Before the hunt.
“Giving is not just about making a donation; it’s about making a difference”..Cathy Calvin, President of the United Nations Foundation.
Taking inspiration from Ms Calvins famous quote above, Woodford Dolmen Hotel are introduced the Woodford SWAT Team! The Woodford SWAT team, standing for Supporting Working Achieving Together is a fundraising initiative involving all hotel management & staff. The brainchild of the marketing team, the idea behind SWAT is to assist local charities, clubs, groups etc in their fundraising efforts by taking part in their events, helping to raise funds while also raising awareness & promotion rather than just giving monetary donations or spotprizes.
As one of Carlow’s longest established hotel businesses with over 40 years experience of delivering excellent customer service and a friendly welcome to locals and visitors alike the hotel is no stranger to supporting and being involved in the community. Since the start the SWAT team pushed their stamina to the limits taking part in 5km and 10km runs including Charlie Curran, Run with the Lions and Christmas jingle jogs, have cycled 100’s of kilometres in cycles including the Tour of Kildare in aid of Maire Keating and the great Cycle against Suicide spinoff helping to spread the message that “its OK not to feel Ok & its absolutely Ok to ask for help”.
What SWAT have done.
They have battled their way through muddy rivers & climbed over haystacks in 2 Muckfests and enjoyed a very early morning run with the Pieta house’s Darkness into Light. They’ve tested their general knowledge in table quiz’s, helped to clean up the town during Love Carlow organised Clean up Days & in early October will be serving teas & coffees to the public while volunteering in the Carlow Mental Health pop up coffee shop during Mensana Week. One very talented staff member even gave Tina Turner a run for her money when she took part in the Rise Foundations Stars in the Rise song contest held in the hotel.
Aisling Maher, Sales & Marketing Manager says “Apart from the goodwill feeling from knowing that the team are helping raise much needed funds for so many worthwhile charities & organisations, taking part in these events gives us all a great sense of personal achievement along with boosting overall team building & staff morale so it’s a win win for everyone”
The Woodford SWAT team are always looking for their next challenge and they want you to tell them about upcoming events they can take part in – you set the challenge the SWAT team will take it on! If your club or charity would like the Woodford SWAT team to get involved contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to Aisling on 059-9142002.
Hi Everyone and welcome back to this weeks column. What a week it’s been for Carlow, I have rarely seen anything like the hysteria surrounding the win by the Carlow Camogie players in Croke Park, talk about making an entire county beam with pride! It is so rare that we get to Croke Park so to take home an All Ireland title was just super special for everyone. A massive well done to everyone involved with the Carlow team, I am sure you are all still on cloud nine and deservedly so, thanks for giving us all something to smile about.
In the meantime pictures have been flying in for our #LoveCarlow competition with our first winner being a very topical picture. It was very difficult to choose which picture was most deserving of the title as there were so many fantastic snaps. In the end we simply had to award the prize to the image of the Carlow Camogie team selfie, taken in the dressing room after their Croke Park win. It was just a fantastic picture which captured the pure elation of our newly crowned All Ireland champions.
It has been a busy week around the town and county not to mention for us in the County Carlow Chamber where we have been gripped by award fever. The Carlow Chamber Business Awards is an annual awards ceremony designed to celebrate & promote Carlow Businesses. It is so important to recognise positivity in every aspect of our county not least the local businesses who contribute to our towns in so many ways including employment, sponsorship of local clubs and charities, rates to provide services for everyone in the county and this is why our annual Chamber Business Awards are such a highlight in our calendar. This year sees the introduction of a new category for Carlow’s Best Presented Shopfronts/Premises. Local business owners have a key role to play in helping to ensure that our towns look attractive by keeping their premises well maintained and painted. Throughout our county many business owners put huge effort into how their shopfronts & business premises look and this award category is designed to acknowledge all of that hard work and effort.
There will be a separate award for three areas across the county including
(1) Carlow Town, (2) Muine Bheag/South Carlow and (3) Tullow/North Carlow. Another key award this year is the Spirit of Carlow Award in association with the Nationalist. This award is designed to recognise a person or organisation who are making a positive difference within our community and deserve to be recognised for their contribution. Nominations are now in, with judging underway & we wish the best of luck to everyone who has been shortlisted and we look forward to a very uplifting and positive evening an the end of the month when winners will be announced in the Visual theatre.
Love Carlow is an initiative which has been spearheaded by County Carlow Chamber of Commerce in an effort to regenerate Carlow town and get it back on its feet following what has been a difficult time in the country’s economic history. We believe that fundamentally we have a fantastic town and county and we have a lot to be proud of. We also believe that we are sometimes not so good at shouting about all the wonderful things we do have on offer so the Love Carlow initiative and this Loving Local blog is about changing the conversation about our town and county. Our social media platforms are ready to rock and to celebrate all that there is to Love about Carlow.
