Campus Holidays are re-launched for a second year at University of Limerick

The University of Limerick has announced that it is to continue to offer its new ‘Campus Holidays’ initiative which was launched last year in a move to promote the University student villages as a great option for family holidays during the summer months.

A first for the university in 2013, Campus Holidays proved to be a success prompting a boost to tourism in the region and in particular for Campus Life Services – the subsidiary University company that manages, markets and develops the campus and its facilities for conferences, accommodation and events.

This year, Campus Holidays will be offering spacious apartments in one of UL’s charming residential villages where families and groups can avail of the campus’ many facilities and UL Sports Arena, Ireland’s largest indoor sporting complex, local flora and fauna trails, art collections, on-site restaurants and bars, concerts and events.

Families and groups can come and stay in 2/4/6 bed apartments and enjoy all the campus has to offer, while also taking in some of the many local tourist attractions such as King Johns Castle, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and the UL activity Centre in Killaloe for the more adventurous visitor.

With Limerick City awash with arts and culture as it celebrates its status as Irish City of Culture this year, there will be no shortage of cultural events to attend throughout the summer months, while UL Sports Arena will take care of the sporting needs of all the family.

Linda Stevens, Director of Campus Life Services says, “I am very much looking forward to the second season of Campus Holidays, which was very successful last year and offered great opportunities for families and groups to spend time on a University campus. Staying on campus offers visitors the opportunity to experience all the on-campus amenities on offer and also provides a central base for those who want to travel further afield across the city and county and experience in full, all that Limerick has to offer – particularly in this special year where Limerick holds the status of City of Culture.

“We have developed a dedicated accommodation package for the national and international leisure market. Campus Holidays allows the University to showcase its excellent amenities to a new audience while allowing the creation of new revenue streams for the university.”

With UL hosting several prestigious events this year including the Special Olympics and the 10th anniversary year of the Drama League of Ireland, ‘Campus Holidays’ adds an innovative new accommodation offer to the city.

See www.campusholidays.ie or Tel: 061 234 178


When summer sun equals night-time fun for little ones – it’s time to call on Gro!

Long summer nights are very welcome for most of the population – except for those with small children. Bright nights can quickly turn into late nights for little ones who can’t sleep, and early mornings when children are woken by glorious morning sunshine.  When this happens, mums and dads turn to Gro.

Gro offers two very effective methods of encouraging children to stay in bed when they should be asleep – the Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind is a must-have for home and abroad during the summer months. When flimsy holiday-home curtains don’t cut it for kids, the versatility of this product allows you to easily and conveniently darken any room in a matter of minutes. It fits any window up to size 135cm x 200cm.

This versatile blind fits directly to the glass in minutes using suction cups ensuring a close fit and instantly creating a darkened environment. Once no longer needed the Gro Anywhere blackout blind folds neatly away in its handy travel bag.

The second solution for toddlers and older children is the Gro Clock, which operates on a stars at night, sun by day method, giving small children an easily understandable visual method of telling the time.  The clock face remains blue and the stars go out one by one throughout the night and when morning comes (at an appropriate time set by parents!) – the sun comes up on a yellow clock face indicating to kids that it’s ok to get up! There is a digital display as children get older and want to learn to read the time themselves offering independence to children as they grow up.

This clock is a must for children who don’t understand that 5am is not a good time to rise and for parents who also benefit from a full night’s sleep. The Gro Clock comes with a beautifully illustrated story-book also encouraging children to ‘read’ in bed until it’s time to get up.

Everyone welcomes the summer months, particularly when there are effective tools to deal with the challenges that summer brings at sleeping time. Don’t be caught out this summer. Get your Gro solutions today and feel the benefits from June to September.

Gro products are available at Butterslip, Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny including the very popular range of sleeping-bags and Gro toys and along with a further selection of great brands for babies and toddlers. See www.butterslip.com.


Belle Femme summer bras are floral and fabulous!

Over 80% of women are wearing the wrong-sized bra – Bridget Kearney, lingerie fitting expert

Belle Femme Lingerie Boutique on Kilkenny’s fashionable Kieran Street has summer sun packaged perfectly in a cool collection of fabulously, floral bras and briefs

With labels such as Fauve, Panache, Charnos, Huit and Lepel there is something beautiful for every shape and size at Belle Femme Lingerie.

Bridget Kearney, Proprietor of Belle Femme, offers women an expert and unique fitting service without the use of a tape measure, which makes Belle Femme Lingerie unique.

