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Ennis hospital’s place in history of psychiatry

ENNIS Mental Hospital, the now closed Our Lady’s Hospital, features prominently in a new history of psychiatry in Ireland. Brendan Kelly, consultant psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry in Trinity College, Dublin, in his new book, Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland (Irish Academic Press), gives an insight into what life was like in “public asylums” in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In Ireland, the history of psychiatry is dominated by the vast network of public asylums that opened across the country during the 1800s. This extraordinary mass institutionalisation was underpinned by genuine concern for the destitute mentally ill, who lived lives of vagrancy or languished in prisons in the early 1800s. Despite the initial idealism, however, the asylums were soon overcrowded, anti-therapeutic and extremely unhealthy places. This large gap between rhetoric and reality was demonstrated vividly in 1843, when a select committee of the House of Lords provided a hard-hitting report on the “state of the lunatic …

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Eddie a cut above the rest

WORKING as a butcher for 50 years, recently retired Eddie O’Loughlin has many great memories. But none better than hearing the sound of his newborn daughter’s first cries down through the telephone line. Eddie, who has just retired from Ryan’s Centra, starting off when it was Pat Hanrahan’s back in 1966, recalls, “Like everything else, you have sad and happy memories. I think one of the happiest was in 1978, when the telephone was in the old shop and people would come in and ring and get phonecalls. “I remember I was using it one time – my late wife, Marie, was expecting our first child, Sarah, and she was after breaking her ankle so she was in hospital with her feet up. I was just ringing to see how she was and the nurse at the other end said this is the maternity. I heard this bawl at the back and she said, ‘would you believe it, your timing …

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Curtain call for Doonbeg Drama Festival

THE Doonbeg One-Act Drama Festival takes place this weekend with a host of drama groups from around the county and the country treading the boards. Sliabh Aughty, Mountshannon; Amphitheatre Company, Kilkee and Castlewood Players, Cratloe will fly the Clare fly and will be joined on stage by groups from Cork, Kildare, Wexford and Waterford. The Sliabh Aughty group has selected Chasing Butterflies, which is written by Mountshannon writer Siobhán Donnellan, while Amphitheatre Company, Kilkee will perform Healing The Dead by John Hanrahan. Cratloe’s Castlewood Players will perform Faint Voices by John McKenna and all three groups are competing in the confined section. Also competing in the confined are Skibbereen Theatre Society with No Romance Act 2 by Nancy Harris and Coolgreany Drama Group (Wexford) with The Quiet Land by Malachy McKenna. Competing groups in the open section are Kilmeen Drana Group (Cork) with Whodidit, Insight Theatre group (Kildare) with Love in a Glass Jar, Rasper Players (Wexford) with Me and …

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Valery helps knit the world together

PEOPLE from all over the globe have been wrapped up in a world-record attempt initiated right here in County Clare. Inagh woman Valery Larkin has sparked a record-breaking plan to knit the world’s largest blanket which, when completed, would be able to cover an Olympic-sized swimming pool with room to spare. In tackling this endeavour she has put out a worldwide call to knitters to donate a 6” square of knitting in any type of wool for the blanket. The self confessed “wool addict” has got responses from knitters in such diverse locations as Iceland, the Falklands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan and India. The blanket will need around 70,000 squares and Valery has just received her first knitted piece all the way from Canada. She is also putting out a local call for people to help with sewing up the giant blanket, when all the squares are received. The existing Guinness record holder is 1,378.28m², or 14,835.68ft² and …

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Helping partners through cancer diagnosis

The benefits of relationship counselling in maintaining communication and intimacy between partners following a cancer diagnosis is being highlighting, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end and Movember begins. “Being diagnosed with cancer can be life-changing,” said Dublin-based Relationships Ireland’s clinical director, Maura Leahy. “One of the challenges a cancer patient may face is how to respond and deal with the effect of the diagnosis on the people closest to them. They may not know how to react and how to give you the support you need. Partners may stay silent due to the shock of the news or have difficulty responding to the anger or sadness that can often be felt, which can leave the patient with a sense of abandonment at a time when support is critical. Counselling can help improve communication between the patient and their partner at this difficult time, which will improve emotional and practical support on the road to recovery,” Ms Leahy said. …

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Paint it Pink for breast cancer

Early detection, more personalised treatment and more knowledge about the causes and risk factors behind breast cancer mean that more people are surviving the disease than ever before. That’s the message for Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, as the Irish Cancer Society looks back over 40 years to see the advances that have been made in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship associated with this disease. Forty years ago the outlook for a breast cancer patient was vastly different from today. In 1976, almost half of women diagnosed with breast cancer died from the disease. Today, survival rates for breast cancer have increased to 85% over five years. As part of the Irish Cancer Society’s Paint it Pink campaign, taking place throughout October, people across Ireland are encouraged to raise vital life-saving funds that will support our continued investment in breast cancer research, advocacy and services. People can raise funds by hosting a pink coffee morning or event – …

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‘Intelligent’ trousers to walk the walk

There is a strong North Clare influence in a multi-disciplinary science project which could have life-changing benefits for people with mobility difficulties Belharbour-based Dr Adam de Eyto is a member of the University of Limerick group that is part of the European team of researchers, led by the Italian Institute of Technology, which has begun work on XoSoft, a wearable soft-robotics intelligent-clothing system. Researchers working on the project, aimed at improving movement for people with reduced mobility, plan to build the first fully-functional prototype of ‘intelligent’ trousers by 2019. The soft, biometric exoskeleton would allow older people or people with disabilities to move their legs by detecting movement intention. The Design Factors Research Group, based in UL’s School of Design, is part of the ground-breaking health-robotics project to develop the soft, modular, lower-limb exoskeleton. The total value of the project to UL is €550,000 over three years. The UL group is led by senior lecturer in design ergonomics and Health …

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Breaking new ground in prison law

A proposal to introduce a database that would record details of those who have died in Irish prisons has resulted from research conducted last year by ten University of Limerick law students, among them Cratloe woman Róisín Cahill. Now graduates, the group worked closely with Judge Michael Reilly, Ireland’s inspector of prisons, to compile the report, which is to be issued to Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. At an event hosted by the School of Law in UL, Judge Reilly, the country’s first and only inspector of prisons, released the report, which highlighted the importance of having a system to record and learn from deaths that occur in prisons. He said Ireland is only now getting to grips with prison law, highlighting that it is only since January 2008, when the Prisons Act 2007 was enacted, that his independent judicial appointment was made to oversee prisons. To date there has been no system to accurately record prison deaths …

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