Monday 14 October 2019

From our archives

It could have been area's worst disaster

October 1977

As the oil slick threat to Wexford's £7 million a year tourist trade receded yesterday, local fears for fifty miles of world famous beaches turned to anger, and tourism and business interestes joined with Dail deputies in calling for 'a more lucid explanatio' of the allegation that the crippled Greek tanker 'Christas Bitas' was ordered into Irish waters by the British authorities when the drama first began eight miles from the Welsh coast last Thursday night.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 'Christas Bitas', which has been involved in eleven Irish Sea incidents in the past fifteen years, was anchored just eighteen miles off the Wexford coast, near Cahore point.

Unloading operations were proceeding well, a Government Information Services spokesman said, and more than half the crippled tanker's 30,000 tons of crude oil had been off-loaded.

Despite this news, the anti-pollution contingency plan established by Wexford County Council in 1974 is still ready to be put into operation and workers are on stand-by until the oil menace dies.

Fears for the well-being of the Wexford beaches were at their height on Friday last, when an oil slick twelve miles long drifted ominously in the Irish Sea just eighteen miles from Tuskar Rock. However, prevailing winds drove it towards the Welsh coast, where some damage was caused.

Calls for an explanation as to why the 'Christas Britas' moved so near the Wexford coast were led by Chamber of Commerce President, Mr Dave Ormonde, who said on Wednesday that the Environment Minister's answer in the Dail on Tuesday had been unsatisfactory.

Mr Ormonde added that the allegation the tanker had been ordered into Irish waters by the British authorities was a grave one and needed investigation.

And Wexford TD, Mr Brendan Corish, said from the Dail on Wednesday morning that he too was unsatisfied with the Minister's explanation.

Controversial close-down of Woolworths

October 1984

With just two days left for trading after nearly thirty years in Wexford, the Woolworths store at South Main Street is again the centre of controversy over redundancy payments.

Just two weeks after a staff sit-in resulted in higher payments, the local manager and fifteen of his colleagues across the country are threatening legal action over the offer made to them, which is less than two weeks' pay for each year of service.

Mr Paddy Dundon, twelve years the manager of the Wexford branch and an employee of Woolworths for twenty-six years in all, says he has instead been offered alternative employment in Scotland.

'Where exactly in Scotland, I don't know,' he said this week. 'But I can't possibly take it up.'

A prominent member of Wexford Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mr Dundon said he was disgusted with the way managers are being treated in this redundancy situation. 'We believe the offer is inequitable and indefensible,' he said.

Meanwhile, crowds have thronged the Wexford store all week in a hunt for bargains during the closing down sale. No date has yet been announced for the re-opening of the store under the banner of Penneys and it is not known if any of the twenty-three full-time and part-time staff losing their jobs on Saturday will be re-employed.

An £8,000 maximum break by Buckley

October 1993

John Buckley from Enniscorthy wrote himself indelibly into the snooker record books last weekend when he became the first Irish player ever to record a maximum 147 break during tournament play in the country.

The big moment came on Saturday afternoon in the Connacht Masters ranking tournament in the Olympic Snooker Club in Galway. His achievement earned him an £8,000 bonus from tournament sponsors, Trifik Forklift Trucks, and he also got a pound per point from tournament organisers.

The magical break came in frame three of his second round match with Waterford's Tom O'Driscoll. The whole club came to a standstill as Buckley built his break and it became clear that the historic 147 was 'on'. John kept his cool and the place erupted in applause as he sank the final black.

He already held the record for the biggest competitive break in Irish snooker - a 139 achieved in the Irish Amateur Snooker Championships a couple of years ago. But now John Buckley's name will remain forever engraved in Irish snooker history.

This climaxed what has been a great year for the 1988 Irish champion Playing now out of the Ivy Rooms in Carlow, he reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships in May.

Then, last month, he led the Irish team to a first-ever win in the home countries international tournament in Blackpool, going unbeaten in his four games against the best of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, after all the excitement, he did not succeed in winning out the tournament in Galway. He fell in the next round to Ivy Rooms club-mate, Billy O'Neill, going down 3-2. Still, John will surely be happy with his £8,000 and a place in sporting history.

Tenants agree to pay water rates

October 1983

A three-year-old dispute between Wexford County Council and the residents of a large Wexford housing estate ove the payment of water charges has ended with the residents agreeing to pay those charges.

The residents of Ashfield Drive and Belvedere Grove met on Tuesday night to consider the latest development in the dispute - a final notice from the Council to pay arrears within seven days, or else face legal action.

Over 132 houses were involved, with many owing arrears of £173 built up over the years.

The tenants in Ashfield Drive and Belvedere Grove had been refusing to pay water rates to Wexford County Council because it is a Wexford Corporation estate and they pay their rents to Municipal Buildings. However, the houses are outside the official town boundary and are in the County Council administrative area instead. As such, they are eligible for County Council water rates, which are higher than those in the town area.

Killer weed found

October 1976

A rare poisonous weed has been discovered in a field of fodder beet in Castlebridge and it is quite likely that the dangerous plant could also be growing in other beet fields in the region.

The Agricultural Institute's research centre at Johnstown Castle has now issued a warning to farmers in the area to check their fields for the plant and to destroy it immediately if they find it.

This extremely unusual weed will not spread disease to the beet, but could be fatal to animals or humans if chewed or eaten.

Known as thorn-apple, it is a Mediterranean weed which occurs fairly frequently in the east of England, but is hardly ever seen in Ireland.

Is is thought that the weed's arrival in Wexford was brought about by impurities in the beet seed used by the farmer affected. And because other farmers may have used the same seed - which is imported - the Agricultural Institute has now issued its warnings on the danger of the plant.

According to Dr Austin O'Sullivan of Johnstown Castle, the best way to destroy the weed is to burn it or bury it.

He said it would poison any cattle who might eat it and also said it would be dangerous for young children who might pick it, and thinking it was a fruit, eat it.

From the adverts

October 1984

'Get ready for the computer age' said Edmond Hassett Ltd. of North Main Street in Wexford in an advert in the issue of October 22, 1984.

Hassett's were selling Sinclair computers, with a Spectrum 16k on offer for £149,95 (with £40 of free software) and a Spectrum 48k on offer for £194.95 (with £50 worth of software).

The advert also announced that 'Sinclair ZX81 still available'.

Wexford People