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Fr Flann Responds to Covid Crisis with Online Grief Reflection

A CLARE-born Capuchin priest has produced a series of on-line reflections with messages of support and hope in challenging times. Fr Flann Lynch is a native of Quin and celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood earlier this month. A member of the Capuchin community, he spent much of his life in ministry overseas and worked with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, before returning to Ireland where he now lives at the Ards Friary in Creeslough, County Donegal. Inspired by the difficulties of the lockdown and ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Fr Lynch has most recently created a meditation for those experiencing grief. “I’ve called it ‘Grief, A Stepping Stone’ and it’s a response to the huge amount of suffering that is in the country at this time,” Fr Lynch said. “We have had a situation where people haven’t been able to be present at the death of loved ones, or to attend funerals in some cases. People have been telling their stories …

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NUI Galway backs World Refugee Day

To mark World Refugee Day, today, NUI Galway has announced the expansion of its University of Sanctuary Scholarship Programme from nine scholarships to 12 for the 2020-2021 academic year. Scholarships will be available for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the university, and will be open to asylum seekers, refugees, vulnerable immigrant groups, and Irish Travellers. As a designated University of Sanctuary, NUI Galway is committed to addressing low levels of participation at third level amongst vulnerable groups, and the scholarship programme underpins the pillars of respect, excellence, and openness within its Strategic Plan 2020-2025. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said,“In our recently-launched strategy, Shared Vision, Shaped by Values, we as NUI Galway, and as a recently-designated University of Sanctuary, committed ourselves to the public good and to shared values of respect, openness, excellence and sustainability. We committed ourselves to respect all members of our community and to be open to – to embrace – all of …

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Doonbeg woman’s top tips for surfing the waves of stress

WHEN Doonbeg native Deirdre Fitzpatrick O’Reilly made the decision, at the age of 28, to swap football for surfing, she feel in love with the waves off the west coast and found a metaphor for coping with the ups and downs of life. With a background in health and leisure management, as well as teaching wellness activities, the thrills and challenges of surfing have inspired Deirdre to write her first book on mindfulness and meditation. Surfing the Waves of Stress, which has just been published, is described as a guide to navigating life’s hurdles using a toolbox of strategies to maintain balance and calmness. “There are always going to be ups and downs in life, there will always be waves,” Deirdre explained. “Using mindfulness is like learning to surf. It’s not a cure for stress. Life will bring stress, but mindfulness is your surf board. It’s your buoyancy aid and a great tool to cope with stress. I was at a …

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World tennis ace backs Killaloe man’s fund-raising campaign

RAFAEL Nadal is among the international sports stars supporting a Killaloe man to raise funds for a refugee camp in Greece. Tennis coach Wesley O’Brien is a regular volunteer at the Ritsona Refugee Camp, north of Athens. Two years ago, he started up a programme for residents, thanks to donations of rackets, balls and nets from clubs around the region, including his own in Killaloe-Ballina. As part of a bid to raise funds for a defibrillator for the camp, which is now home to 4000 people, Wesley has secured jerseys signed by some high profile individuals and teams. To-date, these include Nadal, the Munster Rugby Team, Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy and Franz Beckenbaur. Wesley, who volunteers with Lighthouse Relief, now hopes to be able to sell these rare items in order to generate vital funding support for refugees. “I had raised funds for a defibrillator for the Killaloe-Ballina Tennis Club, so I decided to do the same again for Ritsona …

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‘Out of the difficulties and sadness of this pandemic, it has brought us closer together as a community.’

IN recent weeks, debate has been raging over the Covid-19 death toll in residential facilities across Ireland. Despite the differing political opinions, there is little doubt that those living and working in nursing homes were at the forgotten front line for a number of crucial weeks as the pandemic took hold. Keeping coronavirus out involves a heroic struggle against an ever-present enemy. St Theresa’s Nursing Home in Kilrush, is one of the facilities that has managed to avoid an outbreak, while as many a quarter of homes in Clare have been affected to-date, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE). “My heart goes out to those who have had outbreaks,” said Yvonne Moroney, Director of Nursing at the family run facility on the Kilkee Road. “They have done everything in their power, but there is a constant risk and we are all living with that risk.” Yvonne, who is on call 24/7 at St Theresa’s, has seen an already demanding …

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Facing a quiet weekend at Aillwee Cave

  UPWARDS of 2,000 visitors would usually head to the Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre over a June bank holiday but it remains closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Around half of the visitors to the famous attraction are overseas, so owner Nuala Mulqueeney is facing a big financial hit for the season. “Our annual figures are about 120,000 visitors. When extended travel is allowed in Ireland, we can expect some recovery, but you can forget about visitors from the US or countries; they won’t fly,” she said. Only a handful of maintenance workers and two falconers who feed and exercise the birds have been at Aillwee since the lockdown in March. “St Patrick’s weekend is always good for us and we lost out on that,” said owner Nuala Mulqueeney. While very disappointed that the facility is still closed, she said they have plans to ensure the safety of visitors when they do reopen on July 20. “We …

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Canon Michael reflects on 60 years in priesthood

CANON Michael McLaughlin will reach a remarkable milestone on June 11, when he celebrates the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Unlike 10 years ago, when large numbers attended the special mass and celebrations in Kilmaley to mark the golden jubilee of his ordination in Carlow Cathedral in 1960, things will be more subdued this time round. The Covid-19 restrictions mean that the members of community will be unable to organise a mass to mark the big occasion for the now retired Kilmaley parish priest, less still a big party, but they are always with him in spirit. The 84-year-old Miltown Malbay native, who is now visually impaired, has great memories of all the parishes he’s been in. “I hated leaving the first parish I was assigned to; I would have stayed there forever if I could. But you learn to move along, you’ve no choice, and you learn and gain different experiences wherever you go. I benefited …

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St Patrick inspires Kilkee native working in Papua New Guinea

IT’S a long way from West Clare to Papua New Guinea, but Fr John Glynn who is a long-time citizen of the island nation still holds his native Kilkee very close to his heart. Currently on lock-down until at least early June, Fr John, who is full of energy and drive, despite his 80+ years, told The Champion he is keen to return to normal daily life. For the retired teacher, that includes working with some of the country’s most vulnerable, as well as co-hosting a weekly one-hour radio show on the Catholic station, Radio Maria. Over his many decades in Papua New Guinea, Fr John was instrumental in setting up the WeCARe! Organisation, to work with the poor and disadvantaged who make up a considerable percentage of the state’s eight million citizens. Fr John described his adopted home as “an absolute paradise” in terms of its beauty, but a land of deeply ingrained inequality.“Illiteracy rates here are around 85%,” …

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