Living with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system of about 1,200 children and adults in Ireland.

A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. It also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

We had a one on one chat with someone who lives with the condition to tell us more about what life is like with CF.

What is daily life like with cystic fibrosis?

It’s more complicated than other people’s normal routines and there’s a lot more involved in my day than meets the eye, a lot more to consider.

How much more stress is added to your day?

Well I have to get up earlier than I would if I didn’t have cystic fibrosis and stuff like physio can set you up for a good day or bad day chest wise. I don’t have spontaneous days as much because I have to pre-plan things like have I my tablets for the day? Is my chest clear enough? Am I feeling good?

How does it affect your social life?

It can negatively impact my social life. This week for example I’m not feeling the best so I might not be able to go to a ball in college which everyone is excited for and I might not be able to go to my friends 21st. It’s bad because I can’t plan in advance. I have to really take it day by day because on Monday I could be fine and on Tuesday I could be really sick. I’m not as spontaneous as I would like to be, but if I am in good health I just have to be confident I can get through the night without feeling ill.

Do you have to tailor your diet in any way?

In general, the diet of someone with cystic fibrosis is high protein and high fat because due to the insufficient function of the pancreas, fats and vitamins and the nutrients in food aren’t absorbed as much as a normal person so some people with cystic fibrosis can find it hard to put on and maintain their weight. They tell you as a kid to pretty much eat as much as you can. They don’t really place an emphasis on healthy eating which I don’t like because I think you can have a healthy diet and also include what you need to maintain your weight. There can be problems due to the high fat aspect with blood sugar and diabetes, but diet you just have to be a lot more mindful of it and try your best to work with it.

Was having cystic fibrosis something you considered when choosing a course in college and do you think it will affect future job opportunities?

It went through my mind obviously because it always has to when planning my future. I think because of the person I am, I’m a determined, hard working person, so cystic fibrosis is a part of me but it’s not what dictates my life because I don’t allow it to. In relation to hours and things I just decided I’d take it as it comes because that’s just the best way to look at things and I try meet the challenges that would come with any course.

I would like to think it won’t affect my job opportunities but that would be in an ideal world. I think it will affect how I pursue getting a job and what hours I can do when considering I might have to take some time off if I get quite ill or maybe I’ll lose a job because I’m ill. So it is a worry and it is a constant worry how I’ll cope being in a professional environment but as I said before you just have to take things as they come.

Has it gotten any easier over the years to live with?

I spent a lot of my childhood in and out of hospital; it frames a big part of my childhood memories. It’s definitely not easier because I’m older, if anything it’s harder. When I was a child I didn’t know any different whereas now as an adult that knows this is a condition that hinders me, I feel a lack of control when I should feel control. It’s harder because I have things like an academic life, a social life, a romantic life to tend to so being in hospital is much more of a hindrance when I want to get on in my life.

By Shane McGannon

Over-priced, under-funded: the numbers behind Dublin’s transport system

The year is 2011, a jubilant Enda Kenny has been elected as Taoiseach for the first time, Labour are still a credible political party, the Arab Spring is in full swing and Donald Trump has just finished the eleventh season of the Apprentice.

More importantly at the end of 2011 the price of a one way fare on Dublin Bus is €2.30. The price of a trip on the DART is similar, €2.40 to be exact. The cash price for both Dublin Bus and Irish Rail has been increased every single year since then, as well as for Luas and Bus Éireann.

2012 and the same journey on the bus or the DART is suddenly more expensive. DART prices aren’t too heavily altered, with a four percent increase from €2.40 to €2.50. Dublin Bus is a different story however. Suddenly you’re paying €2.65 for the same journey you were paying €2.30 for yesterday, a whopping fifteen percent increase.

2013 is no different, with DART prices shooting up to €2.80, an increase of twelve percent. Dublin Bus went up by another 15c to €2.80, another five percent increase.

2014 encompassed a huge leap in price for both Dublin Bus and DART prices. They both leapt from €2.80 to €3.05, a nine percent increase on the previous year.

The prices have continued to rise since then, Dublin Bus is now €3.30 and the DART is €3.25. That means that in a five-year period Dublin Bus prices have increased 43 percent and DART prices 35 percent.

That’s just inflation though right? Not quite. When the percentage increases in public transport is compared to the average inflation in Ireland over the last five years it doesn’t add up.

The highest inflation has been over those years was in 2011, when it was 2.45 percent. It hasn’t surpassed two percent since then and was actually minus 0.3 percent in 2014.

Dublin now has the seventh most expensive public transport system in the whole world, ahead of New York, Berlin, or Barcelona.

