Friday 6th September 2013

Claddaghduff National School celebrated its 50th Anniversary of the opening of the school.  Big preparations went on in advance with all the pupils who were enrolled on the very first day and all former teachers getting a special invitation.  There was an open invitation to the whole community to attend a special mass in the local church.  There was a large turnout for the occasion.

The mass was concelebrated with the parish priest Fr. James Ronayne and Fr. Tony Neville.  During the mass there was also a remembrance ceremony for the pupils who had passed away since the opening of the school.  The children brought up gifts from different aspects of the school life;  the School Register with the names of all pupils;  a painting representing the Arts;  a tin whistle representing the great love of music in the school;  a football to represent the commitment to sport and the success of the pupils in sporting activities.

After mass, everybody was invited to the school for refreshments.  All the parents had prepared wonderful food and treats for everybody.  A collection of old photos of past pupils was on display in the school library and a guest book for all in attendance to sign.  Much reminiscing took place as people pored over the photos trying to remember all the names and catching up with old friends.  There was a wonderful sense of community with parents, grandparents and children gathered together.

A BIG thank you to all who made the night possible:-  the families, the local Lotto, Sweeney's of Claddaghduff, the Community Hall, Station House Hotel in Clifden, and the many volunteers who were able to highlight the strong sense of community attached to the Claddaghduff National School.

Browse through the extensive gallery of photos taken in the school after the Mass - courtesy of Maura Nugent, who also supplied the text for this entry - thanks, Maura!!  



24th August 2013

On 24th August last members of the OMEY RAMBLERS and others (about 60 in all, we're told) above took part in a charity walk to raise funds for Cancer Care West. In wet and misty conditions they completed the '12 Bens Challenge'.

In the group photo taken on the road are, from left to right: Deirdre Burke, Deirdre Keyes, Michael Fitzpatrick, Karen O"Toole, Kenneth Delappe, Mike Coen, Anne Herlihy, Tom Kelly , Sean Earley.

We heard from Mike Coen (who kindly supplied photos), Kenneth De Lappe, Karen O'Toole, and others that it was one loooong day!It started at 5-6am, and was about 10 hours. The weather grew wet, and the intrepid group plodded on in tough conditions, REALLY deserving the sponsorships they got for such a great cause! We met them afterwards in Oliver's, and they seemed glad to be back, dry, warm, and "sipping" pints at the bar, with many a tale to tell. Well done all - sooner you than us!!!! See the gallery below (thanks, Mike!) for some more photos, which will give you an idea of just how intrepid this group are! Well done, all!!!


Chris O'Toole and Tommy Coyne Memorial Cup

Claddaghduff Hall, Sunday, 11th August

We hear there was a great turn-out for the Senior Badminton competition in the Claddaghduff Hall, during the day of Sunday 11th August.

Organised as usual by the Anita Daly/Kenneth de Lappe combo, there seems to have been tremendous participation, and great fun had by all - and some really high-class badminton played!

We haven't been told who the cup winners were yet, but as soon as we know, we'll name names!  Meantime, have a look through the extensive gallery of photos from Anita and Kenneth - and thanks to Karen O'Toole for getting them to us so quickly!!


CONNEMARA LINKS - Friday 9th August

There was a great turn-out for the annual 3-ball scramble, and the weather stayed dry throughout. We met some of the competitors as they arrived back in Oliver's, for a fine BBQ plus many of the tall frosty ones! However, we didn't stay until the small hours to find out who the lucky winners were. So we await further information; as soon as/if we receive it, we will cheerfully post it here.

Meanwhile...have a look through the gallery of photos taken by Richard Conneely, of a Grand Day Out:



Friday 9th August 2013

The Seafood cooking demonstration in Claddaghduff Hall was again very well-attended, and we hear great reports of it. Two visiting Germans from the Black Forest area attended, and indeed they were well pleased, as they won the cooked lobster!!! In return, they have provided the photos you'll find in the gallery below.

