Miss Eibhlis Maher (International Miss Macra festival PRO), reports:-
This year (2015) celebrates the 44th anniversary of the International Miss Macra Festival. The festival is run annually by the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra na Feirme club; held over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights of the annual August Bank Holiday weekend.
(Video Music: Courtesy Richard and Linda Thompson – “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”.)
Once again this year’s festival will see young ladies travelling from all over Ireland and beyond and all converging on Co. Tipperary to compete for the honour of being crowned International Miss Macra 2015 (succeeding the much admired, 2014 winner Miss Bríd Cooney.).
History of the Miss Macra Festival
With regards to the history of this most prestigious of events, the International Miss Macra Festival is one real example of a ‘personality competition’. This festival was originally founded by Mr Paddy Heffernan, Mr Tom Horan and Mr Michael Slattery back in 1972 and has grown from strength to strength every year since conception.
In the very beginning after approaching Macra National Headquarters, the founding members received little enthusiastic support for their idea, however they were determined to succeed and decided to organise the competition ‘of their own bat’. Major success followed and by 1987, for the twenty-fifth anniversary there were thirty-two contestants, one from every county in Ireland. Also during the 1980’s the festival began to attract participation from rural youth and agricultural organisations abroad, such as the 4H clubs in America, the Scottish Young Farmers and many more.
The International Miss Macra competition is unique, due mainly to the fact that it is organised solely by a local Macra Club and not via any County Executive. The Miss Macra festival has a huge community base also, with the contestants staying with host families from around the locality for the duration of the festival period. The pinnacle point of the festival is that it is, perhaps, the best example within Macra of what a local club can achieve, demonstrating strong dedication and team-like commitment.
The local community play an important part in this festival, with many households taking on the role of a host family for each of the contestants, year after year. The tradition of the contestants staying with host families is very strong and contestants are adopted into the very heart of each host family’s home for the full duration of the festival, where a warm welcome is guaranteed. The host families are a very important part of this community based festival and Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra na Feirme club are very grateful each year for this support, generosity, commitment and loyalty.
International Miss Macra Festival Venue – Dundrum House Hotel, Tipperary
The luxurious Dundrum House Hotel(latter winner of a certificate of excellence in 2012) has once again been chosen as the prominent venue for this year’s festival. Described as an oasis in the Golden Vale; Dundrum House Hotel boasts the perfect setting for those seeking relaxation and fun. The historic, picturesque building was originally constructed in the early eighteenth century by the O’Dwyers of Kilnamanagh, as the centrepiece of their vast estate.
It is regarded worldwide as delightfully ‘Whacky’, ‘A Cult Rock & Roll Phenomenon’, ‘Weird and Wonderful’. I refer of course to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which will take place at The Source Theatre, Cathedral Street, Thurles on Saturday June 13th, starting at 9:00pm sharp.
In 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show began as a British-American musical comedy horror film, with direction by Jim Sharman and starring, amongst others, Meat Loaf as ‘Eddie’, Susan Sarandon as ‘Janet Weiss’ and Tim Curry as ‘Dr. Frank-N-Furter’.
The film quickly gained major notoriety when audiences began participating with the show at the Waverly Theatre in New York City in 1976. Audience members soon began returning frequently to cinemas, talking back to the screen and began dressing as the films numerous characters, thus spawning a multitude of similar performance groups, right across the USA and UK.
With this in mind, ticket-goers attending here at The Source are also requested to dress in their own mad costumes, together with dancing shoes and yes, rice, for throwing, will be supplied by The Source Theatre here in Thurles for this the ‘whackiest’ yet of enjoyable Tipperary theatre events.
Note: This show is being organised to support the upcoming ‘Source Summer Youth Programme’ and Tickets at €10 can be obtained from The Source Box-office, by calling in direct or by Telephoning 0504 – 90204.
The new Thurles pedestrian foot bridge which now spans the river Suir from the east bank of St Patrick’s college to the west bank, joining Emmet Street (The Watery Mall) and Thomond Road, close to the “Swinging Gates”, became a reality last Friday.
In March 2013 the former Thurles Town Council (Comhairle Baile Ceanntar Dhurlas) had announced the welcome news that it had at last negotiated the purchase of eight acres of land from St Patrick’s College for the provision of a new Thurles Town Park and foot bridge.
