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)


Hughie Martin, Inniskeen, after his perfect nine in the darts competition at Aughnamullen Social Centre, Co. Monaghan

Hughie Martin, Inniskeen, after his perfect nine in the darts competition at Aughnamullen Social Centre, Co. Monaghan

Inniskeen’s Hughie Martin made history in county Monaghan when he achieved a dart player’s dream last Saturday 18th April. He hit the perfect nine darts in a competition at Aughnamullen social centre. Hughie is the current Monaghan county champion and he says he will never forget this night. 

A nine-dart finish is a perfect leg in the game of darts, using only nine darts, the fewest possible, to checkout from 501. It is notoriously difficult to achieve, even by the game’s top professionals. It is considered to be the highest single-game achievement in the sport, similar to a maximum 147 break in snooker or a 300-point game in bowling.

There are 3,944 possible paths for a nine-dart finish playing a 501 double-out dart leg. A single game (known as a leg) of darts requires a player to score 501 points, ending with either the bullseye or a double. Each shot consists of exactly three darts and 60 is the maximum that can be scored with any one dart. Thus 180 is the maximum score of a shot, and nine throws are the minimum necessary to win.

Scoreboard at Aughnamullen Social Centre confirming the perfect nine

Scoreboard at Aughnamullen Social Centre confirming the perfect nine

Although other combinations are possible, the traditional nine-dart finish requires a score of 60 (treble 20) with each of the first six throws, that is, with the first two shots of three. This leaves 141 to score on the final shot (of three darts), known as the outshot. This outshot is traditionally performed in one of three ways:

treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and double 12 (24)

(how Hughie finished: see photo)

treble 20 (60), treble 15 (45) and double 18 (36)
Another way is to score 167 with each set of three darts, scoring a perfect 501 total, in the following way:
treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and bullseye (50)

This eliminates the chance of any dart being deflected by an already thrown dart into the wrong scoring area by throwing each dart at a different location on the board. It is only usually seen in exhibition matches, as in tournaments, players are inclined to aim for the triple 20, only switching to the triple 19 for a cover shot.

Arguably the most difficult nine dart finish would be 180 (3xT20), 171 (3xT19), and 150 (3xBULL) – owing to the difficulty of getting all three darts in the bullseye: it is the smallest double on the board. A nine dart finish is also attainable in games which require a double to commence scoring. In such games, throwing for double 20 first can lead to a maximum score of 160 with the first throw, leaving the thrower commonly requiring 180 then 161 (T20,T17,BULL) in their remaining six darts, though other outcomes are possible. It is worth noting that in these games, only throwing for double 20, double 17, or bullseye to start the leg can result in a nine dart finish.

Perfect nine dart finish by Hughie Martin, Inniskeen: Monaghan's first such feat

Perfect nine dart finish by Hughie Martin, Inniskeen: Monaghan’s first such feat

A nine-dart finish, however, does not guarantee success in a game. In December 2014 in the third round of the 2015 PDC World Darts Championship, Adrian Lewis hit his second World Championship nine-dart finish and his third overall. He lost the match 4-3 to Raymond van Barneveld. On Saturday night in Aughnamullen, Hughie was eventually beaten 5-3 in the semi-final by overall winner Graham Unwin.


Heather Humphreys T.D. and Caoimhghin Ó Caolain T.D. at the anti-pylons meeting in Aughnamullen Social Centre Photo © Michael Fisher

Heather Humphreys T.D. and Caoimhghin Ó Caolain T.D. at the anti-pylons meeting in Aughnamullen Social Centre Photo © Michael Fisher


Michael Fisher  Northern Standard Thursday 23rd April p.16

It’s a controversial issue and feelings were running high at times. After nearly three hours a clear message emerged from the crowded hall in Aughnamullen Social Centre in Lough Egish on Monday night. The verdict of the meeting was that EirGrid’s proposed second North/South electricity interconnector must be put underground. Over 300 people attended the meeting organised by the County Monaghan anti-pylon committee. After hearing from four of the five local TDs and then a lively question and answer session, a motion was put forward by Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus Coyle. It was seconded by Fine Gael Councillor Hughie McElvaney.

