Category Archives: Seniors

On Growing Old

In my previous post on Retirement: Smelling roses, enjoying brandy and learning to spit, I quoted the Jenny Joseph poem When I Grow Old.
My friend Chris has crafted her much more elegant and stylish aspirations into a thoughtful poem for the distant day when she arrives in that time in her life.  I think it’s a beautiful poem that deserves to be widely read!

WHEN I GROW OLD…

WHEN I GROW OLD….
When I grow old, I will not long for youth,
rather I will celebrate what has gone before
and look forward to what each day brings.
I will enjoy the company of myself, as well as that of family and friends..
of new discoveries, of revisiting old interests and developing new ones.
I will revel in choosing yes or no or maybe.. without guilt or reason.
I will enjoy friendships, both near and far….
I will take time to watch butterflies flit among the flowers
and listen to bird song every day…
I will drench myself in summer showers..
and sing in the moonlight…
I will write what I wish and read all I can…
Silken threads will be my palette
as I create simple things of beauty…
I will surround myself with roses and violets and daisies
I will bake at midnight if I wish
and eat fruit and cream for tea…
When I grow old, I will be me…
 (c)Crissouli Jan 24, 2016
Inspired by the post of my friend… Angela…
Thank you Chris!
You can read more of her musings at The Back Fence of Genealogy .

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Filed under Ageing in Ireland, Healthy Living, Ireland, Older & Bolder, Older Generation, Retirement Age, Seniors

Retirement: Smelling roses, enjoying brandy and learning to spit!

This is the third and final post on this trilogy on Retirement. My last two posts (here and here ) were  concerned with the very serious matters of mandatory retirement and the financial and social deprivation that were for me, the immediate fallout. March 2016 will see the 3rd anniversary of my compulsory retirement. The road was indeed a rocky one, and full of potholes, but now that I have travelled along it for a while, I have slipped into a ‘Third Age’ mentality and somehow seamlessly adapted to a life without the early morning alarm clock!

Some years ago my friend moved to live in London and I was amused by this little ditty that hung in her bathroom. Nicely framed, it was strategically placed so that any visiting females could not miss it.

WARNING!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

——–Jenny Joseph.

During the early weeks of retirement I read this poem again several times. Cares and woes can certainly knock the stuffing out of anyone. Should I let them do just that and should I then go about running a stick along the railings, driving everyone mad? Clack, clack, clackclackclackclack clack, clack clackclackclack? A possible option, for sure!

BUT, this was NOT for me! I needed to re-evaluate, to re energize, to REINVENT myself if need be. And so I took every single opportunity to be away from home or in the company of others. During my first summer of ‘retirement’ I plied the length and breath of Ireland attending conferences and talks, popping into Museums and Galleries, going to beautiful places near home that deserved investigation, discovering things I did not know, rediscovering things I did know. If there were free events, so much the better. The budget was stretched as tight as a bodhran skin, but one or two fewer visits to the hairdressers was ok, and I never really minded beans on toast as a meal, and miracle of miracles—you do need fewer clothes when you don’t have to go to work! So on went the jeans and the comfy jacket…. and away I went!

A trip to Australia to spend time with my daughter and her family worked its magic…maybe this retirement isn’t so bad after all, with no worries about using up precious leave! The following year, having reached my 66th birthday I became eligible for free travel travel in Ireland and this opened up a whole new world…a day away in Dublin to go to the theatre, a day strolling around Galway, a day shopping in Cork or a day enjoying the festival in Tralee…all for free!

It took about a year to adjust to not having to rise at 6.30 each morning. During that transition year I discovered the gift of TIME that I now have in abundance. I use it as far as I can to improve my changed life. There is time to seek out and select bargains, time  for long slow cooking and tasty recipes, time to walk, time to read, time to spend hours in the swimming pool, time to exercise, time to catch up with friends, time to do some volunteering work, time to study and learn new things, and time to smell the roses!

I have not yet spent my pension on brandy, but I do have time to enjoy the occasional glass and as for ‘learning to spit’ – I am working on that – figuratively speaking of course!