And click on the download link, directly above the gallery, to download a pdf file containing recipes and hints from this year's demo (note that something in the file we were given causes it to convert to a pdf with the pages reversed - just print it out without reversing the page-print order, and all will be well..).

Sea food and eat it 2013.pdf Sea food and eat it 2013.pdf
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Wednesday 7th August 2013

The Tug of War contest for the Michael Nugent Perpetual Memorial Trophy took place on a glorious evening, on Wednesday 7th August - as usual, in Hughes's Field, Sellerna.

As you'll see from the photos below, the teams pulled their little hearts out! After much puffing and straining, the winning team was that led by Dermot Mulkerrin, and the runners up was the team led by Joey De Courcey -  but we hear that it was a close-run thing!

Afterwards, the participants (and audience) 're-hydrated' in Newman's Bar, Cleggan; Michael Nugent Jnr presented the trophy to Dermot Mulkerrin and team;  and 2013 Festival Queen Michelle O'Toole presented medals to the hard-working runners-up.

The photos below were kindly provided by Maria Cafferkey and Marty Courcey:


Tuesday 6th August

The Seafood Buffet is always one of the most popular of the events in the Festival of the Sea calendar - and sure why wouldn't it be???

Noreen and Peter very generously give up one of the busiest restaurant business days of their year, so that the community can take over kitchen and restaurant facilities, to provide a seafood feast of their own, for locals and visitors alike.  Sooooo many women (and men - at their places at sink and with tea towels...) give up their time to prepare this sumptuous evening of celebration of the food that comes from the cleanest seas in the world, around the Aughrus Peninsula coast.

And what a feast it is!  There are shrimp, crabmeat, oysters, mussels, white fish of all kinds, smoked salmon, cold fresh salmon, you name it...accompanied by fresh brown bread, jellied beetroot, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise.... a really wonderful (and great value!) feast.

We can vouch for this - having appeared in Oliver's for an evening pint, but with camera in hand, we popped off a few hasty photos - see below - and without expecting it, didn't Tina Shannon appear with two dinner plates for us, laden with the most delightful seafood spread - thank you, Tina, and ALL of those hard-working women (all right, and men...)!!!

It was, as always, a wonderful night, with two completely full (in every sense of the word) sittings - and everybody MORE than satisfied.

Have a look at the small gallery below - photos this time by Heather Greer:



Tuesday 6th August

We're told by Marty Courcey (who - along with Joey De Courcey -  kindly provided the photos below of the group visiting the island, led by Michael Gibbons) that a really wonderful day was spent on Inishark, with Michael sharing his vast expertise with a group of some 65 people (the visit was to have been limited to 50, but such was its popularity that this was exceeded)!

We are told that a member of the Murray family - who had been resident on Inishark up to its depopulation in 1960 - was present, and this was very much appreciated by all. It meant that much first-hand information could be given to the group about life on the island, along with the information from Michael.

We hope to provide a more detailed account shortly of the day, and of some of the information provided and discussed, when we have an opportunity to sit down with Marty to chat it over. So do come back and read more in due course....


OMEY STRAND, 4th August 2013

Family Sports Day is always a tremendous favourite for all, young and old alike.  It took place on a beautiful day, on Omey Strand, and everyone had a grand time.  There were no winners or losers - EVERYBODY won!

Here's a selection of photos of the action, courtesy of photographer Richard Conneely:


MONDAY 5th August

Well, as usual, the Quizmaster, adept at extracting as much dough as possible from the hapless participants, was Kenneth de Lappe (a tired man, having spent the day running the Fun Triathlon!).  He oversaw the progress of not less than 17 tables during the Sweeney's traditional Table Quiz.

A great night was had by all.  The eventual winning team consisted of a very proud Daragh and Fiona Monahan, Dave Piggott and Conor Laffey - with NO help from smartphones and Wikipedia, honest...

