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A Drop in the Under The Weather: Ocean: the food, Are the Irish getting facts and folklore too much Sun? Gay Byrne

The Bees and the Birds: A Helping Hand for Nature Summer 2010 Issue Four

The Long and Winding Road still has a long way to go

Any Old Iron? TV’s George Stacpoole talks of his life in Antiques and of ‘The Dealers’

Child’s Play

What makes us laugh? Staying in Ireland with the kids, ideas for day trips and long lazy holidays


Is laughter really the best medicine?



e e frGAZINE




plus... Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Puzzles, Crossword and more


30 Last Laugh

did you hear the one about... jokes. Some can tell ’em, some can’t. But why?

FROM THE EDITOR This is our fourth issue, a milestone in the life of a quarterly magazine, but our aim remains the same, to provide distraction and amusement to help waiting patients pass the time. We also like to impart just a little beneficial seasonal information and, coming up to holiday time, that means sunshine and driving. In this issue, we highlight the dangers of too much sun-worship while Gay Byrne has written us some timely advice on reducing further, the numbers being wastefully killed and maimed on our roads, through speed, alcohol and other drugs, and driver fatigue. The Waiting Room Magazine is now available in many hospitals as well as in the GP clinics that were our original outlets and we look forward to continuing our role as entertainer to those who are waiting. As usual, I wish you, the reader, a speedy recovery and good health.

Nicky Johnston/ Camera Press

The Waiting Room Magazine will not be responsible for, nor will it return, unsolicited manuscripts. Transparencies or prints submitted for publication are sent at the owner’s risk and, while every care is taken, The Waiting Room Magazine cannot accept any liability for loss or damage. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and not necessarily those of The Waiting Room Magazine. The entire contents of the magazine are the copyright of The Waiting Room Magazine and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of the publishers.

Everyone’s features dream is to 07 Any Old Iron? George Stacpoole on find that the TV’s antiques and The Dealers cat’s milk dish Wide Open Spaces is actually a 10 country life, from a droll, very priceless early droll, country perspective Ming rice bowl. 28 Long and Winding Road But does that Gay Byrne tells us that road are down, but we’ve kind of thing fatalities lifestyle a long way to go happen ? 16 Child’s Play

discover Ireland’s great holiday destinations plus, day trips with the children

18 Gardens expert gardener, Breandan O’Scanaill on a lush display in a tiny back yard or balcony

parenting 21 Infertility when nature doesn’t get it quite right, technology comes to the rescue

25 A Drop in the Ocean all about the sea – and delicious recipes – even with seaweed!

22 Surrogacy a family law solicitor maps the legal minefield surrounding surrogacy

regulars 04 Notebook short snippets of interest


24 Kidz Bitz fun stuff for our younger readers

06 An App-le a Day we check out three healthy apps

12 The Sun we can’t get enough of it (especially in Ireland) and yet some of us get too much

19 Best Medicine cartoonist extraordinaire, Annie West on why laughter is the best medicine

Maurice O’Scanaill, Editor

competitions 11 On the Run! win one of three pairs of Springboost Footwear

17 Win a Holiday three weekends from Dream Ireland to giveaway

27 Active and over 55?

Editor Maurice O’Scanaill Managing Director Helen Gunning Contributors Susan Hayes, Maureen Corbett, Jill Holtz, Breandan O’Scanaill, Lynn O’Keeffe-Lascar, Annie West, Dr David Walsh, Marion Campbell, Jessica Keane and Gay Byrne

ten Seven Seas hampers to win

29 Puzzlers’ Place test your wits and skills and win €100!!! Spring 2009 Winners:

Would you like to get in touch? Write to us at The Waiting Room Magazine, Northampton, Kinvara, Co Galway. Call us on 091 638205 or send us your email to – check out



Fantastic Four: Valerie Stobbart, Terenure, Dublin; Thesesa O’Shaughnessy, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo; Therese O’Connor, Ventry, Co Kerry and Bridie Neville, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare Glenlo Abbey Hotel: Clare Houlihan, Kilrush, Co Clare; Aoileann O’Donnell, Dublin 7; Diarmuid O’Reilly, Cabinteely, Dublin; Christy Moorehouse, Midleton, Co.Cork Crossword: Marie Sheridan, Athy, Co Kildare



notebook Now you can read all your favourite articles from The Waiting Room Magazine online!

Zero tolerance for size zero? In a period of five months (2006-2007) the deaths of Uruguyan models, Luisel Ramos (22) and her sister Eliana (18), and Brazilian, Ana Carolina Reston (21), were attributed to complications arising from the brutally strict diets and exercise regimes to which they subjected their young bodies. And for what? To reduce themselves to the emaciated state that had been deemed ‘desirable’ by the international fashion industry. Desirable? It’s not even natural, but then there’s never been much ‘natural’ about fashion and, if some fashionista guru decreed tomorrow that ‘noselessness’

was beautiful, you can bet that, by the morning of the day after tomorrow, there’d be long queues of impressionable young women (and men) clamouring to have their noses sliced off. That’s not as outlandish as it seems. Fashion, in many cultures, involves damaging the body, e.g., the hugely protruding lower lips of some Amazon tribes, or the bones, shells and sticks through the nose and ears of other ‘primitive’ peoples. But you don’t have to go to primitive cultures: our society practices tattooing and body piercing, admittedly relatively mild forms of mutilation. Up to relatively recent times, fashion in China decreed that young girls had to have the long bones of their feet broken so that the front half of the foot could be folded back under, almost as far as the heels; their feet were then bound tightly in that posi-

Many thousands of the country’s patients have enjoyed The Waiting Room Magazine since the first issue appeared in August 2009. Now, we take The Waiting Room Magazine experience online where you can enjoy regular updates on health related and lifestyle issues, competition updates and regular newsletters, new product promotions and special offers and opportunities to learn more about our contributors. Something for all the family, all the time. Sign up, register, and let us know what you think! Go to

MAY: Melanoma Awareness Month Melanoma (Skin Cancer) is the most common cancer in Ireland (8,000 new cases in 2008). Early detection is VITAL to successful treatment. Melanoma Awareness Month is a pan-European initiative to promote the early detection and prevention of skin cancer. During the month, free check-ups, advice and treatment in certain cases will be provided countrywide by participating clinics, specialists and some pharmacies. This very important initiative is sponsored by skin-care specialists, La Roche-Posay, in conjunction with the Department of Health, Irish Cancer Society, Melanoma Trust, Eccles Clinic, Mater Private Hospital and others. To find out more about this stealthy killer-disease see 4 THE WAITING ROOM MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2010

tion until they became permanently, but – oh la la! - very fashionably, deformed. Other mutilating fashions, especially those involving the genitals, were wrapped up in religious packages, and these are carried out (religiously) even today, despite pain, suffering and even deaths. Perhaps it’s because Spain has an affinity with South America that Madrid became the first Fashion Show to ban size zero models from its catwalks after the deaths of the young beauties. Its example was followed by other shows, but London stopped short of a ban, merely issuing ‘guidelines.’ Even Victoria Beckham, no fatty herself (size 02, depending on which fan-mag you read), banned Size Zero models from showing off her clothes. Go figure. But hey, who ever said fashion was supposed to make sense?

Cycle through the beautiful Shannon region on Saturday 12 June on the Lough Derg Charity Challenge for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI). This 70 mile trip promises a great day out – while raising funds for MDI. Registration is €75 with refreshments, sandwiches and goodies provided to keep you going – and a back-up bus, in case you need a break! Help support respite services for over 500 individuals and families living with MD and medical research. For information and sponsorship cards contact Amy Bramley on 01 872 1501.




The plant sterols in Flora pro.activ are clinically proven to lower cholesterol, a major risk factor in developing heart disease**. Combat cholesterol and the effects of the recession with Flora pro.activ! To find out more, visit

*Based on ACNielsen data (November 2009). **Based on daily consumption of 2g plant sterols (the amount found in a single mini drink or 3 portions of Flora pro.activfoods). As heart disease has multiple risk factors, you may need to improve more than one to reduce your overall risk.


An App-le a Day ...keeps the doctor away

There are literally thousands of apps worldwide for you to download – an app for pretty much everything. Here are three new apps from Ireland’s clever programmers!

Here’s an App that brings every single doctor in the country straight into your pocket or handbag! Details of the Republic of Ireland’s General Practitioners are available at the touch of a finger on The Ireland GP Listings App.

An instant register, when you need it most, The Ireland GP Listings App contains details on 4,000+ practices in the Republic, giving: • addresses and contact telephone numbers for each doctor • Google map of each practice location • directions to the chosen practice • out of hours service arrangements • details are available by GP’s name, by county, by town • List of doctors within specified area. (Requires Internet connection.) • Automatic call placing The Ireland GP Listings App is available from the iTunes App Store for just 79 cent!