Each month this column will aim to shine a light on some of the wonderful things that we have sitting on our doorstep. Highlighting businesses, initiatives, groups or anything else that focuses on what makes Carlow a great place to live, work & play.
Our Hidden Gems section, focuses on businesses & Carlow products and/or services that we want all of Carlow and the rest of the world to know about.
Little Locals will give a shout out to things that may be of interest to our younger generations because let’s face it, if the kids are happy so are us parents!!
The 3rd section is our Local Business piece & this celebrates a different business each month, whether it’s new or existing & takes a look at how its playing its part in building Carlow. We encourage everyone to show our love for local but supporting these businesses we focus on in this blog.
To finish off this blog, I want to give a mention to Hannon’s Centra on the O’Brien Road. Those of us traveling along this rood will have noticed the new & exciting changes taking place here. Hannon’s are recently unveiled their fabulous new Centra store concept. This will be a welcome addition to the many who commute, live & work in the area & we wish them every success with their new venture.
Until next week….keep showing your love for local
The Wellwood centre is also the focus for our Little Locals section this week. If you are pregnant or have a small baby, please check out the new courses being run at the Wellwood centre for pregnancy yoga & baby massage. What a way to relax with your little one in these beautiful surroundings. A little bit if heaven for both mother and baby.
Another wonderful find for me personally this week is Gilberts Orchard in Quinnagh. While driving past last Sunday I couldn’t help but pop in for a peek. I have often passed the gate and saw the signs for fresh apples, juices & chutneys but am ashamed to say I had never actually been up the lane! This is a wonderful place to bring the kids for a couple of hours of outdoor fun where you pick your own fresh apples from the orchard (€3.50 for a small bucket, €5.00 for a medium & €7.00 for a large) and then relax in the wonderful Apple House. There is truly nothing nicer for kids than picking the fruit that they will bring to school the following week, it brought back many nostalgic memories for me of my Dad bringing home boxes of fresh apples from Twomeys in Ardattin when we were kids (if anyone of you are old enough to remember that!!)
No doubt all of our little locals will literally jump for joy when they hear that Santa’s Christmas Bounceland will return to Carlow this year for the third year in a row. A festive favourite with all the smallies, Bounceland offers lots of fun for the little ones and is also a fabulous option for birthday parties which fall over the festive period. Bounceland will open on weekends from November 19th and weekdays during the school holidays. For more information check out their Facebook page.
Some more great news for our little locals this week. Lego experts “Little Makers” are about to begin their first afterschool Lego camp in Carlow town centre. All “Little Makers” camps are designed to be both educational and fun. The forthcoming camps are entitled ‘Journey Through The Past Adventure Series. During this camp (which runs for 5 consecutive Wednesdays), children will explore the technology used before the Industrial age and will have an opportunity to let their imagination take over as they reconstruct, role play, improvise and have fun! In addition to the technology aspect, kids will also discuss the historical context of the day’s theme which effectively meshes with the primary school history curriculum.
Lego camps commence next Wednesday February 8th and are open to primary students from first to sixth class. For more info visit https://littlemakers.class4kids.ie/info/8
I know its far too soon to be even mentioning the “C” word never mind the “S” word but the much coveted tickets for the Rathwood Santa train went on sale last week ( September 1st ) and can still be snapped up for popular dates. We are extremely lucky to have many national attractions in our county and Rathwood in Tullow is certainly one of the shining lights. Each year people travel from far and wide to visit Rathwood and its very popular Santa Train experience.
The Wellwood Centre
This week’s hidden gem is the newly opened Wellwood centre situated just outside Bagenalstown . The Wellwood centre is owed by Pat & Mary Gaynor who purchased the site in 1999. Both Pat & Mary are also avid gardeners so they have combined their love of gardening with their desire to promote wellbeing in both body and mind and have created this stunning local haven.Foor bookings contact Pat or Mary on 087 261 5979 or 087 207 2362 or visit their website at thewellwoodcentre.ie.