We're told that "Denise" won a hat trick of prizes - and we were sent a photo to prove it (see right) - it's a pretty wonky photo....she's waving a bottle around, so maybe that explains it?

And so on goes the Festival of the Sea - the best ever to date! Again, congrats all round!!

Small Gallery below - courtesty of Maria Cafferky (again), plus one of the winning team from a delighted Daragh Monahan!


Monday 5th August 2013

Well, it was a good day for the Fun Triathlon, and lots of entries, mostly teams but some individuals doing all three legs.

To be honest, for a Fun Triathlon, it was hard enough going, at least for this 67-year old website builder (I'm unashamedly making this part of the reportage on the Festival personal, since this was my first competitive event for 60 years, since I did the egg n spoon race in National School; so today I'm feeling tired but happy..!  I had my daughter Nicoline (right)  here for the run part (which, at 6km, was actually almost exactly the same course as the Omey Dash, though longer!), and the redoubtable Emma Walsh (below) as the cyclist. They made up a lot of the ground I lost in doing the swim.

The swim was around a course off Aughrus Pier; the cycle started from there and proceeded around the peninsula, up the hill by O'Toole's house, over to Claddaghduff, and handing over to the runners at the Church. The runners ran around the peninsula too, over Laragan (with the steep hill near to the end, and the finish was at the Church.

This website doesn't yet have the names of all the winners, or the competitors/overall times, but if we're given them, we'll get them up here. So please do check back soon!

Meantime, there's a gallery below of photos - the swimming ones taken by Mary Lovett, and the others by me (couldn't include cycle photos, as we were getting from Aughrus Pier to the Church while that was happening...):


Well, Saturday night (3rd August) was when the 2013 Festival was officially opened in Newman's Bar in Cleggan - and the 2013 QUEEN OF THE FESTIVAL was chosen!!

Hosted by Bernie and Richie Newman, and compered by the inimitable Daragh Monahan, the worthy Queen for 2013 - after many tests and trials - was adjudged to be MICHELLE O'TOOLE, sponsored by SUPERVALU.  Congratulations, Michelle!!

The runner up by a short head was SIOBHAN HOGAN, of Brooks Stables - well done to Siobhan.

And a wonderful night was had by all, we're told!

View the photos below, all courtesy of Maria Cafferky, rapidly becoming one of the key photographers for the 2013 Festival - thanks, Maria!


 It was a perfect day for a run!  And 50 runners (well, there were 50 listed finishers, anyway) - 26 men and 24 women - ran the run, a tough one: 10k up and down the road of the Peninsula, starting at the Moorneen Crossroads (well, the Sellerna crossroads) and running up the tank road and round the peninsula to finish at Cleggan Harbour.  Congratulations all round!!!

The race was organised as always by Kevin Ward and helpers, and all went smoothly.

Overall winner was David Dwyer (see photo on left) with a time of 37 minutes, 17.89 seconds;  and first woman home was Grainne Costello (37 minutes, 53.89 seconds) - see below for the first four men and women.  It was a close-run thing for the women!!!  Less than a second separated Grainne and second woman home, Deirdre Brophy; so it was almost a photo-finish (see gallery below for a photo)!

As you'll see in the photos, there were actually more than 50 competitors!  Two men with buggies (yes, babies in them!) crossed the line:  Cormac McDonnell and Cathal Mulkerrins - the Aughrus Peninsula's 'new [and fit] men'! Actually, we have our serious doubts about Cathal, since his name doesn't appear on the list of finishers; so we wonder whether he and baby may have been chancing their arms?  But Cormac is there all right, albeit in last place (see photo on right). Trouble is, he may well have received assistance from the baby, so we wonder whether he's all that legal...

Congratulations all round to the 10k runners and organisers, and thanks to Maria Cafferky for the first six of the photos you see in the gallery below; and to Yvonne de Lappe for the remainder - she took many more, all superb, so this is just a sample which we feel we can fit in, to give you an idea of what a grand day it was.

