentation to the sisters of a painting of the Convent by past pupil and Donaghmoyne native, Kate Beagan. Kathleen Tinnelly presented prints of the painting to Sr Maureen McShane for distribution to the other sisters. A bouquet of flowers was presented by former principal Art Agnew to Sr Enda McMullan. Sheila Murray presented Sr Hand with a book of well wishes. 

HISTORY OF CARRICKMACROSS LACE

Introducing his second DVD entitled ‘200 Years of Carrickmacross Lace’, Pat Byrne explained that there was no way anyone could tell the story of the St Louis sisters without looking at Carrickmacross Lace and the involvement of the sisters in the lace industry. Carrickmacross Lace has a 200 year history, he said. 

He continued: “I would like to thank Sister Enda McMullan for narrating the Carrickmacross Lace history, her help and support in this project was essential and apologise to her for cutting it in half in the edited version. 

I am not going to spoil it on you by talking anymore about it only to say that the lace industry is still alive and thriving in Carrickmacross today. In the documentary I look at the different styles the lace has evolved into. Martha Hughes has developed her style into a unique 3D modern take on the lace and the way Theresa Kelly has taken her style of lace incorporating it with organic material. Its important that the lace continues to develop and grow. Elizabeth Daly Chairperson of the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery talks about the new gallery and their plans for the future and I wish them well. 

Minister Humphreys was also interviewed for this documentary and a number of questions were asked of her in relation to the RDS Craft Fair, for the answers to those questions you will have to purchase the full version. 

I would like to conclude by thanking everyone for coming out tonight and supporting this event along with the sponsors who contributed to the refreshments which will come later. To all the St. Louis Sisters, too many to mention. They all know who they are, but there are a number of sisters who should be thanked because without their input in the project none of us would be here tonight. 

They are Sister Marie Byrne, Sister Mary Jo Hand, Sister Ann Matthews, Sister Bridin Maloney and Sister Enda McMullan. 

There are a also a number of people I have bounced ideas off and have viewed and given constructive criticism that fed into the finished project. They are Sean Egan, Brian Mohan and Dr Rory and Teresa O’Hanlon. I would like to thank the staff of the Nuremore Hotel including PJ and Pat Dignam. This is not the first launch I have had in this hotel and hopefully there are more to come. 

Thank you to Ken Finegan for his drone photography, thanks to Barry Jay Hughes for his music “Keystone”. To the people at the back of the hall that are selling the DVD’s thank you. When I asked them to do the job they never batted an eye they just said no problem, again thanks to each and everyone of you for that. 

Thanks to PJ McCabe for the use of his Carrickmacross Lace and help with the opening scene and looking after the visitors’ book. Thanks to Liam Connolly on sound; he has always been supportive. Finally to my wife Marie for all her help and support with this project, I have no doubt that her input has also fed into this project for the better and I thank her for that.” 

Before showing highlights of the second DVD on the history of Carrickmacross Lace (duration one hour), Brian Mohan introduced the group Starling Blue, consisting of Hannah O Brien, Liebe Kelly, Louise Steele and Patrice Doherty. Their unique acapella vocal sound has gained them much attention over the last number of years. One of the songs they performed was “The Parting Glass”. 

He then explained that Martha Hughes, one of the leading figures in its recent revival, who was also interviewed for the documentary, was unable to be present owing to the death of her mother, Maddie Hughes, in Hollymount, Co. Mayo. He extended deepest sympathy to Martha and her family on behalf of everyone.

Mr Mohan again delved into the archives, explaining that in November 1964, Minister for Transport and Power and Monaghan TD Erskine Childers accompanied by Mr Ward from the National School and Mr (Pat) Drury, National School teacher, came to the Convent regarding Carrickmacross Lace. It was decided that classes for lace making directed by Miss Eithne Hughes would be held in the vocational school. He added that his own wife Gerladine had attended night classes at the vocational school, where she was taught lace making by Annie Finnegan. “Geraldine went on to make her wedding veil over an eighteen months period and it was featured on the front cover of a booklet issued by the Carrickmacross Lace Co-Op Society Ltd many years ago. Of course Geraldine was keeping up the century old royal tradition of having Carrickmacross lace incorporated in wedding dresses.”

He explained that the documentary was packed with history and interviews with lace makers, and how the tradition has been handed down from one generation to the next. “I sincerely hope that this tradition will continue for years to come,” he concluded.  

Following the screening of the DVD, he called on Elizabeth Daly, Chairperson of Carrickmacross Lace Gallery, to make a presentation to Sr Enda McMullan on behalf of the Gallery, which he reminded everyone was now located in the restored Market House and they were welcome to visit.

