People knew it was coming because repeated warnings have been sounded in recent years but the declaration last week by the Kilkenny-born Bishop of Galway, Dr. Martin Drennan, that Sunday Mass in many parishes would soon have to celebrated midweek, caused quite a stir.

The existing body of priests is aging very quickly and with very few new ordinations, the mathematics is simple. Bishop Drennan was speaking specifically about his own Diocese but his words apply to every single parish in the country. There simply won’t be enough priests to go around and many people will soon have to travel if they want to attend Sunday Mass. Of course, that won’t suit all parishioners, especially the elderly with no transport, so it is envisaged that their Sunday Mass could take place, say for instance, on a Wednesday. Another likely option is that Sunday Mass will alternate between different churches.

Already, lay people are playing more important roles in ceremonies and sacraments and their participation will be even more crucial in the near future as the traditional Church struggles for survival.

‘Hydromania’ at Waterford Courthouse

The landmark Waterford Courthouse in Catherine Street will be transformed as part of this year’s Spraoi Festival. The beautiful stone building will be the centrepiece of ‘Hydromania’ an extravaganza of light and water presented by UK-based street-theatre specialists Avanti Display. The show, which lasts for 30 minutes, will run for two nights at dusk and will incorporate performance, dance, comedy and an operatic aria performed live.

‘Hydromania’ at Spraoi is an Irish premiere. It has previously been staged in diverse cities from Manchester and Singapore but never in this country and Spraoi is quite chuffed to have attracted a show of such pedigree and novelty for the festival.

The novel setting of Waterford Courthouse has been made possible with the active support of the Court Service. District Court Registrar, Jack Purcell, and Circuit Court County Registrar, Niall Rooney, have acted as local liaison with Spraoi with support from Eamon Kiely, Regional Manager. Waterford solicitors also united behind the project with a sponsorship package that supplemented support from Failte Ireland. It promises to be something really special.

Teens targeted by rip-off ringtone sites

Seventeen Irish websites selling ring-tones and screen images for mobile phones are facing investigation over concerns that they could be in breach of EU consumer protection law. The move follows a Europe-wide sweep of over 500 websites after a huge number of complaints from consumers who had been lured into long-term contracts in the belief that they were simply downloading a ring-tone for a fixed sum.

The survey of 27 EU member states (as well as Norway and Iceland) found that 80 per cent of websites are suspected of breaking the rules. Out of 18 Irish websites examined by the European Commission, only one appeared to be fully compliant. The problems found included unclear or incomplete price information, lack of contact details about the trader, and hidden charges in small print.

The majority of the websites checked targeted children or teenagers, using cartoon characters or well known TV characters. You’ve got to be extra careful out there folks. In the meantime, the Commissioner is warning young people, in particular, to be on their guard and check the fine print when downloading ring-tones or other extras for their phones.

Unrest in Limerick’s hurling camp

Hurling fans among our Munster neighbours in Limerick are an unhappy lot at present as the squad appears to be in some turmoil. In the aftermath of the defeat by Offaly, the county’s senior hurling manager, Richie Bennis, launched a stinging attack on some players alleging that drinking had affected their losing performance. The fact that Waterford subsequently defeated Offaly will make our friends on Shannonside even more disgruntled.

“Some players broke their hearts in training and then went off drinking”, claimed the manager. As fans vented their anger at management and players, he said he held his hands up and accepted blame but he believed some players had let him down. The manager accused six to eight individuals as treating training on Tuesday and Thursday nights as a social event and vowed that the players who had let him down would not be considered for the team in future.

It also emerged that, before the Championship began, the entire Limerick hurling squad, excluding management, decided to boycott the city’s main newspaper, ‘The Limerick Leader’ and withdrew all cooperation from its reporters. A spokesperson for the newspaper remarked wryly that their coverage had been positive, but not positive enough for the liking of the players. “Successful teams understood that, in order to be the best, you had to prepare better than the rest and not everybody in the Limerick set-up had woken up to that unforgiving reality”, said the spokesperson. Ouch!

New name for ‘Winning Streak’

One of Carlow’s most famous daughters, television presenter Kathryn Thomas, is being hotly tipped to become a replacement for Derek Mooney on the prime time show ‘Winning Streak’. In fact, bookmaker Paddy Power has stopped taking bets on who will replace Derek after large sums of money was wagered on the replacement being the duo of Kathryn Thomas and Aidan Power who is associated with young people’s television programmes.

The previous favourite to take over the job was Laura Woods, who already presents The Big Money Game on Saturday nights but the final straw for Paddy Power was when a punter placed a €600 bet on Aidan Power. A spokesperson for RTE said they could not comment on the situation, either way, until the Autumn schedule was announced.

Incidentally, talking about television personalities, Podge and Rodge’s Lucy Kennedy married her Carlow fiancée, Richard Governey, in Italy last weekend.

The wedding in a small private chapel in Santa Maria di Castellabate on the Amalfi Coast. Among the guests were Ryan Tubridy, Pamela Flood and Mick O’Hara and Ciaran Morrison the creators of Podge and Rodge.

An Autumn romance

An elderly widower from Kilmacthomas and an equally mature widow from Stradbally had been dating for some time and, after much soul searching, they decided that they were getting on so well the right thing to do would be for them to get married.

They made a handsome couple and all the preparations were made. They both had a few bob so no expense was spared on the reception which was held in the swish, new Cliff Hotel in Ardmore. They booked Brass and Co for the ‘afters’ followed by a Disco by John O’Shea. Then, with all the plans neatly in place, two nights before the big day, they went out to dinner and had a long conversation about their future life together.

They discussed everything under the sun until, finally, the man decided it was time to broach the subject of their future physical relationship. “How do you feel about sex”, he asked, somewhat nervously.

“Well”, said his bride-to-be after a long pause, “I feel obliged to speak the truth and tell you that I would like it infrequently.”

The Kilmac man sat quietly and considered her answer before replying. Then, peeping over his glasses, he looked her in the eye and asked: “Was that one word or two words?”