The motion instructs TDs to place a Dáil motion asking the government to instruct EirGrid to cease all work on the proposed North/South link and to direct Eirgrid to underground fully the North/South interconnector as a high-voltage direct current (HVDC-VSC) cabling along roads, as in the company’s proposal for a section of the GridWest link. Asked by a member of the large crowd if she supported the motion, local Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys said she would take time to read the motion before she agreed to it.

Seán Conlan T.D.  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Seán Conlan T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

Deputy Sean Conlan said he would be bringing the motion to a meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party at Leinster House due to be held last night (Wednesday). Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghin Ó Caolain and Deputy Brendan Smith of Fianna Fáil also contributed to the meeting and there was an apology from Joe O’Reilly T.D. and Matt Carthy MEP.


Thirteen of the eighteen Monaghan Councillors were present, including all six from the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District. An apology was received from Cllr Cathy Bennett. Concerns raised during the meeting that lasted nearly three hours ranged from the potential health impact of the overhead line, the devaluation of people’s land and property if the proposed project goes ahead and the environmental impact and unsightliness of the pylons. Many speakers claimed that the people of Monaghan, Cavan and Meath were being treated as second class citizens compared to those living in areas that would be affected by EirGrid’s two other major supply projects, GridWest and GridLink. They said communities in County Monaghan had not been consulted by EirGrid about a possible underground option for the 140km line, which the company has estimated would be five times more expensive than the overhead plans.

The meeting was opened by the Chairman of the Anti-Pylon Committee, Donal McDaid. He said it was probably the most important meeting ever to be held in this community in recent times. It might well decide for the next 100 or 200 years whether they would have a blight on the community for generations to come. He said if the proposed planning application by EirGrid ended up in the courts then the cost to everyone would be twice as much.

A planning application for the proposed interconnector route from Meath to Tyrone will shortly be put before An Bord Pleanála by EirGrid. Nigel Hillis set out the timetable of developments in the project since their last public meeting in January last year. He said if the planning application was lodged in May, with a seven weeks period for formal consultation, it was possible there would be an oral hearing held in September or October.

Each of the TDs present was given an opportunity to comment on the situation. Seán Conlan T.D. said land owners had made it clear they wanted the link put underground. Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys T.D. told those present she supported them, but they must understand that she was limited as a Minister as to what she could do. Responding to a call by her party colleague Seán Conlan that she should veto at the Cabinet table any EirGrid decision on an overhead route for the interconnector, she said there was a misconception about her role in Cabinet and emphasized that she did not have any such veto. But if the issue was raised at Cabinet, then she would be making her views known.

The Minister said she had already raised local concerns with the Taoiseach, the Energy Minister Alex White T.D. and within the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. “All I want is fair play and equal treatment for the people of this area”, she said. She repeated what EirGrid had said, that the proposed interconnector was a strategic and critical addition to the grid, allowing the operators on both sides of the border to operate a single market for electricity. The power requirements for the West and South-East of the country were different, she said. The Minister said she was in attendance to listen to the concerns of local people.

Sinn Féin T.D. Caoimhghín Ó Caolain told the meeting there had been a persistent refusal by EirGrid to engage properly on the proposed route. It would take the resolve of the local people and the support of political voices to change any decision. He would work with the committee and its supporters in passionate opposition to what was proposed.

Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith said the South East and West of the country were being treated differently from the North-East. The people of Cavan/Monaghan were not being offered the same treatment in the GridWest and GridLink options, which allowed for possible underground power lines. He would continue to lobby to have the interconnector put underground and would be conveying the concerns expressed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications.

Terry Lynch from Ardragh, Corduff, whose family farm would be affected by one of the proposed pylons, claimed that they were being treated a second class citizens. He asked the speakers at the top table: “What are you going to do about it?” He said 400kV cables were being undergrounded all around Europe, across London, Madrid and even China and wondered why it could not be done in Ireland. “What kind of state are we in?”, he asked.

