Sunday, 27 March 2016

"The Circle of Life" Organ Donation

Two of the hardest things in life are (1) experiencing the loss of a child (2) explaining to a child that their loved one has sadly died.

For Martin & Denis Goggin, their world suddenly changed in 2006 when their only child, their son Eammon was involved in a road accident in Spiddal, Co Galway and unfortunately died.

The only positive impact that Eamonn's death had was by the donation of his organs that made him become a living legacy.
His organs such as his heart, kidneys and liver gave a second lease of life to four people.

Eamonn's parents were heartbroken and felt incomplete without him.
Eamonn's mother Martina began to express her grief through the power of penmanship, she started to write poems.
Since then her poems have been published in a book which she called "Under Connemara Skies: Towards Light"
The book can be purchased at a cost of €15.00 including post & packaging within Ireland.

However, in order to deal with their grief, Martina and her husband Denis established "The Circle of Life Garden" in Salthill, Galway which is overlooking the sea.
It is a memorial garden which opened on May 6th 2014 in memory of Eamonn and how his donation of organs gave life to others.
The garden is a place of tranquility and a place to sit and express one's feelings of grief and hope.
The cost to date in creating the Circle of Life is €180,000 which was funded mainly via voluntary donations and individual sponsorship.

Martina and Denis also established a charity called "Strange Boat Donor Foundation"
Its a charity for families/friends of organ donors, a place to gain awareness and information, a place to help others.
In July 2007 Strange Boat CD was recorded and named in memory of Eamonn.
It was recorded at Cuan Studios where Eamonn worked as a sound engineer before his death.
To order a copy of the CD please contact

There are 40 donating hospitals and 3 transplant centres in Ireland.
After death a person's heart, lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, small bowel and tissue can be donated.

Living donation (kidney) can be donated but you need to contact a transplant centre directly.

If you wish to donate blood please contact

If you wish to become an organ donor please contact

Writing this blog was an emotional journey for me since my brother Jonathan was involved in a road accident in 2009 and he too sadly died.
Jonathan was only 18 years old.
So writing this has brought back memories for me.

Always remember dead or alive you can give the gift of life to others.


Eamonn's mother Martina Goggin kindly agreed to talk to me and her is her story.

The garden was formally opened in May, 2014.  The construction of the garden commenced in September 2013 but Strange Boat Donor Foundation had been preparing, designing and planning the garden for about five years prior to that.

The garden was established to commemorate those who have given the gift of life to others through organ donation.  It acknowledges and remembers organ donors, it is a place of comfort and support for their families and loved ones and is a place of reflection and thanksgiving for organ recipients, and a place of inspiration, healing and hope for all who visit it.

Organ donation is giving the gift of life to another person through donating organs following death.  Living kidney donation is also an important aspect of organ donation where a person (usually a relative) donates a kidney to another, also part of a liver may be donated.  

In Ireland, there is no donor register, but donor cards can be acquired through the Irish Kidney Association, or picked up at chemists.  Even if a person does not have a donor card or, indeed, does have a donor card, the most important thing to do to ensure your wishes re donation following your death is to inform your next of kin of your wishes.  The permission of the family will always be sought before donation/transplantation takes place.

Organ donation is hugely important as it really is a gift of life from one person to another.  There are almost 600 people waiting in Ireland for life saving transplants, and without the generosity of others, many of these people will die.

My husband, Denis, and I set up the charity Strange Boat Donor Foundation following the death of our son, Eamonn, in a car crash in 2006.  As were his wishes we donated his organs and so became very aware of the importance of organ donation not just to recipients but also as a source of comfort to donor families.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016


Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities.
People with this condition have difficulty in the areas of language processing.
People with dyslexia are usually more creative and have a higher level of intelligence.
People with dyslexia can only use the right side of the brain to process language, while non-dyslexics use three areas on the left side of the brain to process language.
Dyslexia ranges from mild to severe symptoms.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that people diagnosed with it have difficulty in the use and/or processing of linguistic and symbolic codes, alphabetic letters representing speech sounds or number and quantities.

Amy Smyth the Information Officer of The Dyslexia Association of Ireland's social media page on Facebook kindly agreed to answer a few questions about Dyslexia.
These questions and answers are very informative.
You can view the page at


What is dyslexia?
There are many definitions of dyslexia.
A very simple one would be that dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which makes it hard for some people to learn to read, write and spell correctly.

