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Westmeath Topic - 15 February 2018

2 TOPIC •

2 TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS THIS WEEK CASTLEPOLLARD Castlepollard Men's Shed ENTERTAINMENT TENANTS LOSE LONG-TIME EDMONTON COWPARK BATTLE Told at Athlone court to vacate lands by 20 March The Westmeath smallholders from the Bracklyn - Turin area, who have been grazing their cattle on the lands of the Cowpark at Edmonton, Killynan, for the past forty years and longer, and who have battled against Westmeath County Council’s efforts to have them removed, so that the cowpark land can be rented to the highest bidder, and realise more money for the public authority, finally lost their struggle at Athlone Court last week. Defendants were Anne Harte, Reynella, Bracklyn, Patrick Glennon, Reynella, and Frank Smith, Balreagh, Monilea, Mullingar - whose late father had cattle on the Edmonton lands longest of all, for more than half a century. The Council agreed that the defendants were tenants on the land for fifty six years, since 1962, and were on a six months lease. The claim stated in 2003,m the tenants were told that all council lands, including the cowpark lands, were to be advertised on a single herd occupancy basis, for grazing licences. The tenants explained to Westmeath Topic, during this period, that they would not be able to bid successfully for the lands against larger farmers, and they sought to hold on to the lands when in May 2014, they were notified to remove all their mixed herd cattle. At this time, early morning efforts were made by a sheriff acting for the Council to remove the cattle from the cowpark lands, but the tenants successfully held out, and the legal route has been pursued since then. The tenants involved, who own very small areas of land, in some cases, less than 2 acres, made it clear to Topic that they felt justified in trying to retain their rights to rent and graze the lands, pointing out that some had reared families, thanks to being able to use the lands. Mrs. Harte told us that her husband had died when her children were very young, and she had managed to rear her family only through having the cowpark land on which the few cattle she had provided enough of an income to allow her to pay what she needed to survive. Judge Ni Chúláchain at last week’s court, decided in favour of the County Council, that the tenants/defendants were not entitled to graze the cowpark land and she imposed injunctions on them, restraining the tenants or their agents from placing any livestock on the lands, with all cattle to be removed by 20 March next. She also granted a court order for costs against the three defendants, the costs of the proceedings, with an indefinite stay on their order, if there is no appeal, and no stay in the event of an appeal. The cowpark tenants, greatly disappointed, told Westmeath Topic this week, that it appeared their efforts had finally failed, and said it was unlikely they would appeal, unless something unexpected emerged. EXPLOSIVE NEW MULLINGAR BOOK! Don't miss Swan Lake Gardai investigate bank machine incident in Mullingar The Mullingar Gardai are investigating a bizarre incident on Tuesday of last week, 6 February, when a Mullingar man in his seventies, was “escorted” by four men to a bank machine in the town, where he withdrew money, and this was taken by the four men. We understand that the men were driving in a Ford Transit vehicle, and that they called to the home of the 73 years old man on Tuesday afternoon, and it appears they may have carried out work for a short time for the man, and then brought him to the bank to withdraaw money. The four men then drove off in the van, after getting the money - an undisclosed sum. Residents in Mullingar or anywhere else in the midlands are advised that if any such persons call to their homes, unless personally known to them, they should not allow them in, or to undertake any work for them. Activities of this kind have been regularly reported, with home owners gullible enough to allow any “work” to be undertaken, whether on gutters, driveways, or anywhere else, then faced with demands for excessive payments. Gardai seeking information about Mullingar “exposer” As reported last week in “Topic” and as confirmed by the Gardai this week, the help of the public is being sought in tracking and identifying the man who exposed himself to a woman near Springfield Tunnel early on Tuesday morning of last week, 6 February. The Gardai describe the offender as about 5 ft 8 ins tall and possibly in his late teens and with an Irish accent. (Late last year, when similar “flasher” incidents were reported from the Canal line towpath, between Ballinea and Mullingar, one