As we begin a new year I hear of an end to the speculation as to developments at the local property known as Oaklands. We had reported a number of times previously on the various plans proposed to develop this very attractive 10 acre site owned by the Ellickson family. The final set of proposals represented a total rethink and redesign vis-à-vis the original submission with its mix of apartment blocks, houses of varying types, as well as crèche and associated facilities.

Apart from design and density issues as well as impact on traffic and access matters, there were also concerns as to ecological/environmental aspects. But following various resubmissions there was a total rethink on the overall concept of the development with an emphasis now on a lower number but high quality houses with significant regard and provision being made for a clearly designated ecological/wet woodlands area. New plans were eventually submitted on that basis. Local residents were broadly happy with the rethought-out concept envisaged in the new planning permission proposals, as they felt many of their original concerns had been addressed.

In the end there was one appeal by Ms R Canney (who had taken a serious interest in environmental issues here) with regard to the impact of the development on the wet woodlands. The committee of the Earls Court Residents Association who had tracked developments from the beginning as their estate lies directly opposite, had canvassed opinions regarding the 3 houses proposed for the ground opposite, but in the end they asked for the removal of just one of these. In addition they asked that the plastered wall facing Earls Court should be replaced with a low stone-faced wall and railing like parts of the Oaklands boundary on Island Lane.

Though an inspector from An Bord Pleanala had recommended to the board the removal of all 3 houses referred to above, the board chose to ignore that advice and gave permission for two of the houses – one at the corner of Island Lane and the one opposite the entrance to Earls Court. They removed the proposed house to the right of the latter as it would encroach too much on the wetland. There will be a pathway through the wet woodlands, with an entrance at the (old) Maxol garage site end, reaching to an exit on Island Lane.

We congratulate the positive and constructive roles played by all the parties/stakeholders involved in these developments and this represents a healthy democratic interaction of the planning process. Maybe as a bonus the local residents across the way will get their redesigned wall, as well as a ‘Goodwillie’ gesture!!

Of Glass and Milk



Last July on the announcement of the imminent closure of Snowcream, I revisited a piece I had written about the foundation and history of that company 8 years previously when it was thriving and at the peak of its prosperity. The following extract from my article takes on an additional significance given last Monday’s shattering announcement regarding Waterford Wedgwood.

“The late forties/early fifties were bleak times here in Ireland and a period not immediately associated with enterprise and commercial foresight. Yet it was during these years, here in Waterford, that two of its best known companies were establish i.e. Waterford Glass and Snowcream.

Two different traditions of skill and processes, and indeed background, one resonant of the urban industrial, the other of rural pastures, yet both sought to enhance different natural products. Through modern production skills and business acumen, they were years ahead of their time with both sharing a common aim, to produce a quality product. Waterford Glass/Crystal went on, of course, to become an international brand name and its story is well documented.

Snowcream too is proud of its success story in the agri-business world of milk production which reflects well on the shrewd foresight and enterprise of its founder. I suppose a glass of milk would be an appropriate toast”. Well that was then but Snowcream was meant to be gone at this stage but is still there. We hope that there is a positive future for “the Glass” as its destiny is at the very heart of Waterford.


Speaking Out



We spoke above of Waterford Crystal being an international brand, so it is with interest and pleasure I bring you word of another local class act who achieved a level of excellence on an international platform last weekend. I speak of the highly regarded and very competitive International Debating Competition which was held recently in UCC and concluded last weekend. Top teams came from the premier universities from around the world representing the crème de la crème of debaters. In the end the finalist emerged from these very eminent scholastic institutions; Oxford A, James Dray and Will Jones; Oxford C, Jonathan Leander-Maynard and Alex Worsnip; Harvard A, Cormac Early and Lewis Bollard; Monash B (Melbourne), Ravi Dutta and Victor Finkel.

Now did you spot the local young man among that elite group of world-class debaters? Well a good Irish name like Cormac might give you a clue that this top scholar is one Cormac Early from Newtown/Dunmore East who has proven to be a first class student in every respect at Harvard University in the USA. Cormac, like his brother Diarmuid, honed his debating skills at Newtown School under the expert tutelage of Amanda Lennon and both went on to distinguish themselves at National level.

Along with eldest brother Michael they attended Killea Boys NS. They each have proved to be remarkable young men – the calibre of young men Ireland now needs to build the new ‘brain-driven’ economy to bring us from where we are. Alas, the final victors were the pair representing Oxford A of Dray and Jones who lifted the crystal replica Sam Maguire proudly aloft. Now what a double pleasure it would have been if a Waterford man had had the glorious opportunity to lift it with the time-honoured exclamation of “Ta athas orm an Corn seo a ghlacadh ar son Condae Phort Lairge!!” Nevertheless Cormac has brought great honour to himself, his family and his county.


Last Night I dreamt of Tara



Here’s another dip into one of my favourite books – Brewer’s Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable. So here’s another one that took my fancy and yours as well I hope. This one is a lengthy entry which is worth quoting in full as it appertains to the Hill of Tara which continues to be a subject of great controversy in relation to the route of the M3 and the feared impact it will have on this most ancient of sites. But controversy is nothing new when it comes to the Hill of Tara and last time out – just over 100 years ago, believe it or not – it centred on the Ark of the Covenant no less!

” Between 1899 and 1902 the Hill of Tara became the focus of a series of clashes between cultural Nationalists- notably Maud Gonne and Arthur Griffith- and members of the British-Israel Movement, an association founded in the UK by a retired Anglo-Indian judge, Edward Wheeler Bird. The British-Israel Association of Ireland was established in Dublin on 17th March 1897. Members believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was descended from the lost tribes of Israel and that it was the members’ duty to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant, which had been buried on the Hill of Tara, according to them the new or ‘resuscitated’ Jerusalem. The local landlord, Gustavus Villiers Briscoe, turned a blind eye to the excavations of the British Israelites.

“For cultural Nationalists Tara was symbolic of a native high kingship; it was described by Douglas Hyde, George Moore and WB Yeats in a letter to the London Times, as ‘probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland’. Maud Gonne and Griffith visited the Hill of Tara on Christmas Day 1900 to survey the extent of the damage done by the excavations and Maud Gonne wrote in a subsequent article to the United Irishman: “I seemed to see shuddering, misty forms gazing curiously at us. Weird processions wound round the raths where palaces had stood. Some tossed white arms as they moved in rhythmic circles”.

The case became a cause celebre; the press in Ireland joined with the professional archaeologists and cultural Nationalists to oppose the excavations of the British Israelites. In the end, the latter were obliged to desist. Fascinating, is it not?