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Westmeath Topic - 12 April 2018

20 TOPIC •

20 TOPIC • 12 April, 2018 NEWS The Original Declining Irish customs in Westmeath in 17th century “These, I suppose, may be reckoned among the causes of the slow progress this nation hath made towards civility, and accommodation of our English laws and customs; yet these notwithstanding, this people, especially in this and adjoining counties are, in our day, become more polite and civil than in former ages, and seem very forward to accommodate themselves to the English modes, particularly in their habit, language, and surnames, which by all manner of ways, they strive to make English or English-like; this I spake of the former rank of them.” “All the youth of this age learn to speak English in their petty schools - the only good they learn there - nor is there now any more appearance of the Irish cap, mantle or trowse, at least in these counties, and although the language yet remains, it has become adulterated, by the multitude of English words adopted to it, that it remains nowhere now in its purity....” From Sir Henry Piers “Choreographical Description of Westmeath” - 1683). NEW DUBLIN-MULLINGAR DUAL CARRIAGEWAY? Westmeath County Engineer, Jim Hearn, the only local authority engineer to be recently appointed a member of the National Roads Authority, told “Topic” this week that he expects the Mullingar Bypass to be completed within five years, and with a dual carriageway likely from Leixlip to Dublin by 1993, it is likely this will be extended to Kinnegad and to Mullingar itself within fifteen years or so. “In addition to two very important National Primary Route, the N4 (Dublin to Slibo) and N6 (Kinnegad to Galway), Westmeath is also traversed by the most important National Secondary Road in the country, Mr. Hearn explained, referring to the Dundalk to Nenagh Road, via Delvin, Mullingar and Kilbeggan. “This road is urgently in need of upgrading and major improvements are necessary” he said, ex - pressing the view that these could not be set aside any longer, as it carried a very large volume of heavy traffic to and from the North of Ireland. Explaining that the land for the Mullingar By-Pass had already been acquired, Mr. Hearn said he likes to think that people will be able to drive from Mullingar to Dublin Airport in an hour or less when all the major roadworks mentioned are completed.” (Extract from Topic, issue of 18 August, 1988) Ed’s Footnote: Mr. Hearn’s predictions proved fully accurate as regards the dual carriageways and the Dublin road, but sadly, his advice and views on the Mullingar to Dundalk national Secondary route road, given three decades ago, remain not done, despite the huge extra volumes of traffic and the dangerous road conditions. SNOOKER HANDICAP WINNER: A Mullingar sporting memory from 1968, after the St. Mary’s Snooker Handicap Final, with Dick Muldarry (centre), Mullingar, receiving the competition trophy from Michael Lennox (left). On the right is the runner-up in the final, Des Keogh, Mullingar. Saved from drowning in Mullingar by army officer (A Mullingar pond, beside the Fair green, known as the ‘Lord’s Pond’ or ‘Lord’s Hole’ which is still remembered in the town, but was filled in over half a century ago, was the scene of a dramatic rescue from drowning on a winter’s day, one hundred and forty-five years ago.) The following details were reported in the Westmeath Guardian, in February, 1835. “The ‘Lords Hole’, a pool of inconsiderable depth and extent in summer, but which by the continuous and heavy rains of this winter, has been converted into a lake situated on the eastern end of our Fair Green, immediately close When Coole Hospital provided a valuable service “Few are aware of the very commendable work which is being done by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Joseph’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Coole, Co. Westmeath, for the welfare of crippled and tubercular children. Many cases, hitherto regarded as hopeless are responding to care and treatment. The children sleep in open air verandahs, and the hospital has the most up to date equipment, including an operating theatre, complete x-ray apparatus, convalescent and recreation rooms, fully stocked surgery, etc. (Item from Midland Reporter, January 24, 1929) to and over the Canal and apparently supplied by a spring somewhere near its centre - has been from time immemorial the theatre where the youth of our town, not having the fear of broken bones or wet jackets before their eyes, took lessons in the slippery art of skating and sliding whenever frost converted it into a field suitable for such purposes. “On Saturday last, after the frost of the two or three preceding nights, the juveniles were amusing themselves upon it, when one unfortunate mite, incautiously approached too near the spring, where the ice being thin and weak, it suddenly gave way under his weight, at once precipitating him into the pond...considerably beyond his depth. His situation was becoming more painful and perilous in the extreme when fortunately, Captain Grierson, commanding officer of the 15th Depot, coming from the barracks, seeing the commotion, rushed down, and perceived the perilous position of the boy. Seeing that none of the goodly number of bystanders were willing to risk their lives, he boldly and at once plunged into the water, severely lacerating his hands in breaking the ice, and after considerable danger and difficulty succeeded in dragging the boy ashore in an exhausted condition. He did not stop even there but had him at once conveyed to a neighbouring house, wrapped up in blankets, and restoratives supplied. “The humane and heroic conduct of Captain Grierson was the instrument of saving the life of the young lad, and preserving a decent and worthy family from affliction and mourning.” (Extracts from Westmeath Guardian, Feburary 3, 1835) Well known local personalities at the Mullingar Show of August 1988, Oliver Brennan and Mick Foster who sponsored events and presented prizes. Two of the midlands most popular ballad entertainers, Davy Hynes and Terry Nee, also members of the Hammers Group. (24 March, 1973) Former Ireland soccer team manager Jack Charlton pictured fishing on the Royal Canal during his visit to Mullingar, along with local man Joe Gavin and a keen young angler.

