Join Team Tracy for Dublin – Belfast Maracycle; support two great causes instead of one.
RTE Sports Presenter and Charity Champion Tracy Piggott will dust down her trusty steed, which previously took her Coast to Coast across the USA with Sean Kelly in a gruelling 25 day endurance cycle, to compete the Dublin – Belfast Maracycle on Sunday 30 June 2013 and support Co-operation Ireland and her own ‘Playing for Life’ charity.
Ireland’s leading peace building charity, Co-operation Ireland, has flung open its doors this year to companies, sporting clubs and other charities to join in its flagship cross border bike ride. It challenges them to use its famous Belfast to Dublin cycle sportive, Maracycle, to raise funds for their own causes as well as supporting the on-going hugely important reconciliation programmes for young people. To date, 14 charities and 6 companies are already recruiting teams despite the near Artic conditions at home.
Tracy has jumped at the offer and asks sporting enthusiasts, North and South, to join ‘Team Tracy’ to undertake the 108 mile cycle sportive, leaving DCU early Sunday 30 June, arriving at Queens Sport Belfast mid-afternoon, all things going well.
‘Team Tracy and the Co-operation Ireland Maracycle Challenge gave me an opportunity to get back on the bike and do something really positive for two really worthwhile causes. Over the past number of years, over 400 Irish people have given so much to help Playing for Life. Since 2005, Playing for Life has worked closely with communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia. We focus on the provision of schools, teaching and sport, which we use as a medium to help educate the young people of the community in health and social issues. This and the training of skills and trades has proved hugely beneficial to those individuals that we have worked with. Volunteers travel to Africa with us each year and really get involved with the community, whether it by coaching or teaching or just helping out generally, working together with the African people. It is a priceless investment in their future which they grasp with both hands. For the volunteers it is an opportunity to give something back, to connect on a very special level with a totally new culture,’ stated Tracy ‘there’s also still plenty of work to be done here at home to secure a sustainable and lasting peace on this island. Anything I can do to help Co-operation Ireland in its important work in bringing diverse communities together, so that they may learn to accept and respect each-others traditions, is rewarding for me personally and hugely beneficial to those involved in the charity’s innovative peace building progammes.’
This year’s Maracycle offers one and two day options of cycling as little as 40 miles or as much as 108 miles between Ireland’s two capital cities. The event avoids busy main roads as far as is possible, starting in Belfast on Saturday 29 June and after a great night in Dublin, participants have the option of finishing off or riding back North to complete the event in Belfast on Sunday 30 June. All necessary back up will be available to accommodate completion of shorter distances.
‘Individuals and companies who support charities have been finding it tough going to raise funds in the current financial climate, as have our sporting clubs, North and South. This year’s Maracycle event encourages people to take on the event and split their fundraising between Co-operation Ireland and their own favourite charity or sporting club’ stated Terry O’Neill, Head of Fundraising at Co-operation Ireland “we are doing all we can to encourage those organisations to use our Maracycle as their own fundraiser. Groups of six or more who commit to raise £100 or €120 will get 20% fee reduction and will each receive a special commemorative cycle shirt for their efforts.”
The Maracycle event was launched this week in Belfast and at the Dublin Bike Show, on line registration is now available at: www.cooperationireland.org/supportus/2013/maracycle
Co-operation Ireland originally launched the event in 1984 to address the terrible sectarian violence and political turmoil of that time and to allow the ordinary person on the street an opportunity to show their support for peace. Some 30 years later and the event remains a must do challenge for the cycling public. Co-operation Ireland hopes to attract over 1000 people to take on this year’s challenge, hopefully raising tens of thousands for many worthwhile causes.
To join Team Tracy contact Rossa O’Donnell 0035385 7306109 at Playing for Life or email
For further detail on Co-operation Ireland and the Maracycle event, contact Terry O’Neill 0044 2890 321462 or email
Louth Community Men’s Sheds
On the 14th of March 2013 in the PJ Carroll Building, DkIT.
