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Minutes of Castlegregory Community Council

Minutes of Castlegregory Community Council Meeting Held in the Clubrooms at 8pm on 12 January 2016

Present: Absent with apologies: Marcia Ganter (Chairperson) Lucy Dowling (Vice Secretary) Sean Spillane (Treasurer) Keith Woodward (Vice Chair) Martha Flynn (Secretary) Sandra Fitzgibbon Mandy Browne (Vice Treasurer) Tom Ferriter Martin Lynch Daragh Rohan (P.R.) Kieran Browne Eamonn O’Connor Dominic Spillane Pat O’Shea Hannah Hennessy (P.R.) Michael Cahillane Secretary

Report Minutes of last meeting read. Proposed and seconded. Minutes signed off.

2 Financial Report Funds available to Community Council to date are €44,850. Commercial rate for use of clubrooms has changed from €10 to €12 per hour. Majority of users of the clubrooms have been contacted and all have agreed to pay more. Only two remaining groups to be contacted and one group that was contacted to get back to the council regarding fees. As a result, income from clubrooms should go up by 25%. Playground Waiting for survey drawings from KCC. Meeting with KCC either Thursday 14th or Friday 15th Jan 2016. Eamonn now drawing up playground design. Hope to have application in by the end of the month. The West End Hall Electrical work starting Wednesday 13 Jan 2016 in West end hall which will include a coin meter in the hall and the Mina Hill building at a cost of €2,300. Three quotes received for roof repair of West end hall. Also a quote received for a temporary repair job to the roof until the weather improves. Strictly come Dancing night moved to the Hillgrove Hotel in Dingle due to condition of the floor, the leaking roof and the stage size. The Community Council would like to wish Clarissa all the best with this event. Plummer required to fix leak in toilets. Michael asked for toilets and kitchen to be cleaned before Pantomime.

3 Michael also requested use of the Mina Hill building during the pantomime for costume changing. Permission given. Wren Ball Cancelled due to a complaint and Community Council inability to have alcohol served without a licence, In order for this not to happen in the future, when procuring bar exemptions, publicans will be notified in writing of dates obtained and that they would sign a document confirming their agreement. Discussed, proposed and second. All in favour. Summer Festival Sub-committee formed consisting of: Mandy, Daragh, Hannah, Michael, Dominic and Kieran. Storm Festival DPTA is promoting a peninsula wide storm festival on the 5th, 6th and 7th of Feb. 2016. Castlegregory Community Council have decided to put on a dinner on Sat. 6th Feb at 6pm called Cooking up a Storm in Castlegregory. A three course meal will be served consisting of a starter, a choice of two mains and three desserts, tea/coffee. Price €12 per adult and €7 per child under 12 years. Council hope to cater up to 80 people on the night. Youth Council will help with catering – 8 to 10 people needed for this. Also hope to have a raffle on the night, looking for vouchers locally. Each member of the council asked to try and get 4 people to attend the dinner.

4 There will also be a photo exhibition, relating to storms, running for the weekend in the clubrooms, at least 8 local photographers to and photographs will be on sale. Village Rejuvenation Need to look into the possibility of fixing up the Pearse Hall. Maharees School Building Health and Safety issue at present. Need to find out who owns the building. Not sure if St Brendan’s Trust is involved. Community Council looking into taking it on and make it into a heritage centre possibly. Coastal Erosion Discussion on what can be done to prevent further erosion of the Community’s coastline. Community needs to come together as a whole to try to get funding etc. to prevent any further erosion where possible.

Crime Prevention and Community Alert Texting

A meeting will be held in The Clubrooms on Friday 23rd October at 8pm regarding the above. We would like to have people from all areas of Castlegregory, from the business community and from all organizations : GAA,Golf Club, Active Retired, Caravan Parks etc.

Thanks for your cooperation.

A very pleasant stay

`Sheila at the guest house where I would be staying in Castlegregory greeted me with a warm welcome and offered me a cup of tea on arrival, despite it being just after 12am on Friday 27th March. After a long car journey, despite the lateness of the hour, I was glad to accept.Shortly after being shown to my room a 'midnight feast'of tea and fruit cake then appeared , beautifully presented on a tray with a white china tea set.I mention this because it set the tone for my shoryt visit to Ireland,where the hospitality was warm and welcoming,nothing seemed too much trouble and everything appeared to have thought behind it. This, after a two and a half hour journey from Shannon Airport which didnt seem it at all as I'd been engaged in friendly conversation with Clarissa Michaux and her mother all the way(who was charming and as our 'tour guide' kept pointing out lovely details and things to note along the route, to which I couldn't help but smile as Clarissa reminded her it was pitch black outside and we couldn't see anything). the following morning i was collected and the car journey started off with us waiting for several cows to meander past us on the road to the first venue of the day.We then drove across a mountain pass with the spectacle of the morning mist rising off the mountains and also passed some beautifulsea views along the way.All very stressful! we arrived at Colaiste Ida(an all-irish girls boarding school situated two miles outside of Dingle town in the West Kerry Gaeltacht)at around 9am and this was to be the first of two venues for the day. It was interesting to learn that when you sit a school exam in Ireland and answer it in Irish you gain a 100 extra points for this is an encouragement to preserve the language, and that every one of the students at Colaiste Ida does this. this was the first time they've had ballet or any form of dance examsat the school and as such,I ws the first dance examiner ever to be welcomed there.Clarissas younger sister Evangeline was my music operator for the occasion, which consisted of 4 groups of grade 3 Ballet candidates.Before leaving the schoolI ws introduced to the principal which was a thoughtful touch to the visit that clarissa had pre-arranged. I appreciated being able to thank her personally for accommodating the examsat her school and she in turn thanked me for coming and wished me well for the afternoons examining ahead.We made our way back to the other venue in Castlegregory for further exams before lunch.After this the session continued into the afternoonand the day closed with 5 Intermediate Balet candidates.after what had been a most enjoyable day i arrived back at my accommodation for a second nights stayreadying myself for the 4.30am alarm that was to be my cue to be ready for being picked up the following morning by Clarissa and the return 2 and a half hour drive back to the airport(and for Clarissa a 5 hour round journey) In amongst all the preparations and attentions to detail, both large and small,for the smooth running of the day,Clarissa also somehow managed totake a professional exam herself and the dance Exercise Diploma, and to remain unflustered and a delight ful hostess throughout. written by Elizabeth Harris

