04 August 2010

The Dowager House - Portumna's Closed Doors
Sunny Meadow Farm - Wwoofer's Corner
Séan Nós Dancing Workshop in Shragh Hall
Davitts Camogie Club
Portumna Town F.C.
Portumna GAA
Shorelines Arts Festival
Table Quiz - Portumna Arts Group Fundraiser
Killimor Camogie Club

The Dowager House - Portumna's Closed Doors
There is as much confusion about the title of the building in question as there is about its future use. Known as the "Dower" House by some (indicating a dead man's estate) or the "Dowager's House" (Dowager – a woman who has inherited a title or property from her dead husband), the difference may be as subtle as the silence from the powers that be in relation to what exactly will happen to this building, lying in the heart of Portumna's tourist attraction.

Many are wondering where this building is - well, on your journey to Portumna's Marina, this House lies across the road from the old Abbey and in recent years, it has been painstakingly restored to a hint of its former glory by the OPW. It is a two-storey building or perhaps a series of buildings interconnected and surrounding a courtyard. Surrounding the building are many acres of gardens and orchard, surrounded by a 12-foot wall to the south facing Lough Derg. Within the wall is a 20-foot gap that is railed allowing those in residence at the House to have a view of Lough Derg.

After WW2, a British Labour Government placed heavy taxes on the wealthy and when the landlord of the town, The Earl of Harewood died, he sold Portumna Estate to pay his death duties. For many locals, it was their only visit to the House, where a preview of the auction took place. Locals were more familiar with the gardens where vegetables were sold and the orchard often raided by apple-hungry youths.

Today, the House lies empty - rooms and rooms of wooden floors, painted walls and original windows; solid doors and ancient memories; a courtyard aching for life and two floor-to-ceiling stonewalled areas; a decaying greenhouse that needs attention before it caves in and a local Arts Group banging on the door to obtain permission to use this building, a public building, a building restored with the public's money.

Alas, the wheels of bureaucracy rotate at the pace of trafficjams. The lines of communication are confused and who knows the answers? More importantly, who has the power? Well, "word" from the Minister, Martin Mansergh TD, is that he cannot see any problem with an exhibition in this building for Portumna's Shorelines Arts Festival. Now one would imagine if he clicks his fingers, the wonderful gateway will open up to the people of Portumna. However, the OPW offices emphatically states that "the 18th Century Courtyard complex has now been restored and developed as workshop and training facilities for OPW and Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government staff. Work at the site has reached completion following which the first tranche of personnel are in occupation. The walled garden and orchard contains the remnants of a greenhouse and Eighteenth-Century garden archaeology. It is intended to clear the gardens, restore them in the course of time and stabilize the walls and greenhouse. Access to the Dowager House, walled garden and orchard area is through the courtyard and, as this will be a functioning works area, is not suitable for public access. Surveys being carried out will inform the works necessary to restore the gardens and it is ultimately intended to open both gardens and Dowager House to the public."

This reply from Ms Fionnuala Parnell of the OPW implies that the complex is currently occupied by OPW staff. For some reason, obscure and unavailable to the public ear, OPW staff has NOT moved in yet. Ms Parnell's reply also implies that in the future, public access will be allowed. Is it not possible to have both happen now? A building vacant now for two years, its only life the wild birds who enter through the chimneys. Left idle much longer, through vandalism and decay it will become another icon of Ireland's Countryside - An Empty Building. The ethos of the OPW is client focus, timely delivery and value for money. Their customers are Government, other Departments, Offices and Agencies and, ultimately, the public. Their core services are property maintenance, property management, architectural and engineering services, heritage services, project management and procurement service. The OPW are very co-operative with local groups in relation to the use of other venues like the magnificent Castle for events from Christmas wonderland to Mock Weddings, Drama productions to Literary Readings. But in relation to the Dower House, there is a mysterious stumbling block. Surely it is feasible to have a multi-purpose use for the complex - this happens in cities all over the world - one only has to queue for the unique tourist attraction Sainte Chapelle in Paris, where the queue shares its entrance with that of the Criminal Courts!

Politicians have been contacted and pleaded with from all parties including local Councillors and TDs and Senators who are interested in the Arts and any public figure who may have influence. All of them agree that the building should be used. All have been invited to visit it - as the Arts Group feels that seeing it will convince any right- minded person that it is a disgrace, a thundering disgrace, that this Building cannot be accessed and used; filled with life and artistic pieces; open to tourists as part of the tour of Portumna's magnificent Castle. To date, no one has taken up that invitation.

