In the harsh light of the post Christmas freeze some chilling figures have emerged which show that, in the weeks just gone, more children than ever celebrated their Christmas in women’s refuges.

A spokesperson for one particular refuge pointed out that most women would put up with a high level of violence and abuse in order to stay in the family home for Christmas. But, for many, it was too much to bear this time around and they had to seek sanctuary in the only places they knew. It has also emerged that the number of women seeking help in the first weeks of the New Year was higher than last year and the trend looks like continuing.

Refuge officials believe that the recession is causing problems for vulnerable families because many parents, when faced with money troubles, don’t have the coping mechanisms to work things out. In many cases, men just lash out with their fists even though the subject of their violence may be the ones they love.

And, because of the ever increasing local authority housing lists, it is getting harder and harder to find suitable alternative accommodation for families in need of shelter. If a woman is listed as being a joint owner of a house, the problem becomes even more difficult. Sobering thoughts indeed.

Hail the Lady of the Brush

I don’t expect the Mayor of Waterford, Councillor John Halligan, to follow suit but, nevertheless, congratulations to the Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir, Councillor Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, who believes that action speaks louder than words as far as litter is concerned.

It seems Councillor Cooney-Sheehan was so shocked at the amount of litter she found in her town on a recent Sunday morning that she went and fetched a brush, sweeping pan and refuse sacks and cleaned the place up herself. Apparently, overtime cuts are affecting the hours put in by street cleaning staff and there has been no weekend cleaning in Carrick-on-Suir since several weeks before Christmas.

Mayor Cooney-Sheehan has now vowed to clean the town’s streets herself every Sunday until the matter is resolved. She said she was shocked to see the state of the streets when she visited a bottle-bank on a recent Sunday morning. She felt so embarrassed she cleaned the place up herself and filled ten refuse sacks over a two-and-a-half hour period.

The Mayor said she had not experienced any negative comments from the Council cleaning staff and several had told her they knew her heart was in the right place and they supported her action. A meeting is due to be held this week between local authority officials and union representatives in an effort to resolve the situation.

Meat eating space travellers

From the sublime to the ridiculous, there are reports of meat eating space travelers visiting the late President Regan’s ancestral village in Ballyporeen before stopping over in Mitchelstown to have a look at the locals there.

The story began with the mysterious slaughter of wildlife on a lake near Ballyporeen that was home to a large colony of geese, ducks and water hens and they all perished except one grey goose that was allegedly not on the lake when the atrocity occurred. Some locals are blaming gun-toting hunters for the carnage and intend to restock the lake as soon as possible but there are those with other ideas.

Not too far away in Mitchelstown, there were several reports of UFOs around the same time. Two men in separate locations, Pat Fanning and Pat O’Connor, experienced fairly close sight encounters. Mr O’Connor observed two lights about 500 metres apart flying in perfect unison above his house. The lights glowed and pulsated as they moved along and, when Mr O’Connor telephoned his friend Mr Fanning, he experienced a similar sighting.

Mr O’Connor said he dismissed the incident from his mind but then he read newspaper reports of a similar ‘flying saucer’ sighting over Red Square in Moscow and couldn’t help but wonder if he had indeed seen an extra terrestrial aircraft.

Some local people have voiced an opinion that, perhaps, the Ballyporeen birds were taken by space travelers who were replenishing their meat stocks following a long journey from outer space. And as for the sole survivor, the grey goose, most people are giving him a wide berth. And well they might.

Give a place a bad name by association!

A couple living in the Tramore area were keen to develop as green a lifestyle as possible and had great success planting a variety of vegetables in the half-acre at the rear of their house. They then followed on with the purchase of some chickens and that enterprise was so successful that they decided to purchase a cow to supply them with milk.

They purchased what looked to be a splendid cow from a farmer in Ballyduff and the animal produced the most wonderful milk on demand every day. Everything was going swimmingly until they decided to rear a calf and attempted to introduce the cow to a bull.

They put the bull in the pasture with the cow but whenever the bull tried to mount the cow, the cow would move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away and he was never able to do the ‘deed’. The couple was very upset and decided to call in their vet who was reputed to be a very wise man.

Having been told their tale of woe and having observed the cow in the field with the bull, the vet rubbed his chin thoughtfully and pondered the situation for a few minutes before asking the couple. “Did you, by any chance, buy this cow in Ballyduff.”

The couple was amazed at the vet’s shrewdness because they had never mentioned where they purchased the cow. “You are truly a wise practitioner”, they said to him in admiration. “How on earth did you know we got the cow from Ballyduff?”

A look of sadness clouded the handsome vet’s face. “It’s like this”, he said, “my wife is from Ballyduff.”