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.

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CARER OF THE YEAR

CARRICKMACROSS TALENTS AND SERVICES REWARDED

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

Over the past fortnight the achievements of Carrickmacross people, businesses and services have received recognition at national level. A local lady Leona Goodman was named as Carer of the Year by a home care company. A local dental team led by Dr Bernie Fee was in the finals for best dental practice in Ireland. University entrance awards and scholarships were presented to some local students. A local business Celtic Pure from Corcreagh founded by Pauric and Pauline McEneaney received another gold medal in London for its sparkling water. Each has a success story to tell and congratulations goes out to all of them.

LEONA GOODMAN NAMED AS CARER OF THE YEAR

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

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(L-R) Bríd Gould, MD Comfort Keepers, Carer of the Year Leona Goodman from Carrickmacross and Marty Morrissey, RTÉ, who presented the award.

When Marty Morrissey called Leona Goodman to the stage at the Croke Park conference centre in Dublin recently, she says she was left temporarily speechless. The Carrickmacross woman had been named as Carer of the Year in a national competition run by home care providers Comfort Keepers. She received the award in recognition of her work with older people in Monaghan, Cavan and North Meath. She was ranked highest among the 1500 carers employed by the company. At the same event Rosanna Martin from Ballybay was crowned the company’s Employee of the Year.

Leona told the Northern Standard the award came as a total shock. She was “very touched and overwhelmed” when her name was called out. The award was handed to her in the presence of her two daughters, Kelsey and Laura.

Leona lives in Magheraboy on the outskirts of Carrickmacross and is a former pupil of St Louis National School and Secondary School. Her husband Brendan hails from Killanny and is a carpenter working in England, who will return home shortly for Christmas. They were married in New York where they spent four years before returning to Ireland. For many years Leona worked in the Post Office when it was situated at Main Street in Carrickmacross.

She has been working as a carer for some fifteen years, the last two with Comfort Keepers, based in Ardee. She said she loves her job, which brings her into contact with between four and six clients daily within a fifteen miles radius of Carrick, including Corduff, Lisdoonan and Inniskeen.

There are seven other carers in the same team and Leona was anxious that they all got a mention: Charlie, Carla, Lola, Rosemary, Mary, Martina and Geraldine. All providing care to elderly people in the area that enables them to stay in their own homes. The carer is sometimes the person who enables these people (aged between 75 and over 90) to remain in touch with the local community and what’s happening in the outside world, according to Leona.

“Leona has won the hearts of the people she cares for and the colleagues she works with,” said Bríd Gould, Managing Director of Comfort Keepers. “She’s a woman who truly believes in the value of care and is a strong advocate within the caring industry. She doesn’t just believe that her clients need the best care she can provide, but she also believes in the value and knowledge her clients bring into her life.”

Since 2005, Comfort Keepers has been helping people in Ireland and has always sought to ensure that all of its work practices exceed the expectations of both the state and those cared for. It remains unique in being the only home care provider to have been awarded the Q Mark, ISO9001, and Healthmark accreditations for the quality of care and the systems used to support its delivery.

“This is the sixth time we have run these awards,” Bríd Gould continued. “The reason we keep doing it is that our people keep doing the extraordinary. So extraordinary that their colleagues, clients and managers just have to nominate them. So my personal congratulations to everyone who was nominated and to all of our regional winners”, she said.

All of Comfort Keepers’ carers are insured, monitored and are required to undergo Garda vetting. The firm provides ongoing support during their training and in their day-to-day roles.  Staff in the management team come from a nursing or social care background to ensure superior care is provided to customers.

 

 

 

 

 

KILLEEVAN GAA HISTORY

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF KILLEEVAN GAA AND PARISH

Michael Fisher

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JP Graham signs the book

John Patrick (JP) Graham from Killeevan is best known for his reports and commentaries on GAA matters. But the journalist is also a local historian. Earlier this year he produced a wide-ranging history of his local Club and parish entitled: “Killeevan Sarsfields GFC: A Centenary History 1915-2015 and a Parish Record”. The book (price €20) has been re-launched in time for the Christmas market and makes an ideal gift for those who have left the area and are living away from home, to remind them of their roots.