The West of Ireland has no public Art Gallery. There are paintings in storage in galleries that exist - an exhibition space in Portumna is ready and waiting. Artists are currently producing masterpieces of the future that should see the light of day NOW. Inis Oirr, a small island, has Aras Eanna, a disused weaving factory - now in its 10th year of existence as a local haven for Artists. It is one of the focal points on the island and is a sign of what can be achieved. Community spirit was never needed more than now; collaboration and co-operation is vital and time to hear the reason for saying NO to opening this building to the people who paid for its restoration. Will someone please answer that question? Shorelines Arts Festival will take place Sept 16-19th and to have access and use of part of this local, historical and ideal space would be more than appreciated.

For further information and quotes, contact: Noelle Lynskey - 087 2931055, Mark Conroy - 087 3689507


Sunny Meadow Farm - Wwoofer's Corner
Sunny Meadow Farm, beside Power's Cross just outside Portumna, could just as easily be called Wwoofers Corner. No, nothing to do with dogs. Wwoofers take their name from the web-based organisation World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and from all corners of the planet people who want to learn about a country from the grass roots up – literally –join the scheme.

The host, in this case organic farmer Dermot O'Mara, has a profile on the website, as does the would-be worker, so they know a little about each other in advance. Typical wwoofers are young people working during their summer holidays, although one host I heard of welcomed a couple aged 76 and 82! A recent arrival at Sunny Meadow Farm, Rachel from Vermont, comes from a farming background, and she chose Ireland because the language is (nearly!) the same and the fares were cheap. She has had mixed experiences. At one farm they gave her self-catering accommodation and she was left to her own devices –a lonely life for a young woman far from home. On the other hand, when she came to Portumna, she had another (Swiss) wwoofer for company, and one Friday Dermot piled them into the van and they all headed off for the Willie Clancy festival.

While most wwoofers are deeply interested in organics, not all are born into farming - a previous wwoofer at Sunny Meadow Farm came from a seventh-floor apartment in Brooklyn. But it's not all about work. The good news is that it's a two-way street. Wwoofers enjoy an experience that passing tourists can never get, while farmers get a chance to learn about foreign countries and customs. As Dermot O'Mara put it, 'I never have to travel abroad again, as the world visits me. My children have phrases in seven different languages.' And some wwoofers bring musical instruments or turn out to be artists or great cooks.

During the day wwoofers from as far afield as Austria and Australia tend the tomatoes, onions, garden peas, beetroot, broad beans and the score of other fruits and vegetables that grow in the fields and the polytunnels, while a flock of hens cluck around. At lunchtime, they all eat together and at Sunny Meadow Farm the emphasis is on food. 'We eat very well,' says O'Mara. Given the best of fruit, vegetables, salads and truly free range eggs, together with Killeen cheeses, also from Portumna, I'd say they do.

To learn more, visit www.wwoof.org


Séan Nós Dancing Workshop in Shragh Hall
A Séan Nós Dancing Workshop with Emma O'Sullivan, Star of The All Ireland Talent Show will commence on Saturday September 4th in Shragh Hall from 11am to 3pm. Tea and Scones provided. €20 all in there is limited availability. To book a place contact Bridie on 087-2427449 or Carmel on 087-9769641. Names and Entry Fee before Saturday Aug. 28th.


Davitts Camogie Club
Senior: Davitts Senior team have made a great start to both their championship and Summer league campaigns. They began the championship last Monday week with a great win over newly promoted side Kiltormer. Davitts ran out winners on a scoreline of 4-15 to 4-9 in the end but not before they were posed a tough challenge by Kiltormer in the last quarter of the game. On the evening, this was an excellent team performance from Davitts but players of note on the evening were Lourda Kavanagh, Maria Brehony, chamipionship debutant Aine Dervan and Ailbhe Kelly. The club's Summer league campaign has also got off to a very positive start with wins over local rivals Killimor, Kinvara and Eyrecourt in recent weeks.

U-16: The club's U16 team has experienced mixed fortunes in their championship so far. They suffered defeat in their opening game to Sarsfields on a scoreline of 4-11 to 3-8, but redeemed themselves the following week with with a victory over Bothar na Trá on a scoreline of 4-12 to 1.4. They now look forward to tough encounters against Clarnbridge, Ardrahan and Mullagh in the next few weeks.

Congratulations: Davitts would like to congratulate their former club member Caroline Kelly on her recent county final win in London with Tara Camogie club. Caroline played with Davitts for a number of years before moving to London to begin her nursing career. We look forward to seeing Caroline and Tara camogie club respresenting London in the All Ireland Junior Club Championship.


Portumna Town F.C.
New Season: The new soccer season will be starting shortly and training sessions for some of the teams are expected to commence in August. There was a good turnout at our recent registration evening and the club would like to thank anyone at the event who volunteered their services as a coach for the coming season. We do however need someone to step in to manage the U15 age group in particular and would ask anybody who may be interested to contact Ger O'Sullivan (086 8167463) or Dave Flaherty (087 9837366) regarding this position or any other coaching position.

Summer Camp: A reminder to all that there are only a handful of places left in the Summer Camp which starts on Aug.16th and positions must be booked in advance if you wish your children to attend.

