FERN the four year old female German Shepard/Retriever is helping Limerick Suicide Watch (LSW) save lives.
Owner Mike O’Mara said his four legged friend has proven a valuable asset to LSW and has been involved in numerous interventions and has helped many people in distress.
Mike who has been a trainer for the Irish Guide dogs for the Blind for many years often thought while patrolling the Shannon over the last five years, how he would like to introduce a dog to see if it would help people in distress to interact with the patrol more quickly through the dog.
“I did a lot of research through other Therapy dog groups and got a lot of expert advice from people working within the mental health area. The response I got was incredible and so Fern was introduced to patrols on a trial basis, and two years down the road she has proven a valuable asset to LSW after being involved in numerous interventions helping people in distress.
“She is very calming when she interacts with people and has a natural ability to pick up on a person when they are low, and just approaches them and looks for a hug, and snuggles in to them. The response from these people is amazing to see and they usually open up to us much quicker while hugging or rubbing Fern.
“We believe she is the first dog to do this kind of work and we are all very proud of her. As you can imagine she is very popular with all our volunteers and gets spoilt by everyone,” said Mike.
Fern was a pup that Mike was training for the Irish Guide dogs for the Blind but was withdrawn from advanced training as an Autism assistance dog two years ago because she was too friendly, she wanted to greet every person or dog she met while out training.
Mike has trained pups for the Irish Guide dogs for about 9 years and has a number of dogs now working in full time roles with both visually impaired and Autistic clients around the country.
The process in becoming a puppy trainer involves an Irish guide dogs supervisor coming to your home to access your suitability to take on the role. Then training is done on an ongoing basis through classes with other puppy trainers in group and individual situations.
“A pup will remain with me from eight weeks for about 14 months before returning to Cork to be accessed for suitability for either Guide Dog or Assistance Dog and then continue on to advanced training in the center.
“As you can imagine letting the pups go after such a long time training them is extremely difficult and is the part of the experience I dreaded every time it came around. They became a part of the family very quickly even if you tried not to get too attached,” added Mike.
Since early 2017 Fern has also become a Therapy dog with Brothers of Charity where she calls to their center in Bawnmore and visits a number of clients who are intellectually challenged.
“She gets an amazing response from all the clients and staff alike in the center. The staff have told me that it is the highlight of the week when she arrives on site. She also does individual visits to houses in the community,” said Mike.
Fern also remains an Ambassador dog with The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and does many events such as school and business visits and supports many fundraising events around the country.
“She is a very busy lady but loves all the attention and fuss she gets in all the work she does,” added Mike.
Bestselling author Roisin Meaney, has just published her fifteenth novel, ‘The Anniversary’, despite suffering from the debilitating condition chronic Insomnia.
According to the Health Service Executive (HSE) website, Insomnia is difficulty falling or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, some of the side effects are feeling tired, lack of concentration, irritability and not being able to mentally or physically function effectively for normal daily routines.
Roisin, who has lived in Limerick most of her life, has had insomnia for more than ten years, and has tried every type of exercise and alternative remedy to have a full nights slumber.
“I’ve meditated, I’ve lain on a yantra mat, I’ve done yoga, I’ve listened to whale music, I’ve taken supplements that are known for sleep inducing properties… you name it, I’ve done it, or swallowed it.
“I take half a sleeping tablet that I buy over the counter in Spanish chemists. After trying a gazillion other remedies, alternative and otherwise, this is the only one that works. Every few nights I don’t take it, and I don’t sleep,” said Roisin.
Though she has no idea what might have triggered the insomnia Roisin said, “I have no mental or physical issues that might be causing it. Perhaps the creative process has something to do with it, I used to think it might be, but now I’m not so sure. If I’m not writing I’m generally thinking about the next book, but I’m not convinced it’s the culprit. I mean, I’m currently on book number sixteen, you’d think my system would have adapted by now.”
Despite having Insomnia, Roisin still manages to keep her busy routine of writing daily, and all that being a modern successful author entails, such as book readings, speaking at book festivals, interviews for television, radio, newspapers and keeping her social media up to date as well as replying to fans of her books.
Though she has tried to structure a nap into her daily routine it has not worked.
