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February 9th 2005

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Frosses Notes

By Colm Kelly

The Donegal VFI raised €1000 at their recent dinner dance for St Agnes Day Centre. Pictured at the presentation of the cheque are: Ann Feeley, Breege Cassidy, Gemma Ramsey, Sarah Cauley, Margaret Kelly, John Feeley, Colm Kelly, Ronan McGee and Shane Gillespie

Happy 16th birthdays to Colin McErlaine, Donna Kelly, Denise Quigley, Lee Breslin and Colm Bernard Kelly.
Letterbarrow Celtic were unlucky to lose to Ballybofey on Sunday at Frosses Community Field. The score was 1-0.
Frosses will double in size if all the planning applications which have been lodged with Donegal County Council are successful. This is what I call progress.
The Frosses Golf Society is in action at Murvagh Golf Club on Wednesday 9th February at 12 mid-day. The full fixture list for the coming season will be available from the secretary on the 28th February. Anybody who wants to play golf, why not join the society?
Congratulation to Danielle Greene, who was a member of the Sligo All Star basketball team who played the Wildcats of Waterford in the U-19 ladies cup final recently. Danielle’s litle sister, Rebecca, is making great progress in the under 16s ladies team. The girls are daughters of Jimmy Greene, from Coughlan Avenue.

Video, stereo and phone stolen

Two men who pleaded guilty to breaking into a national school at Laghey and stealing a video recorder, stereo and phone were fined at Donegal court last week. Leo Forde of Manorlands, Trim, Co Meath, and Robert McKee of No 2 St Mary’s Park, Donegal Town, both pleaded guilty to breaking into St Eunan’s National School at a time unknown between the 19th of April and 20th April. Both men were instructed to pay €100 compensation to the school. Forde was fined €150 on the charge of burglary and a further €100 for handling stolen property. McKee was fined €150 for burglary and €100 for handling stolen property.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Dr Marie Egan who celebrates her 90th birthday today, Wednesday 9th February. Pictured with Marie is daughter Emer.

Brady Opticians sell practice

Patrick Brady returned to Donegal Town to set up his optical practice in 1975. His primary degree was in Pharmacy, following in the footsteps of his father who ran a chemist shop on the Diamond, but he elected to undertake a further qualification in Optometry. The practice was originally located on the first floor over the pharmacy where the business gradually developed.
In the late eighties the restrictions on space and access necessitated the development of new premises at Upper Main Street. This building was originally owned by Jimmy McGroary and, after demolition, evolved into a modern three storey practice. At that time Patrick was an executive member of his professional organisation and was president of the Association of Optometrists in 1987/88. He was also elected to the Opticians Board – a statutory body overseeing the activities of Optometrists in the public interest. He was re-elected to the Board for another five year term at the beginning of 2005.
In 1993, his wife Barbara, who also qualified as a pharmacist, completed her external qualification as a dispensing optician and joined the practice. Investment was subsequently directed at ensuring a high level of equipment specification and having a committed staff to facilitate the optical needs of the community. In 1999 Patrick and Barbara formed a company to deal more effectively with the expanding business.
They have three daughters – Jennifer working as a senior biochemist in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, Suzanne working as a research biochemist in Glasgow, and Emma pursuing an arts degree in Galway.
With the sale of the practice, the new arrangement will allow them to work on a part-time basis.
Does this mean early retirement? Both Patrick and Barbara see it more as a phased withdrawal – allowing them still to work, but also to ease back from the day-to day running of a busy practice.