Naoise Gordon from Annyalla who lives adjacent to the proposed line asked Minister Heather Humphreys why the government was not supporting a clean and affordable underground option for the interconnector. Jim McNally, also from Annyalla, pointed out the effect it would have on the small farm homesteads in the area, many of them occupied by elderly residents.

The IFA Chairman in County Monaghan Brian Treanor told the meeting the Association’s position over the years had been very consistent since the project was first mooted in 2008. They would represent any farm families when EirGrid presented all its options, properly costed, to An Bord Pleanála, and the planning authorities would make the decision, which he hoped would be the right one. They needed to have all options on the table, he said. Mr Treanor said the farmers’ group was not anti-progress and they wanted to see development. He wondered if a smaller 250kV project was required, and whether there was a need for a high voltage interconnector to the North. There was a huge responsibility on EirGrid, he said, to do the least damage to the farm environment and to farm families. In response to criticism from the floor, he said the IFA had always demanded that EirGrid looked at all the options, but the IFA were not technicians or experts. They were demanding that best practice be operated.

The chair of the meeting Alan McAdam pointed out that over 90% of farmers on the proposed route were IFA members and they were against having pylons on their land. Patrick Lynch from Corduff asked who would want to buy any property where a pylon was situated: it would be left valueless. He claimed elected representatives had been shirking their responsibility.

In his closing remarks the Anti-Pylon Committee Chairman Donal McDaid said it was possible to get the government to change policy, as had been done when pressure was put on former Minister Pat Rabbitte T.D. over Irish Water. He re-iterated that people in Monaghan were being treated as second-class citizens. It was the duty of the Oireachtas to protect the Constitution and to ensure that all people were treated equally, he said. It was the duty of government to see to it that people in this community were not treated as second-class citizens. They wanted answers and an assurance that the government was prepared to protect the Constitution. We do not want to stop progress, but we do want justice, he concluded.

At the end of the meeting all present stood and observed one minute’s silence in memory of the anti-pylons campaigner, the late Councillor Owen Bannigan from Loughmorne, Castleblayney, who was described as ‘a giant of a man’. A vote of sympathy was passed to the local Fine Gael organization and to Mr Bannigan’s family. His son Councillor Eugene Bannigan was among those present.

EirGrid CEO Fintan Slye  Photo:

EirGrid CEO Fintan Slye Photo:


On Tuesday, EirGrid’s Chief Executive Fintan Slye gave evidence to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications in Dublin. Mr Slye was accompanied by Rosemary Steen, director of public affairs, John Fitzgerald, director of grid development and Aidan Geoghegan, EirGrid’s project manager on the North-South interconnector.

Fintan Slye outlined the history of the project thus far. He said that last month the company published a draft strategy for the development of Ireland’s transmission grid and was now seeking public feedback. It was shaped by three key pillars, namely open engagement with communities, making the most of new technologies and a commitment to make the existing grid work harder before building new transmission infrastructure. The strategic review included an independent report from Indecon which showed that investment in the electricity grid would directly benefit Ireland’s economy and could help to reduce energy costs. A modern transmission grid, he said, would put Ireland in a strong position to continue to attract foreign investment and support new and emerging opportunities in the energy sector. This approach would also support Ireland’s current policy objectives, including the government’s Action Plan for Jobs and the IDA’s regional development strategy.

He said the review showed there remained a clear need for the North-South interconnector project and that a 400 kV overhead line remained the most appropriate solution, linking a substation in Woodland, County Meath, with a new substation in Turleenan, County Tyrone. It would provide a second high capacity transmission line between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The project would more than double the power transfer capacity between North and South, thereby improving the efficiency of the all-island electricity market. It would enhance the security of the electricity supply throughout the island of Ireland, which Mr Slye said was essential for economic growth, the creation of jobs and improving the standard of living and quality of life for all. It would also enable more renewable energy supplies to be connected to the network.

