Getting crafty at the Knitting and Stitching show

Last Sunday, the annual Knitting and Stitching show in the RDS came to an end. The Knit and Stitch as it is more commonly known is Ireland’s biggest crafting event and is a must-see for every knitter, sewing and craft enthusiast.

I have been attending the event since the young age of six and since then it has always been one of the highlights of my year. When the trees began to turn crisp autumn colours and a bitter cold appeared in the air, I knew that this year’s Knit and Stitch was soon approaching.

It was my talented Mammy who introduced me to the event and she is also the lady who taught me to sew. Every year at the end of October, we would leave Wicklow and head up to the RDS in Dublin. I will never stop being thankful to my Mother for bringing me to this crafty event as it due to her and the Knitting and Stitching show that I am now crazy about crafts. It has influenced every part of my life, even the topics I chose for writing articles.

There is something magical about the Knitting and Stitching show. I believe the magic is released by the people who showcase their textile art, the skilled crafts people who give classes in their area of expertise and the entrepreneurs who sell supplies from their beautiful shops.

If it were not for the Knitting and Stitching show, I would have never fallen in love with sewing, learned how to make dolls, clothes, bags and endless creations. I may have never had my eyes open to the art world and began my lifelong love for the arts.

So now, after spending four proud days working at the event, I cannot help but smile when I see mother’s bringing their children to this wonderful textile show.  Some of these lucky children might just grow up to be Ireland’s next greatest artists.

The City gathered a few pictures Of some of the great art displays and entrepreneurs at this years show.

5 who made it in the AFL…. and 5 who didn’t

With the news this week that Cork’s Ciaran Sheehan will join AFL side Carlton Blues in January, looks at some of the top Gaelic footballers who made it down under, as well as some of those who didn’t adapt to the new game.

Those who made it

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And those that didn’t

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Sheehan (22) becomes Carlton’s third Irish player, joining Zach Touhy and 19-year-old Ciaran Byrne of Louth, who only signed for the AFL side in August. The Eire Og mans abdication is yet another blow for Cork’s senior footballers, who having already lost manager Conor Counihan earlier this year will be without stalwarts Graham Canty and Pearse O’Neill for the 2014 season after both announced their retirements last week.

Dogs for the Disabled

Anne Stewart writing for travelled to Blarney, Co. Cork, where she met Jennifer Dowler, CEO of Irish Dogs for the Disabled.

Everyone knows dogs are man’s best friend, but some dogs are much more than that. Irish Dogs for the Disabled places trained dogs with adults and children with disabilities.

Irish Dogs for the Disabled, Blarney, Co. Cork - Image by Anne Stewart
Irish Dogs for the Disabled, Blarney, Co. Cork – Image by Anne Stewart

As we pulled in, Jennifer Dowler and Fleur opened the door to us and we began to chat over tea in a large country kitchen. Fleur, an 18-month old golden retriever, is full of fun and mischievous to boot; she could easily be mistaken for a normal dog, and she is, but with special skills.

Jennifer has more than 20 years experience training dogs for the disabled. She breeds all her own bitches, stud dogs and puppies, and stresses how important it is for the dogs to be healthy and to come from a perfect blood line.

“We don’t have health problems with our dogs and we don’t touch anything unless they are in perfect health. If you have one puppy in a litter with cancer, then it will keep coming [back] in the lines. We are very strict about what we will or will not breed,” said Jennifer.

She explained it was a two-year process to make sure the dog has perfect shoulders, perfect skin, perfect temperament, everything perfect. “We spend thousands on our breeding stock and we don’t get any support from the government. We raise all the money ourselves.”

I asked Jennifer to explain how a new-born puppy becomes an assistance dog. “From 0-12 weeks is the most critical time in a pup’s life and from birth we start socialising them, de-sensitising them and handling them.

“When the pups are 8 or 9 weeks old, we place them with volunteer families for about 18 months and they rear the dog and continue with the socialisation process. The dogs then come back to Irish Dogs for the Disabled, where they are assessed on their personality type and matched up with a person on our waiting list.”

Jennifer Dowler, CEO of Irish Dogs for the Disabled with Fleur, an 18-month old golden retriever with special skills - Image by Anne Stewart
Jennifer Dowler, CEO of Irish Dogs for the Disabled with Fleur, an 18-month old golden retriever with special skills – Image by Anne Stewart

Fleur is the next dog out – she is going to Luke, an 8-year old boy with profound cerebral palsy; Fleur and Luke have already met and according to Luke’s mother, “Fleur is cheeky, playful, bright and loveable, and you could just as easily be describing Luke”.

