Family Carers Ireland recognises remarkable carers at annual awards ceremony

 The 2019 Netwatch National Carer of the Year and four regional Young Carers of the Year for 2019 were announced today at a gala awards ceremony held in the Westin Hotel, Dublin.

 Broadcasters and patrons of Family Carers Ireland Marty Whelan and Mary Kennedy presented Marcin Filak from Kildalkey, Co. Meath with the overall Netwatch Carer of the Year Award.

 Marcin cares for his wife Ola, who suffers from locked-in syndrome, and their two children, the eldest of whom Piotr (13) has autism. Ola suffered a catastrophic brain stem stroke three weeks after the birth of the couple’s daughter Anastasia (2), resulting in locked-in syndrome. Her condition means she is aware of her surroundings but cannot move or speak and now communicates through eye movements. The couple are originally from Poland but moved to Ireland in 2016.

 Throughout Ola’s 18 months in hospital, Marcin was by her side every day and always maintained that he would make her dream to come home a reality. He quit his job as a farm equipment engineer and undertook extensive training in order to be able meet his wife’s care needs at home.Ola and the St Pats team from the National Rehabilitation Hospital nominated Marcin to say thank you for the extraordinary care he provides for his family.

 Now in their 13th year, the Netwatch Carer of the Year awards seek to recognise, celebrate and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s 355,000 family carers – almost two thirds of whom provide over 100 hours of care per week. Today, one in 10 people provide care for a loved one in the home. By 2030, that figure is expected to rise to one in five.

 The 2019 Netwatch Young Carers of the Year are:

 Munster:  Lily Power (18) from Co. Cork who has been caring from a very young age for her mum who has Parkinson’s.

 Ulster:  Áine Grant (20) from Co. Donegal who cares for her mum Nuala who was diagnosed with early onset dementia two years ago.

 Leinster: Matthew McCartin (17) from Co. Wexford who has been caring for his dad since he was five years old. His Dad now has advanced Parkinson’s Disease with dementia and is wheelchair bound.

 Connacht: Hailey Golden (11) from Co. Mayo who has three brothers with special needs. She has learned ‘Lámh’ and Picture Exchange Communication and helps to feed and dress them and to use their speech devices.

 Speaking at the gala awards ceremony, Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland said: 

We are thrilled to announce Marcin as our 2019 Netwatch National Carer of the Year. His commitment to his family is an inspiration to us all. As always we are in awe of our four Young Carers of the Year 2019 and the maturity and dedication they show in helping care for their loved ones. We look forward to this event each year which not only gives family carers the recognition they deserve, but also shines a light on caring in Ireland today and the challenges that many face in their roles. The theme of this year awards is “No one should have to care alone” highlighting the need for a shared responsibility for caring between the family carer, wider family, community and most importantly the state”.

Wendy Hamilton, SVP Global Operations, Netwatch said:

“To be here today at the awards is a real honour. Some of the Netwatch team have had the privilege of meeting the finalists at the local ceremonies around the country, and they have all been touched by the stories of these amazing families. Marcin, with his wife and kids, is an inspiration to us all – and a reminder of the material contribution carers make in communities all over Ireland. So we are privileged to have this opportunity to show our support for family carers and their vital work through this partnership with Family Carers Ireland.”


F-F-F-Freezing Furry Friends

Top-five tips for helping your animal this winter.

It’s officially winter.  With temperatures set to plummet across the South East over the weekend, it is not just us humans that are affected but also our four-legged friends. Irish pet retailer, Petmania are highlighting the importance of helping your animal to adapt to colder conditions.

 To manage this, Petmania have compiled their top-five tips to minimise the impact on pets through the ever-changing temperatures of winter.

Emily Miller of Petmania, Ireland said, “Just as we humans adapt our lifestyle and skincare routines when the months turn colder, we want to encourage pet-owners to make a few small changes for their animal companions to make the winter more comfortable for them with these easy care-tips.”