That stat is made more ridiculous considering how poor Ireland’s public transport system is.

Dublin Airport is one of the only major European airports without any sort of rail connection. The new “Metro North” underground system won’t be operational until 2026, at the absolute earliest.

There are regularly waits of half an hour for a DART or bus, and sometimes even an hour in off peak times. This doesn’t happen in London or New York or many other major cities, where waiting times on public transport are rarely over ten minutes.

When all this information is analysed it doesn’t reflect well on Ireland and its transport system. If the price of public transport is so much how can the actual system be as poor as it is?

The problem may lie in the subsidies provided by the government.

Back in 2013 TD Clare Daly, then of United Left Alliance, claimed that Ireland has the least subsidised public transport in Europe and asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to increase funding, especially to Bus Éireann to enable them to cut prices.

Kenny refuted this, but did not present anything to argue against it and while the funding to public transport has not been cut over the last few years it also hasn’t been increased, which may be where the problem lies.

In summary, Irish public transport rises on average by about eight percent every year, the Dublin transport system is the seventh most expensive in the world, Dublin Airport is one of the worst connected major airports in Europe and the whole Irish transport system is massively underfunded.

No wonder so many people have a new bike at the top of their Christmas lists.

By Leo McGuinn

Film Review: Sully

By Luke Carry 

Friday sees Tom Hanks crash land on our screen as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, pun intended. Hanks’ newest movie, Sully, sees him take on the role of Sullenberger, the hero responsible for saving all of his passengers during an ill-fated flight from New York.

sully-thecity
Source: Wikipedia

Based on a true story, it’s hard to forget Sullenberger’s real life heroics of landing the aircraft in New York’s Hudson River. The story at the time sought to make a celebrity of a man who, for all his heroic efforts, never really seemed to want the limelight.

In this respect, Hanks is expertly cast. Playing the role with great humility he lets us explore the human side of Sullenberger, which is really what this film is about.

A supporting cast of Aaron Eckhart, as co-pilot Jeff Skiles, works well with Hanks to create a very real feeling during the in-flight sequences. Hanks always seems to have a warmth to his characters that transcends most boundaries. Similarly to that, Sullenberger is a hero for all. This performance helps to carry the film through its faults.

The National Transport Safety Board are the villain here, trying to pin the incident on pilot error which would in effect, end Sullenberger’s career. Or at least they are portrayed to be.

Clint Eastwood directs at a pace that will keep the audience captivated and entertained throughout. The film does at times try to be something it’s not. It all gets a little muddled when we delve into the investigations taken against Sullenberger and his crew. While these events took place, and are part of the true narrative, they seem to try to matter more than they ever could. The real story is Sullenberger.

While not living up to its full potential, Hanks and Eastwood have enough experience to carry the film to a rather safe landing.

Sully is an enjoyable tale of the everyday man achieving the extraordinary and triumphing in the face of adversity. Suitable for all the family and at just over 90 minutes it makes for an easy enjoyable ride.

Local paper sticks with tradition

Since 1975, The Raheny News has brought the community of Dublin 5 together.

The newsletter began in the home of Fr. Con O’Keefe on St. Assam’s Road, Raheny in February of that year. The small group of volunteers were led by Liam Flynn, the editor at the time as they wrote, produced and distributed the first newsletter in the area.

After the success of the first issue of “The Raheny News”, or “The Green Paper” as it is known now to many of the older residents in the area, the group of local volunteers continued to sacrifice their Saturday afternoons in exchange for sitting down to produce what is now a staple in the community.

Despite being in production for the last forty years, the Raheny News hasn’t changed too much from the original issue. While the content may vary, the design is still very much the same – as is the green paper the newsletter is printed on. In fact, the very printing of the Raheny News hasn’t changed.

Each week, volunteers would meet in Fr. O’Keefe’s house to discuss the local goings-on, write news articles, type them up on their typewriters, print the issues manually and then distribute them to all the local shops.

Now the editor Peter Harper then decides what is newsworthy and the group begin to type it up. Heather Kavanagh and Theresa Kelly type up their pages on the same typewriters they had in the 70’s. However, Peter has slowly brought in some technology with the use of his laptop to help with the typing and news gathering process.

Once the typing is done, the pages are handed over to Linda Spellman to proof read, and then onto Maire Ni Bhraoin to print. Each of the four pages of the newsletter is printed 780 times, and then manually stapled together later in the evening by Catriona Harper, Kay Harper and the rest of the volunteers.