Mr Slye said the interconnector was needed now, as a cross-border bottleneck had developed on the all-island electricity system, which was having serious financial consequences. Last year the Economic and Social Research Institute reported that the second interconnector would remove the bottleneck and reduce electricity costs by €30 million per year. The proposed scheme had been the subject of public scrutiny and debate for some time, with the focus on whether it could be put underground.

Several independent reports on the issue have been published. The government-appointed independent panel, headed by Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, acknowledged that the evaluation of undergrounding of the North-South interconnector was compatible with the methodologies being employed on the Grid West and Grid Link projects. Two themes emerge from all the reports, the most prominent of which was the finding that undergrounding the project would be more expensive. The international expert commission’s report concluded that an underground solution would be three times more expensive than an overhead option.  eirgridLogo

Mr Slye said that EirGrid’s own estimate was that an underground system for the North-South route would cost in excess of €500 million more than the overhead option. As a state-owned company the mission of which was to develop, maintain and operate a secure, economical and efficient transmission system, this was an additional cost EirGrid could not pass on to consumers. It was an additional cost that would not be acceptable to the Commission for Energy Regulation.

Whilst undergrounding was the only technically feasible option available for the East-West interconnector, the same could not be said for the North-South interconnector project. There were technical options to be considered and they had been, Mr Slye told the Committee.

EirGrid has recently republished its proposed line route that will form the basis of a planning application in the coming weeks to An Bord Pleanála. The company had been liaising with the board on the application for some months and had been doing so because eighteen months ago the European Commission designated the interconnector a project of common interest. This meant that the project was subject to a new EU regulation for trans-European energy infrastructure that was designed to facilitate a more efficient permit granting process. An Bord Pleanála was designated as the competent authority for managing the PCI process in Ireland and, in accordance with the EU regulation, EirGrid submitted a draft application file to it for review. Last month we submitted additional information to the Board which it is now reviewing, he said. Once it is satisfied with the draft application, it will draw up a schedule for formally submitting the planning application and the company expects this to happen very soon.

Mr Slye said open engagement with communities was a key pillar of the draft strategy. During the course of the project the company had endeavoured to meet every landowner affected by the development and had had productive discussions with many. Others have chosen not to deal with EirGrid directly, appointing intermediaries to represent them. This was their undoubted right and prerogative but was also a barrier to effective engagement and the company encouraged all landowners to talk to them.

Offices have been opened in counties Meath and Monaghan (Carrickmacross) and a new office would open shortly in Cavan. Mr Slye said they were encouraging anyone interested in the project to call in and discuss it with the project team. These offices would remain open right through to the submission of the planning application and afterwards. EirGrid staff will be on hand in the local offices to provide assistance for landowners and members of the public who wish to make a submission to An Bord Pleanála once the statutory consultation process starts following the submission of the planning application.

Concluding his statement, Mr Slye said the North-South interconnector was critical to ensuring a safe, secure supply of electricity throughout the island of Ireland. It would bring major cost savings and address significant issues around security of electricity supply, particularly in Northern Ireland.


The first of three local TDs to be given an opportunity at the Oireachtas Committee to question the EirGrid Chief Executive Fintan Slye was Fine Gael Deputy Seán Conlan.

He said the communities in Cavan-Monaghan were very concerned that they had not been treated in the same fair and equitable manner as people in Grid Link and Grid West. There was a fundamental difference in the way they had been treated in terms of consultation compared with the people in the West and South. His constituents did not feel that they had been treated equally with people in other parts of the country. He said he had presented a petition from 95% of the landowners affected to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White T.D. They want a specific underground route option and they want to be consulted on it, he said.

He mentioned the meeting attended by around 350 people on Monday night in Aughnamullen community centre and said they were all totally opposed to the overgrounding of this project. There is huge community disquiet about the approach taken by EirGrid, he told the Committee. He also said there was no regional gain in Cavan or Monaghan from the interconnector project because the company had not included any converter stations. EirGrid had pointed out for the first time (in Mr Slye’s answers) that it was technically feasible to put the project underground for the 140km length of the line and that was welcome.

