Golden weekend for Westport as town scoops top accolade
Picturesque Westport has achieved one of the highest possible standards by winning a gold medal in the Entente Florale competition. The town was awarded the medal last weekend in Aix Les bains, France in the European wide competition. It is now likely Westport will be selected as a ‘Reference Town’ by the competition organisers to give advice and support to other towns in Europe who wish to participate in the competition and to give a commitment to retain or improve the standards by which they were awarded the distinction this year.
Mr Liam Griffin, an Irish man who is also President of the Entente Florale judging panel said there was something about Westport which merits it being ranked among the best in Europe.
Westport is winning all round it of late – picking up its by now almost automatic Tidy Towns Award and now an Entente Florale gold! At least Castlebar is also improving with a significant jump in its Tidy Towns points this year. And the business litter survey declares us to be technically ‘litter free’. Whether we can ever stop the chewing gum spitters and the sweet wrapper dumpers and cigarette butt droppers is a moot question. But we can have an efficient sweeping system to clean up the mess – after the night before especially – and certainly this has improved recently. On top of that though we need more vision from the architectural and aesthetic point of view. A total ban on plastic signs on shops would be a good start. The new plantings on the roundabouts are a huge improvement on previous attempts too. Architecturally we don’t have as much to work with as Westport which is a town that was designed and laid out from the start. Castlebar is a more organic town providing more of a challenge aesthetically perhaps.
Claims of dole office harassment
A broadside has been issued at "the dole office" for alleged harassment of people who want to claim dole. The Castlebar & District Council of Trade Unions says that people applying for dole are harassed to get documentation to verify they were looking for work. "People who unfortunately find themselves out of work and need the dole to survive are finding it more and more difficult to receive money from the dole office," the Trades Council said in a statement. The statement, signed by PRO Lucy Cunningham, adds that it was not acceptable that people are not given any money before they are harassed to find documentation to verify they are looking for work. "It is ridiculous to expect a prospective employer to write out letters to say they have no vacancies for the huge number of people who are unemployed," it said.
Anyone who has sent out a bunch of job applications never to receive even as much as a single acknowledgement from prospective employers will realise that asking you to prove that you are ‘looking for work’ is a bit of a Catch 22 situation. Department of Finance officials are charged with finding creative ways of saying no to demands for money. It looks like this is one of those creative solutions that has seeped into the dole office. Perhaps if you could precisely measure the millimetres of shoe-leather you have worn down walking from one business to the next as you look for work they would believe you? Or paper-cuts on your tongue from licking envelopes as you send off your cv? Receipts from the Internet café to show that your were logging on to one of the many online job application web sites? Or bus tickets to prove that you went into town looking for work? Obviously if you provided petrol receipts they would conclude that if you could run a car you don’t deserve the dole in the first place.
A quacking good story
There was quacking great excitement in the Corcoran household in Gortogher, Ballina last week when the family’s Muscovy duck hatched out 22 young. It was a record for the Corcoran family who have a couple of other ducks and according to the expert books on ducks it was also a record for Muscovies. Muscovy ducks originated in Brazil and the experts say their clutches can vary from eight to 21 eggs. P. J. Corcoran explained that he got the duck from neighbour, Jackie Hannick. "She had a couple of clutches already but nothing like the present one. "The last clutch she had was early in the summer and there were eleven eggs," he said. At the start the Muscovy had a total of 24 eggs under her but two had to be discarded. "She had no problem at all sitting on that many eggs and she hatched them out in a big round pot where she laid the eggs," he said. P. J. has a Muscovy drake and two white ducks and a white drake. More excitement is to come for the family because one of his other ducks has 12 eggs under her.
This story from the WP was commented upon too on RTE’s radio roundup of the local papers on Friday – definitely a story too good to pass up. But is/are 22 eggs a lot or not? Enter the eggspert, Dr. Google, who says that it is not unusual for muscovy ducks to hatch 20 eggs at a time with the normal range being 8 to 21. Coincidentally, as I was listening to 5-7 live on RTE1 on the car radio on Friday last, we had just stopped to pick up a takeaway order comprising a number 48 and 57 from The Heavenly Thai. The Number 48, and I am not eggsaggerating one little bit, was ‘DUCK with Ginger and Scallion’ (with rice fried in eggs of course). It was quacking good I must say – but as I was eating it I wondered was this a Muscovy duck that I was eating? Was I responsible for the non-appearance of many, many unborn ducks?
The other egg story this week was the fertilised hen's egg - sold as one of Tesco's Finest regular eggs - that hatched out as a chick. Tesco's spokesperson responded "Sure isn't that what nature intended?" So maybe you should be counting your chickens even though they are not supposed to hatch?