Amidst growing tensions between Government parties over water charges, The Carers Association is urging for clarity on the level of water charges family carers will be expected to pay and reassurance that there will be water affordability strategies in place for one of Ireland’s most vulnerable sectors.

For Ireland’s 187,112 family carers, the home is ‘a centre of care’ where vital and for the most part, unpaid services to Ireland’s health systems are contributed. Support for households where someone has a long term medical condition is essential in the roll out of water charges as such households have water needs far greater than the average household. Water affordability strategies for households with high levels of care are essential. Care in the home must be supported not penalized.

“Family carers all over Ireland are managing complex medical procedures within their homes such as dialysis and peg feeding every day. They are running essential medical devices such as nebulisers, ventilators and dialysis machines which bring with them substantial water usage in terms of their running and cleaning. Personal care, incontinence, intimate care, as well as best practice in terms of hand washing and the sanitation of health care equipment also require significantly greater water usage. Conditions such as incontinence care require regular laundry and showering” says Catherine Cox, Head of Communications with The Carers Association.

“We are urgently calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Phil Hogan to follow through on their commitment that there will be clarity on water charges for family carers before the local elections take place on May 23rd. Family carers have been severely impacted by consistent cuts to vital supports and services with the most recent affecting housing adaptation and mobility grants and we want assurance that family carers will receive a free medical allowance to reflect their increased water needs.”

Local Authorities will continue to play a role in water services until Irish Water is fully established in 2019. On May 23rd, the people of Ireland will elect 949 councilors to local Government and with reforms set to increase the power of local authorities, the role of Government at this level will play a critical role in ensuring family carers have the resources, services and supports necessary to care with confidence in the home. The Carers Association are calling on Government and local election candidates to:

  • Ensure that water affordability strategies are put in place to support vulnerable households, through the allocation of free water allowances, bill capping, budgeting tools and pre termination polices and exemptions.
  • Allocation of a special free medical allowance, which will reflect the increased essential water needs of caring households.

Ireland’s 187,112 family carers contribute €11 million per day, providing 900,000 hours of care daily and save the state €4 billion each year.  Over 21 percent of family carers provide over 43 hours of unpaid for care per week.

€1.2 million investment in Carlow homes under the Warmer Homes Scheme – Carlow County Development Partnership

Carlow County Development Partnership the agency responsible for delivering the Warmer Homes Scheme, has secured over €1.2 million in investment in the Warmer Homes Scheme for the people of Carlow Town and County.

The Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) was launched as part of ‘Better Energy, the National Upgrade Programme’ in May 2011 in the context of the Government’s Jobs Initiative and is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

To date some 340 homes in Carlow have had work carried out under the WHS and their occupants are enjoying the benefits of a warmer, more comfortable home.

The WHS offers grants to homeowners who wish to improve the energy efficiency and comfort conditions of homes occupied by vulnerable households in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme through the installation of draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation where appropriate.  The scheme expanded in 2013 with the introduction of ventilation where appropriate.

Mary Walsh CEO of Carlow County Development Partnership says, “The value of the Warmer Homes Scheme to Carlow is significant with over €1.2 million of investment for private home owners secured by Carlow County Development Partnership since start up in late 2011. Some €550,000 worth of insulating materials have been installed in Carlow homes with the grant from Sustainable Energy Ireland while over €651,000 is sourced from the Department of Social Protection to cover labour and associated costs for the scheme.

“Currently, we have a bid submitted to SEAI for a grant to insulate a further 80 homes in Carlow. This will take us up to late autumn 2014. There are approximately 30 applicants on our waiting list so already we have a good idea of who will have their homes insulated in 2014,”explained Ms Walsh.

Meanwhile, the grants are having the greatest impact on homeowners themselves who are very satisfied with the results of the works carried out.

Darren Kavanagh, Old Leighlin, Carlow who had work carried out on his home says, “We are delighted with the work that has been done to our home.  There is no question but my house feels warmer and holds the heat better since the work was carried out, thanks to all in the WHS.”

