On 13 December, Bray Heads U3A Group members will be celebrating our first Christmas together with communal carol-singing, some solo performances, storytelling, poetry and seasonal readings by the Golf Club fireside, along with some fun acts and activities devised by Léonie - our Meetings Co-ordinator - and some fun-loving members, and some Christmas Cheer fare.
We are inviting Group members who may wish to do so to bring along a wrapped children's gift to donate to the VDP Christmas Appeal, with a sticker on it indicating if it is suitable for a boy, girl or either one, and its rough age-suitability,
Hoping to see as many members as possible then!
In a fascinating, wamly-received talk on 29 November, recently-retired Irish Ambassador David Donoghue shared his insider perspective on the many years of negotiations leading up to the signing of The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 - the key breakthrough in the 30-year conflict in the Northern Ireland. After many years working on issues relating to Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relation at a number of different stages in his career, David was appointed as the joint-head - with a British counterpart - of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat in Belfast in 1995 and, in this capacity, he was directly involved in the behind the scenes negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Twenty years after the signature of that historic Agreement, David recounted the ups and downs, the milestones and the issues involved in the process, very colourfully highlighting the different but vital roles its its succcessful negotiation played key by key figures like President Clinton and his envoy, George Mitchell; Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and new British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and some of the Northern Ireland party leaders. Considering the effectiveness and impact of the Agreement twenty years on from its signing - especially at a time when the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended and the Brexit issue has resurrected old divisions and tensions, David expressed the view that the GFA remains one of the few examples of successful conflict resolution in the world today and confidence that it will survive Brexit intact.
Apart from covering issues relating to Northern Ireland and British-irish relations in the course of his distinguished diplomatic career, David also served as Director General of Irish Aid, the Department's Political Director, Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Germany and Austria and, in his last post as Permanent Represntative to the United Nations in New York, where he played a lead role in some key international negotiations, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Migration Pact. He has graciously agreed to return to talk to The Bray Heads Group next year on the UN.
On 15 November, genealogist Tony O’Hara delivered an interesting and excellently-illustrated talk to The Bray Heads U3A Group on the major Irish records that are now available online for genealogical research, providing practical information - and a hand-out - about the various sites and archives now much more easily accessible online than they had been in the past and responding to many questions from members. He very much encouraged members interested in their family history, who haven't yet delved into it - or have not made much progress with it - to try these sources.
Tony, a retired IT Professional, is an active member of the Genealogical Society of Ireland (GSI) and a director there with responsibility for the lecture series which occurs on a monthly basis. He has also acted as a genealogy adviser in the National Library and is a former President of the Irish Organization of Geographic Information (IRLOGI).
1. Tony O'Hara, after his talk to The Bray Heads Group on 15 November
2. Mary Mullen, Group Secretary and Anne Byrne, Finance Co-ordinator, greeting members on arrival
3. Our great photographer, Noreen Casey, with Joe Murray, IT Co-ordinator
4. Group members Margaret and Richard Webb
On 1 November, we were privileged to have as our guest speaker Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission, who talked about key moments and issues in the development of the EU; the highs and lows; the politics and compromises that take place behind the scenes; and of course the currrent major Brexit issue and its likely impact. It is hard to get much closer to the centre of power in Brussels than Catherine was in her SecGen role and her insider's perspective on these key issues in her talk, delivered in a light and engaging style and illustrated very effectively with political cartoons, made for an impressive, warmly received presentation by one of our most admirable public figures.
In her talk to The Bray Heads Group and the lively discussion which followed it on 25 October, Michael Jansen drew on her experiences living in, and reporting on, the Middle East for over 50 years, presenting eyewitness accounts of a number of historical events and figures that have shaped, defined - and so often racked - the region, referencing in particular events in Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Cyprus, Egypt and Syria.
1. Michael Jansen (right) during her talk and discussion with The Bray Heads U3A Group on 25 October, with Isolde Moylan, who introduced her
2. Michael's latest Book ' Windows on Interesting Times about her life in, and reporting on, the Midlle East for over half a century
3 & 4: Michael signing copies of her book after her talk
5: Group members Ita & Des McGarry (left and right) and Michael Sullivan (centre) after Michael Jansen's talk
In a fascinating and highly entertaining talk to The Bray Heads U3A Group on 18 October, Dr Seamus Cannon posed, and answered, the question ' Who in their Right Mind Would Want to Read Joyce's Ulysses?', encouraging members who haven't tried to read it or who may have given up on it to experience for themselves its genius, originality, use of language, characters, its encapsulation of both local and universal themes, its portrayal of early 20th century Dublin, and its humour, enlivening the talk further with recorded readings and music from the work.
1 & 2: Dr Seamus Cannon after his talk to The Bray Heads U3A Group on 18 October
Marking the centenary this year of women in Ireland (or at least some of them) being permitted to vote and stand in elections, Prof. Yvonne Galligan's interesting talk to The Bray Heads U3A Group on 4 October documented the story of women in Irish law and politics since then, drawing on useful statistical and other data to trace some significant advances, other slower-paced developments and some setbacks along the way in relation to the status of women in Ireland and their role in the political life of the country.
1. Professor Yvonne Galligan after her talk to The Bray Heads U3A group on 4 October
2. Yvonne Galligan (right) with Group Co-ordinating Team member, Jane Grimson, who introduced the talk
In a fascinating talk entitled 'Plants, Potions and Snails - the Central Role of Nature's Pharmacy in Modern Medicine' on 20 September 2018, Dr Helen Sheridan, with a storyteller's gift, outlined the intriguing global history of natural medicines from pre-history to current times and her own work in the development of one such medicine.
1 & 2: Dr Helen Sheridan talk to The Bray Heads U3A group
3. Helen Sheridan after her talk with Group members, Mary Ashall and Dick Bates
4. Mary Byrne and Nikki Gordon at the talk
Marking both the launch of The Bray Heads U3A group and the anniversary this year of the Brabazon family being granted the house and lands of Kiruddery in 1618, Fionnuala Ardee, who married into the family and lives at Kilruddery, recounted the story of the Brabazons from their earliest recorded history, their 400 years at Kilruddery, their role in the development of Bray, and the current actvities which the estate engages in, with Fionnuala serving as its CEO.
1-3: Fionnuala Ardee delivering her talk at the Launch of The Bray Heads U3A Group on 6 September, and after it
4: Jennifer and Fergus Curran at the Group Launch
5: Léonie O'Toole-Bates and Marion Corrigan
6: Liz McManus, Isolde Moylan & Sean Lenihan
An open Preview of The Bray Heads U3A Group on 21 June attraced a large attendance, resulting in 120 signing up as Group members and a tough decision having to be taken by the Co-ordinating Team to suspend membership registration due to space limitations at Bray Gold Club.
1.Bray Golf Club President, Eamonn Geraghty, welcoming participants at The Bray Heads U3A Group Preview on 21 June
2. Members of the Bray Heads U3A Co-ordinating Team with some of the external speakers at the Preview. Left to right: Sam Olinger-O'Brien, Age Action Ireland; Donal Denham, U3A DLDK; Isolde Moylan, our Team Leader; Joe Murray, IT Co-ordinator; Linda Uhlemann & Kay Mullaly, Bray U3A (Fassaroe); Mary Mullen, Group Secretary; Anne Byrne, Finance co-ordinator; and Leonie O'Toole-Bates, Talks Co-ordinator. Missing from photo are Co-ordinating Team members Jane Grimson and Andrew Byrne.
3. Some new Group members at the Preview