Death of the Islands? – Funding cuts announcement threatens very existence of offshore communities claim islanders

Death of the Islands? – Funding cuts announcement threatens very existence of offshore communities claim islanders

Bere Island. Pic: Helen Riddel

Bere Island. Pic: Helen Riddel

ISLAND communities across West Cork as well as along the entire West Coast say that cuts to core funding allocations to non – Gaeltacht Islands will lead to the islands becoming unviable as permanent communities.


The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has announced that it is to terminate funding to their five Community Development Companies Offices from December 31st, 2014.

The cuts ammounting to €600,000 will affect six of West Cork’s seven inhabited islands: Bere Island, Sherkin Island, Dursey Island, Whiddy Island, Long Island and Heir Island as well as Inishbofin in Galway and Inishturk and Clare Island in Mayo.


The termination of core funding for Island Community Groups has come as a shock to islanders. Representatives from the Islands now plan to hold a press conference at Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin on Wednesday, November 19th at 4.30pm calling on Environment Minister Alan Kelly to provide core funding under an Islands Development Programme that will save these vital services on the islands.


According to John Orpen, the vice chair of the West Cork Islands Community Council, “The withdrawal of this funding will mean the collapse of a wide range of programmes, activities and initiatives on the islands. Current funding enables the Community Development Company Offices to provide supports and services to all Islanders. For example, the funding gives us the capacity to organise educational training courses, run programmes like childcare services, island waste management, island festivals, tourism projects, manage community buildings and provide representation for the Islands.”

Tim O Leary from the West Cork Islands says, “On the islands, the Community Offices have become the heartbeat of the Islands. The Islanders have come to rely on the Offices to drive initiatives and programmes on their behalf. If the funding is pulled on December 31st, these services will go into terminal decline, resulting in a hugely negative impact on island life.”


Since 1994 it has been government policy to provide core funding to Island Development Companies on the non-Gaeltacht Islands. Since 1994 special recognition has been given to communities on non-Gaeltacht Islands through the Islands Development Programme.


The core funding to the Island Development Companies was designed to facilitate the Government’s remit to support the work of voluntary and community organisations on the non-Gaeltacht islands. Special emphasis was placed on assisting projects which address disadvantage and social exclusion. The core funding, as it is applied to islands, takes into account the unique features affecting islands and the specific needs of island communities.


According to the Irish Islands Federation, the representative body for the inhabited offshore islands of Ireland without the Community Development Offices the islands will “lose their community structure and all the work that the offices are responsible for on behalf of the Island communities”.


They say that many services will be lost to these islands as a result including activities for marginalized and disadvantaged within the community, youth services, elderly services, playgroup services, after school services, waste management facilities, community employment and training schemes, community services programme, rural social scheme, island festivals, rural transport services, employment support, training/educational courses, tourism projects, running of community buildings, support for voluntary groups and much more.


A spokesperson said, “The termination of core funding will have devastating consequences on the work that is being undertaken by the Islands Community Development Offices on the Islands.


“The termination in funding goes directly against the report of the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Island Development (1996), which stated that the non-Gaeltacht Islands should have structures similar to the Gaeltacht Islands. The management committees of the five Island Community Development Companies believe that the termination in core funding will have disastrous short, medium and long-term effects on the Island communities they represent.


“All of the work that has been done over the years as mentioned above along with training volunteers and staff, networks set up, contacts made etc. will all be lost and the Islands will never recover. Great work has been done over the last number of years on the non – Gaeltacht islands at a local, regional, national and European level and it will now all cease due to the termination of funding.”

Courtmac lifeboat rescues stricken fishing vessel

Courtmac lifeboat rescues stricken fishing vessel

The lifeboat crew under coxswain Mark Gannon as they arrived back to Courtmacsherry Pier.

The lifeboat crew under coxswain Mark Gannon as they arrived back to Courtmacsherry Pier.

THE Courtmacsherry lifeboat was called out on Sunday morning to go to the aid of a 90ft fishing vessel that had got into difficulties while fishing 35 miles off the coast of Seven Heads in West Cork and sought assistance.

The lifeboat with a crew of seven volunteers were underway within minutes and headed to the scene of the casualty which was due south of the Old Head of Kinsale, beyond the gas fields. The lifeboat located the fishing boat drifting at 12.20pm and took the boat, with its crew of five, in tow.

After a six and a half hour tow in moderate force 4/5 conditions, the lifeboat completed the berthing of the 120 Tonne stricken vessel at the pier in Union Hall. The lifeboat has now returned to its base in Courtmacsherry and the crew have returned to their homes after an eventful day. The Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat Operations Manager, Brian O’Dwyer praised the quick response this Sunday morning of the voluntary Lifeboat crew from all walks of life and work, who carried out the day-long rescue in a well drilled and skilful manner.