“No matter how tired I feel I seem incapable of napping. I so envy folk who can grab half an hour of sleep whenever they want. Thankfully, I’m still producing a novel a year. Of course, they might be better novels if I slept well, but that’s for another day,” joked Roisin.
‘The Anniversary’ which is now available in bookshops, centres around a couple, Lily and Charlie, who split up four years earlier and who are coming together to spend a weekend in the house where Lily grew up, and where they spent summer holidays when the children were small. Accompanying them are their respective new partners, their two adult children and their daughter’s partner.
Last October Roisin purchased a small cottage in Miltown Malbay in Clare, where her cat has also settled in and she goes for regular early morning walks on the beaches.
“Since then I’ve been dividing my time between Clare and Limerick, and I’ve been met with nothing but friendliness and warmth from the locals. I’m a total blow-in, but they’re OK with that.”
Fáilte Ireland has developed a ‘Know Limerick’ Local Experts Programme, to support those involved in the tourism sector and the local community who welcome and engage with visitors to Limerick.
At the core of the programme will be a network of local people coming together to share their local knowledge in order to to help visitors make the most of their visit to Limerick.
The programme will also feature a number of annual events, social media initiatives, a Visitor Attractions pass and opportunities to network with other tourism businesses.
Visitor Engagement with Fáilte Ireland Niamh Mannion said, “Limerick’s historical buildings and towns, its stunning landscapes and world class sporting events and festivals are brought to life every day by the front line employees and volunteers.
“Visitors not only seek out local people and their advice, they trust it. This programme aims to build on the good work already happening on the ground and inspire all front line employees and volunteers to turn every visitor interaction into a truly informative and positive experience.”
The National Tourism Development Authority are calling on people who have B&B’s, work in hotels, restaurants, retail stores, taxi companies, or if you are active in your local community and are involved in any visitor-facing employment or are a local volunteer to attend.
The free event at Thomond Park will begin with a three hour interactive workshop on what there is to see and do in Limerick, and will take place on June 19 at 1pm, and 5.30pm and then on June 20 at 9.30am.
Fáilte Ireland is the national tourism development authority which was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism for the Irish economy. According to Fáilte Ireland tourists spend €7.1 billion on tourism and hospitality, and there are an estimated 235,000 people employed in the industry.
To register for the workshop email email@example.com
Follow on Twitter @Fáilte_Ireland
Having endured back pain, headaches and discomfort from Scoliosis for most of my life, I recently jumped at an opportunity for innovative treatment.
Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. I have found that staying mobile, walking, yoga and receiving Osteopathic treatment helps me manage the discomfort better.
Eoin Flynn who has been my Osteopath for a number of years, recently suggested that since I had whiplash trauma in my teens I would be a candidate for atlas alignment treatment.
The atlas treatment involves the use of two systems. Firstly, a scan with the FCE Scan Motion laboratory which creates a 3D image of the spine, pelvis, legs, feet and their function.
Then the treatment part of the therapy involves the use of a machine that creates a pulse and vibration to the top of the neck, it is not invasive, and does not involve spinal manipulations. Once the treatment is completed the scan is performed again, in order to compare the differences and to show the improvements in the biomechanics of the spine.
It was a fascinating experience. I stood in my bare feet on a walking machine and the scan was taken from behind me, then I had to walk to see how everything was moving. Then to see the image of my spine on a monitor and see the improvement after the treatment was incredible.
According to Head of Diagnostics Shane Hassett, the FCE Scan Motion laboratory operates by using anatomical landmarks of the spine and pelvis to recreate a 3D image of the spine and pelvis using technology that has been certified as being as accurate as an x-ray.
It was invented about 25 years ago by Helmut Diers, who at the time was working for Phillips developing MRI’s, when he met a professor who through his studies found higher levels of breast cancer in scoliotic patients due to the breast tissue absorbing radiation from continuous MRI scanning.
“It was from this research that Helmut decided to invent the current system, as he wanted to come up with a method to reduce the risk of cancer but still be able to produce the spinal information from the scan.
“From here, Helmut linked up with Wim Lambrechts, who was developing his own foot and gait analysis system. They decided to merge the two together which is now the 4D Motion lab that we have,” said Shane.
