Wicklow

Next Branch Meeting

Our winter meeting and lunch 2022 will be held in the Glenview Hotel on Thursday December 8th. Our guest speaker will be Billy Sheehan,General Secretary RTAI, who will give a presentation The Fair Deal Scheme

Branch Officers and Committee 2021-22

 

Cathaoirleach: John Connor

Vice Chair: Ciaran Byrne

Secretary: Mick O Callaghan

Treasurer: Eibhlin Kinsella

Committee: Kitty O Connell, Geraldine Lynch & Anne Savage

Phone 0870612072

E mail rtaiwicklow@gmail.com

The Jubilee Loop Walk in Rathdrum Sept 13th 2022

“Walking is good for our muscles and posture. It helps to protect and repair organs and can slow or turn back the ageing of our brains. With our minds in-motion we think more creatively, our mood improves, and stress levels fall” [In praise of walking by Shane O Mara]

It was Tuesday September 13th at 10.30 am that 24 intrepid members of RTAI Wicklow descended on the car park of St Mary and Michaels Church, which was built in 1860 by Fr Richard Galvin, over 150 years ago. As part of the Jubilee celebrations held in 2010 it was decided to map out a jubilee walk and today, we had chosen it as an appropriate walk to start of our new walking year.

This was one of the finest most enjoyable walks I have been on with such a huge variety of terrain involved, weather was good, the scenery was excellent and the company was mighty.

We parked in the lower part of the church car park and then we got a brief history of the church from Ciaran. It was interesting to hear that the altar was carved out by James Pearse father of the 1916 Pearse brothers. We proceeded up the rather steep steps of the mass path till we came out on the road adjacent to  Avondale Community College.

We then proceeded down a lane and across two fields till we came to the Famine graveyard where 8024 people were buried during famine time.

This graveyard was just down the road from the rear entrance to the old workhouse. The stone set into a monument commemorating the famine burials was stark when you realise that such a huge number of people are buried here in unmarked graves.

Then we had a lovely ramble through the forests with no marked paths to guide us along.

We went through a maze of under growth and dodgy paths across streams till we emerged onto terra firma again and walked along the banks of the Avonmore River and then we visited Hidden Valley Splash Valley Aqua Park. This 5-star resort must be seen to be believed for its excellence in design and facilities available.

Leaving here we made our way down the street till we came to St Michaels well which we visited, and then proceeded up along the mass path, across the field and finished our loop in the church car park where we thanked Ciaran and Ann for all the work for the loop walk.

It was a great a start to our walking season and was thoroughly enjoyed by all

Our next outing will be held in the week beginning September 26th weather permitting. We will be visiting the magnificent 500-acre Avondale Park when we will be going on a walk led by Andy Gallagher.

After that we will be going on the journey beyond the trees with the spectacular treetop walk. This leads straight into the viewing tower which stands 38 metres above the forest floor with panoramic views of the vale of Avoca and Avonmore River. There is also a gigantic spiral slide down which is by personal choice costing anyone who chooses to do it 2 euros.

Following that you can dine at The Seed Café, spend some time in the walled garden or the Coillte pavilion, Browse the gift shop Experience the Sensory Garden or walk more trails.

Cost to you for the Tree Walk and viewing tower will be 5 Euros which we will collect. The branch will be subsiding the 7.50 euros.

If you are travelling by car parking it will cost just 5 euros per day. Dining is optional and will be paid by everyone. Final details wills be sent out on September 23rd. in the meantime please let me know if you are going as soon as you can to rtaiwicklow@gmail.com as we need numbers for booking purposes

Mick O Callaghan

Photo Gallery:

 

 

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MEMBERS' NEW WRITING 2022

SPRINGMOUNT GARDEN CENTRE by Mick O’Callaghan

WEXFORD LAVENDAR PARK by Mick O’Callaghan

WEDDING DAY by Carol Louise Reynolds

CROGHAN KINSELLA MOUNTAIN by Mick O’Callaghan

ECO is 21 Years Old this Year by Mick O’Callaghan

WALK IN COURTOWN WOODS by Micck O’Callaghan

The Year's End. A poem by Seamus Kavanagh

So, our year has ended,

And we have seen it through

Overcome the “ups and downs”

With a strength we never knew!

It was a year when friendships blossomed,

That will last the test of time,

When knowing we had each other’s back,

Helped with hills we had to climb!

There was talking, there was walking,

As we breathed in the Wicklow air,

A celebration of our freedom,

And we felt blessed that we were there.

In Glenview’s peaceful vale,

On a sombre Summer’s Day,

We remembered friends we lost,

As we gathered there to pray.

The little things we take for granted,

Are not little any more

They help recharge the batteries,

To face what lies in store.

So never lose the hope,

That helped us through the year,

Enjoy walks, and talks, and coffee

Our antidotes to fear!

Let us return to where we were

Before covid came our way

Be grateful for what we have,

And make the most of every day. 

June 16th.     2022

Review of the RTAI year September 2021 to June 2022.

We decided at our branch Committee meeting last Wednesday that we would send out a review of the year gone by. Now I look at the blank screen before me and I can only think of Ukraine and Covid but there was more to it than that for retired teachers in Wicklow Branch RTAI

*We all suffered because of Covid. We lived with cases, numbers in hospital, death tolls, numbers in ICU. Figures and statistics were taking over our lives, so we had to come out from under that cloud and re energise our members which grew numerically from 226 to 246 during the year.

*We were lucky that we lived in Wicklow and had great natural amenities which we could use freely. It was also fortunate that we had talented committed leaders in our own ranks like Ann Savage and Ciaran Byrne who were tasked by the branch to draw up a walking plan. This they did setting up a what’s app group and 60 members joined up. At this stage I must mention the energetic leadership provided by our Chairperson John Connor who was wholly committed to the project from the start. During the year we walked trails in Glenmalure, Glendalough, Croghan Kinsella, Glen of the Downs, Seefin, with its many weathers, Brague, Carrick Hill, Glenealy, Spink. Thanks to our leaders Anne Savage, Ciaran Byrne, Jacqui Corrigan, Mary O Riordan. Catherine Clune, John Connor, Ann Marie Mc Kenna.

 *When we come down to ground level, I must thank John Connor and Kitty O Connell for organising two great walks in KIlmacurragh. We are going to make this an annual event with a twist. We will select dates when retired teachers can meet up for coffee and walk the grounds or join a tour. We have noted a demand for this.

*I must thank John Finlay for his trojan work in leading two well attended historical walks around his beloved Wicklow Town.

*On a more sedentary note, we had three quizzes courtesy of Frank Gallagher, Kitty O Connell, and yours truly. These have proven very popular, and we have decided to continue them for another year. 

*We will also be exploring the establishment of a retired teachers book club and some other initiatives.

*On the information for members, we had an excellent webinar session with Dermot Goode dealing with health insurance.

*I also tried to keep you all informed about news emanating from Head office through regular notes and other missives about diverse topics.

*Ciaran and I attended the RTAI Annual Convention in Croke Park.

*We have entered a team in the RTAI national golf competition, and we will be represented by Jim O Riordan, Mick Purcell, Eileen Moriarty, and Mary O Brien. Good luck to them in Kildare at the end of the month.

*We have kept up our links with the Gerontological society of Ireland and many of you joined in their excellent talks and presentations during the year.

*Our summer meeting held in the Glenview Hotel this year and attended by over 80 members, was very special with our memorable Remembrance Service. Our sincere thanks to Geraldine Lynch for her excellent work in this project. Thanks also to everyone who contributed and took part in this. We will be having a service again next summer when we will remember our deceased members.

*We also had an interesting talk on wills and inheritance while Billy Sheehan brought us up to date on pension and other affairs.

