Limerick may be famous as the home of the McCourt brothers, but medical professionals say it is fast becoming associated with another name: Cholesterol County.
According to the Limerick Leader, recent statistics from the Mid-Western Health Board show that 334 deaths from Isch’mic Heart disease — the heart ailment linked to a fatty diet — were recorded in Limerick City and county during one year.
The county had 198 deaths, while the entire Midwestern region recorded 669 heart-related deaths for the same period.
According to Sheila King, the health board’s newly appointed community nutritionist, the county’s people eat too much fat, too many fries and neglect regular checks on their cholesterol.
Latest figures show that 53 percent of Irish men are overweight, with 33 percent of females registering above average, while 60 percent of males and 71 percent of females in this country eat more than the recommended amount of fat.
"It is not all bad news," King said recently. "Healthy eating is now becoming more popular throughout the city and county with 57 percent eating more fruit and vegetables. Generally we are poor fish eaters but very good potato eaters, which is not all that bad," King said.
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"One fry each week is all right,"King said, "and an average of seven eggs per week is acceptable. It is all about getting the balance right."
On a brighter note . . .
Frank and Malachy McCourt should be awarded the Freedom of the City, according to a local Limerick City Councilor Jack Bourke.
Bourke said that he knew that he was breaching city council protocol, but he believed the Limerick-born brothers should be awarded the city’s "highest honor," reports the Limerick Leader.
"I am so overawed by the immense honor the McCourt brothers have brought to the city of their birth that I am going to breach City Council protocol by stating here and now that the city should accord them our highest honor, the Freedom of the City," the councilor said.
According to Bourke, the success of the McCourt brothers has resulted in Limerick being placed at an "extraordinary" level in realms of literature.
Bovine bad boys
Northern rustlers are at it again.
With a stealthy shifting of hooves, cattle smuggling from Northern Ireland into the South has increased dramatically in the last few months, gardai said.
The Anglo-Celt newspaper reported recently that hundreds of animals have been seized over the last six months, with the latest raid taking place recently on a farm in Macroom, where officials nabbed animals smuggled in from South Armagh.
Some of the captured bovines are top quality cattle — often worth £1,000 a head — which were due to be slaughtered under the North’s BSE, or Mad Cow Disease, regulations.
Wealthy farmers are believed to be behind the money-making racket, which could have a detrimental effect on the South’s attempts to control TB and brucellosis.
Investigators believe once the animals have been smuggled across from Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Down, in particular, they are retagged with Southern ID labels and sold to farmers and meat markets in the South. Inferior cattle from the southern herds are used to replace these animals, allowing the smuggler to make about £350 profit a head.
Such is the sophistication of the smugglers that they have developed high tech methods of switching cattle ID tags. For example, when southern tags can not replace northern tags, rustlers have filled up the holes left by the old tags with silicone and animal hair glued in to form the perfect cover-up.
Hack behind bars
A Limerick journalist who sexually assaulted a teenage schoolgirl in a hotel bedroom in 1994 and 1995 has been jailed for seven years by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court judge.
Frank Hamilton, who was editor of the now closed Limerick Weekly Echo and a former senior press officer with Shannon Development, was given two consecutive sentences of three-and-a-half years, according to the Limerick Leader.
Gárdaí and customs officers found 69 child and bestiality pornographic videos in a raid on a Limerick premises, where they encountered Hamilton. He made two full statements of admission of his role in sexual activities with schoolgirls.
"In my view, he will pose a continuing threat to girls of this age," the judge said.
The teenage girl revealed that another man currently before the court had befriended her when she was aged 10 to 11 and had "groomed" her for child prostitution. He would bring her under an alias to the hotel to meet Hamilton, who would pay him £40 to £50 after each session.