Carers face further distress following Government cuts to housing adaptation and mobility grants

Family carers across the country have been targeted once again with further cuts announced today to the Housing Adaptation Grant for people with a disability, Housing Aid for Older People and the Mobility Aid grants.

Carers learned this morning that changes to the grants will be implemented immediately and may affect many of the 187,112 family carers who are in receipt of the family carers allowance, seeking to make their homes safe to enable their loved ones to be cared for at home.

The announcement sets out new criteria for the eligibility of the grants leaving many family carers ineligible.

From now on applicants seeking the Housing Aid Grant for Older People must be over the age of 66 – where previously applicants needed to be 60 years of age. Also from today, the income of all household members is to be considered in means assessment for grants – up until now only the income of the applicant and the spouse was assessed. Also under the Housing Adaptation and Housing Aid Schemes, households in the lowest income band with an income of €30,000 or less will only receive 95% of the costs and not 100% as was previously the case. The upper income limit to be eligible for both schemes has been reduced by €5,000 to €60,000 and finally applicants for grants must also prove they have paid their property tax.

Catherine Cox, Communications Manager at the Carers Association says, “this is yet another huge blow to family carers who have already suffered in recent times with cuts to the Respite Care Grant. At a time when there are already huge demands on family carers, this revelation is devastating news for those who are seeking grants. Already family carers are saving the state over four billion euro every year by caring for their loved ones at home. People who are now ineligible for these grants may now have to take the difficult decision to have their loved ones cared for by the state simply because they cannot afford to have their homes modified to keep them there safely.

“Minister Jan O’ Sullivan has said that these cuts are not about saving money but ‘ensuring the grants are made to the maximum number of people that need them most.’ She claims that they have increased the funding for this year by €3million and will help more people stay at home. However, I fail to see how these cuts illustrate what she has stated. Spending on these grants has almost halved over the past three years from €79million in 2010 to €35million in 2013. They come on top of increasing restrictions on older people’s access to the Fair Deal nursing home beds, the abolition of their telephone allowance and cuts to the home-care budgets. The cuts are completely at odds with the Dept of Health’s policy to have less people in hospitals and institutions and care for them at home. Rather than keeping people at home, it will force them into already overcrowded A&E departments.”

“We believe it is timely for the Government to consider a statutory entitlement for carers to homecare community services, which would be of huge assistance to carers and their dependents and be in keeping with the policy to keep people out of hospital,” concluded Ms Cox.


Local Musician launches Charity Christmas Gift Single ‘HOME’ in aid of The Carers Association

Local singer-songwriter, JP Ryan has launched a brand new Charity Christmas gift single, ‘Home’ which he has produced in support of The Carers Association for the festive season. The single is available now in a specially packaged Christmas Gift Card from selected local retail outlets and online from www.jpryanmusic.com

Proceeds from the sale of the gift single ‘Home’ will go directly to The Carers Association who offer much-needed respite and services to family carers across the country. There are over 187,000 family carers across Ireland who provide unpaid care to society’s older people, those terminally ill and children and adults with disabilities – yet they have no legal entitlement to holidays, breaks or a day off from this demanding role, even at Christmas.

“Christmas evokes many different memories for many people. Everyone has a childhood memory of Christmas and this song is about thinking back on those happy memories. My home was more than just a house. Bricks and mortar can define a house, but ‘home’ has a far greater resonance” said JP Ryan.

“A house is built to protect but a home is built to grow and this is never truer than around the festive season. For me, as the song says, it was the fairy lights around the window and the open fire by my bed and my mother coming in with kind words”

An accomplished recording artist, JP Ryan, began playing music in his late teens influenced by an ongoing affinity for old Irish folk songs. Described as having songs and a performance style that covers a wide emotional range, JP has played with and opened for a range of established acts, among them, Rod Stewart and Natasha Bedingfield.The single ‘Home’ is now available from the following local outlets, Kilkenny Design Centre, The Book Centre, Broderick’s Music, ESSANESS Music, Kafe Katz, Rollarcoaster Records, Ormonde Leisure Club, Fennelly Fitness and Jones Business Supplies.

For more see www.jpryanmusic.com


Festive Free Range

Carlow Free Range delivers thousands of turkeys this festive season

With turkeys eaten by 94 per cent of Irish people around Christmas, free range artisan poultry farmers, Bertram and Celine Salter of Carlow Free Range have experienced a significant increase in interest and sales in free range turkeys this year.

Carlow Free Range had sold over 90 per cent of its festive free range turkeys by November 1st and are planning to double production next year to help meet demand, expanding facilities in 2014.

Unusually for its sector, Carlow Free Range owns and manages the entire supply chain process from rearing their turkeys through to packaging and delivery. This means removing food miles and travel stress for the birds and allowing consumers enjoy a healthy, wholesome and natural turkey that is fully traceable to the farm, being reared beside the Salters family home.