New Waterbus for Donegal Town

Marine Minister Pat the Cope Gallagher, Michael Mooney, Mooney Boats; Dr William McCarter, International Fund for Ireland; Jim Slevin, DLDC Chairman, and Donegal Bay Waterbus Chairman, Maurice Timony, at the signing of the contract to build the new Waterbus. Photo: Jason McGarrigle

The formal signing of the contract between the Donegal Waterbus Company and Mooney Boats of Killybegs took place on Friday, January 28th, 2005. The contract will result in the building of a new 130 seat twin-engine Waterbus, which will take around eight months to construct, at a cost of €798,855.
The project will be funded in part by the sale of the old Waterbus, with a major contribution of €477,500 coming from the International Fund for Ireland - and a further €52,500 from the Donegal Local Development Company under its Leader + Programme. The new boat will have two decks - an outdoor and indoor heated passenger area, which, it is hoped, will facilitate the use of the boat throughout the year, and not just in the summer months.
Maurice Timoney, Chairman of the Donegal Bay Waterbus Company, opened the speeches by paying tribute to everybody involved in what he called “the finest community project for a long time in the area”.
Minister for the Marine, Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher also lauded the project, praising the initiative shown by local people in the development of a venture which last year alone attracted 18,000 visitors. He thanked Willie McCarter for whom the Waterbus project was one of the last he would be presiding over as Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, and also Jim Slevin of the DLDC.
Speaking at the signing, Mr. McCarter said, “Community originated projects like this underline the best of what the IFI is about. Local energy and innovation is being harnessed to produce some truly outstanding projects and Donegal Town has proven a great centre for exactly this type of innovation. This is truly a united community and underlines the co-operation and economic development ideals that are at the heart of the International Fund for Ireland’s ethos.”
Jim Slevin, Chairman of the Donegal Local Development Company, said “I commend Maurice and his colleagues on their foresight, enterprise and dedication in recognising the developing realities and addressing them in a most effective way. We need more projects like this in Donegal if we are to protect and develop our rural economy.”
Commenting on the advantages that the new Waterbus will bring to the town, Mr. Maurice Timoney declared, “In today’s world we need a purpose-built, larger boat to accommodate increasing numbers of people. The new Waterbus will be built specifically for us. It will have two jet engines and a very shallow draft; with very good facilities on board it will be up to date with modern specifications in terms of health and safety. It will be very easily operated because of these specifications and will be licensed to travel between Donegal and Mountcharles Pier, which will put us in the position to cater for larger events, as well as corporate outings. We would see this project now as operating on an 11 month basis, which means no matter when you come to Donegal there will always be an attraction.”

Anxious days at Hospira

Three working days to achieve a breakthrough

By Margaret Gallagher

At a meeting held in the Central Hotel on Sunday 30th January, attended by over 400 Hospira workers, Sean Reilly, branch secretary of SIPTU, outlined strike procedure in the event of not reaching a resolution to the current crisis at the plant. Among other contingencies, he outlined the rates which would be paid during the strike.
The feeling generated from the floor on the night was that the workers were not to be called back for any further meeting unless €10 per hour was on offer.
Speaking to the Donegal Times last Monday, Mr O’Reilly confirmed that there had been no communication with Hospira to date “we have served the two weeks notice and made clear to Hospira that we are available to meet with them in an effort to resolve the impasse, but to date there have been no discussions. However, I am still hopeful that the issue can be resolved.”
When contacted, Tom Lyons of Hospira said he was not in a position to say anything at this stage but suggested that everybody had time to ponder and weigh up the situation.
With four working days left before strike notice runs out on 14th February, the workers hope is that the company will come back with an acceptable offer, and a strike that nobody wants will be avoided.
A member of the workforce told the Times that the approx 100 staff at the plant who are not part of the union are very concerned that the future of their jobs lies in the hands of SIPTU.

The Pavesi ‘Isle of Romance Sea of Heartbreak’

by Paddy Meehan

Legendary showband, The Clipper Carlton, pictured in 1958. Photo includes Don Shearer, guitar; Hugo Quinn, trumpet; Victor Fleming, trombone; Terry Logue, tenor sax; Mike O’Hanlon, drums; Art O’Hagan, bass and vocals; Hugh Toorish, piano; Fergus O’Hagan and Victor Craig, Manager. Thanks to Ita Barry, Bruckless, for the photo.

