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Connacht Tribune

Navigating constantly changing waters of parenthood

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Margie Connolly, educator and life coach pictured at her home at Baile Nua, Bearna. Photo: Brian Harding.

Lifestyle – Margie Connolly is drawing on a lifetime’s experience as a mother, teacher and a creative coach to offer parents help through the joys and pitfalls of rearing a family. She tells BERNIE Ní FHLATHARTA about the importance of self-care and how listening, trusting and maintaining connections with children will help young people grow and prosper.

A wise woman once said that parenting was an experiment and by the time you find out if you did it the right or wrong way, it’s way too late.

It’s not something that’s taught at school, it’s not something that comes naturally to everybody and sometimes it’s thrust on some of us before we’re ready. But one thing for sure, once a parent, always a parent.

Many believe that life was simpler years ago and no doubt years from now, this time will look simpler too. But, ultimately, parenting isn’t all about the times we live in, how we were parented or whether we were cut out for it. It simply is.

Sure, parenting can be easier for some when it’s shared in a multi-generational home, where wisdom and advice are readily available. But for most families, it’s a daily struggle that can be a lonely burden at times.

Some schools organise specific parenting courses but as parenting is constant from birth onwards, guidance is not just required for the school years.

Margie Connolly in Barna is now sharing her lifetime experience as a mother and teacher through her new profession as a life and creative coach. She took early retirement after 37 years from Salerno School, where she was Deputy Principal and which she loved. She knew it was time for change but she also knew she wouldn’t be idle and that she wanted to expand and explore her own knowledge.

During her teaching career, Margie had taken a few foundation counselling courses but she didn’t want to train as a counsellor. She was, however, open to finding a new path and decided to take a Life Coach course in Dublin. She admits to being inspired by a teenage student who told her on her retirement: ‘You heard my silent cries that no one else heard.’

“Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life,” says Margie, quoting one of her favourite poets, Mary Oliver. It’s a quote she uses often in her work as a life coach.

As well as being a life coach, she now offers parenting courses and creative courses — all from the comfort of her cosy sitting room overlooking the Atlantic in what she calls “a safe space”.

Walking into her home where the walls are covered with art and lit by various lamps, there is a feeling of calm and serenity. The sitting room, which is a busy hub these days, is furnished with comfy sofas and little tables which are almost always loaded with pots of tea and biscuits.

A mother of two grown-up children and now a doting grandmother of three, Maggie Kate, Michael and Seána, Margie feels well-qualified to share her parenting knowledge. Though she and her late husband, Seán, had been separated, they’d remained the best of friends and co-parented their children as best they could.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan



Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan



Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley



Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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