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Get on the write track to achieve wellbeing

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – Judy Murphy hears how penning your thoughts can free pent-up emotions

Many adults probably remember keeping a diary during their teenage years, or writing poems or prose to express the emotions of those often traumatic times.

If you were one of those people, then at some deep level, you had found a way of documenting and observing your emotions in a way that helped make sense of them. Galway based psychologist Patricia McAdoo firmly believes we should continue writing throughout our lives, to assist us process events and our response to them.

But rather than keeping a diary, she recommends a form known as therapeutic or expressive writing, which has been proven to offer benefits for both mind and body as well as for relationships, she says.

It is writing in its purest form as it’s only for the person who is putting their thoughts on paper, she explains. There is no need to show the work to anybody and nobody is ever asked to critique it – this is just about your thoughts and your observations on your life, written in a creative way.

Writing for wellbeing is not for everybody, she adds, but anyone who kept a diary as a youngster, or who ever doodled down a poem or short story should find it of benefit. Her experience has shown her that even people who hated English at school can take to this process like a duck to water, as it’s not about grammar or style, it’s about expression.

Originally from Cork, Patricia’s background is in clinical psychology and she worked in the area of mental health and mental health promotion for years.

In 2004 she did a Masters in writing at NUI Galway as she had always wanted to write and had kept a journal periodically throughout her life.

Call it coincidence, call it serendipity but after she had finished that Masters, a colleague asked her if she had ever heard of therapeutic writing. Patricia hadn’t, but she was determined to learn more as she realised it combined her two main interests; writing and psychology.

“The idea of developing writing as a way of working with people was natural,” she observes.

To develop skills in this area, Patricia received mentoring from London based Gilly Bolton, a former Research Fellow at Medicine and the Arts in Kings College London University, who had specialised in expressive and therapeutic writing after extensively researching its  mental and physical health benefits. 

Patricia has first-hand experience of the benefits of therapeutic writing, as she has taught it to many cancer support groups in the West of Ireland, including Cancer Care West.

Participants in the Cancer Care West workshops published a collection of writing, The Healing Pen in 2010 and now Patricia has produced an entire book on the topic.

One reason she wrote this book, Writing for Wellbeing was because she had seen the adverse effect of the recession on people’s lives.

“In a recession people feel very powerless and can feel things are outside of their control; their job, their finances, their children’s futures. This kind of writing gives you a sense of what’s happening and a sense of control over that. If you can afford a notebook and pencil you can do it. It’s not a panacea for everything and it’s not for everyone. But a lot of people like writing and it’s good for wellbeing, so why not try it?”

Writing for Wellbeing was a natural progression for her, after almost a decade of giving workshops in this therapy.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

In search of that land where dreams really do come true

Francis Farragher

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Judy Garland: Film bosses tried to convince her that she was an 'ugly duckling'.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Sometimes, I take what I might describe as an unusual notion, and a couple of weeks back, I thought to myself that it had been a long time since the threshold of a cinema door had been crossed.  There was a time when I’d sit down and watch a film on TV but now a myriad of distractions seem to intervene . . . either the phone rings . . . someone lands into the kitchen for a chat . . . there’s a dispute over who wants to watch what . . . and then the ‘flick’ is abandoned for other sources of entertainment.

Anyway, straying back into childhood days, and normally around Christmas time, the Wizard of Oz always seemed to on the television in glorious black and white (not the film’s fault but the TV’s) where Judy Garland played the most innocent and sweetest of roles as Dorothy Gale.

It was a film of fantasy, music and dreams, only to be watched with a loose window of imagination, but there always seemed to be a purity of innocence and spirit in Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) that could never be challenge.

A star of cinema and known all over the world before she had reached the age of 18, the world seemed to be at her feet, but as the years passed and our innocence was gradually eroded by the experiences of the world, we’d read newspaper stories here and there of Judy Garland’s rather troubled personal life.

So, it was with a mixture of starry-eyed childhood flashbacks of rainbows and beautiful chords and the harsh realities of adult life, that a few of us embarked on a mission to see Judy, a little unsure as to whether we should have put at risk our little memory treasures from younger days.

