Next Branch Meeting

The Wicklow Branch AGM and Christmas dinner scheduled to be held in the Glenview Hotel on December 7th, 2021.is now cancelled due to the surge in Covid 19 cases.

Our trip to the National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh

We had been bedevilled by wet weather which resulted in our RTAI organised Glenmalure walk being cancelled twice on the last two Wednesdays.

Today we were thrilled to be greeted with a lovely bright crisp autumnal morning for our guided walk in Kilmacurragh to retrace the steps of the Acton family who were gifted with this land during Cromwellian times.

It was such a pleasure to drive up the road, leave the M11 at junction 18 and turn up the L 113 and follow the signs for 5 Kms up the road to the National Botanic Gardens.

Having reached the entrance gates, I drove up the lovely narrow meandering path to the gardens. There we were greeted by our genial walking, talking guide Marie O Neill Moloney.

Marie was one of the most pleasant, well informed garden guides I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her knowledge of the gardens was encyclopaedic, and her easy-going humour laden presentation was excellent. This tour was sheer bliss for all the group and was extra special for the avid gardening afficionados participating.

She effortlessly imparted hints on tree planting, watering potted plants and banishing rabbits and other rodents with smelly hair cuttings.

We learned about trees from all over the world including the cork tree from Portugal and how you can use corks in flowerpots to help irrigation and moisture in potted plants. You must drink the wine first of course.

The RTAI retirees were welcomed and given a snapshot history of the gardens and the Acton family. I will not try to give you the full history, but Mary has vey kindly sent me the link to it which makes fascinating reading.


Next, we were guided through a variety of rare old trees including a giant Redwood and an old Irish oak, home to 2500 species and 250 obligate species

We saw the crocus meadow, in front of the house. It is home to some 200-year-old crocus, a must visit venue in the beginning of the year.

We saw some lovely, scented Daphne trees and the willow leaved podocarp planted by The Prince of Wales in May 2019. In addition, we saw some beautiful Himalayan Lilies.

This place is a gardener’s pure heaven with its magnificence of colour, variety, and scents.

It was sheer relaxation and the ultimate nature lovers dream to walk through banks of multicoloured, rustling scented leaves, to see such a variety of fungi the sheer beauty of well-rounded and newly planted rhododendrons.

It was a rare sight to see the old house draped in Autumnal sun while viewing the pictures of what it looked like in its heyday, knowing that the restoration will become a reality with the backing of a 5-million-euro government restoration grant.

Kilmacurragh has acquired an extra 50 acres from Coillte, including the original Deer Park which will be open to the public in 2022. Here you will find the burial location of brother and sister Thomas and Janet Acton who played a significant role in the development of Kilmacurragh in Victorian times.

We were brought along the exterior of the walled gardens and viewed the lovely Annabelle Hydrangeas and many more species.

Kilmacurragh has become a depository for some rare and near extinct plants from all over the world. If a species becomes extinct anywhere in the world Kilmacurragh could have the back up with the original of the species.

It is a huge challenge but a task the team at Kilmacurragh is more than capable of achieving and we look forward to many more trips to enjoy the arboreal magnificence that the place is and will continue to evolve over the years to give future generations many years of healthy relaxation and a place to enjoy.

I felt enriched by my tour to this idyllic piece of Wicklow. It really is a haven of peace and


I thank our own John Connor for organising this trip.

I thank Mary O Neill Moloney whose lively humorous presentation added so much to the day.

Míle buíochas to the weather gods who were so generous with us in dispensing their rays on us and added to the natures colourful autumnal carpet.

Finally go raibh maith agaibh to the members who turned up and to those members who were unable to attend and sent us best wishes and apologies.

Next week we have a branch committee meeting to assess where we are going and to plan. We now have 229 members with 208 of you on e mail link which is fantastic.

Sadly, several our members are ill and unable to participate. We think of you all and wish you well.

Our next big event will be our webinar with Dermot Goode, dealing with health insurance, on November 24th and we will send you the link when we get it from him.

We are still planning for our AGM on Dec 7th, but we will be guided by head office, our hotel and HSE guidelines on this one.

I attended the National Secretary’s conference in Dublin yesterday and there was a lot of discussion on format for AGMs

We wait and see.

Meanwhile stay safe and take care of yourselves and keep recruiting new members.




Newsletter for October 2021, including a Report and Photos of our Glendalough Walk

The hills were alive to the sounds of happy RTAI Wicklow retirees in October 2021.

 The Wicklow Retired teachers took to the highways of Wicklow on Wednesday 6th October for a leisurely stroll in Glendalough led by our own RTAI member, mountain walk leader Ann Savage

We assembled at 10.15 am in St Kevin’s church and school car park at an elevation of 174 metres. It was so strange to hear children playing in the school yard reminding us that we were free from such duties and ready for refreshing challenging hill walking instead.

We started off along the road to Brockagh and crossed into the wood and over the Glenmacanass River, along the Wicklow Way Path to the top of Paddock Hill heading north to the Gossan Stones.

We stopped a few times to admire the panoramic views around us with Scarr Mountain in the distance and northwest we could see Tonelagee standing at 817 metres while we looked up from our lowly 350 metres.

We had a totally clear dry day and the views all around us were breath-taking.

We stopped at the Gossan Stones to hear the story behind them. They are a pair of one-metre-high stones positioned 1.75 metres apart. These Gossan Stones act as portals framing the sun as it rises in the east within the u-shaped profile of the Devils Glen. Sunrise over the Irish Sea is captured perfectly between these stones on the equinox id est 20th March or 22nd of September when the sun is midway between the winter and summer solstices. You can get detailed maps of this area on which these and more stones are marked from

East West mapping, Clonegal, Enniscorthy. Co Wexford 0539377835


Here is an article about the Gossan Stones by Chris Corlett where he explains the name and much more


WE continued upwards towards Scarr Mountain to hear the story about  the Barton /Childers families ancestral home and who they were.It is well explained in the sales blurb for the house when it was put up for sale.


It is noteworthy that it was100 years ago on 11th October 1921 that the Treaty negotiations were started and concluded on 6th December. There will be an exhibition of all The treaty archives in Dublin Castle from December 6th to March 2022. Now that should be interesting and worth a visit.


We then turned for home re-joining the Wicklow Way, down again through the woods on a different path and crossing into Brockagh from the Valley of Glenmacanass.

We walked for three and a quarter hours going on an elevation from 174 metres at base to 396 at the top. We burned off 955 calories and were ravenous by the time we hit the excellent Wicklow Heather Restaurant to sample their dishes.

The hill walk was a great success thanks to the planning that went into it by Ann. She is a great asset to RTAI Wicklow who like all our leaders give of their time so generously and freely in the service of their colleagues and we thank them all most sincerely. Go raibh míle maith agat a Áine.

