TOUGH TALKS ON AGRICULTURE

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

It’s that time of year again when the agricultural community shows off its best livestock and produce. One of the best known shows in the country is held annually at Virginia in County Cavan, beside the shores of Lough Ramor. This year’s event will be on Wednesday 21st August, four days after the Tydavnet show in North Monaghan. The Virginia Show has like many others several competitions in the different classes. But there is one cup in particular which the dairy farmers are interested in, the Baileys Champion Cow, now in its 30th year. More about that on another occasion.

The launch of this year’s event was at the Diageo Bailey’s global production plant at Clondalkin in Dublin. Mr Hayes spoke at a lunch with representatives from the company, the show and members (including myself) of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. The recently appointed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture (with responsibility for Forestry, Horticulture, the Greyhound Industry and Food Safety) is from Golden in County Tipperary and is a beef farmer, so he has a good knowledge of the agri-food sector.

The Minister praised the wonderful work and commitment of the various show committees who give their services to the community every year on a voluntary basis.  The Minister said the past few months with the fodder shortage had been difficult for farmers. But he was hopeful that with the sun appearing, things would improve over the summer. He referred to the important negotiations due to be held in Brussels next week on the future of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. He said he would be joining his colleague the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney who will be chairing the talks. He said the Irish Presidency (which runs until the end of this month) had brought the negotiations a long way. He was hopeful they could bring the CAP talks through to a conclusion, but it was a difficult task because there are now 27 EU member states at the negotiating table. It was going to be a tough week, he said, but he was looking to see the finalisation of the process by Tuesday evening or Wednesday, or as was more likely to be the case, by early on Thursday morning as these discussions had a habit of going down to the wire.

Minister of State Tom Hates TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

In a week which has seen a controversy over sponsorship of sports by the drinks industry, the Minister commended Diageo for what he said was a very good sponsorship of the Bailey’s Cow. Diageo’s head of Irish operations David Smith spoke about the company’s plans for the future and said they were still committed to Ireland. On Monday the company, which also owns Guinness, denied it would scale down its plants in Ireland if drink companies were banned from advertising at big sporting events. Mr Smith referred to the investment of nearly €160m in what he said would be the most advanced brewery in the world at St James’s Gate in Dublin. The new Guinness brewery is under construction giving employment to 900 workers and is due to be fully operational next year. He also pointed to their investment of €3m at its Smithwick’s visitor centre in Kilkenny, recently announced.

WILLIAM CARLETON SUMMER SCHOOL

William Carleton Society committee members at Irish Writers' Centre, Dublin

William Carleton Society committee members at Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin

Launch of the William Carleton summer school programme 2013

The William Carleton Society made another trip to Dublin this evening for the launch of the programme for the 22nd William Carleton international summer school. The line-up this year is broader than before, with a number of events in Monaghan and Emyvale before the start of the school itself on Monday 5th August at Corick House in Clogher.

Maurice Harmon and summer school director Michael Fisher

Maurice Harmon and summer school director Michael Fisher

Our patron Maurice Harmon read four of his poems and the President of the William Carleton Society, Jack Johnston from Clogher, revealed details of his recent research on Carleton’s addresses in Dublin, where the famous 19thC author spent most of his life, although he was born near Clogher in 1794 and was a Tyrone man!

William Carleton Society President Jack Johnston talking about Carleton

William Carleton Society President Jack Johnston talking about Carleton

Committee member Patricia Cavanagh from Tydavnet gave more details of her late father Terence O’Gorman’s book, which she has compiles from his poems and stories, “Memories Amidst the Drumlins: Cavan and Monaghan”. The book will be launched at the Four Seasons Hotel at 6pm on Friday 2nd August.