“Fleur has been clicker-trained to engage with Luke’s physiotherapy”, said Jennifer. “We train her to touch him in different parts of his body and then he has to move that part of his body. Fleur will crawl and roll over and this will encourage Luke to imitate her and crawl alongside her.”

Fleur is into playing and she is loving and gentle. She will curl right into Luke, as he can’t curl into her or hug her. Each dog has their own strengths and weaknesses.

“The final step is to train Luke to interact with Fleur and to encourage him to practise physiotherapy himself in a practical and fun way. If you ask a child to do something, they are more likely to do it with a dog, as it is often painful, uncomfortable and stressful”, said Jennifer.

Dogs for the Disabled is accredited by Assistance Dogs International. Golden retrievers are best for children and more work-orientated dogs, such as labradors, for adults. Labradoodles are ideal for children with a tracheostomy, as they don’t shed hair.

Jennifer places 85% of her assistance dogs with children aged 6-12 years old. She trains 20 dogs every year at a cost of €15,000 per dog. There is a 5-year waiting list for these dogs.

Dogs trained for adults are taught to push alarm buttons, open doors, send for help, retrieve a phone and fetch a blanket. Physical disabilities include spina bifida, cerebral palsy, duchenne and muscular dystrophy.

Moustaches at the ready for Movember with Nick Offerman

November is upon us once again meaning it’s Moustache growing time for Movember. Let Nick Offerman start us off.

If that video didn’t suffice and you haven’t heard of Movember yet, let me break it down. From 30 Mo Bros in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 to 1.1 million Mo’s in 2012, Movember, through the power of the moustache has become a truly global movement that is changing the face of men’s health

Movember is back for its sixth annual campaign in Ireland and men across the country are getting amped up for another year of awesome growth, offering their upper lips for the month as billboards for men’s health by joining Generation Mo.

Irish Mo Bros simply register at, start the month clean shaven then have the remainder of the month to rock a ‘Mercury’, ‘Lemmy’ or ‘Zappa’, all to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. The money raised in Ireland goes to the Irish Cancer society.

For men participating, growing a moustache is embarassing, it rarely goes well in the beginning and Nick Offerman has this to say:

Last year 17,250 Mo Bros and Sistas raised over €2.1 million for men’s health in Ireland with over 1.1 million Mo Bros and Sistas raising €113.5 million worldwide.

Key things to remember for Movember:

  • Once registered at each Mo Bro must begin his hairy journey on the 1st of Movember with a smooth, clean shaven face.
  • There is strength in numbers, start a team and don’t Mo alone
  • The moustache is Movember’s ribbon; it’s the vehicle men use to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer initiatives.
  • At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their mighty Movember journey by throwing their own Movember parties or attending one of the famous Gala
  • Over 2,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland each year. 1 in 8 Irish men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Movember’s Global Action Plan (GAP) aims to accelerate prostate cancer outcomes by bringing together the best researchers from around the world. GAP facilitates a new and unprecedented level of global research collaboration, not previously seen within the prostate cancer community.

And if you join in on the cause you will be participating in history.

So go out and join the movement, grow a mo, donate to a mo, support a mo, and just be as good as person as Nick Offerman.

Videos provided by Made Man

A Swashbuckling Adventure

After the cliff hanger ending of Assassin’s Creed III, where fans of the video game series were left to wonder if protagonist Desmond Miles was dead or alive, last week’s release of Assassin’s Creed IV was hotly anticipated.

The sixth multi-console release in the series, Assassin’s Creed IV was developed by Canadian gaming company Ubisoft, and had great expectations to live up to; it does not disappoint.

This is the first time the series has diverged from the line of important periods in history.  Having experienced the Crusades with Altaïr, the Renaissance and Ottoman Empire with Ezio and lastly the US Revolution with Connor, Assassin’s Creed IV follows the story of Edward Kenway, an 18th century Welsh pirate operating in the Caribbean Sea.

Edward is the grandfather of Connor, the protagonist from Assassin’s Creed III, and in this game we learn how Edward went about trying to make money in order to return to his family in Wales.