It was balmy Summer’s night in June 1963 – I had just turned sixteen and was back from Letterkenny where I had spent the previous year working in the Post Office. I was looking forward to my first ‘grown up’ dance in Donegal’s new state-of-the-art ballroom – The Pavesi. Developed by the late Senator Paddy McGowan, it was opened in 1962 to the pulsating rhythms of Des Smyth and the Collegemen. Prior to this we had gone to dances in the FCA hall at the Mullans. Starring there were the Hayseeds Skiffle Group – Donal (Duck) Gallagher (guitar and vocals); Paddy O’Donnell (washboard); Harry Stewart (guitar) and Walter Espey (tea-chest bass), who we thought were the closest thing to Lonnie Donegan there ever was. Little did I know that years later I would ‘stand in’ on tea-chest bass with the Hayseeds at various concerts and dances.
By the early 60s the showband craze had taken over Ireland. Ballrooms were speedily erected throughout the country, even slatted huts and hay sheds were converted. Prior to this boom Donegal dancers patronised the smaller venues such as the Market Hall, Donegal Town; The Butt, Ballybofey; St Mary’s, Dunkineely; Foresters, Killybegs; Leghowney; Tullyloskin; Frosses; Drimarone; even Meenataggart - and, of course, the Orange Halls in Laghey and Ballintra.
But this was now the swinging 60’s and certain businessmen were quick to grasp the opportunity to cash in on the showband scene – some 700 new bands sprang up in Ireland ranging distance-wise from Buncrana’s Rhythm Boys, to Brendan O’Brien and The Dixies in Cork. The north-west now had 1500 – 2000 capacity ballrooms like the Orchid, Lifford; Fiesta, Letterkenny; Borderland, Muff; Astoria, Bundoran; Palladrome, Strabane; The Embassy, Derry; The Stardust (in the Bogside), Derry – that was a place to watch your P’s & Q’s alright – the cats and dogs out in the carpark even went around in groups!! The Silver Slipper, Strandhill, and, of course, the Rainbow, Glenfarne, which in its latter days was managed by CDW Promotions – a Donegal Town based consortium consisting of the late Michael Cooney, Bob Dore and Terry Woods.
The four of us – my three buddies and I – shoes shined – well half shined – good suits on – hair greased – egotistically assuming that we were God’s gift to all the ‘women that we were going to get that night’ approached the car park where Andy Brogan was busily directing traffic. The queue stretched nearly 100 yards. ‘What was causing this – surely they couldn’t all have heard about us four coming to the dance?’
Pavesi employees Paddy O’Donnell; Patsy Brogan; Mickey McIntyre; John Slevin, Gerry McKeown, all looking resplendent in their tuxedos, white shirts and dickie bows, manned the pay-box and front doors. Having forked out 7/6 each, we entered the hall where a blast of heat hit us as we fought our way into the middle of 2,000 dancers – “where’s the women they’re all talking about we can’t even see the dance floor!!!”
At 9pm sharp, ballroom manager and my Post Office colleague, Michael Cooney, is at the microphone “Ladies and gentlemen would you put your hands together and welcome on stage the sensational Clipper Carlton Showband.” Tumultuous cheers and claps from all.
