New tele-conferencing equipment has recently just been installed in BEC consisting of a state of the art camera and microphone system along with large screen TV and laptop allowing multiple users in the one location video or tele conference.
The new equipment allows multiple users in one location host a meeting and allow other users to dial in, with the existing and foreseeable COVID restrictions it allows businesses and community groups carry on with their day to day activities during the restrictions - ideal for AGMS!
The equipment is portable so can be utilized in either the board room which can hold up to 8 persons or the training room which can accommodate up to 20 persons, both which are available to rent on a hourly or daily basis .
Funding was received from the Hub Outreach Scheme which was coordinated by the Western Development Commission & the Atlantic Economic Corridor Enterprise Hubs Network
“The equipment has already proved invaluable, especially though the most recent lockdown measures, it has allowed BACD Ltd to continue with their monthly board meetings and has helped facilitate a number of the popular Pulse Club webinars too” commented the BEC manager Lyn Donnelly .
Both the training Room and board room are available to rent with or without the equipment from €15 per half day( 4 hours) contact Lyn in BEC on 0909646516 or email email@example.com for further information
Christmas 2019 seems worlds apart from the Christmas that we are facing into this year, with all the anxiety, uncertainty and suffering which continue to accompany the Covid 19 pandemic. Yet something so remarkable and unexpected happened in Ballinasloe last Christmas, that it continues to give meaning to our current Christmas experience in these difficult times.
On a bitterly cold night late last December, with an icy wind and torrential downpours battering the town, a young Irish comedian called Francis Cronin slept out on the steps of St John’s Church. It was part of his campaign to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people in Ireland; by walking from Galway to Dublin on the week before Christmas, sleeping rough each night and performing stand-up comedy gigs en route.
Watching that brave young man lie down to sleep on the steps of the church, exhausted from his arduous journey and bracing himself against the cold, was a life-changing experience for those of us who were privileged to see it, That night, Christmas was stabled on the steps of St John’s Church. Francis Cronin chose to make himself utterly vulnerable for the sake of the most vulnerable people in our society. In doing so, his compassionate gesture struck to the very heart of the Christmas message. The only way in which God could express the depth of his love for humanity, was to send his only Son to be share in our vulnerability and suffering. That’s why the baby Jesus started his life sleeping rough and fleeing for his life as a refugee. That’s why, as a young man, Jesus allowed himself to suffer agony and death on the cross, in solidarity with all who suffer.
As part of this year’s plans to light up Ballinasloe for Christmas, a giant candle illumination will be placed on the steps of St John’s Church, where Francis Cronin lay this time last year. In Christmas 2020 may it be a sign, for all of us, of God’s enduring love in the middle of our current hardship. May the light of Christ bring renewed hope to us all this Christmas.
by Pat Johnston
Nollaig na mBan has become a popular fixture on our social calendar and it was celebrated last year on Sunday, January 5th in Gullane’s Hotel where ladies from town and country, young and old and in-between gathered for afternoon tea and entertainment and to carry on a tradition that is timeless.
Little did we know that day that a terrible cloud was already moving in to darken the new year and threaten all our normal lives and traditions. After first wave and second wave lockdowns and levels our sense of safety and security has been shaken and opportunities to meet our friends, neighbours and even relations have dwindled.
With the recent announcement that a new vaccine is on the way, we can begin to hope again. Many will remember the earlier scourge of tuberculosis, scarlet fever, polio and diphtheria and how the gradual development of vaccines and programmes of mass vaccination put an end to all that misery.
Indeed in those years Dr Dorothy Stopford Price and Doctor Pearl Dunlevy were two of the great unsung women who contributed to this medical progress. And today we are also very proud of the work of local lady, Dr Catherine Motherway ICU consultant in Limerick who has been a very reassuring presence on television during the year.
But the organisers of the Nollaig na mBan event have decided that it is too soon and too risky to gather again so we have cancelled this year’s event. We do hope that our supporters will meet in smaller groups within whatever restrictions and levels the government proposes at the time.
We would also like to acknowledge all the menfolk who got involved with serving the teas ,music,dancing and story telling and of course thank Thomas and Caroline Gullane who graciously sponsored the event each year. We wish all our supporters a very happy Christmas and a brighter happier and healthier new year.
Critically our Nollaig na mBan was also fundraiser and all monies were sent to Kilconnell native Sr. Annette Farrell who has been working to provide education to young girls in Dar as Salaam, Tanzania.
