West Cork Literary Festival – 4th – 10th July Bantry

May 1, 2010

The annual West Cork Literary Festival will take place in Bantry from 4th to 10th July.  Some of the well known names who will appear will include fay Weldon, Michael Palin, Margaret Drabble and John Boyne.

The festival is supported by RTE Lyric fm and is organised by West Cork Music in partnership with the Cork County Library and is fund by the Arts Council and Failte Ireland.  There will be master classes in travel writing and fiction, seminars on the art of editing and research methodology, workshops on various topics such as songwriting, writing for women, freelance journalism, poetry and many other events.

More information is available at www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie

The Towers, Ballysaggartmore near Lismore

April 24, 2010
The towers at Ballysaggartmore

The towers at ballysaggartmore

What a magical hidden gem!  The towers at Ballysaggartmore near Lismore are in an amazing woodland situated on the main road between Ballyduff and Lismore.  Take the path to the left from the car park which winds up through the woodland to the towers.  You can walk around in a loop lasting no more than 15-20 minutes.  Both sides of the path are packed with dense shrubbery and mature trees.  There is a picnic area next to the river flowing under the tower bridge.

The towers were built in the mid 1800s by Arthur Kiely Ussher who had planned to build a grand house but this never happened.  All that now remain are imposing gothic ruins in a wonderful setting.

Ballyin Gardens, Lismore

April 24, 2010

Ballyin Gardens are located on the north bank of the river Blackwater just upstream from Lismore Castle.  These gardens are open to the public from 15th April until 30th June and are well worth a visit.  The gardens date from at least the early 18th century.  The lawns sweep down to the edge of the river and there is a fine selection of stunning mature trees, rhododendrons and azaleas.  One Monteray cedar has the largest girth of any tree in County Waterford.  Don’t miss these gardens if you are planning a visit to Lismore.

Ballyin Gardens

Ballyin Gardens, Lismore

Tourists over 66 get free train travel in Ireland

March 20, 2010

A new scheme  has been introduced allowing visitors to Ireland over the age of 66 to avail of free train travel throughout the Irish Republic.  It’s called the Golden Trekker.  Tickets can be purchased in blocks of four days depending on the length of stay.  A four day unlimited ticket would normally be worth euro 100 so it is great value.

You don’t need to book online though you can on the Failte Ireland Tourist Board website www.discoverireland.com.    You can apply for up to three warrants per individual within the year.  If you don’t book online, you need to visit a tourist office on arrival in the country and ask about the Golden Trekker facility.

Litter, litter everywhere – come and see our litter

March 14, 2010

This country is being totally destroyed with the amount of litter building up along roads and in other public areas.  The longer we fail to address this issue, the worse it becomes.

I recently paid a visit to a local school in Bandon at 2pm as the post lunch bell was ringing.  The playground was covered in litter and while the students wandered back to class, a school employee was hard at work armed with a litter picker and a black sack.  This said it all.  The students do not care about the state of their surroundings and furthermore, they are not being taught to clean up.

National Spring Clean month in April is an attempt to bring litter under control. In my locality the primary schools are all willing participants in this project but very few of the secondary schools volunteer to take part. Far more assistance is required to bring litter under control.  A nationwide TV and school campaign is required.   Litter fines should exist. Hit the pocket and people will quickly pay attention.

Nama, the bank assets and the solicitors letters as collateral

March 14, 2010

Another incredible bombshell.  Nama (the National Asset Management Agency) are discovering that banks accepted solicitors letters as collateral against loans to developers worth hundreds of millions.  So why no documentation?   Quite incredible.  What this means is yet more money paid out to lawyers to sort this out.

Who had first lien on the assets??   I suspect that double pledging was rife and the banks may find that they were way down the pecking order in thier lien over the assets.  The banks will doubtless threaten the developers with legal action but at the end of the day, yet again the tax payer will end up footing the bill as we bail out both the banks and the developers.

Tree Planting in Bandon as part of National Tree Week

March 13, 2010

Bandon Tidy Towns and the Transition Town Bandon Group joined together on Friday, 12th March, 2010 and planted over 100 native trees on the Bandon By Pass as part of National Tree Week.  A big thank you to volunteers from Cope, the Rosmini Centre, Colaiste na Tobhairte and St Brogans who all helped with the project.

A further 200 trees will be planted next Friday, 19th March which will complete the project.

Tree Planting in Bandon as part of National Tree Week

Trees galore in Bandon

Fine Gael front bench backs Kenny

February 9, 2010

Why wouldn’t the Fine Gael front bench back their leader?  They are guarding their seats like the plague.   What would be their plan B?  They forget that the election of George Lee saw many many voters defect from other parties.  It’s possible that voters who hadn’t voted much in the past swung into action behind George.

George Lee being snapped up by FG was like a local football team getting a top player from Chelsea but FG dropped the ball and for this reason they don’t deserve to be in government any time soon.  You snooze, you lose and that is what has happened to FG.

The electorate has been ‘had’ yet again by senior politicians who are more interested in hanging on to their jobs for dear life rather than considering what is in the best interest of the State.  Enough of the greed.  We need serious leadership to get us out of the fine mess that we are in.

George Lee – Fine Gael have lost their passport to power

February 8, 2010

What an opportunity missed for Fine Gael.  Does nobody in that party realize what an asset they had in George Lee.  He was one of the very few people in the country who had the ear of the masses.  His grasp of our financial predicament has been superb over a number of years.  Fine Gael didn’t deserve him.  They missed a critical opportunity to leverage themselves into power. So long Fine Gael – your party is on the road to nowhere.

Well done George for biting the bullet and bailing out.   Time is too valuable to waste backing a loser.  We need you back at RTE biting at the heals of all our politicians.  We need to turn this country around and we cannot wait for the Fine Gael slow coaches.

Fine Gael’s loss of George Lee is a very very happy day for Fianna Fail.

irish tax loophole insanity

February 7, 2010

Each week we are treated to new revelations as to how the wealthy dodged taxes in the celtic boom.  Here are just a few that I learned about from today’s papers.

1.  Stamp Duty Avoidance by Developers.  There was a mechanism called ‘resting on contract’ used as a vehicle to avoid stamp tax on property purchases.  Many developers were able to avoid this tax by never taking title to the property despite paying for the asset.  Seemingly, even local authorities used the loophole.

This is apparently proving to be a major issue in relation to Nama.  The banks have the assets as collateral but exactly what happens in a default scenario if the title is still registered in the name of the former owner?? Very tricky.  I see lawyers getting very rich on this one!! Once again, we taxpayers were conned.

2.  Capital Gains Tax Loophole.  Wow, this really shocked me as the transaction is so simple that it is hard to believe that it existed.  Here is how it worked.  A Capital Loss needed to be created to offset Capital Gains.  To do this, you would simultaneously purchase and sell Irish Gilt futures.  The transaction would generate a profit and a loss for the same amount.  The profit would be free of CGT but you could claim a tax break for the losses.  You could then use the losses against any capital gain,  property purchase or whatever.  Simple!   I wonder how much the exchequer lost on that.

3. Section 482 Relief available to passive investors has been closed off.  These investors put money into section 482 buildings and gardens.  Taxpayers – If you want an example of where your  tax money went under this scheme, just check out the state of Dunboy Castle near Castletown Bere.  Millions squandered with no hope whatsoever of a recovery.

Yes, we all know it – we taxpayers have been well and truly had!!

posted by Catherine FitzMaurice, Kilbrogan House, Bed and Breakfast