Sr Marie Byrne expressed a heartfelt thanks to everyone on behalf of all the Sisters. It was good to see such large numbers had turned out and the night would be long remembered, she said. She thanked Minister Humphreys and Canon Patrick Marron (a native of Carrickmacross and now retired Parish Priest in Fintona, who had celebrated Mass in the Convent oratory) as well as the large cohort of retired teachers and Sisters and visitors who had come to upport the night. She thanked the sponsors for providing the reception. 

“Pat Byrne has made an enormous contribution with his DVD. He was hard working and unobtrusive in his presence and it was a pleasure to work alongside him,” she said. The documentary had captured many reminiscences. Sr Marie thanked the people of Carrickmacross for always being so welcoming over the 130 years the nuns had been present at the Convent and caring for the Sisters. “It’s much appreciated,” she said. 

Sr Marie thanked the retired teachers for the gift of the Kate Beagan painting, which she said was a delightful picture. :It will be treasured and have a special place in our (new) house,” she told the audience. 

She also thanked the cantemus choir led by Lorraine Cotter, graduates of the musical tradition that existed at the St Louis Convent. Their repertoire ranges from haunting medieval to well-known standards, and from classical to rhythmic Celtic tunes.

SISTERS HAVE LEFT AN INDELIBLE STAMP ON COMMUNITY

Closing the proceedings, Brian Mohan thanked Sr Marie Byrne on behalf of the community of Carrickmacross, which he said had benefitted richly from the presence of the St Louis sisters. “May I take the opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for all that you have done and the indelible stamp you have left on so many people’s lives, who have reaped the rewards and benefits of your commitment to the education and betterment of people. He said the people of Carrickmacross were lucky to have someone like Pat Byrne in their midst and his documentaries had captured the essence of the nuns in the town. He hoped his work would stand the test of time for the next 100 years. He called on the Parish Priest of Carrickmacross, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, to bring the proceedings to an end with a prayer. He said the spirit of the St Louis Sisters had been so closely woven into the fabric of the parish of Machaire Rois that, even when the physical manifestation of their presence had gone, their generous and benevolent spirit would continue to enrich the local community for many years to come. “There is a sadness in the parting, in the closing of a chapter, but also a deep sense of joy in what has been achieved, and an enduring sense of gratitude.”

Afterwards a collection was taken up for the St Louis missions in Africa, such as the communities in Ethiopia and Lagos in Nigeria, where the nuns are working with the survivors of human trafficking. It raised a total of €2270. Further report next week on the two DVDs by Ciarraige Productions which are now on sale at David O’Rourke’s in Carrickmacross and at the Lace Gallery for €20.

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EUNICE AND THE ‘OTHER SISTER’

This story about Rosemary Kennedy contains extracts from a letter she wrote in 1940, the year before she underwent a lobotomy at the insistence of her father Joe. The writing is childlike but Rosemary’s bubbly personality shines through, just as it did in letters written in 1938 when my aunt Dorothy Smyth knew her in London.

EXIT ONLY

eunice youngI could look at pictures of Eunice all day, hero that she was for trying to do for others what she couldn’t do at home. She was just 19 when sister Rosemary was lobotomized according to their father’s wishes. He didn’t even tell Rose he had ordered it done ’til the surgery was over and they realized to their horror that she would never again stand erect, never again write the kind of letter that appears below here. My mother and aunt owned and ran a girls’ camp called Fernwood and in the spring of 1940, Rose Kennedy asked to meet them in New York to talk about her 22-year-old ‘working’ there as a Junior Counselor. Mom used to say she should have known the minute Mrs. Kennedy arrived without her daughter that the girl was not as ‘able’ as Rose was leading them to believe and sure enough, her…

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JUDICIAL REVIEW

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Notice on gate at entrance to farmland in Co. Meath along the route of proposed interconnector. Pic. © Michael Fisher

JUDICIAL REVIEW OF BORD PLEANÁLA DECISION ON ELECTRICITY INTERCONNECTOR

Anti-pylon campaigners representing landowners from Meath and part of Co. Monaghan are taking part in a court case in Dublin this week aimed at overturning the planning approval for the North-South electricity interconnector. An Bord Pleanála granted approval last December for the major infrastructure project involving almost 300 pylons and overhead high voltage wires running across countryside from the border at Lemgare, near Clontibret in Co.Monaghan, to a sub station at Woodland, near Batterstown in Co. Meath. EirGrid has said the overall cost of construction will be €286 million, €180m for the proposed development in the Republic and the balance for the shorter SONI section in Co. Armagh leading to a sub station at Turleenan near the Moy, Co. Tyrone.

