Longford's Year in Review: July 2020

News Reporter

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Story of the month: A good hair day for local businesses

Things were looking up for the local economy in early July as the first edition of the month led with a good news story.

Phase 3 of the government’s plans to reopen the country came into effect and those businesses many people had missed the most - pubs and hair salons - could finally reopen their doors, albeit with strict social distancing measures.

Hair salons across the county were completely booked out for the weeks following their reopening, as customers finally abandoned the bottled hair dyes and dodgy home cuts for the professional hair care that can only be got at a salon.

Margaret Mulvihill of Zara Hair Salon reopened her doors at 7am on that first day to start into approximately 250 bookings that were made for the following weeks, while Billy’s Barbers saw a queue of patrons outside from as early as 7am.

Meanwhile, a number of local pubs, which could serve ‘substantial’ meals, had managed to refurbish their premises to reopen under new Covid-19 restrictions, which had been put in place.

Mike Cooney of Cooney’s Hotel in Ballymahon revealed to the Leader that he put a lot into preparing the hotel for its grand reopening but that it was “great to be back” as a number of patrons arrived to enjoy a delicious meal.

However, it wasn’t all good news that week as popular Ballymahon restaurant Nine Arches announced its permanent closure as a direct result of Covid-19.

Chef Daniel Skukalek and Lorna Halligan opened the restaurant in May 2017 and the business quickly became a pillar of the local community.

Since its closure, a new pizza place, Jolly Boys, has opened in the premises.

House party surges

As many pubs remained closed and the country failed to progress to the next phase of its reopening in late July for fear of a second wave of Covid-19, gardaí were responding to reports of house parties and gatherings in Longford.

On one weekend alone, gardaí dealt with at least four parties across the county, with one in Longford town, one in Kenagh, one in Granard and one in Edgeworthstown.

In the Kenagh house party, approximately 50 young people had gathered for a party and were asked to leave the area, while a disturbance was reported at a party in Granard.

Domestic Violence rises

Gardaí in Longford reported a dramatic increase in the number of domestic violence calls over the course of the Covid-19 lockdown, with one report coming in per day, compared with just six or eight calls per month before the pandemic.

Longford Women’s Link also noted a marked rise in the number of people seeking assistance, with 153 individuals seeking support compared with 112 during the same 14-week period in 2019.

Criminal crackdown

Senior Garda chiefs dealt a “significant blow” to the day to day operations of a leading crime gang at the centre of a violent Longford feud, following a large scale cross agency search operation.

Eleven vehicles, three caravans, designer watches, handbags, clothing, and €124,000 in cash were seized, while accounts which held in excess of €80,000 were frozen.