All our stats are provided by another of our RTAI members, hill climbing enthusiast Ciaran Byrne who will be leading us in our walk in Glenmalure on October 20th when we will assemble at the Glenmalure Lodge at 10. 15a.m. Anyone wishing to have food afterwards will be able to get it at the lodge.

Our Chairman John Connor has organised a free guided tour of Kilmacurragh Gardens for November 3rd at 12 noon so get your garden brains up to speed for that special autumn treat.

Our Roundwood based member Ann Marie McKenna is going ahead with plans for a walk In Roundwood in the New year.

John Finlay promises us part 2 of the Wicklow town walk in 2022. 

Our Blessington member Jim Sorley is working on the Blessington and Russborough House trip for May 2022.

Ann Savage will lead us in a tour of Avondale House and Grounds post Easter 2022 as many areas of Avondale are out of bounds as major upgrade & building work going on currently. They are due to finish Easter 2022.

 That will be a real good historical walkabout to look forward to after the Easter eggs.

 Full details of all walks will be sent out when they are at hand.

I will be attending the national Secretary’s conference in Dublin on Nov 2nd when we will be updated on the present and future plans for RTAI. One issue that keeps cropping up is new members. We must all keep encouraging newly retired teachers to join RTAI. They can join online at www.rtaireland.ie . or alternatively I can post them out a paper form.

Our webinar with Dermot Goode is on November 24th at 11.am. Start organising your pods and questions now.

Re questions about our Christmas Dinner: This will have to be a fully prebooked and confirmed event. We will be discussing details at our next branch committee on November 9th and will issue details of the booking process after that date.

It’s great to be back on the road again. Thanks to all those members who turned up to our first two adventures in Wicklow town and Glendalough.

Take care of yourselves as we go into training for Glenmalure.



Below are some photos of our day out. To enlarge a photo, simply click on it.

On the Road Again! - Autumn 2021 Update

It was a great feeling today to be on the road again with RTAI Wicklow after such a long layoff.

It was also most heartening to be able to spend three great hours in the presence of the mighty John Finlay. His knowledge of local, National and world history is breath taking. He remembers dates, events, side stories and relationships with consummate ease.

I can only say that I was enthralled by it all and that one head could carry all he knew.

I have been around this territory since 1967. John and myself started together in St Pats in 1965 and today was the first day in those 54 years that I had an informed walk around Wicklow town starting off at St Patricks Church with its lovely Harry Clarke-stained glass windows and high domed self-supporting ceilings. We saw the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual succour and heard its historical connections.

We proceeded up Wentworth Place and a steep climb up to the Church of Ireland. Its entrance in lovely cut granite is approx. 1000 years old.

The graveyard which contains the grave of Wicklow’s most famous and loyal son must be one of the best maintained and scenic graveyards in Ireland.

We proceeded from there down to the Parnell Bridge and admired the old stone bridge and the new port Bridge.

WE saw several more interesting sights. down by the harbour   and we finished up outside the Bridge Tavern to hear and see the places associated with Robert Halpin

While Halpin was a great and proud son of Wicklow the people today can be very proud of their own local historian and author John Finlay.

He is also Chairperson of Wicklow Historical Society.

You can pick up a copy of the Wicklow Heritage and do the tour yourself at a time of your own choosing.

There are several story boards around the town telling the history of the sights such as St Patricks Church, The Franciscans . These are further enhanced by having QR codes which you can download to your phone and see actors acting out the history of the area.

It is an example to other towns and area how we should show off our rich history and to be justly proud of it.

I am already looking forward to John’s next journey through the historic roads and buildings of his beloved native

Wicklow town

To John I say thanks a million for three hours of absolute enjoyment. Go raibh mile maith agat agus go raibh fada buan thú


Below is a selection of photos of our tour; to enlarge a photo, simply click on it.


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


Summer Newsletter 2021


Dear members

A branch Committee zoom meeting was held on Wednesday June 2nd from 10.30 to 11.00

The following was Plan was agreed on the assumption that we have the go ahead for activities from head office.

Wednesday              September 1st                                                                                       Kilmacurragh Woods                            John,Kitty,Stephanie

Wednesday.            September  22nd                                                                                    Wicklow Town                                              John Finlay,          

Wednesday.             October   6th                                                                                           Glenmalure                                            Ciarán Byrne

Wednesday              October 20th                                                                                           Glendalough                                                   Anne Savage

Tuesday.                   December 7th                                                                                          Tinakilly House  Christmas Dinner              Eibhlin/Geraldine


 When notifications are sent out all walks will contain details of Distance, difficulty and time involved.

We will also send out, in the second last week of August, details of the relevant contact phone numbers and how and when to apply for each activity.

There will be two guided tours  in Kilmacurragh  with one at 12 noon and the other at 3 pm.

John Finlay’s walking tour of Wicklow will commence from the car park of St Patrick’s Church at 10.30 am.

Anne Savage walk in Glendalough:

I look forward to walking with all who wish in the Autumn. The route will follow paths that circle Glendalough Valley at a low level- no high mountains.

Parking: Wood Entrance car-park adjacent to St Kevin’s Church Laragh(Signposted). 

Route: Path through Brockagh Wood to Glendalough, then through the Monastic Site onto Green Road returning to Laragh Village .

Refreshments: Wicklow Heather Restaurant within 5 mins of the cars at the end of the walk.

Duration: 2hours with many opportunities to stop and admire the views

Clothes & Equipment: Walking boots recommended; raincoat, warm clothes, mini back-pack with hat & gloves etc. Bring a walking stick  if you have one. 


Ciaran Byrnes walk in Glenmalure:

  1. 10.30 arrival at Glenmalure Lodge
  2. 10.45 begin walk
  3. 12.45 end walk – refreshments in the Lodge for those who wish to refuel

As far as I know the Lodge has become strict about people using their  car park and not visiting so it might be prudent to encourage as many walkers as possible to linger for a while over a cuppa afterwards. I could speak with Anne Dowling in advance Walks are not too strenuous and cater for all levels of ability.

The walk that I propose  is a shortened version of the Brag/Whitewashed Gables loop. We begin at the Lodge and take a right turn. After a couple of hundred metres, we turn left into the woods. Shortly afterwards we turn left onto the main path. We follow the trail (coloured red on the map) as far as the Y junction where we turn right. This is a short incline, and we turn right at the top to re-join the main trail. Looking to the left you will see Mullacor Hut. (This might be a suitable place for a break.) From then onwards it’s mainly downhill where we re-join the Rathdrum loop. After the hairpin turn, we stay on the main trail where we can see the “whitewashed gables”. We stay on the main trail (coloured red) and eventually re-join the path where we entered the forest. (Rathdrum Walkers start/finish near the hairpin turn marked with the pins). From there it’s back to the Lodge.