TOPIC • 12 April, 2018 YourLetters Send your letters to The Editor, Topic Newspapers Ltd, 6 Dominic Street, Mullingar, Co Westmeath Why she will vote to retain 8th Amendment Dear Editor, There are still six weeks or so to go until the referendum, but I have to admit I have already decided in favour of retaining the current Constitutional position. I have given the matter serious consideration and my mind keeps coming back to the same question: it is right to intentionally end the life of an innocent and defenceless unborn child when both its life and that of its mother can be preserved? I believe not. There are two lives in pregnancy, and the law and Constitution currently deny anybody the right to deliberately end either of them. No matter how imperfect, at least it is a genuine attempt to assign an appropriate level of dignity to a life whose level of development on that precarious journey from conception to birth and beyond makes it an easy target. The proposed Constitutional change will allow the Dáil to legislate for facilitating the deliberate and premature destruction of all such innocent life, for all reasons and for none. Please don’t try to tell me this is about justice, fairness, equality or compassion. This is our last chance. It is theirs as well. Yours etc., Joy O’Driscoll, Inniscarra, Co. Cork The Cure or the Cause? Dear Editor, The Belfast rape trial was awful. The responses of Taoiseach Varadkar, and Minister Richard Bruton, were equally awful. They spoke of the ‘needs’ of young people today, and the challenges they have to face. They had nothing at all to say about excessive drinking, or sex without responsibility. The cure for everything was ‘more of the same’, particularly, more sex education. Consent and contraceptives. Primary school children are to lose more of their childhood, and parents are to be kept out of it. Women are to be taught how to say ‘No’ more forcefully. How can this be convincing, when many, possibly the same people, are seeking wide-ranging abortion? The cries of anguish for the disabled, those with short life expectancy, and the lives of women, ring hollow, when the real concern is the consequence of sexual pleasure. In the midst of all this, the men keep quiet, while the girls make all the noise, and make life more amenable for them, ie, the men. The ‘fellas’ never had it so good, it would appear. Yours sincerely, Donal O’Driscoll Blackrock, Co Dublin. (full details supplied) Dear Editor, When Fianna Fáil caused our economy to crash, we turned to Fine Gael and in particular to Labour, to protect us and our country. History, of course, has proved that as soon as they got into power, they not alone sold our independence that we celebrated in 2016, they humiliated our people to Europe to protect politicians, bankers, developers and speculators - bondholders and landlords, some of them politicians. And then they put everything on to the backs of our people, devastated lives and families, as they continued on, business as usual in Irish politics - collusion, collaboration and cohorts. When they endorsed a proven re-organisation of the Defence Forces, they did what they did best, wasted taxpayers’ money, like the voting machines, Irish Water etc etc. They played with figures, and when it also failed, they also did what they do best, got our people to cover the cost!! When Columb Barracks was closed by Labour and Fine Gael, they devastated people - our people, our community - and not one of them resigned from their party. They abdicated all of their responsibilities to all who served in Columb Barracks, and also to our town and community, putting their party before their people. The rest is history, soldiers and their families forced out of a profession they loved, for having taken the cuts to cover failed politics, they could not afford the extra cost of e-mail: news@topic.ie Ex-Army man’s views Irish politics… John Fitzgerald pictured with Jackie Kincaid at her 50th birthday celebrations in the Annebrook House Hotel. CLAIMS POISONING BLAME GAME IS A FARCE Dear Editor, The British Government’s initial argument about the co-called Russian poisoning was that Putin was using it to help him win the election. But were there any other serious presidential candidates? No. Did Putin need to do this? No. Would it make normal Russians vote for him if he did do this? No. Is it any benefit whatsoever to Russia to do this? No. Would the Russians have handed Scribal over in a spy swap, if they thought he was any future threat? No. Is it any benefit to the EU to have an incident like this? Yes. Does making Britain the dramaqueen accuser without evidence make the UK a weaker country in the eyes of the world? Yes. Who is benefitting here? The EU is, May is, Boris is, and Davis is. Why? Because it takes attention away from the government selling the people down the river and giving the EU everything it wants and betraying the democracy of the nation. The silly nations of Europe rush to support a case with no evidence and even now the victims recover. A farce. Yours etc., Patrick Doyle, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. travel. Forward to today, and its business as usual. Politicians give themselves a €5k pay rise for continued failure, give €5 Euro to our people, are going to increase the pay and expenses of local Councils all over the country. Last week on RTÉ, the physical manifestation of the collapse was making a play for the Presidential election, and could remember all the wonderful things that he could not remember when he was before the tribunal. The only play he will get is to bury FF in the next election, for he is the constant reminder of the burden put on to our people and our children for decades to come. Meanwhile, preparations for the next election at local level is under way, as a member of one party will run as an independent to try and distance himself from what they did, to be replaced by "fresh faces", a new front for an old party with the same valueless agendas. So