Christina McMahon in training at the Declan Brennan Centre of Excellence  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Christina McMahon in training at the Declan Brennan Centre of Excellence Photo: © Michael Fisher


Michael Fisher Northern Standard Sports p.40

It’s the biggest challenge so far in her professional career for Christina Marks McMahon from Carrickmacross. Ireland’s only female professional boxer will be in the ring in Lusaka on Saturday against the Zambian WBC silver champion Catherine Phiri. At stake is the WBC interim world female bantamweight title. She left Dublin last Saturday with her husband and coach Frick to give her some time to adjust to the local conditions. But she has already done some important preparations locally.

When I met Christina in training last week she was wearing what looked like a thin space suit, and was attached to a mask giving her an air supply. She was sparring with Frick, whilst she received air that simulated an environment of 13,000 feet above sea level, similar to what she would find in Lusaka. The humidity there will be around 65% and temperatures can reach up to 27C. So the body of the boxer has to work harder in such an environment, as there is less oxygen. The machine being used was called an Everest series hypoxic generator, of the type that could also be used by mountain climbers.

This simulated high altitude training is one of the facilities offered at the Declan Byrne Centre of Excellence in Castleshane. By undergoing this exercise, it showed her professional and dedicated approach to boxing. Christina was delighted to discover only recently that there was such a facility almost on her doorstep in County Monaghan. It came just at the right time, she said.

As she finished her training session with a series of squats and shoulder presses, Christina told me she hoped she could help women to believe that it was never too late to go out and achieve their goals in sport or whatever field. Along with Frick she helps to run Carrickmacross Boxing Club at a new centre near the running track where they also have martial arts and fitness classes. She is coached by Sean and Paul McCullough in Belfast.

Christina who is now 40, started as a kickboxer when she was 20. In 2007 she won the world kickboxing title and three years later on reaching 35, decided to turn professional. This is her seventh fight and she has an unbeaten record in her six previous bouts (three of them by knock-outs). Her opponent also has a strong record of ten wins. Christina’s last fight was in September 2013 when she defeated  Lana Cooper. She was due to fight again in Berlin in March, but her opponent withdrew at the last moment.

“Catherine Phiri is what matters now; all the hard work has come to this and I know I have put in the effort to come away with a win”, she said.

Fight Poster

Fight Poster

Christina and Frick are hoping that Ireland’s Ambassador, Finbar O’Brien and his deputy will be present at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre to support their efforts not to mention members of the thriving Irish community “The Wild Geese”. A sell-out crowd is guaranteed  in a country where only soccer attracts greater attendances.

Declan Brennan who was a mentor to the late Olympian Darren Sutherland said his sports centre had something for everyone, to enable sportsmen and women to maximize their goals both on and off the field. It can also be used for rehabilitation of sports injuries. It has some equipment that cannot be found elsewhere in Ireland. As well as the anti-gravity machine, he can also offer the services of a sports psychologist, a nutritionist, a podiatrist and a physiotherapist. It’s a facility that has been used from time to time by local athletes and members of the GAA county football team.

For eight years Declan was Director of Sport at DCU. Now the success of Christina has given him a fresh interest in boxing, which has had an important place in the county since the days of Barry McGuigan and before. He is keen to promote the sport. He said the training Christina did at his centre would be very beneficial for her and he would be following her progress closely. Declan hope everyone in County Monaghan would be getting behind her and supporting her on Saturday.

Northern Standard Thursday 30th April p.40

Northern Standard Thursday 30th April p.40


Alicia Ehrecke, Inver College, Carrickmacross  Photo: HotPress

Alicia Ehrecke, Inver College, Carrickmacross Photo: HotPress

A 17 year-old secondary school student from Inver College in Carrickmacross Alicia Ehrecke has been shortlisted for the Hot Press ‘Write Here, Write Now’ short story award. The top prize is an internship with the Dublin-based magazine later this year. The overall winners will also receive a €250 cash prize, a Certificate of Achievement from WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW and a Toshiba Click Mini and Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse. They’ll also have their winning entry published in a special issue of Hot Press, a significant achievement that will greatly enhance the CV of any young writer.

Each of the 22 winners will receive a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365, an invaluable tool for students and creative types. The overall winner will be announced tomorrow. Alicia comes from Cottbus, a university city in Brandenburg, near Berlin in Germany. Until 1990 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the area was part of the GDR (East Germany).

Alicia is among forty students who have made the final list from thousands of entries. She has been studying at Inver College since the end of August last year. She says she is looking forward to returning home on Friday after her eight months stay, hosted by a local family. During her time in County Monaghan, her parents came over to Ireland on holiday with her older brother and two younger sisters and they went on tour for a week, taking in Dublin, Galway, Donegal and the Giant’s Causeway.

