Posts Tagged ‘tydavnet’




Tydavnet & Geel

For the past 20 years, Tydavnet in Co.Monaghan has been twinned with the town of Geel in the Antwerpen province of Flanders in Belgium. The connection is through the story of St Dympna (Tigh Damhnait in Irish means Dympna’s house). Some groups have gone over for the five-yearly St-Dimpna Ommegang or procession in May. More recently Monaghan delegations have participated in the Geel Euro Festival in August every five years. I was there in 2007 and went back for this year’s events, reporting for the website. I have put my diary pieces over the six days into one article to give you an idea of how the group of 22 (including the Mayor of Monaghan and three Councillors) spent their time with the host families who provided free accommodation for them.


Leaving Tydavnet

A group of eighteen people from the parish of Tydavnet  has headed off (Wednesday morning 15th August 9am) for the town of Geel in Belgium, with which we have been twinned for the past twenty years. Some of those on the trip have visited Geel before and for others it will be their first trip to see Flanders. The group will be accompanied by the Mayor of Monaghan Cllr Hugh McElvaney from Corcaghan, along with Councillors David Maxwell, Seamus Treanor and Pat Treanor. They will receive a welcome from the Mayor of Geel and the local council. Thursday is the day for “It’s a Knockout” games or “Spel zonder Grenzen” involving all twelve participating European countries. Sounds like we are in for a dunking as we have been advised by Sheila to bring our swimsuits! Friday is the day for a conference on active ageing. Saturday is the day for cultural trips and a big show. On Sunday the day begins with a church service and there is usually a procession afterwards. The event is usually held every five years. Each person or couple is given hospitality by local residents, some of whom have visited Tydavnet since the link was established. For more about the St Dympna connection see the section under “History of Tydavnet”. Hopefully we can keep you informed of progress on this news page. Translate “geel” from Flemish into English and you get “yellow” so here is the news about EUROFEESTEN 2012 from Geel aka Yellow!


Hosts Mia & André

All arrived safely in Geel and were met by the host families. André and Mia are hosts once again for Evelyn and myself; Donagh is staying nearby and tonight Hermann and Annie gave us dinner. Regards from all to Harry & Deirdre. Plenty of good Belgian beer when we arrived. I led a sing song  briefly in the festival tent before we went our separate ways. Plenty of excitement tomorrow in the “It’s a knockout” games involving twelve European countries. Good night all until Thursday.




Sheila our star!

Killylough won the gold in another European tug-of-war competition led by Paddy Sherry. The Tydavnet team representing Ireland finished eighth out of ten, ahead of Portugal and France (wooden spoon). Poland were the champions in the Spel zonder Grenzen (It’s a Knockout), represented by Czestochowa. Martin McKenna led our team and Sheila put on a swimsuit for some water-based game. I ended the final game dressed in a wig and yellow/red trousers as a symbol of Geel. All great fun. Cllr David Maxwell led the quiz and jigsaw team. He was also interviewed by local TV (as was Martin after the tug-of-war victory). David was left confused in a game where the Irish currency produced was a copy of an old Allied Irish Bank £20 sterling note with a picture of Queen Elizabeth!

New Irish currency

Maybe these Belgians with their good connections in Brussels have some inside knowledge of the future of the Irish economy……..!!! This evening I led a sing-song of Irish favourites and Flemish melodies at Ten Aard parish centre, close to where we are staying. Plenty of rabble-rousing songs including “A Nation Once Again” led by the Mayor Hugh McElvaney who has to be up early am for a conference on active ageing. Eugene & Mary Sherry have just arrived (staying next door) but took a wrong connection on a train so their arrival was delayed a bit. They will join us tomorrow Friday for a trip to a museum in Antwerpen. Oiche mhaith.


Tydavnet at Eurofeesten

Owing to a technical glitch, this report is coming to you from Geel slightly later than the previous ones…….well that’s my excuse anyway. In reality, my kind host André produced a glass or two of Powers and we did not get to bed until late after solving the problems of the world (especially Belgian politics!!). So starting backwards, we returned home to the peaceful suburb of Ten Aard at 2am, having said farewell to the Mayor of Geel Frans Peters and his wife, who were catching up with old friends. They spotted us sitting outside the Irish pub in the Grote Markt (town square) and came over to speak to Martin McKenna and Sheila. She left us temporarily to be introduced to a Cork man in the building industry here in Geel. He told us there were a few Monaghan people working with him, so if you happen to know any, send them along to the square tonight (Saturday) and you will find us there. Earlier the group joined representatives of nine other European countries at the official opening of the EUROFEESTEN. A great spectacle, very lively and colourful. Ireland was mentioned at the start of the presentation…..20 years of twinning Tydavnet:Geel. But we were the last country to be introduced and welcomed from the stage, and as Amhran na bhfiann was played, Sheila McKenna in true Katie Taylor style (much better in fact than the Olympian!) waved the tricolour…..