Patricia Cavanagh, Tydavnet, at William Carleton summer school launch

Patricia Cavanagh, Tydavnet, at William Carleton summer school launch

WILLIAM CARLETON INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL 2013

Friday 2nd August    

Four Seasons Hotel, Coolshannagh, MONAGHAN    CONFERENCE:        CARLETON, KAVANAGH & GAVAN DUFFY

10:30am registration FREE ADMISSION            Tea/coffee

11am  Professor Thomas O’Grady (Boston/Prince Edward Island) on his poetry and Patrick Kavanagh

12 noon  Art Agnew (Inniskeen) on Patrick Kavanagh

Lunch Break

2:30pm Charles Gavan Duffy: Journalist and Patriot:  Brendan O Cathaoir (ex Irish Times) and Aidan Walsh (former curator, Monaghan County Museum)

3:30pm  Break

3:40pm  Mary O’Donnell (Monaghan poet and author)

4:45pm  Shemus cartoons in The Freeman’s Journal: Felix M. Larkin

6:00pm Reception and Book Launch:

Memories Amidst the Drumlins: Cavan & Monaghan: Terence O’Gorman poems and stories

 Saturday 3rd August

11am meeting at Monaghan museum, Hill Street.

Walking tour of Monaghan town with Grace Moloney, Clogher Historical Society, & Theresa Loftus, Monaghan Museum. FREE.

Lunch afterwards at pub with traditional music.

 Sunday 4th August  

4:00pm Assemble at Emyvale Leisure Centre (refreshments) or Edenmore school.

4:30pm walk to Blue Bridge, Emyvale

5:00pm to 6:00pm

Carleton commemoration at the Blue Bridge Emyvale and new plaque unveiled

6:30 Gather at Emyvale Leisure Centre

7:00pm Fair of Emyvale reading at Emyvale Leisure Centre. FREE. All Welcome.

8:00pm Refreshments.

***All Monaghan events are part funded by the EU’s ERDF through the Peace III programme financed through Monaghan Peace III Partnership***

Monday 5th August

Corick House Hotel,  Corick, CLOGHER, Co. Tyrone  BT76 0BZ

10am Registration, tea and coffee

11am Photocall

11:30am   Opening by Mayor of Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council

11:40am   Summer School Honorary Director:

Prof. Owen Dudley Edwards on “Carleton, Otway and Irish Literature”

1pm Lunch

2:30pm Keynote address Professor Thomas O’Grady, Boston

The Geography of the Imagination: Carleton’s “The Donagh”

3:30pm Tea/coffee break & bookstall

3:45pm Author Gerry McCullough (“Belfast Girls”) & Raymond McCullough

(singer & songwriter)

4:45pm  Broadcaster & commentator Tom McGurk in conversation with Aidan Fee:  “Northern Ireland: past and present”

6pm Close of session

 Tuesday 6th August                                           

09:30am registration  Tea/coffee

10:15am Language in the Clogher Valley of 19th Century. Irish: Dr Ciaran Mac Murchaidh, St Patrick’s Drumcondra.  Ulster Scots: Dr Ian Adamson

11:50am break

12:00 noon  President of the William Carleton Society, Jack Johnston:

“Augher: from landlord, Sir Thomas Ridgeway to George Duffy, the Miller”

12:45pm lunch

2:15pm  Josephine Treanor tells the story of her relative, mentioned by Carleton:

“Anne Duffy, the Miller’s daughter from Augher”

3:00pm  Break

3:15pm Focus on modern Irish writing: Ciaran Collins (“The Gamal”) + Patricia Craig (“Twisted Root”) + Anthony Quinn (“Disappeared”) + Tony Bailie (“A Verse to Murder”)

4:15pm Tea/coffee break

4:30pm Seminar continues & discussion to close of session 6:00pm.