First home (with times) were as follows:


First:         Grainne Costello (43:53.89)

Second:     Deirdre Brophy (43:54.57)

Third:        Marie Gallagher (44:00.10)

Fourth:      Sarah Eustace (48:53.59)


First:         David O'Dwyer (37:17.89)

Second:     Sean Nee (38:09.10)

Third:        David King (39:12.06)

Fourth:      Chris Young (39:59.40)

As we say above, photos (so far) courtesy of Maria Cafferky:


It's kind of a custom that the annual Superstars, organised by the Pier Bar and helpers in Cleggan, takes place over two evenings which are sort of dry, sort of wet, and sort of cloudy - and this year was no exception. It doesn't really matter that much, since the Superstars activities generally involve the doughty contestants getting down, dirty, and wet...And forced into all kinds of strange and somewhat arcane competition.

And we can proudly announce the winners!  They're as follows:


First:         Eimear Heanue (hope we got that spelling right...)

Second:     Barbara O'Connor

Third:        Emma Walsh

Fourth:      Anita Daly


First:         Brian O'Toole

Second:     Ger Mac (that's how the name was given to us, anyways...)

Third:        Noel Walsh

Fourth:      Thomas King

Fifth:          Kevin Ward

Sixth:         Kevin Sheppard

Seventh:    Fergal Woods

Well done all round - and remember: "it's always better to be a good winner than a good winner" (or whatever my mother always used to say to me when I lost...).

Anyway, it all went off fabulously as usual, and our thanks go to Maria Cafferky for sending us a few photos  - see the small gallery below!



All photos for this year's Omey Races by kind permission of

photographer Richard Conneely.

There were (for once...) beautiful sunny conditions for the world-famous Omey Races, held during low tide on the broad expanse of Omey Strand - between the Claddaghduff mainland and Omey Island.  For once, the day held fair, with scarcely a cloud in sight and not a single rain shower to dampen the enthusiasm.

At the centre of the day, of course, was the series of thrilling pony races, attracting great interest from the cheering crowd, most of whom had at least a euro or two 'up the nose' of one or other of the ponies.  These are relatively small racing ponies, ridden by very young but highly trained and experienced jockeys;  the speed, and the flying sand and water, make for a tremendous spectacle.  And uniquely, these are NOT point-to-point beach races, but rather they are races around a more or less circular course.

But there were also the other attractions - not, as in the 1950s, Roulette table and other gambling tents, but.... the lines of bookies, the drinks stalls, the fast-food outlets, the bouncy castle, the other stalls selling riding equipment, hats, and you-name-it....

And the crowds!  The Omey Races always attracts bumper crowds, but this year - as one of the event's main organisers, Feicin Mulkerrin, told us, there was a record attendance, up by more than 1,000 on the previous biggest.  So the event goes on from strength to strength. Indeed, the Omey Races are conservatively estimated as being second only to the Connemara Pony Show in Clifden, in terms of the size of crowd it attracts; and it may well be pulling into first place by now! The event is regularly covered not alone by the Regional press, but by the nationals such as the Irish Times, and RTE television and other stations. It has been covered by the New York Times and by French and Italian media!  Its visitors are drawn from all around the world.

One of the annual contests in the Omey Races isn't between the ponies at all, but between the organisers and the inexorable tide.  In fact, this year, the first race, billed as starting at 1.00pm, was delayed somewhat by a tide that refused to go down as quickly as it should have done.  And of course there is the race to get all of the stands, bookies, race management rigs, music stands, stalls and spectators' cars on and off the strand in between the flood and ebb tides.  As usual, it was managed impeccably and with almost casual aplomb, by the large team of by-now experienced organisers and helpers. Malachy (prop of Sweeney's Bar) looks on anxiously in the photo above.  Feicin Mulkerrin and Malachy are reckoned as the 'leading lights' in organising the Omey Races.