*It was a year in which we got very used to Zoom meetings and we coped. Thanks to our chairperson John Connor for setting these up.

I must thank Eibhlin Kinsella who year in, year out looks after our finances in her own quite efficient way. We are in safe hands. Go raibh maith agat a Eibhlín.

* I must make special mention of one great man, Seamus Kavanagh our poet who has inspired us all with the excellence of his work for us. Go raibh mile maith agat a Sheamuis

*We had lots of covid and restrictions. We have got used to restrictions and masks, but we must still exercise caution as Covid has not gone away.

*In the year ahead, we will be expanding our branch committee by 3 bringing it up to 10 to cope with increased numbers and activities and we must also look to the future to ensure we have sufficient members trained in leadership roles to take over the management of RTAI Wicklow when the time comes. Those co-opted are Eileen Byrne, Mary O Connor and Emer Breen.  They will be assigned portfolios at the September branch committee meeting and will be ratified at our December meeting when we hope we will have a full return to person-to-person meetings. I would like to thank them for their commitment, energy, and willingness to join in the running of our Branch.

*Our Christmas meeting with Billy Sheehan who will be speaking on the Fair Deal Scheme will be held in the Glenview Hotel on December 8th.

*We sympathise with the relatives of Aggie O Brien and Shelia Murphy who died during the year. May they rest in peace.

I think of all those members who lost spouses and relatives during the year. We think about and support the members  who are themselves or have family members ill at this time.

*Re my own blogs, ramblings, and musings I have been most encouraged by your positive responses to them which kept me going during the lockdown period and beyond. I was pleased that Comhnasc published poems by Seamus Kavanagh and my own history of Wicklow Branch.

Finally, I wish to thank everyone of you for your help, support, and encouragement during what has been a tough challenging time for all of us.

I wish to thank our National Secretary and head office staff and Mick Mangan who looks after our web updates for us on www.rtaireland.ie

Thanks also to the branch committee for their enthusiastic support, help and advice. Buíochas le Chairperson, John Connor, treasurer Eibhlín Kinsella. Vice Chair Ciarán Byrne, Auditors Kitty O Connell, and Geraldine Lynch, WWWRT what’s app group Ann Savage. They are a great united hard-working team. During my long teaching life and involvement in many voluntary organisations over the years. I have never met a more committed dedicated team working on a totally voluntary basis for the benefit of their fellow retired teachers in Wicklow. Long may you continue to serve. Volunteerism is alive and well and thriving in Wicklow.

I thank my own wife Margaret for her patience and support in being my constant personal editor and mentor and to my own personal techie team at home and in Dublin who keep me online and updated.

Ag deire na  bliana nach maith an rud bheith beo beathach. Gura fada faoi bhláth sibh uilig.

Slán ags beannacht libh go léir go gcasfaimíd ar a chéile arís  ag deire an tSamhraidh.

Mick O Callaghan     

Secretary, Wicklow Branch RTAI                        

 

Glendalough Walk - Wednesday June 8, 2022

Walking in St Kevin’s footsteps

We had our final walk of the current season on Wednesday June 8th, 2022. It was a fitting location to stroll on our last walk. We had our first walk in The Devils Glen in Ashford and finished up with a saint’s walk through St Kevin’s settlement in Glendalough which he founded in the sixth century.

We parked up in Laragh, next to the GAA grounds, which yours truly found with the assistance of our chairman and headed off on our rambles with the weather being favourable enough. We strolled through the yard of the old woollen mills and on to our first stop to view Derrybawn House, with its 93 acres of grounds. It was built around 1740 but extensively remodelled over the years. It’s walled gardens have been fully restored. It is set in idyllic surroundings and is now privately owned but we were able to view the area through the front gate and see some deer grazing on the well-manicured laws.

We were now ready to pursue the Derrybawn Trail with a steep enough incline for the first part of the walk. This was a very nice woodland walk surrounded by mature trees on both sides.

It was peace personified and reminded me of John Muirs line “And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul”. John was an interesting character’  ,born in 1838, known as John of the mountains and father of the National Parks in the USA. He is certainly worth a google on a wet day.

There were some magnificent views from our lofty trail looking down on Laragh, the road to Glendalough and all the beautiful verdant green surrounding areas.

A special moment for all of us was the view from on high off the Round Tower of Glendalough. It was great to be able to stop and gaze and wonder at the expertise of those masons who built the 33-metre-high tower over 1000 years ago. It is still in perfect condition. We have attached our view of the day in photographic form. I will cherish it.

Meanwhile the weather gods dampened our spirits and so we took shelter under trees and snapped photos of the group while we had some very nice views of the lakes underneath and the pine cones on trees surrounding us.

The skies cleared again, and we trudged along, dampened slightly but determined to head on to the Wicklow WAY for a while. We looked across at the Spink Mountain and Derrybawn Mountain and could barely make out the figures of some people climbing the trails.

As we headed out again on the Wicklow Way in open territory the weather gods decided to unleash a hefty rain shower and we had to scurry for shelter again. We clicked several group and individual shots to prove to the clans at home that yes, we had mastered the trail and so we moved on with plans for coffee and 99s to finish on our walking session in true summer holiday fashion.

The weather gods were real spoil sports and reserved their final down pour to spoil our grand exit. We sheltered for quite a while until the rain passed over. We turned back and returned by a lower trail coming down the path at the side of the waterfall which had some breath-taking views and sounds.

We abandoned all coffee and ice cream plans and headed for the trail home skirting the Glendalough visitor centre visitor on our left.

As we walked along the path, we heard some great stories about St Kevin who attracted some attention in his time. A young lady named Kathleen was very attracted to him, and she climbed up to his cave. St Kevin pushed her off the top and she drowned in the lake. This story is well told in the Dubliners song ‘In Glendalough Lived an old saint”

As we were walking along Anne pointed out the Deer Stone to us. This was all about King Colmon asking Kevin to oversee raising his younger son. The monastery had no cow, but the good lord provided them with a doe which on Kevin’s orders nursed the child. A wolf killed the doe and on Kevin’s orders she had to provide milk. This was left in the hollow on The Deer’s Stone which can still be seen in the rocks.

There are plenty more yarns and legends about Kevin which you can google in your own time. They were the stories I heard while on the trail. Afterwards we retired to the Glendalough Green Restaurant for a well-earned snack. This was a little gem of a place with their own home-made soups, scones, breads, and a nice supply of organic foods. We started our walk at 10.30 am and finished walking, talking, sheltering from the elements and snacking  over 4 hours later having traversed over 15000 steps after a most invigorating walk.

It was a fitting end to a great season of walking with WWWRT. Our thanks to Ann Savage, Ciarán Byrne for all their planning and to all our walk leaders and the great bunch of our many sociable members who walked and enjoyed themselves. All our lives have been enriched by these great nature escapades.

I say farewell until next week when we will issue you with the review of the year gone by and our plans for the year ahead following our Branch Committee last night.

Mick O Callaghan

Secretary

PHOTO GALLERY

 

 

 

 

Wicklow Town Walk, Part 2 , June 1st, 2022

Fifteen members of the Wicklow Retired Teachers’ Association participated in part two of John Finlay’s historical walking tour of Wicklow Town.  As with part one which took place in September the weather was beautiful.  Part one of John’s tour explored sites to the north of the town including St. Patrick’s Church, the Abbey Ruins, the Church of Ireland, the Parnell Bridge, and the old railway station. We also learned about Captain Robert Halpin one of the town’s most famous seafaring sons. So, it was with great anticipation that the members were looking forward to the sequel to the south.

