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Mid-West Region’s Premier Live Entertainment & Cultural Venue Celebrates 30 years On Friday.

The Mid-West Region’s premier live entertainment and cultural venue, University Concert Hall (UCH) celebrates its 30th anniversary on Friday evening next, September 29th, with a performance by one of Ireland’s most prestigious orchestras.

University Concert Hall, Limerick.

Conducted by Joshua Gersen, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will be accompanied by world-renowned pianist John O’Conor, who was one of the first musicians to perform at UCH.

UCH became the first purpose-built concert hall in Ireland when it was officially opened on the University of Limerick campus in September 1993 by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds T.D. and U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.

The 1,038-seat auditorium has since attracted performances from some of the biggest names in entertainment including Johnny Cash and June Carter, James Taylor, Billy Connolly, Leslie Garrett, Van Morrison, The King’s Singers, Albert Hammond, Jimmy Carr, Sir James Galway, Christy Moore and the late Sinead O’Connor.

Ms Judith Woodworth, Chairperson of the UCH Board, said this Friday’s concert is a milestone moment in the venue’s history.

She continued, “We are immensely proud of our role in adding breadth and depth to the cultural life of the Mid-West, and our ongoing work to reflect and promote the longstanding artistic ethos of the University of Limerick by offering a wide range of cultural events and experiences.”

UCH Director Ms Sinead Hope said, “Attracting some of the world’s leading singer songwriters, standup comedians, pantomimes and classical performers to the Mid-West has had a hugely positive impact on the Region’s arts and entertainment sector, as well as the local economy.”

For more information see HERE.


Traditional Harvest Day Makes Long Awaited Return To Bunratty.

Co. Tipperary lovers of history take note.

Ireland’s agricultural heritage and the Fair Days of the 19th century will be brought to life when ‘Traditional Harvest Day’ returns for the first time since 2017 to Bunratty Folk Park on Sunday next September 17th.

Traditional threshing machine at work.

Rural Irish life and traditions from over a century ago will be showcased as part of the family day out, which will feature a display of vintage machinery and tractors, craft demonstrations, and dancers, musicians and performers from across the Banner County. (Co. Clare)

A traditional threshing machine will be put to work giving visitors an insight into how neighbours and friends once gathered during the harvest in the spirit of meitheal [Latter Irish word meaning ‘Group‘]. Enthusiasts will be on hand to speak about the evolution of the vintage farm machinery on display on the day, including tractors, and stationary engines. Visitors will also view a range of various ploughs, hay rakes, Root Cutter (Pulper), Turnip and a Mangel Seeder.

The public will be able to witness local craftspeople at work, including Michael Foudy, as he carries on the time-honoured tradition of basket making, Blacksmith Ger Treacy, Elizabeth O’Connor and Geraldine O’Sullivan who will demonstrating the ancient craft of wool spinning, using locally sourced wool, a practice first introduced by Neolithic farmers over 6000 years ago. Bunratty’s ‘Bean an Tí’s’ also will be on hand throughout the day to demonstrate the art of bread and butter making and with tasting opportunities for those who pay a visit to the Golden Vale and Loop Head Farmhouses.

As well as so much to see throughout the 26-acre site, there will be entertainment from Sean Nós Singer MacDara Ó Conaola, the Mary Liddy School of Music from Newmarket on Fergus, the Helen Hehir School of Dance, and resident musicians James Anglim and Michael Grogan, while resident Seanchaí Mike ‘Mickey Joe’ Flynn will regale stories of tales of bygone days and traditional ways from Corry’s Pub on the Village Street. At the Old Schoolhouse, located in the Village Street, the school master will be on duty to greet children and adults as they hand over their customary sod of turf for the tiny school room fire.

A range of native Irish and Heritage Breeds of animals will be located throughout the Folk Park paddocks on the day, including Irish Red Deer, Peacocks, Highland Cattle, Tamworth Pigs, goats, geese, bronze turkeys and the recently arrived Irish Wolfhounds Míde and Rian.

