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Space Tourism – Thurles Xmas Advert Soars Out Of This World

“The rotation of earth really makes my day.” (Think about this quote. Get It?  OK continue on anyway.)

Captain’s Log, Star-date December 6th 2017:-

Tourism Ireland’s senior delegates, envoys and ambassadors, today were described as being somewhat deflated, having launched a failed stratospheric advertising campaign to highlight Sceilg Mhichíl, latter a rapidly decaying rocky outcrop, west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, and which played a small role in the latest Star Wars saga, ‘The Last Jedi’.

The Force Awakens

Tourism Ireland’s billboard rose skyward just 33km (20.5 miles) above planet Earth, launched with the help of a weather balloon, while a similar Thurles billboard jetted to an amazing altitude of some 435 km (just over 270 miles) propelled by means of reboost manoeuvres, using a Briggs & Stratton rocket boosted lawn mower engine, one day previous.

One of the many images captured during the launched Thurles Stratospheric Advertising Campaign, as it headed for the “Dark Side”.  One “Black Hole” was located during the campaign, found in a black sock, worn by a launchpad crew member.

A spokesperson for the Templemore – Thurles Municipal District stated that Tourism Ireland’s attempt to be the first to advertise in space had failed miserably, firstly; since it was launched the day after the Thurles space departure, and secondly; no single human or alien had actually viewed the image on the billboard, while it remained in space. This project therefore must be perceived as the greatest waste of taxpayers money (to use the words of Rowan Atkinson in Black Adder) since, “Olaf the Hairy, King of all the Vikings, ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside”.

The Thurles launch however had been viewed, as it flew past, by the crew of Expedition 53, all arsing around on board the International Space Station (ISS).  Expedition 53, made up namely by Mr Joe Acaba, Mr Alexander Misurkin, Mr Mark Vande Hei, Mr Sergey Ryanzansky and Mr Paolo Nespoli, were all ordered by Commander Randy Bresnik, to scramble and man their laser weapons, fearing, understandably that they were about to be interfered with by an alien craft from outside our galaxy.

A grinning spokesperson for the Templemore – Thurles Municipal District stated, “The Thurles picture advert, which was launched skyward earlier, featured an image of the Christmas lights in Liberty Square, Thurles, Co Tipperary, and fully demonstrated the fullest commitment yet, that Tipperary Councillors and Politicians from all political parties were fully behind efforts to continue our growth in tourism in the area”. “Demands for access to visit Thurles have been unprecedented since the lights were switched on”, he continued.

The Thurles Stratospheric Advertising Campaign was launched from beside the Stone Man here in Liberty Square, in the town at 3.07 hrs GMT and returned from orbit safely, to exactly the same precise area, at 14.00 hrs; thus landing before our daily traffic-jam of parents had emerged to collect their offspring’s from schools and collages.

God help us and those who manage our public finances, if not “May The Force Be With Us”.


Littleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary – The World War II Connection

One minute after Britain formally declared war against Germany, which took effect on September 3rd, 1939, a Blenheim IV of No 139 Squadron took off to fly the first sortie of the war for the Royal Air Force. Same was a photo-reconnaissance operation. In the future these aircraft were to become involved in the defence of London and would serve with Coastal Command in anti-shipping, reconnaissance, and a variety of other roles, right up until 1942.

Pictures L-R (1) Laurence Slattery, Littleton Thurles, Co. Tipperary, pictured in a Berlin POW hospital bed. (Celtic studies expert & Nazi propaganda radio broadcaster Dr. Hans Hartmann is to be seen standing on the left of his bed). Picture (2) Rare picture of Laurence Slattery after WW II, with a violin case under his arm. Picture (3) A Bristol Blenheim IV, which Laurence Slattery navigated. Picture (4) Today, the once home of Laurence (Larry) Slattery, and his father Michael Slattery (a National School Teacher), situated in the townsland of Ballymoreen, Littleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The fighter version of the Blenheim IV aircraft normally carried four machine guns in the bomb bay, while the standard crew would comprise of a pilot; a navigator/bomb-aimer; and a wireless operator/gunner. The navigator would sit in the nose of the aircraft at a plotting table, situated just below the port side of the canopy.

On September 4th 1939, just one day later, Laurence (Known locally by the shortened name of Larry) Slattery, a native of Littleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, took off on a Bristol Blenheim IV.  His aircraft was later shot down over the sea at Wilhemshaven, west of Hamburg, latter a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany, while attempting to drop leaflets; as confirmed by Irish Military Archives.