Stop One: Barrow Green

The group gathered at The Barrow Green opposite the Dominican Convent. This area in centuries past was used as a general dumping ground by the local inhabitants who would have kept livestock.  After the 1798 rebellion it was used as a burial ground for the executed rebels. Known locally as “the Barra Green” did it get its name from the vehicles used by the locals for dumping their waste or for transporting the dead bodies from the nearby jail? Nowadays it is a pretty town square and today it was in full bloom with summer bedding. The Dominican Convent was built in the first decade of the twentieth century on the site of Bayview House, which gives its name to the modern day road.  In the chapel there is a series of stained-glass windows depicting the fifteen decades of the rosary.  These windows were made in the Harry Clarke studios in Dublin. Adjacent to the convent and the eco farm is a car park.  This was the site of the Old Fever Hospital and County Infirmary which opened in 1834 and was eventually demolished in 2008.  Also, at this stop we saw the Methodist Chapel which dates from 1866.  Close by is the Meeting House of the Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. This building is now a private residence. John also pointed out an elevated area to the west which is known as Ballyguile. It is believed that its name is derived from Baile na Gol, the Town of Weeping. It is said that over three hundred people, mainly women and children along with their priest, a Fr. O’Byrne, were massacred near their church in reprisal for a siege and attack on the Black Castle in 1641. A narrow road that passes near the site of this atrocity is known as Melancholy Lane.

Stop Two: Wicklow Gaol

Stop two is the town’s top visitor attraction.  Construction of the jail commenced in 1702 and it served as a place of detention until 1924.  Indeed, its last detainee was Erskine Childers, father of President Erskine Childers. In the 1950s the original entrance to the jail was demolished.  In the early 1990s it was decided to reconstruct the entrance and to transform an eyesore into an interactive tourist attraction. President Mary MacAleese officially opened this top tourist amenity in 1998.

Stop Three: The Market Square

Stop three is actually triangular in shape but is known as the Market Square. Close to the jail stands Wicklow Court  House, built in 1824 but is not being used at the moment for sittings. John pointed out that an archway had to be incorporated into the courthouse as there was a public right-of-way that had to be maintained. Many famous people spoke from the entrance steps of the courthouse, including Fr. Matthew, Parnell and John Redmond. Adjacent to the courthouse is the Town Hall.  On the side wall of the town hall is a mural of an inhabitant in the town stocks serving his sentence. This laneway is known as Quarantine Hill and dates back to Wicklow’s seafaring past when sailors had to quarantine when they came ashore after a voyage. The Billy Byrne memorial takes pride of place in the square.  Executed after the 1798 rebellion the memorial consists of a two metre high statue of Billy Byrne holding a pike. The ornate plinth has busts of three rebel leaders: Joseph Holt, William Michael Byrne and Michael Dwyer.  The fourth side depicts Roisín Dubh, Mother Ireland, surrounded by symbols of Ireland: the Irish wolfhound, a round tower, and a Celtic cross.

Stop Four: The Ruins of the Black Castle and Travelahawk Beach

John insists of calling this the “Ruins of the Black Castle” as there is very little of the castle still standing. Built between 1178 and 1187 on a rocky headland by a Norman family, the FitzGeralds, it was attacked many times by the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles. Eventually it was destroyed by fire in 1646. It is still possible to see the mounds where the wooden ramparts would have stood.  In the distance you can see some trees behind the Church of Ireland which is the site of the Round Mount.  The local chieftain, Nathí is said to have had his ring fort here.  At the Ruins of the Black Caste you overlook Travelahawk Beach, a popular bathing spot today. It is said that it was here that St. Patrick landed when he came to Ireland in 432.  Mantán, one of Patrick’s monks is said to have lost his teeth when hit by a stone thrown by a local when they landed at the beach.  Mantán or “Gummy” is said to have founded a church nearby at a later stage and thus we get the Irish name for Wicklow, Cill Mhantáin. During filming for the series Vikings this little cove was transformed to look like ancient Greece.

Stop Five: The Lifeboat Station

The original lifeboat station was built in 1857. No longer in use it is now the home of Commhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.  When the East Pier was completed in 1887 it was decided to build a bigger lifeboat station with a slipway to make launching of the oar powered lifeboat quicker and easier.  This is the current lifeboat station, but it is due to be demolished and rebuilt incorporating as much as the old design as possible. The reason for this is that the building is too small for the lifeboat that is now in use.  At present the lifeboat is moored further down the pier which is not ideal.

Stop Six: The Capstan

The final stop was what some people thought was a giant sundial.  In fact is a capstan which was one of two at either side of the entrance to the port. In the past these were used to assist sailing ships by pulling them into the harbour.

The members and the committee of the Wicklow Branch of the Retired Teachers’ Association are grateful to John for his fascinating insights into Wicklow Town.  There is no doubt that many of the members would love to revisit the town with John at some stage.  John was instrumental in establishing the Wicklow Town Heritage Trail. At each of the stops along the trail there is an information board.  By scanning the QR code on the boards you can see and hear actors recalling various events that took place at the sites. John’s book, Footsteps Through Wicklow’s Past, unfortunately is now out of print, but can be accessed through local libraries and is a thoroughly interesting read. Míle buíochas John.

Seefin Walk 26th May 2022

Nine members of the Wicklow Retired Teachers’ Walking group gathered in Roundwood before travelling in two cars through the Sally Gap to Seefin, the challenge for this outing. Along the way there were views of beautiful Lough Tay and the Guinness Estate along with Kippure Mountain.  Anne Savage led this walk and we started from a Coillte car park close to the Kippure Estate. The early part of the walk was along a forest road but soon we were onto a mountain track.  On a fine day there are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.  It is possible to see the Blessington lakes and the bridge at Valleymount. However low cloud and mist decided to spoil the views but we did get a glimpse of the famous man-made lakes.  As we travelled further up the mountain the mist was beginning to turn to rain. The final part of the climb offered no shelter as there are no trees.  However the gain was worth the pain as there is a small passage-grave under a mound of stones at the top of Seefin.  It is possible to enter the chamber via the doorway if you are prepared to crouch and squeeze through the opening.  Two members were successful in entering the passage and saw the five burial chambers.  The capstone is missing so exiting the tomb is just a matter of scrambling up the stones.  As the weather was continuing to deteriorate it was decided not to cross over to the next peak, Seefingan, where there is another passage tomb. We were to have our lunch at Seefingan from where there are magnificent views of Dublin (on a fine day). As we journeyed back down the mountain the weather became less inclement. Lunch was had back at the car park. This was an important learning curve for all: weather at the base of a mountain may be fine, but at the top it can be another story. Despite careful examination of three different weather forecasts, there was nothing to indicate that there would be rain and mist.  Hence the advice that is sent out to all of the group ahead of a walk: wear appropriate walking gear and bring spare clothes.  On a clear day Seefin is a spectatular walk and the group decided that a return visit would have to be made in the future – in more favourable conditions.          

 

May Update and Photos from Summer Meeting 2022

Firstly, I want to thank the 80 members who attended yesterday’s summer meeting in the Glenview Hotel. It was a special meeting in so many ways being our first person to person meeting in two years. It was heartening to be together again as group.

* Our Remembrance service for our colleagues who died during the past two years was one of the most moving experiences of my 13 years with RTAI Wicklow.

I take this opportunity of thanking everyone who was involved in putting it together over the past 6 weeks including Fr Tim Murphy, Seamus Kavanagh, Kitty O Connell and all our readers Eibhlin Kinsella, Dorothy Neill, Jane O Brien, Margaret Bloomer, Eileen Byrne, Michelle Duggan, Anne Savage and Ciaran Byrne and our Chairperson John Connor who did the linking commentary.

