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Connacht Tribune

Clifden sheltered housing scheme should be template for communities

Stephen Corrigan

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Older people have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer us. In this week’s Community Matters, Stephen Corrigan meets staff and residents at Clúid’s sheltered housing scheme at St Joseph’s Centre in Clifden who say their model should be the template for keeping older people in the community.

“It is about enabling older people to be a part of a wider community and enabling them to live independently.”

That’s the motivation behind Clúid Housing’s sheltered accommodation for older people in Clifden – with St Joseph’s Court providing 43 apartments for older people in the area for the past 14 years.

Unlike residential care, St Joseph’s Court is independent living with the added support of the Clúid team.

Housing Officer, Kathleen Aspel Mortimer, says the scheme has been such a success that it should be a template for the entire country.

“They are making choices about their lives without somebody telling them that they have to have breakfast at six o’clock or tea at six o’clock, or that they have to be in bed by a certain time.

“The whole project here has been set up over 14 years – this didn’t happen overnight and because of the way that it has been implemented, we can see the huge benefits that it gives to older people,” says Kathleen.

Specifically designed for those on the council housing waiting list, aged over 59, St Joseph’s has given older people in the Connemara area a way out of the turbulent rental market – and instead offered them a secure tenancy at equitable rates.

The importance of making the apartment their own and integrating with the people living around them is most important, says Kathleen.

“The wider picture with Clúid is that we provide houses, but it’s about building thriving communities within that.

“It is their place of living – we provide the housing, they provide the home,” says Kathleen.

Those living at St Joseph’s Court come from all walks of life – those who have lived in Connemara all their lives, those who moved to the area and made their life there – and 21 returned emigrants who wanted to come home.

One of those who returned is Marguerite Jackson who has been living at St Joseph’s since it opened 14 years ago.

“I enjoy the place – I needed it badly. We have a good life here. All my family had gone living their own lives and I was on my own – my husband had died, so I wanted to come home to roost.

“I was 39 years in England but I was glad to get back,” says Marguerite with a smile.

Sitting around the table in one of the block’s communal areas, there’s no hiding the fact that all those present are happy with their lot – as a conversation equal in measures of praise and gentle ribbing breaks out.

Another resident at St Joseph’s Court is Pat Bowyer, who moved to Clifden from France with a young family, and she believes the freedom they all have in their own space is crucially important.

Kathleen says that maintaining the right to choose how your own day pans out is paramount to all of us, regardless of age, and while they organise trips and outings, there is no pressure on anybody to do anything.

“We try to get away for a couple of days to a hotel somewhere and to have different outings around the area but for all of that, you have to hire buses.

Residents at their coffee morning at St Joseph’s Court in Clifden. Included in the photograph on the left are Patricia Jacques, Event Coordinator, and Maureen Bartley, Scheme Manager.

“It is quite expensive to live in an area like this because while it is lovely, it costs a lot of money to move one inch outside it,” she laughs.

Mike Carr, a local man living at St Josephs, says aside from all the options available to them, the security of knowing your apartment is yours for as long as you need it is a great comfort.

Similarly, upon her return from Egypt during the Arab Spring, Sister Barbara Molloy says St Joseph’s gave her a chance to return home to Galway while continuing to volunteer and avoid retirement.

Older Persons Support Officer, Maureen Batley, says they make a concerted effort to ensure there are activities and links with the community available as often as people want it – something that is coordinated between the GRETB and Patricia Jacques.

“We have intergenerational projects that we do with the local national schools and it is a lovely project.

“We also have social inclusion day where we set up board games that you mightn’t have played for years and we have the residents here, the Transition Years, Ability West and we have people with different abilities all together,” she explains.

Another highlight of the annual calendar is Culture Night – something that resonates greatly amongst the residents given their broad range of backgrounds.

“There are so many cultures in here that we have represented so we would have a table for Germany, France, England, America and Egypt; and then we would have food from all the different countries,” says Kathleen.

Residents can avail of services on site like chiropody, a hair salon, a gym and increased contact with management, should they wish – as well as Food Cloud where local supermarket, Aldi, donates food to be shared amongst residents.

Other staff members include Male Support Worker, Dave O’Holleran and Olive Delap – both of whom Kathleen says are integral to residents’ comfort and safety.

Well-known artist, Joe Boske, says part of the attraction to the centre is the fact that nobody “threads on anybody’s corns”.

“All of that is available, which is brilliant, but it is not in your face and you don’t feel that you must comply with whatever the rules of the house are,” says Joe.

Mary Diamond lived in Boston for many years before returning to Clifden eight years ago and she says St Joseph’s rescued her from high rents and uncertainty when she moved there four years ago.

Similarly, Esther Bolger says the ambiguity of private rental was eliminated for her when she moved to Clifden from Dublin – having returned from England.

Kathleen says the important thing is to get the right people, establish links with the community and have the support of local health professionals – at the same time as ensuring people have the right to determine their own lives.

“With older people, their life can change in a heartbeat – with anyone, it can change in a heartbeat.

“At least here, in a social setting, there is an opportunity for you not to go into full-time care. You might not be able to live out in Ballyconneely on your own but you might here – it is giving people an added opportunity at that time of life,” says Kathleen.

Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí called to Beef Plan gatherings as internal row threatens future of movement

Francis Farragher

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Deputy Anne Rabbitte, standing on a chair, addressing last week's controversial Beef Plan meeting in Turloughmore. Photo: Courtesy Agriland.

THE ‘civil war’ that has engulfed the Beef Plan Movement over recent weeks looks set to continue into 2020 following controversial meetings in Turloughmore and in Tipperary during the past week.

An estimated 300 people turned out on Wednesday night of last week in the Turloughmore Social Centre for the Co. Galway AGM of Beef Plan but the meeting was disrupted amidst raucous scenes.

That meeting was eventually abandoned without any officers being elected with a Garda presence at the Turlough’ centre following the break-up of the meeting.

Meanwhile, on Friday night at Holycross in Co. Tipperary, Gardaí were also on duty at that county’s Beef Plan AGM where there was a strict monitoring of those entering the meeting by security personnel.

A group of people outside that meeting at the Old Abbey Inn – who also claimed to be Beef Plan members – did not gain entry to the meeting.

Last night (Wednesday) a reconvened Galway AGM of Beef Plan was scheduled to take place in the Ard Rí House Hotel, Tuam, where only Galway Beef Plan members would be admitted.

Outgoing Chairman of Galway Beef Plan and one of the four original directors of Beef Plan Movement Company, Kevin O’Brien, said that people had been brought in from many outside counties to disrupt the Galway AGM last week and confirmed that later in the night, there was a Garda presence at the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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