20 Years of Magic

 

 

 

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I couldn’t let the day pass without acknowledging this anniversary. I woke up this morning and discovered that 20 years ago today the first Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was published, on the 26th of June 1997. Apart from making me feel quite old this also made me feel very nostalgic. These books hold a lot of significance for me. They were the first book series, other than say Enid Blyton’s creations that I was really immersed in as a child. I remember distinctly when I first discovered the books. I was about 14 years old. We had been told to go to the library to do our homework because one of the teachers was out sick. So we trooped off to the library as instructed but instead of doing my homework I decided to peruse the shelves instead. I figured there must be something more interesting for me to do than homework and I was right! I remember looking at the cover and thinking I had heard one of the other students talking about this Harry Potter character, so I decided to give it a go. I started reading and that was it. From that day on I wanted to go to Hogwarts. Frankly it seemed much more interesting than my school ever did.

I’m not sure if it was that the films were following very close behind or the fact that technology was starting to gain ground at that point but the Harry Potter series seemed to take on a life of its own in terms of popularity and fandom. I think it was two books that were out before the movies began but after that it was a scramble to read the books before the movies came out and somebody spoiled it for you. Thank God the internet wasn’t as big of a deal or we would never have reached the end of each novel without finding out who JK Rowling had bumped off this time. (Lets face it in the end it became a bit of a blood bath) I think this race ended up being good for both the books and the movies. One seemed to feed off the other in a way. When you finished the book you had the movie to look forward to. Harry Potter seemed to encourage readers and movie goers a like. A generation of readers and movie buffs were born. Continue reading

The Art of Resilience

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We live in an age where we are confronted by so much information. There is so much coming at us all day long.  Every few minutes there is another story, headline or tragedy popping up on our screens for us to digest. It seems impossible to put that particular genie back in the bottle at this stage so what do we do?  How do we handle this information overload that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon? Many of us do still want to keep up with what’s going on in the world but the amount of tragedy we hear about has most definitely increased.
Many people view 2016 as the worst year so far in terms of bad news. There was of course the infamous 2016 election, Brexit, copious amounts of terrorist attacks and the loss of so many beloved icons. Again and again people seemed to turn to art as a way of coping with the awful events that were going on in the world. Every day in spite of the horror people continued making or posting art in its many forms as a way to survive all the tragedy.

One such piece of art was a poem by Maggie Smith (no sorry Downton Abbey fans, not that one) called Good Bones. The poems popularity was sparked by two tragic events that took place last year. One was the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53 more last June and the other was the death of British Labour MP Jo Cox in November. These two tragic events led to a surge in the poems popularity. In the following days it was shared online thousands of times. Dozens of famous people like Charlotte Church and Caitlin Moran also posted it to their social media accounts which only served to increase its reach. Finally after the results of the American election it began popping up again. It seemed to be capturing the mood of more than one nation. Continue reading

The Age of Technology 

I recently did this piece with Woman’s Way so I thought I’d post it here for people to have  a look. If you are interested in learning to use computers check it out. It also gives you some tips if you are just getting started with technology and you feel a bit nervous. We all had to start somewhere. It’s never too late to learn a new skill! Age is just a number. Thank you to Michelle Newman the Editor for interviewing me. I hope you like it!

http://www.ageaction.ie

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Carried Away

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Have you ever dreamed of travelling the world? For Kevan Chandler this was something he had always wanted to do. He dreamed of backpacking through Europe. There was just one problem, Kevan is a wheelchair user. He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative disorder that affects his muscles. Most people would think that this would rule out any chance that Kevan could realise his dream but they would be wrong. After all where there is a will there is always a way. This past summer Kevan finally achieved his goal when he and his friends set off on a three-week trip. But it wasn’t as easy as just clicking their heels and taking off to Europe. It involved a bit more planning than that.

First he and his friends had to design and build a special backpack that allowed them to carry Kevan on their backs. His pals then spent months training to build up the strength they needed in order to carry 65-pound Chandler around England, Ireland and France. Yes that’s right, Kevan’s friends agreed to take it in turns to carry their friend on their backs so that he could fulfil his dream. You might think that the gang chose accessible locations in order to make things easier for themselves, wrong again. The idea was to travel to places that his wheelchair could never take  him. One of these places was a sixth century monastery in Skellig Micheal off the coast of Ireland. There were 600 steps standing between Kevan and that monastery but that didn’t stop them from reaching their destination. Continue reading

“Gloria”

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There are some days you know you will remember forever. I recently had one of those when I got the opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the West Cork Literary Festival. It was one of the highlights of the year for me. Everyone knows Gloria Steinem as a feminist icon. However she is also a prolific writer, editor and a keen social and political activist. From a very young age I thought of myself as a feminist. I grew up with strong female role models like my mother, sisters, aunts and friends who taught me that men and women had as much value as each other. In spite of identifying as a feminist I was often made to feel as though I shouldn’t call myself one. There seemed to be a kind of stigma attached to the word, as if it somehow meant you were angry or anti-men. I was influenced by this attitude at first but then I was introduced to Gloria Steinem.

Gloria made me feel proud to call myself a feminist and now I wear it as a badge of honour. I am a feminist hear me roar and so on. In truth all it really means is that you believe in equality for everyone. The older I get the more I realise that if we hold one group in society down it holds us all down. Gloria is 82 years old, now I don’t mention that figure so we can put it next to a picture of her in order to dissect her image like they do in the magazines. I say it because Gloria has spent over five decades fighting for women’s rights and there is no sign that she is slowing down. Her career has spanned nearly 60 years. She is also the furthest thing from anti-men or angry either. Continue reading