Keep Things in Perspective – We have it Good Here

Spotting the above photo, taken on June 1st, in a news report brought back memories of my trips to the Philippines.

Thousands of villagers have been evacuated after Taal volcano, one of the world’s smallest volcanoes, about 40 miles to the north the Philippine capital, belched a dark plume of steam and ash into the sky in a brief explosion. Magmatic materials came into contact with water in the main crater of Taal Volcano, setting off the steam-driven blast. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alarm to the third of a five-step warning system, meaning “magma is near or at the surface, and activity could lead to hazardous eruption in weeks. Alert level 5 would mean a life-threatening eruption that could endanger communities is under way.

Taal is located in a small island in a scenic lake and is considered a permanent danger zone, along with a number of nearby lakeside villages. Taal erupted in January last year, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and sending clouds of ash to Manila, where the main airport was temporarily shut down. The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

When I visited Taal, on my last trip to the Philippines in 2008, the view was more like that in the image below.

After a bus journey from Manila, we got a boat out to the volcano and did a steep climb up to the top of the creator in intense heat. The climate in that part of the country is hot and humid. The creator was filled with water so you had a lake in the volcano in the lake. It was quite a spectacular view.

Other random memories of my trips to the Philippines include the following.

The first thing I noticed stepping off the plane was the intense heat and humidity. It hit you like the wall of heat you feel on your face when you open the door of a hot oven.

Then there was the journey from Manila airport to the hotel. The first time there I was unprepared for and shocked at the level of poverty as we passed mile upon mile of huts made of corrugated iron, timber or cardboard in which people lived along side the roads and under bridges. Perhaps more shocking still was the realisation that each day I passed these the more used to them I became. After a week they almost seemed normal. Its amazing how quickly we adapt to our surroundings. And on subsequent trips it took even less time for it to seem normal.

Similarly being greeted by armed police with dogs and searched every time you entered your hotel, shopping centres, banks or public buildings surprised me the first time but quickly became accepted as normal. They would check underneath the taxi you arrived in with a mirror on a long stick to ensure there were no bombs attached. Just like Belfast in times past.

The factories were located in an industrial zone a couple of hours drive away, so the work day began early and it was late when you got back to the hotel. You were too tired to do anything but shower and eat before going to bed, to be up to repeat the next day. The factory workers normal shift was 12 hours a day, five days a week and only six hours on a Saturday. But we got Sundays off and the shopping centres had air-conditioning. The route to work could vary depending on which roads were washed out and which rebuilt. It seemed the country back roads were mainly built on clay, not the massive concrete foundations we have here.

The workers were searched every time they went into or out of the factory buildings. They were searched going in to ensure they did not bring in cigarettes as the corporate management in America had decided they were no smoking zones. So they stashed their cigarettes outside and collected them on their lunch break. They were searched on the way out in case they stole any small tools like a screw driver. Not much trust built into that system.

While those of us belonging to the company working in the US or Europe could get a bonus in a year in which the company did particularly well, our Philippine collogues could not. The state had set wages so that workers would not be moving from company to company for higher reward. This was to make the employment market more stable for foreign companies setting up there. Their bonus was a bag of rice.

There seemed to be no air conditioning in the factories I was in despite the heat and humidity. But on one occasion I was surprised to arrive to a nice cool, air-conditioned building. I joked to one of my colleagues that someone had remembered to turn on the air-conditioning. I was informed that it was only turned on when the American management were visiting. It was left off the rest of the time to save money.

On another occasion after the factory had been damaged by a typhoon, communications systems were down. They pulled out all the stops to clean up the mess in the areas that would be seen by the senior management from the US who were also visiting. They got a single internet connection up and let the Americans use this, not pretending that for a while it was the only internet connection in the whole factory. They did everything they could to hide any problems from the corporate guys because they were very aware that they were being continuously compared with similar facilities the company had in different parts of the world, and that work could easily move to another location.

Family is very important to them, and if you want to really connect with them don’t ask about work first. Talk about your family and theirs. Are you married? Why not? How many children do you have? How many brothers and sisters? Take some time to share this kind of information first. Then you will get every cooperation from a great team of workers. Then they will let you know how things really work there, not what they want certain people to perceive.