“I was trained in the UK by one of a handful of people worldwide to have a Masters Research degree in bra design and manufacture. The reason why we fit without the tape measure is that the body is elastic, but a tape measure is static.  A tape measure cannot measure volume, so it is essential that anyone advising women on wearing a bra should know how to assess and fit without a tape measure,” she says.

Bridget is passionate about finding the perfectly-fitting bra for every woman’s individual shape. She goes to great lengths to find the right bra for each of her customers who travel far and wide to experience her expertise and her stunning lingerie collections.

“Unfortunately more than 80% of women are wearing the wrong-sized bra,” she says. “Every woman is a 36C in their own eyes but of course this is not the case in reality. We are all very different shapes and sizes and therefore there is not a ‘one size fits all’ rule that works. Every brand is a different shape and fabric and there are also variations in size and therefore you may not be the same size in every brand. Women need to be fitted for every bra that they purchase in order to know they are wearing the correct size,” she says.

With a fabulous new range of summer lingerie in stock for the season ahead, Bridget is excited about the colour, styles and fabrics of what is hot this season.

“Florals are big at present and colour is always popular. Some women find it hard to get gorgeous lingerie in their size but at Belle Femme we stock all sizes and if it’s not in stock we can certainly order it for customers.”

Belle Femme is the go-to lingerie boutique in the south east and is located on Kilkenny’s trendiest pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare – Kieran Street. Stocking an array of new collections both in-store and online – pop in or log on to find your perfect bra, nightwear or swimwear for what we can only hope will be the long hot summer ahead.

Belle Femme also specialises in maternity and bridal wear with a large selection of backless and strapless options which are offered in ivory, white and nude colours.

See www.bellefemmelingerie.ie or call 056 7756836.


Jerpoint Glass celebrates one year online and an increase in retail sales

Jerpoint Glass Studio in County Kilkenny has recorded a significant boost in sales from overseas customers since the establishment of the online business www.jerpointglass.com.

Jerpoint Glass has proven itself as one of Ireland’s top heritage craft companies with strong local and national connections, however in recent years, the proprietors, the Leadbetters could see that the family-run business was becoming a victim of the downturn and that it would be necessary to target a new audience.

With the help of a grant from Kilkenny County Enterprise Board, the website was born. The establishment of the website and online store along with an integrated digital presence incorporating social media was the obvious solution and has since opened up the company to new audiences from as far away as Hong Kong, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.

With year one just behind them, the Leadbetters have already recorded some 18,500 visitors to the site adding an additional 50% increase in sales online year on year and with a 10% increase in overall retail sales.

The average spend online was €116.00 and Director of Marketing, Sally Leadbetter says that some of this increase in sales can be attributed to the ability to highlight particular products at specific times of the year and to their exclusive online special offers.

“Our website has become a platform for what we can offer on a seasonal basis along with what we have on offer all year round. For example on Valentine’s Day we can showcase a particular product that would make an appropriate Valentine’s gift such as a pair of wineglasses in red or pink colours. This spring we launched our new Forest shade which is all about greens, turquoises and yellows. Throughout the summer months we will feature special offers on popular wedding gifts, now all of these can be showcased to the world, without anyone having to travel to our studio in County Kilkenny or seek out a retail outlet that offers Jerpoint Glass. The website has become the perfect virtual shop-window for our business,” she says.

Jerpointglass.com has also led to an increase in enquiries about corporate gifts, personalised gifts and logo placement on a piece of Jerpoint Glass, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Small Firms Association and Coillte.

“Companies that have executives travelling overseas, want to offer an Irish gift to their host and Jerpoint Glass has proven very popular in this realm and it can all be done via our website and packaged and posted to its destination without any hassle. This is proving a popular option for corporate customers and invaluable to our new business offering,” says Sally.

“Overall, the addition of the online store has been hugely beneficial to Jerpoint Glass, not only in the capacity of increased sales and lead generation but also it has encouraged us to take a more holistic approach to the business, incorporating social media, blogging and other digital channels as we strive to keep our offering fresh online and in store,” concluded Sally.





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 (www.butterslip.com 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 www.butterslip.com 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 www.rathwood.com


Study finds carers of children with behavioural difficulties are at higher risk of depression – Carers Association

A recent report carried out by researchers at the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick on carers raising children with developmental difficulties, has produced worrying results according to the Carers Association.

The report revealed that in carers of children with disorders such as autism, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, there was a 10% increased prevalence of clinical depression, compared to parents of typically developing children.

It was also revealed that some 15% of carers of children with disabilities who were surveyed as part of the 8, 500 children in the Growing Up in Ireland Survey, were classified as depressed but less than half of those were treated for their depression.