report suggested the person involved was not Irish. The Gardai would welcome any information from persons who may have been near the Springfield Tunnel on the morning of Tuesday around 8am, which would be shortly after dawn, or who might have seen anyone behaving suspiciously or loitering in the area near the Tunnel, which links Springfield area with the Friars Mill Road, and is used solely by pedestrians and cyclists. Last week, Topic also reported that a similar incident occurred at the Canal Line outside Mullingar on a separate date. Contd. from page 1 example, his argument about the commencement of the Irish Civil War in Mullingar, in April 1922 is controversial but makes considerable sense from a historian’s viewpoint. But it is Jack’s other contentious material in the new book which will provoke political controversy, and may even re-write some other history books, as well as causing many people to revise their opinions. These concern some of the main players in the Irish War of Independence, following the 1916 Rising, including major names like Michael Collins and Sean McEoin, and the tragic events which followed the signing of the Treaty in London. How many Mullingar people, for instance, realise that staring them in the face, on the main street in Mullingar, is a so-far preserved reminder and evidence of the day in the Westmeath capital when the Civil War began, when two men one Pro-Treaty and the other Anti-Treaty lost their lives? The evidence is to be seen on the front wall of a notable building on Dominick Street. In the shape of a semi-circle of bullet holes, still visible there, fired by a soldier who, Jack says, didn’t want to kill former comrades, and directed his fire upwards. Unfortunately for young Joe Leavy, other bullets were not so kind. Nor were those who killed Patrick Columb. Jack Kiernan was the man whose attention was drawn to the preserved bullet hole evidence of the street shootings which caused the deaths of Private Patrick Columb - whose name was given to the military barracks in his honour - and to Lieut, Joseph Leavy, the soldier from Milltownpass, who was also mortally wounded fifteen minutes after Columb was shot. However, because Leavy was anti- Treaty, he has never been officially honoured, despite his contribution to the War of Independence and the Fight for Freedom. The cover of Jack Kiernan’s new book. As Jack Kiernan says, quoting Nehru, “History is almost always written by the victors... and gives their view, rather than try to present a balanced picture.” Says Jack, in one of a set of cryptic verses at the book’s commencement: “Destroying evidence of their killing sprees With the British Army protecting their backs, Little by little, we learned by degrees The pro-Treaty leaders distorted the facts.” A RIGGED ELECTION IN 1922? If you consider that debatable, how about his quotations taken from the evidence given in 1954 by the Minister for Local Government in the first Free State Government, Earnest Bligh, or Earnán de Blighe.,. when he described the 1922 election in Co. Monaghan. “I remember that one box from an area which was supposed to be very anti-Treaty had a large number of votes marked No 1 to me. I gathered afterwards that the military guard had opened that box in the night, and where a blank space was opposite my name, they put No 1, and changed the No 1 given to the anti-Treaty candidate to No 4. Incidents like that however, did not appreciably affect the total voting...” But Jack Kiernan commented: “The soldier did lnot merely “open the boxes,” they either had keys or burst the boxes. As there was no apparent damage done, the soldiers, most likely officers, were given keys by someone in authority. I’m sure that more than one box was opened...and the directive had come from the top down. ...I have no doubt that this type of behaviour went on in every constituency in the country.” Added Jack: “Considering the rigging the Free State Government got up to, how can we be sure that the majority of Irish People voted to ....accept the Treaty?” There’s a host of purely Mullingar centered material in this remarkable new book, and a great many people in the town, some of them relations of those about whom Jack Kiernan writes, will find it a compulsive and absorbing read. The story of General Sean MacEoin’s capture, escape and re-capture at the Green Bridge is one story, but there’s a great many others - which we intend to return to in future issues. For anyone from Mullingar, something which brings alive a highly contentious and exciting period in the town’s history deserves attention, and Jack Kiernan’s book will attract just such attention. THE FEMALE SPY Most certainly, Jack Kiernan’s revelations about an