Roddy Doyle heads the panel of judges who will decide the winners. The public can also have their say by looking at the shortlisted entries including Alicia’s and voting online at for the ‘Write Here Write Now’ Readers Award.

Over the years, Hot Press has nurtured some of Ireland’s finest creative talent in music, literature, writing and journalism. Now, as part of a celebration of one of the great modern Irish sagas – The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle –  Hot Press, in association with the One City, One Book Festival, has uncovered the very best new, student writing talent in the country. The competition is supported by the Dublin City Libraries, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Eason and Microsoft Office 365.

The judging panel consists of Man Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle, IMPAC Award winner Kevin Barry, Rooney Prize winner Claire Kilroy, Hot Press editor Niall Stokes and composer / songwriter Julie Feeney.

“There was a huge level of interest in the competition, with thousands of entries pouring in,” Hot Press editor and chairman of the judging panel, Niall Stokes said. “It was really tough narrowing this tsunami down to a shortlist, but that’s what you have to do. In the final analysis, all of the judges were in agreement that the quality of the shortlisted entries was extraordinarily high, and that we have uncovered some remarkable young Irish writing talent. Everyone who is on the shortlist has good reason to feel very proud, as indeed do the schools and colleges in County Monaghan. In that sense, they are all winners”. 

Roddy Doyle himself has commented that some of those shortlisted are “frighteningly good – surprising, sharp, sometimes chilling, confident.” On the evidence of the shortlisted entries, Ireland is teeming with young people with real writing talent.

For his three novels, Roddy Doyle invented a suburb on the north side of Dublin and called it Barrytown. The challenge for students, in this unique writing competition, was to create, in a similar way, an imaginary new place, as the location for a piece of creative writing; to set the scene; describe the surroundings; create a sense of the environment and its people; to capture the language they use; to tell enough of a story to draw readers in and to evoke the special qualities, or atmosphere, of the students’ imaginatively constructed local area. They did just that – and with aplomb!


'Spaghetti Junction' on M6, Birmingham Photo: Heritage Explorer

‘Spaghetti Junction’ on M6, Birmingham Photo: Heritage Explorer

‘Spaghetti Junction’ or to give it the proper title, the Gravelly Hill Interchange (Junction 6) on the M6 was still quite new when I arrived in Birmingham in 1975. I could not drive a car at that stage so the only time I came near it was when I travelled by train in the direction of Wolverhampton, as it is close to the railway and the canals.

Later, when I passed my driving test, I was able to access the interchange via the Aston Expressway from Birmingham city centre. From the Expressway you always got a good view of Villa Park, the home of Aston Villa F.C.

The term ‘Spaghetti Junction’ is believed to have been first used by a journalist at the Birmingham Evening Mail in the 1970s. It is the junction where the M6, A38 and A5127 meet. It was opened on May 24th 1972 by the then UK Environment Secretary, Peter Walker. It cost £10m to build and is held up by nearly 600 concrete columns. It was the last piece of this part of the 1960s motorway network to be completed.

The junction and the section of the M6 through Birmingham is carried on a three and a half mile long viaduct. It also carries the motorway over a number of canals and railway lines. The coming of the motorway transformed the local area.

What made me reflect on it was a BBC4 documentary, the second part of which is being shown tonight. It’s called ‘The Secret Life of the Motorway‘. It showed the growth of the motorways in Britain and featured the role played by Irish navvies in their construction. The M62 route across the Pennines was particularly difficult, according to the first programme in the three-part series.


Cllr PJ O'Hanlon  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Cllr PJ O’Hanlon Photo: © Michael Fisher


Road Funding for local and regional Roads in Monaghan for the year 2015 is €7.1 million, a reduction of over €4 million in four years. The issue has been discussed at recent meetings of Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District by the six Councillors, including PJ O’Hanlon. Councillor O’Hanlon told the Northern Standard he had been raising this issue continuously, but nobody in power seemed to be listening or did not want to listen. He said he had Parliamentary Questions asked in the Dáil by Brendan Smith T.D. and the response was that ‘this is your allocation for the year’. Councillor O’Hanlon said this was not acceptable and he believed public representatives had to fight to get further funding.

“Our roads are in a deplorable state and if we are going to create local, indigenous jobs we need a proper road infrastructure. A survey is being carried out by the National Roads Authority in relation to the condition of the roads and this will be a waste of time unless we receive further funding”, he said.

Timmy Dooley T.D.

Timmy Dooley T.D.