Hibernian Aviva Health has come up with a really neat app for its customers! Health Mate is the ideal companion for walkers and joggers. For starters it gives locations and directions for recognised walking and running routes throughout the Republic of Ireland, along with information on distance, difficulty, estimated time and the expected calorie-burn for each. Clear on-screen maps show start and end points, and a built-in GPS function allows you to store data on your own favourite routes. That’s the geography lesson – now for biology. Health Mate will also record your performance – number of steps, BMI, etc., and will actually gather and collate the information so that you can keep an eye on your progress to fitness over time. A truly useful app and a sign of Aviva’s commitment to improving public health – and you can download it FREE from iTunes! 'Grace' aims to facilitate learning for children with autism. Designed by a Wicklow mother of two autistic children, and named after one of them, the ‘Grace’ App is an elegant transfer, from the solid to the electronic medium, of the traditional Picture Exchange Communication System for teaching children with autism. Instead of using a board to build up sentence pictures and their associated words and phrases, the images appear on the iPhone screen. This allows for an individual customization not available to board users; it is more portable and can store hundreds of images without becoming bulky. Instant transfer to teachers etc. of each child’s particular library is a real benefit. Now available at €29.99, or free for May 2010 to O2 customers who are members of Irish Autism Action. See YOUR FREE COPY


Any Old Iron? George Stacpoole, co-presenter of RTÉ1’s, The Dealers, and president of The Irish Antique Dealers’ Association, speaks to The Waiting Room about his life with antiques Can you remember when you first became interested in antiques?

I was only six when I first began to buy. I would buy what we called Friggers, pigs made from Bristol glass, in the 1820s. They were little objects made at the end of the day’s work, to use up leftover glass. I’ve still got them. I used to give them to my mother and, when she passed on, they came back to me. What, exactly, is an ‘antique’?

The official definition would be an object that is at least 100 years old but that doesn’t mean that anything younger than that has no value. An YOUR FREE COPY

object that is not actually a work of art, per se, may be valuable by virtue of its rarity or its association with a notable person, place or event. And can anything be an antique?

Well yes, though the term is usually applied to man-made objects rather than natural things like fossils, ancient bones or pieces of meteors. But even things like old theatre tickets or programmes or tickets into sporting events... they can all have value, particularly to collectors. And there are collectors whose interests are sometimes, frankly, incomprehensible to others.

I would buy what we called Friggers, pigs made from Bristol glass in the 1820s

I suppose it’s everyone’s dream to find that the cat’s milk dish is actually a priceless early Ming rice bowl. But does that kind of thing happen often?

Rarely, I’m afraid. Finds of that significance, anyway. But there are nice surprises now and then. Recently I was given photographs of some pieces of furniture that the owner thought might have some value. I was sorry to disappoint him but delighted to be able to tell him that the carpet on which they’d been stood was a very fine one indeed, and of considerable value. f



It must be extremely difficult to value an antique precisely. If there’s a significant difference between two dealers, is there an organisation that gives a final decision? Generally speaking, expe-

rienced dealers will come in with much the same opinion but, where there is a large gap, it is usually The Irish Antique Dealers’ Association that gives a final opinion. We like to think that professional dealers are the best experts. Museum curators, auction house experts, academics, etc., all work with the luxury of relatively safe salaries, but we don’t, and an inexpert dealer can go broke very quickly, or lose large sums of money for a client. Does much of a dealer’s business involve working with clients as opposed to just locating, buying and selling? Yes indeed. It varies

from dealer to dealer but most of the better known collections, like the Beit collection at Russborough, will have been assembled over the years with advice and guidance from dealers. It’s a bit like the bloodstock world. The Makhtoums would rarely attend sales themselves; they rely on dealers to buy for them, dealers who know exactly what they want.

An inexpert dealer can go broke very quickly

How does all that translate to doing The Dealers on TV?

Well, that’s different altogether. It’s a whole new approach. Nobody is searching for a particular piece or even category. It’s just trying to turn a profit on whatever you can find. It’s great fun and I enjoy it. It’s strange to be recognised, to have

people nudge one another as one passes by on the street. But I suppose that’s inevitable when one is in a top 20 TV show that has run for three seasons. Do you have special areas of interest? Well, Irish antiques

would be my favourite field. But I work in all areas and would like to think I am expert in most of them. Coins and jewellery would probably be my least favourite specialties. Where can I go to have a potential antique valued? To a dealer.

Or come along to the annual Irish Antique Dealers’ Association fair in the RDS in Dublin. It runs from 22nd to 26th September this year. It’s always a great event with lots of fascinating old ‘stuff ’ there. I say ‘stuff ’ because you never know what turns up.


Instead of burning a hole in your pocket, let your cash grow very comfortable there by SUSAN HAYES, ‘THE POSITIVE ECONOMIST’

Money for Old Rope 1. Cash versus Plastic. It is a well

Did you know that the saying ‘money for old rope’ comes from the days of public hangings. The rope was popular with the macabre crowds, so the hangman used to cut it into little pieces and sell it.

known psychological fact that we are much happier to part with our money when it’s in the form of plastic rather than in actual cash. Studies show that we spend a MASSIVE 50% more on shopping when we’re using plastic. This figure speaks for itself – so allow a certain amount of cash for a shopping trip and stick to your own customised limit. Leave the card in a safe place for emergencies; don’t have it temptingly close to hand in your wallet. Alternatively, consider the “prepaid credit card” idea of 3V from VISA which you can buy as easily as mobile phone credit. With these, you’ll be spending money that you do actually have, and there is no interest. 2. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are many websites

out there now, like eBay, that provide a medium for you to sell your unwanted items to a huge targeted market! This is an easy, fun and potentially very profitable way to clear some space in your home. The practice of bartering constitutes 30% of all business in the world, so, instead of paying money for goods and services, have a think about what you can swap. Take a look on or for some great ideas.


3 Shop around. Don’t give retailers carte blanche with your money! There’s a lot of product and service competition out there. Keep an eye out for price differentials at the petrol pump or go to before setting out on your journey. Enter your phone and broadband usage information on website and see where you could save. At the time of your car or house insurance renewals, look at other companies and see if you can get better value. Always examine what you’re paying against what’s on offer, and you’ll become a much savvier spender. 4 Get some tax back. There are many

ways that people can claim tax back, and many either don’t know how, or don’t bother. Take the time to go to or your local tax office, and spend twenty minutes with a consultant to see what options are available to you and how to go about it. Make sure to get there early to avoid the queues. 5 The Total Shopping Trolley. Don’t be fooled by ‘sale items’ – retailers routinely offer loss leaders on some products to entice you into their shops, then charge that bit extra on their other goods. Compare stores on the basis of your whole basket of shopping as opposed to one or two bargains. Also, avail of their ‘Value Club’ cards – you can build up

your points and take advantage of vouchers and offers. Make out your list before you go to the shop and stick to it, or else consider doing your shopping online to avoid the appeal of the advertising. You can then do your purchasing from the comfort of your couch! Read more from Susan Hayes, The Positive Economist at

Down, But Not Out In these tough times, some of our more spirited citizens are picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and starting all over again. TWR came across one good example recently: Naoimh and Martin, suddenly jobless, founded Live4Less. For €10, anyone on social welfare can get a personal card that entitles him/her to discounts ranging from 10%-50% at 70+ outlets nationwide and expanding. If you’re not on social welfare, you can still buy a card as a gift for someone who is. Great idea. Check out


Check out or for more on the Irish Antiqu Dealers’ Association at

f Any Old Iron continues...

country life

The Wide Open Spaces As a confirmed yokel, I must confess to the gravest reservations about writing this; the last thing I want is gangs of people cluttering up my countryside. However, being a kindly

