Northern Notes By Debbie Orme
This Article Appears in the March/April Issue of SeniorTimes – available in newsagents
Nestled in the Glens of Antrim and set against a background of rolling green fields and Slemish Mountain sits the picturesque venue of Glenview Farm in Carnalbana. While the farm is currently closed due to the pandemic, it provides the perfect outdoor location for grandparents and grandchildren to spend quality time having fun and enjoying spectacular views.
‘The farm has been in the family since the early 1900s,’ current owner – and fourth generation farm owner – Jane Magee tells me. ‘Dad was born and raised here and a few years ago I inherited it.’
‘I grew up just half a mile from the family farm. My two great uncles and my granny lived on the farm, so it’s just lovely to see new life being brought into it. I thought my dad might have been somewhat nervous about me taking it over but he has been so supportive. For me it’s much more than a business, it’s preserving a way of life – the farm was lying derelict for about seven years before I got it. The local community have also been so supportive about the venture, not only does it bring life to the area but offers the local young people a place to volunteer, as well as ride.’
‘I’m a country girl through and through – everyone who arrives here is blown away by the scenery and I totally understand that. I’ve lived throughout the world and have been privileged to travel but have chosen to come back here to live. Sometimes you forget the beauty that’s on our doorstep and it’s that aspect that strikes people first – the peace and serenity, just getting the space and freedom to be able to connect with themselves and with nature and with the horses. Taking time out of everyday schedules to recharge.’
One of the main aspects of Glenview Farm is that it not only provides ‘time out’ for adults and children alike, but it also provides an invaluable therapy for all ages: equine-assisted learning.
‘Although we enjoy providing riding lessons for adults and children alike,’ says Jane, ‘we also aim to provide an innovative yet proven learning experience with our equine partners to accelerate transformational change. The farm provides loads of opportunities for participants to connect with both our horses and with the natural environment and, in doing so, we encourage them to connect with themselves, others and the world they live in. Equine Assisted learning is done from the ground, is non-riding and participants don’t need prior horse experience.’
‘I’ve always been involved in horses,’ she continues, ‘but I’ve also spent my working life as a teacher. While I was working with young people in inner city Dublin, I saw how nurturing it was for young people from the inner city to visit a riding school in the middle of the estate. It was such an escape for them. Then, when I was on a career break in Australia, I saw equine-assisted learning in operation and was intrigued and impressed by the results. I came home and trained in Co Wicklow, and then, when I inherited the family farm, opening an equestrian centre was the logical thing to do. It allowed me to combine my love of horses with my love for people. It was a natural blend.’
‘I’ve witnessed first hand how the intuitive powers of equine animals offer healing and comfort. As the benefits of equine therapy are becoming more widely known, more people are requesting appointments for equine-assisted learning. It’s very effective for both children and adults alike, but it can also be very beneficial for those with a memory-related illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s as they may find that working with the horses and ponies can trigger memories in a positive way as they share stories and memories. Also, the fact that it is so sensory is beneficial and allows individuals to connect with their equine partner helping those who are suffering from loneliness, anxiety and depression. Something as simple as grooming a pony, or brushing a stable, can also help restore self-worth. While I believe that interacting with any type of animal has benefits for people of all ages, I honestly feel that equine assisted learning offers unique opportunities for older adults and their caregivers, particularly because of the characteristics and personality traits of equine animals whereby they benefit physically, emotionally and mentally.’
‘Sometimes people can be a little intimidated when they first arrive – especially if they’re not used to horses. Our horses are genuinely so quiet but they all have their own personalities and it’s great to see how people become intrigued as the horse’s personality starts to come out. It’s such a lovely family thing to do, particularly because it’s sometimes hard to find things that grandparents, parents and kids can do together. We offer individuals and small groups the opportunity to socialise, exercise in the fresh air, in a relaxing environment, while experiencing the well-documented calming effect of horses. It’s also great that everyone is out in the natural environment – particularly in this current situation.’
Mayor praises ongoing community spirit
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has paid tribute to volunteers who continue to offer crucial help and support within their communities.