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GAA Director General Paraic Duffy at the launch of the book

JP set out to record and document the efforts of the founding fathers and the successive generations of people who contributed to the parish. The Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, described the publication as very impressive. He paid tribute to the author for his ‘labour of love’ and for his unfailing, lifelong commitment to the GAA at club and county level. The book is dedicated to JP’s grandson and godson, Aaron Patrick Graham and his other five grandchildren are included in that dedication.

This book traces the story of Killeevan Sarsfields from its foundation back in 1915 when the club was formed by amalgamating the two clubs that existed in the parish at that time, Greenan’s Cross Tir na nOgs and Ture Davitts. The centenary publication traces the development of the club through its glory years in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s when Killeevan were regarded as Kings, winning the Monaghan senior double of league and championship in 1944. Thereafter the club enjoyed something of a chequered history and went out of existence for one year. But they rose from the ashes to win the intermediate double in 1974 and enjoyed further success in junior ranks in the 1990s.

The official opening of Sarsfield Park in 1983 was a highlight and the book covers in some detail the last couple of decades. Success on the field proved elusive, but a major infrastructural development programme was completed in time for the centenary year. Other aspects of parish history and life are included, with sections on Newbliss village and the development of education in the parish, including records from the old Killeevan National School.

In his introduction JP Graham says he has “tried to give a flavour of all aspects of club activity and the people involved…with a special emphasis on the games and the players. I have also tried to factor in some aspects of the social life of Killeevan club and parish, because the club is central to the parish and touches practically every family in the area”.

The book (published by R&S Printers Monaghan) contains 370 pages and is on sale in Martin’s Londis, Newbliss, Matthews of Clones, and the Eason Bookshop, Monaghan, or directly from the author.

Is leabhar iontach shuimiúil é an leabhar seo, faigh ceann roimh a imionn siad go léir. Maith thú J.P. as an obair iontach a chuir tú isteach.

DUBLIN MONAGHAN BOMBS

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Charles Flanagan T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade 

GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO PRESS BRITISH ON ISSUE OF DUBLIN-MONAGHAN BOMBS: FLANAGAN

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 14th July 2016

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan TD has said pursuing the British government on the issue of the Dublin Monaghan bombings in 1974 was a major priority for him and for the Irish government. He told the Dáil his commitment was reflected in the Programme for a Partnership Government that was agreed in May.

In a written response to questions tabled by the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and that party’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, Minister Flanagan said the all-Party Dáil motion on the Dublin-Monaghan bombing that was adopted in the House on 25th May had been conveyed to the British Government. This motion, like the two previously adopted in 2008 and 2011, called on the British Government to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents relating to the bombings.

Mr Flanagan continued: “The Government is committed to actively pursuing the implementation of these all-Party Dáil motions relating to the Dublin Monaghan bombing atrocities. To this end, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in late May, conveying a copy of the recent resolution. In addition, I raised the matter in my bilateral meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in Belfast last week. In this meeting I advised the Secretary of State that this latest motion represents the consensus political view in Ireland that an independent, international judicial review of all the relevant documents is required to establish the full facts of the Dublin Monaghan bombings.”

“I underlined that the absence of a response from the British Government was of deep concern to the Government and indeed this House and emphasised the urgent need to respond to the three Dáil motions. Secretary of State Villiers recognised the importance that the Government and Dáil Éireann attach to this case and she indicated that the British Government is considering a response which would adequately address the motions.”

“The Government will continue to raise this matter with the British Government, urging them to provide a satisfactory response to the motions that have been adopted by this House. I have made clear to the Secretary of State that there is a pressing need to provide answers to the families of the victims. The Taoiseach has also raised this issue with Prime Minister Cameron emphasising the Government’s continued support for the Dáil motions.”