“People cannot understand why they are paying road tax and property tax, and then the road funding has been reduced. As a result of this I have arranged a public meeting for Thursday 30th April in the Glencarn Hotel Castleblayney at 8pm.The guest speaker will be Timmy Dooley T.D., spokesman for transport, tourism and sport for Fianna Fáil. However this is not a Fianna Fáil party meeting, it is a public meeting and is open to everyone in the county. It is important that politicians from all sides stand up and say enough is enough. We want a proper road network as we are paying road tax and property tax and the funding has been reduced, so please come to this meeting and help us in our cause to get additional funding for our local road network”, Councillor O’Hanlon concluded.


Sting Photo ©

Sting Photo ©


MICHAEL FISHER  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News Thursday April 16th

In a private journey to Carrickmacross recently, the rock star Sting made an emotional visit to the 19th Century Workhouse, where he was shown the mass grave in which one of his relatives is believed to have been buried. The visit on Thursday was kept low-key at the musician’s request.

63 year-old Sting (real name Gordon Sumner) was born in Wallsend, near Newcastle-on-Tyne in North-East England. He discovered his Irish connections when researchers for an American television programme, ‘Finding Your Roots’, discovered that the singer’s origins could partly be traced back to Inniskeen in County Monaghan. The programme broadcast last November also revealed that his great-great-great grandmother Mary Murphy (née Goodman), who was recorded as “a widow and pauper”, had died in a workhouse from illness aged 68 in 1881. All her children either emigrated or died.

After his Dublin gig at the 3Arena with Paul Simon, and as he headed to Belfast for another concert at the Odyssey, Sting visited Carrickmacross Workhouse and spent time in quiet reflection at the site of one of three mass graves associated with the workhouse.

Tour of Workhouse

Workhouse manager Yvonne Marron said The Workhouse staff took him on a tour of the front Workhouse building, which was restored in 2004 and now houses a community training, resource and heritage centre. It is one of only a handful of restored workhouses in Ireland. The building contains a fully restored famine-era children’s dormitory, as well as historical and famine- related exhibits.

Yvonne described how the singer was “quite overwhelmed by it all. He was due to stay for half an hour but spent nearly an hour here”, she said. The staff explained to him that, while the Workhouses were originally built in the 1840s to house the poor, by the time his great-great-great grandmother, Mary Murphy, was admitted in the 1880s, mass death, famine and emigration had reduced the ‘inmates’ primarily to the sick, elderly and orphaned children.

Sting was also shown the derelict back Workhouse building, which originally contained the ‘Wards for Old Women’, where his relative would have lived and died. The building was designed for 500 tenants but by the 1850s had 2,000 destitute men, women and children living in it. The musician then spent some time viewing the four white crosses at the back of the Workhouse six-acre site, where Mary Murphy is believed to have been buried in an unmarked mass grave.

It was explained to him that, in February 1847, the British government passed the ‘Temporary Relief of Destitute Persons in Ireland Act’, which empowered the Board of Guardians of Irish Workhouses to use land adjacent to the workhouses for burial grounds, since ordinary graveyards were unable to cope with the vast number of deaths.

The Workhouse staff clarified that there are few surviving records for Carrickmacross Workhouse; therefore, Mary Murphy represents the hundreds of nameless South Monaghan men, women and children that are buried in unmarked mass graves onsite.

The musician queried whether there were plans to erect a memorial at the graves and was informed that, in 2007, the then owners of the Workhouse, Lakeland Dairies Cooperative Society, sold the site and buildings to Heron Property Ltd.

The Workhouse Committee are currently fundraising to purchase the mass graves and heritage site to return it to community ownership. They wish to protect and restore the back derelict building, and to create a Memorial Garden to all those who died in the Workhouse during the Great Hunger and its aftermath.

Long Lost Relatives

Sting was then accompanied back into the restored front building to meet some long-lost relatives from Inniskeen. He was delighted to meet Joe Fee from Tattyboy, Blackstaff, who is a direct descendant of Sting’s Mary Murphy, whose maiden name was Goodman.

He also met Thomas and Mary McHugh from Carricklane, along with their children, Gerard, Paul and Annmarie, and grandson.  The McHugh’s are descendants of Sting’s great-great-great grandfather, Michael Murphy, who married Mary in the 1830s.

Workhouse Genealogy Researchers then presented Sting with a printed Genealogy Report, which was complied with great assistance from his relatives, in particular, Thomas McHugh, aged 89. Sting learned that his great-great-great grandparents, Michael and Mary Murphy, who lived in Carricklane, had five children born between 1837 and 1850.  Unfortunately, it appears that their four eldest children did not survive the Great Hunger, as only their youngest child, John, born in 1850, is mentioned in later records.