They were at sea for nearly 11 hours in total. Of interest as well is the fact the The Courtmacsherry lifeboat only just held its first ever joint exercise with the newly formed RNLI inshore lifeboat station at Union Hall. The crew on the call out were coxswain Mark Gannon, mechanic Chris Guy and crew, Dave Philips, Dean Hennessy, Billy O’Donovan and the father and son team of Micheal and Ciaran Hurley.

Union Hall RNLI volunteers answer first call out

Union Hall RNLI volunteers answer first call out

union hall RNLI

The Union Hall lifeboat ‘Maritime Nation’.

UNION Hall RNLI responded to its first call out on Thursday Nov 13th since becoming operational last September. Volunteers Anthony Walsh, Lee Miles and Tim Forde launched the B Class Atlantic 75 lifeboat at 12.03pm on Thursday. The lifeboat, ‘Maritime Nation’ was launched to aid two small leisure craft drifting aground at Mill Cove, Rosscarbery.

No persons were found on board and the crew returned to the RNLI station shortly before lunchtime. Weather conditions were poor, with a Force 4-5 winds and a south-easterly swell. The call out marked the voluntary crew’s first emergency response since the lifeboat station became operational in Union Hall two months ago.

Lifeboat Operations Manager John Kelleher said he was happy with the crew’s response time of 7 minutes. “I’m very happy with the response time and performance of the lifeboat crew and the shore crew. They have been training consistently every week, it’s a big commitment and we are glad to see that has paid off on our first call out,” he said.

Meanwhile, fundraising for the lifeboat continues with a series of three table quizzes taking place in Union Hall on Nov 21st, 28th and Dec 5th. A painting of the lifeboat by local artist Avril McDermott will be raffled at Dinty’s Bar on the final quiz night, Dec 5th.

The fundraising branch has stocked local shops with RNLI Christmas cards and extend their thanks to Myross Rowing Club for a recent donation of €2,500, raised by members who competed in two charity rowing events.

Skibb Smiles Wellness Day

Skibb Smiles Wellness Day

wellness-busby Christina Cassidy

Skibb Smiles Wellness Day will take place on Friday 14th of November at Cumasu Wellness Bus, Fields CarPark. All are welcome and its free entry. This is in aid of SkibbSmiles,  a Youth-in-Action initiative which is dedicated to promote youth mental health run through the Skibbereen Community & Family Resource Centre. This is funded by Leargas.

From 10.00 am to 2.00pm a Haiku Workshop will take place. This is a simple three line poem focussing on images of nature.

From 2.00 to 3.30pm Jewellery making with Laoise will take place. Using paper, cork and other bits and bobs, learn how to make your own piece of wearable art.

from 3.30 to 5.00pm there will be a Human orchestra. You may bring your own instrument and use it and your voice to preform music.

From 5.00 to 7.00pm there will be mask making for teenagers and from 7 to 8pm, teenage band ‘Independent Scouts’ will be doing music.

For more information call 086 7777087 or visit their Facebook page,

Little Voices, songs from a school

Little Voices, songs from a school

Recording the CD in the local Church

Recording the CD in the local Church

LISHEEN is a small, rural, farming and fishing community 8km west of Skibbereen, County Cork. At the heart of this close-knit community is the vibrant and active Lisheen National School. There are 70 boys and girls (aged 4 – 12) attending the school and they are passionate about music and song. Almost all children attend either guitar, tinwhistle, ukulele or piano lessons which are taught in the school after hours, and many learn other instruments such as bodhrán, banjo and violin outside of school.

Many of the children are multi-instrumentalists and all share a joy of singing. Musically, they have grown in confidence and gone from strength to strength in recent years. The highlight this year was performing on stage at the National Concert Hall as finalists in the Walton’s Music for Schools Competition.

Christmas has always been a special time in Lisheen, with the children performing their annual Nativity Play in the local church and participating in several local carol services, performing with the school band and singing increasingly challenging choral and harmony pieces. Over the past year, Niamh McCarthy, the music teacher at Lisheen (who is also the Junior Room Class Teacher), had been thinking of a way to harness the children’s musical talent and combine it with some greater good in terms of charity. She decided to record a Christmas CD, and set about choosing a charity for which to fundraise. Unfortunately, cancer is far too familiar to many people and something in this area seemed like a very worthy cause.

