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Helping children cope with pressures

Judy Murphy



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.

Connacht Tribune

Latest science behind the first meal of the day

Denise McNamara



One thing that can be enjoyed throughout the week under lockdown is a leisurely breakfast.

Fashion, Health & Beauty by Denise McNamara

How are you finding the whole cooking at home thing night, noon and morning? Have you changed your eating habits? Will you have to go on a post-lockdown detox and diet when finally released from home-prison? Does it feel that your whole world revolves around the next meal?

In our house the kids were demanding a cooked breakfast every day of scrambled eggs, baked beans and toasted potato waffles.

So after going through a truckload of these three basic items in the first few weeks and finding eggs were becoming difficult to source, we had to return to our usual habit of cereal, berries and yoghurt for at least three days.

My daughter would then make breakfast on Thursday with either bagels with cream cheese, bacon or croissants with grilled ham, cheese and tomato or boiled eggs with wholemeal toast.

On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s back to their perennial favourite of the eggs, beans and waffles while on Sunday we go for the grilled sausages, bacon, beans, tomatoes – I sneak in some spinach but am usually the only taker.

When the lockdown first happened, it was reported that sales of eggs, loose tea, teapots and egg cups were booming as people settled into their tables for a more relaxed first meal of the day while working from home or home-schooling or the reality of having no work to go to has kicked in.

New research is giving you the thumbs up if an extended breakfast has been your habit during the pandemic.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism by researchers at Lübeck University in Germany studied 16 men. They first ate a 250-calorie breakfast and a 990-calorie dinner, then reversed the calorie count with a large breakfast and a small dinner.

They found that on the days they had a high-calorie breakfast, their metabolism was working 2.5 times better by measuring diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT).

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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Country Living

A time when we’re learning to appreciate the simpler things

Francis Farragher



Pacific War 1941 to 1945. A reminder of how awful life could be.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

If our current pandemic has brought one thing to the forefront of our minds, it is that of our own mortality. Of course, there’s no point in dwelling too much on that great certainty of life – in the end, there’s only going to be one winner – but at least we’re all being reminded that the gift of life really does trump everything else.

Like most other humans I know, I make a reasonable effort to live something approaching a healthy way of life . . .  not too much food, not too much ‘rubbish’, keeping an eye on ‘the quantity’ when it comes to the ‘ould drink’, and trying to squeeze in a bit of physical exercise every day.

And yet, if we’re to believe all the health food PR that’s being thrown at us day-after-day, it’s as if doing everything perfectly will bring us the gift of everlasting life, which I’m afraid it won’t. We are finite creatures and if we look after ourselves – and get lucky – then we may be blessed with a lifespan that could stretch for eight decades or so.

It’s only when we face into crisis periods like we’re experiencing now, that we realise that ordinary, normal lives are quite the thing to strive for. There really is a great solace in being able to do – and enjoy – the simple things of life like waking up in the morning, going to work, enjoying your meals, and embarking on an evening walk, cycle or jog.

Normal routines have taken a bit of a battering since the arrival of St Patrick’s Day with not a pint being pulled in a pub across the land. If someone had said to you six months ago that we’d have such a day in Ireland, the old psychiatric examination might be called for.

Anyway, maybe at times it’s good to break some of the old routines and instead of having the evening option of a couple of pints of plain, I’ve been lured into various little distractions such as watching a number of TV series that I couldn’t be bothered with, when there were other things to be at.

Thursday nights since late March have been preoccupied with watching two war series that I’d heard a lot about but never had the patience to watch, and beside I thought my own little curiosities about history had taught me everything I wanted to know about World War II . . . but, but not so, after now completing 20 episodes between Band of Brothers and Pacific.

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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Connacht Tribune

Novel on Aughrim – ‘a labour of love and guilt’

Judy Murphy



Author Joe formerly worked as a journalist for the Irish Times and the Guardian.

Lifestyle – Joe Joyce grew up in Aughrim, the site of a major battle in 1691 between two English kings, which had a massive impact on Ireland’s future. His schoolteacher father Martin was a fount of knowledge on the battle and set up a museum dedicated to it. Now Joe, a former journalist, has written a fictional account of Ireland’s bloodiest day and the events surrounding it. He tells JUDY MURPHY how it came about.

A labour of love. Or maybe of guilt,” says author and ex-journalist Joe Joyce with a rueful laugh about his latest novel, 1691, which deals with the bloody Battle of Aughrim and the events surrounding it. He’s half-joking but fully serious. Joe was reared in the village of Aughrim, between Ballinasloe and Loughrea, where his late father Martin taught in the local school for 40 years. Martin started by teaching infants and went on to become school principal.

From nearby Kilconnell, Martin was a passionate local historian and Aughrim was teeming with history.

On July 12, 1691, it was the site of the defining conflict in the War of the two Kings – a three-year battle fought in Ireland between two rival claimants for the throne of Britain.

They were James II of England, who had inherited the throne in 1685, and his son-in-law and nephew William of Orange, who had deposed him in 1688.

This was a struggle between the relatively new Protestant religion of William and his wife Mary, and the Catholicism of James. From 1689, Ireland became their battleground, with the Siege of Derry, the Battle of the Boyne, the Siege of Limerick and the 1691 Battle of Aughrim all forming part of the conflict.

Aughrim was the bloodiest battle of that war and of Irish history, with an estimated 7,000 men killed on the East Galway plains.

As well as teaching in Aughrim, Martin Joyce also created a museum in the school to display historic artefacts from the battlefield. It later broadened out to include other traditional rural items such as rush lamps and flails, Joe recalls, and was the foundation for the Aughrim Interpretative Centre, a popular visitor attraction in non-Covid times.

“The battle was the centre-piece of the museum and the centre of his interest and he was always ready to give people tours of the battlefield,” says Joe of his father.

The former journalist with the Irish Times who later went on to become Irish correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, recalls childhood Sundays when he’d be in the car with his two sisters and parents, ready to go for a Sunday drive.

“Then, people who had set off on their Sunday drive earlier than we had would arrive to see the museum,” he says with a smile.

Their mother, Meta, would “sit there quietly furious while we were all decanted from the car”.

It’s easy to understand why the battle wasn’t on Joe’s list of priorities in childhood

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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