Wednesday 7th August     

09:30am registration tea/coffee

10:00am Dealing with the past: Professor Jon Tonge (Liverpool)

Discussion: Alex Kane and Dr Margaret O’Callaghan (QUB), chair John Gray

11:45am Break

12:00pm  Former politician and commentator Mary O’Rourke on how differences can be accommodated

1:00pm  Lunch

2:30pm Poet Siobhan Campbell MA on writing about the past

3:30pm  Tea/coffee Break

3:45pm Patrick Scully extracts from one man show on Edward Carson

4:30pm Writer & author Mary Kenny (Edward Carson: Dubliner, Unionist, Irishman)

6:00pm Close of summer school

Thursday 8th August

Coach tour in Co.Fermanagh by Frank McHugh & Gordon Brand with particular reference to Shan Bullock: “The Loughsiders”, based around Crom estate. Booking required: for more details contact Frank McHugh e: f.mchugh4@btinternet.com

Cost: £30 including meals

Evening Events: (supported by Shared History, Shared Future Project funded by South West Peace III partnership )

Monday 5th August

Traditional Music session with female Irish traditional group Síoda &

singer Seosaimhin Ni Bheaglaoich,   Rathmore Bar, Main St Clogher 8pm

Tuesday 6th August

Walk on the Carleton Trail with the Clogher Valley Ramblers.  7:00pm

Bagpipers & traditional Music with the McKenna family (Clogher) at Somers Cafe, Fardross (off A4 road)  8:30pm   Free admission

Wednesday 7th August

Concert at Fivemiletown Wesleyan Hall 8pm

Murley Silver Band and Monaghan Gospel Choir: Special Guest Gloria  Admission Free.

More information at: www.williamcarletonsociety.org

e: wcarletonsociety@gmail.com

Costs:-
Daily: £40/€47 including lunch and tea/coffee break;
concession £33/€35 (saving of €3)
Morning:  £13/€15 or one session £7/€8   including tea/coffee;
concession £10/€12  or one session  £4/€5
Afternoon: £16/€20 or one session £8/€10 including tea/coffee;
concession £12/€14  or one session  £4/€5
Lunch £11/€13  

Tour Thursday including meal: £30/€35
Season ticket 4 days £150/€175 or concession £130/€140 (saving of €10)

Accommodation:

Dinner, B&B Packages at Corick House Hotel, Clogher:

3B&B plus 2 Evening Meals@ £170pps (double/twin occupancy)

3B&B plus 2 Evening Meals @ £220 (single occupancy)

2B&B plus 2 Evening Meals @ £140pps (double occupancy)

2B&B plus 2 Evening Meals @ £180 (single occupancy)

Double Room Rates B& B only

1 night £55pps

2 nights £50pps

3 nights or more £45pps

Single Rate B&B only

1 night B&B £70

2 nights or more B&B £65 per night

Accommodation also available at Glenvar guest house, 111 Tullyvar Road, Aughnacloy BT69 6BL

GEEL GROUP DEPARTS

Geel group ready for departure from Tydavnet

Geel group ready for departure from Tydavnet

Gift from Geel to Tydavnet: statue of St Dympna

Gift from Geel to Tydavnet: statue of St Dympna

 They came here as part of The Gathering. A group of fourteen visitors from Geel led by Mayor Vera Celis has returned to Belgium following a five day stay in Tydavnet, County Monaghan, with which the town in Flanders is twinned. The common connection is St Dympna, whose story is reflected in both areas.

Geel Mayor Vera Celis & Cllr Nadine Laeremans collect water from St Dympna's Well, Tydavnet Photo: © Patricia Cavanagh

Geel Mayor Vera Celis & Cllr Nadine Laeremans collect water from St Dympna’s Well, Tydavnet Photo: © Patricia Cavanagh

The well of St Dympna at Culdavnet has had access restored and the visitors went there to collect some of the water. The Mayor of Geel Vera Celis also planted a tree at the former national school at Cornagilta, which the local community hopes to open as a heritage centre.

The group also visited the mens’ shed project in Monaghan town and were given a tour of the new educational complex on the site of the former military barracks, as well as a tour of the new Garage Theatre. It was an interesting programme put together by the hard-working local committee of volunteers in Tydavnet, with the support of Monaghan County Council. On Sunday morning the visitors attended the 10am Mass at St Dympna’s church in Tydavnet and they were brought afterwards to the community centre for refreshments.