To secure the contract for the WHS for Carlow, Carlow County Development Partnership has to submit a bid to SEAI and to date has been successful on every occasion.

Ms Walsh points out, “With uncertainties in relation to capital funds in today’s economic climate it is always a concern that funding for schemes such as the WHS will run dry, however, as we see the positive results of the WHS on a daily basis, Carlow County Development Partnership is prioritising this scheme and will work hard to ensure that the funds will be available to continue the good work being carried out by Peter Mulhern who heads up this scheme, with his team of in-house installers and assessors.”

At the launch of the Better Energy Programme in June 2011, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte said, “There is only one long-term solution to making energy more affordable – using less of it. Improving the thermal efficiency of homes is the most cost effective way of increasing energy affordability and reducing energy poverty.”

Treat mom this Mother’s Day with a day off or a gift from Butterslip

With Mother’s Day almost upon us, the mums of the world will be waiting, and waiting…. And waiting to be treated, well, like Dads for the day on Sunday March 28th!

This Sunday the moms of Ireland hope that they can wake up leisurely, accept a freshly made breakfast in bed, a snuggle with the newly washed children who have already had their baths with Daddy and arise to a clean house with the prospect of lunch out – or even prepared by somebody else.

Moms have the most undervalued job in the world and any woman would tell you that many moms go out to work in order to ‘get a break’, as being a full-time mom is truly hard work and of course there is no thanks offered to moms by young children or babies (and sometimes even teens!). The payment for moms is in the smiles and the hugs and the puckered kisses offered from time to time from the aforementioned angels – and indeed these offerings are much-appreciated.

But this weekend, why not overtly show the mom in your life that you value the work that she does – both inside and outside of the home. Why not offer her a break from cooking, cleaning and child-minding as a simple gift and a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for all you do for the family.

On the other hand, you could pop down to Butterslip gift-shop on Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny ( for online shopping) and purchase your mom/wife/mother of your children a beautiful bespoke gift for Mother’s Day in the form of jewels, perfumes, handbags, scarves, truffles and much more. Butterslip is a stunning purveyor of prettiness where an array of vintage and stylish gifts are available for the woman in your life.

In the meantime, note that Anne Barber of Butterslip is hosting a coffee morning in aid of Cois Nore Cancer support services this Friday morning between 10.30 – 1pm if you would like to avail of a lovely cup of tea or coffee and some chocolate treats as you choose your Mother’s Day gift in store.

See for further information.

Destination Store seeks 30 Eggs-traordinary staff to hop on board for Ireland’s largest Easter Eggstravaganza

Destination Store seeks 30 Eggs-traordinary staff to hop on board for Ireland’s largest Easter Eggstravaganza

Having launched Ireland’s largest Easter Eggs-travaganza, leading destination and activity store, Rathwood, are now seeking 30 recruits to become part of their egg-citing Easter team.  This is the second year Rathwood will host its special Easter train event and due to its phenomenal popularity they have doubled the number of tickets available. Over 10,000 people are expected to visit the Tullow, Co Carlow based store this April.

Rathwood are looking for 30 eggs-traordinary fun staff to hop on board and become part of the experience which will run from April 12th to April 21st. The recruits will assist a host of fairy tale characters like the Easter Bunny, Humpty Dumpty and the Mad Hatter in creating a magical experience for visitors.

“We look forward to welcoming families from all over Ireland to our Easter train Eggs-travaganza but first we need to recruit 30 Easter soldiers who will assist Humpty Dumpty and the other magical characters. Successful candidates will be egg-ucated in what will be an egg-zosting but worthwhile eggs-ercise on all things Easter!” said James Keogh, MD of Rathwood.

“This year we are celebrating 20 years in business and we are committed to offering a top class destination to visit for special times of the year. We are extremely proud to have reached this significant milestone and a lot has changed over the past couple of years but we continue to adapt to the changing landscapes. It is a privilege that from our humble beginnings in 1994, we are now in a position to generate these employment opportunities while offering an unbeatable experience to our customers”.

