Mayo Ambulance for Chernobyl
ON Easter Sunday, a Westport man, Peter Mulchrone, will undertake the journey of a lifetime when he will drive an ambulance all the way to Belarus and deliver vital humanitarian supplies on behalf of the Chernobyl Children’s Fund. The purchase of the second-hand ambulance a number of weeks ago from Germany represents the culmination of this year’s fundraising efforts by the Westport, Castlebar and Ballina Outreach groups of the Chernobyl Children’s fund. The ambulance, which cost 18,000 euro, will leave Westport next week and will be driven in convoy with over 30 vehicles – 15 ambulances and 15 trucks – which will leave Ireland for Belarus next weekend.
This explains the Cyrllic writing on the side of the ambulance in the Castlebar Parade on Patrick’s Day. It’s great to see the ongoing support for the people of Belarus - even now so many years after the 1986 accident. Chernobyl came up as a topic of discussion on the Castlebar Bulletin Board this week too. (By the way if you haven’t checked out the BB it’s always worth dipping into there’s always something of interest, sometimes very controversial, sometimes infuriating and sometimes just amazing - as in this case). The thread started with a link to a website put up by a slightly mad woman who drove right into the no-go area around Chernobyl’s defunct reactor on her high-powered motorbike in order to take photographs of the region. Some of the most poignant photos you will ever see. Anyway: more power to the Mayo Outreach groups of the Chernobyl Children’s fund for providing this ambulance.
FILMING for the latest Guinness ad began at 8am in Westport yesterday. Following a casting held on Friday at the Town Hall on Friday, over 40 extras were recruited to play their part in the feature ad, the plot of which was still being closely guarded, when the Mayo News spoke to Toy Town Productions crew member, Owen Holohan, on Monday night. It is expected that the Westport Guinness ad could be aired on TV as soon as two weeks time. Local dog owners were also invited along to The Atlantic Coast Hotel on Monday evening to see if their mutt had sufficient star quality to appear on screen. A number of professional actors have also been cast in the ad. Directed by Steve Green, the shoot began on Shop Street yesterday morning and is expected to take in Peter Street, Tubber Hill, Bridge Street, James Street and Sandyhill during the first two days of filming. On Thursday, filming will be centred on Blouser’s bar on James Street which was selected by the production team as their "starring pub" for the ad feature.
This was also mentioned on the Castlebar Bulletin Board when the casting company posted a message asking for extras to turn up for auditions. If you thought that the request for movie extras was just a hoax at the time - well now you know! So are you sorry you you didn’t take it seriously and head over to Westport for the auditions as 'the older woman on the bus' or 'the nice looking guy' with the speaking part? You could have been spotted by that talent scout and offered a part in the next RTE Soap. The rest could be history - Hollywood or even Bollywood beckoning. But you missed your chance because you didn’t believe it when you saw it – well I certainly thought that it was just an early first of April I must admit - so there goes my chance for fame and fortune. I reckon I could have been the 'mean-spirited rival publican' or perhaps the 'labourer rugged, well built 30ish' - with the 'ish' part emphasised!
MONDAY night was too early for any smoke free trends to establish themselves in Mayo’s pubs but there was a certain diversity in the opinions offered by the county’s publicans at the end of the first day of the new era. In Ray’s Bar on Castlebar’s Castle Street, a rural pub in the county town, Philip Prendergast had his eye on Questions and Answers on the television in the corner. "There was a man being interviewed in an inner city pub in Dublin and the place was packed, and he said ‘Look at this, this is great’. He’d want to be down in a pub in Ballina, or up in Killala, or somewhere like that where the usual nine or ten locals are in, the oul’ fellas in for the few fags and a few half ones, you know yourself." Prendergast was unable to proffer any concerted opinion at the close of day one. "Hard to judge really. I don’t think you’ll be really able to gauge it until the weekend to be honest, when pubs will be a bit busy. I know that tonight there’s a couple of them not in with us that would usually be here. One man [Bob] was in last night watching the golf and he said he’d be smoking at home and he said he won’t be coming out as much. And there will be a lot of people like that, we’d have a good few like that. It’s going to hurt the likes of the rural pub, the pubs in small towns."
Above is the real story which differs from the April 1st story put out by www.castlebar.ie suggesting that the ban had collapsed altogether because people were using herbal cigarettes as a 'smokescreen' to disguise the smoking of real tobacco cigarettes. Some people did however think that the story about John Deasy being sacked from his Justice Front Bench Spokesman job by Enda Kenny was an April Fool joke. They haven't owned up yet - maybe it backfired and he will have to stay fired! But thank goodness April 1st didn't co-incide with the publication date of the local papers.