The company has said that it will take €500 million more to put it underground than the cost for overground. A number of questions were asked at last night’s meeting about the fact that the valuation of property has not been included in the cost of the overground option when compared with the underground option. There was also the question of the effect on tourism in the region if the lines were put overground. Deputy Conlan said Mr Slye had stated that the project was needed in its current form because of bottlenecks between transfer of energy between the North and South. But it was his understanding that the daily flow of electricity between the North and South was between 150 MW and 170 MW and that based on the company’s own figures and safety requirements, the current interconnector could take a capacity of 400 MW per day, but only 150 MW to 170 MW was being used at a maximum at tea time while the average is around 100 MW per day. There are three power stations in Northern Ireland producing up to 2,300 MW of energy per day.  The average daily consumption of energy in Northern Ireland is 1,200 MW to 1,300 MW. They can produce 2,300 MW per day. The maximum daily use ever of energy in Northern Ireland was 1,700 MW in December 2010 during the very bad weather, Deputy Conlan pointed out.

He went on: “Mr. Slye said there was consultation but the question I asked was why there was no public consultation about underground routes in the North-South project.

Mr Fintan Slye: Correct.

Deputy Seán Conlan:   So there was not?

Mr Fintan Slye: The underground routes were published and made available but there was not a specific consultation on an underground route. The Deputy is right. However, a specific underground route was examined and published. Members who have looked at the back of the PB Power report will see an Ordnance Survey map that sets out the route corridor.”

Mr Slye said EirGrid was proposing a community fund for the wider community and also a proximity allowance payable to householders in recognition of the fact that transmission infrastructure had a greater impact on those immediately adjacent to it in terms of their visual amenity. Responding to Mr Conlan he said:

“The Deputy raised the issue of bottlenecks in the current flow of the existing line, power capacity in Northern Ireland and projections for security supply in Northern Ireland…The Generation Capacity Statement, published every year and it approved by the regulators North and South clearly articulates the security supply issue that (would be) emerging in Northern Ireland in 2020 as security of supply margins dip below what is acceptable. That is due in part to the impending closure of some of the power stations in Northern Ireland. Security of supply is incredibly important to business, industry and the economy. Hence, reliance on the single line between North and South is limited by the fact that it is a single line and any one thing could potentially take it out of commission”, Mr Slye said in his response.

Deputy Conlan said the most significant point made by Eirgrid in his view was Fintan Slye’s admission that there had been no public consultation about any specific underground routes for the North- South interconnector. The international expert group had already reported in 2012 that undergrounding was feasible.

Caoimhghín Ó Caolain T.D.  Photo: Sinn Féin

Caoimhghín Ó Caolain T.D. Photo: Sinn Féin

In a comment to The Northern Standard after the Oireachtas Committee engagement with Eirgrid’s Chief Executive, Sinn Féin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that important acknowledgments were made and other important questions had yet to be answered. “Mr Slye’s acceptance that an undergrounding approach to the North-South interconnector project is both ‘engineering and technically possible’ is important and is now firmly on the record” stated Deputy Ó Caoláin. “His comments regarding ‘other advantages’, though unspecified, and that consideration of the underground option was not just about cost was also important. The acknowledgement in answer to Deputy Conlan that “no underground route consultation with the public” had taken place regarding the North-South project was also an important confirmation of a truth the public had all known.

“I am awaiting response to other questions I posed and additional detail, including regarding the estimated additional cost per consumer per annum, and over what timeframe, if the underground option is to be proceeded with. Mr Slye’s initial response suggested a 3% to 5% increase in the cost per consumer, with a likely greater cost being placed on non-domestic customers. Having already stated on the public record that I would be prepared to accept an additional cost as a domestic consumer rather than have my neighbours and friends across the path of Eirgrid’s planned pylon supported project suffer the imposition of these monstrosities, I am keenly interested to explore Mr Slye’s calculation. The bottom line from this encounter is that Eirgrid are under no pressure from this government regarding the North-South interconnector project proceeding as Eirgrid intends. Until senior government voices make it abundantly clear that the underground option is the only way to proceed, then Eirgrid will keep to its plan”, concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

Brendan Smith TD

Brendan Smith TD

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Border Region Development Brendan Smith TD commented that a very important statement had been made at the Oireachtas All-Party Committee by the Chief Executive of Eirgrid. He said Fintan Slye had confirmed, in response to a question from the Fianna Fáil Energy Spokesperson Michael Moynihan TD, that the undergrounding of the North/South Interconnector was feasible in terms of engineering”.