John was Sting’s great-great grandfather, who emigrated to Durham, England, where he married Elizabeth Cody, who gave birth to Sting’s great grandmother, Agnes, in 1879. Agnes subsequently married Robert Wright and gave birth to Sting’s grandmother, Agnes Wright, in 1906.  In the ‘Finding Your Roots’ programme, Sting mentions that his grandmother always told him that if he had any talent, it was because of her! Sting’s grandmother subsequently married Thomas Sumner and gave birth to Sting’s father, Ernest Sumner, in 1926.

Local artist Orlagh Meegan Gallagher shows Sting her work ‘The Last Resort’ on permanent display at Carrickmacross Workhouse, before presenting him with a smaller work, 'Mary Murphy', based on the original. Photo © Steve O'Donoghue/Carrickmacross Workhouse 2015

Local artist Orlagh Meegan Gallagher shows Sting her work ‘The Last Resort’ on permanent display at Carrickmacross Workhouse, before presenting him with a smaller work, ‘Mary Murphy’, based on the original. Photo © Steve O’Donoghue/Carrickmacross Workhouse 2015

Art Work by Orlagh Meegan Gallagher

Before Sting departed after his almost hour-long visit, the Workhouse presented him with an art work by their artist-in-residence, Orlagh Meegan Gallagher. Simply entitled ‘Mary Murphy’, the piece depicts the moment before she entered the Workhouse, and is based upon Orlagh’s much larger artwork entitled ‘The Last Resort’, which is on permanent display in the Workhouse.

A moment was taken during the presentation to note that Mary’s death certificate describes her as a ‘widow’ and ‘pauper’.  Aged 68, with her husband dead, and her only surviving child emigrated to England, it is probable that Mary was unable to pay her rent and was therefore evicted.  Her only recourse was to seek admission to the Workhouse/Poorhouse; knowing that she would end her days there, which she did on Thursday, 12th May 1881 after a month-long illness.

After saying farewell, Sting departed for Belfast with his head full of historical and genealogical information.

Thank You

The Committee of Carrickmacross Workhouse would like to thank everyone who contributed to Sting’s visit; in particular, all his Inniskeen relatives for generously giving their time and knowledge; Orlagh Meegan Gallagher for her art work; Liebe Kelly for her flower arrangements; and our friends at home and abroad for notifying us about the ‘Finding Your Roots’ programme.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., who worked behind the scenes to arrange the visit, said:  “It was a great privilege for me to be able to organise the visit by Sting to Carrickmacross Workhouse.  Our Irish heritage consistently manages to uncover some of the most amazing stories.  It is incredible to think that one of the biggest rock stars in the world can trace his family tree back to a workhouse in South Monaghan.  I am delighted I was able to help bring this story to Sting, and I have no doubt that he was given a fascinating insight into his ancestry”.

As a solo musician and a member of The Police, Sting received 16 Grammy awards, three Brit awards, a Golden Globe award, an Emmy award, and three Academy award nominations for Best Original Song. He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Police in 2003. In 2000, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording. He was awarded a CBE from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for services to music, and was made a Kennedy Centre Honoree at the White House in 2014.


The two Air Corps Lieutenant Mohans with their grandmother Teresa (centre), parents Brian and Geraldine and brother Barry (left) and sister Aoife Swarbrick (right)  at the ceremony in Baldonnel. Photo courtesy of Brian Mohan

The two Air Corps Lieutenant Mohans with their grandmother Teresa (centre), parents Brian and Geraldine and brother Barry (left) and sister Aoife Swarbrick (right) at the ceremony in Baldonnel. Photo courtesy of Brian Mohan


Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News Thursday 16th April

It was a proud moment for grandmother Teresa Mohan from Woodlands in Carrickmacross as she saw her twin grandson Frankie Mohan receive his Air Corps pilot’s wings and his commission as an army Lieutenant. There was a double reason for celebration at the Air Corps headquarters at Baldonnel in County Dublin. Frankie was joining his twin brother Eugene, who had been commissioned in February last year, and is already serving in the Air Corps. The two Lieutenants were accompanied by their parents, Garda Inspector Brian Mohan (based in Dundalk) and Geraldine, who is originally from Essexford, Killany.

Brian’s brother Niall Mohan, his wife Lorraine and son Barry, all from Carrickmacross, were at the ceremony, along with his sister Sadie Maloney, now living in Ennis. His brother-in-law Francie Thornton and his wife Anne, also from Carrickmacross, were there along with other family and friends. They included the twins’ sister Aoife, who is married to Dave Swarbrick, an airline captain based in Dubai, and their five months old son Harry.