Alderman Mark Fielding praised the sustained response which is evident across the Borough as coronavirus restrictions continue.
This includes the Portrush-based Reach group, which, with support from local businesses and generous donations, provides a meal delivery service and a foodbank facility for local families.
Reach’s community work began in 2017 but demand for its services escalated with the onset of the pandemic. It now provides a weekly meal and a Friday treat to 114 households in the town alongside its ‘Great Fish Supper Runs’ which are delivered to as many as 180 families intermittently.
‘I want to take this opportunity to thank the Reach volunteers and their supporters, along with all others involved in community responses in their areas, for the services they provide,’ Alderman Fielding said.
‘Their overall contribution is immeasurable, helping to protect the wellbeing of the most vulnerable through their practical and social support. As Mayor, I want to relay my gratitude to all those who selflessly devote their time and skills, along with those who have made donations of food, essential items and money which collectively make such a positive impact on the lives of those in need.’
‘Our services are subsidised through support within the community,’ added Val McDonald from Team Reach, ‘and by funding from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Co-Op, the Kathleen Graham Trust and the National Lottery Awards for All scheme, with our weekly meals cooked by the chef at the Adelphi Hotel. But it’s not just about food deliveries – it’s about providing our recipients with a point of contact and someone calling to their door to ask how they are doing which is just as important. For those who are isolating, especially those who live by themselves, it can be such a lonely experience and we are helping to address this and ensure they know they are not alone.
‘The meals we deliver gives them something to look forward to during the week and the response we get is amazing. This wouldn’t happen without the input of everybody at Team Reach and I want to say a big thank you to all our volunteers, supporters and funders who make our work possible.’
Derry’s Tower Museum celebrates anniversary of Armada ship discovery
Derry/Londonderry should have been celebrating a major anniversary recently.
The city – in conjunction with Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council – had joined forces to get ready for the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St Columcille – also known as St Columba – which was to be marked throughout 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, all celebrations had to be cancelled but, hopefully, the city will soon be able to mark the anniversary!
St Columcille is actually the patron saint of Derry/Londonderry, where he founded a monastic settlement in c. 540AD. The name of the city in Irish is Doire Colmcille and is derived from the native oak trees in the area and the city’s association with Columcille. The Catholic Church of Saint Colmcille’s Long Tower, and the Church of Ireland St Augustine’s Church both claim to stand at the spot of this original settlement, while the Church of Ireland Cathedral, St Columb’s Cathedral, and the largest park in the city, St Columb’s Park are named in his honour.
Located within the historic city walls of Derry, the award-winning Tower Museum is a ‘must see’ visitor attraction, which also provides visitors with a comprehensive look at the early history of the city and region – and at how the patron saint – St Columba – shaped its development.
Now, despite the pandemic, the Tower Museum is set to celebrate one of the most significant underwater archaeological finds in North West maritime history with a release of new online content.
February marks 50 years since thirteen divers from the City of Derry Sub Aqua Club found the final resting place of La Trinidad Valencera – a Spanish Armada ship wrecked off Kinnagoe Bay in 1588.
The divers had searched the bay numerous times with no luck but, on February 20 1971, after about 30 minutes’ diving, they discovered a bronze cannon sticking from the rocks.
From the start, the divers agreed that the importance of the site was too great to benefit any individual, and so they set in motion a recovery project that unveiled multiple cannon, incredible artefacts, textiles, instruments and weaponry from the site over the next few years.
Many of the items are now on display in a permanent exhibition in the Tower Museum.
To mark the anniversary of the discovery, the Tower Museum will now be releasing new content online, including a virtual 360° tour of the exhibition, photographs of the recovery as well as original documents and essays written by the divers at the time.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the exhibition ‘An Armada Shipwreck- La Trinidad Valencera’ has been closed to the public since March 2020, but now the virtual tour, digitised in partnership with The Nerve Centre, will allow visitors from anywhere in the world to view what the members of the City of Derry Sub Aqua club discovered 50 years ago.
There is also correspondence and photos donated to the museum by the divers, recording the sheer awe and excitement at what they had discovered on the seabed.
The new content is available online at www.towermuseumcollections.com