In February the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign, which has led the opposition amongst landowners and residents to the 400kV overhead line since it was first proposed eight years ago, was granted leave to apply for a judicial review of the Bord Pleanála decision. The case is also in the name of Maura Sheehy, a farmer, of Teltown Road, Donaghpatrick, Co Meath, one of the hundreds of objectors who attended the lengthy public enquiry held in Carrickmacross last year.

As well as challenging An Bord Pleanála, the case is also against the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; and the State. The developer, EirGrid, is a notice party. Nigel Hillis of the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee was among the interested observers at the Commercial Court on Tuesday when the hearing opened in front of Mr Justice Max Barrett.

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High voltage electricity line and pylon. Pic. Michael Fisher

The court was told that in approving the development, An Bord Pleanála had failed to take into account the potential impact of the UK planning to leave the European Union. A lawyer for the applicants, Conleth Bradley SC, said the grounds of challenge included a failure by the Board to address properly the rights of the affected landowners as well as environmental issues and the implications of Brexit.

The judge will later hear two separate but similar challenges over the permission granted for the interconnector. They are being brought by David Malone, of Eurolaw Environmental Consultants, St Joseph’s Terrace, Portarlington, Co Laois, and Val Martin, a farmer and environmental campaigner of Gortnakesh, Co. Cavan. The case continues.

INTERCONNECTOR TIMELINE

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High voltage line electricity pylon  Pic. Michael Fisher

Plan for second interconnector goes back 14 years
Line has been designated by EU as one of 195 key energy infrastructure projects

Michael Fisher  THE IRISH TIMES

Nearly 18 months ago EirGrid applied to build a high-capacity electricity interconnector between Dublin and Tyrone, the second between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The proposed line stretches over approximately 135km, linking the existing transmission networks in both jurisdictions between an existing substation in Woodland, Co Meath, and one planned for Turleenan in Co Tyrone.

In the Republic the development, now approved by An Bord Pleanála, will pass through Monaghan, Cavan and Meath, requiring 299 steel lattice-style pylons, ranging from 26m to 51m in height, linked to an existing pylon line.
The line has been designated by the European Commission as one of 195 key energy infrastructure projects across the EU that have been dubbed as projects of common interest. Such projects, the Commission says, “are essential for completing the European internal energy market, and for reaching the EU’s energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy”.

The decision by An Bord Pleanála–- one that has come with conditions – followed a second oral hearing in a Carrickmacross hotel in Co Monaghan. It lasted 12 weeks, and was one of the longest such public inquiries in the State’s history. The plan for a second interconnector between the Republic and Northern Ireland goes back 14 years when an initial feasibility study was carried out on the possibility of building a 220KV line between Tyrone and Dublin.

However, as the peace process bedded down, plans became more ambitious, and a further North/South study was carried out in 2005, which this time investigated the potential and the need for a 275KV line. A year later the cross-Border interconnector that had been shut down during the Troubles following a bomb attack on pylons near Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was finally restored.
Information days
Meanwhile, approval was given for planning for a second line – one that had now grown to a 400KV plan – which saw EirGrid hold information open days in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan. It launched an information telephone and email service in October 2007, though two years passed before it submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

Following a statutory consultation period, an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála began in Carrickmacross in May 2010. However, it was brought to a sudden end within weeks, and Eirgrid withdrew the application.
The late Fine Gael councillor Owen Bannigan had revealed an error in EirGrid’s plans in the stated height of the proposed electricity pylons that would run across Monaghan on the 21st day of the oral hearing.
Two years later, Eirgrid’s then newly-appointed chief executive Fintan Slye told agendaNI magazine that a second North/South interconnector was “absolutely critical” for Northern Ireland’s future security of supply. In November 2014, EirGrid submitted its draft application file to Bord Pleanála for review. Four months later EirGrid republished its proposed line route, one that would form the basis of its planning application.
Alignment
The route plan followed a review of the December 2013 line design. The review resulted in some of the proposed tower locations being repositioned along the alignment, but the alignment itself was not changed. By June 2015, EirGrid was ready to place a public planning notice in newspapers, followed by the submission of an application shortly afterwards to the Strategic Infrastructure Division of An Bord Pleanála.
Ten weeks of public consultation followed, one that prompted 900 replies. Last January, Eirgrid offered to meet people in their homes or at one of their information offices or elsewhere to discuss their concerns.Throughout campaign groups in Monaghan and Meath have criticised the consultation, but most particularly EirGrid’s “insufficient attention” to alternatives.