I must single out Geraldine Lynch for special mention. Ger produced the booklet and those 52 memorable images for the power point presentation blended in beautifully with the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins “The Armed Man”, a mass for peace

It was a pleasure working with such a gentle courteous genius. Thank you, Geraldine,

*Billy Sheehan was next giving us an information session on membership, pay agreements and benchmarking, rates of substitute pay, Pension abatement, online pay slips and the role of the Alliance of public servants. It was an excellent information packed session.

*This was followed by an excellent presentation on wills and inheritance by David and Emmet Colleran from Olympic House, Pleasant House, Dublin 8. This was a very well-presented information session which was much appreciated by the members.

*After that we retired to the restaurant to sample the excellent cuisine served up by the Glenview Hotel. I picked the smoked and fresh fish cake with spring onion/coriander with beetroot puree, tomato, and onion salsa. This was followed by Roast prime sirloin of Irish beef with red wine jus and for dessert I had the chefs assiette of desserts with a duo of sauces. It was all delicious while we gazed out at the forest views of the Glen. Moving around the tables it was a fantastic feeling to listen to so many people happy with reminiscences, yarns and chat being the order of the day. We are back on the road.

 *I think the general verdict was that we had a mighty day out and that so many of us took the time out to pay respects to departed colleagues. Thank you one and all

Below is a Photo Gallery of the Post-Meeting Lunch

RTAI Wicklow on Croghan Kinsella Mountain 12 May 2022

 

There are some special days in all our lives that we will remember and today May 12th will forever be etched in my mind as one such day.

I climbed Croghan Kinsella Mountain which lies 606 metres or 1988 feet above sea-level with some colleagues from Wicklow Retired teachers Association. It is classed as a moderate 8 Kms walk which should be completed in 2hours 20minutes. We had a fantastic clear sunny day for viewing the territory around. It was an ideal day for hill walking. The top of Croghan is a wonderful place to get an aerial view of Wicklow, Wexford, and The Welsh coast.

Today from the pinnacle of Croghan we looked across at 925 metres high Lugnaquilla and peeped down on Aughrim and over at Croghanmoira and Ballinacor.

We clearly saw Ballinagore Bridge, site of the 1795 gold rush and in the background were Woodenbridge, The Vale of Avoca and Barniskey.

Arklow town and the Roadstone quarry were easily discernible as were Tara Hill outside Gorey with Greens Berry farm and other landmarks easily identified.

Ann told us that Snowdonia in Wales can be easily seen on a clear day. It was truly a breath-taking view and I just stood there in silence at the triangulation point on top of Croghan Mountain trying to implant the breadth of scenery in front of me on to my inner camera.

It reminded me of John Keats sonnet “On first looking into Chapmans Homer”

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He stared at the pacific-and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise

Silent upon a peak in Darien.

It was windy and cooler on top of Croghan so once we had taken the photos to show that we hit the peak we hid behind some rocks for shelter and had our snacks. We saved our banana skins to bring them home to our rose bushes because they are a great source of potassium when you dig them in around rose bushes. That was our gardening tip at the summit.

Once we were finished lunch, we stretched the limbs and readied ourselves for the descent which was nice and leisurely but equally challenging.

Croghan mountain is home to Raheenlesagh [the small grey rath or fort] windfarm with its 11 turbines generating electricity for the ESB. Coillte have been foresting here since 1940.

We stopped at some of them and listened to their loud buzzing sound. They are the way forward as we go down the green energy road and ease off on the use of fossil fuels.

Having reached the car park again, three and a half hours later, I checked the step count and distance travelled. I was delighted to find out that we had travelled 13,632 steps covering 9.4 Kilometres. Now there’s walking for you.

I bid farewell to Anne, Catherine, Emer, EileenO, Mary, Eibhlin, Eileen M, and Geraldine.

Walking with good company is greet therapy for body and mind, it releases us from the stresses and strains of everyday living while the views both inspire us and transport us from our daily routines to a higher level of living.

So, we are delighted that so many Wicklow retired teachers are taking to the roads and mountains and long may they continue doing so. It is a mighty way to stay healthy and well.

In conclusion I thank the members who took part in today’s climb. I thank Catherine Clune for leading it and to Catherine, Anne Savage and Eileen Mahoney who did the recce walk for today. Your personal time involved in the preparation is much appreciated.

Go raibh fada buan sibh uilig                 Mick O Callaghan        12/05/2022

PHOTO GALLERY

Trip to National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh 25 April 20232

It was Monday April 25th, 2022, and the boys and girls from Wicklow Retired Teachers were on the march again in the National Botanical Gardens in Kilmacurragh.

Now this Kilmacurragh is a very interesting place for hundreds of years because it was founded by Saint Mochorog in the 7th century. The foundations of the old abbey still exist.

Our excellent guide, Mary O Neill Maloney told us about the pilgrimage road used by Mochorog, son of a British King and Saxon Queen when he was searching for St Kevin in Glendalough. Mochorog established churches at Enniskerry and Delgany and he also delivered the last rites to St Kevin.

So, we were on a monastic site which was later gifted by Cromwell to the Acton family who developed it into what it is today.

As we were in this area Mary also pointed out the Old Dublin Road, Old Cromwell Road, the toll House, and the Folly into the Deer Park, which is an additional 50 acres of forest land. It is also the area where the last of The Acton family is buried.

We were shown the old ancestral home of the Acton family, which is now being restored to its former glory, after a major government grant of 6 million euros. This should add greatly to the attractiveness of this rare botanical gem. There are magnificent ancient trees, with many of them brought in from all over the world by the Actons.

We met a team who were surveying the grounds around the old home. They showed us where they had found an underground tunnel thanks to modern technology. They never used a digger, shovel or spade but could show us the underground tunnel on screen.

The weather gods gave us a brilliant sunny day and we were able to see the trees and blooms at their best. It was such a beautiful time of year to see the bark on so many trees

We saw the promiscuous rhododendrons with each flower having 10 boys for one girl.

We saw monkey puzzle trees, some beautiful magnolia trees in full bloom including the lovely Magnoliaceae, Magnolia doltsopa ‘Silver Cloud’ agus crainn agus bláthanna de gach sort. Bhí siad go léir ar fheabhas.

I loved the broad walk with alternating Irish Yew trees, Taxus Baccata ‘Fastigiata Aurea ‘and Rhododendron “Altaclarence”.  I just loved the red carpet of rhododendron leaves on the path

We had 23 retirees on the walk, and all enjoyed it. The weather was brilliant, with slight wind chill in some areas, but we needed a bit of factor 50 and sun hats for protection.

As I said at the outset Kilmacurragh has acquired 50 extra acres of forestry from Coillte. They have opened this new acreage and already it was great to hear those red squirrels have been spotted there.

During her highly entertaining, informative talk to an enthralled group of retirees Mary referred to

 [a]W J Beans, Trees, and Shrubs for plant recognition, first published in 1914 and updated regularly since then. You can can google it

[b]The biodiversity Heritage Library is the world’s largest open access digital library and

[c] That the RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health is presenting free of charge ‘The Science of Health and Happiness as We Age’. All you do is register which is quite an easy process. I did today. It is worth googling. They are now on week two and it’s all online.

Afterwards some of us retired to Brambles on site for some welcome refreshments.

Thanks are due to Kitty O Connell for arranging the day, To Mary O Neill Maloney for the excellence of her presentation and once again to our own Eileen Byrne for some excellent photography.

Our next date is Croghan Mountain with Catherine Clune in the week beginning May 9th.

Photo Gallery

RTAI Annual Convention 2022

The RTAI Annual Convention took place in Croke Park, Dublin on April 6th 2022. Mr. Pádraig S O’Conaill was elected president for the year 2022-23.

Pictured below are Pádraig and Mick O’Callaghan at the convention. They are fellow members of the St. Pat’s class of 1965-67.

Click here to view the resolutions passed on your behalf.