Then there was the band of latterday hippies who had come to live off the land, its berries and fruits. They had one goat which provided them with milk, cheese, yoghurt and probably curds and whey. One evening, after they’d collected baskets of nature’s bounty, they prepared their evening meal and consumed it with miniscule-carbon-footprint relish. A short time later, one of them happened to notice that the goat, bright and lively a mere hour before, was suddenly stone dead, and their ‘Peace Man’ equanimity evaporated with a resounding pop. For they had fed the

yokel at heart, I feel the need to do my bit to ensure that intrepid townies’ trips into The family feared it was the eruption the unknown are as worry-free and pleasurable as possible. And in these super-cautious of some malign alien life-form and that times, when a kid isn’t allowed on to the they’d have to call in Sigourney Weaver garden path on a tricycle without being swathed like an ice-hockey goalie in one of the rougher goat, as usual, on the scrapings of the fruit and berries teams, that may not be easy. Because the countryside they’d collected, and amongst these were some fungi that has ants, bees, wasps, cleggs, horseflies ticks, thistles, they thought they hadn’t tried before. nettles, thorns, bulls, goats, some extremely belligerent Never did sunflower-painted VW van move so quickly, lambs around Easter, the odd badger, fox, stoat, pine and, an hour later, eight assorted flower children were marten, squirrel, otter, crab, frog, newt, seal, to say having their stomachs pumped in the local A&E, their nothing of those other ravening beasts, rabbits and veins infused with normal saline and their eyes crowded hares. And deer. with pictures of various toxic fungi bearing awful names Sometimes I wonder if there aren’t two sub-species of like Death Cap and Destroying Angel. us – Homo sapiens rusticus (totally at ease in the benign Opinions differed as to which fungus they’d eaten so depths of the Irish countryside) and Homo sapiens subursomeone suggested ringing the vet to see if he could find biensis (peers uncertainly around once Lucan begins to any of the skins in the suddenly deceased goat’s feedrecede in the rear view mirror). trough. The vet rang back a little later to announce that My local vet is a great source of anecdotes about Homo the unfortunate goat had become late by getting her foot sapiens suburbiensis’ rural misadventures (without, of caught in her collar and strangling herself to death. There course, betraying any confidences – no names are menjust has to be a moral in there somewhere. tioned) and he can hold the pub spellbound with tales like an emergency midnight call to a D4 Pekingese with a tick in its neck. The family feared it was the eruption of some malign alien life-form and that they’d have to Commonsense tips call in Sigourney Weaver to deal with it. Reassured, the wife called the husband to tell him it was In clear, smogless air, the sun may be alright, that he needn’t come after all, but as he had already stronger, so wear proper sunblock – your passed Kinnegad, he thought he’d let his urgent momenpale, Celtic skin makes you (yes you!) tum carry him along anyway, just to be sure to be sure. very prone to melanoma. Don’t leave sleeping babies or animals in cars, even for a short while; heat-stroke can very rapidly be fatal; my friend, the vet, sees lots of heat-stroke in dogs on hot days. Don’t eat berries or fungi you’re not 100 per cent sure about. Before walking on the seashore, find out if the tide is on the way in or out. If you do get a tick, remove it properly with a tick remover or by pouring alcohol on it. Mostly ticks are disease free, but a tiny few can carry disease, notably Lyme disease; however no transfer of the causative Borrelia organisms takes place for at least 4 hrs after the tick gets stuck in. Remember there may be no streetlights, or footpath, so wear bright clothing at night. If you’re going hill-walking or out in a boat, tell someone, and when you’ll be back.



The Great Outdoors in the City Of course you can have small pieces of the country, albeit not wild, in cities! Ok, you’d need a time-travelling golf-cart, but the Dutch played ‘kolf’ in the 17th century and possibly, the 13th. China claims 5th century golf Despite this, the Scots are most adamant that the game, at least in its modern form, was first played there, and Musselburgh is the world’s oldest course. The 18-hole format is recent. St Andrews first had 11 holes – played out and back, making 22 – but four were considered too short and were joined to make two, giving nine out and back, a ‘round’ of 18. Golf courses have grown, not just in numbers, but in size. Modern materials allowed players to hit the ball further and this, combined with safety concerns, has caused courses to become some 10 per cent bigger. Golf has an enormous social element and is an important business venue. It’s said that YOUR FREE COPY

board meetings are held just to rubber-stamp decisions made on the golf course. Some US business schools actually teach business golf! With 18 Majors to his credit, Jack Nicklaus is reckoned the best ever, but Tiger Woods (14 Majors so far) could beat this record – at the same age Jack Nicklaus had won only 12. With $10m in prize money (and the same again in bonuses), The Dubai World Championship was the world’s richest tournament, but, last year, this was reduced to a paltry $7.5m because of the strained economic straits of even that oil-rich state. So I suppose we’re not doing too badly here – despite Ireland’s muchy-trumpeted economic meltdown, first prize in the local pub table quiz actually went up recently, from €40 to €50!

For your chance to WIN one of three pairs of SpringBoost Performance Footwear simply call our hotline on 1515 415 462 or text TWR1 followed by your name, address to 57000 Terms and conditions: 18+. €1 per entry incl VAT. Calls from mobile cost more. Network charges vary. Lines close midnight 20 July 2010. Entries made after the close date will not count and you may be charged. SP Phonovation Ltd. PO Box 6, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Helpline 0818217100.


Under the Weather:

the Sun

Long before we humans had even the vaguest idea why, we realised that the sun was the source of all life on earth, and all of our ances-



tors, regardless of the branch they belonged to, worshipped the enormous, warm bright disc that appeared in the east every morn-

process next day. The ancient Romans called the sun-god Sol Invictus while, in Egypt, he was Ra, ferried across the skies in two boats, a morning and an evening one. The pharaohs claimed to derive their power, majesty and authority from him. In South America, sun worship was a bloody

Milk pale skin used to be a fashion must – only peasants, who had to work in the fields, had tans – but then style icon, Coco Chanel, accidentally got a tan. Around the same time, Parisians fell in love with a dusky singer named Josephine Baker and that sealed it. The tan had arrived.

ing and vanished in the west to lower once more the curtain of the night. Most of them regarded it as a god: to the Greeks, the sun was the crown of the god, Helios, who, every day, drove his chariot across the sky and down into Oceanus, only to circle around during the night through the depths of the ocean and repeat the

The hippo secretes a thick red substance through its pores known as ‘blood sweat’ which acts as a natural sunscreen and also has antiseptic qualities

affair. The Aztecs believed that offering the sun god, Huitzilpochtli, a human sacrifice was the highest form of worship; the ‘honoured’, chosen sacrifice would be lain upon the altar, the priest would cut open the chest, rip out the still beating heart and hold it skyward to honour the sun god. But early mankind also understood and could predict the annual ‘migrations’ of the sun and the megalithic structures at New Grange in Ireland and Mnajdra in Malta were oriented in such a way that the sun shines through narrow slits in their walls to illuminate their inner chambers only on significant days like equinoxes and solstices. And now we, being much smarter than our megalithic ancestors, know that the sun is really just a giant ball of burning gas, mostly Hydrogen, almost 150m km away from us and that it is the heart of our solar system.

We are the third planet out from the sun, just the right distance it seems: much closer, we’d be burned to a crisp and a bit further out, frozen solid. The sun’s diameter is over 100 times that of the earth and the temperature at its surface is over 5,500°C. We know about the corona, solar flares, solar winds, the effects on weather, growth on earth and all that kind of thing, and the really smart ones among us reckon that the sun is, by now, middle-aged – it’s been burning for 4.5 billion years, give or take, and will probably last the same again. So no need to worry for a while yet. Also, no need to worry if you didn’t know all those facts – you can look them up. But what you really do need to know is that, despite the warm pleasure it gives, lying in the sun is a dodgy hobby. Sure, we need sun to turn chemicals in our skins into Vitamin D, but you can have too much of a good thing, and especially of the sun. In the short term, there’s heatstroke (potentially fatal), severe sunburn (very painful), dehydration (potentially fatal), wrinkling (unsightly) and, most importantly, melanoma (sneakily potentially fatal). You know when you’ve got heatstroke, dehydration or sunburn, and wrinkles, which are nonfatal and will develop in time, but you don’t know that you’ve got melanoma, often until it’s much too late. So be careful – pace yourself and paste yourself; don’t stay too long in the sun and wear a high quality sun-block. And, if, like me, you’re a pale-skinned Celt, then you are particularly prone to melanoma. Pace and paste. Life’s a bummer sometimes.

Solar eclipses were often interpreted as evil omens. The ancient Chinese believed that a dragon was eating the sun. They beat drums and shot arrows into the air to try and scare it away. When royal astronomers, Hsi and Ho, failed to predict an eclipse, the Emperor had them beheaded for letting the dragon approach undetected.



health matters

Alexander Fleming was about to dump what was supposed to be a pure growth of Staphylococcus bacteria because it had been contaminated with a single tuft of mould, when he noticed that there was a clear ring around the mould, free from bacterial growth. Like the apple falling on Newton’s head, this was one of those ‘Eureka’ moments of scientific discovery: was something in the mould inhibiting or killing the bacteria? And, if so, what? What Fleming eventually isolated was Penicillin, and, for the first time in history, we had a weapon to combat the plagues that had decimated man and animals since the very beginning. Fleming went on to be honoured all over the world for his astute observation and was even made an honorary chief of the Kiowa nation of American Indians!

hay fever penicillin cancer vaccine dolphins cure avocados

Swimming with Dolphins – a cure?

