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

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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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
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