Carrick Mountain Walk - 5th April 2022

Ten members took part in this walk on a fine spring morning. We gathered in the car park of the Glenealy Community Centre where our leaders for the day Mary O’Riordan and Jacqui Corrigan briefed us. The first interesting sight was a converted school house adjacent to the Church of Ireland.  A plaque above the main door of this residence reads “Glenealy Parochial School AD 1867”.  The walk progressed along Chapel Lane and we came across a tree with two faces carved into the trunk.  Also carved below one of the faces were the words “How would you like if I cut you down?” An interesting feature which gave food for thought. Chapel Lane took us to the entrance of the woods and from where we followed a good wide mountain path.  The ascent was gentle and along the way we had plenty of opportunities to appreciate the landscape.  To the east we could see the solar farm near Rathnew and beyond that the coastline. The path was steep in parts but never for long. This area is used quite frequently by mountain bikers and there are numerous trails which the cyclists use.  As we neared the summit we took one of these trails and thankfully there were no bikes out today. The final climb was to the rocky peak and we were reminded that we each had four limbs and that we should not be afraid to use all four if necessary!  Sound advice indeed from a seasoned walker. Once we got to the top the views were spectacular.  To the south east we could see Rathnew and Wicklow Town. Moving to the east there was a lovely view of the Murrough and slightly further on we could see Ashford.  In the distance to the north, peeping over numerous hills was the cone of the Great Sugar Loaf. Continuing to look around from the north to the west there were numerous mountains to see.  When the low cloud finally lifted from Lugnaquilla we could see some snow still on Leinster’s tallest mountain. Directly below us we could see Glenealy Village and the community centre where we began our walk. We could also see the glass houses of O’Hanlon’s Herbs and the home and cookery school of Wicklow’s celebrity chef Catherin Fulvio, Ballyknocken House. That was the cue to sit and have some nourishment on top of Carrick Mountain … and if we were silent we could hear the musical chimes of the Carrick’s magical fairies. The trek back to the finish was shorter than the climb to the summit and was mainly along forestry road.  But not to disappoint the adventurous spirit of the party Mary and Jacqui did bring us down some of the biker’s tracks. All too soon we were back on Chapel Lane and heading towards the finish.  It was an uplifting walk and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Once again thanks to Mary and Jacqui for leading this walk.  The consensus was that RTAI Wicklow will return to Carrick at some time in the future. The distance was just a few metres short of ten kilometres with a total ascent of 319 metres. From start to finish it too three and a quarter hours – time so well spent on a fresh spring morning.

PHOTO GALLERY

Brague Walk 20th April 2022

Thirteen members took on the challenge of a walk around Brague, also known to some locals as “The White Washed Gables” in beautiful sunshine.  The group met at the Glenmalure Lodge. The Glenmalure Lodge is about two hundred years old and retains much of its original character.  The food is delicious and it’s a firm favourite with seasoned walkers.   The first stop on the day was one of the hidden gems of the valley – Coolalingo Waterfall.  In fact, the waterfall is a set of three waterfalls, and until quite recently very few people knew of their existence. Anne Savage organised this slight detour and it was certainly worth it. 

The walk was just over eight kilometres in length with most of the ascent in the first kilometre.  Apart from a short walk on the Military Road from the Lodge to the forestry entrance, the entire walk was on forest road. Coillte have been thinning the woods here and the results of their endeavours now presents the walker with a magnificent view of the Valley of Glenmalure, the longest glaciated valley in either the UK or Ireland. There was a clear view of the ruins of Drumgoff Barracks, one of a series of five that were built in the early nineteenth century. Nothing remains of the barracks that stood in Laragh or at the nearby Glen of Immal, but the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation is in fine condition.  The last barracks on the Military Road is in Aughhavannagh, “the last place God made”.  The Military Road was built between 1801 and 1809 and runs for about thirty-five miles.  It was the first north-south road constructed in Wicklow and it was originally planned to allow for rapid access by the crown forces through the county. Originally planned as a result of the 179        8 Rebellion, it was really a measure to aid the defence of the country in the event of an invasion by Napoleon’s army.

The next stop allowed us a wonderful view of Carrawaystick Waterfall.  When in full flow after heavy rains this is a spectacular sight. Even though the waterfall was relatively tame it was still a sight to behold.

Our lunch stop was at the Mullacor Hut which was erected in 2006 to mark twenty-five years of the Wicklow Way. Indeed, we met a family on our travels and they, like many walkers of the Wicklow Way over the years, had camped there the previous night.

Our walk looped back towards the starting point at the forestry entrance, but once again we were afforded a good view of the Military Road because of Coillte operations. From our viewing point we could see its steep gradient. This makes it a favourite among cyclists.  Indeed, Ireland’s first winner of a stage of the Tour de France, Shay Elliot, used to train on this road. At the top of the hill stands a monument to his memory.  Another memorial nearby, but which we did not visit is called “The Twelve Graves”. Locally it is believed that this is the resting place of a number of people who were worshipping at a Mass Rock and were slain by Cromwellian soldiers.

After about three hours of fresh air and glorious sunshine, the group returned to the Glenmalure Lodge for some well-earned refreshments. 

Note: Templerainey-based teacher and native of Glenmalure, Carmel O’Toole, has written an excellent book on the area, aptly entitled Glenmalure: The Wild Heart of the Mountains.

 

PHOTO GALLERY

A visit to The Medieval Ferns Experience - March 2022

On Wednesday March 23rd, 2022, the sun shone brightly over Wexford when I was visiting historic Ferns to meet Catherine Mac Partlin, manager of Medieval Ferns Experience, who promised to guide me through the rich historical tapestry of this village with a population of 1415. It has evidence of settlement from the iron age and a huge amount of medieval history dating back to the 6th century St Aidan [the fiery one]. founded a monastery there. It is difficult to comprehend so much history packed into such a small area.

It is equally great to see a dynamic local community in a village bringing this fantastic compact tourism project to fruition.

We started our tour in the Medieval Ferns Experience which intertwines all the historical strands of Ferns medieval story. It is well worth a visit, and I found it very helpful before I went on the guided tour. It is a very attractive unit based in the community centre in Main Street, Ferns which was only opened in August 2021. I was greeted on arrival by the very friendly receptionist, Margaret Christopher. On the wall behind the reception desk was a lovely print of Diarmait Mc Murrough by local artist Cloida Morris immediately drawing you into his territory.

There is also a well-presented sensory area. I am afraid I did not do too well in this department, but I will not ruin your fun when you visit. I loved their virtual reality headsets where you could experience the the breath-taking images of Castle walls, the basement area, and some other historic areas of Ferns. It really gives you a sense that you are in a truly historic place.

I then went into the next area to view an excellent 8-minute audio visual presentation with voice over by Ann Doyle, a Ferns native and ex RTE newsreader. This puts the history of Ferns in context and gives a lovely introduction to the Medieval story of Ferns. It is truly breath-taking to watch buildings and people from as far back as the 6th century virtually coming to life before your eyes and knowing that the remains of Ancient High Crosses, Cathedral, Chapter house and many other historical buildings are still there in historic Ferns, and you get the chance to physically stand on areas of the monastic settlement and late 6th century Christian period. The name Ferns comes from ‘Fearna’, The place of the Alders which had a great place in Irish mythology being the tree of war, death and of fire.

I was fascinated by the story of Aoife aged 17, Daughter of Diarmait who in 1170 married Richard de Clare or Strongbow who was twice her age. This was not only a marriage of two cultures but also of England and Ireland which changed the face of Ireland forever. Whenever I visit the National Art Gallery, I am forever drawn to the painting of the Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife and this amazing painting features strongly in the audio-visual piece in the Medieval Ferns Experience.