Dolphins, like pandas, are creatures that we humans AVOCADOS ARE CHOLESTEROL FREE AND invariably relate to in a very positive way. They PROVIDE VITAMIN E, FOLIC ACID are intelligent, always AND POTASSIUM. HIGH IN FAT look to be smiling, seem FOR A FRUIT, BUT MOST IS to do nothing but play and they show little fear THE UNSATURATED TYPE. in approaching us to check out what we’re up to. It’s no wonder then that actually swimming amongst Allergic reactions occur when our bodies overreact to dolphins in their environment is an exhilarating experisome normally harmless substance. Probably the most widely-known allergy is Hay Fever which is triggered by ence in itself. Apart from the psychological boost it the presence of pollen in the air. Airborne allergens give gives to people who may have problems in relating to rise to symptoms in the more sensitive parts of the body that are directly exposed to them, the eyes and the lining others, it has even been reported to ease chronic pain, of the nose and airways. Other common allergens are though this, too, is most likely a psychological response insect bites and stings, certain foods, medicines and contact allergies to soaps, detergents, and even – relaxation eases tension which, in turn, eases pain. fabrics. Allergies are more common in developed (cleaner) societies and one theory is that our immune system, evolved to deal with the constant dirt in the more primitive environments of our early history, now finds itself vastly underworked so starts reacting aggressively to harmless substances. The offspring of parents who are prone to allergic reactions, are themselves also likely to suffer from allergies, though not necessarily to the same substances! Severe allergic reactions can be fatal so it is vital for sufferers to be aware of, and to avoid, known allergens.


‘Cervical Cancer’ vaccination programme Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is by far the most common cause of cervical cancer. Following a deal with the manufacturers to reduce the cost of the HPV vaccine to what it is in other countries, the national vaccination scheme is to commence, with some 30,000 girls in their first year at secondary school being eligible. This is very good news but we mustn’t get carried away – the protective effects of the

vaccine have not yet been proven to extend beyond five years. Participation in the scheme is subject to parental approval but it is difficult to envisage any parent withholding this. Apart from 30,000 lucky first-year students, all other equally susceptible girls and women will have to pay, and it is not cheap. At the moment the situation is fluid and liable to change, so have a chat with your GP.


travel by JILL HOLTZ

Discovering Ireland is

Child’s Play Looming mortgage increases, clouds of volcanic ash and the nightmare of airports – especially with children – who’d want to go abroad? Whether it be a short day trip or long lazy holiday, here are some hidden gems for Summer, whatever the weather! There is much to consider when looking for your family holiday. Holiday cottages have

Save 10% when you buy online

We’ll take you there...


always been popular – the children have their own room and catering is made easy. You can now get luxury self catering homes, with the on-site facilities of a hotel with leisure centres, golf courses, spa and even kids clubs. And, it often works out cheaper to go self catering. Try and choose from thousands of holiday homes. But where do you go? Did you know you can take the cable car from Bullaghboy in West Cork to Dursey Island? As long as you and the kids have a good head for heights, that is, as it can be a wild ride over the waves! Or what about climbing up Knocknarea (Ben Bulben) in Sligo to bring a stone to Queen Maeve’s Grave? It’s a doable climb for those active kids. Portumna Forest Park in

Galway has a host of forest trails, wildlife, picnic area, and is perfect for bikes. Just a couple of miles out of Portumna, there’s also a great playground and library, Portumna Castle with gardens all in the middle of the town and plenty of places to buy picnic provisions before you head to the woods. Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2, is arguably the most beautiful park in the capital and not all that well known. Stunning grounds, beautiful waterfall, so much space to run around and it’s always peacefully quiet! (Luas stops nearby). Ardgillan Castle in North County Dublin is a great day out, with a huge colourful playground for all age groups from toddlers to teens. Situated right beside the sea, you can have a barbecue in the picnic area or visit the tea rooms and gardens at the Castle. At Lough Key Forest you can walk through 19th century underground tunnels and Irelands only tree canopy walk! YOUR FREE COPY

the Shannon, it is, apparently, one of the best places to spot a kingfisher. Everyone knows about the Cliffs of Moher, but why not see the awesome cliffs from below on a one-hour adventure with Cliffs of Moher Cruises? The kids will enjoy the boat ride and you will be sure to get a new appreciation of these amazing cliffs. Trim Castle in Meath took more than 30 years to build, back in the 12th century. Recently, it was the backdrop to the Oscar-winning film, Braveheart, so the kids can have great fun running around the grounds and pretending to be knights or ladies of olden days.

Rainy Days Visit the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square, Dublin 1. They have a great Kids’ Club available with Art and Sketching Workshops and admission is free!

Check out the amazing wax figures at Cork City Gaol where you can see what life was like in the 19th and early 20th century in Cork. Become a Museum Detective at the Galway City Museum, the special Detective activity sheet for kids was designed by two local kids and takes you round the fabulous museum building with its great views over the Claddagh. The Georgian House at No 2 Pery Square, Limerick has been fully restored, complete with Georgian décor and furnishings, and they have a children’s workbook to help while away some time and learn some interesting things about that period. In Sligo, stop by Rula Bula and let your creative side out. You can paint anything from a dinosaur to a dinner plate, from a fire engine to a fairy. Painting pottery is fun for anyone of any age and, best of all, you get to take your art work home with you! For even more ideas for things to do and places to visit, stop by


In Limerick, there’s the new Castleconnell play area. Beside


Visit a Garden

Nowadays, with ever more people living in town houses and apartments, more and more gardeners-at-heart are turning to pots

Garden Planter Even in an area as small as a city window ledge, pots can make a great little garden, actually allowing for a better choice than the real thing because, with pots, you can vary soiltype and move plants about at will. Pots come in all shapes, sizes and materials – classic terracotta, plastic, wood or metal and a combination of size, shape, colour and/or material can, in itself, be incorporated as a feature. But, if you prefer to spend nearly your entire budget on plants, remember that even the most unpre-

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possessing pot ever made can be hidden away in an attractive pot-holder, with only its beautiful floral occupant(s) showing. Like with every other activity, there are some rules. Drainage – regardless of design, all pots need a drainage hole and a layer of stones or similar material in the bottom, under the soil. Soil – some specialist plants will only thrive in the correct soil-type so check requirements. Aspect – if your space faces south, directly into the sun, then there’s no point in planting shade-loving plants, and vice versa. Nurture – when planting a mixed pot, beware: two plants may share a soil-type, but if one likes wet conditions and the other dry, then one is going to be stressed. Gardening books and the labels on bought plants should supply all the salient information. Because plants take time to establish, grow and flower, careful planning in advance is essential. The bewildering choice of plants on offer can cause a problem: I’ve planted pots and, a day later, found something I’d love to have included. So, with space limited, don’t be hasty. Shop around. Once you’re working within the above rules, it’s all down to a matter of taste, your taste. My personal preference (at the moment) is for mixtures of plants that extend the lifetime of the display but my neighbours in the next flat rotate in-flower plants all year round and their wide range of tulip varieties particularly, during the summer, were excellent. Others go for different plants all sharing a particular colour but there are no rules. If your thing is a tumultuous riot of colours and forms, and you have the space (and the money), then go for it!

In summer sunshine or between the showers, amongst lush green foliage and billowing blossoms – no matter where you are in Ireland, you’re not far from at least one of the country’s many splendid gardens. All are worth a visit; many are publicly owned, and therefore free. Before you travel, check the opening times, and get there early in the day. A couple of field books to help identify birds and butterflies can add a lot of interest. Make a picnic – though most gardens have cafes – and you’re ready for a whole day of family fun, fresh air and education! The Botanic Gardens, Dublin, has a rose garden, glasshouses, colourful summer bedding and an arboretum. See The gardens in Killarney and Glenveagh National Park’s are free. Muckross has

fantastic ornamental planting, walks and a waterfall, while Glenveagh is wild and remote, plenty of rhododendrons, and a little Italian garden, too. Both have woodland walks. See Altamont Garden in Co. Carlow has mature trees, rhododendrons, and a huge hand dug lake – free entrance, see The centerpiece at Heywood, Ballinakill, Co. Laois, is the Italian garden of oval concentric rings decending down to an oval pool. See Woodstock Gardens

near Inistoige, Co. Kilkenny is well worth a visit. There is a forest, monkey puzzle lined avenue, walled garden, rose garden and a beautifully restored summer house. At just €4 a car, see Birr Gardens in Offaly has a museum, lawns at the lakeside with ducks to feed, walled garden and more. See Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens are both productive and decorative. Check out the maze, herb gardens and shell house – and poultry pottering about! See Ilnacullin on Garnish Island off Glengarriff boasts amazing scenery. The garden is reached by bus boat and is planted with subtropical plants that can survive on this mild isle. See YOUR FREE COPY



expulsion of air from the lungs that can range from a loud burst of sound to a series of quiet chuckles and is usually accompanied by characteristic facial and bodily movements