Carlow Free Range supplies its turkey to private customers and good craft butchers including Michael McAssey in Ballon and Bosco’s Butcher in Carlow, Ardeen Quality Foodstore in Waterford and reputable independent grocers nationwide.

“Such is demand, we recently expanded our facilities to process additional free range turkeys and are planning on doubling turkey supply next year. People are willing to spend more for excellent quality and great taste and our customers are coming back with orders year after year. Butchers would attest to the fact that free range turkeys are vastly superior in taste and more succulent than commercially produced turkeys.

With so many turkeys now being imported into Irish supermarkets, we are encouraged that demand is increasing for locally reared turkeys and welcome visitors to our farm to hand-pick their turkeys” said Bertram Salter, Carlow Free-Range.

Carlow Free Range’s corn fed free range chicken and free range turkeys receive rave reviews and Bertram and Celine are keen for consumers to go back to older, traditional cooking methods, using everything from the meat to the bones for chicken stock. Both Bertram and Celine are actively involved in the day to day running and management of Carlow Free Range and live by the farm with their three children, Isobel, Jamie and Luci. This way, they ensure that their commitment to quality standards translates into a premium quality, free range poultry.

See www.carlowfreerange.ie


Create the perfect Festive Favourites with Neven Maguire’s TV Christmas Special

Award-winning chef Neven Maguire’s highly anticipated ‘Home Chef’ Christmas Special will be broadcast on RTÉ 1, Monday, December 9th at 8.30 pm.

A must-view for all Christmas cooks, this special programme will feature Neven demonstrating his favourite festive recipes, including a delicious prawn cocktail, traditional glazed ham, mouth-watering turkey breast in buttermilk, and a sinful chocolate sensation dessert!

Having fulfilled a long-held dream opening his first cookery school, the Neven Maguire Cookery School, in Blacklion, Co. Cavan, Neven has also just finished filming his sixth series for RTÉ television which will be broadcast early 2014. Titled ‘Home Chef’ the series has also been picked up by America’s PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and has been broadcasting across the states since November. ‘Home Chef’ is also broadcast in the UK.

His eleventh cook book, The Nation’s Favourite Food, is also out now to excellent review.

See www.nevenmaguire.com


About Neven Maguire:

Award-winning chef, Neven Maguire, is proprietor/Head Chef of MacNean House & Restaurant in Blacklion in Co. Cavan. Neven began cooking at 12 years of age in the kitchen of the restaurant which was then run by his parents. Neven took over MacNean House & Restaurant in 2001 and it is now one of Ireland’s top restaurants, consistently winning awards for both its cuisine and service. Neven is regarded as one of Ireland’s most talented and innovative chefs and is credited with raising the awareness of many top quality Irish food producers and of cooking with seasonal produce.


Destination store invests €100,000 into Christmas Experience

Destination and activity store, Rathwood, has invested €100,000 into its popular Christmas experience this festive season. Following the increasing success of its ‘Santa Train’, with 40,000 tickets sold this year, Rathwood has tripled its workforce for the Christmas season, this year recruiting a record 100 elves.

Rathwood has invested €100,000 into providing a new Santa’s Train, employing additional Elves and extra props and Christmas gifts for children. Located on the Carlow/Wicklow border, Rathwood is planning further investment for 2014 launching Ireland’s first Elf Village.

“Christmas is always a very special time at Rathwood and we have invested €100,000 into making this years’ experience even more special with lots of surprises and special gifts for children” said James Keogh, MD of Rathwood, a family business founded in 1994.

“We have seen numbers visiting our store and restaurant and booking our Santa Train grow hugely over the years, particularly among adults. It’s very popular for the whole family, with grandparents coming along now too. We always get great feedback and people trying to book next year’s tickets as early as January!”

Rathwood is an award-winning destination store that houses a dedicated Christmas store, hand crafted furniture, boutiques, an extensive garden centre, Rathwood Restaurant, a falconry attraction as well as its Rathwood train.

For more see www.rathwood.com


Neven Maguire opens first Cookery School

Award-winning chef Neven Maguire has fulfilled a long-held dream opening his first cookery school, the Neven Maguire Cookery School, in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. With Neven continually investing in MacNean House & Restaurant, employing a team of 50, the opening marks another significant investment into Blacklion.

The state-of-the-art cookery school will feature a range of exciting cookery classes for all skill levels, and tours of Neven’s extensive vegetable and herb collections by resident gardener, Kevin Ashley.

“I meet so many talented and interested cooks at demonstrations all around the country and I have always wished to spend that little bit more time helping them to get to the next stage. From my early days in Fermanagh College I have always enjoyed teaching and am really looking forward to being able to spend time with people who are as passionate about food as I am” said Neven.