Have a browse through the selection of photos of this year's races, kindly provided by courtesy of photographer Richard Conneely (and copyright Richard Conneely, too!):


Below, you'll find a link with downloadable pdf file containing the results/times for the 2013 Omey Dash (results ex redtagtiming.com).  PLUS...A gallery of photos - more or less in random order - taken by photographer RICHARD CONNEELY and given to the site via the Omey Dash Facebook page (thanks, Dorothy).

Special congratulations to:

- ADRIAN CROMBIE (Wicklow T.C.) - First male (time 1:11:15)

- CLIODHNA RUADHAIN (Tri Sport) - First female (time 1:21:11)

- TEAM DASHERS (Tri Conn T.C.) - First Relay team (time 1:12:13)

But...actually....congratulations to ALL of the participants - 89 individuals or teams in all, with 88 official finishers.  All heroes!

And...congratulations to the Omey Dash Committee, organisers and many helpers, for what was a fabulous day of sport, fabulously organised, and on a fabulous sunny day on the Aughrus Peninsula!!!


Just click on the link below to download the official results/times:


Sunday June 30th dawned wet and windy with low visibility, however the forecast was for the day to improve! By 10.30 am the sky was brightening a little and things were looking up! The Connemara Pony judge Eddie Madden went into the show-ring with Ring Steward Louise Coyne at 11.45 and Class One – The Yearling Colt class began. This was followed by the other junior classes and by 1pm the Junior Championship was underway. The Junior Champion was the 2 year old filly - Carragh May owned by Padraic and Nicola Heanue, Ballinaboy and Reserve was the 3 year old filly- Noinin Cashel owned by Caroline Lydon, Carraroe, who also won the The Mikey Heffernan Perpetual Shield for the best turned out pony from the junior classes.

During the lunch break in the pony ring Nikitta and Ivor McLoughlin exhibited 2 Alpacas owned by Mr Guy Edwards. By now the sun had arrived and the weather improved greatly. By 12 noon the cattle and sheep had arrived and were in their pens. The judging began in the Sheep section at 1pm, followed by the cattle, Mr PJ Walsh travelled from Ballinrobe to judge. Dog Show entries were taken from 12.30 to 1.30 and Ms Joan Geoghegan from Oughterard began judging at 2pm.

By 1.30 The Young Handlers Class had begun in the pony ring – in this class the ponies are shown by people between 10 and 17 years of age. There was a little extra excitement during the class this year as one of the rams from the sheep section decided to take a stroll through the pony ring, his stroll came to an abrupt end when he met his match in Paraic Folan from Carraroe who quickly returned him to his owner! The class resumed and luckily nobody or animal was injured!

Kevin Bolger of the well known Bolger family in Ballyconneely won the stallion class with Gurteen Cathal, they proceeded to win the Mikey Heffernan Perpetual Cup for the best turned out pony in the senior classes and the Sweeney Cup for the Champion Of The Show, Reserve Champion was Padraic Hynes with his mare Canal Laura who won the 4 to 6 yr old mare class.

During the afternoon the face painting and bouncing castle which were provided by the committee free of charge were very popular, well known local artist Linda Kennedy excelled at the face painting and there were some very happy faces to be seen! Local crafts people Shona O'Malley, Mary Teresa O'Malley and Irene King Staunton had stalls selling their wares. Budding artists of the future who had entered the “ name the pony & colouring competition “  waited for local artist Cathal O’Malley to judge, he had a difficult task but the winner was Hannah Conneely from Errislannan, who’s entry “ Bay Shadow”  - the bay stallion dreaming about mares - showed some great flair ! She won a lovely cup and gift voucher from The Clifden Bookshop, Runner up was Cliona Dunne from Cashel. The school with the most entries was Cashel National School! There were also cups, medals etc for the soccer competition and the fastest potato picker competition!