Laugh vb : to express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal


Dolmen is excavated with unexpected results

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh” WH AUDEN (1907-1973)

We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. People who believe in the benefits of laughter, and I am one of them, say it can be like a mild workout. Laughter appears to burn calories, too: a study at Vanderbilt University concluded that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories. Which is very good news to me, being the lazy girl I am. I now reckon that if I laugh out loud for another four hours or so, I’ll fit into the cocktail dress I bought on impulse last week. (I’d better! Despite what people will tell you, retail therapy doesn’t make you feel better, especially when you buy something utterly inappropriate five minutes before the shop closes because you just had to buy SOMETHING). But I digress. YOUR FREE COPY

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine” LORD BYRON (1788-1824)

We, as a nation, appear to be flailing around in a massive vortex of doom these days. If you spend too much time watching the news or listening to phone-ins on the radio, you could be forgiven for thinking the world was coming to an end, that we are all going to hell in a handbasket and all that’s left for us is Famine, plague and pestilence. Well, it is, and we are. But it’s a very nice handbasket. And hell is populated by people who play Uileann Pipes and have many cats (my own personal version of hell, that is). Having said that, there are many people, and I know most of them, who find the “certain phone-ins” to be the funniest thing on the radio. So it’s really down to what you decide is funny. If we take ourselves too seriously, we are, for sure, heading for eternal damnation. Or boredom, at least. I, like many millions of people, mostly Americans it would seem, have always subscribed to the idea that laughter is the best medicine: I know a man, in his nineties, healthy as a trout, who spends most of his day playing practical jokes on his wife and cracking jokes with his mates. He’s a tonic. ‘The important thing,’ he says, ‘is to surround yourself with people who make you laugh.’ Which, in this society, is the easiest thing in the world (unless you happen to work in the Department of Finance, but that’s another story for another day). Those clever people in University College Hospital Galway also subscribe to this idea and have decorated their walls, on occasion, with cartoons and uplifting poetry.

A crowd gathers to watch as Galileo demonstrates his Falling Objects theory

Psychology Today in June 1978 published an article entitled, ‘What’s So Funny?’ The study showed that the average person laughs fifteen times a day. “Humor, in order to be healing, must express the following characteristics. It must be positive, encouraging, friendly, joyous, persuading the other that you care rather than feel superior”. All of which means: As long as humour doesn’t hurt, insult or degrade anyone, it can have lasting benefits that cannot be achieved with over-the-counter medicines. And, another thing... humour needs no prescription. Yeah!

Annie West illustrates figures from history, literature and science with mischief in mind. She has published dozens of children’s books in Ireland, the UK and America. Go online for more on Annie – at


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Laughter. It can’t be faked, unlike other things, to paraphrase Bob Dylan. In spite of all the anguish and suffering and pain heaped upon more pain we endure in our little lives, there is still something we can do that will always make us feel better. It doesn’t cost a penny, and you can use it anywhere (often more effectively, I find, in churches, synagogues, theatres and courts of law).




Many couples, having tried for some time to start a family, face the increasing worry that it’s just not going to happen for them, but this fear is realised in only a very small percentage of cases. This is because,

sooner or later, most couples will succeed, whether by the use of low or high technology, or by conventional or alternative means. This is especially true if the woman is under 35, but, if she is older, the couple would be strongly advised to seek help more urgently. Often, given a little more time, it happens naturally; sometimes treatment is straightforward and simple; in a smaller number of cases, more complex treatments are necessary but, whatever the ‘treatment’, in most cases, there is a successful outcome. The first rule is – don’t panic. Give it time; if you’ve been trying for only three or four months, give it at least another six. In the interim you can buy his and her tests at your pharmacy. These give basic confirmation that ova (eggs) and sperm are being produced and, if these seem normal, wait until you’ve been trying for about a year before consulting your GP. For Him The GP will check the man’s sperm for the traditional parameters: count, motility, and abnormalities (should be < 1 in 6). Despite a normal-looking semen sample, the couple’s problem may still be of male origin as Sperm Fragmentation (a high proportion of sperms with damaged DNA strands) will lead to reduced fertility both in vivo (natural) and in vitro (test-tube) fertilisation. For Her The woman’s routine check-up covers: – assay of the hormones produced by the ovaries, thyroid and pituitary glands, – ultrasound scan of the ovaries, to check function, and of the uterus to check normality of structure, – examination of the reproductive structures, to check for problems like infections, blockage of the Fallopian tubes (through which her egg must pass to reach her uterus and its date with her partner’s sperm) and the health of the endometrium, the lining of her uterus onto which the developing embryo has to fix if it is to survive. Some conditions identified during this phase, for example, anovulation or polycystic ovaries, can be treated medically, while others, for instance, blocked Fallopian tubes, require surgery or, if that is not a viable option, in vitro (test-tube) fertilisation – IVF. Referral Assuming that the problem persists, the couple may, at this point, be referred to a specialist Fertility Clinic. By this time YOUR FREE COPY

The Bees and the Birds

When nature doesn’t get it quite right

they will probably have been actively trying for a pregnancy for 15-18 months. In the clinic, the routine tests will be repeated and, assuming that no abnormalities are discovered, the initial approach will usually be to try intrauterine insemination, as opposed to the intravaginal insemination of natural intercourse. Semen is collected and concentrated so that the healthiest sperms are present in greater numbers; this ‘enriched’ semen is then artificially deposited high in the uterus to meet the ovum as it makes its

entry via the Fallopian tube. Most clinics will repeat this procedure three or four times before giving up on it. In Vitro Fertilization IVF, in vitro fertilization, involves removing ova from the woman’s body and

sperm from the man’s and putting them together in the laboratory. Once fertilization has been confirmed, the embryo is placed back in its mother’s womb (unless pathology of her womb suggests that she is highly likely to miscarry) or into the womb of a surrogate mother whose normal cycle has been manipulated by hormone treatment to be at the exact right stage for a conception. The baby then grows to term. The success rate varies and is usually indicated by the nature and quality of those very early embryos: couples with well-developed, good-looking embryos generally succeed; couples with poorly-developing embryos generally do not. Underlying conditions may make additional supportive treatment necessary. These conditions can be pathological, like endometriosis, or natural, like age. It is important to note that not all causes of infertility can be overcome, and not all couples, regardless of the time, effort and expense they invest, will have the desired outcome. For those few couples who are not blessed with the desired result, it is vital that they face their disappointment together with fortitude and the determination to support each other. Life is, after all, a leap into the unknown, best navigated with the love of those beside and around us.



The surrogacy shoe fits Sarah Jessica Parker but what are the options for Irish couples?

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Sarah Jessica Parker’s strong female following has largely been thanks to her shoe fashion and manobsessed character, Carrie Bradshaw, but recently it is

SJP’s personal family choices that are resonating with many women. Parker’s decision, along with husband, Matthew Broderick, to have children through surrogacy has highlighted an option that many other couples experiencing difficulty getting pregnant can explore. In Ireland, IVF and adoption tend to receive more publicity than surrogacy, and so there is a general lack of understanding of what exactly is involved, and the legal implications, both for the child and parents. With In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) the embryo, fertilised externally, is transferred back into its natural mother’s womb for gestation and delivery; in the case of surrogacy, it is transferred into the womb of another woman. Apart from her relatives, who may act as surrogates, the surrogate mother will not usually be genetically related to the child she is carrying; however, in traditional surrogacy, still practiced in some countries, the surrogate mother is also the biological mother, cooperating with the male partner of the couple, to bear his, and her, child. With


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Surrogacy in Ireland

anonymous sperm and egg donors, the position becomes even more complex. In surrogacy, a legal contract is entered into between the biological parents and the surrogate mother, and a fee is agreed. That all sounds quite straightforward; however, quite predictably, it’s the legal side of the situation that brings complications because, at present, Ireland has no legislation in place to cover potential legal issues that arise. Briefly, couples should know that, under present Irish law, the legal status of their biological child is as follows: • The birth mother of a child born through surrogacy is always the legal mother and the birth certificate of the infant will reflect this. • If the surrogate mother is married, her husband is considered the legal father of the child and is registered as such on the birth certificate. • If the surrogate mother is single, then her name alone appears on the birth certificate. • Neither of the biological parents has automatic rights of guardianship over the child. One option for Irish couples considering surrogacy is to legally adopt their own child after it is born, but they must ensure beforehand that they can actually qualify as adoptive parents under our very stringent screening process. Advances in modern reproduction technology have significant implications on the legal issues of guardianship. Recently the Supreme Court deliberated on a case involving the fate of frozen embryos of an estranged couple, and noted that Ireland has no legislation on Surrogacy Agreements or Surrogacy Laws. With a number of surrogaterelated legal cases pending, and a growth in surrogacy, Ireland is about to witness significant deliberations in this field. Surrogacy offers hope and great opportunities to ‘infertile’ couples, but given the current legal limbo in Ireland, they should take proper legal advice before proceeding.