  1. Keep beds warm and dry. Choose waterproof bedding and make sure outdoor kennels, hutches and homes are warm and dry.
  2. Like us humans in colder-climates pets need clean and moisturised paw pads to prevent cracking and pain caused by hard, cold salted pavements.
  3. Use Omega oils to prevent skin becoming dry and itchy in changing temperatures.
  4. Wrap up warm. Buy a coat for winter walks, use fleece blankets and line carriers or crate beds with warm bedding.
  5. Book a dog groom. Prevent matting, hydrate the skin and condition your dog’s coat or treat arthritic joints with a muscle and joint therapy bath.

Petmania, Irish-owned pet retailer and grooming studios have an extensive range of products available to help our furry friends face the winter months, Omega oil specially designed for animals’ need and a selection bedding, warm layers and therapeutic moisturisers.

Petmania are encouraging people to book their dogs grooming sessions early this Christmas as places are booking up fast. For more information on preparing your pet for winter, contact a Petmania Pet-expert in one of its 12 stores and grooming studio’s nationwide.

See for more.

Experience The Magic of Food The Waterford Way

Waterford, the hidden ‘food-lovers’ gem of Ireland is inviting you to experience the magic of Food the Waterford Way.  Named Ireland’s top ‘Foodie Destination’ for  2019, the network of food producers, top-chefs and quality restaurants have a spectacular line-up of events, dining experiences, tours, tasters and festivals to celebrate this extraordinary accolade.

The prestigious title is due to the hard work and great produce on offer across the county, along with the support of local chefs who know the best seasonal and local produce to present, in their own way, to visitors. Waterford as a foodie destination is now firmly on the map. These chefs, shopkeepers, bakers, butchers, brewers, farmers and foragers have come together to highlight the richness of Waterford’s food offering and make it easier for visitors to find them and experience Food the Waterford Way.

It’s the way that food flourishes in Waterford’s rich soil and sandy shores protected by the mountains and nurtured by its sea breeze and mild climate, it’s the way Waterford has been a city of firsts in Ireland, first tea, first coffee, and of course the Blaa.  This collective work closely together to make Waterford’s producers accessible to all food lovers now. Food enthusiasts can take tours to meet producers and experience their passion first-hand or taste some of the world class cheese makers, ice-cream makers, distillers, brewers, bakers, butchers, farmers and sea food producers in one of the county’s fine eateries.


Éimhín Ní Chonchuir, Co-ordinator for Food the Waterford Way said,

“We are ecstatic that Waterford is Ireland’s Foodie Destination of the year 2019. Waterford has amazing hidden gems like the beautiful tunnel on the Waterford Greenway, and it has a love for great food and drink at its heart. It is a beautiful natural agricultural region from the mountains across fertile planes to the sea. This community has been farming, butchering and baking for so long. Generation of McGrath’s in Lismore, Barren’s in Cappoquin and Flahavan’s in Kilmacthomas –  it’s at our core we know how to use the food. We are delighted to let everyone in on the secret now!”


“Foodie Destinations” is an initiative by the Restaurants Association of Ireland which celebrates Ireland’s unique and wonderful food offerings and encourages local food tourism initiatives across the country. Waterford has now been named the ‘Foodie Destinations 2019’ and offers an array of getaway packages, tours and dining experiences for food lovers to enjoy. See for more.




New report shows family carers expected to fill gaps in health and social care system, regardless of personal toll

“How can I keep doing this day after day? I’m so tired I feel like I’ll drive off the road… I’m afraid he will seriously hurt me. I need help for when he is aggressive—some sort of self-protection training.” – female, full-time carer for a child.

 Almost half of family carers regularly deal with abusive behaviour while a similar proportion say that no supports and services are available. These are just some of the findings of a new research report which examines family carers’ access to supports and services, how this can affect their health and the daily challenges they face including exposure to abusive behaviours.

Family Carers Ireland, in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, today launched a new report titled Paying the Price: The Hidden Impacts of Caring. This is the second in a series of Paying the Price* reports and follows a nationwide health and wellbeing survey completed by 1,102 current family carers between November 2018 and January 2019. The survey is a repeat wave of a similar survey undertaken in 2009 and allows researchers to track changes in the health, wellbeing and burden of carers ten years later.

