Theatre gaining headlines, Ministerial visits and promises of jobs could apply to any edition of the Leitrim Observer but the promises of jobs for Manorhamilton led the news in our edition 20 years ago, along with news of sheep attacks and awards for the county’s acting talent.
Our front page of May 20, 1992 featured stories on former RTE star Donncha O’Dulaing arriving in Leitrim after marching from Glengarrif in Cork to recreate the epic journey of O’Sullivan Beara while another explorer and visionary, Robert Strawbridge, was honoured with the unveiling of a monument in Drumsna.
Eileen Ward’s Best Actress award in the All-Ireland Drama Finals in Athlone also received front page billing while an attack by wild dogs on sheep in the Keshcarrigan area received lots of notice on the inside pages.
But, then as now, the issue of jobs for Leitrim was the lead story with the news that four firms in Manorhamilton were to create new jobs in the area greeted warmly as Minister for Science & Technology, Michael Ahern, visited the town.
Under the headline “More jobs on the way”, Claire Casserly reported “The coming year will see a number of new jobs being created in Manorhamilton when four industrial firms announced their intentions for future expansion.”
The Minister was visiting the County to present Manorhamilton firm Elasto Metall with the ISO 9002 Quality Service award, the first firm in the country to receive the coveted award, and he commented “From my experience as Minister over the last number of years, there has been a change in the approach to job creation in the towns and villages.
“Local people are getting involved in bringing industry to the area. If you don’t have the local involvement, the chance of an industry working is much less. Local involvement is of prime importance. Local people are getting involved in selling their town and place.”
Claire Casserly also reported on the unveiling of a monument to Methodist founder Robert Strawbridge, the monument an exact replica of the stone standing over the grave of Strawbridge in Baltimore in America.
With members of the Methodist Church from Northern Ireland making the journey to Drumsna for the unveiling, Rev Tom Johnston commented that it was an historic day for the village of Drumsna - “We have come to commemorate one of its most famous sins and unveil this monument in his memory.”
History was very much on the mind of Donncha O’Dulaing when he completed his marathon walk from Glengarriff in Cork to Leitrim Village, the second time he had completed such a trek. This time, his walk was in aid of Earthwatch and Donncha used the occasion to call on politicians to put legislation in place to protect the environment.
Eileen Ward’s performance as Nora Dan in Brian Friel’s “The Communication Cord” won her the Best Actress award at the All-Ireland Drama Finals in Athlone and a place on the Observer front page. Carrigallen’s Corn Mill Theatre also finished third overall as the adjudicator remarked of Eileen’s performance “This was one of the finest pieces of comedy playing I have ever seen in this country.”
Page 5 of that week’s Observer carried a photo of Kieran McKeon and Liam Moran pictured with the remains of dead sheep who were killed by maurading dogs in Keshcarrigan. Kieran, whose losses to dog attacks amounted to an estimated €1,000, told the Observer that he had to shoot two dogs and appealed to dog owners to ensure their pets were locked up at night.
In the GAA world, Frank Holahan turned back the clock with a five-star, five goal performance as Drumreilly beat Glencar/Manorhamilton in the Senior League, 5-8 to 1-13, while Sean O’Heslin’s gained a small measure of revenge for their County Final defeat of the previous year when they accounted for a weakened Allen Gaels, 3-12 to 0-9.