Cancer Connect is a free, flexible and confidential transport service to Cork hospitals from West Cork for people receiving radiotherapy, chemotherapy and associated scans, tests etc. The service began in Lisheen in 2011 and has since spread throughout West Cork, with over 10,000 passenger journeys amassed to date. Volunteers from across West Cork drive for Cancer Connect, and it is their kindness and goodwill that has ensured every community member has access to his/her treatment. Dealing with cancer is traumatic in itself; Cancer Connect hopes to alleviate some of the transport pressure by offering a transport service to meet individual needs. Cancer Connect is an invaluable service for anyone in the West Cork area who is battling cancer, and indeed great comfort for all their families. It was decided that the children of Lisheen would sing “Carols for Cancer Connect”.

All 70 pupils were involved, with a large number of children from First Class upwards volunteering to give up hours after school to polish up their performances. The children were split into “tune”, “harmony” and “instrument” groups, each meeting on a different day with Ms. McCarthy for some fine tuning. Rehearsals would need to be completed and recording done before mid-term break if the CD could be mixed and produced in time for the Christmas market.

Meanwhile, Niamh was working with some parents on the album title and cover. Lisheen school is painted green, with a bright red front door, and inspiration was drawn from these Christmas colours for the artwork. “Little Voices, Songs from a School” was chosen as the album title and an illustration was commissioned which depicted children singing from inside the school, with a holly wreath on the door and snow falling gently over Lisheen – very festive indeed.

On Tuesday 21st October, the entire school spent the day recording their CD in Lisheen Church. The small school bus ferried the children to the church in batches where they sparkled through multiple takes of each of their ten album tracks like true professionals.  There were free biscuits for everyone at break time and when asked afterwards, many of the Infant children cited “the bus and the biscuits” as the best thing about the day. Photographs of recording day can be found on the school website ( in the photo gallery under the tab “Recording Little Voices”.

The next part of the project was raising funds to cover the €1000 production costs of the CD. The school wrote to many local businesses outlining the project and requesting help with defraying the costs. In return for any contribution, the school committed to print the name of all business sponsors on the CD booklet. The people of Skibbereen and the surrounding area were extremely generous and supportive and the entire cost was raised successfully. This means that every cent from the sale of the CD can now go directly to Cancer Connect.

On Monday evening, December 1st, the CD will be launched officially at a party in the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen. The children will perform several of their album tracks (such as Silent Night, Little Donkey, The Little Drummer Boy) and all sponsors will be invited to attend. The CD will be on sale for the first time that evening to parents and public alike. At a price of €10, beautifully presented and sounding note-perfect, it will make an ideal Christmas gift. After all, is there anything more beautiful than children’s voices at Christmas time?

West Cork live register numbers continue to decline

West Cork live register numbers continue to decline

NEW figures show the number of people in Cork signing on has fallen by 4,298 year-on-year.There were 34,151 people on the Live Register in Cork in October, compared to 38,449 in October of last year.

A further breakdown of local figures reveals that things are moving in the right direction in West Cork. There was a 12.11% decrease recorded in live register figures in Bandon, a 11.46% decrease in Skibbereen, 9.50% in Kinsale and 8.06% in Bantry.

Local Labour TD Michael McCarthy said the figures show the recovery is slowly starting to be felt locally.

The economic recovery nationally is starting to flow down to local businesses and families, and this is reflected in today’s figures. Overall however the figures are still too high, and we must maintain our focus on getting unemployment down further, and supporting local employers to create jobs particularly in the West Cork area,” he said.


  Oct 2013 Oct 2014 Percentage fall
Bandon 1346 1183 12.11
Bantry 1055 970 8.06
Bantry (SWLO) 253 244 3.56
Clonakilty 1167 1128 3.34
Kinsale 1169 1058 9.50
Macroom 1513 1242 17.91
Skibbereen 1274 1128 11.46


Fisheries sector to benefit from China trade mission

Fisheries sector to benefit from China trade mission

small-fishing-boatsFine Gael Cork South West TD, Noel Harrington, has said that the Irish fisheries sector is to benefit from a successful trade mission to China by Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD.


“The Government led trade mission to China has been really positive for our fisheries sector. Today in Qingdao city, Minister Coveney opened the opened the largest ever Irish pavilion at the China Seafood & Fisheries Expo, hosted by Board Bia. This gives great exposure to Irish seafood in what is a rapidly expanding market for foreign food imports in China.


“We have seen in the past how beneficial these trade missions can be for our exports. The fisheries sector in particular benefitted from the last trade mission to China in 2011. Back then we were exporting a very small amount of seafood to China at approximately 4 million euros worth. In the two years since that trade mission we have increased that figure by over 300% to approximately €18 million worth of seafood exports.