Cllr Seamus Treanor & Mayor Hugh McElvaney

while the Mayor of Monaghan Hugh McElvaney wearing his chain of office sat in the front row with Cllr Seamus Treanor. Instead of staying for the concert we went for a lovely meal at the museum restaurant where I sampled a local speciality of a pot of mussels in white wine and chips. As for the mixed grill which some of the others had, the plate was huge and the food generally has been excellent. Heading off for a trip soon to Vaals so no time to tell you how we got on with the window shopping (with a slight difference) in Antwerpen. Those in our small group of eleven will know exactly what happened as we left St Paul’s (Dominican) church having heard the story of Mary Magdalene and then headed for the River Schelde and the old port area……….



Hotel Kasteel Bloemendal

This was the day when guests are usually taken away for a trip by their host family and it has been the warmest so far, up to 35C. Tydavnet parish where the show was being held is close to the three county hollow on Sliabh Beagh. Today André drove us to the “Drielandenpunt” where the three countries meet. We travelled from Belgium into the Netherlands and came within a short distance of Germany. From the Wilhelmina observation tower we got a wonderful view, looking across to Aachen and beyond. We also stopped in the nearby village of Vaals to visit a posh hotel for coffee and cake. The reason we went to the Hotel Castle Bloemendal is because it used to be a finishing school for girls, run by the Sacred Heart nuns. My mother left Castleblayney as a 16 year-old having been a boarder at the Sacred Heart convent in Armagh and was sent to Vaals a year or two before the outbreak of the second world war. She learned to speak German. So it was fascinating to see around the hotel and grounds, where a wedding was being held. Another coincidence is that a neighbour of ours in Dublin got married there a few years ago. Time afterwards to return to Flanders via a French-speaking province in Wallonia where the signs said “Police” rather than “Politie”.

Bocholt-Herentals Kanaal

Had a short walk alongside a lock on the wide Bocholt-Herentals canal and had a nice meal in Geel before returning to André and Mia’s. There will be an international Mass in town in the morning. There is a European market in the centre and also Ria’s photographic exhibition to visit, then a Eurovision song contest….no sorry that should read a European sing-song when we will be singing (appropriately perhaps) The Wild Rover. Time for some sleep now so oiche mhaith from Geel.



The visit to Geel by a group of 22 from Tydavnet ended tonight in great style with a European sing-song in the newly refurbished market square. This was also the hottest day so far, up to 38C and even tonigh the reading coming home to Ten Aard in André’s car was 25C at 1:30am! So this must have been one of the hottest places in Europe. It was certainly one of the most exciting. The day began with the Irish representatives inluding the Mayor of Monaghan assembling for 11am Mass at St Amand’s church in the town centre. Designed to make the service as inclusive as possible for ten nations, the Mass was celebrated in the three main languages of Belgium: Flemish, French and English; some of the music was in Latin; at the Our Father the priest encouraged us to join in in our own language so I prayed in Irish. In his introductory remarks the celebrant (vicar of several parishes in the greater Geel area) spoke in diverse tongues including Spanish, Portugese and Romanian; he apologised for not being able to master Polish! The Mass ended with Beethoven’s ode to joy, the European anthem, again a multi-lingual experience and I have rarely experienced such an uplifting end to a Mass. The group has enjoyed the stay in Geel with a number of first-timers already talking about returning. There will be one change later this year. Frans Peeters who I met in the main square this evening will no longer be Mayor as he is retiring from politics before the October election. All in Tydavnet wish him well for the work he has done to make 20 years of twinning with Tydavnet/Monaghan a success.