Traffic: to try driving there without understanding the unwritten rules would be suicidal. Communications involved much use of the car horns, in a code I never managed to decipher. We depended on our designated driver, who was also our bodyguard.

The Philippines sit across the typhoon belt, making dangerous storms from July through October. As my trips were usually planned for October/November they were often delayed due to typhoons. These cause considerable damage; flooding, mudslides, uprooted trees, knocked buildings, power lines down, etc. But because they are so used to them the clean-up is usually swift.

On one visit to a shopping centre we came across a shop selling all kinds of guns. We were welcome to view and purchase if we wished, but not allowed to take photographs.

The poorer people do their shopping in open air markets and hygiene standards would probably have made it unsafe for someone from this part of the world to sample the food there. The better off shopped in the big shopping centres, which are pretty much like anywhere else.

Small children of about nine or ten and younger scoured rubbish tips for items that might be useful. Plastic bags were useful as refuse sacks for disposing of waste.

No matter how poor people were they still seemed to be able to get cigarettes and coke cola, which probably helped to make them poorer still. I have noticed this about other parts of the world as well.

Tap water in many areas is not safe, and with the high heat and humidity, one could easily become dehydrated quite quickly. So we always carried bottled water. We would only purchase this in shopping centres because if you purchased from street vendors it was likely to be in bottles refilled with unsafe tap water and often expertly resealed.

Mosquitoes were common once you went far from Manila and a bite could potentially have fatal consequences. So Long sleeves and pants were worn in certain areas to protect from more than the sun.

When you go to the foreign factories, shopping centres, etc. you would swear that they are the most beautiful people in the world, without what might be deemed any physical flaws. But on the streets they are like anywhere else. Its seems to be just with such a large pool of labour to pull from, jobs dealing with visitors are filled by people that visitors will perceive as beautiful. We do it here but not to the same extreme. Positions for receptionists and floor staff in hotels and restaurants tend to be filled more often by staff that would be deemed to be good looking.

I have already mentioned the huts that many lived in by the roadside. Other stone houses with walls around them and gated apartment complexes around Manila were guarded by armed private security.

Out the country among the fields where they grew rice you would come across homes made of bamboo and leaves on stilts, typically about six or seven feet by the same again. Families would sleep on mats on the floor in these. The relative dimensions of the model in the picture below would be about right.

Nursing courses were in high demand because with the proper qualifications you could get nursing jobs in other parts of the world and send money home to your family in the Philippines. We have benefited from that here in Ireland with many of our nurses and carers from there.

Whereas many of us in this part of the world would like to get a nice tan, over there they sell soap that is supposed to lighten the skin. Strange world, with so many people wanting to be what they are not, and wanting to live where they don’t.

I enjoyed my trips to the Philippines. It was a great experience. I worked with some great people and made some good friends. It certainly helped me to better appreciate what I have at home. For all its imperfections, we have it good here.

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Salthill Traffic Survey

Galway City Council is inviting feedback from residents, visitors and business on parking in Salthill, as part of a parking management study for the area. 

The study will explore potential active travel measures along the Prom, and will make recommendations on regulating parking, in order to support the continued vitality of the Salthill area and its distinctive character and charm. This study is funded by the National Transport Authority. 

The character of Salthill has changed over time but still retains its distinctive character and amenity value. In recent years it has re-established itself as an urban village with an increase in the permanent residential population, supporting a broader range of services for the local community and visitors. The purpose of this parking study is to establish a relationship between how people are using Salthill, and where they choose to park. Previous public consultation in relation to Covid measures in summer 2020 shows there is a strong demand to look at how travel and parking is managed in Salthill in the longer term. Galway City Council welcomes the input, and insight, of residents, businesses, commuters and visitors to the area. 

Feedback from all mode users is welcome, and will inform the recommendations of the study.

Submissions can be made online, through this page by 10th July 2021. 

Accessibility – if you cannot access the survey online, but wish to respond, please get in touch to request a paper copy – or 091 536400. This survey is open to people aged 18 and over, but I see no reason why younger people should not also be able to give their input.

The study area is shown in the map below, including the wider area beyond The Prom or the retail area of Salthill. It covers the area bounded by Sea Road, The Prom, Galway Golf Club and Taylorshill.