The report, launched at Family Carers Ireland’s National Carers’ Conference in The Hilton, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 shows that:

  • 44% of carers surveyed regularly deal with abusive behaviour
  • 70% of carers experiencing abuse as part of their caring role said their loved one did not have access to suitable respite
  • 76% of care recipients did not receive any home support hours
  • 74% of care recipients requiring 100+ hours of care per week had no access to home support hours
  • 49% of carers said that no supports and services were available
  • 79% of carers supporting children with care needs found it difficult to make ends meet
  • 25% of carers could not access supports and services due to distance and/or transport issues
  • 43% of carers said that supports and services were not disability, condition and/or age appropriate

Reacting to the findings, Family Carers Ireland’s Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Catherine Cox said:

“This report shows the enormous price paid by the 355,000 family carers in Ireland who prop up the health system at great personal cost. Three quarters of care recipients did not receive any home support hours. The toll on the carers’ mental and physical health is enormous and it begs the question – how long can they continue without the supports that Family Carers Ireland has repeatedly demanded from Government?”

“Family carers save the State at least €10bn a year by caring for their loved ones at home. This study outlines the terrible price of this love.”

Key recommendations highlighted by Dr Nikki Dunne, Research Officer with Family Carers Ireland, include:

  • Recognise carers as victims of abuse – Further research and public discussion on the impact of physical and verbal abuse on family carers is key to recognising carers as victims of abuse and developing effective interventions to allow them to care safely.
  • Urgently address the homecare crisis and postcode lottery – Funding of €3.2 million per annum is required to support family carers and ensure that they are guaranteed access to a basket of supports and services regardless of where they live.
  • Address the transport needs of carers – Replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant Schemes, withdrawn in 2013, with the long awaited Transport Support Scheme and widen the criteria of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme to include people with intellectual or cognitive impairments.
  • Abolish the In Loco Parentis rule – Organisations involved in supporting children and families are united in their call to end the in loco parentis rule and the unfair restrictions it places on the families of Ireland’s most vulnerable children.
  • Introduce practical approaches to protecting carers at risk of harm – Train healthcare professionals to identify and support carers, offer carers training, provide emergency respite care services, involve all agencies who play a role in safeguarding adults and children.

Full report available on


Spooky Surprise at Georgina Campbell’s ‘Family Friendly Hotel of the Year’

Recently named Georgina Campbell’s ‘Family Friendly Hotel of the Year’, Kilkenny’s Newpark Hotel has added a spooky surprise for residents to its Halloween Breaks.

New to the hotel this year, residents can enjoy a thrilling ride by night through the medieval streets of Kilkenny to learn of the mysterious vanishing witch, Alice Kyteler, and her assistant, Petronella, along with eerie tales of times gone by!

The hotel boasts so many activities for the whole family including the Newpark Adventure Trail, Tree-Top Adventure Playground with Zip Line, the Newpark Mini Wildlife Farm, on-site Go-Karting, the Newpark Fairy Trail, Newpark Adventure Fen Trail, a 2.5-mile nature walk, Indoor swimming pool, ‘The Zone’ games room and the Crazy Cats Kids Club.

For tiny-tots, a special playroom for under three’s and a parenting room equipped with a fridge, microwave, steriliser and baby changing facilities to make a family stay hassle free.

Adults can ‘Escape’ to the Health Club and Spa, which features a thermal suite, luxurious treatment rooms and a tranquil relaxation area that will leave them feeling de-stressed, rejuvenated & rebalanced.

Halloween Family Breaks

Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny have both 2 and 3 night packages available for the Halloween mid-term. Breaks start from just €199 per night based on a family of two adults and two children.

Halloween Family Breaks include:

  • Bed and full Irish breakfast for two adults and two children
  • Dinner on one evening for adults in Gulliver’s Restaurant and high-tea for children served in the Crazy Cats Kids Club.
  • The Crazy Cats Kids Club for 4 to 12-year-olds from 10am-4pm with lunch included.
  • Lots of Halloween themed activities throughout the week
  • The Newpark Adventure Fen Trail
  • The Newpark Tree Top Adventure Playground with Zipline
  • The Newpark Mini Wildlife Farm
  • Falconry Experience
  • Spa offer: spend over €65 on any treatment and receive a voucher for a €25 discount

All Guests enjoy complimentary use of our Escape Health Club with Thermal Suite & Infinity Pool during their stay. See for more.