Localised impacts
“In England they’re pulling down pylons; in Ireland we’re putting them up,” said one Meath resident. The final ruling from Bord Pleanála runs to 615 pages. In its conclusions the planning authority declares that it recognised that the pylons’ plan would “result in a limited number of localised impacts”. However, “having regard to the identified strategic need for the development”, the plan is in accordance with planning rules “subject to compliance with the mitigation measures” that the planning appeals board has laid down.

ANTI PYLON REACTION

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Padraig O’Reilly NEPPC Pic.Michael Fisher

Anti-pylon action will dwarf Shell to Sea campaign, says NEPPC
Group says campaign against EirGrid will make Corrib protests ‘look like walk in park’

Michael Fisher THE IRISH TIMES

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Anti-pylon sign in Co.Meath  Pic. Michael Fisher

Campaigners have warned that the battle to stop the erection of hundreds of electricity pylons will make the Shell to Sea campaign “look like a walk in the park”.
Responding furiously to An Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve EirGrid’s plans to build a North South electricity interconnector, the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) described it as “deplorable” and “an affront to democracy”.
Describing it as “biased”, Padraig O’Reilly, of the NEPPC, claimed it would only deepen public cynicism towards bureaucracy and intensify local opposition to the pylons.
However, he drew comfort from the fact that the project still has to navigate Northern Ireland’s planning system, while court battles will continue in both jurisdictions.
Woefully inadequate
A “viable, realistic and publicly acceptable option” to put much of the electricity line underground along public roads does exist, but it has never been properly examined, he went on. However, EirGrid had already decided on an overhead line and had put out, and awarded, a contract tender even before public consultation had taken place, he charged. EirGrid’s planning application was woefully inadequate and failed to contain enough information for an acceptable environmental study, he claimed.

Meanwhile, the utility had not accessed 75 per cent of the lands proposed for the 300 pylon towers and had communicated with only 5 per cent of the landowners, he added.
The planning decision ignores these deficiencies and heralds the end of An Bord Pleanála’s status in the public eye as an objective, independent decision-making body, he continued.

However, the anti-pylon group insists that there is still time for EirGrid to be ordered by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten to place the lines underground. “If political action is not taken, this project will make the Shell to Sea debacle look like a walk in the park. The will of the people will prevail,” said the NEPPC.

Meanwhile, opponents in Monaghan are equally determined in their opposition, saying An Bord Pleanála had “waved the application through”. “It’s a bad day for the Irish planning system,” said Nigel Hillis, who was particularly critical of the decision to issue such a finding so close to Christmas.

Monaghan County Council chairman PJ O’Hanlon described it as “very unfortunate” and supported calls for an emergency council meeting early in January.
There, councillors – who are all united against the pylon plan – will, he said, examine the ruling in detail and look at ways to oppose it.

Opponents in Northern Ireland remain hopeful that the planning authorities there will make a different decision when they rule on the pylon plan.
“We are disappointed at this ruling by An Bord Pleanála,” said a spokesperson for the campaign group, Safe Electricity Armagh and Tyrone (SEAT).

DANNY MURPHY RIP

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Danny Murphy  Pic. Ulster GAA

DEATH OF GAA ULSTER COUNCIL SECRETARY

Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

The GAA in Ulster is mourning the loss of the Ulster Council Secretary and Chief Executive Danny Murphy, who died yesterday (Wednesday) at the age of 67. He stood down from his role earlier this year because of ill health but was to remain in the post until February 2017. Mr Murphy’s funeral Mass will take place today Saturday 10th December at 12 noon in St Mary’s Church, Burren, near Newry. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Past President of the Ulster Council Martin McAviney from Ballybay said Danny had acted as a mentor to him in his thirty years’ involvement with the Council. He paid tribute to Mr Murphy who he said was a personal friend and had travelled with him to many places throughout the province on GAA business.

“He was a man of absolute honesty and integrity. He had the foresight to bring the Ulster Council to a whole new level in the sporting world, in areas such as coaching, protection issues and above all his role in the peace process since the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998. He was able to bring everyone with him when it came to taking initiatives. His legacy is that there is now a structure in place in Ulster GAA that is fit for purpose in the modern era”, he said.

Mr McAviney said the late Mr Murphy had a good knowledge of legal issues such as ownership of property. He also knew the fine details of the GAA rule book. He continued: “My last duty as President of the Ulster Council was to accompany Danny at the grounds awards last year. He was a guiding light for many people at club level. He was a very fair man, who always did things by getting agreement on them. His belief was that the only way of going forward was to ask people to take ownership of projects”.

The esteem in which he was held by other sports can be judged by the responses from organisations such as Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association. Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “I got to know Danny very well and I enjoyed working with him. I was often able to count on his wise counsel.