Sr Annette told us recently that while Tanzania had fewer covid infections and deaths than elsewhere, it still faces catastrophe due to the dire economic consequences. She wrote: ‘When churches closed no local fundraising was possible. Our centre for children with disability depends a lot on the local church but collections are down. Likewise where people have lost their jobs or small businesses they can’t pay their school fees and we need the fees to pay the teachers. A lot of people come for food aid, rent and money for basic medicine. We try our best to help sick children and the old but we have to turn away more and more needy people because the funds are exhausted already. Here there is no such thing as a government handout: there is no dole, no old age pension nor childrens’ allowance A meal a day is normal if you are lucky – even for graduates - since there’s little employment. For parents with several children every day is a struggle. That’s our story in a nutshell. We share as far as we can and we pray’.
Should anybody want to help out Sr. Annette this year we hope that you will go online to subscribe to Friends of Holy Union Tanzania https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofHolyUnionTanzania/ This appeal was set up by Ms Ēilis Tracy, Principal at Eyrecourt NS and Ms Agnes Hurley both of whom have worked with Sr. Annette during previous summer holidays.
For now we could do worse than adopt the advice of poet and philosopher John O’Donohue:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
Not too many know that Tom and Ethel Costelloe have developed a Christmas Tree Farm on their land some nine years ago and are looking forward to supplying local families with the genuine article as part of there festive decorations this year .
Tom always had an interest in trees and forestry having been a forester with Coillte Teoranta for over 40 years. He worked in locations all over Ireland returning to Ballinasloe in 1999 and working as a forester on the Sliabh Bloom Mountains in Laois and Offaly. He retired Coillte in 2015 and managed An Tain Bar in the Square for a number of years. The pub was in stark contrast to the forest life but there was a great buzz to it. “It was great craic and I met some mighty characters in it. If a half pound pike was caught in the Suck at 3 o'clock it would take two men to carry it home by closing time”, remarks Tom.
As a forester he has always been drawn to real Christmas trees as they are natural and keep with the spirit of a traditional Christmas. Growing Christmas trees present a different challenge to growing commercial trees as they need a lot more care and attention. On a small family run business here even the two children helps out on the farm .
Principal type are the Nordman Fir Trees, popular for their nice shape, needle retention and lovely fragrance in a home. They also supply Noble Fir which have a slightly different branch structure but are also a very attractive tree with good needle retention and fragrance qualities.
It takes 8 to 10 years to grow a tree and they require a lot of care and attention . Control of vegetation is key as well as basal pruning, shaping, bud picking in May and protection of the soft shoot growth in early summer from perching birds.
The sustainably managed plantation supports a lot of flora and fauna. Hares, pheasants, badgers, rabbits and song birds of all kinds use the plantation for both food and shelter. Working alongside the bumble bees and lady birds as they control the black aphids on the trees is the closest thing you will get to man and nature working in harmony. Many wild flowers like speedwell, goosegrass, fireweed, and dandelions which are a particular favourite of the honey bees grow throughout the plantation.
Tom is clear on the benefits for the ecosystem “ Unlike artificial trees, real trees can be recycled after use , creating mulch for gardens and landscaping. You can just bring it to the Council Recycling Centre and they will recycle it free of charge. Artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable. Real trees plantations prevent global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere” he states.
They can supply trees from 3 ft high up to 11ft , with water containers and stands also, Timber Reindeer , and they can deliver and collect and recycle your tree within a 25km radius of town.
Order your tree online at http://www.buyirishchristmastrees.com They also have display and collection points at Dolans Centra on the old Athlone road and Corrib Oil in Brackernagh . Collection from the farm is by appointment only by calling Tom on 0862532320.
As a special treat to Ballinasloe Life readers who purchase a tree they are giving away a complimentary Rowan (Mountain Ash) sapling and families can help combat global warming by planting it .
“We would like to thank everyone who bought trees from my farm over the years, we really appreciate it. Christmas 2020 is an important milestone and celebrations will be special this year. If you feel like putting a real Christmas tree at the heart of your home we would be delighted to get the opportunity of supplying you with it" enthuses Tom.
by Anita Killeen
“Sustainability” is certainly the buzz word and concept of the moment. But what does it actually mean?
When individuals and society, provide for their own needs, without compromising the prospects of their children and grandchildren, that’s sustainability.
The term is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. There are 4 main pillars of sustainability – human, social, economic and environmental.
Environmental sustainability requires awareness of resource consumption, in particular energy. In December 2015, Ireland’s Energy White Paper was launched. This document set out government actions to achieve a low carbon energy system by 2050 and become carbon-free by 2100. This energy transition requires all energy users to think and act differently.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) was established as Ireland’s national energy authority under the Sustainable Energy Act 2002. The SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) programme was developed to support communities to develop energy management skills and knowledge. This includes low carbon transport and heating, and investing in smart technologies. A key part of this programme is the SEC Network which was established by SEAI in 2015 to support a national movement of SECs.
