Our Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar Cruise, 2019
On August 9th 2019, 45 of our members set out on a damp morning to begin the first leg of our much anticipated Cruise visiting Spain, Portugal and the Rock of Gibraltar. Organised by McGinleys travel of Donegal, the fact that this cruise was leaving directly from Dublin ,eliminating the hassle of Airports, was a big attraction.
McGinleys coach collected us in Ballinasloe to take us to Dublin Port. This was the last time we saw our luggage until it was delivered safely to our staterooms on the ship” Magellan”.
We quickly familiarised ourselves with the vessel which was to be our home for the next 10 days. As the ship set sail with its 1250 passengers on board, unfortunately there was a storm brewing. As we travelled South on the Bay of Biscay, the weather deteriorated. The next few days proved a scary experience. However, with the aid of sea-sickness pills and with the help of the wonderful staff we weathered the storm .
Gladly leaving the choppy Bay of Biscay behind us, we quickly regained our balance as we sailed into our first port of call, La Coruna in lovely sunshine. La Coruna is the gateway to the pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela . We all went our different ways to explore this busy, spacious city.
Cadiz was our next port of call. There were many shore excursions to choose from including a trip to Seville. After a panoramic tour through the city we enjoyed a wonderful Flamenco show in a small venue followed by traditional tapas and drinks.
The Rock Apes spring to mind at the mention of the Rock of Gibraltar and this is where our next stop took us. While the more adventurous took the cable car or walked to the top of 1400 ft. high Rock, more of us took the coach tour where we enjoyed panoramic views of the busiest shipping lane in the world, the mingling of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and two Continents. We visited St. Michael’s Cave to view a mass of strangely shaped stalagmites and stalactites
Next port of call was Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. There were many tours to choose from here. Some of us decided to take the scenic tour driving over the river Tagus by means of the second largest suspension bridge in Europe. We saw the colossal statue of Christ the King which was erected as a thanksgiving by the women of Portugal that their men folk were not actively involved in World War 11.
After a few pleasant days at sea soaking up the lovely sunshine and mingling with our fellow passengers we had a long day to explore our last port of call,Liverpool, the maritime city in northwest England. Here,we found an unsurpassed range of attractions along the majestic waterfront.There was the Walker Art Gallery , the Beatles Museum and many more which were well worth a visit. The hop- on, hop- off bus took you through the many places of interest. There were some who couldn’t resist shopping in the many large stores while the men-folk sought out the pubs to watch Tipperary beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling final. Good news !!!
The temperature was gradually dropping as we went on board and headed north for Dublin. Even though we got off to a bad start, our Cruise was most enjoyable. The food and entertainment on board was first class and so also was the company of our fellow passengers. However it was nice to see our coach waiting for us in Dublin port to take us home.
Tired but happy we arrived home safely . Our Cruise was a wonderful experience and will be added to our list of nice memories.
Many thanks to all who helped to organise it.
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) August 2019
3rd July 2019. 33 members of Ballinasloe Active retirement set off on a day trip to the pewter factory Mullingar. The ancient craft was revived in Ireland by Mullingar pewter in 1974 by Paddy Collins and his son Peter and employs 16 people from the local area who are specially trained in the old castings methods. We arrived at the workshop to see the skill of casting, moulding, turning, filing, and polishing, meticulous assembly and delicate hand finishing of the pewter pieces by the skilled artisons .Pewter is sold throughout stores in Ireland and abroad .We visited the gift shop which displayed a extensive range of pewter products and gifts for all occasions .We all enjoyed browsing and did not come away empty handed We then traveled through the beautiful landscape of Westmeath in glorious sunshine to Tullynally Castle 18 century gothic castle where we enjoyed soup/ brown bread, apple tart tea/coffee.We sat in in the courtyard enjoying the sunshine before we entered the Castle for a guided tour by Bartle our guide who gave us a wonderful history of the Pakenham family and the castle and had us laughing throughout the tour.It was a wonderful tour.The Pakenham family Thomas and his wife resides there. We visited the gardens by our tour guide Octavia and took in the beautiful scenery, plants, trees, and flowers along the way, and the tibetan garden which was designed by Thomas Pakenham over many years. We had a beautiful dinner in Tyrellspass before we set off for home. We all enjoyed the wonderful day.
Report from Phil Kelly
Trip to Poland.
On the 3rd June, 2019 – 23 members of the Ballinasloe Active Retired Group, travelled to Cracow, on a memorable trip to the beautiful historic City of Cracow. Poland’s royal city, its capital from the 11th century, until 1795. We had a pleasant flight and arrived at our Hotel in the late evening., and soon settled in to our new surroundings.