Field of Dreams: A big thank you also to everybody who supported and contributed to our Field Of Dreams competition over the last few weeks, in particular all the staff at SuperValu. We managed to surpass our required target of tokens and the provincial winners are due to be announced next week.


Portumna GAA
Lotto: There was no winner of last Week-ends lotto jackpot. The numbers drawn were 2 4 18 24 three people matched three numbers Pierce Treacy, Frank Downey and Ger Hyland.

Puc Fada: Well done and Congrats to Owen Treacy who won the All Ireland under 16 Puck Fada which took place in the Cooley Mountains last Saturday.

U-16: Portumna under 16 hurlers play Mullagh at home on Monday 9th August and travel to Castledaly on Thursday 12th August to play St Thomas. A win from one of the games would certainly secure them a quarter final placing.

Galway U-15 Development Squad: Portumna G.A.A. Club welcome 2 teams from Galway and 2 teams from Waterford when they play one another in an under 15 match next Saturday. This is the first time that an under 15 development squad has been introduced in Galway and Galways best 40 players in the county will take on Waterfords best 40 the first game taking place at 11:30.

Cul Camp: 99 boys and girls attended the V.H.I Cul camp which was recently held in the G.A.A. grounds. This was one of the best attended camps so well done to all involved.


Shorelines Arts Festival
Featuring names like singer Mick Hanly, who wrote "Past the Point of Rescue", local singer-songwriters Joe Casey, Colin Fahy, Darren Burke, and the wonderful classical string quartet Con Tempo, music will drift from the shorelines of Portumna at its 3rd Shorelines Arts Festival. Mick plays in the Shannon oaks Hotel on Saturday sept 17th. Mark the dates in your calendar-Sept 16-19th where art, photography and sculptures will be on display in an art exhibition that is growing in popularity each year.

Curator, Tommy Madden hopes to house the works of local artists and visiting artists in the newly restored Dowager Building in Portumna's Castle Grounds. An outdoor drama by local writer Mark Conroy is planned, featuring members of the public-even the audience will be part of the cast! With balloon sculpture making, felt making workshops, clown dance workshops, drama workshops-the young children of the area will be very busy.

For followers of traditional music and dancing, Shorelines are delighted to host a mega concert in the Shannon oaks Hotel on Thursday, Sept 16th. This will feature guest artist Matt Keane, dancers Mystic Magic, Mary Smith, Ann McGhee, Marian Staunton's musicians, Stephanie power's dancers, Maureen Browne's music pupils, The Mary Fraughen Dancers plus the variety and talent of many other local musicians, singers and dancers.

Noelle Lynskey is delighted to have writers; Noel Monahan and Mai Leonard participate as readers and workshop facilitators, catering for all levels and age groups. Film evening, Literary evenings, Book Launches and a Jumping Dolmen will be joined by a Storytelling Caravan. Movement and dance workshops from Cherrie Worthington Eyre, Drama with Paula & Philip Short, Band Workshop and Youth Theatre for teenagers, this week-end will be vibrant, creative, inclusive and above all fun.

The committee has expanded this year and all members are encouraged to attend the next meeting on Thursday, Aug 12th in Na Calai at 8.15pm. For further information on participating or helping, contact Noelle Lynskey - 087 2931055 or Mark Conroy - 087 3689507. For further information about Shorelines Arts Festival, see www.ShorelinesArtsFestival.com


Table Quiz - Portumna Arts Group Fundraiser
On Friday, Sept 3rd, The Arts Table Quiz 2 will take place in the Boathouse Bar at 9.00pm where quirky arts questions will be scattered with general knowledge questions in a night that proved to be very popular last year. Prizes and spot prizes for student tables and adult tables. So brush up your knowledge on all things literary, artistic and musical-support this and you are supporting Portumna Arts Group.


Killimor Camogie Club
Senior: Kilimor senior team recorded their second win in the championship with a comprehensve 3.28 to 0.2 win over ahascragh in Ballinasloe on Monday Evening. The team and scorers were Helen Cmpbell, Niamh Hanney, Nicola Lawless, Julie Brien,Annemarie Hayes (0.1) Karen Brien, Marie Duane, Eimer Haverty (0.1), Annemarie Starr (0.2), Amanda Broderick, Martina Conroy (0.8(3f)), Susan Keane (1.8) AnnaMaria Lagana (0.5) Claire Conroy (0.1) Ciara Brien (0.1) Subs: Helen Quinn (2.2) for Claire Conroy (inj).

Thank You: Many tanks to all the Club Members who particpated in the fundraising bucket collection for Galway County Camogie Board and to the people who so generously supported it.


Return to Top of Page

Picture This Photography, Portumna
Homepage   -   About   -   Contact   -   Links   -   Site Map   -   Privacy Statement