“Our presence at this really significant expo in Qingdao means huge potential for further expansion of the Irish fisheries and seafood industry into Chinese markets. It is just another example of how the Irish Government is really delivering for the fisheries sector. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was good for Ireland, ensuring €148 million in EU funds over the next six years, a doubling of the finding we received in the last CFP.


“Of particular interest to fishermen in the South West is the work completed this year to launch boarfish into the Chinese market. With a huge boarfish quota now available to Ireland of 88,000 tonnes, or one third of the European Quota, we have a great opportunity to seek new markets for this product. Its launch in China has the potential to create significant onshore employment in the processing sector in the South West and to add value for the fisherman involved.


“The fisheries and seafood sector is already hugely important for Irish jobs employing over 11,000 people around the country. This industry is the lifeblood of my own constituency of Cork South West where 80-90% of income in towns and villages like Castletownbere and Union Hall is directly related to fisheries.


“I commend Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Simon Coveney, for giving the best possible impression of Irish seafood at what is the largest trade show in China with in excess of 25,000 visitors expected from over 100 countries.”

Fashion show at Casey’s, Baltimore

Fashion show at Casey’s, Baltimore

Poster A4CASEY’S of Baltimore will be hosting a fashion show in aid of Cancer Connect on Saturday, November 15th. Tickets are €15 and are available at Casey’s and Yin Yang Health Shop, Skibbereen.

Food and drink will be available at the event, there will also be a raffle and draw and a prize will be given for the best vintage Hollywood glamour outfit. For more information visit


Shops and designers on the night include Fiona, Violette House, Beacon Designs, Sharon Rose and Wish.

European Funding Breakfast Briefing in Skibbereen this November

European Funding Breakfast Briefing in Skibbereen this November

horizon2020_0Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce that Dr. Seán McCarthy of Hyperion Ltd will present at their upcoming Breakfast Briefing on Tuesday November 11th at 7:30am in the West Cork Hotel.


The presentation, “European Funding for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020)” will focus on opportunities for Irish companies and will provide an overview of the European funding that is available for research and innovation.  Horizon 2020 is the European Union programme which started on 1st January 2014 and will end in 2020 where Ireland is expected to win over €1 billion funding from the programme and up to €200 million of this will be won by companies alone.


Presented by Dr.Seán McCarthy, a native of Drinagh and a past pupil of St. Fachtna’s, De La Salle in Skibbereen.  Seán designs courses for research managers in Universities and Research Centres and since 1997 over 48,000 people have attended his courses in 29 countries.  To find out more about Seán and Hyperion please see


Tickets are only €20 and can be purchased via Eventbrite or alternatively please contact Mary at or 086 2388300.

West Cork pubs retain listing in Michelin ‘Eating Out In Pubs’ Guide 2015 

West Cork pubs retain listing in Michelin ‘Eating Out In Pubs’ Guide 2015 

Deasy's Harbour Bar, Clonakilty

Deasy’s Harbour Bar, Clonakilty

SIX popular West Cork pubs have retained their listing in the new-look 2015 Michelin ‘Eating Out In Pubs’ Guide just published.

They are Mary Ann’s (Castletownshend), Poacher’s Inn (Bandon), An Súgan and Deasy’s (Clonakilty), Cronin’s (Crosshaven) and Toddies at The Bulman (Kinsale).

Both Deasy’s and Toddies at The Bulman have also secured an Inspector’s Favourite commendation. Twenty-one other pubs from the Republic of Ireland and seven from Northern Ireland also feature in the publication.

In overall terms, counties Cork and Down share the honours with six listings each followed by Clare, with four listings, and Mayo with three. Galway, Kerry and Kildare each received two listings with Dublin, Leitrim, Louth, Sligo, Tipperary, Westmeath, Wexford, Antrim and Wicklow each having one listing.

Produced by leading tyre manufacturer Michelin – the only remaining tyre manufacturer still operating in Ireland – this year’s Guide recommends some 590 pubs spread across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland of which 70 are new entries and all of which are selected, first and foremost, for the quality of their food.

Noting that pubs are a quintessential part of Irish life and often the hub of the community, Guide editor Rebecca Burr (who also edits the famed Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland) commented that: “the standard of food being served in Irish pubs continues to reach new heights.”

With more pictures and a simplified layout designed to make it easier to use, this year’s new-look Michelin ‘Eating Out In Pubs’ Guide features colour photographs, an in-depth description of each listing with prices and directions for each entry. It is now available in bookshops and online priced at €14.99.