The award-winning family run business has firmly established itself as Ireland’s leading venue for family activities and this year they will celebrate 20 years in business. The company employs 60 full time staff with this figure rising to over 150 at peak times such as Halloween and Christmas. A leading destination store housing clothing boutiques for men, ladies and children, gifts and home-ware, hand-crafted furniture, an extensive garden centre, a falconry attraction as well its popular Rathwood train attraction.

The Rathwood Easter Train will run from April 12th to April 21st and tickets are on sale now. Applicants wishing for more information can visit

The Carers Association and RTÉ broadcaster Mary Kennedy launch the 10th annual Kilkenny Mini Marathon

 The Carers Association and RTÉ broadcaster Mary Kennedy launch the 10th annual Kilkenny Mini Marathon

The Kilkenny Mini Marathon, which this year will celebrate its 10th anniversary, was launched by The Carers Association charity patron and RTÉ broadcaster, Mary Kennedy. The annual mini marathon, hosted by The Carers Association, will take place on Monday, May 5th beginning from Kilkenny’s Aspect Hotel.

This year’s event will cater for all levels of runners, walkers and family participants including a 10km (chipped) run or walk for the serious competitors and a new 5km (not chipped) run/walk for the more relaxed participant. The Carers Association is seeking the support of the public once again and are urging the people of Kilkenny to register and join in the fun and encourage friends and family members to take part.

“It is wonderful to see the support for The Carers Association today as at the beginning they had to shout very loudly to get their voice heard – but they did it and it has worked and this 10th anniversary event is very positive recognition of the great work carried out by all at The Carers Association,” said Mary Kennedy

“I am not as fit as I used to be during my marathon days in 2001 as I simply don’t have time to run with work and travel, however, I do love to run and I will definitely be taking part in this fun event on the Bank Holiday weekend.”

Gina Delaney, Outreach and Development Officer with The Carers Association speaking at the event at the Aspect Hotel today said, “Our supporters and volunteers mean so much to us and without their continued support this event would not be so successful.”

Nora O’ Gorman, Kilkenny Carer of the Year was also present and highlighted the value of the event to the people on the ground in Carlow Kilkenny.

“The fundraising from this event means that the Kilkenny/Carlow centre can continue to support local Carers. Supports like the respite service are invaluable to giving peace of mind to families and the Support Groups let you meet with others in a similar position to help break down the feeling of isolation.”

There are approximately 6,200 family carers in Carlow/Kilkenny alone carrying out an immeasurable number of caring hours on a weekly basis. Funds raised during this event will go towards much-needed respite care for these dedicated carers and their families.

The Registration fee is €15 (Late registration €20) and should be returned to The Carers Association, Springhill Clinic, Waterford Road, Kilkenny no later than Monday, April 21st. Forms can also be received by calling 056-7721424 or by logging on to A sponsorship card will be sent out to those who wish to raise much-needed funds for The Carers Association.

Choose to be a Yummy Mummy this Mother’s Day with Pink Lining baby changing bags

Butterslip Kilkenny offers new S/S14 range of changing bags for the yummiest of mummies

Step out in style with your new arrival this Mother’s Day with the newest and most-wanted baby accessory – the Pink Lining, Yummy Mummy baby changing bag.

Kilkenny’s leading destination gift store, Butterslip has a great selection of baby bags with the Spring/Summer range from Pink Lining now in stock.  Pink Lining release two collections a year, always eagerly anticipated by mums-to-be in particular!  This year’s new original prints all come with their signature, pretty, whimsical style, and shocking pink lining!

The latest spring prints include frolicking flamingos, classic owls, bounding deer and retro bicycles, all in the prettiest shades of pink, cream, grey and minty green.  As practical as they are pretty, Yummy Mummy bags all include a quality padded changing mat, wet pouch, insulated bottle pockets, nappy pockets, key fob, lipstick mirror, plus plenty of handy pockets for your keys/phone and personal items.  And as they are completely wipe cleanable inside and out, you can stay ahead of life’s daily dramas…

Pink Lining Yummy Mummy changing bags are an ideal gift for a new mum for Mother’s Day or a great gift for a mum-to-be in the near future.  With such gorgeous selection of pretty styles, the only problem is which to choose?