 Christmas Meeting and dinner :Dec 7th in Tinakilly. Details with Eibhlin and Geraldine

Seamus Corley and Paul Tyrrells tour of Blessington and Russborough House May 11th 2022


At the moment all you do is to mark these dates in on your diaries or note them on the calendars on your phones or laptops





Upcoming Walks, October 2021

Our next walking tour will be with Ann Savage in Glendalough on October 6th, and I will be sending out full details to you all next week. If you have any specific questions about the day, you can contact Ann on 0877936818.

Ciaran Byrne will lead a walk in Glenmalure on October 20th. Full details will follow.


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:

Special Request to Members from the Branch Secretary

Over the past couple of weeks some RTAI members have informed me that either themselves or a family member are ill at home or in hospital because of some illness other than Covid. We also have several members who are unwell and infirm at home.

      This is a hard time for them with visitor restrictions in hospitals and the worry and strain that long term illness brings to all the family members.

     If you know any of these people you might send them a text or get-well card. You might also say a prayer and include, in your special intentions, all our RTAI members who are suffering ill health at this time.

      It is a great blessing and relief for all of us that we now have the safety net of the Covid vaccination. We hope and pray that the present spike in confirmed cases will eventually start to proceed in a downward trajectory.

     Meanwhile, stay well, take care of yourselves, stay in contact with us and with each other and continue to be a collective support team for all our fellow members of RTAI Wicklow.


   Please keep members, and any of their family members, who are ill, in your thoughts and prayers.


Mick O Callaghan


RTAI Wicklow Branch

Sunday August 22nd 2021

Branch Newsletter - October 2020

October Newsletter RTAI Wicklow


Thoughts on Grief, Loneliness and Isolation


I was looking at the news this week and saw  an item about the work of the Samaritans in  Sligo town. They detailed that their calls, from people looking for help and advice, were one third Covid related and half were dealing with loneliness. This was a startling figure and prompted me to think about Covid and loneliness and fears in our daily lives.

We all experience loneliness in our lives at some stage and have to deal with it in our own way. I remember when my mother died 50 years ago, I felt a real spot of being alone in the world. She had been my rock for the first 23 years of my life.

 I coped with my grief by talking about it and staying busy in my life. Healing and forgetting certainly takes time but you will forever get triggers in your life to remind you of that time.

I had written the lines above before I went for my stroll today .

 I had just entered the woods when I saw a regular walker sitting down having a rest. She looked tired so I asked her how she was feeling, and she told me that she was feeling  lonely because her husband had died last week, and she found it very difficult to cope with the finality of being totally alone .

Her husband was in his late eighties but despite his frailness she was not expecting him to die so suddenly. She had visited him in the Nursing home two nights before his death.  On the morning of his death she got an early morning phone call to come quickly to the nursing home.

She was happy that when she got to his bedside, he recognised her, and they conversed and said their final farewells  for half an hour . They held hands and he died peacefully.

I apologised that I had not heard about his death ,but she told me that they had a private cremation with no public  announcement of his death. I chatted with her for a while and then sauntered on, but I found it difficult to forget what she said to me about the finality and loneliness of death and particularly sudden death.

Later that day I  met another woman whose husband had died 3 weeks ago, and she spoke about the loneliness after the  death of one’s partner and the consequent living alone . She was somewhat consoled by the fact that her husband ,who was in his mid-sixties ,had been ill for some time  and the family had done some grieving prior to his death. She had met my friend above on the previous day and they had a great chat and cry. They both felt better for having shared so much emotion and feelings.

Sadly ,the above incidences are a regular occurrence in all our lives . People cope with them in their own individual way . A lot of people nowadays join bereavement groups or attend  bereavement counselling. Some take consolation in alcohol while others sadly suffer on internally and share their pain, grief, isolation and loneliness with no one.

Others attend prayer groups or join some social activity and keep busy and connected. Each person has to deal with their own individual problems in their own personal way.

The problem of loneliness has been exacerbated by the extra isolation now imposed by the Corona Virus lockdown. Many people are afraid to move outside their own doors and are experiencing extreme fear in case they catch the Corona virus. This is particularly true of people who live on their own in isolated rural areas. They have no visitors and very little social interaction except the postman or neighbour, if they are lucky enough to have one nearby.

Loneliness, of course, is not confined to people who live alone or in isolated areas.

There are many people who live very busy lives who are very lonely and vulnerable. An increasing number of people work from home and struggle with work, babysitting, school and general housework. A number of these are living in apartments never designed to be used as work and living spaces combined. Some of these people can feel very isolated and alone . They miss the buzz and the comraderies  of the office or workplace. There are  fewer social outlets for them now. Many are yearning for a return to some form of normality and a return to the workplace.

We also have many friends and others who are stranded in other countries and because of lockdown restrictions are unable to travel home .They too are experiencing isolation and loneliness.

It behoves all of us to stay connected with our families, our friends and to keep a watchful eye out for acquaintances who may be struggling with isolation and fear.

It is so sad but true that so many older people have locked themselves away and have not been shopping or socialising for months. They  see very little light at the end of a lengthening tunnel .This group is particularly vulnerable. We were apprehensive when we heard on Sunday night of the possibility of another level 5 lockdown. There was a palpable sigh of relief country  when we heard that it was only going to be a level 3 lockdown.

It is  sad to read and hear all the statistics of older people in nursing homes with restrictions on visitors ,thus making life so difficult for their families and themselves.

In my role as secretary of RTAI Wicklow with 223 members  I am  asked what I can  do to help people with social activity. Some are feeling the stress and pain of isolation and want to get moving and actively involved again after 6 months inactivity.

I ask myself what I can do personally about this and the answer is very little. I can phone up some older friends or members who are ill and ask if I can help them in any way and remind them of the services available from the National Organisation. I regularly talk with the branch Committee and send out newsletters but beyond that there is little I can do. I too am bound by level 3 restrictions and the guidance and restrictions laid down by the National Executive.

 Each individual has to take personal responsibility for themselves and ensure they do their  best to observe the rules of safety during the pandemic and stay connected.

Like all families  we try at home to have the sanitiser at all doors. We keep antiseptic wipes at strategic points around the house and wipe door handles etc regularly. Face masks are available at the front hall in case someone forgets them .We shop as little as possible and at quiet times.

As with so many people we exercise regularly and we do our level best to stay away from crowds . Hands are sanitised and washed very often. Bins are sanitised when they are brought in after emptying each week.