attractive young lady, Susie Goddard, who found her way into the IRA activities in the Mullingar area - the daughter of a Ballynacargy postmaster, a lady married to a Mullingar British Army officer - will attract special attention. She wanted the local IRA to kill her husband, because of her “affair” with the Army The 1922 bullet marks on the front wall of Halfway House (Cosgraves) at Dominick Square, Mullingar. CO she claimed to be having. They never located her husband, but she remained a “confidante” and appears to have gained the confidence even of Michael Collins, as the new book shows. However, British raids on supposedly secret caches of arms, and other such event, seem to indicate that Susie was acting as a double agent, and when the Treaty was being negotiated, she left Mullingar, and went to London. We won’t reveal any more of the astounding stories and must-read material in Jack Kiernan’s new book, but at €20, its a book any would-be historian, or anyone who is willing to take an open-minded view of his evidence, will find irresistable and also highly intriguing at the very least. For some, it may cause heartache in hindsight.... The book, we understand, is now available from Jack Kiernan, having come from the printers, and you can contact him at jackkiernanAuthor@gmail.com or at 087-1216350. It is also likely to go on sale in local bookshops, so watch for details.

TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS 3 New Irish Water reservoir for Carrickaneha, Drumraney? agreeing to the spreading of a total of 17,000 tonnes of the bio-solid material on their lands totalling 660 hectares, and a further authorisation from five Meath, Louth and Kildare landowners to spread up to 13,000 tonnes on 540 hectares. `In addition, there are 800 hectares of approved “landbank available for the spreading of 18,000 tonnes of bio-solids in Co. Longford”. Only people in south Westmeath would know where Carrickaneha is located, down in the Drumraney area. A new Irish Water planning applicaion doesn’t make it clear where Carrickaneha is located, but they applied to Westmeath County Council on 22 January last, for permission to erect a sizeable new 3,050 sq. metre water storage reservoir above ground at Carrickaneha. The proposed job involves associated ancillary works, surface drainage, watermains, fencing, access road and other enabling works. There is speculation that the new reservoir may be linked to the plan for a new water pipeline from the Shannon to Lough OWel, Mullingar, but this is unconfirmed. Topic learned this week that Athlone will be designated the ‘Capital of the Midlands’ by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the Government - in effect giving Athlone ‘city’ status - under the National Planning Framework. The details are expected to be announced in Sligo on Friday of this week, 16 February. Topic has learned that the lobby to have such an announcement only succeeded as a result of direct Ministerial intervention at the "highest level" by Athlone based Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Independent TD for Longford-Westmeath The Minister of State said the idea that Athlone would receive the status had been removed from the draft version of the National Planning Framework, threatening to keep the town from fulfilling its potential over the coming decades. "The idea that Athlone would not be designated as the Capital of the Midlands ran counter to everything that I had done in representative politics and was something that had to be rectified," declared Minister Moran. PIVOTAL ROLE "Myself and my ministerial colleagues in the Independent Alliance met with The bio-solids will be brought from the sewage treatment plant at Clonmore, Mullingar via the R394 for four miles and then left at Taughmon Church into Gal- PROPOSAL FOR BIO-DIGESTER AT GALMOYLESTOWN, KNOCKDRIN Among the most lagh Farms Ltd., for (from Clonmore moylestown, Knockdrin, Mullingar. crete Products, has submit- The bio-solid material is to the firm of Owens Conmoylestown. recent planning the construction of a sewage treatment applications submitted to Westmeath building for the stor- with lime, and all ted to the Council on 31 Application, under the below-ground hopper and new 2,357 sq. m. plant, Mullingar) The application, submitted a Waste Facility Permit emptied from lorries into a January last by the named Waste Managaement Regulations 2007, as amended. the material is transferred from this concrete hopper, County Council, is age and the mixing associated site company which is attached one from Garrysal- of organic bio-solids works, at Gal- The application points out to the shed via augers, into that Owens Concrete Products has an existing weigh- added, with