Shane who has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and a Masters of Science in Sports Performance said, “We can analyse how clients function when standing or moving which is a huge advantage as the majority of scans only assess the body in a static position. The system also assesses the feet and legs using specialised technology. With these functions, it can identify, but is not limited to, spinal position and degrees of scoliosis, pelvic position and movement, ankle stability and gait cycle parameters.
“As our system is radiation-free, clients with scoliosis can monitor the progression or regression of their scoliosis more regularly. We provide the client with an analysis of their degrees of scoliosis which is very beneficial for them and their treating practitioner or GP. We also provide a very efficient service without waiting lists, so you can be diagnosed quickly and early diagnosis improves prognosis.”
Shane said the system can be used by anyone who wishes to book an appointment. A wide range of patients have already availed of this service, including children and adults with scoliosis, people with recurrent back problems, ankylosing spondilosis, foot problems, back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain and many athletes have used it to help prevent injuries they have sustained and to improve their performance.
The Limerick company was formed by a group of professionals who are working in private health care, with the aim of providing state of the art diagnostic scans in the physical health care field. They decided to base the initial system in Arthurs Quay House in Limerick city because of the city’s technology base, the proximity of the University of Limerick and the city’s future development plan.
Shane said, “since opening we have seen great benefits as it provides local practitioners with fast, accurate and reliable diagnosis of their patients. This allows them to see a greater number of patients in their clinics each week and it’s a very simple way of monitoring progression following their treatment. To the clients themselves they can rest assured that the treatment protocols being administered to them are working, by comparative scans post treatment if they wish.
“The system analyses whole body biomechanics to accurately pin-point the source and monitor an injury. The method is also beneficial to assess function pre- and post-surgery. It produces accurate data and removes any guess work to provide a greater patient and practitioner experience,” added Shane.
Since having the scan and Atlas treatment, I have been waking up without headaches, I have less back pain and discomfort and parts of my body like my knees, where I always had pain have realigned, and I feel much better, though I still have to make sure I keep active.
For more information see below.
In 2016 following some life-changing decisions, my former classmate Marion Kiely became an entrepreneur when she established her innovative company Upstream.
Upstream is a Health and Safety consultancy with a difference, because it also focuses on employee well-being and on how to bring about positive changes to the way work is carried out within an organisation.
“Recently while in Amsterdam at a Health and Safety conference I was asked ‘I see you have well-being in your tagline, how do you incorporate that into your business?’.
“Ultimately, the goal of any health and safety management system should be to protect, and even promote, health in employees and others engaged with the business. This adds great value to the overall businesses we serve, and sparks innovation and engagement when embraced and supported by leadership teams within organisations,” said Marion.
Just four years ago, Marion had to take five months off work as she became sick, exhausted and burnt out due to working in excess of 60 hour weeks.
“I hit a right low in my life. I had to stop in order to recover. As someone who is usually very independent and doesn’t like to ask others for help, it forced me to reach out to family and friends, and seek their support to get through that very difficult time. I’m lucky to be here today if I’m to be totally honest, it really was a tough time.
“The whole episode led me to question everything about life. Why was I living where I was living? Why was I working where I was working? Why was I investing time in relationships that didn’t yield a good return? So many why’s. In hindsight, I’m thankful that I went through that difficult time, I see it as a wakeup call. As the saying goes, ‘the darkest night brings the brightest stars’,” added Marion.
Attending the Pendulum Summit in 2015 changed Marion’s life. “During a short meditation Dr Chopra asked us to tap into what our life purpose was, a resounding ‘to bring about positive change’ was what jumped out at me.”
Following on from this Marion took part in an online course with Pat Divilly called ‘Be Your Own Hero’, “that really brought my dreams into reality. It dawned on me at this time that were I to reach the end of my days, if I didn’t take the leap afforded to me now, I may well end up bitter and resentful for not having taken this opportunity. It became clear to me that I was more afraid of staying in my job of fifteen years and ending up that way than leaving and taking a gamble on the unknown.”
