White Christmas makes it an expensive time for Donegal bookies


On Christmas Day in Donegal Town, snow landed on the roof of the Abbey Centre, making it a bad Christmas for the town's bookies.

Even though the light snowfall failed to stick in many parts, they had to pay out to punters who had bet on a white Christmas, reported the Donegal Democrat.

"We had a man on top of the roof of the Abbey Centre all night shovelling snow off, but we still had to pay out," joked Mr Andrew Doherty, of Doherty's Bookmakers, Ballyshannon.

One amateur weather forecaster in the county, Mr Michael Gallagher, disputed the definition of a white Christmas. "There really should be an inch of snow on the ground," he said.

Meanwhile, serious financial woes befell Enniscorthy Town AFC, which found local banks refused to cash cheques drawn on the club's traditional Christmas savings club.

A £50,000 shortfall in the fund was subsequently found, reported the Wexford People.

A local businessman, however, "played Santa Claus to hundreds of soccer club thrift fund savers," said the paper. Mr Des Pettitt arranged to honour all cheques drawn on the savings account.

Mr Liam Murphy, chairman of Enniscorthy Town AFC, said: "We are just so grateful to the businessman involved. How could we have faced people and told them there is no money for Christmas after they had saved hard with us all year?"

The paper said "investigations revealed that no official, or member of Enniscorthy Town AFC, was involved in the irregularity".

While many regional papers repeated warnings by garda∅ about drink driving at Christmas, Donegal garda∅ reported a "quieter than normal" festive season.

Arrests were down on all fronts, said the Donegal Democrat. This may have been partially due to preventative measures described this week in the paper's lead story.

In the run-up to Christmas, "every pub in the county was visited by garda∅ . . . and warned that any instance of underage drinking would not be tolerate".

Even so, a number of arrests were made. Garda∅ in Donegal Town said:

"It appears the younger ones were trying to get into the discos mainly. We did inspect these premises but with the big crowds it is difficult to infiltrate all the disco areas."

The high consumer spending at Christmas was noted by several regional papers this week. The Waterford News and Star's front page said the arrival of the euro was a contributory factor, as people cleared out their old currency.

"It's as if people have turned over their mattresses and brought their loose cash out. I think people have just decided they are going to enjoy this Christmas and spend money," said Mr Alan Weston, general manager, City Square Shopping Centre, Waterford.

These sentiments were echoed in the Western People. One of its front page stories said: "The Tiger may be limping a bit, but it is still moving along nicely in Co Mayo, according to reports from the businesses on the Christmas spending boom."

In its editorial the Waterford News and Star said it hopes the new year would bring, along with economic unity brought by the euro, "unity and understanding of the diversity of beliefs, views and races".

The Nationalist & Leinster Times pointed out in its editorial that there are "thousands of people living well below the poverty line".

"As we face into the new year, it's time for those people, and particularly those politicians, who bleat about poverty to actually do something about it," said the paper.