Speaking to the Northern Standard Deputy Smith explained: “I outlined to the Eirgrid Chief Executive that there had been no meaningful discussions with local communities, that there was very serious concern and anger among communities in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath arising from the government’s decision to press ahead with the construction of overhead power lines for the North-South interconnector, despite carrying out a review of the other two GridLink and GridWest projects.  The people of the North- East will not allow themselves be treated as second-class citizens and will continue to demand an examination of the current proposals”, he said.

“In 2009 it was estimated that undergrounding the cables would cost more than 20 times the cost involved in keeping these transmission lines above ground.  This cost argument has been totally diminished and it is now widely accepted that the costs in laying the cables underground is now less than 1.7 times the cost of overgrounding.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD stated, “It is reprehensible that EirGrid are not factoring in the devaluation of land, the severe break-up of farm holdings, major disruption to households and the threat to the entire tourism and heritage landscape”.

Representatives of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylons Committee will appear before the Oireachtas Committee next Tuesday 28th April, at 11:30am when it’s expected they will respond to the EirGrid submission. The hearing can be watched on Oireachtas TV.


EirGrid banner for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid banner for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

The EirGrid Chief Executive Fintan Slye has again defended the overhead options for the North-South interconnector and has confirmed there has been no public consultation with local communities regarding possible underground options for the 140km high voltage line. Mr Slye told the Oireachtas committee on Transport and Communications that pylons were the only way to proceed with a vital piece of national infrastructure and to fix what was a current bottleneck in the all-island grid system. Mr Slye told TDs and Senators that putting the line underground would add around half a billion Euro to the cost, which he says as a state company they could not justify in passing on to electricity consumers. Mr Slye said he was committed to proceeding with the line as soon as possible.

“Our view is that the most appropriate solution for a North-South is an overhead line and the planning application, a draft of which is with An Bord Pleanala as we speak, is based upon an overhead line solution. It is stating that as our preferred option,” Mr Slye told the committee. “The public should not have to pay for the cost of undergrounding when there is no enhancement of service”, he said.

Groups such as the County Monaghan Anti-Pylons Committee have been campaigning for power cables to be placed underground as part of EirGrid’s upgrading of the country’s energy infrastructure. However, a recent report said that this is not an option for the North-South route from Meath through Cavan and Monaghan to Armagh and Tyrone. Now Mr Slye has moved again to confirm this. He said there were also additional complications involved with undergrounding the North/South interconnector.  eirgridLogo

EirGrid has been liaising with An Bord Pleanála and landowners on the issue. “We have liaised with landowners and are inviting them to speak to us. They can make submissions when the public consultation opens,” Mr Slye added. EirGrid has opened offices in Cavan, Meath and Carrickmacross and Mr Slye said members of the public could visit to express their concerns or ideas on the project.

EirGrid CEO Fintan Slye  Photo:

EirGrid CEO Fintan Slye Photo:

Born and brought up in Dublin, Fintan Slye graduated in engineering from UCD in 1991 and went on to complete a masters in artificial intelligence and power systems restoration in 1993.  He worked with ESB National Grid and ESB International between 1993 and 2002; this included consultancy on combined heat and power and market reform in continental Europe.

He then worked on the SE-Trans Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) project in the south-eastern United States between 2002 and 2004.  A two-year term at McKinsey’s Dublin office then followed. He was appointed as EirGrid’s Director of Operations in 2007, and was promoted to Chief Executive in October 2012.