As I moved from this lovely informative presentation, I stepped into the inauguration stone challenge. This is very popular with groups and families. I first listened to a Brehon lawyer telling me about the inauguration of the king and he suggested I answer a question to see if I was fit to be king. I answered correctly that I was ready to follow my quest for power and was deemed to be a royal candidate. I was really chuffed with this. The old Brehon law school was in Boolavogue.

Having passed the royal test, I had a word with St Aidan while St David of Wales popped in a few times during the chat in a well-presented audio presentation in the reception area. Interestingly David would be right at home today with health-conscious people as he was reputed to be a vegetarian surviving mainly on a diet of leeks and water.

After I immersed myself in the contextual history of the area in the medieval experience we ventured into the great outdoors for an introduction to the trail where you can explore Ferns, founded 1400 years ago by St. Aidan. I loved the Norman helmets strategically located around the streets of Ferns with each of them giving you a little gem of local lore. I really liked the one dealing with the Giant’s bed. On the horizon ahead of me I could see the low hill Carrigrew. The big dent in the middle of this low hill was caused by a giant striding from Scotland to the Giants Causeway. He plonked himself down on the hill for a rest and when he stood up, he left the imprint of his bum on the hill. Believe it or believe it not.

At the back of the Medieval Experience, I saw a very packed children’s medieval themed playground with children running over drawbridges and into castles. This was a lovely setting for a fun area which adds to the tourism attractiveness of the village in a greenfield site. The fact that it was a sunny day added to its attractiveness.

On walking through the Cathedral graveyard dating back to the sixth century, I noted the grave of Diarmait Mc Murrough, King of Leinster [1110- 1171] and his son Domhnall Caomhanac [1128-1175]. Any scholar of history will know that he is the same Diarmait who invited the Normans to Ireland in 1169. There is also clearly visible a broken granite shaft of a high cross to mark his grave.

As I stand at the grave I can see St Mary’s Abbey, built by Mc Murrough in 1158 and in 1167/8 he waited in it for the Normans to come to his aid.

The charred part remains of Fr John Murphy, of 1798 rebellion fame, are also reputed to lie in this Cathedral graveyard.

My final visit was to St Edan’s Cathedral which stands on the site of an early 13th century medieval Cathedral and has many historical artefacts including an effigy of Bishop John St John who built the Cathedral. It is also said that St Aidan, the first bishop of Ferns is buried under the Cathedral. This building is a real gem to visit and to enjoy all it contains. If you visit on a sunny day, please note the lovely stained glass window depicting St Patrick.

No visit to Ferns during May to September would be complete without visiting Ferns Castle where among other artefacts you can view the Ferns Tapestry in the visitor centre. This tapestry consists of 25 panels representing pre-Norman history in the area.

I must say I really enjoyed my packed 2 hours in Ferns. I have visited many historic places around Ireland and abroad but it has taken me over 55 years to immerse myself in the rich history of neighbouring Ferns with so much history packed into such a small place. Because of its importance to Irelands Medieval story Ferns Heritage Group bring renowned historians and archaeologists together every year to share thoughts on Ferns.

Ferns is truly a place to visit if you have any interest in Irish history. Make sure you visit the Medieval Ferns Experience or book a guided walking tour by phone on 08949469725 or email medievalfernsexperience@fernsvillage.ie

It is worthwhile visiting their page on the Ferns Village website https://fernsvillage.ie/medieval-ferns-experience  where they display pictorially some of the wall panels which feature in the experience as well as giving you details of booking, opening times and entry fees.

Go on, start your research now and follow the road to Ferns, The Ancient Capital of Leinster and Gateway to Norman Wexford. You will be enriched historically.

 

Photo Gallery and Report - Trip to the Glen of the Downs, March 2022

Glen of the Downs Walk 24th March 2022

Twenty of our members participated in this, the third of or walks on Thursday 24th March. The weather was beautiful which added greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion.  We assembled in the car park of the Nature Reserve at the Glen of the Downs and began the walk at 10.30 a.m.  The walk was led by Anne Marie MacKenna who was assisted by Ciarán Byrne. The first part of the walk took us up a fairly steep path, but thankfully this was the most difficult ascent of the day. There were spectacular views of both the Greater and Lesser Sugar Loaf when we stopped for a quick breather. We were also able to see as far as the valley of the Scalp towards the north.  Soon we entered a woodland area and were surprised to find a recently made bothán next to a bunch of freshly cut daffodils. We continued on our way and exited the forest to commence the next part of the walk which took us along a private road. Once again we were offered superb views of the Great Sugar Loaf. Much of the land in this area was once owned by the La Touche family, French Huguenots who settled in Ireland and were the founders of what we now know as the Bank of Ireland. Crossing the road to Delgany we entered Kindlestown Wood. A winding forest trail took us to the summit where there was a magnificent view of Greystones to the east. One could see the newly built apartments at Greystones Marina, or as one member remarked “Look the flats at the docks!” This was the point in the journey where we had our lunch break. To the north we were able to see Killiney Bay and Dalkey Island. Kilruddery Esate, the home of the Brabazon family was shielded from our view by a hill but to the west we could once again see the Great Sugar Loaf. We kept our backs to the unsightly telecommunications masts, a blot on this beautiful landscape but a necessity in the modern world in which we live.  Suitably refreshed we completed the circuit of the woods and retraced or steps along the private laneway to bring us back to the Nature Reserve to begin the third and final section of our adventures. Upon re-entering the reserve, we continued straight ahead where our next stop was The Octagon, a dining room from the era of the La Touche family. This is a two-storey structure. The lower floor was affectionately christened “The Art Gallery” by John O’Connor. We continued along the path where we came to another structure which is a tunnel under the path.  What its purpose was no one seemed to know but that did not stop members from imagining what it might have been used for! We continued along the path which took us along the boundary of Delgany Golf Club. Eventually the path turned northwards as we began our descent back down to the car park and the finish line.  This was a most enjoyable walk which was suggested by John Connor and we thank him for sharing this gem of north Wicklow with us. Thanks also to Anne Marie who encouraged us to practice some deep breathing and to appreciate the sounds of nature. The distance covered was slightly over eight kilometres and took just under three hours in total with an ascent of 192 metres. The next walk is Carrick Mountain in Glenealy which will take place the week beginning 4th April – weather permitting!

Some photos of our trip to the Glen of the Downs, march 2022

SNIPPETS FROM WICKLOW BRANCH RTAI OVER THE YEARS

Wicklow Branch RTAI was formed on Saturday 10th September 1977 at 3pm having waited sufficiently for late comers [35 minutes I believe}. The venue was Lawless’s hotel, Aughrim. Mr Hugh Byrne acted as Chairman. Jerry Kelly from the National Executive in Dublin urged retired teachers to organise themselves as a branch at a time of strong government when public servants and retired ones would be more at risk of pay cuts and imposition of income tax than other citizens.

      Mr Gregory Doyle of Rathdrum proposed that the retired teachers of County Wicklow should establish a Wicklow branch of retired teachers. This proposition was unanimously adopted by the meeting to form the branch with Hugh Byrne voted in as chairman and Gregory Doyle as Secretary / Treasurer. The meeting proposed that the Bank of Ireland be requested to open an account in the name of the retired Teachers Association. Permission was granted to purchase a minute book and all members should pay an annual fee of £2.

      At the end of the meeting Mr Brehony from Dublin invited all 7 members present to attend the AGM of national Retired teachers’ group to be held the following Saturday 17/09/1977 at 2.30pm in 36 Parnell Square, Dublin.

       And so RTAI Wicklow was launched. The teachers were pleased that Hugh Byrne was their leader as he was held in such high esteem in the county and throughout Ireland. He had been installed as President of the GAA in the Aberdeen Hall of the Gresham Hotel on April 2nd, 1961, and served for 1961/63.