(Clipart Image)

I plan on wearing purple!

 

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Filed under Age Action Ireland, Ageism, Ireland, Living in Ireland, My Oral History, Older Generation, Poetry, Retirement Age, Seniors

Age Discrimination in Ireland: Adding a voice

This is the first of three posts on my personal experience of mandatory retirement in Ireland.

Irish Labour TD (Member of Parliament) Anne Ferris has tabled a Bill to abolish mandatory retirement age. The Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill would prohibit employers imposing compulsory retirement ages on their employees. In November last, as a member of Age Action, I was asked to take part in their presentation at the Public Hearings of the Committee stage of the Bill at Leinster House,the seat of our Parliament, the Oireachtas, in Dublin.

Leinster House (Kildare St. entrance)

Leinster House, Dublin. Ireland’s Parliament. (Image oireachtas.ie)

This was my first visit to the Oireachtas and it was appropriate that I was there on a mission about a matter very dear to my heart. I had to vacate my job on my 65th birthday. At age 64 and 364 days I was an acceptable employee, but one day later I was unemployable. My ‘shelf life’ was up; my ‘use by’ date had been reached. Indeed I was fully aware for a long time that my career would grind to a halt at age 65, but I had hoped against hope that new provisions whereby public sector employees who joined after 2004 would not have to retire at age 65, could be extended to serving staff members.This was not to be and my pleas fell on deaf ears. The mandatory retirement age of 65 in the public sector department in which I worked was written in stone, and so agreed with the trade unions. In some departments the mandatory retirement age is 60.

Most of my public sector work colleagues are delighted to retire at age 65 or sooner. Many of them have long service and look forward to the day when they no longer have to work for a living. Some of my colleagues however,dread the day when their earning power is decimated. Like me, they may have entered pensionable employment later in life or they may have been subjected to the highly discriminatory ‘marriage bar’ that only ended in Ireland in the early 1970s. (The marriage bar meant that upon marriage, female employees were no longer eligible to work in the public sector and banks). Shorter working lives means smaller pensions. On retirement, I suffered a loss of income of 75%, yet my household bills, my medical bills and my mortgage still had to be serviced out of the reduced income. As the Dickens character Mr Micawber famously stated in the book David Copperfield, Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds,nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Committee Lobby

The Committee Lobby in Leinster House. (Image oireachtas.ie)

It was a privilege to be able to add my voice at the Public Hearings of the Committee stage of the proposed legislation at Leinster House and to hear the heartfelt submissions being made by other participants. Some fearful of losing their jobs at compulsory retirement age because of ongoing family commitments, such as children at university for example, mortgage to pay. Others simply wanted to be able to stay and continue doing a good job as they had done for some time, some angry at having to lose their jobs at a particular age, yet not qualifying for state pension for some years afterwards or despairing of a system that allows for the casting aside of a wealth of experience as with doctors and nurses in our health service, just because of an accidental birthday.

Below are links to the official tapes of the Public Hearings at Leinster House. The recording begins at about 34 minutes in, with Age Action opening statement at 36.50 and my (very wobbly) contribution at 39 minutes mark. .

https://oireachtas.heanet.ie/mp4/cr2/cr2_20151118T090000.000005.mp4

There are two further tapes covering all the submissions and discussions at
https://oireachtas.heanet.ie/mp4/cr2/cr2_20151118T090000.000006.mp4 and
https://oireachtas.heanet.ie/mp4/cr2/

In the aftermath of the submissions, I was asked to take part in a number of interviews by the media. Ocean FM, a radio station serving the Sligo/South Donegal area still has a podcast available at this link:

Donegal Woman Claims Age Discrimination At Being Forced To Retire From Job, NWT, Thurs, 19th Nov . I am unsure about how long the link will remain live.

Other interviews were aired on the Pat Kenny Show on  Newstalk and on Highland Radio while the Irish Daily Mail carried articles on two separate days.