Geel Mayor Vera Celis planting tree at Cornagilta school Photo: © Paudge Connolly

Geel Mayor Vera Celis planting tree at Cornagilta school Photo: © Paudge Connolly

The visitors stayed with local families and in return, visitors from Tydavnet are hosted by local people when they travel to Geel. An invitation was made by Vera Celis and Councillor Nadine Laeremans for the Tydavnet group to travel to Geel in May 2015 when the next St Dympna pageant (“Omegang”) will take place, a celebration held every five years.

Before they departed, Mayor Vera Celis presented Marie McAree representing the Tydavnet group with a gift: a statue of St Dympna from Geel. A suitable place must now be found to display it, perhaps in the chapel.

Flag of Geel

Flag of Geel

G8 PROTEST ENNISKILLEN

IRSP protestors at G8 security cordon

IRSP protestors at G8 security cordon

So after all the hype about demonstrators converging on Enniskillen. the protest against the G8 summit taking place at the Lough Erne resort outside Enniskillen passed off without major incident. The crowd was nothing like the 3000 forecast, although up to 2000 (a conservative estimate on my part) had marched through the town centre before proceeding the two miles or so out to the steel barrier fence which had been erected to prevent unauthorised access to the summit. By then the numbers had dwindled to less than 1000.

Police lined the route of the G8 protest march

Police lined the route of the G8 protest march

Anti-G8 Protestors: telling the leaders they are not welcome in Fermanagh

Anti-G8 Protestors: telling the leaders they are not welcome in Fermanagh

At the end of the rally at the police outer cordon, a small number of protesters briefly crossed the outer wire perimeter but were warned not to proceed any further by a string of riot police who had assembled beyond the hedge in the next field.

It probably did not disturb the G8 leaders from the United States (President Barack Obama), UK (Prime Minister David Cameron), France (President François Hollande), Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel), Italy (Prime Minister Enrico Letta), Japan (Prime Minister Shinzō Abe), Russia (President Vladimir Putin) and Canada (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) are taking part in the summit and they were joined this afternoon by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Chair of the Irish Presidency of the European Council, due to end shortly.

Groups protesting against fracking in Fermanagh and the border counties, tax evasion and world hunger took part in a mainly good-natured six-mile G8 Not Welcome march. Dozens of onlookers stood in shop fronts and at doors in the town centre as the demonstrators passed by. A number of republican groups took part including the IRSP, Éirígí and the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association. This latter group paraded past the war memorial, where eleven people were killed in an IRA bomb in November 1987, carrying tricolours and shouting slogans including “Brits out, Brits out now”. The same happened as they walked past the courthouse on East Bridge Street. A complete contrast to the dignity shown when Enda Kenny laid a laurel wreath on Remembrance Sunday last year and former Irish soldiers including a colour party with the Irish flag from the ONE Tanagh branch in Co.Monaghan joined members of the Royal British Legion in a parade after a service at St Macartin’s Cathedral.

IRPWA protestors pass Enniskillen courthouse: their placards called for the release of Martin Corey and an end to "selective internment"

IRPWA protestors at Enniskillen courthouse: their placards called for release of Martin Corey and an end to “selective internment”

Trade unionists were among those who walked the three miles around the town and then out the Belleek road. I bumped into (literally!) Mary Cahillane from the Socialist Party. I walked for a time alongside my #NUJ colleagues from the Derry and North West branch, among them Anton McCabe (Secretary), Darach McDonald who has some great pictures on his Frontier Post blog and Eamonn McCann from Derry, who was one of the speakers at the rally. Dublin photographer Paula Geraghty was busy working on a video.