The newsletters are then put into groups and are ready to be distributed to the local shops where they are sold for 20 cent per issue. These costs, along with advertising fees cover the cost of ink, paper and of course tea for the staff.

One of the highlights for many of the volunteers, is the chance to sit down at the end of the evening with their fellow volunteers for a good catch up and to discuss their plans for the upcoming days.

At 21 years of age, Catriona Harper is the youngest volunteer in the group, but wasn’t at all surprised when she found out that the group haven’t moved along with the times in terms of the technology they use.

Regardless of whether the newsletter moves further into the digital age, it will always be a staple in the local community – technologically advanced or not.

Follow us on twitter at @NiamhHaskins, @MichelleDardis_ and @StephenFLarkin.

By Michelle Dardis, Niamh Haskins and Stephen Larkin

City of a Thousand Welcomes

Have you ever wondered how to show off your knowledge of our fair city, meet new people and get a free beer or coffee in the process? Well then the City of a Thousand Welcomes programme may be just the thing for you.

Coordinated by The Little Museum of Dublin, the programme is an award-winning civic initiative which allows tourists to sign up and be matched with an ‘Ambassador’ from Dublin. They then schedule to meet for a free coffee or drink, with the Ambassador providing the tourist with an authentic view of Dublin, free of charge.

Sponsored by organisations such as Fáilte Ireland, KPMG, Luas Cross City and Dublin City Council, the initiative has consistently grown since it first commenced in 2011.

“Well when we first started the programme we were hoping to get 1,000 volunteers, but within the first few weeks we had over 2,500 people looking to volunteer. Since then, we run at capacity of 2,000 visitors each year,” Simon O’Connor from The Little Museum of Dublin explains.

According to Simon, many of the Ambassadors are retired and semi-retired professionals, however a small number of students are involved in the programme as well.

Interested individuals must be over 21 and can apply online. The process also requires that you fill out a short questionnaire and take an online quiz that tests your basic knowledge of the city.

If successful, potential Ambassadors are then invited for an informal interview in The Little Museum of Dublin, where a representative of the programme will assess the candidate’s suitability, as well as asking for some general information about the candidate and their interests.

With summer positions usually filling up by March, Simon explains that despite the programme’s popularity, they are hesitant to expand the initiative for fear of it becoming commercialised.

“The programme runs so well at the moment, we have a 100% immaculate customer service… and our ambassadors are absolutely brilliant. We’ve had four years of proofing the programme in a way, but of course it’d be great if the programme was at a stage where every Dubliner felt it was obligatory to even take part and meet a tourist once,” he said.

“However we don’t up-sell and we resist the temptation to commercialise the service,” he added.

Simon admits that tourists are sometimes “baffled” by the fact the service is free. “They always wonder what the catch is, but then we just have to tell them that there is no catch,” he said jokingly.

Well with no catches involved and the chance to meet new people and a free drink, what more could you want?

For more information about the service, just visit their website here.

Don’t bark up the wrong tree this Christmas

At the age of five, sprinting down the stairs at six o’clock Christmas morning is one of the best feelings a child will ever have. However, opening the sitting room door to see a puppy is a thousand times better – at least that is from the child’s perspective.

Owning a pet is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. However, pets are more than just a seasonal gift – they’re a long term commitment.

As the countdown to Christmas is truly upon us, people are searching the city trying to find the best presents for their loved ones. Many households are planning for a furry arrival come the 25th of December.

Across Dublin at the moment it is almost guaranteed that there are children persuading their parents that this Christmas is the perfect time to get a pet.

Trying to impress their children, parents get carried away and ignore the fact that a dog will usually live for between ten and fifteen years.

Dogs Trust and The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) are urging people to think long and hard about the decision and are reminding us that, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’.

After Christmas, Dogs Trust receive more than 1,000 abandoned and unwanted dogs arriving through the doors of their Rehoming Centre.

Back in November, the charity’s, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ campaign launched, asking the public to pledge and promise not to buy a puppy this Christmas.

The campaign also saw large four-foot wrapped model dogs displaying messages like “I was too old” and “They drove off and left me” scattered across key locations in the city centre.

Mark Beazley, executive director at Dogs Trust, spoke about the importance of the campaign. He said that the model dogs were “abandoned in an aim to provoke awareness and discussion around buying a puppy as a gift this Christmas”.

“We wanted to try something a little different for our Christmas campaign this year in order to attract the public’s attention and hopefully spread our charity’s message of ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’,” he said.

He continued: “For us, as Ireland’s leading dog welfare charity, this campaign is very much about encouraging people to stop and think really carefully about the commitment you are taking on when you consider buying that puppy at Christmas. Can you be certain that once the celebrations are over you will still feel the same way about the puppy and your decision?