The Neven Maguire Cookery School, adjoining Neven’s MacNean House & Restaurant, will begin a range of classes from February 1st 2014.  Classes include both hands-on learning and demonstrations by Neven and his team. Class themes for early 2014 include ‘Entertainment Made Easy’, ‘Mastering Meat’, ‘Breakfast Masterclass’ and specialist classes on vegetarian dishes and fish, with a focus on shellfish.

With many couples taking cooking classes together, the Neven Maguire Cookery School has also announced two special ‘Valentine’s Cooking’ classes taking place February 14th and 15th. Neven is also offering his new Chef’s Table option – an exclusive intimate dining experience in the school. This perfect celebration for special occasions, anniversaries, corporate events and birthdays, can cater for a minimum of ten and a maximum of 20 and serves the celebrated MacNean Restaurant Tasting Menu with accompanying wines, all cooked and presented by Neven and his team.

Neven is currently filming his sixth series for RTÉ television which will be broadcast early 2014. Titled ‘Home Chef’ the series has just been picked up by America’s PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and will be shown there from November. ‘Home Chef’ is also broadcast in the UK.

His eleventh cook book, The Nation’s Favourite Food, was released by Gill & Macmillan in October 2013. MacNean House & Restaurant has been chosen as the only Irish restaurant included in the top ten of the prestigious TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice 2013 list for Fine Dining Restaurants in Europe.

The perfect Christmas gift, vouchers for the Neven Maguire Cookery School are now available. See www.nevemaguire.com / 071 9853022.


Dublin Design Firm Win Top Digital App Design Awards

Vermillion Design awarded prestigious national award for Digital App Designs

Dublin-based Vermillion Design have been awarded two prestigious national awards for Digitial App Designs at the recent Annual Institute of Designers of Ireland awards.

The awards celebrate and recognise the very best of Irish design and showcase the excellence of the Irish design industry. Vermillion Design received the Digital App Design awards for their work on singer-songwriter Pierce Turners ‘Snow’ app and ‘Books of Dublin’, an app that showcases a selection of rare manuscripts and historic books in Marsh’s Library and the Edmund Worth Library.

Using cutting edge technology and the outstanding design skills of the creative team at Vermillion Design consisting of Conor O’Riordan, Kevin Dunne, Fiona Byrne and Creative Director Anne Brady, the Dublin firm has firmly established themselves as leaders in providers of digital design. The design and distribution of smartphone and tablet apps is now a €14 billion world market.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Vermillion’s managing director Anne Brady expressed her pleasure at her company’s outstanding success.

“We are very excited to receive this honour and to share our success with our many clients both here and in the UK. These awards reflect the quality of both our creative design work and our clients’ work. It was a pleasure to work with Pierce Turner is a talent of huge originality on his ‘Snow’ app. The Books of Dublin app reveals some hidden treasures and features video of many of Dublin’s leading scholars discussing their favourite books from Marsh’s Library and the Edward Worth Library”

The first prize award-winning app ‘Snow’ explores the fascinating world of singer-songwriter Pierce Turner and the making of his enigmatic album ‘Songs for a Very Small Orchestra’, concentrating on the writing and production of his much-acclaimed song Snow. Turner, who divides his time between New York and his native County Wexford, is one of the world’s most original and creative forces within the musical world.

The second award taken by Vermillion was for an app entitled Books of Dublin. This app showcases a selection of rare books from two of Dublin’s most renowned antiquarian libraries, and includes commentaries from leading academic specialists.

“This prestigious award for Vermillion Design further demonstrates the impact of design in the area of new media. It proves beyond doubt how creative design skills can add value and indeed change the dynamics within the exciting and constantly developing field of digital communications and marketing” said Andrew Bradley, President of Institute of Designers in Ireland.

Founded by Anne Brady in 1999, Vermillion Design has built an undisputable reputation in Ireland and internationally as leading providers of creative solutions in branding, literature design, 2D, 3D environments and digital media.Both apps, ‘Snow’ and ‘Books of Dublin’ are available for free download to iPad on the iTunes store.

See www.vermilliondesign.com

Festive Fun at Dunboyne Castle Hotel’s Christmas Fair

Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is gearing up to celebrate this holiday season in style. Free festive fun for the whole family, the hotel will host its renowned Christmas Fair from noon to 5 pm on Sunday, December 1st, featuring an array of attractions, handcrafted gifts and a free visit from Santa with a complimentary gift for each child! Entertainment will also be provided by the local Children’s Choir.

This festive fair includes a number of artisan stalls and locally made Christmas gifts from hand poured candles, crochet creations, festive decorations, baby gifts and knits, fashion accessories, handcrafted jewellery and Christmas cakes.

Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa will also host its ‘pop up’ Christmas shop featuring perfect gifts from treatments at its luxurious Seoid Spa to delicious dining at its award-winning restaurant, ‘The Ivy’. To really impress, specially packaged Christmas vouchers are available for the hotel’s upcoming exclusive events including an intimate night of laughter and memories with “An Evening with Gay Byrne” on January 23rd, a special presentation of expert gardening tips from Ireland’s best loved personality, Dermot O’Neill, on March 13th, and TV Chef Neven Maguire’s renowned cookery demonstration on May 7th.

See dunboynecastlehotel.com

Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa, Dunboyne, Co. Meath

Carlow County Development Host Christmas Photography Competition

As part of the first ever ‘Christmas in Carlow’ event, Carlow County Development Partnership is hosting an amateur photographic competition for all amateur photographers across the county.

The theme of the competition is ‘Movement in Carlow’ and photographers are being asked to submit one photograph each with this theme before Monday November 25, 2013.

The competition comprises of two categories, over and under 18. With a cash prize of €200 for each category which is kindly being sponsored by Bagenalstown and Carlow Credit Unions, plus an hour’s free tuition with David Andrew Photographer for each winner, this is a wonderful opportunity for budding photographers out there.

Entry is free and in addition, the top 10 photographs will be framed and exhibited in the George Bernard Shaw Room in Carlow Library for a week before Christmas.

Entries must include the following information: Name; Address; Age; and a description of the image (in no more than 30 words). One image per entrant and only entries received to the above e-mail address will be considered. Entries that do not include the requested detail will not be considered.

If you or your clients/members would like to enter, photographs can be sent to info@carlowdevelopment.ie by this Monday, November 25th.


Lynda Booth, founder of Dublin Cookery School, launches first cook book

Lynda Booth, founder of Dublin Cookery School, launches first cook book

Lynda Booth, founder of the award-winning Dublin Cookery School*, has realised a long-held dream with the launch of her first book titled ‘From Lynda’s Table’.

This beautiful presentation of over 140 recipes is full of Lynda’s culinary memories and depicts her personal journey through food spanning nearly two decades. She joined with friend and fashion designer Liz Quin and photographer Joanne Conway to style the food photography, resulting in a fresh looking cookery book where the food literally leaps off the page.

Lynda’s dedication, drive and enthusiasm for food has seen her travel and work with some of the world’s best restaurateurs and chefs, from the Four Seasons in Canada to the acclaimed Relais Chateaux Hotels in Italy. Her bold approach to Raymond Blanc landed her a job as pastry chef at his Michelin two starred restaurant “Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons” in Oxford. Lynda includes in the book the delicious ‘Robert de Niro’s Chocolate Hazlenut Cake’ she created for the actor’s birthday celebrations in Vancouver where he was joined by fellow Oscar-winner Sean Penn.

Lynda is a teacher at heart and is always bringing new ideas and ingredients to the school and to her new book that will stretch the cook’s repertoire. Suitable for beginners and experienced cooks, ‘From Lynda’s Table’ challenges the reader to try new things and is a ‘must have’ for every kitchen.

“My book is aimed at the type of adventurous spirit who loves to keep learning and extending their skills. It gives an understanding of technique and a confidence in using a whole array of ingredients. My hope is that when you open the fridge door, you will be flooded by new possibility. I have put my heart and soul, as well as my best recipes, into this book” said Lynda Booth.

The book’s contents are devised into five easy-to-follow themes all with Lynda’s unique explanation of her inspiration. The engagingly written stories give a fascinating background to Lynda’s approach to cooking. Beginning with ‘Foundations’, a fresh take on important basics (from breads to salads, stocks and pastry), Lynda takes the home cook on a journey inspired by her travels and food heroes.

‘Going West’ sees Lynda’s range of recipes inspired by holidays in the West of Ireland and features lobster, pizzas, barbeques and dishes to ‘feed a mob’. ‘Branching Out’ challenges the reader to try new things and push the boat out with ingredients such as quinoa, spelt and saffron as well as the opportunity to explore the versatility of sauces. In ‘Going East’ Lynda presents an array of dishes inspired by world-cuisine from Thailand and India. She has hosted classes by David Thompson and Atul Kochhar, leading chefs in Thai and Indian cuisine. In the book she draws not just on their recipes but on their tips and wisdom to get to the heart of their cooking style.

The book concludes with ‘Sweet Endings’ where Lynda, showing her passion for desserts, features a selection of mouth-watering recipes and techniques. Watch out for her show-stopping passion fruit brulée tart!

A must-have for all passionate cooks, ‘From Lynda’s Table’ (DCS Publishing) is available now priced €24.99 from all good book stores and signed copies from www.dublincookeryschool.ie.