The wild rovers have returned and I hope by this stage all are settled back in their homes in Tydavnet and Monaghan (and Granard). I am writing this from Dublin and already my mother is awaiting with interest the news of my visit to Bloemendal/Vaals where she went to finishing school in 1936 for a year,  having set off on her own from her parents’ home at Conabury, Castleblayney, aged 16. So I filled in a bit of family history on Saturday, as did Cllr David Maxwell’s wife Jill. Their host family in Geel brought them to the first world war battlefields near Ypres in Flanders (a trip I had made five years ago with our Belgian hosts). There they found the grave of her great grandfather from Louth (village), who was a soldier in the Irish Guards and died in 1917. Some visited the second world war cemetery in Geel this morning where a number of Irishmen are buried,  from the Irish Guards and other British Army regiments. At 1pm it was time to say farewell to our hosts who waved us goodbye as the coach left for Brussels airport. Among those on our flight was a man from Clones who immediately recognised Cllr Pat Treanor. I also spotted the Conservative unionist MEP and Agriculture Committee member Jim Nicholson from Armagh. He might well have been interested to see some of the large dairy farms around Geel which some of our group were taken to see. Owen McNally took time to check out the quality of the potatoes and the maize, which was planted alongside the roads without any of the hedges we are used to. A big thank you once again to all our hosts in Geel for the wonderful six days we spent with them. They have been invited to send a group or representatives over for the Gathering in 2013 and hopefully Tydavnet will be ready to welcome them. Photos of the visit and other memorabilia will be collected over the next few weeks so that we can show them sometime at the community centre. I also hope to expand on this diary at some stage. I hope you have enjoyed the reports and your comments (subject to approval!) are welcome at the end of the individual articles. Now to get back to watching the Rose of Tralee….!!! Michael Fisher Monday 20th August


Tug-of-War: photo

The It’s a Knockout/Games without Frontiers involving ten European countries in Geel last week was covered by a television crew from the local news channel. You can see how the men from Killylough including Paddy Sherry and the women led by Sheila McKenna took the twelve points by finishing first in the tug-of-war (the second game). Martin McKenna was interviewed as team captain. However the joker was reserved for another game (the quiz) and had we played it on the tug-of-war we could have improved our overall place by doubling the points awarded. The main thing is that it was fun participating. No bales of straw to be shifted in wheelbarrows this time! You can watch the video here.



Kevin McCarron

Ready for the vintage run

Monaghan vintage tractor and car run on Sunday. The procession of vehicles left Kevin McCarron’s field in Tydavnet going through the village into Monaghan and then Threemilehouse where refreshments were provided before returning to Tydvanet via Scotstown. The event was organised in aid of Monaghan branch MS and Drumkill day centre Threemilehouse (Alzheimer Society). Thanks to all who participated or gave donations. It’s understood a sum of over €6000 has already been collected.

Tydavnet tractor run


Tydavnet tractor run

One of the local tractors taking part in the “tractorcade” and vintage car run driven by Willie Harry.

Tydavnet tractor run




First race ready for the off: Under 12

There was plenty of excitement around Tydavnet on Sunday as dozens of cyclists and their back-up supporters arrived for the annual Grand Prix races organised by Emyvale Cycling Club. The Community Centre was used for registration and adminstration. The sun shone brightly and the temperature climbed up to 25C as the junior races got underway over a shorter route. The Under 12s were first off, although a car parked outside the chapel on the start/finish line caused the organisers a few problems initially until the owner was located. The crowd was not as big as for last year’s national championships. Nevertheless there were visitors taking part from several counties including Donegal (Errigal CC), Cork (Kanturk), Tyrone (Coalisland), Derry (Roe Valley) and East Antrim.

On the start line at Tydavnet chapel

Cyclists also came from Dublin and Newry and the local riders from Emyvale were also there battling for the prizes in the various categories. The event was well organised with stewarding to ensure that roads were kept clear for the participants. Following the thrilling finish in the senior race in the senior event last year in Scotstown, it was decided that a village finish would once again be more exciting for the spectators. For the full list of results, go to the Cycling Ulster page. East Antrim’s Glen Kinning won the main event over a 60 miles course in a sprint finish from David Wherity of Stamullen, Co.Meath.

Under 14s getting ready for the start



The roar of car engines filled Tydavnet parish and the surrounding area as Monaghan Motor Club held their annual stages rally. Many minor roads were closed to facilitate the event, but main roads and secondary roads were kept open. However if your house was on the rally route and you don’t like fast cars, you might certainly have felt somewhat inconvenienced as the roads were closed from 9am for nearly ten hours. It can also be a dangerous sport. Ten years ago in the Dunlop rally championship a competitor was killed in a crash near Scotstown and the event was immediately cancelled. During Mass at St Dympna’s Fr Clerkin prayed for the safety of all. The congregation was smaller than usual because of the rally, but most people were able to reach the chapel in time. Safety of drivers and spectators is an important consideration at such events. It was noticeable that the Clerk of the Course and former winner Dessie Keenan from Drumcoo Woods had a team of stewards at all the important viewing points and that spectators were kept a reasonable distance from the cars. There were plenty of thrills and a few spills along the route. The stages were centred on the Milltown and Tydavnet area up towards the border at Drumfurrer. The next section was around Bragan mountain and a third section of stages saw the cars tackle roads around Scotstown, Smithborough and Ballinode, which proved a popular spot to view the rally.