NUJ Derry & North West Branch taking part in protest

NUJ Derry & North West Branch taking part in protest

Richard Boyd Barrett TD addresses rally

Richard Boyd Barrett TD addresses rally

Jimmy Kelly, UNITE

Jimmy Kelly, UNITE

Other participants and speakers included the Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly, People before Profit TD from Dún Laoghaire, Richard Boyd-Barrett, Socialist Party TD for Dublin West Joe Higgins and a local anti-fracking campaigner Claire Falconer, an artist.

eJoe Higins TD on the march

eJoe Higins TD on the march

YORK RAILWAY MUSEUM

Mallard at NRM York

Mallard at NRM York

Saw Mallard at the National Railway Museum in York. A steam engine I remember from my youth, though its record-breaking run was in 1938. On 3rd July 1938, the A4 class locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley raced down Stoke Bank at 126mph to set a new steam locomotive world speed record, which still stands. This year the Museum is marking the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s achievement with a series of commemorative events, including three special opportunities to see the record breaker united with its five surviving sister locomotives: a family reunion on an international scale. Only six of the 35 A4 locomotives built survive and two of them have been temporarily repatriated from their home museums in Canada and the US. At the moment, visitors can see the cosmetically restored Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada alongside Mallard in the Great Hall at York.

The Museum does not charge for admission and its future is according to The Press in York under threat because of budget cutbacks in the Science Museum Group. Over the weekend, a rally was held at the Museum to keep it open. So please do what you can to support this important part of our industrial heritage, begun by George Stephenson and his “Rocket”. The Museum is currently in the process of restoring The Flying Scotsman and it is hoped to have it back on the rails hauling heritage steam trips in 2015.

RACING AT YORK

York Racecourse

York Racecourse

I thought that when it came to partying, especially on a sporting occasion, that nothing could beat Dublin. I have seen them celebrating in Newcastle in the North East of England at weekends and felt they also knew how to enjoy themselves. But their near neighbours in Yorkshire must come top of the list, especially when there is racing on at York. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable day out. I saw three races and got as good a view of them as any of the punters in the large county stand did, from the rails just beyond the one furlong marker. This evening the centre of the historic city turned into one big fashion show. One tip for the ladies: high heels and cobbled stones do not mix, as some of them discovered!   

Happy Punters at York

Happy Punters at York

ULSTER & IRISH VOLUNTEERS

Quincey Dougan on the UVF

Quincey Dougan on the UVF

A very interesting night on Wednesday at Monaghan County Museum, where the CaDoLeMo group that promotes orange bands and culture in the border counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan held a talk on the two rival sets of Volunteers that emerged in the early 1900s before partition. It was an appropriate setting as the museum is currently displaying the Walking the Colours exhibition, which I wrote about in April.

Monaghan UVF Flag

Monaghan UVF Flag

Quincey Dougan spoke about Monaghan unionists, in particular their contribution to the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. For a more detailed look at the subject, you can find his article on the subject here. One of the flags included in the exhibition comes from the 2nd Battalion of the UVF in Monaghan, which Quincey explained had its headquarters in Clones under the command of Lt Colonel Madden of Hilton Park outside the town. After the outbreak of World War I, Madden was replaced by a prominent solicitor Michael Knight, also Grandmaster of the County Orange.

According to Dougan, in August 1913 it was listed as having just 408 men, but within 12 months it had became bigger than the first battalion with 1058 men enlisted. The main drill areas were Drum, which included Scotshouse, Corrygarry, Drum and Carn; Clones including Clones, Stonebridge and Drumully, and Ballybay which included Laragh and Aughnamullen. Newbliss had a section, as did Dartrey in the form of Doohat and Dartrey. The Castleblayney and Carrickmacross area was not listed on the original returns and appears to have been slow to organise, but by early 1914 it also had men drilling. The Mullyash area of East Monaghan had a large unionist presence, but its natural hinterland was the South Armagh town of Newtownhamilton and it appears that the area drilled with County Armagh.