the political silence and shame associated with those parties, as Columb Barracks is being lined up for sale, is quite understandable. Having closed down our military Barracks, the total lack of interest, vision or foresight that is part and parcel of Irish politics (HSE, Defence, Housing, Finance) is there for all to see, for Columb Barracks Mullingar is in decay, on its knees, just like our people, but so too is the party who sold it, and our community out. Lest we forget, Noel O Callaghan, 27 Willowbrook, Mullingar Ireland - most liberal regime anywhere? Dear Editor, Ireland must be unique or at least one of very few jurisdictions where the highest court in the land has explicitly declared that apart from the Eighth Amendment, an unborn child in Ireland has no rights whatsoever. Legislation placing limits of 12 weeks or any other time limitation on abortion, including just before birth or even during the birth process, could be construed as “conferring rights” on an unborn child, which in this country consequently has no rights at all. I understand the Referendum clause on the voting paper will include some wording to allow the Dáil to legislate on abortion regulation, which, of its nature, will be tantamount to conferring some rights on the unborn child. How will such abortion legislation fare when confronted with the already ruled-on Constitutional exclusion of any and all rights applicable to children until after birth? Will Ireland have the most liberal unregulated abortion regime in the world? Yours etc., Padraig Neary, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, EDITORIAL/LETTERS 21 Editorial Some benefitting - others not? According to the latest IBEC quarterly report, the country’s economic outlook is bright, as they forecast growth of 5.6% and say the consumer economy will grow by 2.6%, and add that before the end of 2018, there will be over 2.2 million people at work. It’s a good news story from IBEC’s viewpoint, looking at it in purely economic terms, but it is notable that IBEC is also warning that remaining competitive is essential. In other words, they’re warning that while demand has recovered, the costs for many businesses are also rising, not just wage costs, but others also. What IBEC don’t point out is that across much of the country, outside Dublin, the wages of many people have been stagnant for the past ten years, since the crash, and in some cases, they’ve declined. The result is that a great many ordinary people are still finding it difficult to make ends meet, and have no money to spare, and as a result, many who would love to do so cannot even think of buying a home of their own, while other couples with children are caught up in very difficult circumstances. And meanwhile, many smaller Irish businesses in towns like Mullingar, Edenderry, Moate, Athlone and so on, are finding things very difficult, as consumers flock into the powerful foreign-owned supermarket stores to buy what they want at rock-bottom prices, or buy online, totally bypassing locally owned businesses, slowly killing off local jobs and services. There’s a saying that until all boats are being lifted by any economic recovery, there will be losers as well as winners, and as we’ve suggested, the reality at present, for many towns and areas across rural Ireland, is that the boost IBEC is speaking about hasn’t been felt, except by the workers who commute to Dublin to work on building schemes or in other city jobs. And they must daily commute for hours in order to feel some measure of the benefits. One aspect of the IBEC quarterly report, which hasn’t received headlines, is that the price of Irish food exports going abroad has been hit hard by the sterling exchange rate changes, and is back to 2009 levels. There are businesses in Westmeath and Offaly which have been hit through this Brexitfuelled change, and as IBEC points out, Ireland’s small open economy is extremely vulnerable to what they call “further external price shocks, through exchange rates, interest rate hikes and rising energy costs'. It may suit many people, particularly politicians, to project rosy images of benefits all round, lots of jobs available, and so on, but the reality for many people is that all in the garden isn’t quite as rosy as they want us to believe. One need only ask the tens of thousands of young Irish nurses, doctors and other graduates who have gone overseas in search of something better than they can find here at home. Fodder crisis failures? In the past several weeks, as the fodder crisis situation for Irish farmers worsened, the growing levels of warnings and complaints from farmers and farming organisations - with some of these warnings going back to mid-winter, were at first ignored by those in government, then we saw denials, and finally last week, the Agriculture Minister was forced to admit that we had a ‘short term’ crisis, as he began to provide some help so that feed could be imported to prevent animal starvation. In the past four weeks in particular, the numbers of animals dying on Irish farms has reached very high levels, as the companies who operate knackeries across the country can verify. When Topic spoke to one owner, he confirmed this, and said that his company have been ‘flat out’ collecting dead animals, both cattle and sheep, from farms. While not describing the current situation as ‘unprecedented’, he said the mortality figures were very high, because of the cold and snowy snap of weather at the beginning of March, and the lack of grass growth, on top of low temperatures and the soggy ground going back over months. Surely, politicians in Government, and government departments are employing enough people to keep themselves fully informed about any such crisis, from when early warnings from farmers were heard in the west? If farmers in Westmeath and other midland counties have lost animals needlessly, someone fell down badly somewhere, and it was hardly the farmers....

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