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It Could Be The Final Solution To Doggy Do-Do

Back in January 2014, in an RTE exposé, the Irish columnist, playwright and scriptwriter, Fiona Looney hit the headlines, world-wide by announcing she had located a couple of dog turds on the pavements around Thurles.

Tipperary Municipal District Councillors, would-be future political hopefuls and resident politicians (currently in receipt of €89,965 basic pay; latter part of the Lansdowne Road agreement), please take note ahead of your next Council or Cabinet meeting; here is the perfect project to “get your teeth into”. 😉

The good news is that this ongoing “Doggy Doo problem” haunting the town may now have become short lived, thanks to one man, namely a Mr Brian Harper, a native of Worcestershire, in England.

Mr Harper, is experimenting with a dog turd-powered street gas light, which is currently helping to light the darkness for those descending from dog walks in the Malvern Hills; latter an outstanding area of natural beauty. Worcestershire is also the home of that delicious Lea & Perrins ‘Worcestershire sauce’.

It works like this; dog walkers in this Worcestershire area are provided with free compostable bags and encouraged to deposit their dogs do-do into a hatch which leads to an anaerobic digester positioned beside a street gas light. Dog owners are then encouraged to turn a handle five times, which in turn helps to break down the contents in the digester, thus producing methane to fuel this particular street light.

Ten standard bags of dog turds are deemed sufficient to provide up to two hours of gas light, as dog walkers return from the areas hills at dusk. It remains essential that those contributing to the digester, do not use ordinary plastic bags, but rather compostable bags, since the use of plastic would block it.

We originally produced this video, hereunder, in 2014 – nearly four years ago – did anything change or get updated in Thurles?

The English idea for this gas light was borrowed from conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta who is using dog faeces to power lampposts in a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts state in New England.

The English street gas lamp began receiving doggy doo from passing walkers back in mid-November 2017 and its presence had already resulted in a reduction of dog faeces in the area.

So what happens the left-over faeces when all the methane is depleted, I hear you ask?
This digester product can be turned into harmless garden fertiliser, to which even Fiona Looney would have no objection.

So, all you Tipperary developers, inventors, young scientists and entrepreneur; I am handing you a goldmine here, so get to work you ungrateful lot, or do I really have to do everything myself.

P.S. In particular the €4.5 Million Euro National Bio-economy Centre starting up at Lisheen Mines should take note; you know the place to which I refer, some 400 jobs were triumphantly replaced by 40 in the recent past.

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Health, Happiness & Prosperity For 2018

The poem “Auld Lang Syne” meaning “Old Times Sake” or “Days Gone By” sung hereunder by Scottish singer, songwriter and composer Dougie MacLean O.B.E., was sent, first in 1788, to the Scots Musical Museum by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. He informed the museum that he understood it to be an ancient song and disclaimed all rights to having composed the song himself; rather stating he had recorded it on paper, possibly for the first time, after an elderly acquaintance had dictated the words to him.

The song is usually performed on New Year’s Eve and encourages every person to remember those who mean most to them in their everyday lives and not fail, but to remember good friends from the past, as we move forward into yet another uncertain New Year.

Since the song is about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the past year, we here at Thurles.Info would like to thank our many readers, those who took the time to comment or to email us, together with friends and supporters of the site.

So, to all of you:-
Thank You, and it is our fervent wish that the year 2018, and future years, will bring Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity into your homes, wherever in the world you reside.

Athbhliain faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh”.  (Translated from Irish “A Prosperous New Year to you all.”)

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Arch Bar, Liberty Square, Thurles, Humming Last Christmas Eve

The Arch Bar in Liberty Square, Thurles, was humming on Christmas Eve. Present were teachers, civil servants, personnel from local shops and quite a few down from Dublin and from further afield; all returned briefly to celebrate Christmas with family and to restore past camaraderie with their once close friends.

Down in one corner of the pub were a noisy bunch of chess players, all bragging about charity games they had played earlier that week; “Very festive, Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer”, Mikey Ryan later jokingly remarked.