We ensure that we observe social distancing when we are out and about. We make a special effort to stay connected by walking on a regular basis and in uncrowded areas as much as possible.

After all that we hope we will be lucky and blessed enough to stay well and stay connected with family and friends in whatever limited way until we get a vaccine. Then and only then can we resume full social activities.

Meanwhile wash your hands, stay well and above all else stay connected to avoid loneliness and isolation. It is so important now to look after our mental as well as our physical health.


Mick O Callaghan

October 6th, 2020







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.


RTAI      Wicklow          12/04/2021                   RTAI Wicklow Branc

February Letter 2021


There are times when I just love cold and wet weather. These are the times when I need to catch up on reading and the past month has been a real bonus time for book worms.

Pre-Christmas I had read that chilling book ” The Choice” by Edith Eger about her personal Holocaust survival. This is really the most remarkable story of resilience I have ever read. It was recommended to me by a fellow reader and long-time friend. I really  felt moved and enriched by reading it.

I had also read ‘The Quiet Revolution” by Michael Shiel about rural electrification and that little gem of a book “Then there was light” by PJ Cunningham dealing with personal stories from that same era in Irish life. These are both rich social histories of a developing Ireland.

Then came Christmas and the annual Christmas presents from family members.

First up was that great book, “The Promised Land” by Barak  Obama. This was one hell of a great read during wet and dull January. It  explored his background, his upbringing, meeting Michele and finally the presidency of the US.I got really engrossed in all 700 pages of it.

I really loved that book .I felt I got to know the Obamas personally. I walked the election roads with them. I felt their pain as they struggled initially to cope with life in the White House and how they adapted to it. If you want a good read, try it out.

Now another family member presented me with an even bigger tome in the form of ‘Troubled Blood” by the one and only Robert Galbraith. This is a 927 page, highly inventive, unputdownable book as some of the blurb says.

I had read the other four books dealing with Detective Strike and his co-investigator Robin and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. In this new book, published in 2020 ,they take on a forty-year-old cold case unsolved murder involving the disappearance of a doctor. This is an absolutely riveting read. It has more twists and turns than the Healy Pass crossing over the highest peaks of the Caha mountains between Cork and Kerry. I’m sure some of you must have driven over that desolate other worldly twisting winding road when you turn of the Béara Drive and head down into Killarney. That’s how many twists there are with “Troubled Blood”, but I loved the ending.

I  isolated myself for two weeks and was quite pleased that the weather was as inclement as it was. I was blissfully unaware of Covid or educational matters. It was a great piece of escapism from our present woes.

I thought I was over escapism until I was presented with that international best seller “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins. I was attracted to this book in the first instance by the author’s  surname and that she had two children named Aoife and Clodagh. Even better was that she took part in the Rose of Tralee contest in 1993. Her husband had been one of the undocumented Irish . I was hooked straight away.

Once I read the front page,  I knew this was going to be a real page turning book . Like Ann Pratchett said ‘I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never stop thinking about it”.

John Grisham said “It’ been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with “American Dirt”.

It is a real book of our time mired in controversy . It deals with migrants from Mexico trying to cross the American border. The book deals with the issue by concentrating on a small group of people who suffered greatly in getting across. It is a book published in 2020 that somehow manages to avoid mentioning Trump while referring to “The Wall” at times. It has incurred the wrath of some Latinos and Mexican groups for an inaccurate depiction of them.

The book has had huge sales and it has also prompted people like Oprah Winfrey to promise to have more Latino writers on her book club shows .

If you want a super read, go out and borrow it or  buy it. I think you will enjoy it. I lost most of three  nights’ sleep enjoying the read. It was worth it all.

I shall treasure the nice memories I have from reading and writing during the restricted and socially deprived lockdown periods.

Now I am looking forward to reading Graham Norton’s  latest book “Home Stretch” and also, Gwen Florio’s latest book  “Best Laid Plans”. I have known the Florio family for the past 40 years and admire Gwen’s books and her nominated pieces from her war correspondent days. I blogged a piece on the family some time ago.

I also have “ The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig lined up.

Edith Eger’s other book “The Gift” is in the house and I believe it is a great read. I think that should bring me up to the end of the present and hopefully last lockdown.

I also dip in and out of two little history books “The History of Celbridge “ by my old friend, Tony Doohan, and “The Windswept Shore, A History of The Courtown District” by Anna Kinsella.

Meanwhile we had to give the lawns their first cut this week and various flowerpots had to be refreshed after the winter battering and some new violas were planted to give a bit of colour to the window boxes.

While I was absorbed in my reading binge mother nature has  some lovely crocus and daffodils in bloom. The hydrangeas are budding nicely too. The little “Tete a Tete” dwarf daffodils are making their presence felt too.

The Hostas, likewise are venturing to shoot up some early greenery

The Brunnera Jack Frost has thrown out a few nice leaves  and some blue flowers.

 Our Camelias have some lovely red and white flowers adorning them and bringing their dark green foliage to life. Yes! spring is in the air.

The reading, writing, gardening,  regular beach and wood walking should keep me busy till May 2021 when we should be vaccinated and liberated somewhat.

Stay well, stay safe and continue doing whatever it is keeps you active and motivated.


We will survive and as I said previously Evelyn has booked Tinakilly House for our Christmas dinner on December 7th to give us all something to look forward to.

Billy Sheehan, our National Secretary has accepted an invitation to attend.


We have got to be optimistic and positive in our lives so let’s plan ahead with hope in our hearts. As they say in that great 1945 show tune from “Carousel”  “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm, There’s a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone.

This song has become an anthem for medical staff, first responders, and those in quarantine during the current Corona virus pandemic. Let it be our anthem too.

Gura fada faoi bhláth sibh uilig gan easpa ar bhúr sláinte.

Slán go fóill agus beir bua.                        Mick O Callaghan.   24/02/2021               

Christmas Newsletter 2020

Covid or not we definitely have Christmas in the air. The Shops have a Christmas glow about them, and the streets have a brighter look about them with The Christmas streetlights are all aglow .

It will however be a Christmas with a difference. I am old enough to remember Christmas seasons for over half a century and it is interesting to compare them.

I can remember both my grandparents houses and their Christmas preparations . There was a big emphasis on baking and having all the ingredients to bake cakes and plum puddings.

Around the end September my grandma, clad in her wrap around shawl, and granddad would yoke up the pony and trap. Their destination was Maddens shop in Tralee to buy the  sack of white flour, currants, raisins and whatever other ingredients were necessary for baking cakes and bread. At this time all bread and cake were home baked in  the range as rural electrification had not fully hit the area.

After Maddens they headed for the tobacconist to buy the plug tobacco for my grandfather’s pipe. The final stop was Godley’s bar to buy the  couple of bottles of  Whiskey. They then toddled away back home because the big bulk of the Christmas  shopping was done and dusted.