What causes it?
A great deal of research has been done in recent years on the cause of dyslexia and it may be that a great deal more needs to be done before we have a definitive answer. 
We do know that developmental dyslexia is inherited, only slightly more common in males than females and that one is born with it. 
While no conclusive research has been carried out in Ireland to determine how prevalent it is, studies in other countries would suggest that approx.
8-10% of the population are likely to be affected. 
It would seem that people with dyslexia share a cluster of genes, which may, it is believed, account for the variations in the nature and extent of specific learning difficulties.
Experts are not agreed, however, on the underlying causes of dyslexia. 
The prevalent research considers that a phonological deficit is the root cause of dyslexia. 
Evidence from brain imaging suggests that people with dyslexia do not activate the left hemisphere (the language side) in the brain as much when reading as non-dyslexic readers, and that there is less engagement of the areas of the brain which match letters with sounds.
Experts do agree that dyslexia describes differences in the way in which the brain processes information, and while there may be differences in the way in which the brain works, this does not imply any abnormality, disease or defect.

How is it diagnosed?
The first step is a proper assessment to confirm whether your child has a learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), and what type and degree of difficulty the child has. 
Following diagnosis the psychologist who assesses the child will then advise you on what strategies and supports would be most suited given the child’s own current needs.

What does an assessment involve?
An assessment takes approximately three hours and it is done by a psychologist, generally an educational psychologist.  
An educational psychology assessment consists of a series of activities to determine levels of literacy, numeracy and other relevant cognitive skills. 
The aim of the assessment is to to examine the learning strengths and abilities of the person and to find out if any learning difficulty exists. 
Following assessment the psychologist will explain the findings and advise on the best course of action.   
A feedback session is given immediately and a written report is supplied later.  Advice on tuition, and suitable strategies for improving learning is given, and referral can be made to other professionals. 
The assessment does not only test for dyslexia - if there is any kind of underlying learning difficulty it will generally show up with this assessment. 

How do I get my child assessed?
There are generally 3 ways to get an assessment done in Ireland – in school with NEPS, with the Dyslexia Association or with an independent private educational psychologist.

1. School-going children may be tested free by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).
School Principals will have information on this.  Schools are only allowed a limited number of assessments each year, so in practice, only students with very severe difficulties are likely to be seen through the school service.

2. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland arranges psycho-educational assessments at our Dublin Office. 
The assessment fee is €490.  
In very exceptional circumstances, a reduced rate may be available for people on social welfare or very low income; please ask if you feel that you may need assistance.
A subsidy of up to €245 towards the assessment fee may be granted in such exceptional circumstances.
DAI is a charity, and we are only able to offer these limited subsidies due to fundraising and donations. 
There is a waiting list for DAI’s assessment service of approximately 2-3 months for those able to pay the full fee and 6-8 months for those requiring funding.
We do occasionally get cancellations so if there is a particular urgency and if people are flexible to come at very short notice, and can pay the full fee, it can sometimes be possible to get an assessment more quickly.
To place your child’s name on our assessment waiting list, please phone us on 01-877 6001 or email to and we will send you the required forms.
Or, you can download the referral forms from .

3. There are also many independent private educational psychologists, throughout the country. 
A list of registered psychologists can be obtained from the Psychological Society of Ireland’s website at, by emailing the Society at or by writing to the Psychological Society of Ireland, Floor 2, Grantham House, Grantham Street, Dublin 2. 
Charges vary between €500 and €800 on average.

NOTE: Tax relief on the assessment fee of a dependent child is allowable via the MED1 Form.
Visit the revenue website and see the section on tax relief for health expenses for further information.
You can download a MED1 form from the revenue website or get one from your local tax office.

What help is available?
Technology has been a boon to people with dyslexia.
There is a wide range of technological aids available which can also help people to manage their dyslexia independently.
Dyslexia is a life-long condition.
It does not go away. 
However, with the right supports and aids, an individual can learn to manage their dyslexia and become an independent self-sufficient learner and worker.

What supports does the association offer?
•             An Information Service is run from our national office – post, phone, email, website and in person.
Information on local services is also provided by volunteers through our network of nationwide branches.
•             An Assessment Service is run in our national office.
We have a team of educational psychologists who provide a range of assessment services.
We work with children, young people and adults.
•             Specialist Tuition for Children. DAI has a range of specialist tuition services for children with dyslexia, e.g. one-to-one tuition, weekly Workshop classes.
•             Specialist Tuition for Adults.
DAI has a range of specialist tuition options for adults who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, e.g. one-to-one tuition, the Career Paths full-time course, and occasionally evening courses.
•             Membership of DAI is open to any interested individual.
Members receive a Newsletter twice each year, and some of our services are only available to members. 
Members also qualify for reduced rates at some DAI events. Membership also supports the continued existence of the Association.
•             Training and Education. 
DAI runs many seminars and courses for parents, teachers, and other groups. Conferences are held every two years. Bespoke training and talks are also available on request.
•             Lobbying and Campaigning. 
DAI both nationally and locally is active in lobbying and campaigning for greater awareness and improved services for those dealing with dyslexia.
All DAI members are also encouraged to lobby and campaign, as there is great strength in numbers.
•             Fundraising activities. 
As a charity with limited state support, DAI is very reliant on fundraising to enable us to continue to provide our services.
Please contact our Information Team by calling 01 877 6001 or by emailing if you have any questions.

