Back home... The Meath Chronicle moved back to its original home in Market Square Navan in February with a clearly delighted sports team of Jimmy Geoghegan and Fergal Lynch delighted with the new premises.

Year in Review... A-Z Part 1

A - Application

In an ongoing saga, An Bord Pleanála’s decision on an appeal to overturn Meath County's granting of planning permission to construct an industrial pipeline to discharge waste water from a meat plant into the River Boyne was delayed in September. Dawn Meats last year applied for planning permission for the construction of a 7.2km pipeline that would carry waste water from its meat plant at Beauparc, across the parish and pump it into the River Boyne at Cotton Mills.

The plans drew huge opposition locally and over 400 submissions were made on the plans. Protests were held with even former James Bond star and Navan man Pierce Brosnan making a passionate plea for the River Boyne "where he grew up" be protected in a video that went viral.

B - Bus tickets

In October, children and parents from Ballivor walked 17km to school in Trim along country roads to highlight the families who had been left without a place on the school bus. At least 17 children from Ballivor were left without a place on the school bus to Trim according to parents who told of the huge financial and time pressures they were under to get their children to school. Their protest paid off with Bus Eireann sourcing a new bus for the route that came into operation in early November.

"We are over the moon that they have finally got transport to school," said Celine Sherlock, one of the parents who took part in the protest.

C - Charity Swim

More than 60 'pink dippers' braved the freezing waters of Bettystown Beach in November in honour of a local breast cancer survivor who says sea swimming saved her life. The Bettystown Swim Sisters Group raised €2377 for Breast Cancer Ireland. The Halloween swim was inspired by 72 year old cancer survivor Jean Strong who puts her recovery and good health down to the benefits of the sea. The day after she finished six weeks of intense radiotherapy in September 2019 the Bettystown pensioner joined a group of local women who brave the cold waters of the seaside town everyday and says “she has never looked back.”

"I still get up to go at 7am every morning, it's addictive," said Jean.

D - Disney

Eleven-year-old Lobinstown girl, Rachel Duff had the opportunity of a lifetime when she was chosen to star as the young Morgan alongside Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams in newly released Disney movie ‘Disenchanted’.

Rachel, who is a sixth class pupil in Heronstown NS, features in the flashback and memory clips as the young Morgan, and spent two full days filming with Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams, in the summer of 2021. The youngster has attended the Born to Perform Stage School in Ardee since she was three and loves performing. Mum Joan said it was an opportunity of a lifetime and that Rachel loved every moment.

“She loved it. She's only a normal little girl. To get such a massive opportunity... It just goes to show that anyone can have their dreams come through and if you don't put yourself forward, you'd never get the chance."

E - East Coast

In November it was a confirmed that a new Garda station was on the way for Laytown. The news followed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris' visit to Laytown on where he gave a commitment for the provision of a new station for the seaside town as part of the Capital Plan. It was welcome news for the community who had been calling for a greater garda presence following a number of incidents involving anti-social behaviour in the area including the brutal unprovoked attack on a teenager last year. A campaign for a full time garda station in Laytown was launched as a result with locals taking to the beach in protest. Minister for Justice and Meath East TD Helen McEntee welcomed the news saying:

“The Government is committed to building stronger, safer communities and that commitment is evident in these developments for Laytown and East Meath.”

F - Family Fun Day

The community of Navan came together in September to celebrate the life of eleven-year-old Zak Moran from Navan who tragically passed away following a brave battle with cancer earlier this year. The family fun day that took place in Zak's much-loved Navan O'Mahony's GAA club raised an amazing €5,400 for Childhood Cancer Ireland.

Zak's mum Catriona Moran said she and her family wanted to do something to support other families who have been impacted by childhood cancer. She added: We know how heart-breaking it is for a child and their family to hear that they have cancer. We wanted to show our support to children and their families who are currently dealing with a cancer diagnosis and also for those who, like us, are left with the devastating loss of a loved one as a result of childhood cancer."

G - is for glory, goals, gold

and probably many more superlatives that could describe the All-Ireland senior football title win by the Meath women’s team – their second year in a row to win it, bringing joy and celebration across the Royal County and scenes not experienced since the glory days of the men’s team’s two decades ago.