Damage to wall of house at Corrinshigo, Scotstown
When I heard in Knockatallon that one car almost ended up in the kitchen sink at a house, I thought the report might be exaggerated. But on viewing the damage at the scene at Corrinshigo, this is exactly what happened as Strabane driver Aidan Caldwell’s car left the road, hitting a wall and ending up in the yard beside a window! Luckily the occupant of the bungalow was not inside at the time. But she said if it had been a year ago, her sister and her young children might have been outside watching the cars going past. The driver and his navigator also escaped serious injury. But it was a reminder that such events are not without their dangers.
Local drivers inclusing the Moffetts performed well on their home circuit, although three times national rally champion Niall Maguire from Ballinode was forced out with gearbox problems. The rally was won by Daniel McKenna from Scotshouse in an Escort with navigator Andrew Grennan. They were fortunate to finish the event, as they were caught out by a sudden shower of rain on the sixth of nine stages, spinning backwards into a bank and losing half a minute before they could restart. They finished two minutes ahead of Sam Moffett and were presented with their prize at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, which sponsored the event and provided a headquarters for the organisers.

Daniel McKenna, winner 2012 Monaghan stages rally




Emyvale CC

One of the top cycling events in Ireland is being held for the first time in North Monaghan later this month (June 23rd-26th). Expect to see busy roads and many visitors around the villages of Emyvale, Tydavnet, Knockatallon, Scotstown and Ballinode as over 250 riders including some well-known names compete in this year’s Irish National Cycling championships. The event is being hosted by Emyvale Cycling Club on behalf of Cycling Ireland. Town of Monaghan Co-op which has supported the club’s activities for over twenty years will be the main sponsor.

ON SUNDAY JUNE 26th around  120 riders are expected to take part in the national senior road race championships for men. The winning elite rider wears the national champion’s jersey for all road races in the following 12 months. The first of the men under-23 in this race receives a separate award for the espoir category. With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching it’s certain thecompetitors will be out to impress the selectors of Ireland’s Olympic team. County Monaghan will have two riders taking part, Conor Murphy from Clara near Emyvale who has just finished the 8 day FBD Milk Rás. Another local competitor is Monaghan town’s Ryan Sherlock, current national hill climb champion. These riders along with all the Irish elite competitors will make this one of the top sporting events in the county this year.

Last year’s winner, Matt Brammeier, a Liverpudlian with an Irish passport, wears the national champion’s jersey. As a result of his victory he signed a professional contract with HTC-Highroad. The silver medallist is better known, Nicholas Roche, son of former champion Stephen Roche. He has already won this race twice and rides as a professional with a French team, Ag2r-La Mondiale. Roche has won a total of five professional races, finishing 15th in last year’s Tour de France and 7th in the Tour of Spain, raising him to 32nd position in the world rankings. Roche’s cousin, Daniel Martin, is the 2010 bronze medallist and is a professional with the Garmin-Cervelo team, currently ranking 49th internationally. Fresh from his exploits at the recent Giro D’Italia, Letterkenny’s Philip Deignan of Team RadioShack could well lead the Ulster challenge to win the race.

Spectators are invited to come and watch all the competitions particularly the men’s and women’s races starting on the main street of Scotstown at 11am on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to all events is FREE so the organisers are hoping many people will turn up to cheer on the local riders in particular. The race distance for the elite men’s event on Sunday is around 175km. featuring seven laps of a 25k circuit. Beginning in Scotstown the cyclists head for Knockatallon Cross, past the Sliabh Beagh Hotel, onto the Clogher Road heading past Killylough to Tydavnet, then continuing along the Monaghan road to Lemacaulla Cross and Connolly’s Bridge, branching off to Ballinode and then back to Scotstown. Medal presentations will take place immediately after the finish of the race around 4pm.

The four-day event begins on Thursday evening (June 23rd) with a time trial in Emyvale village for the elite women’s and paracycling champions awards. The first competitor sets off at 7pm and riders will follow at one minute intervals on the N2 main Derry to Dublin road. Their route will take them southwards to the Coolshannagh roundabout near Town of Monaghan Co-op, then heading northwards on the N54/A3 across the border to Middletown. The riders then head for Caledon and Aughnacloy, with a finish back on the N2 at the border at Moybridge, covering a distance  of 40km.