The aircraft’s pilot, Willie Murphy, a native of Mitchelstown, Co Cork, died some days later from his injuries, whilst Larry Slattery survived, sustaining wounds which included a broken foot and a broken jaw, latter obtained when his face struck a machine gun-turret.  The pilot, Murphy would become the first recorded British fatality of World War II, and Larry Slattery from Littleton village, would became the first British Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) to be captured by the Germans.

Continue reading Littleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary – The World War II Connection


Tipperary’s ‘Flying Nun’ Is ‘Volunteer of the Year’

Most of us have heard of “The Flying Doctor” working in the vast, remote interior of Australia; but now meet the “The Flying Nun”, who works in South Tipperary’s vast, remote, rural, disadvantaged interior, known as Slieveardagh.

I speak of course of Sister Patricia Wall who, following her retirement as a school principal more than 20 years ago, has since set up three organisations to support the Slieveardagh community, latter situated close to the Tipperary-Kilkenny border.

Since 1996 Sr. Patricia has dedicated her life to volunteering and to community work within the area of Slieveardagh; going above and beyond the call of duty in many cases to secure funding for projects in her area and helping community groups with what could be regarded as red tape, time consuming paper work and necessary applications, which in turn has led to many community projects, having been funded and developed.

Known as “The Flying Nun”, Sr. Patricia some 5 years ago skydived 10,000 ft. from a plane to celebrate her 75th birthday; her purpose to raise much needed funds for AWARE, latter a worthy ‘depression support charity’ which remains very close to her heart. Now 80 years old, she continues to volunteers every day of the week, giving and supporting as many of her adopted volunteer groups as she can within a most appreciative Slieveardagh community.

Yesterday Sr. Patricia was named, not surprisingly and most deservedly, “Volunteer of the Year”, at the Volunteer Ireland Awards.

“Volunteers are the backbone of communities across Ireland,” said Volunteer Ireland CEO Nina Arwitz. “Sr. Patricia exemplifies everything that is wonderful about the spirit of volunteering in Ireland, from her high adrenaline sky diving to her long-term commitment to the local community.”

Congratulations Sr. Patricia and every good wish.


Tipp Drama Festival Director Pays Tribute To late Biddy White Lennon

Journalist and Author Tom Ryan, Rahealty, Thurles, Reports:-

The Festival Director of the Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival, Mr Donal Duggan, has yesterday paid tribute to the memory of actress/author, Ms Biddy White Lennon, who passed away just last weekend.

The popular actress who played Maggie in the popular RTE soap, “The Riordans”, adjudicated at the Tipperary Drama Festival in Holycross twice, once in 1984 and again in 2013.  Mr Duggan, then (as now) Festival Director and Mr Tom Molony (then Chairman of Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group) and highly regarded seasoned Thespian, Mr Pat McGrath, were even incorporated into Biddy’s script for the Radio 1 version of the popular soap, “Glenroe”.

Pictured above, in better times, are (L to R) Mr Donal Duggan (Festival Director), the late Biddy White Lennon and Mr Michael Lowry, TD.

Biddy stayed locally in Holycross during her festival sojourns as adjudicator, including with Mr & Mrs Tom and Elizabeth Molony, The Green, Holycross. Indeed in the radio script for “Glenroe” it was mentioned that the Glenroe Players were on the festival circuit and met Tipperary Festival Director, Mr Donal Duggan and Committee Chairman, Mr Tom Molony, and the inimitable Mr Pat McGrath in Holycross at the festival, thus ensuring a modicum of fame for this Abbey-side trio.

Biddy reminded Mr Donal Duggan of this when they next met in 2013. “She was pleased with her stay here in Holycross”, said Mr Duggan, who brought her on a site-seeing tour of the Rock of Cashel and other historic places in the county; a traditional courtesy he affords all festival adjudicators.

Mr Duggan said he was saddened to hear of the passing of the popular actress/author; stating
“Biddy was a very competent adjudicator and very easy to work with. Her popularity from her years as ‘Maggie’ in “The Riordans” helped to attract huge audiences to the festival in 1984.  She went on to write the radio script for “Glenroe” having adjudicated at the Festival in 1984.  Ar dheis De a hanam”

Yet one other Thurles resident was well acquainted with Ms Biddy White Lennon. George Willoughby got to know Biddy through numerous appearances in “The Riordans”, during the years 1975/76, while working as a featured extra. “Being involved with the “The Riordans”, was like being a member of a close-knit family. The word ‘celebrity’ back then did not exist; featured actors and lowly extras like myself taking part, all used the same canteen facilities, on location”, said George.

“Filming “The Riordans” was quite radical for that time, with Outside Broadcast Units being used rather than the more usual TV studio setting”, said George. “Even if scenery and prop space had been available to build a studio farm, it would have been nigh impossible to rid audio tape of the sounds of then Dublin city life, with its constant drone of Ambulance/Fire/Garda sirens; overhead aeroplanes and endless traffic noise pollution”.