Lieutenants Frankie and Eugene Mohan with Air Corps Chaplain Fr Jerry Carroll and their grandmother Teresa Mohan from Carrickmacross.  Photo courtesy of Brian Mohan

Lieutenants Frankie and Eugene Mohan with Air Corps Chaplain Fr Jerry Carroll and their grandmother Teresa Mohan from Carrickmacross. Photo courtesy of Brian Mohan

The ceremony at Baldonnel began with Mass celebrated by the Air Corps chaplain, Fr Jerry Carroll from Carrickmacross. He is a former pupil of St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, which he attended along with Brian Mohan. Fr Jerry anointed the hands of the new pilots, who were presented with their wings by the General Officer Commanding the Air Corps, Brigadier General Paul Fry. In the presence of the Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Conor O’Boyle, they were then presented by the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney T.D. with their presidential commissions. The other four class members were

Mark Doyle, David Finnegan, Kevin Fitzgerald and James Northover. During the Wings ceremony, Brigadier General Fry congratulated the new pilots on their achievements and thanked their families and friends for supporting them throughout their cadetship.

Frankie Mohan was one of five in the 31st Regular Air Corps Cadet Class and began his cadetship in September 2012. The first ten months was the most challenging, as it was spent on military socialisation in the Curragh. It involved rigorous physical training, military drills, deportment, field craft and weapons handling.

Frankie went to Baldonnel to begin his flight training in July 2013. This lasted for eight months and involved instruction on fifteen diverse aviation related subjects, ranging from principles of flight to human performance and limitations. The class trained internally in the Flight Training School and externally with the Irish Aviation Authority, qualifying them to EASA Airline Transport Pilots License standard.

Eugene Mohan was one of three members of the 30th Air Corps Cadet Class and began his cadetship in September 2011. He went through the same arduous training and has recently completed his training as a helicopter pilot. Their parents Brian and Geraldine extended a huge congratulations to the twins, who they said had worked extremely hard to achieve their dreams. Eugene, who studied engineering at DIT Bolton Street had applied to join the Cadets on five occasions and never gave up hope that one day he would be an Air Corps pilot. Frankie, an engineering graduate of TCD, gave up a lucrative commercial diving engineer’s job to realise his dream of becoming a pilot. Now the Mohan twins are flying high together, in the service of the state.


Lesley Goggins, Monaghan Lions Club, is congratulated on receiving her Emerging Lion Award 2015 by Past International President Lion Jim Ervine and Past International Director Lion Phil Nathan

Lesley Goggins, Monaghan Lions Club, is congratulated on receiving her Emerging Lion Award 2015 by Past International President Lion Jim Ervine and Past International Director Lion Phil Nathan

MONAGHAN LION RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD  Northern Standard Thursday 16th April

Monaghan Lions Club Vice-President Lesley Goggins from Corcaghan has been rewarded for her achievements since becoming a member of the international organisation six years ago. At the recent District Convention in Waterford of Lions Clubs from the island of Ireland, Lesley was presented with the Emerging Lion Award 2015.

Lesley was also presented with a lapel pin from the event’s International guest, Past International President Lion Jim Ervine. She told the Northern Standard it was with absolute surprise, honour and (being a Lion!) great pride that she had received the award from District Governor Pat O’Brien.  LIONS-LOGO-720x682-150x150

The dance teacher said she was delighted to be recognised in this way from such wonderful people and by the Lions Clubs organisation in which she was priveleged to play a part. In September Lesley will take over as President of the Monaghan Club, 25 years after her father Bill Goggins was installed as the Club’s first President.

Lesley is already planning the Club’s 25th Charter Dinner which will be held at Castle Leslie, Glaslough on January 30th 2016. On Monday (20th April) the Club was visited at their meeting in the Westenra Hotel, Monaghan, by District Governor Elect, Marion Conneely from Swords Lions Club.

Monaghan Lions Club Charter Dinner 2015 at Castle Leslie with Lion Lesley Goggins (front left) and Past President and Past DG Bill Goggins (back right); Past District Governor Sean Sandford (back left);  Second Vice District Governor Paul Allen and Lion President Adrian McElvaney (centre)

Monaghan Lions Club Charter Dinner 2015 at Castle Leslie with Lion Lesley Goggins (front left) and Past President and Past DG Bill Goggins (back right); Past District Governor Sean Sandford (back left); Second Vice District Governor Paul Allen and Lion President Adrian McElvaney (centre)