“Many families continue to deal not only with the awful pain of losing a loved one, but also with the struggle for answers decades after these traumatic events. Accordingly, the establishment of a new comprehensive framework for dealing with the past, as envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement, is a priority for the Government.”

In conclusion, the Minister said he continued to engage with the British Government, the NI Executive and the Northern Ireland political parties in discussions to find a route to a final agreement on legacy issues. He said the Irish government believed that the legacy institutions agreed under the Stormont House Agreement offered the best hope of helping the thousands of families impacted by the troubles. He was therefore working to secure the necessary political agreement to get the legacy bodies established and up-and-running as soon as possible.

DÁIL QUESTIONS ON INTERCONNECTOR

CALLS IN DÁIL FOR ELECTRICITY INTERCONNECTOR TO BE PUT UNDERGROUND

Minister awaits decision by An Bord Pleanála

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 23rd June p.14

At question time in the Dáil last week, Deputy Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil, Laois-Offaly) asked the new Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources Denis Naughten to support putting the North-South electricity interconnector underground using high-voltage direct current technology. He asked the Minister if he would make a statement on the matter.

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Shane Cassells TD asking question in Dail to Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten TD

Deputy Shane Cassells (Fianna Fáil, Meath West) also asked the Minister if he would support the undergrounding of the North-South interconnector using the technology now available. Will the Minister put a halt to the current plan?, he enquired. Deputy Cassells said the current EirGrid proposal for which planning permission was being sought would destroy the landscapes of Meath, Cavan and Monaghan if monstrous pylons were to be constructed in these three counties.

Deputy Denis Naughten: In fairness, all Deputies in the region have contacted me at this stage on this issue. EirGrid is the designated transmission system operator. Its roles include the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland. As detailed in the government policy statement on the strategic importance of transmission and other energy infrastructure, the government does not seek to direct EirGrid in the development of energy infrastructure to particular sites or routes or technologies.

EirGrid made a formal application for a North-South 400 kV interconnector project to An Bord Pleanála on 9th June 2015. This is the subject of a statutory independent planning process and is currently before An Bord Pleanála. Part of this process included an oral hearing that concluded last month. As the planning process is still ongoing, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further.

Deputy Shane Cassells: I am appealing to the Minister, on behalf of the people of these counties, to become involved because this is a major issue for Meath, Cavan and Monaghan. Not only would it destroy the landscapes of these counties, it would destroy people’s homes. I have sat in the homes of people throughout County Meath. These monstrous pylons will be built beside their homes and will destroy their lives. It is amazing to think that in 2013 the EirGrid chairman, John O’Connor, sat before a Dáil committee and said he would not want to live beside one of these pylons. However, he seems to think it is good enough for the rest of the people in these counties.

The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign is led by Aimée Treacy and Padraig O’Reilly. They have spearheaded a campaign to stop the project but they are being thwarted by the formidable legal people of EirGrid. I was at the High Court hearing some months ago when the project was challenged. The Minister’s office, under the previous officeholder, and EirGrid used powerful legal teams to fight against the community groups. We need the Minister to stand up for the people rather than EirGrid. EirGrid is spending money relentlessly on public relations campaigns to try to curry public favour, but it is destroying people’s lives. I appeal to the Minister to get involved and arrange to put these pylons and cables underground. The people need the Minister to stand up for them.

Deputy Denis Naughten: I understand the frustration among people in this case, but the government does not direct EirGrid on what mechanism it should use. We need an interconnector. People agree that we need an interconnector. The debate has been how that connection would be made. The government has not directed EirGrid in any way in this matter. This project is before An Bord Pleanála at the moment. An Bord Pleanála has weighed up the options and all the arguments on all sides. We are going to get a decision from An Bord Pleanála.