Pure Thinking Community Group
This week’s hidden gem is a local group known as the Pure Thinking Community Group. Headed up by the very talented and creative Connie Hyland Byrne, this group began back in 2008. Initially set up by Connie as a means of building and developing her team of talented and creative hair stylists at her salon in Dublin Street, the team went on to do many very interesting and groundbreaking community projects looking at areas such as diversity, the local involvement of youth groups and also their award winning Carlow Personalities project which saw local artists paint portraits of local high profile personalities which were displayed in Carlow Post Office. More recently the team have embarked on a wall art project throughout the town, the aim being to brighten up derelict and vacant units through large scale wall art. Their first piece was unveiled on College Street last June when the Glor Ceatherlach building was transformed to reflect a piece of sheet music. For this project Connie also commissioned the writing of a new song for Carlow. Entitled Sweet As Sugar, Strong as Stone this beautiful piece was performed by local and highly acclaimed choir Aspiro and celebrates the rich history of the sugar factory in Carlow. The roll out of wall art projects is set to continue in the coming months so we can expect to see buildings such as Crotty’s, Detail (side wall) and the Cathedral Parish Centre all sporting new wall art concepts. It is my own personal opinion that our town is indebted to Connie and the Pure Thinking Group for the work they have done over the last number of years mainly on a voluntary basis to make our town a nicer brighter place!!
An Gairdin Beo
Many are still not aware that within Carlow town we have a wonderful community garden. Set up in Autumn 2014, An Gairdín Beo is situated next door to St Leo’s in the grounds of the Mercy Sisters convent. The vision behind An Gairdín Beo (or the “The Garden Alive” as bealra!) is that it “will become a space in which diverse people can connect more to nature, to the growing and making of food and to each other”. In September 2016 An Gairdín Beo hosted Carlow’s final 1916 commemoration event. This was a great opportunity for the entire community to have a look at what’s happening in this wonderful space right in the heart of our town centre! Those of us involved in Love Carlow will definitely be checking it out!
Carlow International Film Festival
This week’s hidden gem is the Carlow International Film Festival. This is a new venture which was recently started by a local group who are planning to host Carlow’s very first International Film Festival in November 2017. The call for submissions has recently opened and closes in April 2017. It would be superb to see such an invent being run in Carlow. If you would like to submit an entry or find out more, check out their Facebook page.
This week’s hidden gem is a place I am sure we have all heard of many times but perhaps have never taken the time to visit. Altamount Gardens is situated just outside Ballon and I can safely say it is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting either here or abroad. A visit to Altamount is a truly magical experience. The gardens themselves are a majestic maze of beauty and a slow stroll around them is definite food for the busy soul. The more energetic among you can follow a looped walk down to the river and back around to the gardens. The river walk does require a certain level of mobility and energy and isn’t suitable for buggy’s but is highly recommended nonetheless. Any time of the year is perfect for a visit to this local wonderland, don’t miss an opportunity to visit this local treasure.
Back in December, the HR Manager from a large local company was telling me that she had used Lisnavagh House (near Rathvilly) as the location for one of their corporate team building events. They were so impressed by the fabulous location and stunning surroundings and couldn’t believe that such a gem existed in Carlow and that they didn’t know about it. So this week I thought it would be good to tell you a little bit about Lisnavagh just in case you are not aware of this beautiful little gem. Lisnavagh House & Estate lies just outside Rathvilly and is the family seat of the McClintock-Bunbury family. The original Lisnavagh house was built in 1696. In 1847 a new house was built and was subsequently downsized in 1952. In 2005, Lisnavagh House underwent a major renovation project under the supervision of William McClintock Bunbury and his wife Emily following William’s return to the estate in 2000. The couple’s vision was to create a financially sustainable life and business on the estate and since then a number of businesses have emerged. The first of these was the Lisnavagh Timber project, which supplies “clear conscience” timber to furniture makers & woodworkers, homeowners, and retail outlets all over the world. The family launched their very popular Bunbury Boards at the Autumn Fair in the RDS in 2008 which are a fantastic Carlow success story and can now be purchased nationwide. Following renovations, the house itself was made available to hire for private and corporate events including weddings, photoshoots etc. The success of the latter project is such that in 2007, GQ magazine named Lisnavagh as one of the “Top 100 things in the world”. From a quick browse of their website it seems that these days there is even more on offer with many opportunities for locals to experience the house for themselves. Current offerings include a One Day Yoga Retreat (Saturday February 18th), Writers Retreat (Monday February 20th to Saturday February 25th 2017) and a Supper Club (Friday January 27th) with further events to be added throughout the year. All details are available online at lisnavagh.com
The Millford Room
This hidden gem will certainly interest all the music lovers among you. By chance, I happened upon the Millford Room in the Seven Oaks Hotel which is a new series of live music sessions being organised by Walter Hennessy. When I was there the guest artist was the wonderful John Spillane (aka My Dunne’s Stores Girl). On the night, the Milford room was transformed almost beyond recognition into an intimate concert venue (picture white table cloths, dimmed down lighting and candles) and the crowd were treated to a close encounter with the fantastic musical talents of one of Irelands most endearing song writers. In the coming months, the Millford room will again play host to several other well-known artists including Mundy, Mick Flannery, Relish, & I Draw Slow, If you are a music lover, I would highly recommend that you check it out. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming artists and dates.