Dr. Lucia Carragher of the Netwell Centre presented the findings from a national study of learning through community based men’s sheds in Ireland. The detailed research included surveys & interviews in 30 men’s sheds across Ireland-north & south of the border. While the emphasis of the research was mainly on the informal learning that the sheds facilitate the results provide a generous profile of the men involved shedding some light on why they participate & what they are getting out of it.
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The Leprechaun Hunting season is about to begin!
The National Leprechaun Hunt in Carlingford will be happening on Sunday 7th April 2013.
The event that has captured the nation’s imagination since the official designation of Slieve Foy Mountain in Co Louth as an EU Special Protection Area for Little People in 2010.
And the small medieval town of Carlingford has been thronged with visitors to view the only authentic leprechaun artefacts known to exist in Ireland.
Just over 20 years ago, the suit and bones of a leprechaun were found on The Slieve Foy mountain by the late, well known businessman PJ O Hare. He discovered them after hearing a faint crying and when he went to investigate, he was shocked to find the suit of a leprechaun, along with coins and bones.
This sparked the original Leprechaun Hunt which was held on the Easter Sunday of 1989, attracting 4,000 visitors to the region.
Frances Taylor Event Coordinator said: "We will have 100 ‘leprechauns’ with a total cash amount of €2000. They will be located on the side of the mountain to the right of the SPA and hope to raise a lot of money for charity. However, we ask that if people come across a real leprechaun that they will allow them to pass and not try to capture them. ‘Slieve Foy is now recognised as the home of the last leprechauns of Ireland and we know there are 236 currently living on the mountain. It is important that they are safe, happy and we do not allow them to become extinct.’
Prospecting licences will be sold on the day at €5.00 per person and registration begins at 1.00pm. Only carriers of authenticated licences will be allowed on the mountain that day.
Frances Taylor continues “I am not surprised at the reception from public and the media about this event. There are so many leprechaun enthusiasts out there who believe in what we are doing here. People feel strongly about protecting our little people, who, we must remember, are the touchstone of our heritage and folklore’.
The Gathering event is facilitated by Carlingford Adventure Centre and supported by the Gathering, IPB, Louth County Council and Failte Ireland.
For further details please log on to www.thelastleprechaunsofireland.com Tel 00 353 (0) 42 937 3646
Met Society Field Trip
Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth are coming under the radar of meteorologists as a result of the appearance of a remarkable amount of rainbows!
The area was recently visited by members of the Meteorology Society of Ireland following reports of a higher than average presence of rainbows in the picturesque north Louth area.
The already beautiful area was so enhanced by the rainbows that it brought attention to the high numbers being noticed by locals and visitors. The coloured arcs presented amazing images over Carlingford Lough and Slieve Foy mountain. Locals reckon that during 2012, there were approximately 280 rainbows, with some days recording the appearance of two on the same day and double arced rainbows, with a high volume occurring in March and September in particular.
A rainbow is a naturally occurring phenomenon which involves the way in which rays of sunlight act on drops of water ie rain. This dispersion of light is known as a rainbow and is presented as an arc of light centred in a direction which is opposite to that of the Sun in the sky. It comprises of seven colours Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
We are, unfortunately, aware that the soft Irish weather is ideal for the composition and production of rainbows. However, when compared against the rest of the north east, local weather conditions do not offer a reasonable explanation for the exceptional number of rainbows within the localised region.
Locals believe that it has something to do with the local leprechauns! Slieve Foy Mountain in Carlingford was awarded the Special Area of Protection for ‘Little People’ under the European Habitats Directive in 2008, and claims to be the habitat of the last 236 leprechauns in existence in Ireland.
Following the findings of the herpetologists, local representatives will give consideration to applying to the Guinness Book of Records to claim the record of the greatest number of rainbows in the world.
Worklink Employers Forum
The theme of building bridges between the world of work and the world of the unemployed was set by Padraic White, in his keynote speech to the 80 delegates at the Worklink Employers Forum. Through sharing his experiences gained as chair of the Northside Local Area Partnership and chair of the Employment Services Board of West Belfast & Greater Shankill, he exemplified how this linkage can be created and how engagement by employers in reaching out to assist in the employability of unemployed jobseekers, can help jobseekers cross the bridge to the world of employment. He concluded that “in my experience this is best executed through a coherent and organized structure where employers can come together, share ideas and develop employability initiatives”.
