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A year of storms, stars and plenty of surprises

January 5th, 2019 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Copeen jockey Noel Fehily celebrates after Summerville Boy won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the first race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, Prestbury Park. (Photo: James Crombie/INPHO)

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JANUARY 

STORM Eleanor got the year off to a wild start when it brought flooding, thunder, lightning, winds of more than 100km per hour, fallen trees, flying debris, and power outages to West Cork. 

Bantry, Faxsbridge in Clonakilty, Inchydoney, Timoleague, Court macsherry and Kinsale were the worst affected. 

The baby Jesus figure was taken from Skibbereen’s crib days after Christmas, smashed and left headless, and the manger was stolen, in what was described as a mindless act of vandalism. 

It appeared that culprits prised open the crib at The Bridge on the night of Wednesday, December 27th. 

Clonakilty Community Hospital came forward to lead the way in solving the national trolley crisis by giving beds to low-risk patients from Cork University Hospital, to free up space for more urgent cases. They opened 12 new transitional care beds for those who no longer required urgent care at CUH, but who were not yet ready for discharge. This came at a time when the country’s highest trolley figures were recorded. 

The BT Young Scientist winner was announced as Simon Meehan from Ballinora who dedicated his win to his grandfather, who he said is his inspiration in all things in life. 

Simon, a student at Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig, said Eddie, a retired science teacher at St Brogan’s Bandon, and a renowned herbalist, couldn’t but be a huge inspiration through his work curing people. 

Up to 30 furious motorists suffered damage to their cars and tyres on one particular weekend as a result of large potholes on West Cork roads last weekend. 

A particularly large pothole at Gaggin crossroads on the N71 outside Bandon one Friday evening, during dark and wet conditions, resulted in as many as 11 motorists pulling into the hard shoulder to change tyres. 

The situation was described as hazardous and gardaí arrived on the scene to prevent an accident and to warn on- coming traffic. One driver even became a ‘pothole hero’ as he helped change tyres for several motorists in what were described as treacherous conditions. 

It was hoped a Labour Court hearing would result in the long-awaited opening of the new €3.4m Bandon Community Hospital. 

A row between the HSE and unions, the INMO and SIPTU, over staffing ratios, meant the state-of-the-art facility has been idle since it was completed well before Christmas. 

Described as the leading community hospital in the country, it boasts 25 beds, mostly in single rooms, compared to the current 12, as well as a dementia-specific wing and other 

Two of the three Cork South West (CSW) TDs emphatically declared they didn’t agree with a repeal of the 8th Amendment. In interviews with The Southern Star, Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and Michael Collins (Ind) admitted they wouldn’t be supporting the referendum on repealing the 8th. 

Meanwhile, Clonakilty’s Jim Daly declined to make any comment at all on the matter in January. 

 

FEBRUARY 

THERE was a huge spike in the amount paid out in claims by the County Council in 2016 to motorists for damage to their cars on county roads, compared to the figure for 2015. 

In 2015 the total settlement figure for claims from motorists was €29,690.40, but this jumped to €46,726.33 for 2016, according to figures obtained by The Southern Star. 

The figures for 2016 also showed a significant increase in the number of claims submitted by motorists, which rose from 138 in 2015, to 190. 

Blackpudding boss Colette Twomey was revealed as the new owner of Lisselan Estate outside Clonakilty in what was thought to be a €3m deal. 

The estate, which includes an impressive 19th century French-style chateau, on over 315 acres, complete with a nine-hole golf course, spectacular gardens and stunning riverside setting, had been on the market since 2014 with an original price of €9m. 

In what was a fantastic response to our Great West Cork Love Survey, Southern Star readers voted Bandon native and Aston Villa soccer star Conor Hourihane the ‘Dreamiest West Corkonian’ – ahead of actor Jeremy Irons (second) and TV star Graham Norton (third). 

Cork South West Fine Gael TD Jim Daly has admitted he could face a voter backlash after finally announcing his support of repeal of the 8th Amendment, including allowing abortion up to 12 weeks. 

Acknowledging that he was part of a ‘political minority’ to take this stance, he said abortion was not a ‘perfect solution’ but that the current proposals are ‘as close as we can come to a just solution’. 

The multi-million euro new Bandon Community Hospital finally opened – on a phased basis. 

The 12 existing patients in the adjoining hospital facility moved across to the €3.4m building this month. 

A row between the HSE and unions over staffing levels for the new 25-bed hospital had delayed the opening of the building which was completed last December. 

A Senior West Cork garda has said parents must play a greater role in supervising their children, after three teenagers were taken to CUH for extreme drunkenness and dozens more were treated at the scene, outside a popular teenage disco in Bandon on a Friday night. 

Three ambulances and several gardaí were called to Ban- don Rugby Club, and there were a number of arrests, while an alleged assault was also investigated. 

 

MARCH 

WEST Cork was caught off guard when the ‘Beast from East’ arrived a day early causing treacherous road conditions and forcing schools, shops and public offices to close. 

The dangerous road conditions resulted in the blanket closure of schools in the area by the Department of Education, the cancellation of public transport and Cork Airport flights, and the postponement by the HSE of all non-essential medical appointments. 

There was also widespread closure of major businesses, supermarkets including Lidl and financial institutions, with hundreds of workers unable to get to their posts due to icy or impassable side roads.Not since 1982 had the region experienced such an intense weather event, with snow drifts of 6ft in places. 

Furore broke out over the replacement of the light at Fastnet lighthouse. Despite claims that there will be ‘no visual change’ to the appearance of the Fastnet lighthouse, Deputy Michael Collins said he believed that a new LED replacement light at the iconic rock will lessen the appeal of the land- mark. 

Deputy Collins also described the decision taken by the Commissioners of Irish Lights as ‘a cost-cutting exercise’. 

At a presentation made to public representatives at the Schull Harbour Hotel Capt Robert McCabe of Irish Lights pointed out that the LED light will use 30 watts compared to the present 1,000 watt lamps. 

He said there would be a saving in terms of reduced maintenance from between 14 days and 20 days, that is down two days, per annum. 

He said they would also be saving to the Commissioners of Irish Lights  in terms of diesel usage. 

Meanwhile, more than half of the farmers who took part in our Great West Cork Farming Survey admitted to feeling isolated in their work. 

And, of that 51%, one in four revealed how this had impacted on their mental health. 

While it was mainly older farmers who said they felt alone in their farming work, almost all respondents agreed that there are not enough mental health supports avail- able for the agri sector. 

The Southern Star survey was completed by 59% males and 41% females, mainly from areas around Clonakilty and Skibbereen. 

A 79 year old West Cork priest who sexually assaulted a little girl throughout her first confession got a suspended jail term. 

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin noted that the accused had served two previous jail sentences for similar crimes at this time and said that there was no point in re-committing him to jail at this point in his life.  John Calnan, who is now living at The Presbytery, Roman Street, Cork, pleaded guilty to carrying out the indecent assault on the communion girl in the late 1980s. 

In positive news, the go-ahead was given for a €20m extension to the pier at Dinish Island in Castletownbere, which will deliver many more jobs to the area. 

Local Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (now mayor) and fishing industry chief, John Nolan, said the project, which will double the size of the pier, will bring prosperity to the region. 

‘An investment of this magnitude, as well as the €1m development at the quayside, will create between 30 and 40 new jobs in the short-term,’ according to Cllr Murphy. 

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