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Death Of Britain’s Greatest Soap Star Jean Alexander

Former much loved ‘Coronation Street’ actress Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden); once voted Britain’s greatest soap star, has died three days after her 90th birthday.

Ms Alexander died yesterday, having been re-admitted to hospital on her birthday, after feeling unwell. Stars of Coronation Street have paid tribute to the actress, describing her as a “legend”.

Born in Liverpool; Ms Alexander won the hearts of TV viewers here in Ireland as the sharp-tongued cleaning lady. Rarely viewed without a set of tightly-wound plastic hair curlers hidden under a headscarf; saw vast numbers of her fans tuned in daily to watch her interaction to get her ineffectual spouse, Stan Ogden [Played by Bernard Youens (born Bernard Arthur Popley)], out of the pub and into work.

An estimated 30 million viewers watched her farewell episode, when she made her decision to leave Weatherfield in 1987.

Following her exit from ‘Coronation Street’ she became a mainstay of BBC sitcom ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’; playing the part of a somewhat eccentric bric-a-brac shop proprietor known as  ‘Auntie Wainwright’.

In 2005 Ms Alexander was voted ‘the greatest soap opera star of all time’. Offers to  memorialise her in a statue, Ms Alexander was reported as stating, “I just couldn’t see myself stood on a pedestal cast in bronze and knowing my luck, the Southport seagulls would find me and do their worst, as they have done before – usually when I have just washed my hair.”

It is understood that Ms Alexander suffered a stroke in 2014 and had been living in a nursing home prior to her death.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.


Sinead Guiney Crowned International Miss Macra 2016


Pictured L – R: Miss Josephine O’Dwyer, Miss Sinead Guiney (International Miss Macra 2016) and Miss Aileen Sheehan, all judged winners at the 45th International Miss Macra 2016 Festival’s Gala Banquet, held in the Anner Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, last night.

Primary School Teacher Miss Sinead Guiney, (representing Avondhu Macra Club, Co. Cork), was crowned International Miss Macra 2016, at the close of the 45th International Miss Macra Festival, held in the Anner Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, last night.

Miss Josephine O’Dwyer (representing South Co. Tipperary), achieved second place, while Miss Aileen Sheehan (representing Muskerry Macra Club, Co. Cork) achieved third place.

The names of the winners were publicly announced following a Banquet in the Four Star Anner Hotel, Dublin Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary last night; in front of a record crowd of some 250 guests; marking the conclusion of this year’s 3 day successful farming festival. Musical entertainment at the Sunday night Gala Banquet was provided by Tipperary popular band ‘Silver Dollar’.

Following the judges final decision last night, Miss Guiney was presented with a specially designed Sterling Silver Tiara, embellished with Cubic Zirconia, designed and hand crafted by Michael Carew Jewellers, West Gate, Thurles. Miss Willis also was presented with the Perpetual Silver International Miss Macra Trophy, (Fitzgibbon Perpetual Cup), together with a beautiful piece of Galway Crystal and a bouquet of flowers by Festival Chairperson Miss Anne Marie Lyng, and Festival Secretary’s Miss Eibhlis Maher and Miss Simone Loughman respectively. A cash prize of €1000, sponsored by the Anner Hotel, was presented by one of the joint owners of the establishment, Mr Michael Maher (Managing Director).

Second placed, Miss Josephine O’Dwyer, received a specially commissioned piece of Galway Crystal and a cash prize of €500, while Miss Aileen Sheehan, judged a close third, also received a piece of Galway Crystal and €300 in prize money.

Previously, that morning all International Miss Macra 2016 contestants had attended Mass in the local parish church in Clonoulty-Rossmore and afterwards togged-out to prove their worth by taking part in a sports day, field event.

This year saw twenty-two contestants, each chosen by their respective Macra Clubs, taking part in this year’s 45th International Miss Macra Festival. Given the very difficult task of selecting this year’s “International Miss Macra 2016” winners were:- Joan Pollard Carew, (Representing Main Sponsors Michael Carew Jewellers, West Gate, Thurles); Geraldine Henchion, (Representing Tipp FM, Tipperary’s No 1 Local Radio Station); & Declan Ryan, (President of the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra Club).

The enormous success of this year’s festival, which attracted record crowds, is due completely to the hard work of all the Clonoulty / Rossmore Macra members, who undertook the precise planning and organising of this year’s festival on a completely voluntary basis, under the strong leadership of Miss Anne Marie Lyng (Chairperson). Other speakers at the event included Mr Ger Griffin (Munster Vice President of Macra Na Feirme), Mrs Joan Pollard Carew (Spokesperson for the Sponsors), Mr Declan Ryan (Spokesperson for the judges) and Miss Susan Willis (Outgoing 2015 Int. Miss Macra Winner).