Ronan Dennedy, CEO Louth County Enterprise Board (joint sponsors); Paddy Malone, President, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Empey, Worklink founder and Michael McCabe, Louth Local Authorities Business Support Unit (joint sponsors)
Following a welcome address by Paddy Malone, President of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Empey, founder of Worklink, a new volunteer led employment support network, outlined their role in assisting jobseekers to successfully transition to full employment. Worklink provides free services to both the unemployed and employers and he asked employers to consider that by giving a jobseeker an opportunity they could also benefit their business.
Ronan Dennedy , CEO of Louth County Enterprise Board spoke of their role in job creation which ranges from the promotion of entrepreneurship in education, funding business start- ups, supporting business development through training and business development programs and fostering clusters and networks both on a local and cross border basis.
Joe McGuinness, DSP North East Divisional Manager outlined the significant changes taking place within the DSP. New Intreo Centres are focused on both employers and the unemployed. He urged employers to consider using Intreo’s recruitment and employment services and to avail of DSP grants and assistance schemes.
Derek Sheelan, Ovelle Pharmaceuticals shared their experiences of the JobBridge Internship scheme with which they have had an excellent record of converting internships to permanent jobs. He advised those present to avail of the scheme and to use Worklink’s support services to achieve this.
Lively discussion followed with many questions asked and experiences shared. The forum was chaired by Deirdre Ryan, Worklink and was sponsored by Louth County Enterprise Board and Louth Local Authorities Business Support Unit.
John Moore tribute to Dundalk
Good Day to Die Hard Director pays tribute to Dundalk in Gathering History project
- John Moore speaks of the people and town who helped him on his way to becoming Hollywood Director
He may have over $223m box office figures for ‘A Good Day to Die Hard, and is on first name terms with Hollywood’s A-listers but Dundalk director John Moore said this week that his hometown is never far from his thoughts.
Screened at the launch of the Gathering History Louth project, in the County Museum, Dundalk, John turned the camera on himself and spoke of his love for Dundalk, it’s history and one man, Tom Murphy, who inspired him to carve out a career as an Director of blockbusters such as Behind Enemy Line, The Omen, and of course the fifth instalment in Die Hard series.
“I met one of the first big influences of my life at school there, a teacher, Tom Murphy, was the school photographer.
“I remember Tom used to have a lot of equipment and I was fascinated. He taught me the basics of film cameras and how they worked and the basics of light measurement and that always stuck with me and I owe Tom a big debt of gratitude because without his patience and his brilliance as a teacher I don’t think I’d have gotten anywhere in his career.”
The segment which is now part of the www.gatheringhistory.com project devised by Jason McGee, Harry Lee and the County Museum, Dundalk also offers an insight into life growing up in Dundalk and the warm welcome assured in this, The Gathering Year.
John Moore spent his childhood years in the Cox’s Demesne area of town before moving to the Point Road, a less populated location boasting fantastic scenery. Growing up in the shadow of the Troubles did not spoil a happy childhood. He says.
“We grew up it was wild, mostly farmland. And of course the river was a huge source of fun for kids. We were constantly building makeshift boats and rafts, trying to sail off halfway round the world.
It was a great, Dundalk always has been a great place for kids. A very safe town, even though during the 70s and 80s, the shadow of the Troubles in Northern Ireland certainly fell across the town, it never divided the town and I think it always felt like a safe place to grow up and it certainly is today.
Of course, being a Gathering project, John Moore encouraged as many as possible to return to Dundalk and Louth, citing the abundance of history in one location.
“I’d certainly encourage anyone who is thinking about it to come on up and have a look at our town. It is a very historic town. I remember, even going to school in the Christian Brothers. Just on that daily trip to school you pass half a dozen historic sites.
