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Putting pen to paper for carers

Clockwise from top left: Brigid Barron, innovation and programming manager for Caring For Carers, Ireland and Frances O’Gorman, senior executive librarian, Clare County Library, with Cissie Collins, Helen Kelly and Susan Hogan from Caring For Carers, Clare, at the launch of the Caring For Carers poetry competition at Ennis Library.  Photograph by Declan MonaghanTHE language of love is sure to inspire budding poets who are being encouraged to enter a poetry competition for carers. Carers are being urged to put pen to paper for the competition, a partnership involving Caring for Carers, Clare County Library and the Ennis Book Club Festival, which was launched this week.
The theme of the competition is ‘My Valentine’ – a topic of romance that may inspire the many carers around the county to unleash their creativity and bring a little cheer to these days of gloom and doom.
At the launch, Cissie Collins from Darragh, Ballyea, who cared for her late husband for many years as well as caring for others, revealed that she already has some ideas for the competition. However, she was reluctant to give too much away about her poem.
“I read a lot, I think it’s a great thing to do when your older and I think I will enter the competition. I would have some ideas for the competition,” the 82-year-old said. She had nothing but praise for Caring for Carers and their work in the county saying, “I think what they are doing is great and I would like to encourage them in every way, anything I can do for them I would.”
Brigid Barron, research and program manager with Caring for Carers Ireland, explained where the idea for the competition came from. “Caring for Carers ran a poetry competition for family carers many years ago and it was a wonderful success. Family carers spend a lot of time caring at home and that often gives them time for reflection.
“There is definitely some unrealised talents out there in terms of writing that we have found through poetry competitions, some of the poetry out there has been excellent, very touching and expressive.”
She said the competition is open to carers throughout the country, not just those living in Clare. According to Brigid, recognising the role of carers in the home is crucial.
“This form of care is the foundation of formal health and social care systems. Carers are a distinct group who provide care and also, very importantly, require care themselves. We hope they will get involved in this poetry competition and we greatly look forward to receiving their entries.”
Susan Hogan, development officer with Caring for Carers, added that there are hopes to roll out the competition in other locations outside of the county.
“In Clare, we are very active, with nine groups who meet every month. We have 81 carers going to the national carers conference and respite in Dún Laoighaire in March and we have many events throughout the year.
“What we do here in Clare, which is where Caring for Carers first started, is the model on which everything else is based. What is started here in Clare is often spread throughout the country,” she said.
Speaking at the launch, Helen Walsh, county librarian, said, “The library is delighted to be involved in this poetry competition. I see it as a very worthwhile community project. Caring for Carers carry out invaluable work throughout the country and the library has a particular interest in socially inclusive events such as this.”
Frances O’Gorman of the Ennis Book Club Festival said they are delighted to be involved with this venture. “This is a wonderful community project and one that the Ennis Book Club Festival are delighted to be associated with. Poetry always features strongly in our programme so it’s a perfect link-up,” she said.
Poems for the competition should be no longer than three verses and entries should be submitted by Friday, February 18 to Brigid Barron, Caring for Carers Clare,
2 Carmody Street Business Park, Ennis, County Clare.
The winner will receive a voucher for a meal for two, while runners-up will receive tickets to the Vona Groarke and Tom Conaty poetry reading at this year’s Ennis Book Club Festival on Saturday, March 5. For further information, contact Brigid at 065 6866515.


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