Us four gombeens stood gobsmacked in the ten deep crowd that surrounded the front of the stage. For the next three hours we were rooted to the spot as we watched eight talented showmen, dressed in white linen suits with tanned faces, hair sleeked back, looking like something out of the movies, as they went through a wide range of popular songs and music of the day. Suddenly the performance that everyone came to see – ‘Juke Box Saturday Night’. Amazingly Art and Fergie O’Hagan become Laurel and Hardy; Don Shearer is Elvis; Mickey O’Hanlon, Charlie Chaplin. Trumpeteer Hugo Quinn plays “O Mein Papa” - you could hear a pin drop. Again Mickey O’Hanlon takes the lead, going through a fantastic drum solo, throwing his sticks high into the air.
The Clipper Carlton from Strabane are still regarded as Ireland’s first showband. In 1954 they cast aside the staid music-stands that up till then had been standard and took to their feet playing and entertaining, breaking down the barriers between stage and dancers.
Thanks to astute manager, Vic Craig, a Post Office official from Strabane, The Clippers were the first to secure a percentage of the door takings - the first to go on the road with a custom-built bus - the first to hand out publicity photos - the first to fly out and extensively tour the States. Ok, there were other bands in the north-west at the time – Johnny Quigley/Gay Mc Intyre from Derry, Dave Glover from Belfast, but the Clippers left them all behind with their flamboyant suits, movie-star image and entertaining stage routines. The Clippers were equally as big a draw in Cork as they were in Belfast, often attracting 3000 patrons at a time. Previously known as Hugo Quinn and the Carltons they merged this with a name from a famous Pan American flying seaplane ‘The Yankee Clipper’ which transversed the Atlantic, landing at Foynes/Shannon.
By 1955, the money was rolling in. They were playing at venues all over Ireland touring England, Scotland and the United States. The band attracted 6,300 to the St. Nicholas (boxing) Arena New York in 1958. In today’s equivalent it is reckoned that in 1955 they were earning approximately £7,000 sterling per night.
But time was speedily catching up with the band and, in 1965, they split up. They tried several revivals in the 70s and again in the 80s. When the Clippers split in ‘65, Vic Craig took over managing the Palladrome Ballroom, Strabane, while still continuing to work in the Post Office until his eventual retirement.
In 1987, following the death of founder Hugo Quinn, all went their separate ways, leaving behind happy memories for the boys and girls they entertained and the romances they helped create. Some members tried to form an offshoot band ‘The Santa Fe’ but the old magic was gone. Hugo Quinn, once asked how much money they made, said, that at their peak - on a day off - they could, without a thought, take a taxi from Strabane to Dublin, fly to Paris, spend a night on the town, and fly back the following day. This at a time when the average weekly wage was £3. The Clippers were definitely the forerunners of the ‘60s showband boom.
Back in the Pavesi it is now 1am. Someone asks “hey, what about the women we came to get?”. Yes, those mysterious creatures lined up on the far side of the hall with the men ogling them from a distance. “You go first!! Ah na, you go” So we just stand and watch. At 2am the Clipper Carlton leave the stage, after playing for a full five hours non-stop. The four of us leave the hall on our own.
The ‘swinging 60s and the showband/ballroom craze had just started throughout Ireland.
I hear the Freshmen from Belfast are here next week. Ah sure maybe we’ll get a woman in the Pavesi that night - who knows!!!

