There is a wonderful Italian saying - a tavola non s’invecchia, - “at a table one never grows old.” We all are aware of how best to lose weight: eat less and move more. But we may have forgotten the inherent need we have to share a meal together.
As we grow older this need to interact, without the distraction of phones and to do lists, is strong. And so it is that each month a group of about twenty five people from the Newry U3A arrive at the Catering College to enjoy a variety of beautifully prepared and presented food, by a friendly and efficient group of students. We all look forward to the combination of good food, good conversation and laughter that brings a real sense of wellbeing.
Recently, Johnston Mc Master in his “Thought for the day” on Radio Ulster said the purpose of any language is to be able to communicate, to make sense to each other and of each other.” One only has to listen to the buzz and the chat - all in Irish, to know that there is much communication going on in the Irish Class. One of the class members told me recently that she loves the class because she is not being taught Irish now, the way she was taught as a child. There is an obvious love of the Irish language by teachers and pupils and a desire to reach high standards by being awarded the silver and gold fainne.
Encouraged by the recent success of members of the Ardrang, in achieving 7 Gold and 3 Silver Fáinne, 8 members of the Meánrang, after much preparation, successfully underwent the Silver Fáinne Test. Séamus Mac Dhaibhéid of Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail Chapel Street, Newry carried out the tests and praised the work being done in Newry U3A.
There are currently four Irish Language classes in Newry U3A and it is interesting to note that it was from former Gaelic League Teachers, such as Brother Beausang, Tomás McArdle, and Seán McKevitt, that these tutors received their knowledge and love of the language. They are grateful to Séamus Mac Dhaibhéid for his continued support and encouragement to these classes.
Initially Jan joined and enjoyed the Irish class facilitated by Mary Dynan. After a visit to the Gaeltacht she joined Roisin Traynor’s class and is also enjoying this too. She speaks highly of Roisin’s dedication and commitment to the members. Jan had to take a break for a couple of months for surgery but was able to access the lessons on line. Gaining the silver fainne recently has been a great achievement for her. She believes that learning a language helps keep the memory sharp and the brain active.
Jan is grateful for the many good friends she has made and the many opportunities to learn that the U3A provides. Jan believes that all of the members have talents to offer, not only in leading a class but by simply caring for others who may be lonely or feeling a bit lost. She has shared her talents by offering workshops in jewellery making and jumping clay modelling.
She has also made herself available to help out behind the scenes whenever required.
There is strong scientific evidence showing that people who are active have a lower risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and dementia. The members of the New Age Kurling Group probably don't dwell on all of that. Their focus is on having fun, beating their opponents, enjoying the exercise and relaxing together afterwards.
Rosemary loves the New Age Kurling Class, held every Thursday in the Gateway Centre. She says “I love the friendliness of the group here and it has been great to make so many new friends.” She says that sometimes they have a match between the men and the women but mostly the matches consist of mixed teams and the competition is very keen. She loves the chance to catch up and chat over a cup of tea at the end of a session.
Rosemary has been in Newry U3A for over 4 years. She attends the Craft Class, the Fabrege Eggs Class, Chair Based Exercise Class and the Walk and Talk Class in the summer time. Rosemary also joined the Golf Group for a while. She says that coming out to the U3A has made a great difference to her life as her partner died some 8 years ago. Coming out to the U3A, keeping active and interested helps her feel well and happy.
The Gentlemen Singers are busy rehearsing for their performance in Newry Feis. The Ladies Choir and the Gentlemen Singers are preparing for the Sing Fest for all U3As in Northern Ireland which will be held in Bangor this year.