Conor Kenway, the protagonist from Assassin's Creed III is the grandson of Captain Edward Kenway. Image by Rooster306 on flickr
Conor Kenway, the protagonist from Assassin’s Creed III is the grandson of Captain Edward Kenway. Image by Rooster306 on flickr

There are no major differences in gameplay between this game and its predecessor.  As expected, this game is heavily focused on maritime missions and travel in order to arrive at the main missions which usually occur on land.

In the early stages, gameplay can prove to be almost tedious at times. Instead of enjoying the game, there is a feeling that you are playing just for the sake of it.  The story may appear to be fragmented and a little difficult to grasp also. However, one small bombshell later and this game completely changes.

The graphics, as usual, are fantastic.  Every minor detail is accounted for, from rogue waves during a storm at sea to pods of dolphins breaching in the wake Edward’s ship, the Jackdaw, leaves behind it.

The subplot is also extremely interesting.  Instead of following a modern day protagonist in a third person view, following Desmond’s demise, the player now actively takes over as the protagonist in the first person.  Working under the premise that you are researching for a “new pirate based video game” for Abstergo, you are recruited by insiders in the company to try to discover what the company’s real aims are.

In full, Assassin’s Creed IV is a thoroughly enjoyable game for any fans of the series. Although maybe not matching the excitement of the previous instalment in the series, IV is a worthy purchase.

Score: 8.5/10

Champions League all-time XI

3-4-3 formation


Probably the greatest goalkeeper ever, just in front of Buffon. The Spaniard has always played for Real Madrid and is a great shot stopper. 151 Spanish caps as well as 476 appearances for Real.  Casillas has won every single honour in the game with the exception of a Confederations Cup; he has captained Spain to their last two Euros’ and there sole World Cup. Casillas has lifted ‘old big ears’ on two occasions.


The energetic and everlasting Brazilian was a real gem at Milan.  The Brazilian captained his country to glory at the 2002 World Cup and also won the Champions League with the Rossoneri.  Cafu’s energy and consistency was crucial to Milan’s march to their seventh crown.  Cafu also won three Uefa Super Cups and a Cup Winner’s Cup.


Arguably the greatest centre back of his generation, the Italian won three Super Cups, Cup Winners’ Cup and two Champions’ Leagues.  He was also pivotal to Italy’s 2006 World Cup success.  The former Lazio man also won three Serie A.

Maldini was a ledgend. credit immortal
Maldini was a legend. credit


Words cannot describe this man.  The number three shirt at Milan has been retired due to his brilliance.  Maldini boasts five Champions Leagues, seven Italian championships, five Super Cups and three World Club Cups.  Maldini played 647 times for the Rossoneri.


One of the first galacticos acquired by Real, Figo was a winger with extreme skill and speed. Two Uefa Super Cups, Cup Winner’s Cup and a Champions League, were the rewards for Figo’s brilliance.


One of the greatest players of all-time, Zizou lit up the football world with his brilliance. The Frenchman was twice beaten in Europe’s’ showpiece with Juventus before eventually winning the prize in 2002 with Real, whilst scoring one of the greatest goals in the history of the competition along the way.

Zidane after the 2002 Champions league final. Credit footy
Zidane after the 2002 Champions league final. Credit


The greatest midfielder of his generation, enjoyed success twice in 1999 and 2008 and tasted defeat in 2009 and 2011.  Scholes was a catalyst for United and only for Barcelona would be boasting four crowns. Eight leagues with United and some wonderful goals make him the perfect partner for Zidane.


The Czech was similar to Figo with his trickery and speed.  Nedved never won the Champions League but came very close in 2003, when his Juventus side lost out on penalties to Milan at Old Trafford.   Nedved, however, did manage a Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup with Lazio.


How could you leave this guy out? Three Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups and four Ballon D’Ors.  Messi really has to be included, he scored the winners in the two finals he played in and has consistently made the competition sparkle. One of the greatest ever footballers.


The Spaniard boasts three Champions Leagues and until last week held the record for appearances too.  Raul still has the record number of goals in the competition with 71.  Raul was arguably Real’s best ever player and was wonderful to watch.

Raul scored 71 times in Europe. credit golo
Raul scored 71 times in Europe. credit

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Man, the myth, the legend.  Ronaldo has to be one of the best players to have graced the competition.  Speed, power, two feet and what a prolific goal scorer he is. Ronaldo’s only crown came in Moscow in 2008, when United beat Chelsea, a runner up a year later, ‘CR7’ has been in four semi-finals three with Real.  Ronaldo also boasts a Ballon D’Or but has regularly been left second best to Messi.