The survey will not take long as most questions just require checking boxes.

Note Question 3 is headed “Visitors from outside the area” and lists all 32 counties. But it also should capture views from people in Salthill. Despite the heading Option 12 down is for people from “Galway in Salthill study area”.

Questions 13, and 14, allow for further comments and are perhaps the most important from a local resident’s point of view. This is your opportunity to comment on such things as the overspill of parking from the commercial zone into the neighbouring residential areas, the condition of footpaths, traffic flows at school times and when there are games in Pearse Stadium or The Prairie, and any other concerns or suggestions you might have. I would encourage you to fill these in.

For example are you shocked like I am that they are proposing cutting down the trees on Dr. Mannix Road to make way for a cycle path? Surely they should be looking for a way to accommodate cyclists and tree lovers, instead of ticking boxes under one heading at the expense of the other.

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Talking of Success – Local Boy in Finals of European Boxing Championships This Evening

You will be able to watch the European U22 Boxing Finals here on this page from 7pm this evening with both Adam Hession and Dean Clancy both in action.

Adam Hession’s European U22 Bantamweight Final with Artur Bazeyan of Armenia will take place at approximately 7.30 this evening Irish Time.

Meanwhile, Dean Clancy from the Sean McDermott Boxing club in Manorhamilton will take on Israel’s Ahmad Shtiwi in the Light Welterweight Final at approximately 8pm.

View at

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Success – Learn what it is and how to achieve it?

This Success Manual course is a self-paced, online course designed to help you to:

  • Decide what you consider success in life to be for yourself.
  • Develop a model to understand the elements of success.
  • Help you decide on and clarify your goals and to prioritise them.
  • To understand the importance of habits, how to develop good habits and eliminate bad habits without relying solely on willpower.
  • Know what are the life skills and the characteristics of successful people.
  • Help you identify your various assets and understand the power of compounding their value over time.
  • Realise that achieving success involves following a well established process that you adapt to your own particular requirements..
  • Use the course workbook to help you along your journey of personal growth and development from starting with some self-analysis and onward to a successful life.
  • Help yourself along this journey by pointing to other useful resources.

The first 25 people to sign up to the course can do so at a massive more than 80% discount to the normal price, just €18.45 instead of €100. In return I would like them to offer me their feedback on what they think of it, how it might be improved or made more valuable to them.

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Boil Water Notice Issued for Ardnamara, Salthill.

Update: 24/06/21

Irish Water and Galway City Council wishes to notify all customers on the Galway City (Ard na Mara-Salthill ) Public Water Scheme that following consultation with the Health Service Executive, that the drinking water boil notice imposed on supply on the 17th of June 2012, is now lifted with immediate effect.
Customers can now resume normal use of water supply for drinking, food preparation and brushing teeth.


Following consultation with the Health Service Executive, Irish Water and Galway City Council would like to advise customers in Ard na Mara, Salthill, an area which is served by the Galway City Public Water Supply, that the water is contaminated with E-Coli. Following advice from the Health Service Executive, Irish Water and Galway City Council are issuing a Boil Water Notice to protect consumers in the area of Ard na Mara and Dalysfort Road from Holland’s Shop to Forster Park (not including Forster Park) and as indicated within the red boundary line in the attached map.Just over 70 properties are affected and must boil their water before drinking and preparing food. There is no need for customers to buy bottled water. Once tap water is boiled and cooled it will be safe for consumption. The water is safe for all other applications including personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets.

Customers will be contacted directly by letter and vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communications also.

Commenting, Tim O’Connor, Irish Water’s Asset Operations Lead said: “Public health is Irish Water’s number one priority and we would like to assure customers that the notice has been put in place to protect customers. We are aware of the impact that this notice will have on the area affected and thank our customers in advance for their patience and cooperation while we work as safely and as efficiently as possible to rectify the situation.

“We advise customers in the affected areas to adhere to the Boil Water Notice until further notice. We will continue to work closely with Galway City Council and the HSE to monitor the supply and lift the notice when it is safe to do so. We will issue a further update as soon as more information is available.”