Just before Christmas the Final Report  to Government was published and can be seen here.  The Report recommends a change to the existing law and we look forward to a time when  this will become a reality.

http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/media/committees/justice/Final-Report—Retirement-Age.pdf

I would like to express my thanks to Justin Moran and all the Age Action team who do such wonderful work  in raising awareness of issues that directly affect the quality of life of older people in Ireland.

 

 

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Filed under Age Action Ireland, Ageism, Ireland, Living in Ireland, Older workers, Seniors, Social Change, Social Justice

Silver Surfers on Irish National Television

The Official Photo on The Seven O'Clock Show set!

The Official Photo on the Seven O’Clock Show Set. L to R: Ian O’Reilly, Actor, Dermot Whelan,Comedian,  Me, Marie Corbett, Lucy, Martin

As a result of the Women’s Way magazine article on Silver Surfers about which I wrote here, TV3, one of Ireland’s National TV Networks, invited us to take part in the The Seven O’Clock Show last night. So it was with a lot of butterflies in my stomach that I headed off on the three-hour drive to the Dublin Studios.

Marie Corbett, who featured in the article with me was quite honestly the most charming,funny lady I have met in a long time. It is easy to see why she is the pin-up girl for Age Action and seems to have an endless list of photo shoots and meetings with important people ,such as TV personalities and the President of Ireland no less! Marie began her cyber-career with the Age Action ‘Getting Started’ programme. Her daughter and grandchildren had moved to Armenia and with unreliable postal and telephone services,she was offered a second-hand computer to keep in contact with her family. Determined to come to terms with this new fangled technology, she says she challenged her very patient tutor, but I am certain he would have found her such a tonic that he loved showing her the ropes! Marie was awarded the ‘Most Dedicated IT Learner’ in Age Action’s 2009’s inaugural Silver Surfer awards.  Enthusiasm is her middle name and she so deserves to be the Queen of the Silver Surfers in Ireland.

Marie with her lovely grand-daughter Adele .

Marie with her lovely grand-daughter Adele .

It was a lot of fun being in TV3 studios – everyone we met from the receptionist at the door to the janitor when we left, was friendly and welcoming.The programme team were just lovely, very positive, very reassuring as indeed were the programme hosts, the beautiful and witty Lucy Kennedy and the very popular Martin King.

It is not often that older people get to feature on national television,so a A big ‘THANK YOU’ to The Seven  O’Clock  Show for having us there to hear why we embraced the internet and how it has been life changing for us. Hopefully we inspired others to make the leap and get engaged with modern technology and social networking. Age Action continues to organize ‘Getting Started’ programmes across Ireland to encourage older people to become familiar with this remarkable resource,  right there at your fingertips!

The Irish Silver Surfers Queen and myself !

The Irish Silver Surfers Queen and myself !

Marie and I are very conscious of the fact that we would not  have enjoyed the success that we have had without the extraordinary work and dedication of Age Action, a charity for older people, that not only advocates for older people, but gets involved in the practical side of things too!

The programme can be viewed here for about two weeks from now, September 8 2015. Our segment is at about the 12 minute + point. Lots of ads!

 

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Filed under Ageism, Ireland, Ireland and the World, Loneliness, Older & Bolder, Older Generation, Seniors

Silver Surfer Awards 2013 with Google and Age Action

I was delighted to receive an invitation  for myself and a guest to the award ceremony for the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action, which took place in Dublin  on Wednesday last. I was thrilled to be back in Google, with Louise, for the first time since I won the  Social Networking Award in 2011, and to meet again with the stalwarts of Age Action – Robin Webster, Eamon Timmins and Pauline Power.

Google  epitomizes everything that is young, innovative and fun. This is clear from the moment you step through the front door! All the more wonderful then that they sponsor the annual Silver Surfer Awards that celebrate older people and technology. A perfect marriage in many ways.

The ceremony took place in the spacious and comfortable state of the art Google auditorium. We were entertained by the talented Bugle Babes with their Andrews Sisters type repertoire and  harmonies, and their (perfectly straight) seamed stockings (George Hook checked them out).Their singing was beautiful and well enjoyed by everyone!