Prior to this Marion was a Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) facilitator at Pfizer pharmaceuticals. The seed of an idea for her business was planted when she was invited to present at conference for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
“After the conference I received many enquiries from occupational health nurses wanting to know where they could avail of services to help them roll out a programme like ours. There was no service provider in Ireland that could deliver our approach. This got me to thinking that there was a market for such a service.
“It was something I felt I had to do. While I was half afraid to take the leap, leaving the security that came with having a permanent job, I knew deep down inside I wanted to make the move from corporate life to working for myself,” said Marion.
Since embarking on her new career Marion travels to clients, schools and universities delivering mental health and well-being talks, she also lectures in Middlesex University has been a guest lecturer in University College Cork (UCC).
Though she has a very busy lifestyle, she has learned from past experience and ensures she takes time out for meditation, walks, social events and she consciously prioritises meeting people daily.
“That was a steep learning curve I can tell you. The fact that I had burnout in the past is now standing to me. When I feel pressure coming on and the inclination to park the walks and meditations, that’s my trigger to refocus. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I need to pick up the phone and get out and meet a friend and air whatever it is that is adding to my pressure. When you love what you do, it is hard to park it for a while and prioritise social events when busy. I have had to ban myself from reading scientific research and articles outside of my work time, as I found I was constantly at it and I was getting no down time.
“Letting go of perfectionism is something I have had to get comfortable with as well. I’m the type that can spend oodles of time perfecting something, when sometimes good enough has to do,” added Marion.
Marion has an MSc in Occupational Health from UCC, among many other qualifications and regularly travels to Holland and the UK for Master classes.
“Education is one of my core values, and I am constantly looking to learn from the latest research and trends that are out there. It is my belief that I’ll be learning until the day I leave this planet, there is so much to learn we can surely never know enough?”
On building her brand Marion took inspiration from her favourite quote, “‘Even dead fish go with the flow’. My brand shows resilience, going against the current, not just going with the flow for the sake of it. The thinking is that by tackling problems at source (upstream) we prevent them becoming even bigger problems downstream. It is very much in line with the upstream analogy in public health, which is centered on primary intervention.
“In my logo the fish symbolises the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’, a story from Irish mythology, and that represents my core value of education. The salmon also represents resilience by going upstream to spawn. The heart represents health, and it is at the centre of it all. Without health the rest falls asunder, and the colour and vibrancy goes. The ripple of water represents well-being and for me symbolises mindfulness. The logo in itself is about nature, an ever-evolving complex adaptive system, and that represents the view I believe we need to take of our organisations,” said Marion.
As for the future, Marion would like to make a real difference to the health and well-being of the nation, “ I foresee this happening by influencing those in a position of power to do what is ethically right, and prioritise the enforcement of legislation in the area of identifying psychosocial hazards within workplaces and putting preventative measures in place to limit the harm that may arise from them.
“I also envision Upstream being recognised as the go-to experts in the area of improving work efficiency by means of providing a top notch safety service based on the latest scientific theories and research, and practical implementation of same. Business leaders serious about becoming the best in their field, who want their employees to be innovative and engaged, will seek out our services and if they are willing to be challenged and have potential to flourish. To meet this demand I foresee the Upstream workforce expanding,” added Marion.
The Summer Symphony Concert in St Nicholas Church Adare on Sunday May 13, promises to be a treat for music lovers.
Featuring well known and renowned soloists Owen Gilhooly, Shirley Keane, Triona Walsh, Conor Gibbons and Magdalena Kowal who will perform a variety of well known operatic and musical pieces.
The soloists will be joined by Aoide Choir under the direction of Owen Gilhooly and the Holy Trinity Church Choir conducted by Tracey Fitzgerald.
The concert, under the musical direction of accomplished pianist Irina Dernova, will be enhanced by trumpet players Sybren Oggel and Stefan Kaiser who will also perform for this special concert, all proceeds from the concert will go to Barretstown Childrens Charity and to St Nicholas National School Adare.
Tickets are €20 or €30 per couple and Children under 12 years of age can attend free of charge. Tickets will be available at the door on the night of the concert.
Tickets will sell fast so make sure you are there in plenty of time to avoid dissapointment. The Concert commences at 6pm.