Does a child with dyslexia require special needs education?
No a child with Dyslexia does not require special needs education.
However Students with Dyslexia may receive supplementary support in their school from the Learning Support teacher. 
This help is usually in a small group setting, and is usually organised on a withdrawal basis from the regular class.


Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Kevan Chandler is a young American man who is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
It is a genetic disease that affects the part of the nervous system which controls voluntary muscle movement.
Most of the nerve cells control the muscles in the spinal cord.
The muscles are unable to receive signals from the nerve cells.
The muscles, due to being inactive, get smaller.

Everyone has a dream and despite being wheelchair bound, Kevan's dream is to go backpacking!

Life is not a competition, there is room for everyone to succeed and with the help of Kevan's true friends, they show their support to one another, so incredible things can happen, such as travelling around Europe "backpacking with a difference".

One of Kevan's good friends Tom Troyer kindly agreed to the following interview so as to raise awareness of Spinal Muscular Atrophy and to ask the public, near and far, to show their support by making a donation to the fundraising page on the Go Fund Me link via the website


Tom Troyer, 29 in April

Kevan is 29 and he needs assistance with almost all daily activities that can't be done with an iPhone or performed by the turn of his wheel chair's controls.
He has use of one hand.
He has chosen professional goals that match his intellect, wit, and ear for detail...which are largely unaffected by his condition.
He is an author and sound engineer."

We will use a Dueter Kid Comfort III which we tried out at REI.
We will have a local company help us with some specific modifications to improve the weight capacity and durability of the pack.
Hudson's Hill is a denim and leather shop in Greensboro...they're pretty sharp fellows.

We will travel to Paris, Smois-sur Seine, London, and Skellig Michael.
Kevan wants to visit Samois Sur Siene to see the winter home of Django Rienhardt. Django has been a long time inspiration for Kevan.
This part of our trip will be a pilgrimage of sorts to pay homage to a historical figure who achieved so much despite physical limitations.
For those who don't know Django's left hand was damaged in a fire and he played guitar with really only two fingers.

The documentary will be used in a lot of ways but we are unsure if TV will be a possibility yet...although that sure would be nice.

The fund raising page is a page and is linked through our website:
The funds will be for airfare, lodging, transportation in Europe, a stipend for the caregivers (roughly minimum wage) and of course food.

Saturday, 19 March 2016


The ISPCA is the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The ISPCA promote animal welfare, prevent cruelty to animals and relieve animal suffering.

These people show determination, persistence, kindness and love to help care for and protect the lives of innocent animals in Ireland.

It costs approximately €50,000 per year per inspector to keep on the roads in Ireland.
This covers uniform, vehicle costs, logistical costs and support.

Did you know that the penalties issued are as such:
If a person is convicted of an offence he/she can be fined €5,000 or €250,000 if on indictment.
If a person is convicted of an offence he/she maybe sent to prison for up to 6 months or 5 years if on indictment.
A person convicted may also be banned from buying, owning or caring for animal for a certain period of time or even for life.

The website for the ISPCA is
There is lots of valid information on the website plus a shop selling wonderful gifts and if you'd like to make a donation to this very worthy cause you can do so by clicking the DONATE button on the.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the person behind the following Facebook page.
Here are my questions and the answers that were given.


What is the ISPCA Inspector For Co. Mayo on about?
This page is about funding an ISPCA inspector which Co. Mayo does not have at this time.
A small group of highly experienced and dedicated friends who removed themselves from a rescue they could not support, chose to put their efforts into helping ALL the rescues and animals of Co. Mayo by beginning this campaign.

What is the location of the Mayo ISPCA?
There is no " Mayo ISPCA" per se, the way it works is through affiliates, who agree to follow ISPCA guidelines & policies.
It can be quite a stringent application and approval process & can be removed if the ISPCA feels they are not adhering to the policies.
The current affiliate for the ISPCA in Mayo is the Mayo SPCA in Ballyhaunis.

How many ISPCA facilities are in Ireland?
There are currently 22 SPCAs affiliated to the ISPCA and two main facilities connected with the ISPCA itself.

