Study Visit in the West Region, Ireland

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The West Regional Authority organised a Study Visit for the participating TOURage Partners leaving Galway City at 9am on Tuesday the 23rd October and travelling firstly to Knock Shrine. Seniors representing various organisations and Good Practices travelled on the coach facilitating informal interaction with the Partners throughout the day.

On route the Vice-President of Active Retirement Ireland provided details regarding her organisation which is a national association with a total of 23,197 members all in the over 55 age group. She stated that “the association has a strong voluntary element and is led from the bottom-up with over 500 Active Retirement groups actively participating at a local level around the country and social activities both domestically and internationally are a key part of ARI with bowling, dancing and boat cruises being the most popular activities.” This was followed by the showing of a DVD from Fáilte Ireland highlighting the natural beauty of the region.

On arrival at Knock Shrine, Partners were given a guided tour of the grounds and the Basicilia as well as the facilities which are available on site for the elderly visitor including a fully equipped mobile paramedic vehicle, an accessible transport bus and an elderly rest and care centre where pilgrims can rest during prayer. They also availed of a short tour of the museum in the Shrine.

From there, the Partners journeyed to the Westport Woods Hotel in Westport having watched DVD entitled, ‘Ireland the Island from the air – West’ on the way. In the hotel a Bord Fáilte official gave a very interesting presentation on tourism facts in the region and she then showed a video on “the Gathering” a tourism initiative to attract some of Irelands 70 million Diaspora back to the country during 2013. This was followed by a most informative and detailed presentation by a staff member from the hotel who outlined their very successful “Golden Year Programme” which is operated during the off peak season in Westport and is geared to the over 55 tourist both national and international. In addition the hotel provides accessibility for seniors with a disabled access at the main entrance and a feeder bus service to pick up visitors at the train station, free travel with public transport and prioritising room allocation depending on senior visitor needs. At this point the Study Trip had provided Partners with a flavour of two of the Good Practices being put forward by the West Regional Authority.

On the return journey to Galway speakers provided details to the Partners on the remaining three Good Practices. The first of these was on the Age Friendly Programme and the speaker outlined the main objectives of the Strategy and its potential benefits to the elderly citizen when it is rolled out across the four local Authority areas of the West Region. The next Good Practice highlighted was the Bealtaine Festival. This annual festival is the Irish National Arts Festival celebrating Creativity as we age and was first launched in 1996. It takes place each May countrywide and involves thousands of participants in events in every art form. Bealtaine celebrates renewal, creativity and growth in ageing.  The final Good Practice presented was Ireland Reaching Out where an overview of the Reverse Diaspora Organization relating to the social, economic, cultural and spiritual betterment of the country of Ireland was provided. Currently, there is over 70 million people claiming Irish roots and these people are found using high tech and modern research methods and are invited to join the Reaching Out Ireland group. The journey concluded with the showing of a DVD from Fáilte Ireland entitled, “Galway – The Cultural Heart of Ireland.”


Description made by:

Mrs. Mary Molloy,

West Regional Authority


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