Professor Terence Dooley

Professor Terence Dooley

The second part of the evening was devoted to the story of the Irish Volunteers in County Monaghan. The guest speaker was Professor Terence Dooley, NUI Maynooth, who comes from Killanny near Carrickmacross. It was fascinating to hear the story of three Monaghan nationalists who went on to become politicians, Thomas Toal of Smithborough, Edward “twister” Kelly and ? O’Rourke.

Story of Toal, O'Rourke & Kelly

Story of Toal, O’Rourke & Kelly

MONAGHAN WELCOMES GEEL

Civic reception by Monaghan County Council for Geel group

Civic reception by Monaghan County Council for Geel group

Geel group led by Mayor Vera Celis visits Leinster House

Geel group led by Mayor Vera Celis visits Leinster House

WELKOM! Tydavnet in County Monaghan has welcomed a group of fifteen visitors from Geel in Belgium, led by the new Mayor Vera Celis. Tydavnet is twinned with Geel in the province of Antwerp through the common link of St Dympna (Davnet). The group, some of whom have been here before, are staying with host families in the parish. They flew in to Dublin airport from Brussels and were then taken on a tour of Leinster House organised by Cllr Paudge Connolly, followed by lunch in the members’ restaurant. During the visit the Taoiseach Enda Kenny met them briefly, which was appreciated as it was a busy day for him in the Daíl.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Burgemeester van Geel Vera Celis, New Flemish Alliance party, Flemish Parliament

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Burgemeester van Geel Vera Celis, New Flemish Alliance party, Flemish Parliament

I met the group as they departed for Tydavnet, where they were entertained last night in the community centre, having stopped to visit the restored workhouse building in Carrickmacross en route . Last August I joined a group from Tydavnet and Monaghan that went to Geel for the “Eurofeesten” involving twelve European countries. On Thursday the visitors were taken on a walking tour of the St Davnet’s complex in Monaghan. They were then given a civic reception at the Westenra Hotel, hosted by the Mayor of County Monaghan Hugh McElvaney and the Monaghan town Mayor, Seamus Treanor, both of whom participated in the visit to Geel last year. Councillor McElvaney presented Vera Celis with a framed piece of Clones lace and the Burgemeester made presentations to Tydavnet group organiser Sheila McKenna and to the county Mayor. This afternoon the group was taken to visit the new educational campus and the Garage theatre on the Armagh road and they were then due to be taken on a walk around Monaghan town. They will visit Derry on Saturday and will attend Sunday Mass in Tydavnet.

Group from Geel at Leinster House

Group from Geel at Leinster House

Monaghan Mayor Hugh McElvaney presents a gift of Clones Lace to Geel Mayor Vera Celis

Monaghan Mayor Hugh McElvaney presents a gift of Clones Lace to Geel Mayor Vera Celis

Tydavnet Group organiser Sheila McKenna is presented with a gift by Mayor of Geel Vera Celis

Tydavnet Group organiser Sheila McKenna is presented with a gift by Mayor of Geel Vera Celis

Flag of Geel

Flag of Geel

MARTIN O’HAGAN

Martin O'Hagan: Photo Kevin Cooper

Martin O’Hagan: Photo Kevin Cooper

Last week I wrote about the case of NUJ colleague Martin O’Hagan, shot dead by the LVF in Lurgan in September 2001. We remembered him and other journalists who had been killed in the course of their work during the IFJ Congress at Dublin Castle. In January the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory announced there was to be no prosecution regarding his killing.

Yesterday in Belfast (June 11th) there was an interesting development when, according to a BBC report, also carried on the RTÉ 6:01 news and on UTV, Mr McGrory revealed that the Public Prosecution Service has referred the case of  Neil Hyde back to court amid allegations that he did not tell the “full truth” in his dealings with the authorities. In January last year Hyde signed a contract with them under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act to become an “assisting offender”.

The loyalist supergrass testified against those allegedly responsible for murdering the Sunday World journalist. In return, his 18-year sentence was reduced to three years. He pleaded guilty to 48 offences, including drug dealing, arson, possession of firearms and withholding information in connection with Mr O’Hagan’s murder.