High Speed Chase in Donegal Town

Car travels wrong way around Diamond pursued by Gardai

Two gardai were knocked down and the safety of the public put in jeopardy when a silver Ford Fiesta was involved in a high speed chase with a Garda car on Monday afternoon. The incident ended in a crash on the Old Laghey Road. Gardai were intent on questioning the car’s occupants on suspicion of larceny after they received a call from a Laghey filling station at 3.15pm, reporting a theft.
A roadblock was set up outside the barracks on Quay Street. However, instead of stopping, the driver accelerated, pinning one guard between the Fiesta and another vehicle and forcing another onto the bonnet of the car before knocking him to the ground.
The car continued at high speed up Quay Street pursued by a squad car. It then turned onto the Diamond, driving the wrong way past the Bank of Ireland. Continuing through Main Street, it eventually turned off at the Old Laghey Road, before crashing into a wall at Ardeskin.
Five youths between the ages of 15 and 19 from the Donegal and Sligo areas were taken to Donegal Garda Station where a spokesperson said they were detained for questioning. At least three of the Fiesta’s occupants were treated by ambulance staff after the incident.
One of the guards was hospitalised but was later discharged.

Burns charity supper banquet in Harvey's Point

Colm and Shiela Harvey and John and Madeline Begley toast the Haggis at the Burns night. Photo: Margaret Gallagher. (More photos in print edition of Donegal Times)

Burns night in Harvey’s great success

As we landed in the exquisite setting of Harvey’s Point Hotel last Saturday week for the annual Burns Supper Banquet in aid of North West Hospice, we were greeted by a rousing medley of Scottish airs from St Naul’s Band. Host for the night, Marc and Deirdre Gysling, welcomed everyone and all the lassies and lads were shown to their tables by the incomparable Eamon Gillespie. The ballroom was splendidly decorated creating an atmosphere that became even more ebullient after a few generous nips of the national spirit that awaited every table. Glasses were charged and recharged as we toasted the haggis - then the lassies - then the dancers - then, well, anything else we could think of. After the haggis was paraded and Richard Hurst read the Selkirk Grace, Roisin McGloin spoke on behalf of her late father, Joe, one of the founders of the night. With ceremony finished, we all tucked in to a bonny six course supper. Then, food, drink, music, dance, and poetry were the order of the night as Matt McGranaghan and the Gary Blair Ceilidh Band provided the music to a packed ballroom, keeping the floor hopping into the ‘wee’ hours of the morning.

Tamnhach an tSalainn arais aris

Minister O’Cuiv signs the registrar with the name of Tamhnach an tSalainn. Pictured with the Committee, Seosamh McSuibhne, Kathleen Carr, Eamon Monaghan, Dónal McGiolla Easpaig, placenames branch; Seosamh O’Branáin, Chairman, Placenames Commission; Minister Mary Coughlan and Dinny McGinley TD

On Saturday, February 5th, a unique event took place in the cultural life of the people living in Mountcharles. For on that glorious sunny spring day the ancient Gaelic name for the village, Tamhnach an tSalainn, was rightfully reinstated officially by the Minister Eamon O’Cuiv.
This event took place in the Community Centre at 10am and in attendance were many local people, along with members of the Community Centre Committee, Minister O’Cuiv, Minister Mary Coughlan, Dinny McGinley T.D., Seosamh O’Braonain, Cathaoirleach an Choimisiún Logainmneacha, together with Donal MacGiolla Easpaig and Úna Ní Bheirn from the Place Names Committee.
The bilingual ceremony was initiated by Eamon Monaghan who welcomed Ministers O’Cuiv and Coughlan together, with all the other dignitaries and local people. Seosamh MacSuibne outlined the local contribution in the form of personal letters, signatories, video and historical research that formed the presentation made to Minister O’Cuiv. The fact that local people who are living in America and England had been part of the project was also outlined. That the Minister and the Place names Commission listened to the proposal made by the local people was cited as an example of democracy at work in the finest sense. Minister O’Cuiv and Coughlan were praised for their support of the project.
In his address, Minister O’Cuiv noted the rarity of such a place name change and cited the historical nature of the event taking place. He echoed Donal MacGiolla Easpaig’s words that Tamhnach an tSalainn was the ancient Gaelic name for the village. The name Mountcharles dates from the Marquis of Cunningham’s days and commemorates Charles the second of England. It was in the 1960s that the Place names Commission gave formal recognition to Moin Searlas as a Gaelic translation of the English name, Mountcharles, at a time when the name Tamhnach an tSalainn was continued in local use. This error was corrected on Saturday when Minister O’Cuiv signed the official document that formally, legally and historically reinstated Tamhnach an tSalainn as the name of the village.
Kathleen Carr penned a poignant poem and read each verse with passion, pride and some emotion. Her late sister Anna, who was central to the early efforts of the local community, was certainly on her mind as Kathleen entranced the rapt audience.
There was a great sense of local pride in the fact that the event had occurred in the community centre, that such a broad based local support had backed the project, and that such a large turnout had taken place to witness this historical event.

Seosamh McSuibhne

Vintners Dinner Dance in Central Hotel

The Reveller and The Bluestack Bar gang at the Vintners Dinner Dance in the Central Hotel: Front: Martin McGowan, Rachel McGarrigle, Theresa Cox, Caroline McGroary. Back: Gerry Cox, Karl Jervis, Ciaran Norrby, Owen Doherty, Kevin Cunningham and Dinny McGroary. Photo: Jason McGarrigle.

(Full page of photos of dinner dance in print edition of Donegal Times)

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