The ever young George Hook, broadcaster, journalist and rugby pundit hosted  the ceremony with great wit and humour, and Mr Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources attended – both of whom are, appropriately enough, Seniors.  Minister Rabbitte expressed the wish that no senior citizen be left behind in this era of  instant communication.  Sinead Gibney, Social Action Manager with Google, and Robin Webster, the indefatigable Chief Executive of Age Action were also present. Sinead  treated us to a reading of the poem ‘When I am old’, which can be seen on my blog page here . Pauline Power who operates the Getting Started Programme with Age Action and Anne Marie Walsh, the Event Manager, ensured that things flowed smoothly.

And so to the fabulous people whose terrific achievements were to be honoured at these awards. There were several categories as follows:

New to IT Award
A person over the age of 50 who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become an IT user

Finalists were:

Austin was the winner of this category. His story is inspirational – having left school early he had some catching up to do in later life and this he did using technology. He has written a biography for his family.

Hobbies on the Net Award was next with 5 finalists

An older person who uses the Internet to pursue their passion or hobby or who uses IT for communication and social networking

I was particularly interested in this category as my ears pricked up when I heard the name Seamus Harkin from Creeslough. Creeslough is 7 mile s from my home village of Carrigart, Co Donegal.  On an all-too-rare visit back to my roots this summer, we were in search of the site of  a former 19th Century  Revenue Barracks in Creeslough. We were given Seamus Harkin’s phone number. Seamus Harkin is all things Creeslough and is a highly respected fountain of all sorts of historical knowledge in this particular area   He was most helpful and accommodating. We spoke several times by phone, but I had not met him until today, so that was a particularly pleasant meeting!  Thanks again Seamus for sharing your knowledge  and time with us.

Seamus is known as the Singing Undertaker at home and he fixes fiddles  as a hobby- how interesting is that!  Well done on this achievement Seamus agus  Tír Chonaill Abú!

IT Tutor(s) of the year 

An individual or group of any age who provides voluntary support to older learners. Anne won this award for her work in upskilling some 40 tutors. Anne is from Louth and were other nominees – Drogheda & District Support 4 Older People.  Small county with big hearts for older people!

Golden IT Award
An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their lives

 

I love the Golden category – here are people of advanced years who have engaged with what can be a challenging medium – perhaps they came to it after losing a life partner –  and here they have found a new way of doing things, new ways to keep in touch, and have enhanced their lives.  Michael was the winner this year. He has long been an advocate of technology and encourages older people especially to use it . Michael has a blog  The Commonplace Book that is worth a visit for the quotes alone!  The judges for all of these categories had a challenging task to pick just one from each of these categories as they are heroes all!

Google Silver Surfer Award

An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure.

The winner of this over arching award was David,  who has become something of a techie since his retirement and has indulged his passions for music and digital photography, and entertains his grandchildren with his technical expertise!  With Apologies to Maura and Fred for the blurred photographs. Michael in this category was an inspiration to all of us – he suffered a stroke but then used his experience to help others and technology is a perfect medium for him. Well done to you all!

This is an appropriate place to give a huge shout out for Age Action Ireland   This is a n Irish Charity that promotes positive ageing and  better policies and services for older people. Age Action is regularly in the news headlines speaking out about issues that affect all of us who are older and more vulnerable. Ageing is an issue that hopefully will affect all of us of every age.  Do drop in to their webpage  here to see the wonderful work that they do, – work that enhances the lives of thousands of people and of society as a whole.

At a delicious and beautifully presented  lunch afterwards ,entertainment was provided by the excellent  and splendidly named barbershop quartet, the Sea Sharps .

It was a great event and hearty congratulations again to all the finalists  – winners all!

As  we left the premises,I couldn’t resist taking a shot of the decoration in the washrooms.

DSCF2687

The very colourful landing  with floor, walls and ceiling covered with faces – after all that is what Google is all about –  people of ALL ages!