In line with HSE COVID-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

Vulnerable customers are reminded that the water is safe to consume once boiled.

Business customers will receive a 40 per cent rebate on the cost of the supply of water to their businesses for the duration of the Boil Water Notice.

Water must be boiled for:

  • Drinking;
  • Drinks made with water;
  • Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating;
  • Brushing of teeth;
  • Making of ice – discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

  • Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads);
  • Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling;
  • Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink;
  • Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water;
  • Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. If bottled water is used for the preparation of infant feeds it should be boiled once and cooled. If you are using bottled water for preparing baby food, be aware that some natural mineral water may have high sodium content. The legal limit for sodium in drinking water is 200mg per litre. Check the label on the bottled water to make sure the sodium or `Na’ is not greater than 200mg per litre. If it is, then it is advisable to use a different type of bottled water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible. It is important to keep babies hydrated.
  • Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Irish Water is working closely with Galway City Council to lift the notice as quickly as it is safe to do so. Updates will be available on the Supply and Service Updates section of our website, on Twitter @IWCare and via our customer care helpline, open 24/7 on 1800 278 278. Further information is available on the Boil Water Notice section of our website.

Irish Water continues to work at this time with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services. Irish Water would like to remind people to follow the HSE COVID-19 advice and ensure frequent handwashing.

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If I knew then what I know now

When you look back on your life so far,

Are there times you wish that you knew then what you know now.

I must admit that for me there are.

But dwelling on these I won’t allow.

Because what’s past is past, and what’s done is done.

You can’t un-throw the die already cast.

Past battles are already lost or won.

Rather live your present as best you can.

And for uncertain future devise a plan.

Delayed gratification can sometimes be a pain.

But may be justified by later, greater gain.

But delay for too long,

and the hoped for gain might never come along.

Work if permitted never ends.

If I knew then what I know now,

I’d have spent more time with my friends,

instead of working all the hours that time did allow.

There were times when I should have said “No”.

And at others, “yes” to opportunities to grow.

I could have travelled a little more.

Explored and enjoyed more experiences beyond this shore.

Don’t get me wrong, I am content.

I am happy enough with how my time was spent.

But still, if I knew then what I know now,

What more would I have done, if I knew how?

As we follow our path through life,

we encounter times of joy and strife.

We deal with these as best we can.

But wouldn’t it help to have some kind of plan?

If someone gave you a manual for success.

So you would know more often what to do, and not just guess.

Well I got news for you.

That’s exactly what I intend to do.

My Success Manual can be your guide.

When the lessons within it are applied,

your successes will be multiplied.

Coming soon; “My Success Manual”.

Be among the first to like Success Manual – Home | Facebook if you want to be among the first to get updates about this self-paced online course, including about the massively discounted launch offer.

Update: Here it is My Success Manual

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On the Beach

As I stand here on the beach,

a flock of seagulls just out of reach,

the scene appears to be in black and white,

because of the extreme brightness of the light.

I love to walk along this way,

around the edges of the bay.

I feel the breeze, I feel at ease.

I smell the seaweed and the salty air.

My restless mind is calmed and left without a care.

What’s here is more than words can explain.

Something priceless on which no-one has a claim.

Yet something in which everyone can share.

We’re all its guardians. We all should care.

Find more at Noel’s Poetry – Payhip.

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Anti-Social Car Meet Disrupts Salthill

A “Salthill Sundays” Facebook page led event saw hundreds of modified cars descend on Salthill village and the Blackbox theatre yesterday. The disgraceful behaviour of the participants caused major traffic delays and upset in the locality.

The anti-social behaviour included revving, back firing, making smoke and noise, blocking traffic free-flow, and driving a noisy convoy of cars through residential areas.

Salthill Sundays Facebook page description in its “About” section is:

Salthill Sunday’s is an opportunity for car enthusiasts to show of their cars. We do not recommend any banging,revving or messing of any sort.

Bring what you have, any style welcome.

Respect & support the local businesses.

However, the behaviour of the participants was in stark contrast to what is outlined in this brief description. The page seems to have been created on April 28th by a Stephen Coyle. Do you know who he is?

Any who thought it was just harmless fun, and I am sure many of them did, failed to consider other people. They showed no respect or consideration for the local community.

