Living life to the full with the aid of an Irish Guide Dog

Donnacha mc

Posted on: 1st December, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Donnacha McCarthy (25) from Drimoleague suffered a rapid loss of sight at age 10 following a battle with leukaemia, leaving him in “total darkness” within a matter of weeks. He began working with Irish Guide Dogs as a teenager, learning to use the long cane and independent living skills as part of the organisations ‘Child Mobility Programme’.

“They taught me how to deal with the loss of my sight, in particular how to move around safely with the help of a cane,” Donnacha explains. “I suppose if I’d been older, it may have been harder to come to terms with, but at that age, I had no major plans made that were disrupted by losing my sight.”

For a blind or vision impaired person using a long-cane is a good way to get out and about safely and independently. A long-cane helps to detect objects and obstacles such as bins, stairs, kerbs and tactile paving, thereby giving the user greater confidence when walking.

“Things like signs and sandwich boards on footpaths do make life more difficult,” says Donnacha.

Donnacha was always aware of the positive experiences of other Guide Dog owners and that convinced him to join the waiting list for a Guide Dog soon after he was eligible.

“I knew I wanted to go to college and move out of home after finishing school and I definitely needed the help of a Guide Dog to do that,” he says.

Since being matched with Holly in 2008, Donnacha says his life has been transformed. With Holly’s help, it was possible for Donnacha to live in Cork City while completing his four-year honours degree in Business Information Systems at UCC. He then moved from Cork to Dublin and took up full-time work. He’s also a member of the Blind Football Ireland squad and regularly trains in Dublin with Holly waiting patiently on the sidelines.

After losing his sight, playing football was one of the things Donnacha missed most and he got involved in the blind version of the game, as it presented him with an opportunity to “play the beautiful game once again”.

An extremely skillful and fast-paced game, Blind Football is played on a hard surface using a ball with bearings in it to allow the ball to make a noise and give the players the chance to know its location. It is a five-a-side game with all four outfield players fully blind, wearing eye patches and blindfolds to ensure no light gets in. The two goalkeepers are fully sighted.

“With the help of Holly, I can be much more spontaneous; I don’t have to plan a journey, I can just head into town or meet up with friends,” says Donnacha. “She has given me the confidence to go out when and where I want and to live life to the full.”

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is Ireland’s national charity dedicated to helping persons who are blind or vision impaired and families of children with autism to achieve improved mobility and independence.

Over 80 per cent of the organisations income comes through voluntary donations and fundraising through a network of volunteers across the country.

For more information, to volunteer, fundraise, donate or visit the online Irish Guide Dogs Christmas Shop visit www.guidedogs.ie.

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Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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