The first week of the new century, as was the case for most media outlets across the island, was pretty quiet around the offices of The Munster Express.
Slow news (i.e. someone pictured at the opening of an envelope) was the primary order of the post-Christmas agenda back in January 2000. The script, as is the norm at this time of year in newsland, rarely differs.
Just like Ronan Keating’s Millennium song, events of consequence were either thin on the ground, or, a bit like the Boyzone frontman’s ditty, as scarce as a word of wisdom from the then Governor of Texas.
The lights of the Ard Rí Hotel illuminated the hillside above the North Wharf, a ghostly chunk of concrete and asbestos.
When would we be rid of it (the North Wharf that is), was a thought that passed through my 20-year-old mind more than once during the week before returning to journalism school in Dublin.
A decade later, we’re all still wondering if the North Wharf will ever be revamped, as well as pondering the long since abandoned Ard Rí’s fate.
But it wasn’t all slow news 10 years ago, as a dip into the archives revealed.
A press statement from Deputy Brendan Kenneally espoused the magnificence of Waterford Crystal, saluting the efforts of management and staff “for turning the company around”.
Ten years on, as a Fianna Fáil-led government stood idly by while ‘The Glass’ faded into the abyss, it was left to Waterford City Council and City Manager Michael Walsh to keep the Crystal dream alive.
Ask what we in Waterford, not those in Dublin, can do for Waterford, ought to be a catch call for the new decade.
Out Tramore way, 31 sets of parents had some pretty disgruntled teenagers to deal with after a dream trip to a Bulgarian ski resort was aborted by Belfast Airport authorities.
Not for the first time, Ulster had said no, only this time to students from the town’s CBS and Stella Maris secondary schools.
The reason? The chartered Armenian Airlines aircraft they were due to travel on had illegally entered British airspace and, just a week previously, had been deemed a “death trap” by an airport official.
Five teachers accompanied the devastated students, among them well-known WLR FM soccer commentator Ray Scott.
After a cock-up by the tour operator, the sort of thing that would have left Roy Keane apoplectic (yes, even before Saipan), the kids found unlikely saviours in the form of the FAI.
The Merrion Square blazers invited the 31 schoolchildren to the Republic of Ireland’s friendly with the Czech Republic on February 23rd, a match which featured the debut of hot prospect Paul Butler. Hindsight would reveal that Butler was as hot as a polar ice cap.
Another English born fellow who didn’t take to the green was one Oliver Cromwell, whose forces were famously delayed by a swollen River Mahon near Kilmacthomas in 1649.
“As terrible a day as this I have never seen in all my life” are the words forged onto a plaque which was unveiled on the bridge over the Mahon by the Kilmacthomas Development Committee.
The words are attributed to Cromwell himself, believed to have been made in reference to the driving rain that his forces endured for several weeks during the siege of Waterford city.
In fact, the elements of 360 years ago were so inclement that Cromwell moved his camp to Dungarvan only for a flood on the Mahon delaying his ‘Ironsides’ in mid-Waterford for a day, hence the plaque.
Its installation wasn’t universally welcomed given Cromwell’s notoriety, a point noted by local Councillor Ger Barron, who stressed the plaque commemorated the event as opposed to the infamous High Protector of England.
A decade later, despite the plaque’s presence irking some, we’re pleased to report that the sky has not yet collapsed onto the Mahon!
And so another January, another year and another decade begins. Let’s hope for good times – and good news aplenty.