Feedback from a German Visitor

It is always good to get feedback from visitors to our area and we would like to share with you the comments of a German guest who stayed in Corinne Bonnin's B & B Happy ' We found her completely by chance on a rainy, dark evening in April and we were lucky, we had a great time for a week and would like to say a big thank you and we want others to know what a warm welcome you can get there - come as a stranger, leave as a friend'

Castlegregory and The Lusitania

Castlegregory and The Lusitania


         100 years ago, on 7 May, the Cunard ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank off the Old Head of Kinsale with the loss of 1,198 lives. For some time after the event, bodies washed up along the shores of the south west of Ireland, one even found as far north as Galway. In July 1915 the tragedy would impact on the local communities in the Castlegregory/Cloghane area. During that month two bodies were washed up on local beaches, both of them victims of German U-boats. On 11 July 1915, a body was discovered on Stradbally Beach and it was immediately assumed to be a victim of the Lusitania. However, it transpired that the body was that of an American by the name of Leon C Thresher who had been on board the SS Falaba which had been torpedoed and sunk on 28 March 1915. As the only American to die on the Falaba, his death became known as the ‘Thresher Incident’ in the American media and almost led to early U.S. involvement in the First World War. Mr Thesher’s body is believed to be buried in the graveyard at Stradbally.

            leon        victor e shiels          retta cohen shields

              Leon C Thresher         Victor E Shields    Retta Cohen Shields              

        A week later, on 17 July, a badly decomposed body was found by locals on the beach in Brandon Bay. They sent for the R.I.C. (Royal Irish Constabulary) and the local sergeant from Castlegregory, a man by the name of Regan, who promptly took control of the situation. It became clear very quickly that this body was definitely from the Lusitania, as part of the still attached life-jacket bore the name of the ship. Letters and personal belongings found on the body identified it as that of Victor E Shields, a first class passenger on the Lusitania.

Sergeant Regan contacted the coroner in Tralee who informed him that an autopsy would not be necessary; so Regan arranged to have the body buried in the old graveyard in Cloghane. He wrote a letter to the American Consul, Wesley Frost, stating that they had done everything they could and had treated the body with the greatest respect and dignity. He offered his deepest sympathies to Mrs Shields, little realising that she too had perished on the Lusitania. Mrs Shields’ body was never recovered, or at least never identified, and she could possibly be one of the many unidentified females from the Lusitania buried in the Old Church Graveyard in Cobh.

       Mr Shields was an American from Cincinnati, Ohio. Aged 45, he lived with his wife, Retta, at 3406 Burnet Avenue in the Avondale area of the city and ran a successful liquor business on East Pearl Street. At the time of his death he left an estate worth over $100,000, a lot of money even now.

The Shields had no children, but on learning of the discovery of the body, the siblings of Shields, like many other families caught in the trauma and grief of the tragedy, wanted to know the exact cause of death; be it by drowning, exposure or injuries suffered in the explosion. They asked for an autopsy to be carried out on the remains. The body was exhumed and Dr John Higgins, from the North Infirmary in Cork, conducted the autopsy at the local undertakers in Cloghane on 23 July, with the American Consul Frost in attendance. The autopsy proved to be inconclusive, as the poor state of the remains made it difficult to establish the true cause of death, with Higgins noting ‘the probability is that death was brought about as a result of shock or exposure, probably the former.’ Mr Shields’ body was returned to the coffin and shipped to America where it was later re-interred. 

       Frost, in a letter to the American government praised the actions of Sergeant Regan and the locals in the way they had dealt with a very difficult situation and suggested that ‘the estate of Mr. Shields should forward from two to five pounds to the sergeant and his colleagues for the excellent spirit in which they discharged their duties.’

        Although America would not enter the First World War until 1917 the sinking of the Lusitania would prove to be a pivotal moment as the loss of American lives, including that of the unfortunate Victor Shields and his wife Retta, helped to turn public opinion in the US against Germany. 

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