Butterslip Kilkenny is a one-stop-shop for all things pretty and practical for mums and babies with brands such as The Gro Company, Sophie the Giraffe and Daisy Roots infant shoes. Offering the latest trends in baby products and stunning gifts for new mums, Butterslip is the go-to destination store for all things pretty for you and your new arrival.

Butterslip and Truffle Fairy combine pretty and tasty in one magical location

The Butterslip, Kilkenny’s prettiest gift shop has added an exciting new line of luxury chocolate to their repertoire – The Truffle Fairy Chocolates have become the latest addition to the wonderful selection of goodies on offer.

The award winning Truffle Fairy from Thomastown, is well known is Kilkenny for their magnificent artisan chocolates and truffles. Set up in 2005 by local chocolatier Mary Teehan, The Truffle Fairy Chocolate Café and Production Kitchen, is a regular hotspot for chocolate lovers.

The delectable chocolates are currently available at the Farmer’s Market on the Parade in Kilkenny city on Thursdays, but now, city-based chocolate lovers will have the luxurious truffles available in The Butterslip, all week long!

Anne Barber of the Butterslip says, “I’m delighted to stock the Truffle Fairy in the shop as I’m a big fan myself! They are some of the finest chocolates available and they are locally made which is extra wonderful.”

The Butterslip Shop in Kilkenny is renowned for being packed with all things pretty! The perfect spot to pick up an unusual gift, the Truffle Fairy chocolates are a natural addition to the wonderful array of jewellery, sparkly bags, wooden toys and mother and baby products, which are constantly in demand.

With brands such as Nica Handbags, Pink Lining, E.Coudray Perfumes & Sophie the Giraffe, the Butterslip has gifts for all occasions.

See and for further information

Rathwood set for Ireland’s largest Easter Eggs-travaganza

Leading destination and activity store, Rathwood has launched Ireland’s largest Easter Extravaganza.  This is the second year, Rathwood will host its special Easter train event and due to its phenomenal popularity they have doubled the number of tickets available. Over 10,000 people are expected to visit Rathwood’s Easter train over the season which will run from April 12th to April 21st and tickets are on sale now.

Following the success of its ‘Santa Train’, which last year sold over 45,000 tickets, the family-run business has firmly established itself as Ireland’s leading venue for family activities. The Easter train will see children and adults hop on board the Rathwood express for a magical one hour experience.

Visitors will journey through the enchanted forest and help the Easter bunny on his quest for Easter eggs. Along the way, children will encounter a host of magical characters from much loved fairy tales including Humpty Dumpty. The magical train will pull into its final stop where children will be treated to a wonderful tea-party with the Mad Hatter and some of his other zany friends.

“We look forward to welcoming families from all over Ireland to our Easter Extravaganza, which we hope they will find to be egg-cellent! As a family business, it is so important to us that we help create lasting memories throughout important family holidays” said James Keogh, MD of Rathwood.

“This year we are celebrating 20 years in business and we are committed to offering a top class destination to visit for special times of the year. We are extremely proud to have reached this significant milestone and a lot has changed over the past couple of years but we have continued to adapt to the changing landscape”

Rathwood, an award-winning family business founded in 1994, is celebrating 20 years in business this year. Just 40 minutes from Dublin, Rathwood is a leading destination and activity store housing clothing boutiques for men, ladies and children, gifts and home-ware, hand crafted furniture, an extensive garden centre, a falconry attraction as well as its popular Rathwood train attraction. Visitors can also enjoy delicious dining at Rathwood Restaurant.

The Rathwood Easter Train will run from April 12th to April 21st and tickets cost €10.00 for children, €5.00 for adults and babies 0-12 months go free. Tickets are available now from

Forest shades are inspiration for new colour at Jerpoint Glass Studio

Although spring appears to be on the long finger this year, Jerpoint Glass Studio has not let the inclement weather conditions affect their brand new, spring-inspired collection of glass that has just become available this week.

