President Obama’s closest Irish relative, who is a direct descendent, has been discovered alive and well and living in South Kilkenny. It had been thought that Kilkenny’s direct line with the President ended with the death of Bishop John Kearney who died in 1813 and whose tomb is in the city’s St Canice’s Cathedral. However, it has now emerged that Bishop Kearney married a second time and some of his descendants from that union are still living in Kilkenny. The President’s closest living relative in this country is Mrs Jane de Montmorency Wright whose great, great, great grandmother was Rose Kearney, a daughter of the Bishop, who married Harvey Saville Pratt de Montmorency in 1811.

No vans on our estate, thank you very much!

Most people, at some time or other in their lives, have experienced varying degrees of problems living in housing estates but a rather unusual row is ongoing in an up-market estate down the road in Wexford at present.

The Residents Association in the town’s Hollyville Heights estate does not permit commercial vehicles to be parked on the estate even if they are owned by residents. All residents must display official parking permits and visitors to the estate are not allowed to keep their cars there for more than two hours. However, an electronic barrier that had been erected at the entrance to the estate had to be removed because it did not have planning permission and efforts to secure retention for the barrier failed.

However, it is the ‘commercial vehicle’ rule that has angered resident Seamus Kenny whose only transport is his Transit Van. Mr Kenny, who has lived in Hollyville Heights for two years, found his van clamped on several occasions and, on one date, his brother’s car was also clamped for outstaying the two-hour rule and it cost them a total of €240 to have them released.

But, on the last two occasions that his van was clamped, Mr Kenny fetched an angle-grinder and cut the clamps off himself. “This is Hollyville not Hollywood Heights and snobbery is behind all this nonsense”, he told reporters.

Councillor George Lawlor told the newspapers he considered Mr Kenny to be ‘a perfect reasonable individual’. A stand-off now exists but the Councillor’s offer of mediation has not yet been taken up by the Residents’ Association or by the estate’s property management company.

Perhaps there is more to this story than meets the eye but, on the face of it, one would have a lot of sympathy for Mr Kenny and it does seem highhanded to ban vehicles like Transit Vans from the estate.

Public opinion hardening against criminals

It would appear that people have reached the end of their tethers as far as criminal behaviour is concerned and public opinion is finally hardening against those responsible. Last week, a poll conducted in Limerick showed that a majority of people in the city favoured the internment of known gangland criminals.

The survey was carried out professionally by researchers at the University of Limerick and, out of a core sample of 300 adults, 60 per cent were in favour of internment. Twenty-one per cent were against such a move while 19 per cent were undecided. The chairman of the city’s joint policing committee, Councillor Michael Hourigan of Fine Gael, said the poll result reflected the outrage that people felt against what was happening in their community. He added that people were also very tired of the level of unsocial behaviour in the city.

Despite initially stating that he was prepared to give a new law, passed by the Dail last summer, an opportunity to work, the former chairman of the joint policing committee and the city current Mayor, Councillor Kevin Kiely, now says that he too thinks internment is the only way to go.

“The legislation that was introduced is not strong enough. We need to get criminals off the street by taking draconian measures. I am fully in favour of this. We are not talking about thousands of people here, it’s only a handful of people in known flashpoints”, he said. I suspect that the sentiments would be the same if similar surveys were carried out in other cities.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

One morning, early in February, a group of solicitors were having coffee together in the Granville Hotel and they got around to talking about one of their colleagues who, despite the recession, seemed to be doing really well and making lots of money. Not only had he recently purchased a new Mercedes car but he had also taken delivery of a fabulous motor-yacht that was moored at the Marina opposite the Clock Tower. Nobody knew where the money was coming from but they had heard through the grapevine that his waiting room was always packed with clients.

Then, a few days later, one of the solicitors saw his rich colleague come out of The Book Centre with a big box of cards and pink envelopes. Walking discreetly behind the man, the inquisitive solicitor could see that his colleague was carrying dozens of Happy Valentine cards. Despite labouring under the weight of the box, the solicitor carried on down O’Connell Street until he reached the Post Office where he purchased several sheets of stamps.

Full of curiosity, the man decided to continue trailing the wealthy solicitor to see where he went. He followed him as far as the carpark where both their cars were parked and he continued to shadow him as he drove in the direction of Cork stopping off at Kilmeaden, Portlaw, Kilmacthomas, Stradbally and, finally, Dungarvan. Every time he stopped, the rich solicitor sprayed a number of cards with perfume before popping them in the local postbox. Each time, he laughed out loud before getting back into his car and moving on.

When the solicitor posted the last of the cards in Dungarvan his follower couldn’t restrain himself. “I’ve been following you since you left Waterford, what on earth are you doing”, he asked incredulously.

“Damn”, said the solicitor, “nobody’s supposed to see this. It’s a fair cop but you better keep your mouth shut and don’t start to copy what I’m doing.” “But what exactly are you doing”, asked the other man. “What I’m doing, pal, is drumming up business. For the past year I’ve been specialising in divorce cases.”