the material the mix where lime will be bridge facility on adjacent then stored, to be spread on IT’S SNOW JOKE... lands and existing lorry land at suitable times. wash facility and that the The ”no spreading” time site is surrounded by a on land is given as 15th working quarry. October to 12 January, with The project location consists of a large shed type to 14th October annually. spreading from 13 January structure with 2.6m concrete walls, and the site is in the Veolia Environmen- Spreading details are given an area of buildings and tal report. artificial surfaces. The application includes The building footprint documents signed by thirteen Westmeath landown- extends to 2,357 sq. metres and estimated maximum ers, mainly from the daily material transferred Knockdrin, Kinnegad, and into the store will be azbout Multyfarnham areas, 75 tonnes. It will have the ability to cater for up to 20,000 tonnes in a full year, with a continual renewing of the stored material. The new storage building is close to the existing building used for this purpose, where bio-solids are processed. A snow blizzard descends on Lakepoint Park, Mullingar, last Sunday afternoon, forcing the ladies senior football game between Westmeath and Donegal to be abandoned. The ladies can just be seen shaking hands after the referee abandoned the game. Athlone to be ‘Capital of Midlands” Taoiseach and Government to announce new status this Friday the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar on a number of occasions recently to press home our views in relation to Athlone." "Both myself, Minister Denis Naughten, and Minister Shane Ross were adamant that Athlone would be designated as the Capital of the Midlands in order to drive the entire region for the next number of decades," Minister Moran contended. TOP TIER Athlone and Sligo are now being designated in the “top tier” for growth. "Personally I am delighted with the impending news, as Athlone will be focus of greater attention in terms of greater investment and economic infrastructure, together with tourism and other projects,” he said, adding: "Friday's news will represent the single biggest announcement for Athlone in decades and will represent a major political statement of intent from the present Government, of which I am proud to be a part. “I shudder to think what might have happened if Athlone did not have a voice at ministerial level when key decisions were being made about the designation of regional capitals," Minister Moran stated. SENATOR McFADDEN Another local Oireachtas member from Athlone, Senator Gabrielle McFadden (FG) claimed that "this follows months and years of campaigning" by her to have Athlone upgraded.” "In my submission in response to the draft NPF, I clearly outlined why from a geographical, social and economic perspective, Athlone is the pre-eminent location in the State to designate it as an additional city and to act as a driver of national and regional growth and investment," Senator McFadden said this week. LARGEST IN THE MID- LANDS "There is already a huge concentration of population and job growth within 50km of Dublin and we have seen the difficulties of rapid growth in the capital and in the doughnut surrounding it," Senator McFadden remarked. Senator McFadden said: “Athlone is the largest urban area in the Midlands. It has a key strategic location, being almost exactly in the centre of the country. It acts as a gateway to the West and Northwest of Ireland. It is halfway between Dublin and Galway, straddling two provinces, two Regional Authorities and is the meeting point for rail, river, gas and road, as well as having a thriving third level college. It is a pharma and distribution hub and is a popular tourist destination. It also has in place a social and cultural infrastructure unrivalled in the region.” NO MENTION What is noticeable in the case of both politicians, is that Mullingar came in for no mention in their plans. Only mention of the Westmeath capital came from Cllr. Frank Keena, when he said: "It is important to point out that Athlone as a centre has substantially more employment than other towns of its size in Ireland. For instance, Athlone and Mullingar have similar populations but 13,000 people per day travel into Athlone to work, while 8,500 people work in Mullingar. This shows that Athlone is a major employment centre for the Midlands, which indicates that it has the potential and attractiveness for future expansion to city status. "The next tier of towns, such as Moate, Kilbeggan, Kinnegad and Ballymahon would also experience much needed significant development in business and services," Councillor Frank Keena added.

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