Ms Marie Brennan, (Events Manager at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park), commented, “We are delighted to bring back this event after a six-year hiatus and to give everyone, both young and old, a flavour of what life would have been like in Ireland during harvest time at the turn of the 19th century.
The essence of a Harvest Day was bringing communities together, to support, celebrate and toast the end of a good season,” she explained. “Threshing was backbreaking work, which started early in the mornings and continued until the end of the day with neighbours and friends, all gathering to help out. The machine, and all the activity about it, had a special attraction for children. Its moving belts, the noise from inside and the way it put out straw and oats, was as intriguing back then as the latest computer game is today.
We are looking forward to providing a true glimpse of life in rural 19th century Ireland and celebrating the immense sense of community and hospitality that existed during harvest time. Throughout the Folk Park, for example, there will be plenty of activities available to visitors just like during the fairs of old” added Ms. Brennan.

Visit www.bunrattycastle.ie for more on the Traditional Harvest Day. Normal admission rates apply.


E’er A Swap? – Short Story By Tom Ryan

E’er a swap now, before you go way? ©

I doubt that the majority of kids swap comics any-more? It is a pity if they don’t, as it was certainly, in the past, one of the most marvellous of pastimes.

In my childhood days by the ‘Watery Mall’ [Robert Emmett Street], in Thurles, one of the most common questions on the lips of my buddies in short trousers, whether in high summer out in Lady’s Well by the river or on wet and wintry Sundays in the Capitol or Delahunty’s cinema, was: “E’er a swap?”
It was a mighty question to which there were all sorts of answers. And one had to be as cute and foxy as a journalist, to be a success in the field, otherwise, one could fall victim to the slashing capitalism of children.

There were many categories of comics to enthral us in those pre-television days – 68 pagers, classics, funnies like the Beano and Dandy, and Film Fun, or 64 pages of wartime (Donner und Blitzen – thunder and lightning) or cowboy adventures.
Some boys, in their desperation to do a ‘dale’ (deal), would have with them on the swop, girls comics like the ‘School Friend’ in the hope that maybe if they threw in a few of them for the buyer’s sister they would dispose of a 68 pager without having to throw in a Classic.
Oh, it was a deadly serious business and many boys had fine libraries to be envied, by any boy, anywhere.

The comics were our escape from the dreary world of school in much the same way as going to the cinema to see cartoons like Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny or serials like Flash Gordon, latter space hero of the universe.

And the reason for swapping, apart from our obvious delight in comic yarns, was simply because money was scarce in hard times. We most certainly could not have our Roy of the Rovers, the Marvel, the Lion, and Dandy et al in the same fiscal week. Though an exception was made if you were in bed sick or on your birthday; an rud is annamh is iontach (Translated from Irish ‘The rarest and most wonderful thing’).

So, quite unconsciously we formed a co-operative comics movement, long before the Credit Union concept made its very welcome debut in town. We noted what parts of the town were best for swapping comics, the names of all boys who bought comics and where they lived and what comics they bought and what days they effected such purchases and how long they might take to read them. These and many other comic-pertinent details would be remembered in meticulous manner, though we might not get one arithmetic sum right in our school exercise copies.

If you did a swap and received a new-looking comic, you upped its value, kept it clean (hard job, that!) and smooth. And so, you had an immensely desirable swapping item after reading it.
And how we loved to go up to Duggans Newsagents when the comics were coming in and asking how much the annuals would be at Christmas if ‘Santy’ (Santa Claus) did not in every sense present himself to us.

It was a magical and adventurous journey around town from the Watery Mall to the Derheen or Loughtagalla, in search of a swap.

No miner ever set off to the Klondyke, with such fervour or fever, as did the comics -swappers of Thurles long ago. We had a sense of purpose and the entrepreneurial flair of a Wall Street Broker, matched by the cuteness of a politician. Comic swapping was primarily a winter past time especially in the months when ‘Conker-playing’ with Chestnuts (genus Castanea) had lost its fascination and Christmas and ‘Santy’ was still a million years away to a boy or girl.