I have read some of the numerous reports into undergrounding. However, the reality is that the North-South transmission project is required to ensure security of supply of electricity to Northern Ireland. The existing 225 kV double circuit overhead transmission line between Louth and Armagh is simply insufficient to meet the needs.

Deputy Shane Cassells: The Minister referred to the An Bord Pleanála hearing. I was there and gave evidence at the hearing in Monaghan as well. Representatives from EirGrid came in on numerous occasions during the hearing and changed aspects of their application during the hearing. They came with images that bore no resemblance to the application. These people are ruthless in the pursuit of their aim and do not care about the people. This Chamber is here to care about the people. The government can most certainly become involved.

The previous two Ministers had no wish to hear from the people’s side. Therefore, I am appealing to the Minister not to read out the material prepared by the Department but to listen to the voices. This can be stopped before the September ruling by An Bord Pleanála. We need to see an intervention by government in this respect.

Deputy Denis Naughten: I have listened to a number of Members from the areas concerned, all of whom have expressed their concerns on this matter. I have not yet come across one person who takes the view that we do not need the interconnector. It is needed because if the existing line were to go down, there simply would not be enough electricity reaching the north east of the island to keep the lights on.

Deputy Shane Cassells: I agree with the Minister.

Deputy Denis Naughten: We have a single electricity market and we need it. It is helping to drive down the cost of electricity for every person throughout the country. 

Deputy Shane Cassells: The point is that it should be done underground.

Deputy Denis Naughten: I hear what Deputy Cassells is saying and I have heard and listened to what other colleagues in the House have said as well. I understand the frustration that exists but a statutory process is ongoing.

Deputy Shane Cassells: The frustrating thing is that Pat Rabbitte said the project would drive up prices.

ENERGY PRICES

In an earlier question on energy prices, Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister whether the Electricity Supply Board should consider reducing its charges for electricity, given its reported profits of €635 million in 2015; he said high energy prices were being maintained to make the ESB an attractive proposition for privatisation. Surely the Minister is not satisfied with the minimal 6% cut in electricity prices by Electric Ireland. Does he agree that the company must go much further than this? Does he believe the ESB is being fattened up for privatisation?… 

Deputy Denis Naughten: Prices are not being kept high. No one in this country can keep prices high because they are unregulated. There is an open market. Representatives of ESB tell me the company makes little of its money from the Electric Ireland arm. Thankfully, ESB is in the black and making profits a little short of €300 million. A considerable amount of this profit comes from other arms of the company, including the network and electricity generation arms. I am told that of the pre-tax profits generated by the ESB, approximately 14% relate to the retail arm.

Other companies in the sector make margins as well. It does not seem to me to be excessive. The Commission for Energy Regulation is accountable to the House and the relevant Dáil committee. I call on Deputy Barry to make direct contact with the Chairman of that committee and bring the commissioners before the committee to quiz them on the issue.

Deputy Mick Barry: There the Minister goes again. Like Pontius Pilate he is washing his hands of the situation. I will ask the Minister a far simpler question. How does the Minister feel about the fact that consumers in this country are paying the second highest electricity rates in the European Union, while, at the same time, the ESB is making profits which, whether we use the Minister’s figures or my figures, run to hundreds of millions of Euro?

Deputy Denis Naughten: Electricity prices are higher here than in most parts of Europe. However, we need to remember that Ireland is on an island. We have a small electricity market. It includes the North and South and we have had reference to the single electricity market on the island of Ireland. There are geographic issues.

The other point is that we have to important a substantial amount of our energy. We are not self-sufficient in the energy sector and that adds to the costs. As a result of the size of the market, there are additional transmission costs and such costs are not incurred in continental Europe. As a result these particular challenges are built into the cost.

I am not trying to wash my hands of it. By law I cannot directly intervene in this matter. However, Deputies can question the Commission for Energy Regulation. I am calling on Deputy Barry to use the tools available to him in the parliamentary committee to raise these questions.

