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Helping children cope with pressures

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Conor Hogan: Children are more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and self-confidence issues.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets Conor Hogan, one of the first life coaches in Ireland to focus on young people and children

It was once regarded as an American concept, but the past few years have seen a growing demand for life-coaching here in Ireland as people try to improve their work or domestic situations.

The idea of hiring an expert to guide and advise people on finding a new direction is one that increasingly appeals to adults.

But the notion of life-coaching for children and teenagers is surely a step too far? Should they not be allowed to live their lives free from such discipline?

Not so, according to Conor Hogan, a Galway life coach and one of the first in Ireland to focus on children and young people.

Conor, who is a qualified primary and secondary school teacher, and who has a range of other internationally recognised training skills, feels that families today are experiencing pressure across a range of areas, from money worries to fast-moving technology. As a result, children are more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and self-confidence issues.

We live in an environment where parents are also increasingly protective of their children, he says.

“When we were small we’d spend three days out looking for a sliotar and we’d be let off. That would never happen now.”

Conor grew up in Roscam, on the outskirts of Galway City, where his parent had a farm. As a youngster he was hugely involved in sport, especially GAA, until an underlying condition forced him to quit.

He’s tall and fit, and it’s difficult to believe that he has scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, but he was diagnosed in his late teens, which meant that contact sports were out of the question.

In an attempt to curtail the effects of the scoliosis, he began practising yoga, eventually qualifying as a Hot Yoga teacher – for a period he had a Yoga centre in Briarhill. Along the way, he came into contact with people who specialised in complementary therapies, including meditation and “that was where the interest in life-coaching came from,” he says. “Anything to do with mind, body, spirit; they are all interlinked.”

On the academic front, Conor did a degree in Business and Human Resource Management at GMIT and followed that with a H Dip in teaching. He also qualified as a primary teacher before undertaking an MA in NUIG on behaviour and discipline among young people outside school hours. Conor based his work on his experiences in the Galway Youth Café, the GAF, where he worked as a volunteer. He is currently doing a PhD under Pat Dolan, who initially designed GAF. That café is now closed but a spin-off, Jigsaw, which offers a range of services for young people, operates in the City’s Fairgreen.

Many of the teenagers who used the GAF Youth Café used to call there in the afternoons, when they might be expected to be at school, he says. But they didn’t cause any problems and one of his aims in the MA thesis was to establish why their behaviour in there was pretty good.

The reason was that many of the projects in GAF were feeding into education, and there was a great support for the café from a range of bodies which served young people.

Conor’s MA focused on teenagers, but for his PhD he is dealing with both primary and post-primary children, exploring their behaviour in out-of-school situations, such as youth centres, GAA clubs and other sporting organisations.

His own family experience as a teenager gave him a good grounding for working with young people, he says. His older sister, who lived nearby, had five children under the age of five and during Conor’s college years, he babysat them regularly. That’s where his interest in child-development came from, he says.

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

Country Living

A glimpse back to darker days when we turned on each other

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A photo taken in happier pre-civil war times on October 27, 1921, at the wedding of Kevin O’Higgins (centre) to Birdie Cole (centre front). O’Higgins is flanked to his right by Eamon de Valera and on his left by Rory O’Connor, the latter to be executed just over a year later on the orders of O’Higgins. Photo: Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of my regrets in childhood and younger life was that I never really got to know my ageing father. There was a rural way of life back through the 20th century where older farmers tended to marry younger women, one of the consequences being that by the time the youngest of the children had reached teenage years, their father would have slipped into old age.

It wasn’t all bad though and as a child, I’d hear first-hand stories of what times were like during The Troubles from the War of Independence through to the Civil War. My father wouldn’t always talk about it that often, but here and there, he’d mention tales of hiding behind walls when they’d hear the sound of Crossley Tenders – lightweight lorries which carried parties of Black-and-Tans across the country to ‘put manners’ on the restless natives.

Tales of guns and ambushes were quite frightening but also somewhat alluring yarns for a young lad of 11 or 12 summers as here and there, my father would mention that what followed on after the hated Black-and-Tans was even worse. He would recount tales from the Civil War and how even the closest of families were torn apart, depending on whether they were pro-Treaty or not.

He would point to a spot on a field where IRA members fired shots at the Free State-controlled railway station in Ballyglunin, or maybe a house where two brothers fought on opposite sides during the Civil War. As years passed, and elderly parents moved on, talks of the Tans and the Treaty faded, but of late with the 100th anniversary of so many awful events in 1922 now being recalled, curiosity again took hold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Opening doors to work and progress

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Conchúir Conneely and Keefa Mullan – second and third from right – who are participating in Want to Work Project, pictured with (from left) Keefa’s mum Jean Mullan and project workers Maeve Conneely, Yvonne Keane and Lisa Kane.

People who have a disability or mental health condition often face difficulties in finding work or progressing their careers. Living in rural or isolated environments can increase those challenges. But a programme run by Forum Connemara which offers pathways to training, further education, employment and self-development is having great results as JUDY MURPHY learns.

Keefa Mullan wants to work as a photographer and she’s well on her way to achieving her goal, via an online diploma course and having had her work showcased at this year’s Clifden Arts Festival.

Conchúir Conneely wants to make his living as a carpenter or in construction – he loves working with his hands and being outdoors, he explains.

Both Keefa and Conchúir are participants in Want to Work, a programme run by Forum Connemara, which helps people who have a disability or a mental health condition to improve their employment prospects, continue their training and education and get involved in volunteering.

Keefa (33) and Conchúir (21) both have Asperger Syndrome, a condition which can result in them having difficulty with social interaction, but which also means they have great concentration and attention to detail. So, it shouldn’t create an unsurmountable barrier to gaining employment, they feel.

And employment is the goal of this life-transforming project offered to people throughout Connemara by the Local Development Company, Forum.

Since September 2021, Want to Work has offered further education, work experience and practical support to some 40 participants, including Keefa and Conchúir.

It does this by acknowledging that each person has unique needs and goals, and then working to meet those, explains Yvonne Keane, one of four Forum staff working on this scheme.

The main objective is to move people into training, work experience, or employment, she says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Pupils of St Mary's College, Ballygar, waiting for tea at the opening of the school's new extension on December 10, 1982.

1922

State is recognised

At 3.30 on the morning of December 6, 1921, a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland was signed in a room in London. In pursuance of that Treaty, the Government of the Irish Free State was handed over to Mr. Michael Collins on January 16 of the present year.

This week the Free State became a fait accompli, recognised by all the nations of the earth, ratified by its own Parliament and that of Great Britain. This is the great central historical fact which nothing can alter.

In other times under other conditions, this would be a week of general jubilation in Ireland. There can be no doubt about the feelings in the hearts of the majority of people. They feel with the late Mr. Arthur Griffith that “the substance of freedom” has been won, with President Cosgrove that the Irish Government “takes over the control and destiny of our people to hold and administer that charge, answerable only to our own people and to none other; to conduct their affairs as they shall declare, right without interference, not to domination, by any other authority whatsoever on this earth.”

For the Free State has the power, by right of international treaty, to maintain military, naval and air forces, to impose tariffs, to control its own finances absolutely, to make its own laws.

And there is firm hope that before long the green, white and orange of the tricolour will wave triumphantly over not twenty-six counties merely, but over all Ireland.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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