While anyone satisfying certain legal requirements, such as having a valid driving licence, tax, insurance, NCT and safe vehicle has a right to drive on our streets, this right is not unqualified.

They are not entitled to cause harm or distress to others.

They are not entitled to frighten little children with the noise.

They are not entitled to cause traffic disruption that causes people to be late for appointments, work or other activities.

They are not entitled to prevent the ambulance or other emergency services from doing their work.

They are not entitled to force patients to be airlifted because the ambulance can not get through on the road.

They are not entitled to hurl verbal abuse at people.

They are not entitled to throw litter out of the vehicles.

They are not entitled to breach the current restrictions on the size of public gatherings in place to protect the public from covid-19.

They are not entitled to interfere with peoples’ livelihoods.

What they effectively did yesterday was to invade Salthill, bring it to a standstill, and give the finger to the people who live there.

They were not entitled to cause all this damage and upset yesterday, and they are not entitled to do it every Sunday for the rest of the summer, as it seems they plan to do. Anyone organising such events bears responsibility for what happens at those events. And simply putting a disclaimer on a Facebook page does not relieve them of that responsibility.

While the individuals who took part are welcome to Salthill, as long as they comply with the normal modes of behaviour that are respectful to everyone, this type of event is not.

There also seems to be some questions to be answered about money supposedly being raised for charities.

There has been much criticism on local media this morning of the Gardaí and the way they handled the situation. This is not justified. They were simply overwhelmed and have to operate within the boundaries of the law and the resources available to them. Rather than complaining, if you have evidence that can identify anyone involved in wrong doing like photographs, videos etc send them to the Gardaí.

We call on the organiser/s of this event to cancel any plans to repeat the disruption over the summer. We call on a potential participants to show consideration and respect for others and to only take part in events that do not cause such disruption and distress. It’s all great fun until it’s not.

Seeing what has happened, to repeat it would be simply imtimadation.

A delayed journey might be nothing more than an inconvenience. But if the ambulance that had to turn back yesterday was on a more urgent case, it might have meant a life lost.

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An Post Community Focus Supports

In a previous post reminding you that postage rates are increasing in a weeks time (May 27th), I mentioned An Post’s community focus supports such as calling in on vulnerable citizens, free postage to and from care homes, and free newspaper delivery for older customers will also be extended until at least the end of the year. It will then be reviewed in light of the prevailing situation with the covid crisis.

In response to queries on how this works here is the link to An Post’s Community Focus page for the details of each of the supports offered.

In summary the services provided to help elderly or vulnerable people include:

  • Free Delivery of newspapers. Subscriptions to weekday newspapers (not weekend) can be purchased and An Post will not charge for delivering them to elderly or vulnerable people.
  • Free mail collection. If an elderly person has a mail item they need collecting, they can put a sign in their window that says I HAVE MAIL and the postal delivery staff will collect it for free on their route. The postal delivery staff will apply a postage mark in the local mail centre before onward circulation.
  • Request a check in service. Customers can request that postal deliver staff call to the front doors of older and vulnerable customers along their delivery route to check thy are OK.
  • Free postage to or from care homes. Just write FREEPOST where the stamp would normally be affixed, An Post will carry cards, letters large envelopes and packets weighing up to 2KG without a postage stamp.
  • Address Point. A free service that provides a fixed address to those without a fixed home. It enables them to receive regular post and access essential services.

With restrictions easing as the vaccine roll-out progresses, the levels of isolation in the community should reduce. Non-the-less, there will still be people who would benefit from these services, which An Post has committed to keeping in place to at least the end of the year.

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Government waives Ticket Prices on OPW Sites for rest of 2021

The Office of Public Works manages many of our best know heritage sites on behave of the nation.

Sites like Newgrange, Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre, Dublin Castle and Kilkenny Castle, are among our top attractions.

An annual family pass to these sites would normally be €90, and would be excellent value in itself, but for the rest of the year you can visit for free.

With the nation’s holiday plans concentrating on staycations, the government has given hard-pressed families a boost by waving the admission charges at all paying OPW sites for the rest of the year.

 The current list of sites open to the public can be found at:

OPW Heritage Services – Sites Open from 10 May 2021 (

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