FESTIVALS around the county got into full swing this month and August started off with the Durrow Scarecrow Festival.
The festival attracted thousands of people to the picturesque village for the 10 days, and saw the village awash with every kind of scarecrow you could imagine.
As usual a huge amount of work was put into the festival and it paid off as the Durrow Scarecrows were nominated in the best festival category at the Ticket awards. Elsewhere in the county another well known and loved festival also took place. The Stradbally Steam Rally attracted 15,000 people over the August Bank Holiday weekend for its 48th festival. As well as all the usual trappings, the rally also had sheepdog trials, a Queen of Steam competition and a new favourite - tractor pulling.
While there was lots to do across Laois all month, one local group decided to take Laois on the road. Adela and the Meanits took on the monster task of completing a 32 county tour throughout the month of August and travelled the length and breadth of the country bringing their quirky brand of musical fun north, south, east and west. The group also released their album this month.
August saw Ulster Bank announce that they would not be proceeding with the building of 70 houses in Portlaoise. A number of rezoning decisions were also taken by Laois County Council affecting Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Portarlington. There was great debate during the local area plans with councillors and the county manager disagreeing on some areas.
In Portarlington two young boys had a lucky escape when they were targeted in a “suspicious approach”. The boys, aged 12 and 14, were in the town when they were approached by a number of strangers travelling in a black jeep. The incident attracted a lot of attention on Facebook with people warning eachother to be vigilant and look after their little ones.
Portarlington received more bad news this month when a devastating car crash claimed the lives of four men who were living in the town.
The three brothers - Darren, David and Ryan Doyle and their friend Lee Bryan were killed when the car they were travelling hit a mini bus at Meelaghans on the Tullamore to Port road.
It was not a good month for banks in Laois as AIB announced the closure of their Portarlington and Abbeyleix branches. The news was met with anger from local people and councillors, with people saying the news was a disgrace. The bank said that it wanted to reassure all farming customers that a personal banking service would be maintained. Customers from the closed branches were expected to relocate to Portlaoise. Sixty seven branches are to close nationwide.
August was also the month when Leaving Cert students from around the county received their much anticipated results. In Laois approximately 800 young people received their results.
Mountrath Community School has the highest number of pupils completing their exams with 128 students, while Clonaslee College had the smallest number in the county with 23 students.
The HSE this month said that they were committed to the larger elderly care unit in St Vincents Hospital in Mountmellick, stating that there is no waiting list. At the time there were 106 patients and 100 staff employed in the hospital.
On a cost per bed basis, Mountmellick was the third cheapest across the nine units in the midlands, with only Tullamore and Birr coming in cheaper.
The HSE also released a report following consultations with families of people in Shaen and Abbeyleix. Though releavling no detail of the 29 written submissions, the report did say that 53 meetings were held with residents and their families. Almost 2,000 petitions in favour of keeping Abbeyleix open were handed in.