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are recognised and endorsed as the most natural walking shoes in the World. Springboost are designed for men and women to activate and strengthen core muscles, and to turn your everyday activities into a workout. You can tone and strengthen your stomach, back, leg and foot muscles, while burning more calories, to increase your fitness with every step you take. SpringBoost come with two sets of insoles, so you can adjust your shoe to suit your requirements. For local stockists email or call 01 276 5155

The highest UVA protection – for sensitive or Sun allergy prone skin La Roche-


Posay’s sun protection range, Anthelios xL, provides the highest level of UVA protection available on the market in the 50+ category, thanks to a new synergy of ingredients. It now has a UVA protection level of PPD38 which is 10 points higher than the previous formula. It is non-perfumed and parabenfree. La Roche-Posay has even launched a tinted version – to give your skin a radiant glow! Anthelios XL Extreme Fluid 50+ and Anthelios XL Tinted Extreme Fluid 50+ both €21.50

Truly Tasty is a book by Ireland’s top

Bright Ideas

chefs for adults living with kidney disease. It is the brainchild of Valerie Twomey and contains over 100 mouth-watering recipes from top chefs including Derry Clarke and Rachel Allen, Truly Tasty is available in all good bookshops and online at All proceeds from the sale go to the Irish Kidney Association.

NEW SECRET WEAPON AGAINST ‘TRAVEL TUMMY’ There’s nothing more disruptive to your long-awaited Summer holiday than being confined to your hotel room with the dreaded ‘travel tummy’. Erceflora is a new probiotic which helps to keep your gut healthy and working normally. Suitable for all age groups, including infants and older people, Erceflora does not contain lactose or cow’s milk proteins. Erceflora can either be swallowed whole, or sprinkled on food or liquids such as milk or fruit squash (not juice). Available now from your local pharmacist. YOUR FREE COPY

From 3 years onwards, Haliborange Kids Omega-3 Chewy Fruit Burst Capsules taste delicious and contain important Omega-3 nutrients such as DHA, which may help maintain healthy brain function. Ensure your child receives a guaranteed daily dose of Omega-3 by giving them Haliborange Omega-3 Chewy Fruit Burst Capsules. The delicious orange fruit flavoured chewy capsules also contain vitamins A, C, D & E, which are beneficial to healthy growth, healthy skin and eyes and helping to maintain a healthy immune system.


Even professional seafarers rarely consider the true vastness of the world that gives them their living – sailors merely skim across its surface while fishermen trawl just barely beneath that, and the concerns of both groups are usually confined to surface conditions – calm or stormy, tide-direction, current-strengths, wave-height, swell, visibility. When they did think of the vast depths beneath their keels, sailors could only let their imaginations run riot because, until recently, there was no knowing what was down there, and, every so often, some grotesque creature would come to the surface to spark off great flights of fancy yet again. Many early scientists described sea-monsters that devoured whole ships, and there are still sailors who fear monsters like The Kraken, Leviathan and Giant Squid and Octopus. Certainly Giant Squid have turned out to be a reality, though not perhaps quite giant enough to consume an entire vessel at the surface. They mostly live deep and are the favourite food of Sperm Whales – the world’s largest toothed predator; sucker scars the size of bus tyres have been found on whales, presumably from the tentacle of a Giant Squid, clinging tenaciously on, trying to avoid being swallowed. Fortunately, whales, being mammals, and having to come to the surface to breathe, do not attack ships or boats, because their huge size and strength would make them very formidable maneaters indeed. Instead it’s the other way round: we hunt them, for no great reason any more, so now we pretend it’s for ‘scientific’ research. The sea, in whose fringes we wriggle our toes, is, on average, almost 12,500ft deep. Its deepest part, the Mariana Trench, is 36,198ft down, which means that if Mount Everest were sunken into it, its summit would still be a mile

A Drop in the Ocean Many early scientists described monsters that devoured ships, and there are sailors who still fear sea monsters like The Kraken

beneath the surface. Though just a tiny part of the deep ocean has been explored, the number of strange creatures found on every descent is staggering, and the shape and form of many are the stuff of nightmares. Limited ‘deep’ exploration began in the 1930s but modern materials, design and technology have given us sophisticated submersibles that can now reach the very ocean floor and navigate under their own power. To see some of these fantastical creatures, check out The Blue Planet, David Attenborough’s excellent series on the oceans. As 99 per cent of the living space of our planet is ocean, it’s no wonder that the abundance and diversity of life in the sea is staggering, and both its flora and fauna provide sustenance for many terrestrial animals, including us humans. As an island nation, we probably don’t utilise the bounty of the rich seas that surround us to the extent that we could. The oceans are vast but not so vast that they can absorb unaffected


To most of us, the sea means little more than frolicking around at the very edges of the great watery world that covers 71 per cent of our planet’s surface.

the millions of tons of human and industrial waste that flow steadily into them and, some day, if we continue to pollute as we are, we will cause irreparable harm to our planet’s greatest feature. Already, overfishing of certain species has brought them to the edge of survival; despite the almost limitless vastness of the sea, fish are creatures of habit, migrating to the same places at the same time each year to feed and to spawn. Their natural non-human predators know their pathways and lie in wait for them but they’ve never managed to wipe them out by the whole shoal as we have and as we continue to do. The latent power stored in the oceans is enormous and, at last, new technologies are being developed to enable us to harness the endless motion of waves and tides. Off Ireland’s west coast is one of the most ideal locations for developing wave and wind power in the world – in the stormy north Atlantic and right adjacent to Europe and its huge demand for electricity.

Sometimes we kill to eat; sometimes for profit, but for... fun? In the Faroe Islands, every year, young men with crude slashing weapons wade into the sea amongst whole pods of visiting small whales and dolphins and, in a wanton, disgusting frenzy of slaughter, hack at them indiscriminately for ‘fun’. To see just how sick this is, Google it – the sea turned crimson by blood, a beach lined with row upon row of sleek, glistening, black, red-gashed corpses like upturned racing currachs. And this happens in a civilized, first world country?! YOUR FREE COPY



Seafood and Eat It As researchers continue to discover more reasons to include omega 3 fats in our diet, nutritionist JESS KEANE tells us how.

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Give a man an oily fish and feed him for a week. It seems a month doesn’t go by without researchers discovering another benefit of including omega 3 fats in our diet; from brain development, to mental health, cardiovascular health, inflammatory conditions, blood sugar balance, hormone health and skin health, the list goes on. Omega 3 fats are often referred to as essential fatty acids. This is because our bodies cannot make some of them so we must get them from the foods that we eat. Green leafy vegetables, sea-

Jess Keane gives essential, practical advice on food and nutrition – helping you to take control of what you eat to speed up your recovery, helping you to feel as healthy, strong and energised. Visit Jess at

weeds, nuts and seeds are sources of alpha-linolenic acid. From this we make EPA and DHA but the process requires lots of other nutrients. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and anchovies are good sources of EPA and DHA. It is recommended that we eat one portion of oily fish per week. Adding 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed to your cereal is also a good way to up your omeg 3 intake.

Mini Fish Cakes with Pea and Mint Dip GLUTEN-FREE (USE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR)

Irish Seaweed Kitchen A remarkable book from the gifted medical doctor, organic gardener and Slow Food cook, Prannie Rhatigan. Growing up on the west coast of Ireland provided Prannie with the foundation for using seaweed as a food, and harnessing its nutritional and medicinal benefits. This book is a fascinating tapestry of social history, anecdote, practical down-to-earth information, stunning imagery and a unique collection of over 150 recipes – elicited from friends, family and a whole raft of well known chefs including Rick Stein and Darina Allen. Even in the unlikely event that you never wanted to cook a single recipe from it – it makes a fascinating read for anyone interested in Ireland, food or health.


These are delicious, easy and fun to eat. Not just for kids, use them for canapés or make larger cakes and serve them as a starter or light main with a watercress, spinach and fennel salad. If salmon is too strong, try varieties such as haddock, ling and pollock first. These don’t have the same concentration of omega 3 fats in them but they are tasty and a good way to introduce fish to the family. 450g salmon, preferably wild or line-caught, if can’t get either tinned salmon will also work; olive oil; juice of ½ lemon; 2 sprigs of thyme (optional), 350g floury potatoes, such Kerrs Pink or Rooster; 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest; 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped; 1 egg, beaten; flour, for shaping; 3 tbsp olive oil, for shallow frying and lemon wedges, to serve. Heat oven to 180°C. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, thyme and wrap in a grease-proof paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your fish. Meanwhile, peel, cut and cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.