With this land purchased; which partially bounds the east bank of the river Suir, backing onto the more recently constructed Thurles Civic & Leisure Centre, Thurles Town Councils administrators produced a preliminary design via some excellent planning work undertaken by Malachy Walsh & Partners, latter whose proposals were later placed on public display. Following the usual tendering procedures, a large multi-disciplined group SIAC Construction were chosen for overseeing the construction of this new park and now connecting new foot bridge.
To view sideshow video hereunder in ‘High Definition’ please CLICK HERE
Some fifty to sixty interested locals delayed their lunch breaks to watch ‘east join west’ across the river Suir on Friday and for those with environmental worries, most of our local wildlife also turned up for a ‘gawk’, before moving on, unperturbed by all activities as our video above demonstrates.
The debate as to what now to call our new park and bridge continues. Those of you who take the time to read ‘Recent Comments,’ here on Thurles Information will note the many suggestions already put forward; e.g. ‘Fr James Meehan Park,’ Wilbert Houben Park,’ ‘Lady Thurles Park,’ ‘Harry Gleeson Park,’ ‘Queen Elizabeth 11 Park,’ and ‘Thurles Town Park.’
Some politically minded individuals, latter who continue to tow a lot of undiscovered and disappeared corpses behind them, believe both Park and Bridge should be named after signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. Others however believe Dublin already have stolen enough from Co Tipperary, to enhance its already burgeoning local economy.
Have you, our valued readers, any further suggestions as to possible names for this amenity and who would you like to officially open this very welcome and exciting new Thurles amenity, paid for by a 25% hike in local Commercial Rates?
Remember President Michael D. Higgins has already, so far, refused at least two invitations to visit Thurles, so he won’t be interested. With a General Elections on the way, local Tipperary Government politicians, e.g. Alan Kelly (A.K.47), Noel Coonan (ISIS defender) and Tom Hayes (The Farmers Friend), certainly won’t want this job, due to their embarrassment in failing to even create one single job in Co. Tipperary in the last four years.
With this ‘Official Opening,’ due to possibly take place this autumn, (2015), we need to have some plan of action formulated.
Carefully follow our video hereunder to discover some forgotten ‘Real Magic’. Of course Real Magic requires no ‘slight of hand’ when performed and allows for you, the Magician, to tell a story to the amazement of your attentive audience.
Click on ‘Vimeo’ (Bottom Right of this Video Clip) to view in HD.
I learned how to perform this piece of Magic many years ago, at the age of 10 years, from my local village postman, who incidentally also plied his trade as the local Barber. (For the record a haircut back then locally in 1959 cost – 1 shilling.)
The Story Told While Performing This Piece Of Real Magic.
A priest, aged 91 and a wealthy 40 year old politician were both lying on hospital trolleys in the corridor of Limerick Regional Hospital. Both men had been rushed from Thurles by ambulance. It had taken 1 hour and 15 minutes to cover the 78.9 km (49.02mls).
A brief examination of both men on arrival, (6 hours later), confirmed that both men were dying and on their very last legs.
The old priest looked across at the ashen faced, frightened politician; “You appear to be afraid to meet your maker, are you not”, he stated in a weak but caring voice.
“I am afraid that I am, Father”, said the politician, “I must confess to you that I wasn’t expecting to be called so soon. As a Tipperary politician I misappropriated my expenses, and spent most of my time swilling back brandy in the Dáil Bar. I lied, I cut the incomes of vulnerable constituents who voted for me and every promise I made before entering office, I failed to deliver on. Do you think God and St Peter will send me straight to Hell, Father”?
“God is usually very forgiving of sinners,” said the weak old priest, “but listen here I have here a ‘Ticket for Heaven’. Now if you can get hold of a scissors, I will give you two thirds of my ticket, to assist your passage into God’s house of many mansions. I, myself, have always attempted to do God’s will in this life and sure I don’t think I am going to need the Ticket for myself “, he continued.
Attracting the attention of a busy nurse nearby, the feeble old priest passed her the ‘Ticket for Heaven’ instructing her to cut it into three pieces with her scissors. Having cut the ticket into 3 pieces, she gave 2 pieces to the politician and returned 1 piece to the Priest, as she was instructed.
Sure look here, the rest of the story you can work out for yourself, when you grab a scissors and make your ticket.
A ‘Census’ is a procedure for systematically recording information about any given population; while providing all governing bodies with a comprehensive pictures of the social and living conditions of its people. This in turn provides vital information necessary for all future planning. Here in Ireland, in more recent years, our Census is usually taken in any year which ends in 1 or 6. The last Census undertaken was 2011 with 2016 expected to be the next such event.
