Ceol, caint, agus craic i Múscraí

Irish Examiner - County - - News -

here’s mu­sic, song, sto­ry­telling and dance; there’s com­pany, con­ver­sa­tion, craic and a four-course din­ner served ev­ery day.

Add a se­lec­tion of day trips, health­care, ex­er­cise classes, gar­den­ing, and bingo, plus cross­words and colour­ing for those of a qui­eter dis­po­si­tion, and two com­mu­nity day cen­tres in the Múscraí Gaeltacht would seem to have most things cov­ered.

How­ever, there is one im­por­tant thing miss­ing from the fa­cil­i­ties in Baile Mhúirne and Cill na Mar­tra, just six miles apart, and that’s clien­tele.

Since their cus­tomers are pre­dom­i­nantly — though not ex­clu­sively — el­derly, pe­ri­odic de­clines in ser­vice us­age are part and par­cel of the op­er­a­tion of these and many other day cen­tres, par­tic­u­larly in sparsely-pop­u­lated ru­ral ar­eas.

Cois Cille in Cill na Mar­tra which opened in 2006 and Ionad Lae Baile Mhúirne, in op­er­a­tion since 2010, are there­fore ex­tend­ing an in­vi­ta­tion to mem­bers of the lo­cal com­mu­nity to come and try out the fa­cil­i­ties for them­selves, with a view to in­creas­ing the num­ber of clients.

Máire Uí Riordáin, day cen­tre man­ager, ex­plained some of the causes for the drop in de­mand: “Our clients are get­ting older; they’re go­ing into homes, they’re pass­ing away, or they’re just un­able to come out any­more — these are the rea­sons.”

Din­ner is served Mon­day to Fri­day in the two cen­tres, at 12.30pm in Cill na Mar­tra, and 1pm in Baile Mhúirne, and a minibus is avail­able to col­lect those us­ing the cen­tres, while a home de­liv­ery ser­vice of­fers meals to el­derly peo­ple in their own homes.

“We have a hot four-course meal on a daily ba­sis, five days a week, but you can come two days, three days, one day - you’re not tied to the five days,” said Máire.

But she pointed out that while the pro­vi­sion of hot meals is an es­sen­tial and val­ued ser­vice, the day cen­tres also have far more to of­fer se­nior mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

“I think peo­ple feel that be­cause their nu­tri­tional needs are met, they don’t see that their so­cial needs could be en­hanced as well. But go­ing out to some­thing and meet­ing peo­ple — the so­cial as­pect - is a big part of it.”

En­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to try out the so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer sooner, rather than later in life, she said: “There’s no point in wait­ing un­til you’re not able to do stuff for your­self.

“Now is the time, like get­ting your glasses or your hear­ing aid — don’t be wait­ing un­til it’s gone too far.”

Above all, she said, what was to be gained by fre­quent­ing a day cen­tre was com­pan­ion­ship. “Meet­ing peo­ple on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The friend­ships that have de­vel­oped be­tween the peo­ple that have been com­ing is phe­nom­e­nal. You couldn’t imag­ine it. They visit each other and they share books, mag­a­zines, ev­ery­thing.”

Gar­den­ing is a pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity as Baile Mhúirne’s Ionad Lae, where such was the suc­cess of the fa­cil­ity’s green­house last year than some of the se­nior cit­i­zens won hor­ti­cul­tural prizes by ex­hibit­ing their pro­duce at the an­nual Baile Mhúirne/Cúil Aodha Show.

The cen­tres also of­fer light ‘chairo­bic’ ex­er­cises, colour­ing and art ac­tiv­i­ties, plus a pop­u­lar sco­raíocht, which takes place on the sec­ond Thurs­day of each month in Cill na Mar­tra, the next be­ing on May 10, and in Baile Mhúirne on the last Thurs­day of the month.

“The fun and laugh­ter that goes on is just great, as a re­sult of the sto­ries and jokes that are told,” said Máire.

This year’s day trips and ex­cur­sions be­gin this month with trips to Tubrid Well near Mill­street, a gar­den cen­tre, and Gougane Barra al­ready on the agenda for the sum­mer.

“Our out­ings gen­er­ally end up with a sco­raíocht some­where,” said Máire. “Peo­ple give recita­tions, sing a song and to be in­cluded is a big part of it.”

Aside from the jol­lity of their so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, the day cen­tres also of­fer tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits for the wel­fare of se­nior cit­i­zens, pro­vid­ing a reg­u­lar point of con­tact and health ser­vices such as a vis­it­ing chi­ropodist.

“They have the se­cu­rity of be­ing able to have a chat with a staff mem­ber if they have a prob­lem or a worry about some­thing,” Máire said.

The de­liv­ery of meals to se­nior cit­i­zens at home sim­i­larly pro­vides more than sim­ply hot din­ners, she added.

“It means that there’s some­body call­ing to the house on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Our de­liv­ery peo­ple have of­ten called to a house and found a per­son after fall­ing.

“Some­one would ring the next of kin, and if there’s no next of kin we’d have their doc­tor’s de­tails.”

Comh­lacht Tithe Sóisialta agus For­bairt an tSuláin, the vol­un­tary group re­spon­si­ble for build­ing both cen­tres, also op­er­ates so­cial hous­ing units ad­ja­cent to the day cen­tres in Baile Mhúirne and Cill na Mar­tra, and cur­rently has a small num­ber of units avail­able to new oc­cu­pants — a op­por­tu­nity that may be too good to miss for any­one keen to be closer to all the ac­tion in Cois Cille and Ionad Lae Baile Mhúirne.

Day cen­tre clients en­joy a day trip to The Farm at Gre­nagh.

Danc­ing at the sco­raíocht in Cois Cille day cen­tre, Cill na Mar­tra.

Danc­ing at the sco­raíocht in Cill na Mar­tra.

A quiz in progress at the Ionad Lae in Baile Mhúirne.

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