TYDAVNET SHOW LAUNCH

LAUNCH OF 65th TYDAVNET SHOW PROGRAMME

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard   Thursday 23rd June

Tydavnet Show is preparing for its 65th event in August, making it one of the longest running and most successful agricultural shows in Ireland. Once again the hard-working voluntary committee has been working busily behind the scenes since the end of last year’s show. It will be a show with something for everyone, young and old, from the cattle and horse enthusiasts to those competing in home industries and those who just want an enjoyable day out.

Every year at the launch of the show programme, the committee invites a guest speaker. In the past, they have included personalities such as the journalist Frank McNally, Mairead McGuinness MEP and last year the former Governor of Mountjoy prison, John Lonergan.

This year’s speaker they invited Tony Ward from Lough Egish. An accountant by profession, he is Director of Finance at “The Wheel”, the leading support and representative network for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. In an inspirational address, he spoke about losing most of his sight when he was in his mid-20s, and overcoming the setbacks this impairment had brought. In recent years he has completed five marathons and three long-distance cycles, and has represented Ireland in middle distance races in the European and World Athletic Championships. He won a bronze medal in the word cross-country championships in Portugal in 2001.

Tony reminded the audience how in his earlier years he had played football for Aughnamullen and had suffered a number of bad defeats by Scotstown! He explained how he had grown up on a farm. When he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (a degenerative eye disease causing severe vision impairment), he said he was not sure what would happen to him in the future.

65 years of the Tydavnet show was an extraordinary and great testament to the local community. Tydavnet, after all, was not the centre of the universe — a comment that brought laughter from the attendance. But it was an incredible record and proof of a lot of hard work by local people. He pointed out that other Monaghan villages such as Latton, Cremartin, Magheracloone or Killanny did not have their own shows. Mr Ward hoped they would get good weather for the show.

He explained how he was really interested in sport and would sometimes get up early in the morning to go training, when he would usually have someone to accompany him. He spoke of how two winning athletes at the Sydney Olympics had explained that the secret of their success amounted to 10% self-belief, 10% talent and 80% hard work.

He said there was clearly a sense of community and dedication in Tydavnet. Their roots were in farming. The one thing he could think of when he received his diagnosis was the work he did on the farm to assist his father at weekends, putting on his wellingtons and doing chores like milking the cows. When his sight deteriorated he could still go out and bring the cattle into the milking parlour.

Tony told the audience it was really important to preserve country and farming life. He recalled how he used to read through the Tydavnet Show results in the Northern Standard. What the show committee had achieved so far was great and he hoped they would pass it on to the next generation.

PRO Barry Sherry welcomed the sponsors and said the show would not be a success without them. He welcomed representatives of the Armagh and Clogher Valley shows. He said Tydavnet remained one of the major shows in the country. It took a lot of effort and commitment for it to happen, with lots of hard work from the beginning of the year.

After a thirty-year absence they had revitalised the Show Queen competition. They held a very successful night in April when Sinéad McCarey from Barratitoppy was selected for the title. Unfortunately she was not able to join them for the launch of the show programme.

Chair of Tydavnet Show Peggy Treanor from Clontybunnia welcomed the national school pupils who were prizewinners in the art competition for designing the cover of the programme. She also thanked the sponsors, advertisers and judges for their support, as well as the landowners at Drumshevra for making the site available for the show. The stewards, helpers, committee members and officers had also shown dedication and enthusiasm and she thanked them all.

Prizes were presented to the designer of the cover for the show competition schedule and catalogue as follows:

1st prize, Aoibhe Genoe, Magherarney N.S., Smithborough. She received a €50 Eason voucher.

2nd prize, Grace Kelly, Tydavnet N.S.

3rd prize, Eimear Treanor, Tydavnet N.S.