Stemming from this report and given the impact of caring on care-givers, experts have called on authorities to classify care-giving as a major public health concern.

Catherine Cox of the Carers Association supports this move and points out that carers are often so busy caring for others that they neglect their own physical and mental health.

“We would support the call to classify care-giving as a major public health concern as we are at the coal face on a daily basis and see first-hand the strain that our members are under. It is worrying but not surprising to note that while parents are suffering from depression many are not receiving the treatment that they require. This may be because of financial difficulties preventing them from attending a GP if they don’t have a medical card or simply because they feel guilty that they have to seek help as there is still stigma attached to mental health issues.

“These parents are constantly fighting for their childrens’ rights – from fighting for a diagnosis to fighting for early intervention, right through to primary and secondary school assistance. Once their child reaches 18 they have to fight for after-school services and day care centre support. One of the biggest and most worrying problems facing these parents is the lack of therapies available for their children such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services. Many children are languishing on waiting lists for years, and those aged over 7 are at high risk of never receiving the supports. Is there any wonder that there is a higher rate of depression recorded in carers as their lives are a constant battle for services that they should be receiving automatically in many cases from the State,” says Ms Cox.

The report also found that the high rates of depression recorded in carers could be due to the need to control child behavioural problems in children with developmental difficulties with the health and well-being of the child also taking priority over the carers’ own. It was found that more problematic behaviours accounted for increased risk of depression.

“It is vital that interventions are found for the treatment of depression in these parents as evidence has shown that depressive symptoms may worsen over time. We have seen families recently losing home support for their children which is putting tremendous pressure and stress on already stressed parents and families. We point out also that if the carer’s health fails then the State will be faced with an even larger bill to look after both the carer and the person for whom they are caring. It is in everyone’s best interest to care for the carer and put in place systems that consider the carer’s mental and physical health needs as a priority,” says Ms Cox.

Family carers provide some 900,000 hours of care daily and save the State €4billion each year. Over 21% of family carers provide 43 hours of care per week. The Carers Association provides assistance and support to some 187,112 family carers across the country.

Blog 31st Jan 2014

Great performance yesterday by Edwina St Lawrence from the Kitchen in the Castle cookery school. Some great healthy options that you can view on the TV3 website.

Time is always tight on these cookery slots, and there is a lot of assembly and a little cooking. Edwina had gone for roast salmon with puy lentils and herbs for her main course and it looked scrumptious presented on a magnificent platter made by Bridge Pottery from Burnhurch, Co Kilkenny.

Preparation is the key to these slots. Edwina had rehearsed with Kitchen in the Castle colleague Eleanor Martin and they arrived at the studio will all of the ingredients ready to go. Then over to floor manager Derek who was a great help in laying it all out correctly before presenter Anna Daly arrived for their friendly chat.

Thank you to all at Ireland AM

Watch it here
John M

A New Year, A New You with Chia bia – Naturally increase your energy levels and lose weight

Make 2014 your healthiest year yet with Chia bia, Chia seeds have long been lauded by health conscious celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and supermodel Miranda Kerr.

An ancient super-food grown in South America, Chia seeds are a natural, gluten-free, food-source containing all essential amino acids. They are the highest known plant-based source of Omega 3 and are high in fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Through introducing chia seeds into diets on a regular basis, they are proven to help;

  • Maintain a healthy heart and digestive system
  • Improve memory and concentration
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Relieve joint pain
  • Encourage weight loss
  • Increase energy levels.

When used as part of a healthy eating plan, Chia seeds can help with reaching weight loss goals;

  • Chia is hydrophilic meaning that it absorbs water and bulks the stomach making you feel fuller for longer helping to eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.
  • The soluble fibre in Chia helps slow down the rate at which carbohydrates are digested giving you a much slower release of energy. This ensures your digestive system is healthy and your metabolism is optimal.
  • When chia reaches the tummy, it gels and forms a physical barrier slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar diminishing sugar peaks and troughs and also ensuring the body stores less fat around the middle.
  • UK nutritionist Patrick Holford, and advocate of Chia bia, is currently promoting a new diet called the low GL diet. The GL Diet refers to Glycaemic Load and his premise behind the diet is that sugars, as opposed to the fats cause weight problems.

Chia bia is Ireland’s leading chia supplier importing their chia seeds from Dr Wayne Coates, the world’s leading chia expert, who sources his chia seeds directly from the farmers in South America, for use in their organic nutrient cereal bars and chia seed berry mixes.

See chiabia.com for more details on the benefits of Chia



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.