Early August saw the team arrive to a homecoming on Navan’s Fair Green where captain Shauna Ennis held the Brendan Martin Cup aloft as Meath County Council hosted a special reception denied to them after last year’s victory because of Covid restrictions. The Eamonn Murray managed team was actually winning their third All-Ireland in as many years, having already shown their never-say-die attitude in the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship final in 2020.

Players such as Vikki Wall, Emma Duggan, Shauna Ennis, Orlagh Lally, Emma Troy, Stacey Grimes, and Player of the Match, Niamh O’Sullivan, became household names across the county as the cup was brought on a tour of clubs and schools.

H - is for Helen

the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, this month named one of Irish Tatler’s Women of 2022. Currently on maternity leave with her second son, Vincent, her tenure as Minister for Justice has been punctuated by firsts, Tatler says.

Last year, she was the first ever cabinet minister to take maternity leave. She also enacted the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, ‘Coco’s Law’, following the death of 21-year-old Nicole ‘Coc’ Fox, who took her own life after being subjected to years of abuse and death threats.

She has also been working on a five-year programme of reform for a zero-tolerance strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, something she prioritised since her first day in office. During the summer, she received Cabined approval to strengthen consent around consent in rape cases and in October, she announced new laws on stalking and non-fatal strangulation to make them standalone offences.

On a poignant note, this month marks the tenth anniversary of her father Shane’s passing, which she marked by posting a photograph of them together last week.

I - is for Infirmary

The derelict county infirmary in Navan was the subject of an ambitious planning application. The restoration of the old infirmary and Banba Hall are part of plans for 22 residential units, a coffee shop, and restaurants. A design team including leading conservation architect James Kelly of Kelly Cogan and Frank Ennis & Associates have prepared the planning application for the conservation, repair and adaptation to provide a mixed-use development of 22 residential units, car and cycle parking.

The County of Meath Infirmary is one of Navan Town’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1754. It was used as a respite facility by the HSE until late 2010 and was put on the market after the new Beaufort Community Nursing Unit on the Athboy Road was built. The building will have memories for those who were married at a time when the registry of births, marriages and deaths was based there, and civil marriage ceremonies also took place there.

J - is for Jones Group

Little did the late Dunsany resident, Chris Jones of Killeen Glebe think that when he came from Cork to Portobello Bridge in Dublin as an apprentice plumber, that in taking over his employer’s company, he would create one of Ireland’s most successful engineering firms, sold this year to US group Cathexis Holdings in a deal said to be worth more than €1 billion.

Over its 132-year history, the group has been led by just three people. Harry O’Neil guided the company from its founding in 1890 to 1947, before his apprentice Jones took charge in 1948 and led the company until 1993. Mr Kinsella has led the group since then.

The group employs 4,600 people. Latest accounts for Jones Engineering Holdings Ltd show it recorded turnover of €726 million in 2020, with a pre-tax profit of just under €60 million. The company paid a dividend of €35 million during the year.

K - is for Kingspan,

an insulation company on the Meath-Cavan border which has had a bad year as a result of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington in London, which concluded last month after 300 public hearings over four years. The blaze in the 23-floor block of flats in June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 residents. Kingspan faced intense scrutiny and criticism at the inquiry, but the company insists its insulation had nothing to do with the cause of the spread of the fire.

The lead counsel for the inquiry, Richard Millett, accused the company of maintaining a silence which contributed to a “web of blame”. The cladding manufacturers consistently accuse the insulation firms of causing the spread of the fire, and the insulation firms are blaming the cladding company, leading to a warning of a “merry-go round of buck-passing” by Millett to the inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick. A report from the inquiry is due by the middle of next year.

L - is for Lord Lariat,

Dermot McLoughlin’s second winner in an Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, after Freewheelin Dylan won for him in an empty Fairyhouse last year. This year, however, there were massive cheers for the Ratoath trainer’s runner, with young Skryne-based Dublin jockey, Paddy O’Hanlon, on board. While the odds weren’t at generous as the 150/1 winner in 2021, there was plenty of local support for Lord Lariat and he duly obliged at 40/1, pulling clear of Gordon Elliott’s long-time leader Frontal Assault after the last, with Willie Mullins favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil in third.