For the second year running, the Quay of Waterford was seriously disrupted for more than half a day on a Friday afternoon because of a bicycle race through the city. Most people are wondering who actually decides and authorises these things because, for the majority of people that work, shop or run businesses in the area, the entire affair was a costly nuisance that nobody wanted.
At a time when schools and many parents are on holiday, there was little or no public interest in the race and it is estimated that less than 2000 people turned up to view the spectacle of the riders crossing the line near the Head Post Office. Yet the travel arrangements and day-to-day comings and goings of many thousands were affected and businesses along the Quay and city centre, already struggling in a recession, were further hit because there was no access to the Quay car-parks for all the afternoon. The traffic tail-back across the bridge took many hours to get back to normal long after the cyclists and their entourages had packed up and left.
Of course the cyclists were welcome to our city but not at any cost. It is pretty certain that business interests would not have permitted the virtual shut-down of city centres in Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Galway on a Friday afternoon so why did it happen here?
Incidentally, in case anybody thinks this is a complaint by The Munster Express on our own behalf, it is not. Because of the nature of our business we were able to print our Late Edition earlier than usual and have it out on the streets and delivered before the Quay was blocked off. Other businesses, especially those in the retail sector, were not as fortunate.
Goodbye Waterford, Hello Foynes
Maybe I’m just being a little bit paranoid but my ears picked up last week when I heard that the ‘MS Prinsendam’ became the biggest cruise liner ever to visit the port of Foynes. The Shannon Development Authority has been trying to get the Holland America cruise liner into Foynes and the Mid West for a long time and, this summer, they succeeded. Is it too much a coincidence that the ship with its 3,000 passengers finally made it to Shannonside the first summer that there was no tour available at Waterford Crystal? I don’t think so but I do think the consequences of the closure in Waterford will continue to be played out for a long time to come.
Confusion over destination of €200 extra home tax
You would have read in our news columns last week about the new €200 tax that is now due on second homes, holiday homes and unoccupied domestic houses. It is estimated that Waterford City and County Councils could take in about €2m through the scheme.
But a little bird told me this week that, even though the payments are now due by law, the government still hadn’t finalised how it is going to deal with the money. Most people thought that each local authority would keep what it collected to plough back into local services but there is now a possibility of the government insisting that the money be paid through to central funds from where it will later be redirected back to the local authorities. Now why would they do that?
Most people can barely bring themselves to utter the word ‘cancer’ and who can blame them such is the scourge of the dreaded disease. But I read a curious little item in last week’s Carlow Nationalist newspaper that surprised me and, I suspect, shocked a lot of people.
Apparently, in recent weeks, mysterious signs have been anonymously placed in prominent locations around Carlow containing the statement: ‘I don’t know what a hospice is.’ So the newspaper sent a reporter and a photographer out onto the streets to carry out a vox-pop and, to their surprise, they discovered that just over 50 per cent of people who took part in the exercise really didn’t know what a hospice was. The most common answer was that a hospice was a place for people to go to when they had no home of their own and no food to eat. Were that it was so and may those innocent people continue to have good health and not know!
Lights in the sky over Wexford
Congratulations to our friends down the road in Wexford who are having such wonderful success with their new Opera House. Built at a cost of €30m, the theatre on High Street is a gem and a fabulous facility for the town to have at its disposal. Now the Office of Public Works has decided to really set the building off by investing in a rooftop lighting system that will not only make the theatre stand out but will also change Wexford’s night skyline for ever.
Limerick-born artist, Andrew Kearney, won the €65,000 commission to design the lighting scheme and he has called his creation ‘Liquid Mountain’ which will be unveiled in all its glory on September 25th. Using a combination of LED lighting and natural wind-power, Andrew has created a dynamic and interactive illumination of each of the four elevations of the Opera House’s fly-tower. A built in computer system will allow the theatre management change the night-time patterns as the mood takes them. Certainly, the new ‘Liquid Mountain’ is sure to be a talking point for many years to come. A spokesperson for the Office of Public Works said the new feature would not impact too heavily on the Opera House’s electricity bill.
Telling it like it is!
The small children were enjoying their summer camp and, on the final day, their teacher asked them to tell the class about something nice they had received recently. One little girl put up her hand and the teacher said: “OK, Suzie, what have you to tell us?” “Well, Miss”, answered Suzie, “I was really pleased when my Daddy got me a bow-wow.” “That’s wonderful, Suzie”, said the teacher, “but you’re getting to be a big girl now and you must try not to talk like a baby. Think hard, what was it that your Daddy bought you?” The little girl scrunched up her eyes and suddenly the answer came to her. “My Daddy gave me a dog, Miss, he gave me a little dog.”
Next up was little Johnny who told the class that his Daddy had given him a choo-choo for his birthday and he really liked playing with it. “Now, Johnny”, said the teacher, “you’re getting to be a big boy and you too must stop talking like a baby. Think again, what was it that your Daddy bought you?” Johnny scratched his head and stuck his finger in his ear and eventually the answer came to him. “I have it Miss”, he said, “what I got was an electric train.”
All the children now had their hands in the air eager to tell the teacher what they had got as presents but she singled out a little girl at the back who was the only one not to raise her hand. “Marian, have you nothing to tell us? Did you not receive anything nice from anybody”, asked the teacher gently. “I did but I’d rather not say, Miss”, replied Marian coyly.
“Now come on Marian, don’t be shy and tell us what your got”, said the teacher firmly. “I got a book I really like from my Granny Miss”, answered the child eventually. “What is it called and, remember now, no baby talk”, said the teacher. “OK Miss”, said Marian who had turned a bright red, “it’s called Winnie the Shit.”