Also speaking at the Gala Banquet, Miss Anne Marie Lyng (Festival Chairperson) was high in her praise for the outgoing 2015 winner and runners-up. She stated that “last year’s winners Miss Willis, Miss Julie Muldowney and Miss Helen Hayes, over the past year, had shown total dedication in their promotion of Macra principals and Macra Clubs, throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and abroad.”

The International Miss Macra Festival 2016 event is understood to have attracted some €300,000 into the local Tipperary economy, in tourism product; promoted by a committee whose ages range from the oldest just 29 and youngest a mere 24 years of age.  Club profits from this well organised event will be fully invested in next year’s International Festival, thus further ensuring its security and success into the future.


International Miss Macra 2016 Under Way In Thurles


Left – Right pictured above: (1) Representing South Tipperary, M/s Josephine O’Dwyer. (2) M/s Ailin Walsh, representing Waterford, ‘meets & greets’ former Epsom Derby & Irish Derby Stakes Winner ‘Galileo’ yesterday, at the world famous Coolmore Stud in Co. Tipperary. (3) Representing South Tipperary, M/s Denise Ryan.

Yesterday saw the welcome return of the 45th International Miss Macra Festival, returning to its initial roots; coming back to Thurles, Co. Tipperary for the full duration of this August Bank Holiday weekend. Such was the high calibre of the venues present here in Thurles that the Festival this year is taking place in three separate areas, showcasing the best that Thurles and Co. Tipperary has to offer, e.g. Hayes Hotel (Birthplace of the GAA), last night; The Dome (Semple Stadium), tonight, and the magnificent family-run Anner Hotel (Graded Four-Star by Fáilte Ireland), Dublin Rd, Thurles, for the Annual Macra Banquet tomorrow night.

Yesterday, the festival kicked off, when contestants met the Festival Committee and Host Families in Clonoulty village, before being taken on a personal tour of the world famous Coolmore Stud Farm. This was followed by a late lunch in the Anner Hotel’s ‘Green Room’ restaurant.  Last night the participants attended a themed ’90’s Disco’, in Hayes Hotel, dancing into the early hours of this morning.

However today saw the contestants appear ‘bright eyed & bushy tailed’, rising early in preparation for their private personal interviews in front of a three judge panel, namely Joan Pollard Carew, (Representing Main Sponsors Michael Carew Jewellers, West Gate, Thurles); Geraldine Henchion, (Representing Tipp FM, Tipperary’s No 1 Local Radio Station); & Declan Ryan, (President of the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra Club). This panel have been given the very difficult task of selecting this year’s “International Miss Macra 2016” winner; latter which will be announced following the Banquet on Sunday night in the Anner Hotel.

Tonight (30th July 2016) in The Dome, Semple Stadium, Thurles, will see the ever popular “Cabaret Night”, commence. Here the contestants will be interviewed publicly on stage, by expert interviewer Mr Mike Egan; himself a previous Macra Member and long-term friend of the festival.  Live music will be provided by ‘Switch’ to which the contestants, their supporters and the public attending, can later dance the night away.

Guaranteed to be a most enjoyable and memorable evening.


Borrisoleigh Festival Kicks Off On Sunday July 17th Next

A two hour 80’s ‘Rock Music Experience’ set for eve of Borrisoleigh Festival.

This year’s Borrisoleigh Festival will take place on Sunday July 17th next, with a packed day of activities for all the family.

The day will begin with a ‘Bush n Briar’ walk. Registration will be taken for this event in the Community Centre, beside the Church, starting from 8.45am.

Following Mass there will be live music from local musicians on the Square, followed by a 1916 themed parade through the town at 12.30pm. (Participants will start from Shanahan’s Centra store, marching to McDonagh Square.)

Following the opening ceremony at 1.00pm, Tipperary’s own very lovely Rose of Tralee contender and current Presenter of Tipperary County Matters on Irish TV, Miss Fiona O’Sullivan, will be found chatting and presenting prizes to the winners of this year’s Children’s Art Competition.

This event will be followed by ‘Line Dancing’ with Suzanne at 1.30pm and ‘Social Dancing’ with Phil Maher at 3.00pm; both events also happening in McDonagh Square.

The ‘Boom Boozlers’ group will entertain children from 2.00pm to 4.00pm in the Community Centre, while a ‘Taekwando’ group will put on an exhibition at 5.00pm in the village’s centre square.

Later from 5.30pm7.30pm, there will be a massive treat in store for all you ‘Lovers of Rock’, as that Rock Music Experience of ‘Sleaze n Cheese’, feature hits from Bon Jovi; Bruce Springsteen; Guns N Roses; Journey; Van Halen; ZZ Top, and many, many, more favourites.