In a recent interview {March 20th, 2021} his daughter Marcella, now in her eighties, recalls a certain privilege they had as young children because Hugh had a motor car. There were only two cars in Rathdangan, one owned by Hugh and the other by the Parish Priest, with the two cars parked side by side at Sunday mass amid the bikes and pony and traps, while most people walked to Mass. RTAI Wicklow was in safe hands with a proven national leader who drove a car.

      All members present were asked to recruit retired teachers and by 27/05/1978 they had 24 paid up members each paying the £2 membership fee by cheque giving them a grand total of £48 out of which they sent £19.30 to Dublin, and they had to pay a booking fee of £1 for use of the hall.

      The fledgling group were in difficulty in calling a meeting in 1979 because the secretary and his wife were both ill and there was also a national postal strike which lasted for 18 weeks. It is worth noting that 1979 was the worst year for strikes.

      They struggled again in 1980. The chairman wished to express his disappointment, indeed his complete chagrin at the attendance of only 3 members, himself, his wife, and the secretary, for the AGM while two members sent apologies, but they sent in their £2 membership fee. Because of the lack of a quorum, agenda items and the election of officers had to be abandoned and the meeting was adjourned sine die. One member said the attendance was low because it was such a fine day. Another said people were sparing petrol because of the scarcity of petrol at that time because of the world petrol and gas shortage from 1979 to 1983 due to the Iranian crisis. People were sparing petrol for necessary journeys. The officers decided to stay on in their positions for another year.

      There was further trouble in 1982 when it was stated at a meeting that four of the original founding members were two years in arrears with their membership fees. They went so far as to name the four people involved. They were certainly living in different times and pre GDPR, but new members were still joining.

In 1983 the branch had a surplus of £215.46 having spent £3.60 on postage and a whopping £1.80 on refreshments for the AGM while they sent a cheque for £34.50 to Dublin.

    The meeting, held in 1985 was a happy occasion because of the granting of synchronisation of pension increase with increases to serving teachers. Secondly the check off system of paying subs increased membership and made it easier for paying up. The membership of the national association went from 2013 in 1983 to 2487 this year. The branch went wild at the AGM spending a whopping £3.40 on refreshments while their credit balance went up to £ 242.12. They also felt they should support the Matt Griffin fund to help sponsor research in the Children’s Hospital, Dublin and they sent £25 to support the fund.

      In 1987 the secretary reported that he was perplexed because they had 54 names on roll but only 30 paid up members. Of the remaining 24 people 11 were nuns who had no notion of paying up and others he reported were hopeless cases. Later, that year they reported a Wicklow roll of 46 but 6 of them were nuns who had no notion of joining RTAI.

      In 1988 the meeting was told that they had received the 2% of the 25th wage agreement and that they could look forward to a 3.5 % arbitration award on 1/12/87. They were further told that increases due in1/6/88 were doubtful.

Interestingly the members were impressed that RTAI had built up financial reserves of £3000 over their 39-year existence being £77 a year saved. This big sum of money was now invested in government stock and was earning the not inconsiderable sum of £259.80 per annum in interest. How many members remember getting interest?

      In 1989 membership dropped from 33 to 28 and the Secretary read out all the names of non-affiliated retired teaches and urged a recruitment drive. Every retired teacher should be a member. This was their name and shame policy.

      The Chairman in 1990 noted that there was an influx of early retirees who generously threw in their lot with RTAI. Their comparative youth and energy will be a great boost to the morale of the Association. [Denis Garvey 05/06/90]

       The year 1992 was an annus horribilis for Wicklow Branch. This was the famous year in which the annual fee went up to £5. Fifteen members wrote in cancelling their membership. This was also the year in which retired teachers got the option of bimonthly instalments of pension.

       Denis Desmond, national secretary, announced in 1994 that each retired member would now be enrolled in the county they retired in. The membership of Wicklow rose from 43 to 78. They spent the staggering sum of £14 on AGM refreshments and had a credit balance of £900.12. with bank interest of £1.14.

During the years up to 1999 the branch meetings moved around the county meeting in Arklow, Woodenbridge,  Aughrim, Poulaphouca and Baltinglass. This was in response to members suggestions that there should be a change of venues for meetings to increase attendance, but it did not achieve this.

      The members were happy after the 2000 meeting held in the Wooden bridge Hotel when they heard of free ESB, phone rental and free TV license for over 70s.

      The mood music at the AGM in 2002 In Poulaphuca House Hotel was more sombre when we heard the report on The Commission on public service pensions. The traditional parity as a method of calculating pensions was in danger and benchmarking was still under discussion.

During 2003/2004 there were sustained attacks being made on the bench marking payments being paid to public servants.

      The 2004 meeting rejoiced that the payment of pensions every fortnight was finalised after a 13-year campaign.

The 2005 meetings were dominated by discussions on nursing home care, covenants for elderly people in full time care, tax relief for nursing home fees, medical cards for over 70’s and the 2% health levy abolished for over 70’s.

In 2007 there was much rejoicing with the announcement of a new scheme for nursing home care, with a basic cost for full time care now being mentioned.

      The benchmarking report of 2008 was viewed with some disappointment although the section dealing with the increase to retired principals and vice principals was welcomed. We are still waiting the payment in 2022.

     We all owe a great debt of gratitude to those pioneering members who set up RTAI. They had difficulty getting to meetings, they had no mobile phones, laptops, or internet but they helped set up the basis of the structure of RTAI we have today. Minutes were written by hand, as were the envelopes and then stamped and posted. They struggled to recruit members and retain them.

 

     We were so lucky in County Wicklow to have had such wonderful people like Hugh Byrne and latterly people like Maureen Quigley who took on the leadership role and whose selfless dedication to the cause of retired teachers was exemplary. They worked tirelessly for us without the funds to have dinner in hotels or restaurant. They had skimpy funds with no gratuity or reward other than the satisfaction of working to ensure that retired teachers’ conditions were improved. They had fewer cars but still managed to get to meetings often held on Saturdays and at great inconvenience to themselves. They were true trail blazers.

       Now we have 241 members and we continue to recruit new members.Today we have sufficient funds to treat members properly when they meet. Most members have mobile phones and the internet and communication is much easier. We can send delegates to meetings without them having to dip into their own pockets to cover petrol and maybe an overnight stay.

We must however avoid complacency and ensure that the advances we have achieved over the years are not eroded. FEMPI cutbacks and the financial disaster of 2008/2010 hit us hard. The cutbacks have been rolled back but we, like so many others, lost a lot in that process.

      The last two years in our history have been a different narrative for all of us. Covid 19 was tough for everyone when our very physical survival was uppermost in all our minds. It gave us all a new perspective in life which we value dearly. We will survive and continue to look out for each other and support our great community in RTAI Wicklow and further afield.

      We have come a long way in the evolving RTAI over our 45 years representing Wicklow retired teachers. We have kept the needs and conditions of retired teachers to the fore. Let us be proud to continue to beat that drum and remember to constantly be a flea in the ear of politicians. We must get direct negotiating rights at the wage talks table now by lobbying and using the grey crew voting bloc at election times.

Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.

Mick O Callaghan     Secretary   RTAI   Wicklow  March 2022

 

 

 

 

 

The Spink Walk, Glendalough Co Wicklow 22 Feb 2022

17 togged out for our walk on The Spink, Glendalough, Co Wicklow on Tuesday 22nd February 2022.

To start our route took us by The Upper Lake, whipped into a frenzy by a strong wind. Onwards to the ruins of the Miners’ Village evidence of bygone times when mining flourished in the 19th century. Upwards to Van Diemen’s Land and across over the Glenealo River.  As we turned up the side of Lugduff the deer and goats weren’t bothered by their plodding visitors.

