Christmas festivities 2019

Christmas festivities 2019

Christmas season 2019 began on Wed. Dec. 4thth when about 60 members of our group sat down to a lovely meal in the beautifully decorated Gullane’s Hotel.
The last monthly meeting of the year was chaired by Deirdre Hogan in the absence of our Chairperson Mgt. Brennan. This was followed by demonstrations of festive flower decorations by Rose Hogan. The finished products were raffled later together with many more lovely gifts. Nicholas Power then entertained the group with a story of memories from his young days as a son of a Garda living in a country area.
Kay Murphy, President of Active Retirement Ireland, was our special guest for the day. It was nice to meet and talk to someone from the higher office. She had great praise for all our group’s wonderful work.
The evening was a nice way to finish the year which is our 17th year up and running. We should be very pleased with all we have accomplished over the years.

Christmas Dinner/Dance with Brendan Shine and his band.
Our celebrations continued on Tuesday 10th Dec in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone . Again, a large number of our group set off on a very wet afternoon to join a very large crowd from many parts of the country for a most enjoyable evening of entertainment.
On arrival, we were greeted with a very welcome glass of mulled wine which would warm your heart on a cold winter’s day.
After dinner, which consisted of a lovely festive 4 course meal, we sang and tapped our feet to the magical music of (the now) 88 year old Joe Flynn . Looking and sounding as good as ever, we were able to join in and remember all the words of the songs from our era. He brought back many happy memories.
This was followed by Frank Forde, the inimitable comedian. This was the most hilarious half hour of fun and laughter we have had for a very long time. If laughter is the best medicine, then we had plenty of it that day !!!
The ever popular Brendan Shine and his band then took to the stage. He took us back in time as we danced to the music of the fifties, sixties and seventies. We may not be as fast on our feet as we used to be but it didn’t stop everyone getting to their feet to attempt the foxtrot, the quickstep ,the old time waltz and the siege of Ennis. The line dancers were in full flight!!
The evening recalled for many of our age group happy memories of the dances at the cross roads, the Maypole, the Barn dances after the yearly threshing and the carnival dances.
To finish off the evening all voices joined in the singing of all the Christmas songs, - I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, Jingle Bells, etc. etc.
We felt sad as we stood to at the rendering of “Abhrann na fhiann”
It was a very memorable evening and we hope to be able to make a return visit next Christmas p.g.

Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) Dec. 2019


Galway Races Oct. 2019
This Halloween weekend, 28 members of the Ballinasloe Active Retirement group headed off to Ballybrit racecourse for their annual visit to the Galway Races.
Excitement was in the air as we boarded our bus in the square – all hoping to pick a winner ! Some of the seasoned, informed race-goers carefully studied the horses form, trainers and jockeys in the “Racing Post”, Others were happy enough to put their money on the horse with the fancy name.
After a lovely four course dinner ( we missed the hot punch this year!) in the comfort of the Millennium stand, we began the serious business of placing our bet on a hopeful winner ..Nobody lost or won a fortune but it was a most relaxing and enjoyable day.
On the way to our bus, we mingled with the multitude of happy students . While their night of partying was just beginning for these young people, we were happy to be on our way home having enjoyed another lovely evening at the races.
We look forward to next year’s outing P.G.
Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O.) Oct. 2019

Ara-Go-On Festival – Galway Bay Hotel. Sept. 2019

Forty members of the Ballinasloe branch of ARA attended the Regional get together in the Galway Bay Hotel . We were the largest group in attendance and it was a great opportunity to meet some of the other members from all corners of Mayo, Roscommon and Galway.

The organised outing to Kylemore Abbey on day one was unfortunately spoiled by the constant downpour. However the weather didn’t dampen our spirits during the next few days as we enjoyed the lovely food, company, fun, films, Bingo, wine-tasting, Aquarobics, etc. and of course danced the night away to the nice music of our era.. The ladies, in particular, made a special effort for the Gala dinner and looked splendid in their best “Frocks”.

As we said good bye to our old and some new friends, we look forward to meeting up again at the next Ara-Go-on outing, P.G.

Many thanks to the Regional Chairperson, Deirdre, who worked so hard to make this such a successful and enjoyable event,

Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) Sept 2019


The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna

Burial of Sir John Moore, 1809.

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
 As his corse to the rampart was hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
 O'er the grave where our hero we buried.
We buried him darkly, at dead of night,
 The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light,
 And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
 Nor in sheet, nor in shroud, we wound him;
But he lay, like a warrior taking his rest,
 With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said,
 And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
 And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
 And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
 And we far away on the billow!
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
 And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on,
 In the grave where a Briton has laid him!

But half of our heavy task was done,
 When the clock struck the hour for retiring,
And we heard by th' distant and random gun,
 That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
 From the field of his fame, fresh and gory!
We carved not a line, we raised not a stone,
 But we left him - alone with his glory!"
A British defeat turned into a Dunkirk vicrory.

Cruise 2019

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

Day TRIP July 2019 Mullingar / Tullynally Castle

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

POLAND Cracow June 2019

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.

Report from
           Sr. Rosaleen (Colmcille)


Trip to Westport/Clew Bay Cruise – June’19

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.

Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) June ’19

Chris O’Flynn (P.R.O) June ’19