“He was keen for the various sporting organisations in Northern Ireland to work together to improve facilities for all sports.”

The North’s First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said in a statement: “Danny Murphy made a colossal contribution to sport over many years and his death will leave a massive void. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: “Danny was a powerful force for reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and between Britain and Ireland. He made an enormous contribution to the professionalism of the GAA in Ulster.

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Comhairle Uladh, Michael Hasson said: “It was with profound sadness that we heard of Danny’s passing. We know that this sorrow is felt by all Gaels in Ulster, Ireland and throughout the wider GAA world. Danny was an outstanding leader who provided unstinting dedication to the GAA in Ulster for over 35 years. His contribution to every aspect of the GAA, from his initial involvement with St Mary’s GAC, Burren, his beloved County Down and his immense commitment to Comhairle Uladh brought unprecedented success to every unit of the Association he was involved in.”

 

ONLY ONE WIMBLEDON FC

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Six years ago I published this article with my views on Franchise. The clubs did not face each other that year as MK lost in the FA Cup first round. They did come up against each other in the Cup in 2012 with MK wining at home 2-1. How things have changed in the intervening period. On Saturday the Milton Keynes lot will take on AFC Wimbledon at their home place some sixty miles from Wimbledon. This time the sides are meeting in League One and the Real Dons are higher up the table than the other lot. So I will go there on Saturday to follow my team on the basis that they deserve our support especially after their recent successes. But I will contribute as little as I can in terms of spending at the MK base.

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AFC Wimbledon Supporters Pic: Michael Fisher

November 10th 2010: There’s Only One Wimbledon FC

Anyone who knows me will realise I am a Wimbledon supporter. That includes Hot Press readers thanks to Eamonn McCann’s article in the latest edition. The conversation sometimes starts along the lines of “you mean MK Dons?”. It’s a phrase I and many others cannot bear mentioning because of the way a once proud football club which won the FA Cup thanks to Lawrie Sanchez in 1988 v Liverpool was allowed by the football authorities to fold and move some sixty miles away to Buckinghamshire. There were plans at the time for the club to transfer to my home town of Dublin (or possibly even Belfast where I live). But I would not have gone to watch them in either place as I could not regard them as Wimbledon FC. I have followed the Dons since their days as amateurs in the Isthmian League. For me, their first major success was in winning the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley in 1963 when they beat local rivals Suttton United 4-2.

UPDATE: ***Sutton United have been drawn at home to AFC Wimbledon in the 3rd round of the 2017 FA Cup next month***

Fast forward to the FA Cup 2nd round draw live on ITV on Sunday (November 7th 2010), presented by Jim Rosental, with whom I used to work in BBC Radio Birmingham. In fact I persuaded him to add to the station’s coverage of six league clubs by reporting a “minor match of the day”. I was motivated by the fact that Wimbledon were in the Southern League premier division at the time (1975) and the very first match of the new season was Nuneaton (at the edge of the station’s area) versus Wimbledon. The Dons won and Jim back-announced my report by saying “Mike Fisher, bit of a Wimbledon supporter himself”! Sunday’s draw has produced the possibility of a tie between AFC Wimbledon and the franchise outfit. But first both sides have to win replays. Headlines in some media have portrayed this as a glamour tie and one which the TV companies would no doubt seek to cover. But judging by the mood on the ground as expressed in blogs and on twitter, many AFCW fans would prefer such a clash not to happen. As a founder member of the Dons Trust I agree. AFC Wimbledon are not yet ready to meet the club that stole the Wimbledon heritage and wrapped themselves up in the comforts of league status. AFCW have started from scratch, even going back to the roots at Wimbledon Common where they began trials for players. Now the club is at an exciting stage, contenders for promotion to the Football League. But I would be glad enough to meet MK when we get there, in another year or two and who knows, maybe they will even be relegated to division two. So my first thoughts are that I will be delighted to see either Stevenage or Ebbsfleet or even both of them progress in the Cup. I will return to this issue after the replays.

If it does turn out to be AFCW v MK Dons then the club I am sure will be very professional in its response, as indicated in the statement at [new window] http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk . However the real fans will have to decide. Do they boycott the game (which would mean the club would lose badly needed revenue) or if they do attend, how do they behave towards the visitors? Various options have been discussed so far, but I think that if this fixture is held, then my best approach as a season ticket holder would be to purchase a ticket and then not go to the game or else attend but not take a place on the terrace or in the stand. Anyway the 1st round replays have to be held before the Dons fans face what could be some difficult choices. Neutrals have a lot of sympathy for them and nothing must be done by supporters at Kingsmeadow that would alienate the wider soccer fraternity.