A Census however must also take into account the current prevailing issues being experienced by any country; issues such as war for example or other unplanned catastrophes, e.g. the census in Ireland planned for April 2001 was postponed until 2002, due to the then prevailing ‘Foot and Mouth’ epidemic.
Ireland has been conducting a census of its population since 1821. The first major census, using a household form, was the ‘Great Census of 1841′ and same was taken every 10 years prior to the year 1951, after which time they were undertaken at five yearly intervals.
It is of course necessary that the fieldwork involved in a such an operation be completed over a relatively short period of time and provide the essential tools to implement effective future policy, planning and decision making, e.g. supporting our Health Care needs through our Health Boards, our Regional Authorities, our Schools, our Heritage, our Migration Patterns, our required necessary New Development and most importantly identifying Employment Needs.
Same fieldwork undertaken should automatically indicate the number of births and deaths that have occurred. Indeed Article 16.2 of the Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) lays down that the total membership of Dáil Éireann depends on the population as measured by a census (i.e. 1 TD per 20,000 to 30,000 persons).
Like most parishes in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, the population of Thurles declined catastrophically in the decades during and following the Great Famine. This drop in the famine decade 1841-1851 (shown in graph above) is actually steeper than that indicated, as some 2,761 (over 23%) of the population of Thurles in 1851 remained inmates of the Thurles Workhouse (Hospital of the Assumption) and many of these inmates ordinarily would not have been naturalised Thurles residents.
Unlike most of the rural parishes in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, the decline in population here in Thurles was reversed prior to 1936, due largely to the increase in employment brought by the Thurles Sugar Factory in 1934. However the Irish Sugar Company, which had already closed the sugar factory at Tuam, in Co. Galway, was to turn its attention on the factory here at Thurles; closing it completely in 1989.
The closure of Thurles Sugar Factory in 1989, then one of the largest employers in Thurles, was to now instigate a continuous downward spiral with regard to employment, which in turn would spell the death knell to other smaller retailers also within the town. Add to this now downward employment spiral, one textile factory (Phoenix Yarns), two bakeries (Sweeney’s in Mitchel Street and Crotty’s in Friar Street), the Premier Foods take over and immediate closure of Erin Foods. Continue to add to this the loss of the Jobst Medical Products factory, the GMX Moulinex factory (Electronic Engineers Electrical Components Manufacturer). With these factory’s now closed Transport Companies wholly dependent on formers business were quickly soon to follow.
The above video was taken two years ago, but little if anything has changed from a Thurles employment perspective.
In opposition government during November 2007, Fine Gael Deputy Noel Coonan expressed grave concerns about these confirmed closures declaring, “This latest news (Erin Foods closure) has sent shock waves through the area. The present Government has failed the people of Thurles and at the eleventh hour made no effort to intervene and reverse this decision. Government policies are having a devastating effect on rural constituencies like Tipperary North. A total review of Government policy is urgently required”, he stated.
Also in opposition during November 2007, Labour’s then Senator Alan Kelly stated, “Thurles has taken a severe hit over the last number of years since the closure of the Sugar Factory. It is now clear that we need direct Government intervention to address this problem and to safeguard the economic future of Thurles. It is fair to say that the manufacturing sector has been decimated in Thurles.” he stated.
Both above named politicians, Deputy Coonan and the now new Minister Alan Kelly, while now in government for the last 4 years, have done absolutely nothing to improve employment here in Thurles.
This is 2015 and last Friday night Fine Gael selected outgoing Deputy Noel Coonan, to contest the 2016 General Election, in our new five-seat constituency of Tipperary. Deputy Coonan together with Minister of State Tom Hayes were both chosen, without a contest, at a selection convention in the Anner Hotel, Thurles, chaired by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
No doubt Labours Minister Kelly will also be selected to contest this same 2016 General Election and thus my simple question is this; “With an estimated almost 600,000 people having been forced to emigrate from Ireland and Tipperary in recent years, in search of work; will the Tipperary electorate continue to vote for “more of the same neglect” at the ballot box, come the next General Election?”
Lest we forget that while employment rates may have risen in the eastern half the country over the first three months of 2015, five areas in Ireland including the Midland and Western regions recorded an increase in the rate of unemployment for this very same period.
Current Government Ministers maybe jubilant over claims they have finally broken below the psychological 10% unemployment barrier nationally, but the figures, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), demonstrate that the task faced by this Government, to spread the effects of economic recovery evenly across our land, have not yet materialised here in Co. Tipperary.
Thurles needs new, fresh, imaginative political leadership.