After you’ve rocked your socks off, the extremely popular art of ‘Churn Rolling’ returns for a second year to the Borrisoleigh Festival. Participants from the Tipperary Town All Ireland Churn Rolling competition will be on hand to display their acquired new talents. Note: To take part in the Churn Rolling event, participants will have to take part in the completion of a training schedule, so do keep an eye on their Facebook Page, for details of all training sessions.

This truly enjoyable day will concluded with further music in the Square from 9.00pm onwards, hosted by that most popular of bands ‘Ebony’, latter renowned for their musical talents and fun crowd participation.

So remember the date and be sure to come along for a great day’s family entertainment.

Remember you can keep up to date with all upcoming events on the Borrisoleigh Festival Facebook page.


International Macra Festival Returns To Thurles

The 45th International Miss Macra Festival this year returns to Thurles, Co. Tipperary


Pictured L-R: Declan Ryan (Pres. Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra), Simone Loughman (Int. Miss Macra Secretary), Susan Willis (2015 Int. Miss Macra Winner), Anne Marie Lyng (Chairperson), Helen Hayes, (2015 Int. Miss Macra Runner-Up), Jamie Driver (Anner Hotel), Geraldine Henchion (Tipp FM Radio), at the official launch of the 2016, 45th International Miss Macra Festival to be held in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, on August Bank Holiday Weekend 2016.

Clonoulty-Rossmore Macra na Feirme are delighted to confirm that this year’s International Miss Macra Festival will take place over the 2016 August Bank Holiday weekend, from Friday the 29th of July to Monday the 1st August, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. This will be the Festivals 45th year and is an exceptional representation of what just one farming organisation can achieve; through hard work, determination and the full support of its local community.

This year will once again see young ladies travelling from all over Ireland, in the hope of following in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Miss Susan Willis (Co. Carlow); in being crowned International Miss Macra 2016. This, as stated, 45th year of the festival, will see many new initiatives and a change of scene, but first a brief history lesson.

International Miss Macra Festival History
The International Miss Macra Festival is a personality competition, a mini Rose of Tralee, if you will, for Macra na Feirme Clubs and their members. The festival was founded by Mr Paddy Heffernan, Mr Tom Horan and Mr Michael Slattery back in 1971. Initially Macra Members were met with little enthusiasm from Macra National Headquarters, but the Clonoulty / Rossmore club did not allow this to deter their ingenuity. As a rural farmers organisation they ploughed on (pardon the pun), regardless, with their plans and year on year since its conception this festival has blossomed with as many as 32 contestants competing annually each year, from Ireland and abroad.

The 90’s saw an interest from rural youth and agricultural organisations abroad, e.g. 4H clubs in America and Scottish Young Farmers, begin to develop. The International Miss Macra Festival is somewhat unique in that it is run by the same local Macra Club every year; rather than a County Executive and their scale of success is a testament to both the dedication of the Clonoulty-Rossmore Macra members and the massive support of the local Tipperary community.

The local Clonoulty / Rossmore community, in particular, play a most important part in this festival, with households taking on the role as ‘Host Families’ for each of the contestants, year after year. This tradition remains very strong; seeing the contestants receive the warmest of welcomes, as they become adopted into the hearts of the local host families. To these ‘Host Families’ go our committee’s gratitude for their never ending support, generosity, overall commitment and loyalty, each year.

International Miss Macra Festival Returns to its Roots
This year, 2016, sees the festival returning to its initial roots; coming back to Thurles, Co. Tipperary for the full duration of the weekend. Such is the high calibre of the venues in Thurles that the Festival this year will take place in three separate areas, as we showcase the best that Thurles and Co. Tipperary has to offer: Hayes Hotel (Birthplace of the GAA), on the Friday night, The Dome on Saturday and the magnificent family-run Anner Hotel (Graded Four-Star by Fáilte Ireland), on Sunday night.

This year, the festival will kick-start on Friday the 31st of July when contestants will meet the festival committee in Clonoulty village. Friday afternoon also offers contestants a chance to take a personal tour of the world famous Coolmore Stud Farm, followed by lunch in the Anner Hotel restaurant. Next the contestants will take part in a Zumba class in Clonoulty Community Hall where contestants, host families and local people will get their chance to ‘meet and greet’; a long-standing tradition of this festival.

International Miss Macra Judges
The judges for the 2016 competition this year are:-
(A) Joan Pollard Carew, representing Michael Carew Jewellers, Friar Street, Thurles.  Joan, whose husband is main sponsor of the festival, is herself a published poetess and well known nationally in Irish Art and Irish Dancing circles. Joan and her husband also contribute greatly to the festival in terms of invaluable support, time and advice.
(B) Geraldine Henchion, representing Tipp FM, Tipperary’s No 1 Local Radio Station. Geraldine also well known in Art Circles, joins the panel for the first time this year.
(C) Declan Ryan, who has held every known post of responsibility on the International Miss Macra Festival committee and also currently holds the title of President of the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra club.

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