“Recycled Teenagers” in Kerry Debate Growing Old in Ireland

80 people joined Broadcaster George Hook in The Malton Hotel, Killarney to debate growing old in Ireland. With our population rising and figures projecting 800,000 people over the age of 65 by 2021, Bluebird Care hosted an event to discuss planning for an ageing population.

Photos by Don McMonagle

View all photos from the event here



EngAGEment killarney00020

The crowd at An EngAGEment with Bluebird Care in The Malton Hotel Killarney

The main issues debated were community policing with Sgt. Jim Foley and Diarmuid Cronin of Muintir Na Tire; Social engagement and active ageing with Peter Kavanagh, Active Retirement Ireland and Philip O’Reilly, Respond Housing; and the impact of austerity on older people by Eamon Timmins of Age Action and Susie Hall from the Alliance of Retired Public Servants.

Some of the key issues raised were:

  • Middle class families are being hurt by austerity and are facing homelessness and are leaning on elderly parents for financial, childcare and even housing supports according to Philip O’Reilly of Respond Housing.
  • When you turn 65 your input into society should not end – age is merely a number and social interaction is vital after retirement. Studies show that you are 4-7 times more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack in the first year after retirement so social interaction and activity is vital. Studies have also shown that minding your mental health and keeping your brain active can reduce incidences of dementia according to Peter Kavanagh of Active Retirement Ireland.
  • Age Action reported that the Government are considering altering the Free Travel Scheme for over 65’s in this year’s budget. Age Action are lobbying Government on this trying to prevent any negative changes.
  • Susie Hall of the Alliance of Retired Public Servants said the Government have hit the most vulnerable in society with their austerity measures. Older people should not have to suffer as they have spent a lifetime paying taxes and giving service to the state.
  • Diarmuid Cronin of Muintir na Tire said older people should look at all risks relating to home security. He also encouraged them to consider getting a social alarm that is monitored 24/7/365.
  • Sgt. Jim Foley spoke about simple ways to protect your home like securing windows and doors, cutting overhanging trees and hedging and lighting up your house and outdoors to prevent intruders.
EngAGEment killarney00027

Eamon Timmins, Age Action & Susie Hall, Retired Public Servants Association

EngAGEment killarney00052

Diarmuid Cronin, Muintir na Tire and Sgt Jim Foley, Crime Prevention Officer discuss community policing and home security with George Hook

EngAGEment killarney00041

Philip O’Reilly, Respond Housing and Peter Kavanagh Active Retirement Ireland discuss social inclusion, active ageing and housing with George Hook

One audience member, 93 year old Bernie McMonagle declared, “In Kerry we don’t like to be referred to as senior citizens, we rather ‘recycled teenagers.’ This set the positive tone for the evening which will feature in an online video shared on

EngAGEment killarney00009

Gerard Mannix and Bernie McMonagle with George Hook

Schedule Announced for Portlaoise ‘EngAGEment’ Event with George Hook

Event Programme

Thursday 22nd May, Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise

Come along to this free event and have your say on growing old in Ireland. You can book by calling 057-866 6377 or email You can also just come along on the evening.

George Hook hosting An EngAGEment with Bluebird Care

George Hook hosting An EngAGEment with Bluebird Care

7:30pm Registration / Refreshments / Attendees View Exhibition Stand Helplink South, Bluebird Care, Task, Laois Injury Clinic

8:00pm Welcome by Eddie O’Toole, Operations Director, Bluebird Care

8:05pm Master of Ceremonies, Newstalk Broadcaster George Hook

Video “Homecare & Healthcare”

8:10pm Interview with Consultant Geriatrician at the Mater Hospital Dublin, Mr. Dermot Power on Minding your Memory & Mental Health – Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

Audience Q&A

8: 30pm George introduces Panel I and Shows Video Clip “Growing Old is a Virtue”

The Importance of Active Ageing for Health, Well Being and Social Inclusion

  • Peter Kavanagh, Information & Networking Officer, Active Retirement Ireland
  • Fr. Jackie Robinson, Parish Priest, Borris in Ossory

Audience Q&A

9:00pm George Introduces Panel II and shows Video Clip: “The Impact of Austerity on Older People”

  • Robin Webster, CEO, Age Action
  • Susie Hall, Association of Retired Public Servants Association
  • Philip O’Reilly, National Co-ordinator Older Persons Services, RESPOND

Audience Q&A

9:35pm Video: “Older People Have Their Say”

9:40pm Closing interview with Eddie O’Toole, Bluebird Care

9:45pm Close and sum up by George Hook / Photos


An EngAGEment with Bluebird Care – 2014 Dates


‘An EngAGEment with Bluebird Care’ is a nationwide roadshow series looking at issues affecting older people in modern Ireland. The events took place  5 locations in 2014 and we are delighted to announce two new dates for 2014.

Locations & Dates

The events will take place in the following locations during May:

Laois: 7:30pm Thursday May 22nd   – Heritage Hotel, Portloaise  – BOOK NOW

Kerry: 7:30pm Wednesday May 28th – Malton Hotel, Killarney – BOOK NOW

All events are FREE but places are limited and pre-booking is advised.

About the Events

Organised by Bluebird Care, the events will see a number of guest speakers address relevant issues in front of a live audience chaired by Broadcaster George Hook.

Come and hear what our speakers have to say on issues relating to older people. Your voice is also important so come along and have your say.


Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • Growing old in Ireland
  • Austerity and the impact on Pensioners
  • Life after retirement
  • Social engagement: The key to older people’s well-being
  • Homecare provision
  • Home security


Videos: Our experts have their say



Calls to Senior Help Line on the Increase

“Calls to Senior Help Line are on the increase. Figures released show that older people are continuing to be impacted by austerity and are among the most vulnerable group in the country.”

The Senior Help Line is available 365 days a year from 10am-10pm, for the price of a local call on 1850 440 444. The organisation says that all calls are handled in strict confidence.

Operations Director with Bluebird Care, Eddie O’Toole was speaking following news that Senior Help Line, run by almost 350 volunteers, received over 28,500 calls in 2013 and describes itself as ‘only national peer to peer listening service for older people’ and is run by Third Age Ireland.

Senior helpline CEO Aine Brady said the line is open for people to discuss anything of concern, and is aimed at “breaking the cycle of loneliness”.

While the main topic is loneliness, others contact the service due to worries over the high costs of living, elder abuse, and feelings of suicide. However, she expressed concern at the increasing demand on the service.

“Worryingly we are receiving twice as many calls as we can answer,” she said.
Calls have increased exponential each year since the service was set-up.

The organisation believes the effect of emigration on older sections of society has been ‘largely ignored in public debate’.

Screenshot 2014-02-01 14.34.20