Ballinasloe Town Team has taken a progressive leap forward by joining the SEC Network to become a SEC.
We have ambitious goals to become one of the leading urban sustainable energy communities in Ireland.
When a community like ours joins the SEC Network, we learn about community energy and start to think about what we can do on the ground to become more energy efficient. This learning period is an opportunity to:
Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative which is a community led, One Stop Shop, home insulation upgrade & retrofitting organisation, whose aims are to; improve householders living conditions i.e. warmer, more efficient houses; alleviate fuel poverty: save money –through awareness of household energy efficiency; create jobs in the local communities and reduce carbon footprint
Clonakilty Sustainable Community bike scheme, the concept of which emerged from a key learning point from their 2020 Roadmap, that one third of energy demand in the Clonakilty area was attributable to transport, and not to mention the Aran Islands Energy Co-op – a community owned energy cooperative who are working towards becoming self-sufficient in locally generated renewable energy and free of dependence on oil, coal and gas by 2022.
There are inspiring communities all around Ireland taking part in sustainable projects and initiatives. We want the same for Ballinasloe.
The wider community is essential to the success of our SEC. We want to lead, influence, engage and enable our local citizens to make better energy choices.
We aim to officially launch our SEC early 2021 We plan to use several platforms of engagement to share our local community energy story; meetings, social media platforms, local newspapers etc. We want to involve a range of different energy users in the community such as homes, sports clubs, schools, community centres, churches and businesses. In this way, our SEC connects sustainable energy, local economic development and public wellbeing.
If you would like to get involved and join our journey we would absolutely love to hear from you. Feel free to contact Anita Killeen on email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Prompted by the success and reaction to their summer recitals at Nursing homes, the Town Band are determined to revisit the local nursing homes again, covid permitting, to safely deliver musical Christmas cheer to the residents and staff.
However, the opportunities for the Town Band to gather recently have been minimal. Bandmaster, Noel Madden, and Youth Band Director, Keith Kelly, took on the challenges imposed on large gatherings. They upskilled themselves on the use of online Zoom technology allowing different sections of both bands to go online, to engage and interact at set times twice a week to safely rehearse the Christmas collection of music, hymns and carols.
Observers of the renovations to the Band Hall will have noticed that the slates on the entire roof have been removed and in compliance with heritage requirements most of the original slates will be reused again. Other works within the hall are continuing – finalising heating, plumbing and electrical works with a view to completing the project by year end.
The “Raise the Roof Campaign” set a fundraising target of €50k. The campaign has now reached 80% of its target. The Band Committee are extremely grateful for the communities’ generosity to date are hopeful that the remainder of slates are purchased thereby securing funding for the repair and re-slating of the roof. “Slates” may still be purchased for €50 from any Band Member or online through the Ballinasloe Town Band Facebook page or via the bands website: www.ballinasloetownband.ie.
They may make an ideal Christmas Gift for someone who can’t come home this year! Enquiries to Martina 087 9710496
The Junior Band has continued to learn and practice throughout this difficult time for all youth activities. The junior members meet on Zoom to learn music theory and to learn about famous composers and musicians such as Mozart and the Beatles through music appreciation classes.
Each week the staff of the band send instructional videos to band members showing them how and what to practice on their instrument. The band members then record themselves playing the same exercises and get feedback from the teachers.
The band is also accepting new members through their "Virtual Introduction to Band” classes which focus on Rhythm sessions and some fundamental music theory. If you have a child from 8-12 years of age that is interested in learning about the band, now is a great time to contact us to find out more. You can do so at www.ballinasloetownband.ie/join
“On behalf of the Senior and Junior Band members, the Ballinasloe Town Band Committee wish to extend their warmest wishes to the people of Ballinasloe and their families over the coming festive season and hope the new year brings health and happiness to all,” states Band Master Noel Madden.
by Cathal Kelly
The son of Peter and Margaret Kelly from Brackernagh, Cathal moved to Wuxi China in November 2017 to teach. Having submitted an article in our March edition detailing his experiences in the first country to go into complete lockdown, he updates us with his present situation.
Wuxi came out of lockdown in March and thankfully no new cases arose in my city since then. Locals here and across China took the lockdown extremely seriously during the entire month of February. Practically zero movement and deserted streets curtailed the spread.
