2016 Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation

Disability campaigner Joanne O’Riordan Caddies for Bluebird Care & Scott Hend at Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Golfing event promotes access for all

The 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at the K Club gave people of all ages and all abilities the opportunity to get close to the golfing action.

This year the tournament saw an extra special guest attending the Pro-Am event, which took place on Wednesday 18th May. Disability campaigner Joanne O’Riordan acted as caddie for pro golfer Scott Hend and amateur golfer Brian MacGoey of homecare company Bluebird Care.

Joanne is a criminology student in UCC and is only one of seven people in the world living with a rare physical disability known as Total Amelia. This means she was born without all four limbs and even though there is no medical explanation as to why this happened, Joanne or indeed her family has never allowed it to hold her back.

Joanne is a huge golf fan and was very excited at the prospect of acting as caddie for European Tour winner Scott Hend and amateur golfer Brian MacGoey.

“I’m super excited about being able to get on the course and keep both Scott and Brian focused,” said Joanne.

“And on a more serious note, all major sporting events as a matter of course should be fully accessible and audited for disability access. Disability and indeed reduced mobility can affect anyone at any time of their lives. I’m proud to be part of the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to advocate for access for all.”

Managing Director of Bluebird Care Brian MacGoey and Joanne O'Riordan

For the fourth consecutive year the European Tour has partnered with homecare company Bluebird Care to provide event mobility services. Two accessibility viewing stands were built on the course which overlooked the 8th and 17th greens. The stands are accessible to wheelchairs and are specially built for people with reduced mobility.

Rory Colville, Championship Director of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, says:

“We have always tried to do everything possible to help people with disabilities or reduced mobility come to the Irish Open and enjoy a great event with a unique atmosphere. Our partnership with Bluebird Care Ireland allows us to do just that and we enjoyed working with them throughout the week to provide a first class service.”

Meanwhile, staff from the local Bluebird Care office in Kildare were on site throughout the tournament providing Personal Assistants, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Brian MacGoey, Managing Director of Bluebird Care Ireland, says providing access for all was the motivation for his company to get involved.

“We provide these services at very little cost to the people attending and charge nominal fees to cover outlays. We were delighted to be once again providing event mobility services to The Irish Open so that young and old, families and groups can get close to the golf. Ability nor disability should not be factors in deciding to attend and enjoying an international sporting event.”

The 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation and won by Rory McIlroy took place at the K Club in Co. Kildare from the 19th to the 22nd May 2016. More information on the official website.

Photos by John Roche & David Dempsey

Caption: Joanne O’Riordan accompanying Brian MacGoey, Managing Director of Bluebird Care on a practice round ahead of next week’s Pro-Am at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at the K Club.

Media Queries

European Tour: +44 (0) 7880 601008
Frances Jennings, fjennings@europeantour.com

Bluebird Care / Joanne O’Riordan:
Joanne Sweeney-Burke, 087 6237373 / joanne@digitaltraining.ie

Community Involvement And The Links To A Happier Retirement 

There’s a saying in English, “Gone to the wall”, which means something has failed and is done for, exhausted, useless and depleted. The origins of the phrase are surprising. In medieval times, seats in churches were a luxury afforded only to kings, queens, lords and ladies. For the common man or woman; the long, Latin services had to be endured standing up in all weathers. Older members of the community were allowed to stand closest to the church walls, allowing them to lean against the stonework if the burden of standing became too much.

Thankfully, older members of today’s society are not considered to have gone to the wall. Older people are at the very heart of their communities – on the committees of GAA clubs, Tidy Towns, historical societies, drama groups, and every other activity that needs volunteer contributions.

Older people who volunteer are happier, healthier and enjoy a better quality of life than their peers who don’t. A 2012 study showed that members of Active Retirement Ireland had better levels of self-reported health and were more satisfied with life than non-members. The physical activity involved in certain forms of community involvement – such as Tidy Towns, Go-For-Life exercises or playing bowls – can be good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial to older people. Studies in the USA, UK and Germany have all found that those older people who are engaged with their communities have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.

The real payoff in getting involved, though, is to be found in the community itself. A key risk factor for depression, dementia and other mental health concerns is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others, and helps you develop a solid social network; which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through tough times. Working with animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

One of the best ways to make new friends is to join a community group. Community involvement is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area or if you have recently retired and are spending more time at home. You can also strengthen existing relationships by sharing an activity together.

So, you can see how good is to get involved, but where do you start?

You will have a far more enjoyable experience if you take a little time to find opportunities in your community that match your own interests. Start by thinking about why you want to volunteer and what you would enjoy doing most. Volunteer opportunities that you find interesting are most likely to be fun and fulfilling for you. It’s also important to take into account your own capacity. Don’t overexert yourself, either physically or with the amount of time you think can give up. It’s crucial that community involvement is ‘good craic’ for you.

Above all – take a leap. Go and get involved in your community, be it with an Active Retirement group, Tidy Towns, Toastmasters, whatever takes your interest. Whatever it is you decide to do, you’ll feel happier and healthier in retirement because of it; and you certainly won’t have “gone to the wall”.

Peter Kavanagh is Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest community-based older people’s organisation. Its 24,500 members take part in activities designed to enable older people to have a healthy and active retirement. Bluebird Care are proud to support Active Retirement Ireland.