Set the fish aside to cool. When ready, drain the potatoes and tip them back into the pan on a low heat. Mash them with a fork and stir so that they dry out, but don’t stick to the bottom. Take off the heat, add lemon zest, parsley, fish and mix. Add just enough egg to bind the mixture. With floured hands, shape the mixture into bite-size balls, dust lightly with flour and flatten into patties. Fry gently over a medium heat for about 5 mins on each side, until crisp and golden. To make the dip, you will need 300g fresh or frozen peas, 2 tbsp of crème fraîche, 1 tbsp mint, chopped. In a pan of boiling water, cover the peas for 4 minutes, until they are tender and still a fresh, vibrant green. Drain, reserving the liquid and tip the peas into a blender. Add enough of the reserved liquid; to cover the peas. Blend into a smooth purée. Add the crème fraîche and mint and blend for a few seconds.

kids love It



Because being over 50 isn’t what it used to be...


Alongside a salad or soup, this pâté makes a great lunch. It also works as a quick starter or snack. Serves six as a starter. Easy, brain-power food! Mackerel is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. We can’t make these fats so it’s important to get them from our diet. Omega 3 fatty acids have been associated with lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, improved brain health and weight loss (they improve how we process sugar and store fat).

Put the smoked mackerel, cheese, lemon juice in a food processor and whizz until blended. Serve on rye crackers, such as Ryvita.

2 fillets of smoked mackerel, skin removed, flaked; 125g cream cheese; 125g of natural yoghurt; 1 lemon, juiced and 2 tbsp of dill, parsley or chives


Today, over 50’s are more active than ever before, which is why Active 55 now has a bigger range of products to suit your joint and healthcare needs. Seven Seas have extended their range and developed two new innovative products, Active 55 Boost and Active 55 Heart.

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strength omega-3 with the added benefits of folic acid and vitamins E, B12 and B6. It comes in an easy to swallow capsule and is perfect for people who have experienced heart problems, have a history of heart disease in their family or who just want to maintain a healthy heart.


Mediterranean Fish Stew



This is a zingy, fresh stew that will put the spring back in your step. It’s packed with flavour, full of goodness and contains ingredients that support the immune system, heart and skin health – need I say more?

WORTH €8 5

Pistou: 2 garlic cloves; 60mg of parsley, chopped; 3 tbsp of olive oil

4 x 200g of white fish (cod, haddock, pollock, ling or monkfish); 2 tbsp of olive oil; 1 onion, peeled and diced; 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed; a few strands of saffron (optional); 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in 8; 1 leek, trimmed and slice; 3 handfuls of washed spinach; 250mg cherry tomatoes; 500ml of passata (or 2 tins of plums tomatoes); 2 bay leaves; 2 tbsp of thyme; 1 tbsp of rosemary, chopped; juice of 1 orange, zest of ½ orange; 200ml of chicken stock and 2 tbsp of black olives

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, gently heat the olive oil and saffron (if using). Add in the onions and fennel. Cover and gently cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the leek and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, passata, thyme, rosemary, orange juice, orange zest, chicken stock. Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile make the pistou; blend the garlic, parsley and olive oil into a paste. Add the fish, the spinach and the olives to the stew. Stir to ensure the fish is covered by liquid. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer for 5 minutes. Check if the fish is cooked; the centre will have turned from translucent to opaque. Serve with a blob of pistou or some chopped parsley, some new potatoes and a green salad.

Wondering where to buy great quality seafood or enjoy a delicious seafood meal? Need help or advice when buying seafood? BIM Seafood Circle members have the answers. For further information on the programme and the 2010 members, please visit YOUR FREE COPY

PRIZES FOR TEN LUCKY READERS Seven Seas are giving ten lucky readers the chance to win one of ten hampers across the Active 55 range. Each hamper is worth €85. For your chance to win, just tell us:

Ginseng and guarana are two of the ingredients that are in which new Active 55 product? To enter, call our hotline on 1515 415 464 or text TWR3 followed by your answer, name, address to 57000 Terms and conditions: 18+. €1 per entry incl VAT. Calls from mobile cost more. Network charges vary. Lines close midnight 20 July 2010. Entries made after the close date will not count and you may be charged. SP Phonovation Ltd. PO Box 6, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Helpline 0818217100.



For so long, we have been only too familiar with news reports of multiple deaths every week, people killed and seriously injured as a result of collisions on our roads, stories of grieving families, lives shattered and communities in disbelief


The year just gone has been one of learning for every single one of us who uses the roads. Although last year showed a change in the numbers – and I stress ‘numbers’ – of lives lost on our roads, it did not change the simple facts of road deaths. The numbers may change, but the causes of road deaths stay the same. Speed kills. Drink driving kills. Non-wearing of seatbelts dramatically reduces your chances in a collision. Driver fatigue can be as fatal

as drink driving but still Síochána, the Department of there are drivers who think Transport, the National Roads that they can fight sleep at Authority – have a role to play the wheel. We at the Road in making our roads safer for Safety Authority (RSA) everyone. But the most impormight sound like we never tant person that can help us to change our tune but we do reduce deaths and injuries on this with each our roads is you. and every per- Lives changed, Last year saw the dreams and lowest road deaths son who uses the roads in hopes shattered on record for the second consecuthe foremost of our minds. by a bad decision tive year. The Road Safety Strategy 2007 The RSA works with to 2012 set a target to reduce many agencies to reduce road deaths to a monthly averdeaths and injuries on our roads, and we all – An Garda age of 21 per month by 2012. In 2009, the monthly average deaths on our roads were 19. For this, I thank you. Because of you, fewer families are grieving for a loved one who died needlessly on the roads. More people than ever are in support of a lower drink drive limit to protect every one of us who uses the roads. Seatbelt wearing rates have increased and awareness of other high-risk factors such as driver fatigue is growing steadily.

You get to feel twice as good when you give for a second time.

Every day with the help of people like you, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service supply life saving blood to hospitals nationwide. Of course, we couldn’t do it without your help all year round. If you’ve already given blood this year and are eligible to do so again, we’d love to see you. Text ‘Blood’ to 53377, lo-call 1850 731 137, or join us on facebook to find your local clinic now.

28 THE WAITING ROOM MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2010 you get more than you give

Ask Yourself Behaviour is changing but one thing remains constant – road safety is personal. It’s personal to every one of us who gets behind the wheel of the car, or goes for a walk at night, or cycles to and from their homes. It’s personal because we all want to complete these journeys, no matter how short. It’s personal because we all have a responsibility when using the road to make sure that we get home safely. And it’s personal because no-one else can change our behaviour but us. The next time you sit into your car, ask yourself this – am I doing everything within my power to ensure my safety and

the safety of my passengers? Will that one drink I just had in the pub be the difference between getting home safely and spending my life in a wheelchair? In my rush to get home quickly or in my efforts to impress my friends, will I be able to deal with what’s around that corner if I’m driving too fast? And if I feel sleepy at the wheel of the car and ignore the signs, could I be the cause of my own or someone else’s death when my car veers out of control? If you are ever in any doubt about your answer to any of these questions, I would ask you to visit the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire where the staff work with patients, both adults and children, for weeks, months and years to rebuild lives shattered by dangerous driving. Some will admit that they are victims of their own actions but others are there because one day, someone else made a bad decision when they got behind the wheel of the car. And so everything changes in a split second. Lives changed, dreams and hopes shattered by a bad decision. If you could take just one thing from me now, it is this – don’t make a bad decision. Take responsibility for your actions when you are using the road. Yes, things have improved dramatically in the past decade and you have played a significant role in this. But people still die on our roads every week. And you are not invincible, you are not immune to the effects of alcohol on your senses, you are not ‘ok to drive for just another few miles’ when you feel tired at the wheel. You are a father, mother, son or daughter and your family does not want to get that phone call. YOUR FREE COPY

How brainy are you? Question 1

The Atlas Mountains are in: a. Europe b. Africa c. America

The Waiting Room


Question 3

The Spanish Steps are in: a. Rome b. Vienna c. Madrid

Question 4

The largest island in the Mediterranean is: a. Sardinia b. Cyprus c. Sicily

Question 5

A doublet was a. A measure of whiskey b. An old coin c. A garment




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Send your entry to THE WAITING ROOM CROSSWORD, Northampton, Kinvara, Co Galway by 20 July 2010.