We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather, with temperatures of 28/29 degrees for the whole of our visit. Our Tour Guides had arranged for us to visit different places each day and gave us much information about each site we visited, including the following:-
The famous Salt mines of Wieliczka. Where much of Cracow;s wealth was built on the ‘white gold’. We had a guided tour of the mines, which included 3 hours of walking, taking in 300 steps of stairs, underground, which had to be manouvered in the process, this was quite a challenge for each of us, but we all managed it. We also saw the beautiful Church in the Mines , which was most interesting, with a beautiful monument to St. John Paul 11.
A walking tour of Cracow, which took us on a visit the main square in the City, with its beautiful historic buildings, the Jewish Quarter, with its 9 synagogues, which were never destroyed by the Nazis, and which is now slowly coming back to life. We also saw Cracow’s university which was founded in 1364. In our travels, we also saw where St. Pope John Paul lived, and our Guide gave us the whole history of his life in Poland. To this day he is very much revered by the Polish people . A guided tour of the Cathedrals was also included in our itinerary, where we saw the picture of St. Faustina, Apostle of Divine Mercy, beside a portrait of St. John Paul, in a prominent place.
A visit to the Jewish Museum in Galicia, was also organized, which was very interesting.
We travelled to Auschwitz & Birkenau, where so many Jews were brutally murdered in the war. With our guide, we saw the places where mainly the jews, but also Poles, Gypsies, and other inferior’ groups. lived, worked, and in so many cases died as a result of the treatment they received. One prisoner, A Franciscan Priests, Fr. Maximillan Kolbe, who offered his life for another prisoner who had a wife and family, died in Cell No. 18, from slow starvation. The visit to this place was quite painful and thought provoking, and very sad that such a terrible thing could happen in our lifetime.
On our last day in Cracow, we re-visited many of the places, some of us took a bus tour of the City, and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and the surroundings. It was with sad hearts that we said good-bye to the lovely Polish people and their beautiful Country, and who knows, maybe we may have the privilege of travelling there again in the future.
Trip to Westport/Clew Bay Cruise – June’19
Once again the weather man was kind to us as 50 members of our group boarded Fahy’s Bus for our first days’s outing of the year to Westport.
On route, we stopped in McWilliam Park Hotel ,Claremorris for our usual Tea/Coffee/Scones. Our Mayo members in particular enjoyed the journey through their familiar landscape. We arrived in Westport and had an hour to browse and explore the many nice shops and cafes.
On boarding our boat at the Quay, we were given free binoculars followed by an on-board commentary which guided us through the history of Clew Bay from battles to tragedies, from the ice age to modern day.
The bay is home to a thriving seal colony, beautiful secluded beaches and breathtaking views of Croagh Patrick, Murrisk Abbey and Berthra Beach. We sailed past the many sheltered islands including Dorinish island which John Lennon bought in 1967 for 1700 euro. We also spotted the remains of the huts and dwellings used by the hippies that called the island home.
Leaving behind the beauty and serenity of Clew Bay, we boarded our bus for home. We enjoyed a beautiful dinner in the Ard Na Ri Hotel in Tuam on the way home. It was a nice way to end a very pleasant day out and was enjoyed by one and all.
Sports Ability Day, 9th June 2019
There was a big turnout of our members – particularly our walking club members – at the Sports Ability Day held in the Emerald Ballroom on June 9th.
The event was an opportunity for all to see what inclusive sporting avenues are available in our community. It was also an opportunity to see some of the amazing talents of the many athletes participating in activities from wheelchair basketball to hand cycling
I think it came as a surprise to some of our spectators to see how fit and active our group were as we went through our keep-fit exercises. It was encouraging to see so many of the other participants joining in on the action..
We had great fun on the day and we were very proud to be able to demonstrate how important our weekly walk and exercise routine lends itself to a healthy and active lifestyle.
We would welcome any new members who would like to join us every Tuesday morning on the Athletic track at 10.30 ,and afterwards for the very important cuppa and chat in the G.A.A .clubhouse.
Chris 0'Flynn P.R.O.
Carlow Trip - May 2019
For our Spring break this year 55 members of our Active Retirement Group headed south -east to Carlow, famous for its many public gardens. Once again the weather man was good to us as we enjoyed glorious sunshine all the way.
After the usual tea/scones break in Portlaoise we travelled through lush green countryside and picturesque riverside towns and villages before arriving at our destination, the luxurious Mount Wolseley Hotel in Tullow.