It’s worth noting that the people took this policy upon themselves. No police or army stood present on the streets at any time to enforce shutdown. Communities simply regulated themselves as people only journeyed out in small numbers for essentials before returning directly home. I only had one minor incident when a local resident unaware I lived in the community prohibited me from entering the complex. The episode was all very cordial and light and once a security guard recognized me, he instructed the person to let me enter.
During that time I had my friends here but we could only communicate online and as I live alone, the feeling of confinement created a sense of isolation. Working from home is also not for me and I found this period extremely frustrating. However I was fortunate that my company EF moved all teachers on line and we still received a full wage. I heard confirmed stories of other training centers slashing teachers wages by over sixty percent.
In hindsight I can say that from chatting with home and reading world news, the general feeling in February appeared to be that this was just a Chinese problem for China.
March arrived and slowly businesses reopened with restricted hours or numbers of patrons allowed to enter. China is a high tech country where your mobile phone is used for everything from hopping on a bus, paying for goods, utilities or settling your restaurant bill.
A special QR code was issued whereby once you registered this would give you a “green light” to allow you to move within the city. All businesses required you to sign your name, provide your phone number, take a temperature check and scan your code. The logic been that should a case emerge, authorities could quickly localize the area, contact those who were present in an effort to limit any further spread.
This approach seems highly effective. China enjoyed a 56 day clean run however on October 12th a case emerged in Qingdao north east of China resulting in a total number of 19 patients with thankfully no fatalities. Due to the swift action, as of November 12th the number of cases has dropped back to zero. Beijing and Shanghai have also detected the virus and acted accordingly. Ironically the majority of new cases are brought in from people returning to China, so essentially, the virus is doing the rounds!
In mid-March our centre reopened much to my relief. Class sizes were restricted and only the larger rooms utilized. Social distancing was observed as best as possible and people wore masks. Thankfully now in November the centre is one hundred percent back to normal.
In June, I travelled to Shanghai with some friends for a small Fleadh Cheoil . Travelling through the train station was the equivalent of a science fiction movie scene. Hoards of workers in white overalls with temperature machines placed to scan your body which showed up on a large TV screen followed by temperature check upon temperature check. Thankfully our group passed through easily and I was delighted that my local friends enjoyed the music as they had never heard Irish music before. However I’ve decided to stay put for the winter. It’s too much hassle to move between cities. Some hotels have even refused to accept foreign guests, even foreigners who have not left China during the last year.
My friends are very much aware that there exists to an extent a global resentment towards China and how the officials in Wuhan originally mismanaged the situation. In reality all people and businesses here also suffered greatly. However having experienced a full and proper lockdown, I can only conclude that, a full lockdown works, social distancing and wearing the mask curtails the spread. I live in a city with over six million people all compacted together and we’ve had zero cases for months now.
Christmas is coming and it’s difficult not knowing when I can return home. Although I mostly only hang out in Chinese bars or with my Chinese friends, I do know quite a lot of ex-pats too. At Christmas The Red Lion bar ran by an Australian man Stewart and his son Les invite all their best customers for a Christmas dinner and they put on quite a spread. Definitely something to look forward too.
I also adopted a dog, I renamed him Fintan, from a local shelter (that’s a whole other story) who has now completely taken over my apartment but it’s great to have his company as the winter sets in.
I truly hope that everyone at home has a Happy Christmas with their families and friends. Here’s to 2021!
By Colm Croffy
The following is a list of deemed NON ESSENTIAL local businesses that are currently selling goods online through their websites or via click and collect:
Hair and Beauty
Front Room - open for online shopping through shopballinasloe.ie and our website www.thefrontroom.ie click and collect purchases every Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 12 noon at Salon and delivery too! 090 9646893
Essence of Beauty - open for online Voucher shopping through www.shopballinasloe.ie and our email email@example.com 9645070
Talking Heads - Order voucher or products via facebook or call 090 9642189
Hair Gallery - Vouchers available 087 913520
Utopia - Vouchers available; firstname.lastname@example.org 087 913520
Tranquillity Clinic - open for vouchers online shopping through shopballinasloe.ie or call 090 9646765
Wendy's Health Essentials - online facebook page WendysHealthEssentials, email email@example.com or call 086 0684154.
Restaurant/Café / Takeaway
Bistro 10 - Tue to Sunday order and collect – full menu . Please call 9644867
The Breadbasket - The Bread Basket is open Monday to Saturday from 9am 6.00 pm
Takeaways only! Full Varied usual menu plus Fresh Cream Gateaux's, wide selection of Fresh Cream Pastries, Homemade Apple/Rhubarb Tarts , Light/Porter and Maderia Cakes (090) 964 4578
Downey Event Catering - small family meals can be organised- . Please call 087 2311385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Karriba's - Open all day Friday & Saturday from 9.30am to 4.00 pm , 9.30 - 3.30pm for food, 3.30pm - 6.00pm for Coffee and Sweet Treats, 4.00pm - 7.00pm for Pop Up Dining Collection.
