From the Paraffin Oil Lamp to the World Wide Web!

When we first formed the Ballinasloe Active Retirement Association we resolved to have a broad-based programme of activities that we hoped would meet all the health, social and recreational needs of older people who, for one reason or another, are no longer working full-time.
Not long after that there was a television programme on the BBC, where, as a social experiment, computers were given to a small number of older persons living in a small town in the North of England who were not computer literate but were given individual tuition in how to cope with modern technology.
Six months later, when they were re-visited for a response, they were absolutely delighted with what they had achieved and with the fact that they were now exposed to a whole new world of which previously they had known very little
Well, we thought, if they can do it, we can do it! So, with the help and co-operation of the Employment Centre in Ballinasloe, we organised a class for absolute beginners, most of whom had never sat in front of a computer previously. Under the patient tuition of a marvellous tutor, Mrs Veronica Murphy, we went back to school.
It was nerve-racking, it was exciting, it was stimulating and bit by bit we began to lose our fear of a computer. Not alone did we begin to learn from Veronica, we also began to learn from each other.
Not that long after, Mr Brendan Smith of the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), got in touch with our group with a view to a further introduction to modern technology. Brendan is a self-professed technology advocate of the benefits of modern methods of communication for all, particularly for the disadvantaged.
He is an Outreach Officer with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUIG and is totally committed to showing people of all walks of life the advantages and possibilities of the World Wide Web and how it can improve the quality of life for all.
A graduate of the university and a former President of the Students Union back in the early eighties, he is passionate about the spread of the use of the Internet as a vast source of knowledge and as a method of communication in so many ways, including international phone calls at minimal cost.
In the months that followed, through his patient tuition, we learned about the Internet, about blogging, about emailing , about Facebook and telephone calls via Skype as well as how to attach photos with emails. During the classes it also emerged that we could be part of an important cultural heritage as we had lived through an era, in the thirties and forties, where social, cultural values and lifestyles were vastly different from life today.
He says that no generation has ever lived through such change as our age group and he urged that we participate in a programme combining new technology with our social cultural and natural heritage. He arranged that he would record a number of individual interviews where each person would give a personal account of life during those years. All this was done for a project he entitled Fado-Fado. The completed audio recordings as well as the myriad of old photographs collected for the project were placed onto a DVD and a website at for the world to enjoy.
This wonderful heritage production was supported by Galway County Council, Galway Education Centre, the National Centre for Technology, DERI and the Galway Heritage Council. The project was officially launched in April in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe at a function organised by Marie Mannion, Heritage Officer for the county council. It was a marvellous success. None of this would have been possible without the help, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of Brendan Smith and the Outreach programme who made all of this possible.
It must be remembered that we were a class of elderly persons, most of whom were in their sixties and seventies, many of whom had gone to school in era long before rural electrification, when there was no telephones, no television, no electric cookers and when people generally led a vastly simpler way of life.
Our members grew up in an era where our parents had lived through the Great War and had seen the foundation of the State; we lived through the economic struggles of the thirties, forties and fifties, in what has been called the ‘era of the paraffin oil lamp’. When we then look at the challenges that young people face today, of unemployment, traffic jams, road rage, global warming, financial insecurity and a multiplicity of other problems, it seems like we are looking at another planet!
By Jim Crehan, Ballinasloe Active Retirement Group

Activities Weekly

Ballinasloe Active Retirement Association
Activities Timetable 2009
Monthly meetings for all members : 1st Wednesday of every month @ 3pm in Gael Scoil Ard Mhuire.
Informal meetings (tea/coffee/chat) every other Wednesday @ 3pm in the Shearwater Hotel
Courses, Creative and learning programmes, informative talks are arranged throughout the year.
As “Be Active, Be Healthy” remains out motto, members are encouraged to participate in the activity of there choice
Enquiries to : Margaret Mc Donnell, Hon. Secretary. Phone: 090-9646467 or Chris O’Flynn ( Social Secretary). Phone: 090-9642870

See detailed timetable in blog.

Our Summer Party 2009

On June 3rd. 2009 our members met for our last meeting of the summer. A short meeting was held. The winners of the photo comp. were Chris O’Flynn - (A lady on an old fashioned bicycle) & Kaye killeen - (Two horses feeding from one bucket). Congrats to both. All photos were excellent. Anne keary wrote a super report on our trip to Prague. All members brought plates of food, the tables were laid with plates, napkins etc. everything looked good. The “Midnight Melody” band were setting up and members were all eager to start the dancing so we wound the meeting down, the music started & the toes started tapping, everyone enjoyed themselves & danced the afternoon away. Whilst eating their party food, the team of volunteers came to collect our blankets & teddies etc. knitted by our members for the orphans in Chernobyl. They gave an account of their work refurbishing play rooms, fitting out kitchens & bathrooms for the orphans. Wonderful work – God Bless them. We wish all members a very happy summer holidays - & we meet again On Wed. 2nd. Sept. Marg. Mac. (sec)