The cakes  and puddings had to be baked no later than ”Halloween”so that they would have settled down and had absorbed all the flavours by Christmas. They would have been given dosages of whiskey, porter and rum to help their preservation .

 My grandparent’s lives were simple and their big event was midnight Mass on Christmas Eve’. The Christmas goose was a big Xmas dinner item.

 In my youth things had changed considerably. Christmas trees were becoming more popular. Putting up the crib was a big event.

  I do remember that if you wanted a bike or trike you had to order it months in advance or it was no deal. Caballs shops in Tralee did a bumper trade. We had no Amazons or Smyths Toys, or Toy master. All the toys and bikes were bought in one of the 3 Caball’s shops in Tralee.

My father always insisted on sending Brian O Higgins Irish Christmas cards with the message as Gaeilge and each card had to have a religious and Celtic symbol. Many years later I am sending  the same type of card. I had a school mate who was a member of the KIltegan missionaries and each Christmas he would land at the school and I bought the cards. That is many years ago, but I am reluctant to break the link even though Fr. Tom is dead for the last few years.

At home there was an annual list of family and friends in Ireland and abroad to whom cards had to be posted. This list was stored away by my father and withdrawn from a drawer in the first week of December. The cards were duly written with a letter enclosed in each one of them. This exercise could go on for a week. Then they were all checked and posted together. I loved that ritual and still do exactly as he did.

Now the next great event was the shopping list. This was our online shopping. We had no supermarkets and were dependant on a few grocery shops. Our grocery shop of choice was Mikey Connors. He was somehow related to my mother, but my father didn’t like his political affiliations . Anyway, Mikeys was the shop of choice . He insisted that you had to have your Christmas shopping list in by the second week in December to ensure delivery for Christmas . Big Pat Sullivan was the van driver who delivered all the messages . They were way ahead  of online shopping. He arrived and put all the messages on the table and then sat down and had a cuppa. Living was easy going enough and of course he got his Christmas box. We also got our loyalty bonus in the form of a Christmas cake and a bottle of Sandeman port whether you liked it or not. So, the shopping was always delivered on time.

The Christmas post was another great event. We had  relations in England and America and the cards and letters were eagerly awaited and read by all. They were the annual family census reporting births, marriages and deaths in the greater family for the year.

There was fun too in the delivery of these letters. We had the same  postman all my life .He was a great character, but his Christmas round was a bit arduous because he was a bit fond of the crature. Our house was the last on the line and all he wanted to do was sit down and rest which he often did . My  father offered him a tipple which he duly scoffed off. Then he might shake out the bag on the table to make sure everything was delivered. I often ran around to deliver a few cards . No one minded because it was l in the spirit of Christmas.

Then we had the Christmas turkey. My father always got a big bronze turkey from a friend, but it had to be cleaned and plucked. We had a local turkey plucker named Tandy Savage. Tandy  was quite fond of the cratur and was always very busy around Christmas plucking turkeys. He had his clients and went from house to house plucking his trade. Tandy would take a break to have his half whiskey and bottle of porter. He would  be nicely when he arrived at our house and he told yarns or played the spoons. It was an annual Tandy show.

He moved on when he got his dosh for his endeavours . He was truly one of the great characters along with his neighbour and friend Ned Kelleher.

They were exciting times and we had mighty Christmases with great people around us.

The Christmas period was always an important time for family visitation. We had to pay courtesy calls to the grannies and other relations around, but one visit was always special . We visited my uncle and his wife, and they reciprocated. `They had a passion for playing cards and their house was a base for Blennerville card games for the Christmas turkeys.

They came to our house for supper on St Stephens night. Once supper was over there was a visible restlessness until we started the card game of 31, playing in pairs. I knew very little about cards and there were  often a few raised voices when I struck down my partner. This was my annual experience in the delicate art of card playing.

I must say I enjoyed the Christmas period . This started with the youngest member of the family lighting the big red Christmas candles in the windows on Christmas eve . It extended on till Nollaig na mBan on the sixth of January which was always celebrated in Kerry as Little Christmas or Women’s Christmas. The menfolk had to do all the work and cooking on that day. It is still  a festival party event which is celebrated in sell out events in hotels in Kerry.

Christmas is far more commercialised now, but we still embrace it as a nice family time.

Christmas Wishes

Now as we virtually close down the years activities , I am glad to see the end of 2020. It was without doubt a very stressful and challenging year for all of us. We faced challenges ,lockdowns and a pandemic unknown to previous generations. We waited anxiously each evening to hear the latest number of cases and deaths.

We all hope that the year ahead will be a better one for all of us. Let us hope the various vaccines will become available early in the new year. I hope by then that we can all get back to some freedom to roam and socialise again. I hope you all stay well and stay healthy. Take care of yourselves and stay connected.

I wish all our members a very happy, healthy, peaceful Christmas season and look forward with hope to working with you all next year when we can roam the Wicklow hills again.

 le gach dea-ghui I gcomhair na Nollag agus na hAthbhliana                  

Mick O Callaghan[Secretary]








RTAI Annual Convention, 2020 - Photo

Michael O Callaghan Secretary RTAI Wicklow
Matt Reville, president RTAI
John Boyle Secretary INTO
John Connor Chairperson Wicklow
At RTAI Annual Convention, held in the Gresham Hotel Dublin, on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020.

Branch Newsletter - September 2020
It’s moving on in September and we are no closer to resuming activities than we were when I last corresponded with ye in August. We are all aware of the rising incidences of Covid 19 in our areas and so we will continue to observe the regulations and await instructions from the HSE and head office of RTAI before we start organising any event. 
We are hearing stories about the demise of  the  Christmas party and if we are advised not to proceed with this event we will be abiding by the advice. We will keep you all posted in our October newsletter.
I thank the 5 members who have sent  me  their change of email address from eircom.net to another free provider. If you are changing  your contact details please let me know.
During the lockdown period and since then some of our members have fallen ill and continue to suffer pain and distress. Other members feel the pain of loneliness.I thank those people who shared their stories with me in writing and on the phone. I wish any of our members who are ill or suffering in any way a speedy recovery to health and happiness.If I can be of any help please contact me by mail on rtaiwicklow @ gmail.com or by phone call or text to 08770612072.
In previous newsletters I referred to our National website  www.rtaireland.ie 
This is full of information for members and once again I refer you to the Services section and the first section is titled  “inspire”
This is a counselling service with private discreet counselling rooms located throughout Ireland and all appointments are arranged to suit you. All Inspire counsellors are fully qualified and experienced in a wide range of issues. The first three sessions are free to RTAI members Inspire can be contacted on 1800409673.
If you have any pension or other queries please contact head office on 012454130 or email info@rtaireland.ie
I have continued my musings and blogging for my own and your amusement and they can be viewed on  http://caldun09.wixsite.com/website
If there is anyone else out there blogging or writing poetry please let me know and we may be able to share it with members.
Meanwhile stay well and stay connected
New Year Message 2021

RTAI Wicklow.       Email:rtaiwicklow@gmail.com             Mobile:0870612072


Dear members of Wicklow Branch RTAI

Greetings to you all and welcome to another year with RTAI Wicklow. At the outset I would like to thank the many members who sent me Christmas and New Year greetings by way of cards, e-cards, email, text messages and Whatsapp  messages. I was unable to reply personally to them all. Please accept this collective thank you very much. I really appreciated them all.

