By Stephen McKinley
103 AND STAYING SILENT
Cheers went up in Leitrim for Winnie McHugh, who caught the attention of a government official when he went to her door with a census form.
At 103, Winnie is the oldest person in Ireland to fill out a census form, having lived through three centuries, two world wars, the formation of the Irish State and much else besides.
Winnie noted that in 1918, women did not have the vote in Ireland. She still lives alone, is independent and able to get around on her own.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer, Winnie gave a keen analysis of how the election results would go in her county.
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When asked what the secret of her long life was, unlike most centenarians, Winnie said it was just that — a secret.
Her son Thomas, living in the U.S., said: “Her greatest piece of advice to us all was to always do your best, always be honest and to always do the right thing. We hope that she has many more years of healthy life ahead of her.”
There was outrage in Kerry last week after an elderly horse was attacked and had its face ripped open with a knife after dark.
The attacker left the horse, called Kitty, with a huge gaping wound down to the bone in her face that required dozens of stitches.
Kitty was known in the Killarney area because she pulled tourists in a cart, having retired some years ago. Owners Cecilia and Michael McCarthy are horrified and angry.
“We don’t know how anyone could do this to a poor animal who was living out the last few years of her life,” said Cecilia, in tears.
Kitty is recovering, and no sign of the attacker has been found.
Glasnevin Cemetery, the last resting place of Eamon de Valera and Charles Stewart Parnell, could soon have some new additions: living people.
Dublin City Council will soon vote on whether to restore the gate lodge and build 11 two-story terraced houses on one side of the cemetery.
More than 1 million people have been buried there. In contrast, Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx has only about 400,000 permanent residents.
George McCullagh explained the reasoning behind the housing project.
“Basically, we have two old gate lodges at the cemetery, opposite the Grave Diggers Pub. We had a resident caretaker who left one of them vacant, so we investigated the possibility of restoring both of them at an estimated cost of _2 million, but the council said no,” he said.
“Imagine building houses in a cemetery. Everyone is fuming about it,” said Eva Hynes of Prospect Square.
Matt Doyle of the National Graves Association also objected. “Our opinion is that the graveyard should be left undisturbed,” he said. “The people buried there were the most vulnerable in society and this would be desecrating their graves. It’s a real sign of the times — they would try to build on anything now.”
County Fermanagh’s divided loyalties were on full view, yet despite such deep divisions between loyalism and nationalism, the county remains largely peaceful.
The Impartial Reporter reported that all sides were flying their flags in Enniskillen, in a week that saw an Irish republican parade festooned with tricolors as well as former British Army soldiers marching to mark their freedom of the town.
The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Association held a march to mark the 50th anniversary of the granting of the Freedom of the Borough of Enniskillen to the regiment.
Meanwhile, Irish republicans held a commemorative march to the site of a new memorial to IRA hunger striker and former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Bobby Sands, marking the 21st anniversary of his death.
The newspaper congratulated the town for each parade passing off peacefully.
A VOTE AND A VOW
In Cavan, Sharon Sexton had a memorable day on May 17. Not only did she get to vote for the first time in the Irish general election, but after she and her two sisters voted, off she went up the aisle to marry fiance Seamus Briody, who also had not forgotten to cast his vote.
The Anglo-Celt newspaper noted that Sharon’s family are staunch Fianna Fail supporters, so there “was little doubt as to who received her number one.”
STARRING MAX KANE
Wicklow’s latest star is Max Kane, who has just finished filming his first movie.
At 4 years of age, Max was unfazed being in the presence of comic movie actor Michael Caine, or by the whole fuss of the movie industry.
According to the Wicklow People newspaper, Max was picked to appear in “Tthe Actors,” a comedy about thespians who fall foul of gangsters. Dylan Moran also stars.
Caine’s character is called O’Malley and in one scene Max plays the young O’Malley.
Max comes from an acting family, and he and his two siblings, Austin, aged 6, and Adelaide, 2, have all been extras on “Ballykissangel.”
Said his mother, Eliza Kane: “I have the children down with an agent. If they get anything and they enjoy doing it, I’m happy for them to do it.”
Up in Ballymena, Northern Ireland’s “bible belt,” Sinn Fein has said it will field a candidate for local council elections this month.
Gerard Magee, a former prisoner, will be the first Sinn Fein member to seek election in the town.
Magee, says the Ballymena Times, is an “experienced Republican activist.”
While in Long Kesh, Magee became a fluent Irish speaker and recently played a leading role in the Aisling Ghear drama “Dialann Ocrais — Diary of a Hunger Striker.”
He told the newspaper that his platform would be “a strong voice for republicans and nationalists and equality for everyone.”
Peter Brown said Magee’s candidacy was unfortunate. “We would be very disappointed if Sinn Fein received much support from Roman Catholic people in the Ballymena area,” he said.
PUP member William McCaughey said: “Since it a democratic election, all parties are entitled to stand.”