MAIN EVENTS AND TIMES

09.30am Sportsman Jumping (clear round format)           10.00am Horse & In-hand Pony & Cob Classes commence
10.00am Riding Pony & Cob Classes commence
10.00am Home Industries & Juvenile Classes judging begins                                                                             11.00am Dairy & Beef Cattle Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Sheep Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Poultry & Eggs Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Trade Stands, Heritage Crafts, Vintage Exhibits, Demonstrations                                                                 1.00pm-2.00pm Fermanagh Harriers demonstration         2.00pm Working Hunter events commence                       2.00pm Bonny Baby Competition, followed by:             Grandparent and Grandchild Competition
Fancy Dress Competition (McELVANEY CUP)
Most Appropriately Dressed Lady (KERRY-LEE TROPHY)
Most Appropriately Dressed Teenagers
Little Miss Monaghan (3-5 years)                                             Little Mr Monaghan (3-5 years)                                            2.30pm Dog and Pet Show                                                     2.30pm Dancing on the Deck                                                                                               3.00pm approx. Riding for people with a Disability          4.00pm Children’s Fun Races                                           4.30pm Presentation of Cups – Home Industries & Juvenile  5.00pm Removal of Home Industries & Juvenile exhibits 5.00pm Tydavnet’s Fittest Family

 

 

CLONES: HERITAGE TOWN

Michael Fisher Northern Standard  Thursday 23rd June p.1

The border town of Clones with its rich monastic past has the potential to be developed as a heritage destination, according to the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys. She suggested a monastic trail could be established in the borderlands area, linking Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way in the west. The Minister was speaking at the launch at the Canal Stores of a digital pictorial record of the High Cross in the Diamond and St Tighernach’s Tomb Shrine.

The laser scan of these important monuments was carried out earlier this year by the Discovery Programme, the national archaeological research body, following a €5,000 grant from the Minister’s department. She said the detailed 3D work would make it easier to preserve and restore the High Cross, which was a focal point in Clones.

“I want to see the cross fully restored, and I would like to see Clones marketed as a monastic heritage town. The Discovery Programme, which carried out this 3D scan, has compiled hundreds of digital images of similar historical objects around the country”, the Minister said. The images are available on various platforms including mobile phones.

Former Bishop of Clogher and medieval expert Dr Joseph Duffy of the Clogher Historical Society said the project showed the importance of our monastic heritage. Clones had been seriously under-estimated in our time, he said. He was particularly interested in the dating of the cross by archaeologist Professor Tadhg O’Keeffe of UCD, showing it was almost contemporary with the Viking invasion., dating possibly between 875AD and 925AD.

Dr Duffy told the Northern Standard the digital models would help to open up a whole new vista of our heritage that had not been previously realised. He said the detailed images of the high cross including the stonework figures captured by the hand-held scanner used brought up the variety of skills and highly developed and refined craftsmanship in medieval Ireland. He was impressed by the images of the cross that had now been recorded for posterity and could be viewed on the 3D-Icons website.

Minister Humphreys said the scanning and digitisation of the Clones cross was a very important first step as part of the project to restore the monument to its former glory. She had officially launched the 3D-Icons project last year in the Royal Irish Academy. She saw how much interest and excitement it had generated amongst some very learned scholars.

The programme promised to make our built heritage much more accessible and appreciated. That promise had been delivered upon in Clones, where our local heritage had literally had new life breathed into it. Clones was rich in monastic heritage and this announcement was a very important step to help us understand more about the high cross.

Historic buildings and archaeological monuments formed an important part of our cultural heritage, a heritage that it was important to value. Historic monuments were the physical testimonies of European history and testified to the diverse cultures that led to the creation of the rich European landscape they knew today. 3D scanning was now becoming an increasingly popular way to document built heritage.

Well over 100 well-known buildings and monuments had now been scanned and modelled, including the Hill of Tara, Derry’s Walls, Skellig Michael, Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, Knowth, Newgrange and over seventy high crosses, including Clones Market Cross. The 3D-Icons project was a great example of how projects could be developed that combined technology with all aspects of heritage.