I myself had set a personal record this Christmas, by getting my bits of shopping completed three weeks ahead of the deadline of December 25th. With all my purchases back in the house; I was over the halfway mark in the gift wrapping stakes, when I realised my major error. Hadn’t I purchased the wrong wrapping paper from Thurles Shopping Centre, so there was no one I could blame. The paper I had purchased said, ‘Happy Birthday’.  Not wanting to waste it; I decided to just write ‘Jesus’ in a few required areas in heavy indelible red marker, on the back and front. Problem solved.

Christmas here in Thurles seemed to go reasonably well for most of our residents; well that’s if the people I consulted are to be believed.  On the other hand, when asked how things were going back home since his return to “the little woman”; Mikey Ryan refused to discuss same in detail, other than to inform me that, quote, “Marriage is a bit like a deck of cards. In the beginning it’s all about two hearts and a diamond, and by the end you wish you owned a club and a spade.” 

Mikey did have one small misunderstanding; the details of which he related to me on Christmas Eve night. From what I could gather, it seems that he went into Thurles Post Office, before Christmas, on the instructions of his wife, to buy stamps for Christmas cards.
“May I have 50 stamps”? said he to the busy female Post Office clerk.
The Post Office clerk stared, before asking, “What denominations would Sir like”?
“God help us”, said Mikey, “Didn’t I just know that when Fine Gael got into power in this country, that it would eventually come to this; give me 22 Catholic, 12 Protestant, 10 Jewish and 6 Muslim”.

So, that’s it, I have no further news; but from the Arch Bar, Mikey Ryan and myself; have a truly Happy and Prosperous New Year.

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The Rocky Roads Through Thurles

It would appear that Thurles residents spent most of the pre-Christmas period staring heavenwards. Since there were no public reports of a large bright star moving across the heavens, having suddenly appeared in the east; we must assume that their gaze was understandably drawn to our superb display of overhead Christmas lighting.

However, this heavenly distraction may have led to a failure to notice the deplorable and totally unacceptable state of our street surfaces here in Thurles, over this busy festive period.

Note: Tarmac Does Not Attach Itself Successfully To Plastic.
Last week some of our local councillors rushed to their Facebook pages, as they are wont to do, to upload details of their extreme municipal district powers; recording personal achievements regarding the improvements made to the surface of Barry’s Bridge.  Alas, imagine their disappointment when for the 4th time in just 28 days, 16-wheeler trucks, required to pass through our narrow streets, have turned all such improvements to the state of mere gravel.

A couple of questions now need answers.
(1) Would you find road surfaces akin to that found presently in Thurles; around Leinster House, Kildare St, Dublin?
(2) Would you find road surfaces akin to that found presently in Thurles, in any street in Dublin city?
(3) Is this all part of Fáilte Ireland’s attempt to attract tourism; as in “Ireland’s Ancient East.” ?
(4) In a county where elected Councillors voted to increase Local Property Tax (LPT) by 10%, why do we tolerate this neglect?

We have been informed that 13 million Euro has been allocated for works on National Primary and Secondary roads in 2018; up from 2.16 million Euro this year. Among the schemes to benefit will be the N24 through Tipperary Town including Davitt Street, where 1.5 million Euro will be spent along with works on Main Street and Fr. Matthew Street. The N74 through Golden is also earmarked for works costing over €350,000 and works will continue on the N62 at Lismackin, Roscrea.
A further 4 million is allocated for an overlay of the N24 bypass in Clonmel, while sections of both the N24 and N74 in Carrick on Suir will also benefit, together with 2.5 million Euro earmarked for the N52 in Borrisokane.

There is no mention of the Thurles bypass, initially promised some 16 year ago; so here is hoping that the early medieval Barry’s bridge, can continue to take the strain of modern heavy duty vehicles.

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“Following The Wran”

Former Wren Boy, Mr Tom Ryan, salutes the tradition of “Following the Wran”(By Poet & Author Tom Ryan.)

As St. Stephen’s Day approaches I wish to alert the nation to a problem more immediate and more serious than even Brexit. I am an easy-going gent, and I’m normally reluctant to be provoked and I’m in favour of peace and harmony. But not at all costs!  There are strict limits to my patience and tolerance and I know where to draw the line.