Each year brings on a different word, a different way of describing how we should behave and keep ourselves safe and well. We have gone from mindfulness to wellbeing to our latest one which is resilience.

I really liked the mindfulness stage of my life. I embraced this fully and bought books and read all about it. I walked along the beach and sat down on the rocks listening to all the sounds of the sea, the waves , the seagulls and the water washing up on the shingle . I was lost in that moment in time and I found it all very relaxing . Each day I did it  I felt refreshed and renewed. Now I have absorbed mindfulness and it is part of my lifestyle and living.

I have always been, particularly in latter years, conscious of my well-being. I like to exercise regularly, eat well and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I also get up early every day. I  start my days  Monday to Friday with a Joe Wicks exercise routine. This is an excellent start to any day. After breakfast, fortified with my vitamins and D3 getting my daily 3000 iu of vitamin D, I try to fit in a brisk walk as part of my daily target of walking 10000 steps.  I try to confine myself to three meals a day with no snacks in between. This is my own self designed well-being programme to help me stay reasonably healthy and Covid 19 free.

Re the last paragraph you might  read the  excellent article “Nurturing the body during the winter” by Gaye Godkin on pages 11/12 of the latest issue of “Comhnasc”.

Continuing my own personal odyssey, I also ask myself on a daily basis a simple question “Is what I am doing today helping or harming me”? [Lucy Hone] We can all continue to ask ourselves that question as we progress on life’s journey.

Since the start of the pandemic life has definitely changed for all of us. I have heard  the word  Resilience used a lot in conversation and in newspaper articles about the pandemic.

 I remember hearing it in school. If children  got injured in sport or had an accident people would say that they were young and had great resilience and would bounce back quickly.

I was reading a TED talk by Lucy Hone ,director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience. She says that “ If you are alive you will deal with some tough times”. She was speaking as part of “How to be a better human being” series of TED talks.

Hone had studied in Pennsylvania University in the USA but returned to her native New  Zealand to pursue her doctoral studies on resilience. On her return the massive earthquakes hit Christ Church , causing utter devastation and there were many deaths . She devoted all her energies to helping people devise resilience and  survival strategies.

She had done the studying and knew all the strategies to be resilient but in 2014 personal tragedy struck . Her 12-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. Suddenly she changed from being an expert to being a grieving mother struggling to cope. She accepted all the differing shades of advice and leaflets she got from many quarters. In the end she decided to go on her own journey of resilience and recovery .She survived her personal family tragedy. She had resilience, she was flexible in her approach to life and she had survival strategies. She believed that resilience came from Nature, Nurture and Culture.

This holds true for all of us and never more so than in the present Covid 19 crisis we are engaging with and that is so dominating our lives.

I remember when I was ill myself some years ago that I had down days. Well meaning people would come up to you and say, “you are very negative today, You must be more resilient ,come on and look on the bright side, you are on the way to recovery”. I was well able to look on the bright side, but you just cannot diminish the bad days. The negatives must have equal rating with the good until you personally see a recovery or improvement.

It is an entirely different story with Covid 19. We are being bombarded every day with stricter lockdowns, record numbers of new cases, more people in ICU, more people dying.  There are very few happy stories emerging from NPHET, hospitals or nursing homes.

 People are worried.Now we are being  told to stay indoors, avoid shops as much as possible , don’t socialise. It is fine to tell us that the end of the pandemic is nigh with the arrival of vaccines. That is still a while away. The media in general focus more on the negatives of Covid .We need to hear more of the good news recovery stories. The general covid cases are in the minor scale . Most people do not have to go to hospital and the vast majority recover with no ill  effects.

There is no point in denying that we are all living in tough times. Our resilience or bounce back function is under stress and our internal servers are unable to cope with the workload.

We now see and hear people saying how vulnerable they are, how lonely and isolated they feel. Some people  say they  can’t take much more. Some people are starting to get stressed  and worried about their future.

Older people however have the wisdom of their lifetime experiences. They have resilience after a lifetime of dealing with the ups and downs of life ,many having bounced back from personal difficulties in their lives. We are also lucky that we did not live in in the quick fix instant gratification era. Patience, endurance and waiting are ingrained in our DNA.

We must continue to obey the rules, wash our hands, observe social distancing, stay connected, avoid the blame game and look after ourselves. We look ahead for the finishing line and the end of Covid 19.When we eventually cross that line it will be  ourselves who will be the big winners. We will get  our freedom to roam and socialise back again.

 Luckily, we do not have to go to work and struggle with juggling work/home and child minding on a daily basis.We hope we will return to living a more normal lifestyle in the not-too distant future, strengthened in mind and body.

We will be even  more resolved to push ahead with our RTAI Wicklow walking group, talks and social events in 2021 and beyond.

We can thank the wonderful scientific and medical minds in  Pfizer/BioNTech, Astra Zeneca and Moderna  for major fast-tracked vaccines.

Before I finish, I give you a quote from George Bananno, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, New  York. “Two thirds of people who are exposed to adversity cope well. It doesn’t mean that people breeze through it. It is within our ability to endure”

I also hope you are all  coping well. I also hope  you and your families have survived the worst of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020. Our fervent wish is  that we will see vaccines soon and see a clear road ahead on our journey through life.