The committee are most grateful to The Sweeney Family, Martin A Coyne, Claddaghduff Hall Committee, Lucy Mc Evilly, Connemara Horse & Country Wear, Supervalu Clifden, Kevin O'Boyle, The Roundstone Show Committee and everyone who sponsored classes, exhibited, attended, placed ads, or made a donation to the show.

Everyone agreed that it was lovely to see Claddaghduff  Show back and hopefully it will go from strength to strength. Due to the committee size we could not have craft classes this year but we hope to gain some new members and be able to have them next year, new members are very welcome!!

Do browse through the photo gallery below.  All photos were taken by well known photographer Tom Broderick - very highly recommended by the Pony Show organisers for his great work and helpfulness!! Anyone looking for a great photographer in the area can reach Tom at 086-886-1052.



Dusty Banjos, the well-known trad music organisation set up to support adults taking up or returning to playing traditional music, attracted a great crowd for its fifth annual Cleggan Music Weekend, held on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd June.

Friday 21st June was also the longest day of the year, and it was National Music Day - and the Dustys session was one of the events highlighted by the national organisation, love:live music, selected out of hundreds of events on that day held nation-wide.

Around 60 musicians, singers and dancers turned up to play in the two main events - a session on the Friday night in Newman's Bar, and another on the Saturday night in Oliver's.  Dustys were delighted to welcome lots of the local dancers and singers, as well as proprietors Richie Newman and Peter Higgins from the two host bars.  There was music throughout the day also in Oliver's, with musicians and singers starting informal sessions outside of the publicised sessions.

It was great that we had so many young local dancers taking part; they all had a truly great reception, so thanks to Alice and all the other dancers!!

Among those performing were a Canadian couple, fiddlers both:  John and Jacqui O'Connor.  Having heard of Dusty Banjos through www.dustybanjos.com, and having bought some of the Dustys CDs, they arrived in Cleggan especially to attend and play in the sessions over the weekend.  And a regular German visitor to Ireland, Wilhelm Scherschlicht - who has been a visitor to Ireland for some 30 years, and who last year had a life-time ambition realised when he sang "A Song For Ireland" at the 2012 Dusty Banjos Weekend - also came to Cleggan specially to attend and sing again during this year's weekend.  There were also many other visitors from outside of Ireland, including a large contingent from the US, who declared it "the highlight of their whole holiday";  many from France;  and visitors from many other European countries, along with lots of locals.

A great time was had by all, and even now people are asking, "When will the 2014 Cleggan Music Weekend be held?"  The answer is simple and always the same:  the weekend nearest to the longest day;  so don't forget to put it in your diary for 2014!

Check out the extensive photo gallery below - and just beneath the gallery, click on the download, for a copy of the Connemara Journal's coverage of the event - THANKS to the fabulous Connemara Journal for that!

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Why do we mention it here?  Well, of course because the young musicians from our community took part in it, of course!!  It's a truly wonderful initiative, promoting peace and reconciliation, via the Cross-Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI); it's a not-for-profit venture. For our own young musicians to have the opportunity of participating was not only an honour, but a true opportunity!

If you would like to read more about the National Peace Proms 2013 and the events planned, including the massive concert which took place in Galway with participation from the choir from Claddaghduff School (and other schools in Connemara), just click HERE

The performance of greatest interest locally was a wonderful performance which took place on SATURDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2013, in NUIG's KINGFISHER HALL, from 2.00-4.40pm. Children from third to sixth class in Claddaghduff School took part in this concert, along with children from eight other schools from Co Galway - what a wonderful opportunity for those involved, and it was an event they will never forget.

By all accounts, it was a thrilling event, and a chance to see our own young people involved in a truly fantastic, all-Ireland concert performance. Many of the folk who attended the concert - who maybe wouldn't usually enjoy such an event - came away with only the most positive of comments about it - truly a day of great pride in the achievements of the local youngsters!!!