Break time – Sos beag was never quite like this!

We reached our high point (506m) with wonderful views of the two lakes, Monastic Site and Round Tower stretched out beneath us.  We followed a meandering path downward by the Poulanass Waterfall and safely back to our cars.

We were blessed with amazing views of the Glendalough Valley as we completed the 9.2km circuit.  17 happy walkers returned well satisfied by an exhilarating few hours in great company on the hills.

We look forward to many more ‘Days Like These’

To enlarge a photo, just click on it!

 

 

Vartry Trails Walk 9/2/2022 - Report & Photos

 

It was a lovely sun kissed Spring Day as our walking group (all 28 of us), set out for a gentle stroll around the Vartry Lakes. We chose the new trail around the Upper (or Extension) Reservoir, 6.9 kms. There was time to chat and connect with old friends and indeed make new ones. We dallied a while admiring the craftsmanship of the Ogham Trail and opted now and again to take quiet time to just stand and stare.

We got snippets of the history of the Vartry River and its Reservoir since its inception in1862 when work started on the Lower Reservoir.

An extension was added and completed in 1923.It has been 159 years since the first badly needed. treated water flowed from the Vartry scheme on 30th June 1863.  This Reservoir continues to serve its original purpose supplying clean water to Northeast Wicklow and much of South Dublin to the present day. We finished our walk by raising a glass of clean water to the visionaries who played a part in this great scheme, and we saluted a Dr. John Gray whose statue stands on O Connell Street at the junction of Abbey Street.

With a pep in our step and joy in our hearts we filed into various coffee shops on our way home.

We are most grateful to Ann Marie Mc Kenna, one of our members, who led the walk. It was a great start to our 2022 walking season.

See you next time.

A poem for Christmas

Christmas Wishes

 

May the peace of two thousand Christmases,

Be with You this crazy year,

With a season free from worry

And a mind that holds no fear.

May you follow every dream

And never need a star,

May the lights dispel your darkness,

Be proud of who you are!

May the Santa of your childhood,

Set your spirit free

With happiness wrapped in hope

Beneath your Christmas Tree.

May the joy that Christmas brings,

Stay forever by your side,

May you always have the strength,

To take life in your stride.

May Christmas bring you closer

To those who own your heart,

For love provides the glue,

That will never let you part.

May you make a million memories,

That will never go away,

And may you regain your innocence,

That may have gone astray.

In our now uncertain world,

My Christmas wish for you,

Good Health, Love, and Laughter,

For these will see you through.

 

Seamus Kavanagh

Retired Teacher

MEMBERS" NEW WRITING - 2020-21

Below is a selection of articles and poems from members of Wicklow Branch. We would very much welcome contributions from any member who would like to submit their written work. Please contact Mick O’Callaghan if interested!

Click on the title to access each piece:

Why not join RTAI?

The Retired Teachers’ Association of Ireland (RTAI) is a vibrant and energetic Association of retired primary teachers. Founded in Dublin in the 1950s it now has over 10,000 members organised in 32 branches throughout the 26 counties.

There are two key aspects to the work of the Association. Firstly, at national level there is a strong focus of looking after the interests of retired teachers in relation to pensions and other issues that impact on their welfare and wellbeing. Providing advice and support to individual members is central to this aspect of our work.

Secondly, at branch level there is a strong social element that provides opportunities for members to engage in a variety of activities and events and enables members to remain in touch with former colleagues as part of a collegiate and supportive network.

Why join the RTAI?

Your membership will assist and support the core work and activities of the Association which include:

Protecting our pensions

  • Securing benefits and facilities for members
  • Providing information and advice to individual members
  • Supporting a broad range of social activities and networking opportunities for members throughout all 32 branches of the Association.
  • Maintain strong links with the INTO especially of matters that can impact on retired teachers.
  • Working with other groups that advocate on behalf of retired workers including the Alliance of Retired Public Servants{ARPS} and the Retired Workers Committee of ICTU.
  • Making sure that though we are no longer in the workforce, our voices are still heard, and our opinions still count.

We are Better Together!

Please join us and be part of a very vibrant and supportive Association that is doing valuable and important work for its members.

Membership Cost

The RTAI annual subscription is €65, deducted from pension at a rate of €2.50 per fortnight.

How to Join

An application form can be downloaded from www.rtaireland.ie

To request an application form you can email: info@rtaireland.ie or call: 01 245 4130.

 Your local contact

Mick O Callaghan rtaiwicklow@gmail.com

Mobile Contact      0870612072

 

My Covid Experience - a Response

Since I sent out my Personal Covid experience piece I have received considerable correspondence. I was particularly taken by this piece below from one of our own RTAI members. If you have any suggestions, please send them on to me and I will forward them to her.

I look forward to many more replies and if you have any other eggy stories, please send them on to me.I have already heard of whisked eggs in a glass with sugar added. There was also my grand uncle whose daily breakfast consisted of two raw eggs in a glass of Powers Gold label straight down the hatch. He lived till 91 years of age. We  had the glass of sherry and eggs. Lots of people have tried sucking eggs. So come on share your eggy stories or any local customs or lore built around eggs . As usual your name will not be posted unless you request it. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Members reply to my Covid Experience Article

Hi Mick, 

I’m glad you had a good vaccine experience. I too felt much relieved when I received my first Pfizer jab a fortnight ago. The other oldies queueing with me were chatty and happy our turn had come. Medical staff were very nice. My nurse never mentioned paracetamol or anything else, but I had no negative symptoms nor discomfort from the vaccine. I must say I didn’t worry much all year about catching Covid myself as I cocooned a lot, but I worried and still do about family here and abroad. I have always had a heavy head of hair but noticed each time I washed it I seemed to shed more hairs than usual – a sign of stress, though I didn’t feel stressed. My hair still looks okay 

but it is definitely lighter. I wonder if any branch members experienced hair loss. It is always reassuring to feel you are not the only one ! 

I am hoping the hair will get back to normal when normal life returns. Meanwhile I am taking the occasional raw egg. Having grown up on a farm, my siblings and I were in the habit of sucking eggs from the henhouse. Of course, we all knew how to spot dogs which had found eggs outside. Their glossy coats told the tale.

Fortunately, I have retained my taste for raw egg. I mentioned it to my hairdresser once and found he too took 

raw eggs as he was losing his hair. He asked me if I sipped – his was strictly ‘down the hatch’.

   My husband has already reached full vaccine protection since it is over a fortnight since he got his second

 jab but one can still be a carrier and, as you might note from today’s report on the now being withdrawn hotel quarantine court challenge, there remains the possibility of contracting a variant of Covid -19, so we are still advised to wear masks till others catch up on vaccination.

There is little risk out in the open, especially if there is a bit of a breeze, so I feel the worst is over and hopefully we will get a good summer.

Tonight, I viewed the RTE ‘ Reeling in The Years’ on the year 2010 and was amazed that January of that year was the coldest in 50 years with a record temperature of minus 16. I have a vague recollection of slippery pavements but that’s about it. Our Covid Year will probably mellow likewise. 

Here’s hoping.!

Le meas,         Name submitted to me but withheld

 

Mick O Callaghan.

Rúnaí

RTAI      Wicklow          12/04/2021                   RTAI Wicklow Branc

History of the Branch: Minutes of Inaugural Meeting, 1977

Below is a link to the facsimile of the minutes of the meeting at which Wicklow Branch RTAI was founded in 1977:

Minutes from Wicklow Branch Foundation 1977

Branch Officers

John Connor

Cathaoirleach

Mick O'Callaghan

Secretary

Eibhlin Kinsella

Treasurer

Ciaran Byrne

Vice Chair

Contact Us

Michael: 087-0612072

rtaiwicklow@gmail.com