Bliain nua faoi mhaise dhaoibh go léir.I hope you all have a happy, healthy  Year in 2021

PS :Remember also  to read pages 23/24/29/33 of Comhnasc for writings from Wicklow branch members. Our website is rtaireland.ie and you can follow us on the Branches/Wicklow page. My blog address is http://caldun09.wixsite.com/website

Mick O Callaghan        Secretary Wicklow Branch RTAI          12/01 2021



Newsletter March 2020 - Outline of main Events for Planned for the Year

The RTAI Wicklow Branch Committee met in Chester Beatty’s in Ashford on Wednesday, 5th of February. The following is a summary of decisions reached in relation to the year ahead: 

  1. National RTAI Convention: John Connor and Mick O’Callaghan to attend National RTAI convention on Tuesday, 3rd of March and will feed back to members in due course.
  2. First Tour of 2020: Our first tour of the year will be to Blessington and Russborough House on May 12th. The branch will pay for bus and entry fee along with the tip for driver. Our tour guide, Paul Tyrrell, will bring us on a historical tour of Blessington followed by some free time for tea and coffee. In the afternoon, we will go on a guided tour of the house and gallery. Once again there will free time for meals and conversation. Member’s contribution will be 10 euro each. Full details will be shared in April. Check out https://www.rtaireland.ie/branches/wicklow/ for further updates.
  3. Summer Meeting: Our summer meeting will be held in the Pastoral Centre on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Church on June 10th at 10.00. This will also be the starting point for our Historical walk of Wicklow town with John Finlay starting at 11.00 and finishing with refreshments/food in The Bridge Bar. John is a member of RTAI Wicklow and assures us the walking element will be easy. Eibhlin Kinsella is the organiser here.
  4. September Tour: We are proposing a guided tour of Dublin Castle, Chester Beattys Library at the end of September. We will pay for bus, tips, entry fee to Castle, and Chester Beatty’s Library. City Hall and Temple Bar are in the vicinity here and we will give discretionary time to shop, browse, eat or sip coffee. Full details will be issued in August.
  5. Christmas 2020 Meeting: Our Christmas meeting and dinner will be held in Tinakilly House again this year on December 9th. Our General Secretary Billy Sheehan will be attending. We are currently researching speakers based on your feedback and will share detailed agenda later in the year. As last year’s Christmas meeting / dinner cost approx. 45 euros per person, we are considering increasing the member’s contribution for the 2020 Christmas meeting / dinner to 20 euros per person.  
  6. Walking Group: We have started a walking group, coordinated by John Connor and Stephanie McDonald. Walks will be of varying difficulties. At the moment we have the first walk planned for The Devils Glen on March 4t meeting at the car park at 9.45am. Please contact John by mail at johnconnor3101@gmail.com or text 0860824318. The walk will start at 10.00am.
  7. RTAI Website: Geraldine Lynch is currently investigating the possibility of setting up our own dedicated website for RTAI Wicklow.
  8. New RTAI Wicklow Branch Members: We are appealing to all existing members to recruit new members. We plan to write to INTO Branch Secretaries in March to determine who is retiring in Co. Wicklow this year. Membership forms can be obtained from any branch committee member or online at rtaireland.ie under the join us section.
  9. Pension / Social Welfare Queries: The branch officers deal with tours and events only for members. Please do not ring branch committee members with queries relating to pensions, social welfare entitlements etc. as they are not qualified to answer them. For this service you must ring RTAI Head Office which is open daily from 9.00am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 4.30pm. If you ring in the morning your query will be replied to in the afternoon. The telephone number is 012454130.
  10. Counselling: This service, which is available to all members, is operated by ‘Inspire’, a team of fully qualified professional counsellors. You can ring them on 1800409673 in confidence or go to their website inspirewellbeing.org. 
  11. Current Membership: Our membership now stands at 220 as of 2nd of March 2020. Please refer to https://www.rtaireland.ie/branches/wicklow/ for additional updates and information.
  12. Branch Committee this year:

John Connor – Chair

Mick O’Callaghan – Secretary

Eibhlin Kinsella – Treasurer

Stephanie McDonald – Vice Chair

Kitty O’Connell and Geraldine Lynch – Committee Members

Yours Sincerely,

Mick O’Callaghan


Contact details:

Web: https://www.rtaireland.ie/branches/wicklow/

Email: rtaiwicklow@gmail.com

Mobile: 0870612072

Preview of Branch Activities and Events 2020

The Annual RTAI convention will be held in Dublin on March 3rd with John and myself attending on your behalf.

March 4th. . The launch of our walking group with a walk in the Devils Glen starting at 10.00

Walking tour of Wicklow town in May /June is in the planning stage

MAY 12  Historical guided tour of Blessington and visit to Russborough

June branch meeting to be arranged

September 17th Branch Secretary’s conference in Dublin which I will be attending

End of September /beginning of October; Visit to Chester Beatty Library and Dublin Castle . Proposed date  Sept 26th but this may change slightly

Christmas AGM and dinner on December 9th in Tinakilly House Hotel . Billy Sheehan will be attending.

We will have a couple of guest  speakers during the year and we will post these up as soon as we finalise details

There will be other walks arranged and I will keep you posted as soon as I get details

Please stay in touch with us through following the Wicklow page on rtaireland.ie


Regards and best wishes to you all


Mick O Callaghan




Wicklow Branch RTAI

Wicklow Branch Inaugural Walk, 4 March 2020 Report

The inaugural walk of Wicklow Branch RTAI was held in the Devils Glen , Ashford, Co Wicklow on Wednesday March 4th and a great 22 members turned up on a cold but bright March morning in the hills overlooking Ashford.

It was mighty to see such an attendance start off the walk organised by our Chairman John Connor and vice chair Stephanie Mc Donald who also led the walk. We were lucky to have such a clear day and the view from the top was wonderful .

Afterwards we rolled down into Chester Beatty’s in Ashford for some socialising and refreshments.

I want to thank John and Stephanie for organising this event . We all really enjoyed the walk and appreciate your efforts in preparing it.    

Our next walk will be on March 25th at 10.00 am

We will be walking in Glenmalure and our walk leader will be Ciaran Byrne .

Ciaran will give me details of exact venue, parking arrangements etc and I will post them here for  you all and in addition I will inform you all by email

Below is a gallery of photos taken on our inaugural walk:      (To enlarge a photo, simply click on it!)


Mick O Callaghan

Launch of Walking Group - Inaugural Walk, March 4th, 2020

We have had very positive feedback to our request for expressions of interest in our Walking Group for RTAI Wicklow members . John Connor, Chairperson and Stephanie Mc Donald, vice chair have both been working on it and are ready to launch with the first walk on March 4th.

Venue;  Devils Glen, Ashford assembling at 9.45 for a 10 am start. Stephanie has kindly offered to lead this walk

Clothing; Please wear appropriate walking gear, have walking shoes or boots, rain-gear and walking poles would also be helpful

Snacks; Everyone should bring their own water and chosen snack

Sign in: All  Walkers will be asked to sign in at the start and sign out at the end

Meeting Point:The carpark at the entrance to the wood at 9.45 as already stated

Dogs: No dogs are allowed for reasons of safety

Meeting: We hope to have a brief meeting at the start to chat about. / frequency of walks / walks in south /north/ east or west Wicklow / Best day for walks /leaders for walks / walks that would be suitable for all members

People will also have an opportunity to discuss the above topics while walking and report back to John and Stephanie to assist with future planning.