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Question 2

A Dugong is: a. An aquatic mammal b. A small boat c. A poisonous tree


Crossword is open to readers aged 18 or over, are resident in the Republic of Ireland, except employees and their families of The Waiting Room Magazine, its printers, or anyone connected with the competition. The magazine is not responsible for entries lost, delayed or damaged in the post. Proof of postage is not accepted as proof of delivery. Any number of entries will be accepted. Winner will be the sender of the first correct entry to be drawn at random after the closing date. Winner will be notified by post, and only their name and the county in which they live may be published in the magazine. All personal information obtained through entry into this competition will be destroyed following its completion. Entry implies acceptance of these rules.

Quick Quiz





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to th e Spring Crossword 12

N G A S C A L E S U A A A H A A A A 31 R S A B A S S E T S A A A R A T A I E R S A A N G E R 12 12 R I A C A A A I L A C Y A T T E S T S A I A N A E A P E N OM A D I C S P R Y 12 12 E A P A R A A T A A D E C U R I O A G R A N D P R I X D A O A M A E A D A E A A A C O S P R E Y A M I N C E P I E T A E D A A U A O A E A P Congratulations E A R W A X A S M A R T S E T Marie Sheridan, Athy, Co Kildare, who won our Spring 2010 Crossword! 12






























































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Question 6

Laurel & Hardy were: a. Americans b. British c. A mixture of these

Question 7

The capital of Peru is: a. Bogota b. Quito c. Lima

Question 8

The Great Barrier Reef is off Australia’s: a. North Coast b. East Coast c. West Coast

Question 9

Of the three Baltic states, the furthest north is: a. Lithuania b. Latvia c. Estonia

You are:

1-2: A pea brain 3-5: Suffering brain drain 6-9: A bulging brain box Answers: 1b; 2a; 3a; 4c; 5c; 6c; 7c; 8b; 9a


ACROSS 1 It’s an insult, but not a very bad one. (6) 4 Dead cute, mixed-up, but well-read. (8) 9 Possibly has mat dust as one of the causes of this condition. (6) 10 Just the suit for the girl’s best friend? (8) 12 Have it all, e.g., mixed up with the law. (5) 13 There’s an ego-trip involved when the surgeon is doing his work. (9) 15 Put a foot back in the boat? (3) 16 You and I start to get tired. (5) 17 In short, Timothy and Bernadette would sound right. (6) 22 It’s hard on the teeth. (6) 24 It’s not 12 Across and it doesn’t pay. (5) 27 It’s mined in Korea, in Morecambe and in Ballyporeen. (3) 28 Rendered footless? (9) 31 Tiler gets confused to a certain measure in the bar. (5) 32 Not a disease of gluttons. (8) 33 The game for Roland Garros. (6) 34 I pressed incorrectly to spread them out over a wide area. (8)

35 Just be there. That’s all. (6) DOWN 1 Takes in the birds. (8) 2 Triangle, though broken, is a vital part of the whole thing. (8) 3 See him starting to become a mountainy man. (9) 5 Verdi is about to take to the road. (5) 6 Mark will never finish the sentence. (5) 7 Confused, lost in the back of the mouth. (6) 8 Incorrectly signed for pattern. (6) 11 Not a top clue, this, to have on the chair. (6) 14 It was a problem for Hamlet, being Polish. (3) 18 What I might sing for interfering with my dole? (6) 19 This is a very good clue! (9) 20 First in dance from far away? (8) 21 Put out a new CD or a film – and made it free! (8) 23 One of the top four in the pack. (3) 25 Direction of a scent? (6) 26 Hardly suitable boats for choppy oceans? (6) 29 You won’t find the answer here! (5) 30 Uses broken siren to guide the horses. (5)




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HEALING POWER: Medical Secretaries actually typed these hilarious ‘gems’! “The patient has no previous history of suicides.” “Discharge status: Alive, but without my permission.” “Numb from her toes down.” “Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.”

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“Stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.” “Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.” “The skin was moist and dry.” “Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.”

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Fill in the grid so that each row, column and 3x3 square contain all the digits from 1 to 9

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happy endings

The Last Laugh A funny thing happened on the way to my sixty-third...

There have been endless discussions and seminars about humour and what makes us laugh and why, and these must be the driest, most boring and self-defeating gatherings in the world. Once you start dissecting anything... I mean, before you cut it up into little pieces you have to kill it, right? It’s a bit like having compulsory blood-tests, CAT scans and x-rays at a beauty contest. I suppose it’s possible to work out why a particular joke is funny; it may be the unexpected ending, the fact that it’s a perfect example of some quirk in us as a species or as individuals, the suddenness of it, but then there are hilarious jokes that don’t tick any of these boxes. Sometime in the sixties, we had a year or so of Elephant jokes and these were, for the most part, silly in the extreme. At least, they look silly from fifty years on, but I remember being convulsed with laughter for hours on end as, one after the other, the latest Elephant joke was trotted out. Even now, when I meet friends from those times, it isn’t unusual to begin a conversation with a reminder: ‘How would you know that there was an elephant in your bed?’ (‘You’d see the E on his pyjamas.’) Or ‘How would you know there was an elephant in the fridge?’ (You’d see his footprints in the jelly.’) Or ‘Why can’t an elephant pass through a keyhole?’ (‘You know that little knot

on the end of his tail...?’) See what I mean? Very, very silly. And yet... Unless we stop at that, just as the chuckle-wave is beginning to well up, we may find ourselves moving on to the far more sophisticated double- or triple-deckers. ‘Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?’ (‘So that when he was hiding

in a cherry tree, he couldn’t be seen.’) ‘Have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree? No? (‘Just goes to

show how good the disguise is.’) Or, my favourite: ‘Why are elephants

grey?’ (‘To distinguish them from strawberries, which are red.’) ‘What did Hannibal say when he saw the elephants crossing the Alps?’ (‘Here come the elephants.’) ‘And what did his granny say?’ (‘Here

Why go to the bother of describing a fat guy like me as a ‘person who is gravitationally challenged’ when all it conjures up in the listener’s mind is: fat guy.


come the strawberries. The poor woman was colour blind.’) Don’t ask me where they came from but they’re so off-the-wall that they may have come from the pot-fuelled brains of the hippies of Haight-Ashbury; there’s that flowerpower feel to elephant jokes, like, whatever, man, far out. I remember trying them on my own children in the seventies as we drove along – after we got tired of road sums (seeing who could add up the digits on the number plates of oncoming cars the fastest) or I Spy – and, after their initial perplexity, and the first few jokes, they, too, would begin to laugh, but I never quite worked out whether it was because they thought the jokes were funny or because they thought the fact that I thought they were funny was what was funny. As any good raconteur will tell you, jokes come in clusters. One leads on to the next. They may be racist, sexist, blondist, ageist, and every other ‘ist’ you can think of, but should never be avoided because of that, not unless the teller knows that there is someone listening who might be offended or upset; only an insensitive boor would tell one of the hilarious Alzheimers jokes to someone with a beloved parent suffering from the dread disease. Jokes may be filthy, but as long as it’s not gratuitous filth, and your granny (the non colour-blind one) isn’t listening, then so what? Political Correctness gone mad is the enemy of free speech, and especially of jokes. And I’ve always had difficulty in understanding PC anyway – why go to the bother of describing a fat guy like me as a ‘gravitationally challenged person’ when all it conjures up in the listener’s mind is: ‘fat guy.’


There are those who can tell jokes well and those who can’t – and there’s even a joke about that. In fact there are many, but this is a good one – and it’s got two endings! A young fellow ends up in gaol and, on the very first night, just after lights out, as he’s lying depressed on the bottom bunk, a voice calls out somewhere: ‘Thirtyseven!’ There’s a bit of a giggle all over the cell block. Then another voice calls out: ‘Eighty-three!’ and there’s a bigger giggle. Over the next ten minutes the laughter gets louder and louder as more and more numbers are called out. Eventually the newcomer manages to get his cellmate to stop laughing long enough to explain. ‘There’s a joke book in the prison library,’ he says, ‘and to save time, we just call out the joke number, because we all know the book backwards.’ Fascinated, the young lad asks if he can have a go. ‘Sure!’ says the old lag. ‘Go for it.’ So the young lad calls out: ‘Ninetytwo?’ And waits. [Now here’s where the two endings come in.] Ending #1: There’s dead silence and, disappointed, he asks the old lag why. ‘Listen, kid,’ he says kindly, ‘there’s nothing wrong with the joke as such – it’s just the way you tell it.’ Ending #2: The place howls with laughter; people are falling out of their bunks, helpless, and it goes on and on and on. Eventually, when it subsides, the youngster says excitedly: ‘WhatdidIsay? WhatdidIsay?’ And the old lag, with tears rolling down his cheeks says: ‘That’s one we haven’t heard before!’ Go figure. Actually, don’t bother – just be glad it’s there. YOUR FREE COPY

Summer 2010  
Summer 2010  

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