DSCF2695

Further biographical info  on the winners can be found here

Thank you Google, and thank you Age Action!

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October 6, 2013 · 1:15 pm

International Women’s Day: The Gender Agenda

centredinternationalwomensday“The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum” is the theme for International Women’s Day on Friday next 8, March.

The story of how this annual celebration came about is  so worth repeating as it is in itself a triumph  of ‘ The Gender Agenda’ and an inspiration to all of us girls who want to celebrate the road  travelled in our name, or raise awareness of  paths that still need to be trod on behalf of our sisters across the world.

From my blog of March 2011, to mark the centenary of this international event:

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in March 1911. It had its origins in America a few years earlier where women had come together to protest against poor working conditions, resulting in a National Women’s Day being declared by the Socialist Party of America. Subsequently at an International Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, attended by delegates from 17 countries, and including the first 3 women elected to the Finnish Parliament, a proposal to have a special day each year to focus on women’s issues was met with unanimous approval.

Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark observed the first International Women’s Day in March 1911. More than a million men and women attended rallies in support of women’s right to work, right to vote, right to hold public office. In 1913, Russian women observed International Women’s Day campaigning for peace and in 1914, other European countries joined in.

In 1917, amid great unrest in Russia caused by millions of casualties, terrible food shortages, and with many women removed from farms to work in the factories, International Women’s Day prompted 90,00 workers to strike and the army at Petrograd to revolt. Attempts to end the unrest were not successful and Tsar Nicholas II abdicated some days later. The new provisional government granted universal suffrage with equality for women.

Down the decades, the movement has continued to grow and has become a worldwide event in countries all over the world. In 25 countries it is an official holiday while in China Madagascar and Nepal it is an official holiday for women only. In many countries from Bangladesh to Guinea, from Vietnam to Iceland, from Afghanistan to Zambia, events will take place on March 8th to mark International Women’s Day. The top 5 countries for International Women’s day activity to mark the centenary on March 8th are the UK, Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland.

International Women’s Day has evolved into a global day of celebration of the achievements of women, socially, politically, and economically. Women’s rights campaigners highlight inequalities and raise money for Charity and   Celebrities the world over associate themselves with the day.

So, whether you want to celebrate, raise awareness for a cause or make a call for action, International Women’s Day is a special day for our Gender Agenda! Go on, DO something!

And while we are at it, what about an International Women’s Day event for Female Bloggers! If interested, please share this post and we may be able to build an online event across the globe to celebrate who we are!

For a list of hundreds of activities and events by country, see http://tinyurl.com/bpve9tg

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Filed under Blogging, International Women's Day, Seniors, Social Change, Social Networking

European e-inclusion awards 2012 – inspiration in action

Attended by 1,150 people, followed through internet live-streaming by another 4,000 and, with more than 1,000 social media contributions, I was honoured, thrilled and humbled to be part of the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels on 21 and 22 June 2012.

The e-Inclusion Awards were established by the European Commission in 2008  ‘to discover and  celebrate organizations and individuals across Europe who champion new technology and harness the potential of the internet as a means of improving prospects, increasing employability and meeting today’s complex social and economic challenges‘.

Finalists Brochure

As one of only three finalists from across Europe in the category ‘ I am Part of IT  ‘ Personal Stories’ -(Larger Organizations) ‘ I was nominated by Age Action Ireland as a result of winning the Google /Age Action Silver Surfer Award, Social Networking category in 2011 . Age Action is an Irish  national charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. It actively encourages older people ( age 55+ ) to embrace social media. Their ‘Getting Started’ programme, spearheaded by the inspirational Pauline Power, promotes active e-inclusion and has been rolled out to over 6,000 people in the past four years.  Nominated as a finalist from entries from 34 countries,  Pauline accompanied me to the  Digital Media Agenda conference in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Day 1 was devoted to workshops, and our invitation was specifically for the Social Media workshop and feedback sessions,  with day 2 seeing the plenary sessions in the European Parliament chamber itself. Here we  were honoured to be among delegates to greet  Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, after her very eloquent address to the assembly. Among the academics, industrialists, politicians and social groups participating were  Professor Luciano Floridi from University of Hertfordshire and University of Oxford, Harry van Dorenmalen chairman of IBM Europe, Gyula Vamosi leader of the Roma  (Gypsy) community ; Anna Maria Darmanin , Vice President European Economic and Social Committee.