We are really excited about this new venture and look forward to walking and trekking through the Garden Of Ireland

If you need any clarification on any of the above please  contact John at johnconnor3101@gmail.com or on 0860824318

If you intend walking please contact John  by email so that we will have an idea of the numbers involved.

I hope the weather will be kind and that we have a good response on the day 

As secretary I , on behalf of all members , thank John and Stephanie for starting up this group  and wish them well

MIck O’Callaghan, Branch Secretary


Wicklow Branch held its AGM in Tinakilly House Hotel on Wednesday Dec11th with 75 members attending.

The day started at 10.30 with complimentary teas and coffees in the tea rooms

At 11.15 we moved to one of the function rooms to start proceedings.


Officers Elected:

Chairperson:John Connor                           Secretary: Mick O Callaghan

Treasurer:   Eibhlin Kinsella                        Vice chair:     Stephanie Mc Donald

Honorary Auditors: Kitty O Connell  and  Geraldine Lynch

Motion For Convention;

That the members contribution to Solidarity be raised from 2 to 3 euros.


In attendance were Mary Mc Carthy NEC RTAI who spoke about what good branches do

Billy Sheehan our National Secretary spoke about pension increases

Mick O Callaghan asked members to recruit newly retired teachers into the Branch. He also mentioned the Solidarity Fund and how members could apply

The Treasurer Eibhlin Kinsella presented a very healthy set of accounts for the year after a very busy year’s activities.

Our guest speaker was Gaye Godkin, Consultant Nutrionist who advised on improving our DIET, as we grow older.

There was plenty of food for thought in this address

I have been asked for address and phone numbers to contact her and I refer you For further details to  her WEBSITE, which you can access by clicking HERE

After all the talking we adjourned to the luxury of Tinakily house restauant where all 75 tucked into the Christmas Dinner, followed by an evening of great chat and comraderie

A memorable day was had by all

All that remains now is to wish you all a very happy healthy Christmas and we will see you all in the New Year


Mick O’Callaghan


Below is a selection of photos taken at the AGM and the Christmas dinner.

Simply click on a photo to enlarge it!


Wicklow Branch AGM – Secretary’s Report for 2019

As we come to the end of another calendar year I look back on the objectives we have achieved together and feel a great sense of pride and gratitude. I often ask myself what is the purpose of RTAI Wicklow and I am sure you all have your own thoughts and ideas. We play a multi-faceted role for our members. We have a social and support role. We keep in touch with fellow retirees. I am always grateful to be able to work with such a great group of people, trying to improve our conditions in pension, quality of life and social life. Two years ago we set out to develop a contact information system for our members in order to store e-mail addresses and phone numbers for all members. We now have 214 members, 190 of those with e-mail addresses receiving regular correspondence. 


So what did we do during the year to improve our member’s lives? We started off the year in Feb with a committee meeting to plan the year’s meetings and tours continuing the theme of annual cultural tours and health talks for our members. On March 4th and 5th, Kitty O’Connell and myself attended the Convention in the Gresham Hotel, which was very stimulating and enjoyable. On Tuesday May 7th as part of our West Wicklow meetings we went on tour to the Japanese Gardens and National Stud. This was a lovely summer day. There was a great social aspect with a nice meal in the beautiful Japanese Gardens Restaurant followed by some retail therapy in Kildare Village. On June 12th for our health promotion talk we had Sabina Brennan in Tinakilly House who gave a very thought provoking address on keeping our brains young, preventing dementia, and improving our physical and mental health. 

September 18th and 19th I was in Dublin for the Secretary’s Conference in the Gresham Hotel to keep us focussed on issues affecting us. On Sept 26th we had a Committee meeting to plan the Dail tour, Christmas dinner and looking at planning for 2020 events. On October 16th we had coffee and culture in the National Art Gallery followed by a grand tour of the Dail. We were lucky we had such a beautiful summer day and had a nice time in the Dail and restaurant. This was a particularly relaxing sociable day for, friendly chat and getting to know people and of course the odd photo with TDs on the plinth of the Dail finishing with another bit of retail in the Kilkenny Shop. On December 11th we continued on our health promotion with a talk by Gaye Godkin, Consultant Nutrionist on eating properly as we age to stay healthy.



It was a very busy year with lots of e-mails, phone calls and newsletters and trying to recruit recent retirees. If you know of any retirees please encourage them to join. They can get a form from me or go to the rtaireland.ie website and press join on the home page. We need all the newly retired teachers to become members to keep the branch alive and vibrant.



I would like to thank my wife Margaret for her constant patience and advice and being my general editor. I thank the branch committee for their support and in particular to Eibhlin Kinsella and Kitty O’Connell for their patience dedication and thoroughness in everything they do. 

 I thank you the members for all your courtesy and support and your willingness to come out to events and meetings and really enjoy yourselves. I thank Billy and head office staff, Siobhan and Patricia and our National website manager Mick Mangan who makes sure our webpage looks well at all times

Billy has been and is a dynamic transformational leader. You just have to be inspired by his energy and enthusiasm. He has turned RTAI into a modern forward thinking organisation raising the profile of retired teachers and their pension conditions. It was Billy who spearheaded the forming of RTAI into A Company Limited by Guarantee, which protects us all in the work we do. I post any new notices on our Wicklow Branch page on the www.rtaireland.ie website so I ask you please you follow that for accounts and photographs of past events and any future events we have planned.



Finally, I ask you the members to remember for a few moments those members who died during the year: John Fleming Feb 13, Monina Nagle Wicklow, March5, Maureen Doyle Roundwood, March 28 Ann Lott Arklow May 24, Con Cunningham Bray June 7th Teresa Mc Carthy, Arklow September 13, Frances Allen Donard, October 24th.


Suaimhneas siorai ar a nanmnacha uilig.

RTAI Wicklow Summer Tour - May 7th 2019 - Photo Gallery


Wicklow members of RTAI enjoyed a great day out on tour to The National Stud, St. Fiachra’s and Japanese Gardens on Tuesday May 7th.

 The sun shone brightly for the occasion and everyone had a great day. This was followed by a lovely meal in the Japanese Gardens restaurant.

 Finally it was time for some retail therapy in Kildare Village and then the long journey home after an excellent outing to Kildare.

 It was a very friendly relaxed day where all involved really enjoyed the day out, as can be seen from the photos below:

(To see a photo in detail, just click on it.)




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


Mick O'Callaghan


Evelyn Kinsella


Kitty O Connell & Geraldine Lynch

Branch Auditors

Contact Us

Michael: 087-0612072