THE past year 2012 was one which saw Charleville, in line with the rest of the country, trying to come to terms with the downturn in the economy.
It was a year in which local people learned that they will have to do without the long promised motorway as plans for the extension of the M20 Motorway were shelved indefinitely by the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar T.D. due to budgetary constraints.
This was revealed to a deputation from Cork County Council, led by Mr. Martin Riordan, county manger that travelled to Dublin to meet the Minister on the matter. It means that long suffering motorists that pass through Charleville and local pedestrians alike will continue to endure the hazards of long traffic queues at peak hours and the thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles that pass through the town daily.
It was also the year that the town celebrated the bicentenary of Charleville's former Catholic Church, which was the first ambitious structure raised in the diocese after the Penal Times. The building still serves the people of the parish community as the Community Hall.
It fell to the town's junior hurlers to lift the spirits of local people as they created G.A.A. history by being the first ever Charleville club team to qualify to contest an All-Ireland final in Croke Park when they beat Manchester's Fullen Gaels at Walsh Park, Waterford.
However the young exponents of the soccer code did not fare as well as they exited the F.A.I. Youths Cup when they went down to Clare side Avenue United after a penalty shoot-out on the same weekend. The game went to extra time after the sides finished level with 2 apiece and with no goals accruing to either side it went to penalties with the Clare side prevailing by 3-1.
A careers night at Charleville C.B.S. attracted over fifty former pupils involved in careers as diverse as from the CEO of the Sisk Group to the positions in the Gardai, Army and the Prison Service, the retail sector, lecturers in U.C.C. as well as careers in I.T. and computer technology and journalism. The night gave the current crop of students plenty of food for thought as they interviewed the many successful past pupils about their path to success.
Charleville G.A.A. Club reviewed the most successful year ever for the club at their annual general meeting when they recalled the winning of the North Cork, Cork County and Munster Junior hurling titles. They were looking forward to contesting the All-Ireland Junior title in Croke Park, which attracted Charleville people from the town and those based overseas, all over the world, flocked to Dublin for the historic encounter against Leinster champions, Kilkenny side, Ballyraggett. In then event the Ballyragget side emerged winners by a single point after a pulsating game in Croke Park.
However this great year for the club was tinged with sadness for their star player Des Fitzgerald who sustained a serious spinal injury in a championship game the previous October. The club later set up an injury fund to help the player defray the cost of his treatment. Des, who also got married this year, is still recuperating from the injury.
TY Students from Charleville C.B.S. participated in a collaborative art project with service users at St. Joseph's Foundation. The project was undertaken under the Creative Engagement Initiative by the Principals and Deputy Principals Association and took place in the Ceramics Department. The students represented Ireland at the European Parliament's Euroscola Day in Strasbourg after they won a nationwide competition to become MEP's for a day. The Charleville students joined their counterparts from the other European countries to simulate working in committees and participating in a plenary session in the chamber.
A Golf Classic in aid of the Des Fitzgerald Injury Fund is extended to four days and Charleville soccer club's under10 girls and 13 boys teams won respective league titles while two Conor McPherson penned plays won the both the open and confined sections at North Cork Drama Festival.
On the business development front, the year marked the opening of the Charleville E Centre at Baker's Road which is fast becoming a centre for courses on business development and other meetings. The building, which was an initiative of the Enterprise Group of Charleville Chamber, also has a hot desk facility for budding entrepreneurs. Meanwhile the Chamber members were involved with on-going meetings with local councillors and Government Ministers and T.D's pushing Charleville as a centre for further inward investment and industrial development. However, sadly, Charleville Park Hotel went into receivership as part of the Cork Luxury Hotel Group but it continues to be as busy as ever trading normally with the same management team in place, though it is still in the hands of the receiver KPMG and the BDL Hotel Management Group.
Charleville Show again attracted record attendances on both days and the many new innovations and varied displays at the event ensured another huge turnout for the organisers. Meanwhile the organisers of the annual greyhound benefit night in aid of St. Joseph's Foundation celebrated their 25th anniversary meeting at Limerick Greyhound Stadium and added substantially to the €750,000 already raised for the Foundation over the years. St. Anne's Primary School won their first ever camogie title when the girls won the Limerick Schools County Camogie Roinn 'A' final.
The Shoestring Theatre Company staged a production of John B. Keane's ' The Field' directed by Kevin O'Shea and with Jon Kenny in the role of Bull McCabe at the Schoolyard Theatre, where it ran for a total of thirty-six nights. A new board of management was installed to take over the running of the Schoolyard Theatre. ' The Belligerent Prelate,' a new book on the association between Charleville born Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne and Eamon de Valera, written by Killarney native Patrick Mannix, was launched at the Mercy Order's Provincial Heritage Museum in Charleville.
In the run up to Christmas, Charleville Chamber ran a competition to find the best Christmas Window Display in the town and received a great response from local businesses. Despite the gloomy outlook nationally prospects look bright for Charleville as we head into 2013.