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Thursday 18 September 2014

Auld threshing machines will get up a big head of steam in lovely Stradbally

Published 03/08/2014 | 02:30

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FULL STEAM AHEAD: At the launch of the 50th National Steam Rally were Clifton Flewitt from the narrow-gauge railway, model Michele Mc Grath, and 3-year old Charlie Glynn. Charlie is at the controls of a engine that was used on a farm in Carlow before it went to Ballon creamery in the 1960s; the engine steam was used to sterilise milk bottles. This is the engine’s first time at Stradbally as it has just been restored by the Glynns from Co Carlow. Photo: Tony Maxwell

Stone-crushers, loy diggers, lovely girls, blacksmiths and steam engines will all be in the picturesque Laois village of Stradbally today and tomorrow to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ireland's oldest steam rally.

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It is expected that more than 20,000 enthusiasts will attend the annual celebration of a bygone age when steam was king, de Valera's 'comely maidens' were dancing at the crossroads and sturdy children romped in the fields, with ne'er a computer game in sight.

To celebrate the special nature of the anniversary, a host of additional entertainment is being organised this year, including the appearance of 50 working steam engines, some of which appeared in the first ever rally in 1965.

There are now just two remaining initial members alive who attended on that day in 1965. They are Mr. Ron Bramley and the President of the Irish Steam Preservation Society, Mr. Ken Graham.

A free car park and picnic area is available to all attendees over the two-day event. Admission, €10 adults; students/OAPs/teenagers: €5, while children are free.

Fundraising walk for Donal Parsons

While most people are enjoying the long weekend this August bank holiday, two women will be attempting to walk 138km from Ballybrit in Co. Galway to Strandhill in Sligo.

Tracy Hanniffy Ryan and Aoife Duggan are walking to raise money for Donal Parsons, a young boy from Strandhill, who was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma in October 2013.

Donal is currently mid-way through an 18-month course of intensive treatment in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, and, to date, has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, a 
bone-marrow transplant and a course of radiotherapy.

His family and friends have set up the Donal Parsons Trust to help Donal access any viable treatments to prevent relapse and to pay for treatments should he relapse.

To follow Tracy and Aoife's progress this weekend, see Donations can be made through 
and also

You shall go to the ball to help carers

The 2014 Limerick Masquerade Ball will take place again this year in Thomond Park, with MC duties by rugby legend David Wallace.

This week, the Carers Association launched the ball, which will help raise vital funds for the 16,500 family carers across Limerick City and County, north Tipperary and Clare, while recognising the dedication, commitment and contribution that they make. The event takes place on Saturday, September 20 in Thomond Park and more details can be found on

Sunday Independent

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