Following their retirements from professorships in Computer Science at TCD and Engineering at DIT in 2015, Bray Heads U3A Members Jane and Bill Grimson fulfilled lifetime ambitions to travel first to Antarctica, then Alaska and the Arctic and what they describe as 'the amazing worlds of higher latitudes'. They were inspired, in the case of Antarctica, by the amazing story of Irish explorers Shackleton and Crean’s famous expedition and escape from what seemed an impossible position; with Alaska, it was the extraordinary story of how USA bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867 for $7.2 million, not appreciating its enormous natural wealth; and their Arctic journey around the Norwegian fiords by the beautiful images of the Norwegian fiords. Jane and Bill tell us that their talk will be a mixture of travelogue, scheduled and unscheduled dips in the freezing ocean, history and culture - and, knowing the two of them, it is sure to be a lot of fun!
On 14 February, our Bray Heads U3A member, artist Brigid O'Brien, led a very enjoyable informal drawing class, in which over 30 members of the group participated - the first of our Group's meetings to feature a hands-on activity rather than our usual Talk. Brigid started by outlining her approach to drawing - that everyone can do it, that it should be fun, and that the best practice is always to have a small pad and pen/pencil on hand and to make a habit of roughly sketching simple objects and scenes around us, from the breakfast table on, passing around some of the small notebooks she has drawn in over a number of years to indicate how basic and everyday these can be. The drawing task she then set focused on the hand - reminding us of its key importance in almost every aspect of our lives - asking participants each to choose a fruit or vegetable from a basket which she had brought with her, to hold it in the hand which they would not be drawing with, and to sketch the hand holding this object, which everyone did with rapt attention and quiet good humour, with Brigid offering feedback and guidance. With the class deemed to have been stimulating, encouraging and enjoyable by who those who participated in it, Brigid was asked to lead a follow-up one, which she has very kindly agreed to do.
We were greatly privileged to have had as our guest speaker on 7 February, the hugely popular writer, broadcaster and lecturer, Tim Thurston, best known for his wonderful Lyric FM programme "Gloria". In his inimicable style, Tim shared with us his life-long passion for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, colourfully recounting the life-story and musical career of that great composer, outlining his enormous influence on music of many sorts, and playing excerpts from some of his glorious compositions. The playlist of the recordings which Tim played can be found attached to the entry on this talk on the Events page of this website.
1. Johann Sebastian Bach
2. Tim Thurston during his talk to the Bray Heads Group on 7 February
3. Tim talking with Group member Barbara McAllister after his talk
4. Tim meeting Group other Group members after his talk
In his moving, and very well received talk to The Bray Heads U3A Group on 24 October - three days ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day - Oliver Sears recounted the moving story of his mother, Monika - a Holocaust survivor. She was born in Poland the year that World War 2 started, her father was arrested and shot by the Nazis within a month of the German invasion, and her resourceful mother went on the run with her with false identification papers through the Warsaw ghetto, daringly escaping from a train taking them to the Treblinka concentration camp and eventually reaching safety in London. Oliver told the story from his own Second Generation perspective, illustrating it with a short video, 'Objects of Love', and a range of slides featuring old family photos and more recent ones taken during a return visit by Monika to Poland.
London-born Oliver runs his fine art gallery in an elegant Georgian building in the centre of Dublin, presenting exhibitions by contemporary Irish and international artists. He has lived in Ireland for over 30 years and currently lives in Dublin with his Irish wife. A former member of the board of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, Oliver is a frequent contributor to radio programmes and newspapers.
The photos show:
1. Monika with Oliver at a talk which she gave in TCD in June 2018. Monika currently lives in Chile; and
2. Oliver after his talk to The Bray Heads U3A group on 24 January.
In the first of our series of Talks in 2019, historian, writer and broadcaster, Mark Duncan, got us off to a great start with an informative and engaging profile of ‘The GAA in Irish Society - Past to Present’ - the country’s most important sporting, cultural and social organisation and its enormous impact on Irish life. Mark Duncan was a central figure in the creation of the GAA Museum at Croke Park and the co-author of two critically acclaimed books on the GAA - 'The GAA: A People's History' (2009) and 'The GAA, County by County' (2011). The author also of several books on major areas of Irish history, Mark is also currently a Director and Content Editor of the Government-funded/RTÉ-supported online project for the Decade of Centenaries and, linked to that, he has appeared recently in RTE documentaries on the historic 1918 Election and Ireland After the Rising. Amongst his many other achievements, Mark has made Bray his home!
On 13 December, Bray Heads U3A Group members celebrated the first four months of our new Group's activities and our first Christmas together, with communal carol-singing, some solo performances, storytelling, poetry and seasonal readings by the Golf Club fireside, all organised by Léonie - our Meetings Co-ordinator. Three large baskets of children's gifts, generously donated by Group members at the event for the VPD's Christmas Appeal, were delivered later that day to the VDP with huge appreciation.
Displayed are some of the photos taken at the event by our member, Kevin Wolahan - thank you, Kev! - which include a couple of group photos, as well as individual ones of: Léonie O'Toole-Bates, the event organiser; and readers: Ines Collins, Mary Mullen, Dick Bates and Patti Moynihan. A photo collage of the event appears on this website's Home page.
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