The exceedingly talented team at Jerpoint have come up with a stunning new spring colour for their renowned glassware, entitled ‘forest’.

As the name would suggest the colour is inspired by the ‘the transformation in the trees from russet brown to lush green at this time of year, with bluebells in early spring and daffodils finally bounding forth signifying new beginnings.

The colours created include a mixture of speckled turquoise and green with a hint of citrus, which is applied by hand, in a band around each piece of glass individually.

Celebrating 35 years in business this year, Kathleen Leadbetter says, “We are fortunate to work in the heart of Kilkenny, with Mount Juliet on our doorstep and other woods such as Jenkinstown and Woodstock Gardens nearby. Each year, we witness first-hand, the countryside burst into colour and it is this dramatic transformation that has inspired our latest offering.”

“’Forest’, is the perfect reflection of the coming of spring complete with its bluebells, daffodils and emerald foliage,” she says.

Kathleen and her husband Keith who together founded Jerpoint Glass are responsible for creating the unique blends of colour that have become synonymous with Jerpoint Glass over the years. Today, the whole family is involved in the business, which has become a household name for reasons such as the popularity of their use of colour and their quirky designs.

Having recently established a new online store, Jerpoint has travelled far beyond the realms of home and is now supplying glassware to customers as far away a USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand

The new ‘forest’ collection is expected to be a big hit with local and overseas customers alike with the warm spring – summer tones enticing a contemporary clientele.

The new colour is now currently available online at and also in studio at Jerpoint in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny, The Design Centre, Kilkenny, the Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street, Dublin, McElwee’s, Dongloe and Quinlans in Macroom, Co Cork.

Don’t let coeliac disease quell your appetite – learn to cook gluten free at Kitchen in The Castle

[18/02/14]With Ireland having one of the highest prevalence’s of coeliac disease in the world, gluten free cooking has become more popular than ever in Irish society.

If you are tired of dried-up, shop-bought, gluten free bread, cakes and treats then the Kitchen in the Castle cookery school is your recipe to a tastier future.

Chef and proprietor of the Kitchen In The Castle Cookery School, Edwina St Lawrence has herself recently been diagnosed as coeliac and gluten-intolerant, inspiring her to develop exciting new gluten-free cookery courses at Howth Castle. Her students learn about delicious gluten free cooking during a four week intensive course on cooking without wheat, barley or rye

“It’s only since I was diagnosed myself as a coeliac that I have come to understand the culinary difficulties that people with a gluten intolerance have to endure on a daily basis. The gluten free options in many shops and restaurants are dull and unappetising and do not entice coeliacs to eat out,” she says.

“Myself and my colleague Eleanor Martin who has been cooking gluten-free for years as members of her family are coeliac, have devised a selection of sumptuous, gluten free recipes that will tempt the taste-buds of gluten and non-gluten loving diners, enabling gluten-intolerant people to feed themselves and their families from the one pot, which is often not an option for coeliacs.”

Edwina and Eleanor offer clever, gluten free substitutes along with advice on which gluten free flours are best to use in bread and which mixes best replicate that just-baked spongy freshness of home baking.

The Kitchen In The Castle four-week gluten free cooking course aims to illustrate how coeliacs can overcome the difficulties of cooking without gluten, across a wide range of dishes.

“Here at the Kitchen in the Castle we don’t believe in compromising on taste and if you are cooking for a coeliac or simply want to follow the trend and go gluten free, we are here to give you all the tools to successfully cook gluten free,” says Edwina.

And in case this all sounds like hard work the Gluten-Free Cookery course includes a sit-down dinner and glass of wine at the end of each class.

‘Gluten Free Baking’ takes place on Thursday 20th February from 7pm to 9:45pm. Cost: €65

The ‘Gluten Free 4 Week Course’ takes place from Monday 10th March from 7pm -9:45pm. Cost €240. *Due to St. Patrick’s Day, there won’t be a class on Monday 17th March but will resume the following Monday 24th and the series will end on Monday 7th of April.