By Stephen McKinley
Donegal County could be out of pocket to the tune of £3 million this year because of — yes, you guessed, foot-and-mouth disease. Minister for Tourism and Sports Jim McDaid, at the launch of the latest Donegal tourist initiative to boost visits to the Northwest, struck a cautious note last week and noted that more than £700,000 in tourist revenue was accounted in March.
But he also told his audience that the St. Patrick’s celebrations organized for later this month could be canceled again, if the FMD situation in the North did not improve, and some key attractions in Donegal may stay closed as well.
The Tirconaill Tribune also reported that the tourist initiative will include a "fourth night free" bonus, with over 30 hotels and guest houses participating.
LARNE LINKS TO SPAIN
The County Antrim port of Larne was making new overseas ties this week — youth worker Jim Weir traveled to Spain to establish links for future cultural exchanges between Larne and Valencia and Murcia. Larne Mayor Roy Beggs gave Weir a plaque to present to his counterparts in Spain.
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And a former son of Larne was in the news in Canada, according to the Larne Advertizer. Captain John Ferguson, who was born in Islandmagee in 1920, has been appointed head of a merchant shipping fleet in Ontario. Ferguson was trained at a Belfast Nautical College and fought in the World War II. He was put in charge of 13 vessels, with an overall tonnage of 296,000 and was responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the fleet estimated to cost in the region of $28 million per annum.
O’CONNOR’S DIGS ON MARKET
The demands of the movie business have caused Waterford-born director Pat O’Connor to put his house at Kinsale Harbor up for sale and will be moving elsewhere — it is not yet known where.
O’Connor, who was behind movies such as "Dancing at Lughnasa" and "Circle of Friends," has found that his overseas work commitments make living in Ireland more and more difficult.
Born by the seaside in the village of Ardmore in 1943, he grew up in Lismore. He worked in London for a year, then took a place at the University of California in Los Angeles when he was 19. From there, he went to film school in Toronto. In the 1970s, he worked for RTE, and set many of his movies, such as "Ballroom of Romance" and "A Month in the Country," in Ireland.
His latest film, "Sweet November," with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron was shot in Hollywood. His next movie, reports the Munster Express, will be in Italy, so he’s been forced to pull up his tent pegs and move on. No doubt he won’t be a stranger, however.
CORK’S LOCAL HERO
He’s not a West Cork native, but Cormac Maguire is something of a local hero, says the Southern Star newspaper.
He brought two silver medals home from the recent Special Olympics in Anchorage, Alaska, to Ballinteer in Dublin, as well as his second home, his grandmother’s house in Whitehall, Church Cross, Skibbereen. He came second in the Giant Slalom event in Alaska, and then went on to take a second silver for Ireland — how did he feel? "Absolutely overjoyed."
Other medal winners included Warren Tate from Dublin, who won a gold and a silver medal; Lorraine Whelan, who took two silver medals, and Jacinta O’Neill, who won a single silver.
During his last visit to West Cork, Cormac’s mother told the local paper that despite having a moderate disability, Cormac is like any other working man in that he has a job, he plays five-a-side football, swims and enjoys a drink at the "local."
Of the Special Olympics, she said, "there’s no favors, no drugs, no money. It’s all about effort."