Please contact 090 9644830 for out of hours Home/Office Catering and Dessert Orders.
Orders for our Breakfast and Lunch Menu, Pop Up Dining, Weekend Desserts, Brown Bread, Scones, Family Size Hot Dishes can be made & Vouchers bought on 090 9644830. You can also message us via our Facebook
Supermac’s Sarsfield Road
Opening hours – Monday to Sunday 12:00 to 22:00, Services – Takeaway, Call and Collect, Online, Call: 0909643814 or order online www.supermacs.ie or download our app
Mac’s Diner – Closed
Supermac’s Main Street, Ballinasloe
Opening hours – Monday to Thursday 12:00 -23:00, Friday to Sunday 12:00 – 24:00, Services: Delivery, Call & Collect , Takeaway, Online. Call: 090 9643151 or order online www.supermacs.ie or download our app
Supermac’s Dolans Service Station
Opening hours – 12:00 – 23:00, Services – Online, Call and Collect, Takeaway, Call: 090 9643711 or order online www.supermacs.ie or download our app
Valeries - 9.15 am – 6pm , 7 days a week – full range of homecooked meals Please call 090967334 or 086 2830673
Venezia - We are Open 7 days a week for takeaway and delivery only., Monday - Thursday 04.00pm-09.00pm, Friday - Saturday 4.00pm-9.30pm, Sunday 04.00pm-09.00pm Call 0909646483
Tony Carroll - open Mon to Sat 8.00 am to 6.00 pm with free local delivery contact 087 9526888 or 0909644949
Sean Connolly - Butchers open from Tue to Sat every week with Free Daily Delivery. We also take cash on delivery or debit /credit cards. Phone 0872775092/0909642259.
Michael Ward - vouchers via www.shopballinasloe.ie, click and collect later in month, Funeral Suits Service still available by appointment – call 09096 42776
Kathleen’s Fashions - Open Wed & Sat 11 – 2.00pm for phone/collect/ collect & click from Ballinasloeshoponline.ie , or call for assistance – 087 1275998
Kidz Korner - click and collect www.kidzkorner.ie or call – 0872722849
Colourful Things - vouchers via www.shopballinasloe.ie, click and collect, Funeral Suits Service still available by appointment – call 086 1921923
Craft Room - click and collect from www.craftroomballinasloe.com or for assistance – call 083 3237531
Personal & Gift Hampers - vouchers via www.shopballinasloe.ie or visit site www.stitchedupgifts.ie
General - Household
Clarkes - OPEN For trade in essential items only – Toys and Giftware available on a call and collect basis see stock items on Clarkes facebook or http://www.stanleyclarke.ie- for assistance call 9642417
Kellers - smaller items via www.shopballinasloe.ie or www.kellersofballinasloe.ie for click and collect, Larger more essential items by appointment (9.30 am – 6.00 pm ) only call 090964277
UTAH - Blind measuring and fitting still available by appointment call 090964900, vouchers via www.shopballinasloe.ie, click and collect UTAH Website click and collect also.
Coopers Leisure - Website Orders: www.cooper.ie or over the phone to 087 2369665.
Kilmartins Ford Main Dealer - Service & Parts OPEN AS NORMAL 090 96 30800
For All Sales – online contact Michael Kelly 087 1335921 or 090 9630800 or email email@example.com
Tom Raftery Car Sales - Service & Parts OPEN AS NORMAL 090 96 9642686 – Sales by appointment only
J & S Photos - online , vouchers via Ballinasloeshoponline.ie or firstname.lastname@example.org – call and collect 0909631566
Sarah Kilduff Photography - Click and Collect and delivery on our online shop available on our website - email@example.com/shop Facebook - www.facebook.com/sarahkilduffphotography 086 0725392
Normal Office hours but by appointment only
Normal hours 9.30 – 6.00 pm
Normal hours 9.30 – 6.00 pm but call ahead with prescriptions.
Maddens Fuels Normal Hours 10 – 6 pm - home delivery
Chiropodists Normal Hours 10 – 6 pm but appointments only
Counselling Normal Hours but appointments only
Ballinasloe Garden Centre. Open from. 12-4 pm for collection services.
Call or use our click and collect service via our web shop.
CLICK HERE to read the Latest Ballinasloe News Articles