What has incensed and infuriated me in recent years is the sad demise of the Wren or Wran Boys and Wran Girls, so traditional in many parts of rural Ireland, including my own native county of Tipperary.

I ask myself what is this great country of ours coming to, when we stand accused in the dock of disgracefully abandoning the noble tradition of “Following the Wran”, reneging on our heritage and culture for no acceptable reason other than laziness and neglect.  Or have we become too uppish and snobbish in these days of plenty and pride, when we know the price of everything and the value of little.  Our Education system has much to answer for, if this be the case and I am thinking of getting up a petition calling on the Government to immediately, if not sooner, proclaim National Wran Day to urgently awaken the Gaelic World, including the Diaspora, to the dangers posed by selling our cultured souls to the paltry princes of so called pride, privilege and progress, whilst shamefully neglecting a glorious old tradition.

I am proud to say I have served my country in my time by practising this old tradition on St. Stephen’s Day. My first appearance as a Junior Wran Boy was in 1957 when black in the face from shoe polish and muck (no great effort required for that in those days, of course,) I dressed up in old pyjamas and peaked caubeen (an old hat) and an ould ragged shirt and I set off proudly as to war, with my plastic mouth organ (the poor man’s accordion), accompanied by my musical pal on his melodica.

We were able, of course, to play only one tune which was Friedrich Silcher’s “Muss I Denn”, (Do I Have To); music later made more famous by Elvis Presley’s song “Wooden Heart” in 1961.

But we dutifully knocked on every door and half door in our town with our little concert. To0 much acclaim, I am proud to say, and we gathered up enough pennies and half pennies for the price of the cinema, then showing a Gene Autry cowboy movie, preceded by “The Three Stooges” and a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  We had enough funds left over for a Fizz Bag, Gobstoppers and Cleeves Toffee which we purchased in the little shop on the corner on the street where I lived.

To this day I stoutly hold and maintain that it is great training for a young boy or girl to follow the Wran. It gives them a sense of appreciation that cash does not fall from the sky or Mam and Dad’s pockets all the time. But that it can be sometimes earned all by your little self while you are having craic and commotion doing it into the bargain.

I first encountered Wran boys in Fianna Road, Thurles, in the early fifties when a merry melodeon player and his fellow singers and musicians came into our kitchen and had us all soon singing popular tunes of the time such as:-  “On Top of Old Smokey”, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, “Irene, Goodnight, Irene” and other hits of the fifties. They sang and whooped and danced on the cobblestoned floor and were as merry and mirthful a company as you could ever hope to meet in a month of Sundays. They were decent people, proud to uphold their country’s ancient traditions and were rewarded with either a ‘thruppenny bit’ (a three pence coin) or a tanner (a sixpence coin) for their melodic and mirthful madness.

At first, they frightened me a little with their black polished faces and other strange attire as they carried a mock wren in a nest perched on a large bamboo stick around the streets, avenues and boreens (small roadways or lanes) of the town and district; while they sang and danced to their heart’s content. What almighty joy they bestowed on their appreciative audiences, so easily pleased in those now far off innocent days.

The perennial and mandatory favourite song of course, on La An Dreoilin (The Day of The Wren) or Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day went like this:-

“The wran, the wran, the King of all Birds,
On Stephen’s Day was caught in the Furze
Up with the kittle and down with the pan
And a penny or tuppence to bury the wran”

Such entertainment long ago usually ensured a most cordial response from the man or woman of the houses we visited, who never failed to drop at least a couple of pence (set aside for the pitch and toss) into our caps, waved in joyous anticipation under the noses of the happy people in the house.

So, let’s have an official ‘Follow the Wran Day’ to honour that immortal bird who magically, no matter how many times folks “bury” it, never fails to put in an appearance again and again on “La an Dreoilin” or St Stephen’s Day.  Sure, it wouldn’t be Christmas without our legendary feathered friend of Yuletide or Mi na Nollag.

[Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, County Tipperary. (Tel: 087 213100). Author of “Light Hearted Tales From The Watery Mall” ]

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