The story of the life of Frances Ethel Gumm, aka Judy Garland, was of course far removed from the happy images that we associate with her roles in different films. The first assault on her innocence was at the age of two, when she was put on stage to sing her first song, and after that her childhood was never really her own.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Agony and ecstasy of a rebel heart

Judy Murphy

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Historian Conor McNamara, author of the new book on Liam Mellows. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – A new book by Athenry historian Conor McNamara offers fresh insights into the life of Liam Mellows, the leader of the 1916 Rising in Galway. Conor tells JUDY MURPHY how, during his research, he came across some intriguing theories about Mellows, the son and grandson of British Army sergeants whose wish since childhood had been to die for Ireland.

“If I were to use one word to describe Liam Mellows, it would be unhappy,” says historian Conor McNamara, whose new book on the Irish revolutionary is being launched this week. Conor’s book of Mellows’ writings certainly proves that his subject was obsessed with death and dying.

Liam Mellows: Soldier of the Irish Republic – Selected writings 1914-1922, covers his early involvement with the Irish Volunteers, his opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and the hours before his execution in December 1922 by the Free State army.

Mellows is renowned in Galway for the part he played in the 1916 Rising locally. After it was put down, he escaped and spent several months hiding in the Sliabh Aughty mountains between Galway and Clare, before escaping to New York dressed as a nun.

In America, from 1917-1920, Mellows played a key role in raising awareness about Ireland’s struggle against England.

It was in America, in 1919, that Mellows was photographed with a young boy who has never been identified. When the Fenian leader, John Devoy wrote to Mellows asking ‘who is the child’? the brief response was ‘that’s my godson’.

That raises questions for Conor who feels it was an extremely non-informative reply from a man who had stayed in Devoy’s house in New York.

There had been rumours in Ireland that Mellows had fathered a child – if not two – and the photo of him with this unidentified boy deepens the mystery for the Athenry historian.

“Mellows was likeable but unknowable and he hadn’t many close friends,” according to Conor, who teaches history at the University of Minnesota’s Irish programme, having previously worked at NUIG as its 1916 Scholar in Residence.

That observation about Mellows being unknowable is apt, as it has also been claimed that he was gay.

The historian isn’t offering answers to any of these theories – and doesn’t debate them in the book. Rather, his exploration of Mellows’ writings aims to highlight “the personal toll the revolution took on a generation of young militants”.

Mellows’ writings were ‘the disparate public and private utterances of a young man who lived an itinerant life during a time of rapidly changing political realities’, Conor explains in his foreword.

The letters, in particular, offer an insight into this apparently fearless revolutionary, showing his many insecurities and his anguish over what he believed were his mistakes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Gay Byrne, who died this week, pictured with his wife Kathleen Watkins and daughter Crona at the Oyster Festival in 1966.

1919

Notes for farmers

Close students of the agricultural press, and of similar publications of countries which are Ireland’s competitors in the agricultural produce markets, cannot fail to have been impressed by the intense interest that is being displayed in these countries in every method which will assist in obtaining better results from farming.

The dominating impression is one of thirst for knowledge, keenness, and co-operation with all agencies working for improved methods, and is an indication of the competition that may be expected when present trade hindrances are removed.

Irish farmers, however, have already at their disposal systems of scientific instruction, 2nd investigation, as well as tested results, and need have no fear of the result of such competition, if they will only utilise the means provided, and co-operate in a spirit similar to that animating the farmers of other countries by adopting the methods which have been commended to them, and applying the lessons taught by the scientific experiments conducted during the past 20 years.

Senseless act

Two large plate-glass windows in the premises of the Co-operative Store at Forster-st, Galway, were smashed at 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Those living in the vicinity heard the crash at that hour. The perpetrators of this senseless and unprovoked outrage did not go far to seek for the weapons they made use of.

The planks of the scaffolding that was used in connection with the repairs to the building were at hand, and it was these they used in breaking the windows. A large lamp, which was hanging inside one of the windows, was also smashed.

The act has aroused universal condemnation in the town.

At the meeting of the Urban Council yesterday (Thursday), Mr. Rabbitt proposed a motion condemning the outrage. – Chairman: It is a shame. But that is the way they are going to make a great country of this – smashing windows and committing outrages. It is a grand thing.

Mr Rabbitt: It gives the town a bad name and it is no good to anyone.

Chairman: It is a shame, and a cowardly thing to do, and nobody would do it but a blackguard.

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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