Whilst the conference focused on the ‘big picture’ with regard to the information society and the  breaking down of barriers to e- inclusion for all citizens of Europe, it is the ways in which ordinary people access and use the internet that demonstrates just how well the high level goals are making a difference to everyday lives.

Anna Maria Darmanin from Malta  presented the e-inclusion awards in the four categories.

There were 3 finalists in each of 4 different categories

I am part of IT – Personal stories, small organizations (< 19 employees).

The three finalists  were

  • Rosanna Nazir and Nila Smart from the Netherlands for their project helping  women looking for work in the Netherlands
  • Joy Matthews from Caerphilly, Wales and the 50+ Positive Action Partnership.
  • Elton Kalica , Italy . Elton was a most worthy and inspirational winner of this category . Arriving in Italy from Albania he found himself in prison for a long time. Through ICT skills he improved his capabilities,  did two university degrees  and now, having been released he has a good job on the ‘outside’; helping prisoners.

I am part of IT – Personal stories ,big organizations(>19 employees) 

The three finalists were

  • Marek Sikora, Chezh Republic. Marek was the first visually impaired ECDL tester in the Czech republic and he set up a not for profit organization Eye-T.cz to enable visiually impaired people take ICT skills tests.
  • Myself, Angela Gallagher, Republic of Ireland with Age Action , who in spite of living in a rural location without the benefit of broadband has embraced social media. My  experience of how technology can change a person’s life will hopefully inspire more older people to take the plunge and learn how to use computers and the internet.
  • Siemon Dekelver from Belgium had a story about ability, not disability. He was a most inspirational and worthy winner of this category, with WAI-NOT which provides mentally challenged young people with secure web-based communication tools so they can learn IT skills and lead happy and independent socially interactive lives.

Be part of IT –  small organizations .

Finalists were

  • From Romania – a project encouraging e training for 1.8 million people in Romania by reducing the skills gap between rural and urban communities
  • Inforum, Hungary – a project showing how kids and grandparents can encourage one another
  • Storybook Dads – UK were worthy winners –  the simple yet ingenious way to use the internet to improve the lives of families of a parent in prison was truly moving. Imprisoned parents record stories for children to be involved in their lives. The initiative has been shown to cut reoffending.

Be part of IT – big organizations.

The three finalists were

  • UK Online Centres  which help communities deal with social and digital exclusion . A network of 3,800 online communities spreads the word on digital inclusion.
  • Barcelona Activa,  Spain that promotes ICT training and skills  to improve employability
  • The Information Society Development Foundation Poland –  local libraries as agents for digital change. Thousands of librarians in thousands of remote communities have been trained to help otherwise excluded communities become e-included.

The judges felt that both the Barcelona Activa and Information Society Development Foundation from Poland were such extraordinary projects that touched the lives of so many, both were declared winners.

Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice President European Economic & Social Committee  (on extreme right) with finalists in the e-inclusion awards.

Each finalist had a wonderful story to tell. Each story was thoroughly inspirational, and each story was a tribute to the perseverance and dedication of ordinary people who through personal efforts and dedication, made their own lives and the lives of others, extraordinary.

I am grateful  to Age Action Ireland for nominating me and especially to   Pauline Power who was with me in Brussels;  to my son Damian, author of his own excellent blog http://irishamericancivilwar.com/ for encouraging me to get started and for his  support in setting up this blog, and to the over 20,000 visitors to this site. Thank you all!

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Filed under Ageism, Older workers, Retirement Age, Seniors, Social Justice, Social Networking, Social Policy