“It’s everywhere you look. There’s old castle walls, there’s interesting sites from the Emergency, wonderful, wonderful Cuchulainn remains, it’s a very historic town. And, of course, when you go further out to the hinterland, you’ve got some incredibly, historic sites.”
The Hollywood Director insists Dundalk and County Louth has stayed in his heart. I always missed home, you know. Even in Los Angeles, I think fondly of it, try and get back as much as I can, try and support the town as much as possible and that’s why I’m urging anyone who’s listening, this year, in 2013, to try and get up to Dundalk and pay us a visit. You’ll get a very warm welcome.”
The Gathering History project has already attracted international star with Jim Corr of The Corrs hinting at a reunion of the supergroup in the near future.
Gathering History organisers Jason McGee and Harry Lee are delighted with the early success of the project.
“To speak to John Moore in Hollywood and for him to say straight away ‘anything for Dundalk’ was music to our ears. It is good to know that one of our first interviews features and is directed and edited by a Hollywood director. The fact that he uses the interview to thank people like Tom Murphy for getting him to California is heartwarming. What more could you ask for!”
County Museum, Dundalk Curator Brian Walsh said he is thrilled with John Moore’s response and contribution to the Gathering History project.
“When we began our early work on this project, John’s name came into our heads straightaway. He was in the middle of the Good Day to Die Hard press campaign at the time and we weren’t sure if we would get him. But thankfully in this day and age Dundalk is a close knit community. Less than 24 hours after asking his family about the possibility of the interview, he was e-mailing Harry about the project.
The Gathering History Project will continue throughout the Gathering Year. If you are from Co Louth, living abroad and would like to be a part of the project please contact info@gathering history.com.
John Moore’s interview and others including Jim Corr can be viewed at www.gatheringhistory.com
Dundalk Ready for St. Patrick's Day Festival
The countdown for St. Patrick’s Day has started and the streets of Dundalk will soon burst into life with the magical performances. This year’s celebration will turn into a four-day festival with a wonderful program of free entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
Local authorities and the parade committee are preparing for a significant influx of people into the town. 15,000 spectators congregated on the streets of Dundalk last year for the St Patrick’s Day parade and the 2013 festival is expected to be even bigger!
A comprehensive Entertainment Guide has been produced to make sure that everyone will find the best entertainment over St. Patrick’s weekend. Sinéad Roche, Dundalk Tourism Officer said:” The Guide highlights the abundance of live music & entertainment on offer over the festival weekend, and the commitment of local businesses to embrace festivals & events in Dundalk”
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by Ace Environmental, Longwalk Shopping Centre and National Tile was officially launched on 27th February in the Louth County Museum. The celebration will start with the St. Patrick’s Eve Concert, on Saturday 16th March in Án Tain Theatre in the Town Hall.
The parade, with the theme “Reviving Traditions,” led by the Grand Marshal Oliver Callan, will commence at 1p.m. from Patrick St. and will proceed through Clanbrassil St. and Francis St. then to Park Street and Dublin St., where it ends.
The parade will feature bands and representatives from community groups such; St.Patrick’s Scout Group, Carlingford Pipe Band, Simul Polonia Association, Go Dundalk – Smarter Travel, and many others who will be showcasing their attributes with brightly coloured floats and entries.
The day will not end with the parade alone as a full afternoon of fun and entertainment will be laid on in the Market Square to ensure the carnival atmosphere continued throughout the day.
The line-up will start at 12:30 to the sound of American Bluegrass music, expertly performed by The Down & Out Bluegrass Band. After the parade, the Dundalk Brass Band, a 30-piece local ensemble, will take to the stage. The prize-giving ceremony will be followed by the lively sounds of Paddy Mac and the Long Riders.
Colette Lanney from Dundalk Bids Office, Stage Manager for St. Patrick’s Parade said: “We are delighted to have a great selection of music to entertain the crowd who will gather at the Market Square before and after the parade. There will be a Carousel and range of Family Amusements on the Market Square. We look forward to meeting everyone on the day and celebrating our Irish traditions and heritage together.”
The St. Patrick’s Day Food & Craft Market on Earl Street will showcase local producers and craft people from the area include; homemade food, knitwear, photography, clay dough, and more.
