By Stephen McKinley
Fermanagh hosted students from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources recently, all excited to learn about Northern Ireland’s agriculture, history and culture, and tourism, for which their college uses the county as a model. They are being hosted by Enniskillen College of Agriculture.
Despite the cold the group has encountered since arriving in Ireland, Jordan Johnson told the Impartial Reporter that they have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people.
She said they have been pleasantly surprised at many aspects of life here.
Violence may seem endemic in Northern Ireland sometimes, but a local effort in Carrickfergus has managed to cool sectarian tensions in the area, especially as the province looks nervously toward another Drumcree summer.
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The Carrickfergus Civic Forum has kept Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Whitehead free of street violence during the Drumcree dispute.
Police officers and community representatives have used an innovative mobile phone system to counter rumors and disputes that could have led to riots, according to The Advertizer.
The coordinator of the project, David Wright, said, "It was felt that the Civic Forum contributed to the relatively calm conditions that have prevailed in this area over the last two years."
Members of the civic forum include assembly members, councilors, community and residents’ groups members, and representatives of the clergy, police, statutory bodies, commerce, education, youth and observers from community relations agencies.
THE DUCK FROM DUBLIN
Thirty Clongowes students are pushing a giant wooden duck from Dublin to Limerick, in order to raise around £65,000 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
This is the ninth annual duck push, and a total of £400,000 has been raised in the past. Clongowes has raised enough money for the hospital to buy vital equipment such as a kidney dialysis machine, incubators, and a machine for monitoring brain activity.
"We get a terrific reaction everywhere we go," organizer Frank Kelly told the Leinster Leader. "A huge amount of preparation has gone into this; we started planning it four months ago".
This week is a culmination of all that work and the ambitious £65,000 target is in sight.
ACTOR IN THE PINK
Dark mutterings continue in Cork after newspapers reported that actor Jeremy Irons’s castle homestead had been painted pink.
One local man, a member of the McCarthy clan who originally owned Kilcoe Castle, told the Southern Star: "I don’t know if my ancestors would have gone for salmon pink. Mind you it might have been quite a practical color. Any invaders would have died laughing and it would have saved them the trouble of tipping boiling oil over them."
Another local man known for his Republican sympathies is suspicious that the color is actually a subtle shade of orange.
OFFALY WOMAN ORDAINED
Sonia Gyles, a Clara woman, was ordained into the Church of Ireland last Sunday, to the joy of her family and friends.
Rev. Gyles has been involved in the church since she was a very small child — she sang in the choir and has helped in the leadership of Diocesan Youth Summer Camps and her placements have included work with the Salvation Army and Tallaght hospital.
Among her own personal priorities are ministering to and pastoral care of people, visiting both church and non-church goers alike and being available to respond to the needs of individuals in the parish and wider communities.
She will head to Christ Church, Taney, in Dundrum as curate.
Postponed from March because of foot-and-mouth disease, National Spring Clean Month is proving particularly popular in County Clare.
The local Council kicked off the campaign with a special pick-up service for large and bulky items such as refrigerators that people want to through away.
County Manager Willie Moloney said: "I am calling on the people of Clare to help clean-up our beautiful county. I am confident that local efforts toward the National Spring Clean Campaign will be impressive.
"As part of the ‘Clare Litter Challenge’ laid down by Irish Businesses Against Litter, we are striving to rid our county of litter by the end of September this year."
The Shannon estuary as it flows into the Atlantic through County Clare is one of the world’s most important sites for bottlenose dolphins — they swim, feed, mate and give birth in this beautiful stretch of water.
The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation has held workshops this month in Kilkee, after more than 12,000 so-called "dolphin tourists" visited the area last year.
"This one-day workshop is important for the tourism industry in the Shannon region," a spokesperson said. "As more and more people come to see the dolphins they will be asking accommodation providers, hotels, publicans, tourist office staff and local residents all sorts of questions.
"Local interest in the Shannon dolphins has grown significantly and this workshop provides the opportunity for people to find out more about the dolphins, their biology, conservation and recent research."