After a lovely breakfast , our first day touring took us to the Aboretum home and garden haven in Leighlinbridge. This was an excellent place to browse and enjoy the magnificent display of flowers and garden furniture and ,of course, the shops .The bathroom sinks were an amazing piece of art – each one designed in the shape of a flower in various colours. In the afternoon we had a very interesting guided tour of Carlow museum.
Next day, our driver, David, took us through the picturesque Wicklow National Park to Avoca village in Co Wicklow, famous for its Meeting of the Waters . The Ballykissangel T.V. series was filmed in the village. After a tour of the mill, we travelled on to the award -winning Rathwood garden and shopping centre for some more retail therapy.
On our third day, it was time for a beer which we were glad to get after a guided tour of the Smithwicks Experience Kilkenny . We had no worries about being over the limit as we continued our journey for a visit to Borris house and gardens. This was the home of the ancient Kings of Leinster. The present owner, Morgan Kavanagh McMorrough gave us a very informed guided tour of the house and chapel. We were pleased to hear his ancestors had a connection (through marriage) with Garbally College and Lady Cloncarty. They still have weddings in the chapel and cater for wedding receptions in the big ballroom.
Each evening, after dinner, some people adjourned to enjoy the music and sing-song in the bar, while the card players disappeared into some quiet corner until the early hours ( I believe) to enjoy their game of bridge.
After our lovely, enjoyable action- packed four days, it was time to pack our bags for home. There was yet another treat for us on the way home. The highlight of my trip was our visit to the Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow. It was a haven of peace and tranquility . The tour guide made it all so interesting and it was nice to see some of the special needs people happily helping out in the garden.
We stopped off in Browns Restaurant in Tyrellspass for dinner on our way home. A lot of weary but happy travellers arrived home safely in Ballinasloe after another very successful Spring break. Many thanks to Phil and Bridie for all the organisation.
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) May 2019
It was standing room only at our Songfest held in Gullane’s Hotel on 10th May 2019.
After months of rehearsing under the leadership, direction and encouragement from the very talented Marie Power .The show consisted of a Revue containing snippets of song and dialogue from the writing of James Joyce. To set the scene, the BARA singers set the scene dressed in their flowing long skirts, frilly blouses, and topped off with wide brimmed flowery hats .
The men looked resplendent in their colourful waistcoats and bowler hats which was the attire of the day in the James Joyce era. John Boland, excelled himself as narrator .
The old favourites such as “Finnegans Wake”, “The Low Backed Car”, “The Croppy Boy “and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” went down a treat.
The participation of the audience in the Sing a-long and the applause at the finish of the show was an indication of how much it was enjoyed by one and all.
Some lovely prizes were won in the raffle and the proceeds from the night go to local charities.
The night was a wonderful and enjoyable way to end another season of song and fun for the BARA singers. We are indeed very lucky and grateful to Marie Power for her patience and commitment...
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) May 2019
St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019
“Wet and windy” was the weather forecast for St Patrick’s Day 2019. However, 32 brave members of the Ballinasloe Active Retirement Group left their comfort zone and braved the elements to take part in our local Parade.
Our theme this year was “Life is for Living”. To prove this ,we donned our green hats and national colours and carried our bright banners to highlight all our various activities. Our colourful turnout was met with great applause .Our aim was to prove that age was no barrier to living life to the full.
We are proud to say that, once again, much to our delight, we got 1st prize in our category.
We adjourned afterwards to Gullane’s Hotel for a well earned bowl of soup and tea/coffee.
Thanks to one and all who took part.
Tom Quinn – Celebrating 100 Years
Members of the Ballinasloe Active Retirement group held a very enjoyable Birthday Party recently in Gullane’s Hotel to celebrate the 100th birthday of Tom Quinn, the popular and oldest member of the group.
The young-at-heart centenarian still drives himself to the Wednesday afternoon sessions in Gullane’s Hotel. He plays a much valued role in the organisation . This talented musician continues to entertain the members with a few tunes from yesteryear on his much loved violin.
His cheerful positive attitude and active lifestyle continues to be an inspiration to us all. We all join in wishing Tom continued good Health and Happiness in the years ahead.
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O)
The call of home.
To-day, we say farewell and good luck to one of our most popular members, Noel Mason .He has been a regular and committed member of our Active Retirement Association for the past 8 years. He soon leaves to return to family in his home town of Limerick. A keen walker and keep-fit enthusiast, we will miss his good humour and hearty laugh especially in the walking club. We wish him every happiness in his new home.
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O)
Some members of ARA who are attending a computer course to up-date their skills.
This course was made available through Dept.of Communications, Environment and Climate Change
and was held in Gullane's Hotel.
p.r.o. Chris O'Flynn