Mr McGrory told a news conference there was sufficient evidence that Hyde had knowingly breached the terms of his agreement. He added: “It’s in the interests of justice that the case be referred back to the original sentencing court.” Papers have been lodged and a judge will decide later this year whether Hyde broke his agreement and will review his sentence. It is believed to be the first time in the UK that a case of this type has been referred back to court.

PPSNI

MONAGHAN IN LOURDES

Fr Jerry Caroll, Carrickmacross, Air Corps chaplain in Baldonnel

Fr Jerry Caroll, Carrickmacross, Air Corps chaplain in Baldonnel

NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 6th June 2013

With around 30,000 pilgrims in Lourdes last weekend most of them attending the 55th annual international military pilgrimage, Michael Fisher managed to find several Monaghan connections among the Defence Forces contingent that travelled from Dublin……
Among the six chaplains with the 300-strong party was Fr Jerry Carroll from Carrickmacross. He is chaplain to the Air Corps at Baldonnel in Co. Dublin.

Stations of the Cross at Lourdes

Stations of the Cross at Lourdes

He led the group in making the Stations of the Cross. During the procession Evelyn Fisher from Drumcoo Woods, Tydavnet, was asked to carry the cross at the eighth station (Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem) to the next one (Jesus falls the third time).

Naval Cadet and former member of the Reserve Defence Force in Monaghan, Aron Nutley, was among the 51st cadet class who travelled overland from Haulbowline in Cork with their chaplain Fr Des Campion to take part in the visit to the shrine of Our Lady and to the Grotto.

Naval Cadet Aron Nutley, Monaghan

Naval Cadet Aron Nutley, Monaghan

Mass for English-speaking countries including Ireland, the UK, USA and Norway was concelebrated by Bishop Richard Moth, Chaplain to the British forces along with the Defence Forces Head Chaplain Monsignor Eoin Thynne and a number of other priests. Aron from Coolshannagh is a former pupil of Beech Hill College in Monaghan. Accompanying the party from the 89th Army Cadet Class at the Curragh, the Air Corps and Navy cadets was a group of nineteen from the Civil Defence drawn from eight counties.

They included a number from Westmeath, based in Mullingar. One of them was Siobhan Courtney from Clones, a former pupil at Largy College. The Civil Defence have been accompanying the military on the pilgrimage since 1994 and for three of them, this was their 20th trip.

Siobhan Courtney & Civil Defence group from Co.Westmeath

Siobhan Courtney & Civil Defence group from Co.Westmeath

Paddy Reilly, Monaghan

Paddy Reilly, Monaghan

A number of former soldiers took part in the pilgrimage, including Paddy Reilly from Glenview Drive in Monaghan. He is a UN Veteran who served in Monaghan town and for a number of years was in charge of the local FCÁ unit (now the Reserve Defence Force). He was also active with the Civil Defence. The final Monaghan connection was through one of the Joe Walsh Tours guides, Carmel Power (McGinty). She lives in Skerries, Co. Dublin and is a former pupil of Clochar Lughaidh Muineachain, where she was a boarder for a number of years.

Former St Louis Monaghan pupil Carmel Power (McGinty), JWT travel rep in Lourdes

Former St Louis Monaghan pupil Carmel Power (McGinty), JWT travel rep in Lourdes

Groups from the Dioceses of Raphoe (Donegal) and Ossory (Kilkenny) were in Lourdes at the same time as the military pilgrimage. The Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe TD joined the group and read one of the lessons at the International Mass on Sunday in the underground basilica of St Pius X. He also laid a wreath at the Irish memorial at the town cemetery in Lourdes which commemorates all those Irish pilgrims who died there, including Monsignor James Horan from Knock and Cardinal O Fiaich.

Minister of State Paul Kehoe TD lays wreath at Irish memorial in Lourdes

Minister of State Paul Kehoe TD lays wreath at Irish memorial in Lourdes