On Friday (June 24th) it’s the turn of the senior men’s time trial championships, with the first rider due off at 6pm. The 40km route is the same as that cycled by the women. The time trial is not expected to cause too much traffic disruption on the main roads but drivers are advised to proceed with caution and to allow extra time for their journeys. AA roadwatch traffic information can be obtained at

On Saturday morning (June 25th)  the national elite women’s road race championship takes place with about fifty competitors. Scotstown GAA complex will serve as the race headquarters and parking at Urbleshanny will be available for spectators. The race starts on the main street of the village at 11am over a 12.8km circuit. Competitors will be heading for Knockatallon Cross, turning right towards the Sliabh Beagh Hotel and then right again onto Carrahor Road onto the Scotstown Road back to the village, continuing this right hand circuit for seven laps. It finishes outside the Sliabh Beagh hotel after completing a total distance of almost 100km. Current champion Olivia Dillon from Co. Mayo will have to travel from San Francisco in the USA to defend both the women’s time trial and road race titles she won last year. The Ulster challenge in the women’s events is likely to come from 2009 road race champion, Heather Wilson from Lisburn.

On Saturday afternoon (June 25th) the national veterans’ road race championships will be held. The race begins at 3pm on the main street of Scotstown, cycling over the same course as the women’s event to cover eight laps, making a total distance of around 110km and again finishing at the Sliabh Beagh venue. On Saturday evening at 7pm, all leisure cyclists are invited to take part in a charity ride covering one lap (25km) of the elite road race course. Those wishing to participate should sign on at the Scotstown GAA complex from 6pm. Voluntary donations will go towards the Co. Monaghan branch of  Special Olympics Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, race organiser Patsy Brady said: “This is a big honour for Emyvale Cycling Club to be staging the national championships for the first time. Although the club hosted the B Championships three years ago, this is a much bigger event and we are grateful to Town of Monaghan Co-Op for their sponsorship. There has been massive interest in the national championships this year with Irish cyclists based in the UK, continental Europe, and the USA making enquiries. We look forward to welcoming them all to Monaghan at the end of June.”

2011 Irish National Championships Programme

Thu 23rd  Elite Women’s/Paracycling Time Trial @ 7pm Emyvale

Fri 24th   Senior Men’s Time Trial Championship @ 6pm Emyvale

Sat 25th  Women’s Road Race Championsip @ 11am Scotstown

Sat 25th    Veterans’ Road Race Championship @ 3pm Scotstown

Sun 26th   Senior Men’s Road Race Championship @ 11am Scotstown

Full details about entries and routes can be found at Cycling Ireland




Congratulations to Terry Cavanagh from Tydavnet in County Monaghan on winning an award at the Indiecade showcase for video games in Los Angeles (Culvert City). The game he developed VVVVVV won the most fun and compelling game at the festival. This is how I described his success in the Northern Standard (new window)

“A Monaghan man has achieved international recognition in the computer games world for developing the most fun and compelling video game. Terry Cavanagh from Tullyvogey in Tydavnet picked up the prize at a festival in Los Angeles for independent games creators.

Terry Cavanagh

The 26 year-old Maths graduate from Trinity College Dublin launched the game called VVVVVV earlier this year through his own company The music was provided by a Swedish composer and the game went on sale originally for $15. Another company (Steam) was then contracted to distribute it and when the price was reduced to $5 sales grew and grew. Now Terry’s creativity has been rewarded by the games development industry.

A former pupil of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan, has been making games since he was at  school. He moved to the university city of Cambridge in England six months ago as he said  he felt isolated in Dublin where there was no “indie scene”.

This award is an important breakthrough for him in a market that is dominated by global companies. Another game developed by him has also proved popular, Don’t Look Back. He has been described by one trade journal as “one of the industry’s brightest up-and-coming independent developers”.

His game VVVVVV was one of 32 games short-listed by 160 international jurors from over 350 submissions in the annual international festival of independent games (IndieCade) held at Culver City outside Los Angeles. It’s the main showcase for independent games developers from around the world, where they can meet collaborators and investors.

While established companies measure their budgets in millions, independents have to raise their own capital, sometimes putting their life savings into projects in the hope of creating a global success.

Terry found it was difficult at first to get financial support for this type of work and was unsuccessful in seeking enterprise funding in Monaghan. But that did not deter him and having arranged a bank loan he was able to embark on his creative projects. He can now boast that his creation is the most fun and compelling computer game on the market this year.

In the game, players imagine themselves as the fearless leader of a team of dimension-exploring scientists, who are separated after inadvertently crashing their ship.

VVVVVV uses smart, interesting puzzles and a strong world and environment, supported by simple visual design combined with awesome music.

The IndieCade festival helps to encourage innovation in interactive media. It includes games producers from Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America and other countries.

News of Terry’s success in LA delighted his parents in Tydavnet. Peter, a retired Garda, and Patricia, a former psychiatric nurse, were proud he had won his own “Oscar” in what is a very competitive industry.”