There is also a “St. Patrick’s Treasure Trial” competition, which will see Lucky Charm Leprechauns hidden in 10 shops along the parade route. This competition will run from Monday 11th March closing on Sunday 17th St Patrick’s Day entry forms and competition rules can be found on facebook/parade.dundalk. Forms can also be found at locations around the town as well as in local primary schools.
For any further information about St. Patrick’s Day Parade please email
or telephone 042 9336343.
Youth Development Project - ECHO
Co-operation Ireland, in partnership with Youthlink are delivering a Youth Development Project- ECHO- in the CAN cluster area as part of the CAN PEACE III Partnership’s Phase II Action Plan.
PEACE III is an opportunity for communities in the Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey borough areas to build positive relations, address challenges and develop a confident and peaceful future, unhindered by sectarianism or racism.
The Phase II strategy and action plan has 4 core priorities, one of which is focused on investing in young people and families.
See PDF for more information
National Day of Action’
The ISPCC will hold its ‘National Day of Action’, calling for over 1,000 people to get out into their communities to sell the Shield Pin and help spread the message that bullying is not acceptable. In 2011 Childline received almost 11,000 calls from children in relation to bullying. The statistics show that bullying needs to be tackled. The Shield Pin is a symbol of child protection and money raised from the ‘National Day of Action’ will be used to fund a range of services dealing with bullying and the social isolation, intimidation and neglect that result from this issue.
Monaghan firm Matthews Coaches gets global standard
A county Monaghan firm has become the first passenger transport company in Britain and Ireland, and only the second in the world, to achieve the coveted new ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems standard. Matthews Coach Hire, based in Callenberg, Inniskeen, can now claim to be the cleanest passenger transport company in Ireland.
Matthews secured the major standard thanks to a five-year energy saving campaign which has seen them reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20%.
ISO 50001 is a voluntary international standard developed by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) which aims to help organisations continually reduce their energy use, and therefore their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.
Minister for Transport, Tourism, & Sport Leo Varadkar congratulated the company on its award. “Matthews Coach Hire is a pioneering transport company and I want to congratulate it on this latest success,” said Minister Varadkar.
“Last year Matthews secured a significant contract to transport athletes at the Olympic Games. It’s the only Irish transport company to employ alcolock devices in its fleet, and was the first private company to trial the Leap card. This company consistently shows leadership in transport.”
Noel Matthews, the company’s Quality and Fleet manager said: “The Government’s implementation of the EU’s Green Procurement Policy a number of years ago set us firmly on the road to energy efficiency. ISO 50001 requires us to continuously improve our energy management system, and our resulting energy performance year-on-year.”
“It also offers public procurement and licensing agencies the means to objectively measure and differentiate clean and sustainable transport operators under the Green Procurement Policy. Through continuous driver education and energy monitoring, we have reduced our fuel consumption from 33 litres per 100km to 27.23 litres per 100km (10.4mpg) over five years, which makes a huge difference across our fleet. Our CO2 and GHG are now a full 20% lower than our starting point in 2008.”
“With our emissions at just 20g of CO2 per passenger kilometre, compared to an A-labeled car at 140g/km, we can confidently say that we are Ireland’s cleanest passenger transport service. Building on a succession of energy awards and independently measured fuel savings from 2008 to 2012, Matthews completed their 50001 certification audit in November 2012.”
“We are indebted to Conor Molloy of Authentic Solutions who has been with us through every step of this process,” said Noel.
They were previously the only privately owned Irish passenger transport company to have gained an ISO 9001:2008 quality management system accreditation. Founded by Paddy and Mary Matthews in 1995, they operate a fleet of 36 vehicles in their daily commuter, tour and private hire services. They are also double National (SEAI) Energy Award winners for energy efficiency (major user) and energy awareness, thanks to their EcoDrive training, fuel management systems and safety procedures.
They are the only Irish transport company to use alcolocks and every Matthews coach and support vehicle carries one of the devices. They were also the only transport company in the State to have secured a contract at the London Olympic Games.