In the summer we would be busier with catching tadpoles and eels and pike and hurling, hurling and more hurling. So, when the new school term commenced after the all-Ireland senior hurling final on the first Sunday of September, we boys went from door to door with our little bundles of comics under our arms, hopeful of a few swaps to shorten the hours and to while away the time, in the long winter nights after the ekkers (school exercises) were finished.

And just as television is today blamed for bad exercises and bad examination results, so too blame then was apportioned for ‘reading them ould comics’. Though my own people always encouraged me to read them. In truth, children should have been praised for reading anything at all to enhance their literary status and advance their progress in the wonderful world of letters.

Indeed, so great was the desire for a swap some of us risked having our hands reddened with a leather strap by the Master for swapping comics under the school benches.
Very often the status of a boy at school was proportionate to the number of comics he had amassed.
I myself had built up my own little library but to do so I had to swap away some of my prized trains and tracks and Lion Annuals which I had received from ‘Santy’ for Christmas.
All of my Holy Communion and Confirmation money went on comics and I have seldom valued it more or received better value since.

“E’er a swap now before you go way?”

Tom Ryan, ”Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


Later Pub & Club Closing Times Not Before Summer 2024

An Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar has stated that next summer is possibly a more realistic timeline for the implementation of expected new licensing laws, which are expected to see later official closing times.

The Government is currently studying the renewal and updating of our antiquated licensing laws to allow both pubs and clubs to open later.

Some of the current licensing laws are more than 200 years old and two-thirds of same currently pre-date the foundation of the Irish State.

Legislative changes were originally believed to become enacted this year, but now next summer is viewed to be a more realistic timeline for this new system to be introduced.

In October 2022, Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee received Cabinet approval for her draft Bill to reform Ireland’s antiquated licensing system.

Then, as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, had stated he believed the reforms, that Minister McEntee was proposing, would be good for hospitality businesses and would boost the wider economy, while generating employment. It would also give people and performers more autonomy about how, when and where they would socialise.

In a press release; Mr Varadkar further stated, “Our nightlife does not compare favourably with that of other European countries, when it should be as good as anywhere in Europe. Rural pubs are closing, as have many nightclubs in urban areas, while the number of off-licences is increasing. It is not all about alcohol and should not be, but is part of the picture. It’s about cutting red tape and streamlining regulation. These reforms should be seen in the wider context of the government’s efforts to improve the cultural and entertainment offerings in our towns, cities and rural areas.”

In late January of this year, 2023, an Oireachtas committee heard that the Government’s plan for an overhaul of Ireland’s licensing laws was largely positive, with concerns raised with regard to licensing costs for night clubs and the removal of obstacles to the opening of pubs.

Under then proposed legislation, pubs and nightclubs would be permitted to apply for extended opening hours annually, rather than applying for a special exemption order for each night they would want to open late. Trading hours would be extended to allow nightclubs stay open until 6:00am and pubs allowed to remain open until 12:30am, seven days a week.


New Public Seating On Suir River Walkway.

A welcome Thurles Town upgrade.

This Summer (Deo volente) we can look forward to a more leisurely saunter and “Dwell Awhile”, [as is our new town tourist motto], beside the River Suir here in Thurles.

Regular walkers on the 150 metre stretch, directly behind the new Lidl Supermarket, will have noted the erection of cement bases over the past few weeks.
These bases were introduced to accommodate the new public seating recently erected.
This welcome new seating has been kindly sponsored by some local businesses, i.e., Dew Valley Foods (2 seats), Sherry Fitzgerald Gleeson (1 seat) and Seamus & Peg Hanafin (1 seat).

Sadly, as yet no bases have been erected to accommodate a couple of litter bins.
Evidence of the future results of this negligence can be observed in the picture, shown on right, above.

Hopefully some businesses may now offer to sponsor litter bins.