The Minister congratulated local communities for their co-operation with and facilitation of such projects. In Clones she had had a very constructive meeting on the possibilities of developing Clones as a heritage destination. As a former monastic settlement, Clones had a huge amount to offer. She wanted to look at ways to enhance the town and attract new visitors.

She said there was no intention at the moment to move the cross from its present position and any such change would not be done unless it was in co-operation with the local community. If there was substantial erosion to the stonework in the next twenty years or so, then they now had a digital record that could be used to construct an exact replica. This would also allow them to put the original cross in a place where it was protected from the weather.

“The preservation of our built heritage is a subject about which I am particularly passionate”, the Minister went on, “and it will continue to be a priority under my new portfolio, which encompasses Rural Affairs and Regional Development, including the roll-out of rural broadband. In conclusion, I have no doubt that the Discovery Programme’s ongoing 3D work will prove to be an essential source of guidance and knowledge for everyone interested not only in architectural and archaeological monuments, but also new technology, for many years to come.”

Archaeologist Dr Finbar McCormick who is originally from Rockcorry and attended secondary school in Monaghan is a senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of the Discovery Programme. He hoped that with the support of the Heritage Council, they could run outreach programmes to promote an appreciation of Ireland’s archaeological past. County Monaghan has a rich heritage, he said.

Dr McCormick praised the work done by Monaghan County Museum since its foundation in 1974 as the first local authority funded museum. He praised the foresight of the late George Cannon, the County Manager at the time, and the work done by the Clogher Historical Society, one of the earliest such groups to be established in Ulster. He explained how the new scanning technology would enable experts to monitor any erosion of monuments and to record them for posterity.

Professor O’Keeffe gave a short lecture on the history of the Market Cross. Standing in the Diamond in Clones, the cross is made up of at least three fragments consisting of the head of one cross and the shaft of another, a stepped stone base and a later fragment on top. He said this was not surprising as Clones was an important medieval religious settlement dedicated to St Tighernach, whose tomb shrine is in the medieval churchyard. It would have had a number of crosses on its boundary and within its domain.

The cross belongs to a northern group of crosses, another example of which is located at Arboe, Co.Tyrone on the shores of Lough Neagh. As with many Irish high crosses it was difficult to date, especially as it was made up of various fragments. In Professor O’Keeffe’s estimation some of the fragments may date to the ninth or tenth centuries, the main period of construction of high crosses.

The iconography follows the pattern found elsewhere: the shaft depicts ‘Daniel in the Lions’ Den’, ‘The Sacrifice of Isaac’, ‘Adam and Eve with the Tree of Life’, ‘The Adoration of the Magi’, ‘The Wedding at Cana’ and ‘The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes’. Beaded decoration runs up sides of the two faces and also around distinctive collar at top of the shaft. The head of cross includes a Crucifixion scene while at the centre of south-west of head is another depiction of ‘Daniel in the Lions’ Den’, with ‘Cain slaying Abel’ to left and possibly ‘Pilate washing his hands’ to right.

Professor O’Keeffe pointed out that an enduring paradox of early medieval Christianity in Ireland was that its great works of art such as its high crosses, illuminated gospel books (such as the Book of Kells), and rich altar plate (such as the Ardagh Chalice) had been produced to serve a Church which invested very little in built fabric. Contemporary Irish churches were small, ill-lit buildings, capable at best of holding no more than several dozen people at a time. Viking raids in the late eighth and early ninth centuries certainly disrupted the pattern of production at church sites in Ireland, but their impact was not fatal. In fact, the Viking contribution to medieval Irish civilization was ultimately very positive, he said.

The EU-funded 3D-Icons project aims to create highly accurate 3D models along with images, texts and videos of iconic and internationally important monuments and buildings across Europe and to provide access to this data on line. The pictures from Clones can be accessed at www.3dicons.ie.