Saturday 21 September 2019

From our archives

Great crowds at the 21st Strawberry Fair

July 1995

Enniscorthy's Strawberry Fair celebrated its coming of age at the weekend with its biggest crowd for years. The Cathedral town was packed for hte opening ceremony on Saturday night and again on Sunday.

This year, because it is the 21st year of the Fair, special attention was paid to the opening ceremony because it is the 'big' event for most members of the public.

The tradition of having a government minister to open the Fair was broken and a TV personality was brought in instead. The personality selected was Derek Davis, who was driven to the platform in a Rolls Royce.

That drive was part of a parade from Murphy-Floods Hotel to the Abbey Square and this was something new that was introduced this year. 'I think the parade was very effective. It went very well, with people lining the route all the way along,' said organising secretary, Lillian McKenna, afterwards.

It was led by Clonard Majorettes from Wexford, with their own Youth Brass Band. Also in the line-up was a band with the strange name of 'Mandalen Skole og Undomakorps'. That name, proudly displayed on a banner which of the leaders carried, had many in the audience puzzled.

The band was actually Norwegian and had earlier played a recital at Abbey Square. Their link with Enniscorthy came through the Wenaas Textile Factory. The owners of that plant are from Norway and two of their children are actually members of the band.

Meanwhile, dignitaries on the viewing platform included the Catholic and Church of Ireland Bishops of Ferns, as well as Russian ambassador, Gennadu V. Uranov.

The ambassador's arrival for the fair actually caused some protocol problems. He was responding to a request issued by Sean Sheaha during the earlier visit by him to the tow. The problem was that nobody knew exactly how to treat him, as he insisted it was a private visit in his own capacity, not an official one where he was representing his country.

In the end, he got a place on the platform alongside Deputies Yates, Browne, Howlin, Doyle and Byrne.

For the first time this year, the contestants in the Strawberry Queen contest were interviewed on stage. It was another of the changes introduced to try make the 21st Fair that bit different. However, the policy may be revised for next year as the interviews tended to drag the ceremony out too long, and the sound quality was poor too, causing many to drift away from Abbey Square before the ceremonies had actually concluded.

But these small complaints were soon forgotten as the fun and atmosphere took over. So packed were the pubs of the town that queues actually formed outside many of them, while Slaney Street ended up closed to traffic as the crowds took over.

There is still lots of enjoy in the Strawberry Fair as it runs through to next Sunday.

Cardinal due at St. Peter's celebrations

July 1988

Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich heads the distinguished guest list at this week's celebrations in St Peter's College in Wexford, to mark the golden anniversary of the seminary wing as well as the fifth international reunion of priests ordained in the collage.

The celebrations from Tuesday to Thursday are being attended by over 150 priests from the Diocese of Ferns, other Irish dioceses, and other visitors from Great Britain and the USA.

Patron for the reunion is Bishop Brendan Comiskey, who will be the chief celebrant at a concelebrated Mass involving all the priests present in the college chapel this Thursday night.

Cardinal O Fiaich will preach the homily at the Mass and is expected to talk about his personal reminiscenes of St Peter's and the college's seminar tradition since the first full seminary course began in 1897.

The Cardinal was ordained in St. Peter's in 1948 and celebrates his ruby anniversary as a priest this year. He was made a Freeman of Wexford in 1980

Other bishops attending this week's events include Dr D. O Suilleabhain, Bishop of Kerry, and Dr. John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, who is a former personal secretary to three Popes.

Publicans increase their drink prices

July 1977

The price of some alcoholic drinks has gone up again in Wexford, but the publicans won't say why.

New prices were distributed to publicans in the town this week and have now come into effect.

The increases are on spirits and minerals. There is a 2p increase on a glass of Irish or Scotch whiskey, gin,vodka, etc., and a 4p increase on a glass of brandy. Minerals are going up by 1p per bottle.

The Chairman of the Wexford Licensed Vintners Association, Mr Con Macken, refused to comment on the increase, while another publican in the town simply told this reporter to 'mind your own business' when asked why the increases were needed.

Although the publicans were reluctant to comment on the increases, it is understood that they are to offset increased wholesale costs. It is over a year since the price of drink in Wexford went up, when the publicans added their own increase to that provided for in the Budget at the start of last year. There was on increase put on the price of drink in the last Budget, but it is expected that the first Budget after the upcoming General Election will again provide for one.

Hospital reports a summer baby boom

July 1993

Staff at the maternity unit at Wexford General Hospital have been run off their feet coping with a baby boom which saw 14 births in one 24-hour period.

The normal capacity of the maternity unit is 23 but last Friday morning, there were 31 new mums and their offspring ensconced in the maternity ward.

And with a large number of mothers-to-be around the county due to also give birth, hard-pressed staff are resorting to discharging some patients early.

In order to clear beds for incoming patients, staff were sending the more experienced mothers home earlier than the usual four-day stay, a practice which is common in the busier Dublin maternity hospitals.

'We just have to have beds empty and available,' said a staff member. 'Obviously when somebody new comes in, they can't wait, so we have to have somewhere to put them.'.

A real catcall for the Army fire-fighters

July 1995

The army firemen who are based in Wexford while the town's regular Fire Service remains on strike received a real cat-call this week, but it wasn't from somebody supporting the strike.

Instead, the call was from an elderly woman living in King Street, whose cat got in a fix last Wednesday.

The daredevil moggie managed to get up on the roof of her owner's three-storey house and got caught in the guttering. The fearless feline couldn't make her way down, so the owner decided to call in the army.

A large crowd gathered as the fire tender pulled up, and passing motorists pulled in, thinking there must somehow be a fire with no smoke.

Within minutes, the firemen had the situation under control. One of them went up in the hydraulic lift, rescued the stranded animal, and returned it safely to its owner.

One more potential cat-astrophe averted!

From the adverts

July 1977

Motoring adverts in the issue of Friday July 3, 1977, included from one of Percival's Garage in Ballycanew that declared 'The Mini still has no rivals'.

It read: 'The Mini 850 costs only £1,990. Costs only £28 per year to tax. Delivers up to 52 mpg.

'Come drive the Mini for yourself. You'll find that no other car offers so much for so little!'

Wexford People

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