“To speed up the process of getting film back to the studio for editing”, continued George, “it was instead decided to film on a rural farm near Dunboyne in County Meath, although the series would have us believe it was set in a fictional townsland called Leestown, in Co. Kilkenny.”

“The Riordans” radically changed the rules of broadcasting” stated George.  “The rural characters portrayed by cast members like Ms Biddy White Lennon, inspired the creation of Yorkshire Television equivalents “Emmerdale”, which we so enjoy today. Even production crew from what was to be “Emmerdale Farm” visited “The Riordans” rural set to observe how RTE were managing this somewhat new phenomenon of Outside Broadcast Units”.

“Alas, for “The Riordans”, the music originally used to introduce each episode, Seoirse Bodley’s orchestral arrangement of the Irish traditional tune, “The Palatine’s Daughter” (Iníon An Phailitínigh), no longer plays on Irish TV, since the series was regrettably chopped back in 1979″, concluded George.

The Independent North Tipperary Dail Deputy, Michael Lowry, took centre stage on Ms Biddy White Lennon’s last visit to Holycross, Thurles in 2013, when he officially opened the 31st annual Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival in a packed Holycross Community Centre, where Biddy White Lennon, was the professional adjudicator.

Mr Lowry, who received a warm reception from the audience in the packed theatre in his home village, sponsored the local awards-winning Holycross / Ballycahill Drama Group production of the comedy, “The God Of Carnage”, by French playwright, Yasmina Reza, which opened the
festival on that particular night.

Mr Lowry has supported the festival for many years and is a popular figure with audiences. The attendance at the opening night also included his son, Councillor Micheal Lowry; members of drama groups from various parts of Co. Tipperary; the then “Rose of Thurles” Ms Emma Moore; Littleton’s Jim Ryan (MCC) and the now late Fr. Tom Breen, (PP), latter then also the Festival Committee President.

Mr Lowry lauded the organising committee on its work for the festival over 31 years and in particular Festival Director, Donal Duggan, who has been in that role for all that time.

The Holycross/Ballycahill group got the Festival off to “a great start”, according to the popular adjudicator, Ms Biddy White Lennon, “who was no stranger to Holycross”, as Michael Lowry pointed out. He recalled that in 1983 when the late TJ Maher, MEP, opened the first Festival in Holycross, only fourteen people were to be counted in the audience on that night.

The Festival had grown and developed over the years since then. “We have a fantastic organisation here, in Holycross, and I congratulate them. It is a totally voluntary organisation who have given endless hours to the festival.  Groups come from all over Ireland to Holycross and almost every year, groups from Holycross Festival reach the All-Ireland Finals.  Holycross is now established as one of Ireland’s major Drama Festival Locations”, stated Lowry on the night.

“The God Of Carnage” on that night was directed by Pat McGrath and the cast comprised of Jacqui Lacey, Martin “Marty” O’ Neill, Derek Doherty and Salome Hennessy. Lighting was by Paddy Connolly and Set Construction was by Pat McGrath, Andy Slattery, Catherine Lowry. Set

Design/Dressing was by Catherine Lowry and Marian Gilmore. Sound was by Joanne O’Neill and make-up by Peg Ryan, whilst Sally O’Rourke was in charge of Continuity.

The Set Crew comprised: Elaine O’ Dwyer, Gerry O’ Dwyer, Jack Henchion, Diana Lacey, Geraldine Henchion, Claire Ryan, Kevin Darmody.


National Folklore Collection Features 100 Tipperary Images

Some 100 images from around Co. Tipperary, including images from Thurles and Holycross, have now been uploaded to the recently launched and redesigned Dúchas (Translated into English meaning ‘Heritage’) Website.  These images can be viewed and indeed downloaded from HERE.

Date: 1945. House Location: Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Photograph: Courtesy Caoimhín Ó DanachairSo who is the woman hiding behind the pillar to the left of the dwelling and where was the house once locally situated? Do you recognize it? We would love to know.

This digitized version of the National Folklore Photographic Collection was launched at the National Library by the Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Mr Joe McHugh.

This photographic collection remains the latest supplementary source to be uploaded to the Dúchas website, where, in all some 10,000 photographs having been digitized, catalogued and now made available to the Irish people and the Irish diaspora.

Possibly the largest number of the photographs featured, date from the early 20th century, taken by professional photographers and those working with the National Folklore Commission, and others.

Current surfers of the Dúchas website can be tracked to locations in the USA, Australia, Canada, and the British Isles, most anxious to trace and research local history and native folklore provided, from almost every parish in Ireland.