“We are at the front line of the sad reality of abandoned and unwanted dogs every day. We really would encourage anyone who is set on getting a dog this Christmas to wait until the busy festive period is over and to consider adopting from your local rescue centre, pound or Dogs Trust.”

Emma O’Neill, a volunteer with Dogs Trust, said, “We advise people not to get a dog for Christmas because it’s such a busy time with people coming and going they can’t settle. It’s the wrong time of year.”

She continued: “When you get a puppy for the first year or so it’s bound to be crazy. They’re just like babies in the sense they’re not trained and they teethe. At first thought it can be a great idea, but eventually the excitement fades out and the dogs are being rehoused. It affects the dogs in so many ways. Although we give them the best care we can, sometimes they need more.”

The charity is asking the public to support and share this important animal welfare message at Christmas by joining the cause and pledging to take #ThePuppyPromise online at www.thepuppypromise.com.

Exciting times for BLOQ Apparel

Before saying goodbye to 2015, we spoke to the creative directors behind urban brand BLOQ Apparel, who captured and harnessed their creativity to create a uniquely Irish and innovative fashion label.

Launched in late 2014, BLOQ Apparel is a metropolitan clothing brand designed and produced locally by Dublin natives Simon Bastable and Brendan Ennis. The inventive duo left their financially stable careers in retail and finance, to fulfil their desire for design. One year on, and three collections later, we find out whether their risk was worth taking.

For many, obsession with creativity and design begins at a young age and is later ignited by a growing devotion to produce beautiful designs; whether that’s in the form of technology, cuisine, advertising, or fashion. The finished product behind the design may be different, but the semantics and passion required remains the same.

After conforming to the social norms of going to college, obtaining a degree and getting a nine-to-five job, both Simon and Brendan, who are life-long friends from Dun Laoghaire, repeatedly found themselves becoming bored in their mundane day jobs.

“I was doing it because that’s what I was told you were meant to do. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with all forms of art and design. Looking back, I should’ve definitely gone down that road,” said Simon.

Simon has a background in online marketing and digital strategy and has experience in luxury retail, while Brendan studied business and entrepreneurship where he acquired a solid skill set that prepared him for starting out in business.

“We both offer a completely different dynamic which is why we work so well together,” added Simon.

Both the brand concept and name are unique to the Irish market, as he explains:

“We want our clothing to be everyday wear, but to also have the versatility and adaptability to be that ‘special piece’ in your wardrobe.

“The name is derived from the term ‘Bloc’ which translates as ‘a combination of groups who share a common interest, and who have formed an alliance. A community’. We dropped the ‘C’ and replaced it with our trademarked ‘Q’ to give us individuality, but still in keeping with the original pronunciation.

“At the core, BLOQ is a community of people who are passionate about, and share, a common interest,” he added.

Simon and Brendan have successfully built a solid customer base within the last twelve months, and are enjoying continued success with their third capsule collection, as Brendan illustrates:

“The overall feel for Collection 03 is that we are embracing designs and fits that are resounding of late 90’s and early 00’s street and athletic wear. This is broken into three subsections – t-shirts, sweats and headwear.

“We have five t-shirts that fall under our ‘Classics’ that we are carrying on from the previous two collections. In addition to these, we’ve added on two more freshly designed t-shirts, a long sleeve-sweater, a hoody, and a crewneck.

We work with a manufacturer on designs from the beginning. This is a lengthy process, but it’s done so that we can provide the exact cut, fit and fabric that we feel our customers will really appreciate and love,” he added.

Although the Irish fashion community has welcomed BLOQ, the directors believe that more needs to be done to ensure the longevity of independent Irish labels.

“There’s a reason why we’re so far behind the likes of London and Paris, but in my opinion, there just isn’t the support systems in place for independent producers. We felt that we were on our own at the beginning. However, even though it is extremely difficult, it’s great to see more young designers and brands making a go of it here,” Brendan added.

What do the directors hope to achieve in 2016? Simon and Brendan will soon be launching two new concepts to the brand – BLOQ Sound System and BLOQ Natives – with the aim of further enhancing the lifestyle aspect of the brand. They are also actively looking to take BLOQ to an international market.

“We launched in winter of 2014, and have seen a massive rise in such a short space of time. This has given us the impetus to keep pushing boundaries and see how far we can go. Exciting is an understatement,” Simon concluded.

You can follow Simon and Brendan’s story and progress on Facebook , and Instagram.