What was the first ISPCA established in Ireland and by whom?
The ISPCA is a national charity and was established in May 1949, by a group of committed volunteers from across Ireland, and since then the ISPCA has worked locally and nationally rescuing, rehabilitating and responsibly re-homing cruelly treated and neglected animals
The reason we began this campaign is because of the stronger powers an ISPCA Inspector has as opposed to the limited powers of other rescues.
While doing much of the same work as the rescues, they also have the power to immediately remove animals they feel are at risk.
More importantly have the power to initiate prosecutions.
This is vital in stopping cruelty, neglect and abandonment and hopefully as more prosecutions occur, the penalties will fit the crimes.
The Inspectors will also work with people, helping them do the best for their animals and are very much interested in education in responsible animal care.

What animals do the ISPCA care for?
The ISPCA will mainly work with dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, but will investigate cases for other species (cattle, reptiles, birds etc)

Do the ISPCA take part in fundraising?
The ISPCA work purely on donations and a small govt grant, so would very much be creating events and fundraisers to help their work.
Each affiliate is in charge of raising their own funds and applying for the various gov't grants.

What are your own personal views on the welfare of animals, blood sports and circus animals?
Myself, I am against the use of animals for any entertainment or purpose which involves causing them pain, loss of freedom, or forcing them to act in any way that is against their nature.
The ISPCA is currently running a campaign to ban the use of animals in circuses, they also have several other ongoing and active campaigns ...
From their website :
"The ISPCA continues to actively campaign Nationally and
internationally against live export of horses for slaughter, the
plight of Circus Animals, Exotic Animal legislation, Stray and
unwanted dog situation within Ireland, Irish Greyhound Industry,
Whaling, Bullfighting, Wild birds for pet trade, Seal Hunting, Against
live cattle exports to Middle East, Intensive Dog Breeding
Establishment Bill, Animal Health and Welfare Bill, Dangerous Wild
Animals, Stray and Feral cat situation within Ireland to name a few".

Yes or no, do you think animal welfare should be taught in school across Ireland and why?
Definitely yes, from the day they begin school I think children should learn about responsible animal care as part of the curriculum.
The ISPCA is involved with "Educate Together" with lessons plans
Schools and Teachers can use for this.

If you would like more details & information about the ISPCA, their
website is

If you would like to know more about the campaign to fund an ISPCA
Inspector for Co. Mayo our website is
our email is

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

James Walker (16) from the UK lives with his supportive parents Gina & Iain Walker and his doting sister Tash.

James is diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome which is a form of Epilepsy.

Unable to communicate but still attending school, James was able to use a special piece of technology that did allow him to communicate for the very first time, although this was only available to him for 30 minutes per week.
His first words were "Hello mum" and his proud mother Gina told The Telegraph newspaper, "Its mind blowing hearing your son speak for the first time, even though its a computer generated voice"

A fundraising process took place and £12,000 was raised in order to purchase James a "Tobii Eye Gaze"
A machine that allows James to communicate through a computer.
Now James has his very own machine, he now has a new lease on his once quiet life.
The eye tracking machine not only allows James to communicate but it also gives him control over his bedroom lights and the television too.

The technology that James uses helps people with limited or no speech due to stroke, autism, cerebral palsy, ALS, traumatic injury and more.
If you'd like more information on this technology please visit


James walker's mother Gina kindly agreed to an interview with me, in order to inform all of James' condition and raise awareness around the World.

Lennox-Gastaut is a really difficult to control epilepsy, usually drug resistant, and because of the amount of seizures it causes severe developmental delay.

James is totally dependant on us for all of his needs but has no brain damage, he has just not been able to learn anything due to the amount of seizures he has.
He was having hundreds everyday when younger then went to around 50 a day until he had the VNS implant a couple of years ago which dropped the seizures to around 10 a day.

He was only diagnosed with LGS a couple of years ago just before his VNS operation he has no diagnosis of anything else only the type of epilepsy he has so it seems he has always understood everything around him but never had any way of communicating with us or the world around him until he got to use the Tobii eyegaze.
It tracks his eye movements and speaks in a computer generated voice, what he looks at on the screen.

(if you look on tobbi dynavox website you can see our fundraising story there and how the machine  works)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Heart of A Homeless Man

Homeless people are most often unable to find and maintain regular, safe or secure housing.

At worst homelessness means sleeping on the streets.

According to statistics the UK government showed that in 2015 approximately 3,559 people slept on the streets in one given night across the UK.

Sleeping on the streets is a dangerous situation to be in and also a very traumatising experience too.

The majority if people who are sleeping on the streets will more than likely suffer mental health issues, health conditions and sometimes drug misuse or prostitution.

Homelessness isn't always as straightforward as you may think.
People don't just decide to go sleep on the streets, people become homeless for many reasons such as debt, drug/alcohol abuse, illness, lack of affordable and social housing, leaving foster care, being released from prison, marriage/relationship breakdown, emotional and physical and/or sexual abuse within the home.

Some people believe that some "homeless people" are faking and simply just trying to con passerby's out of money, just recently in the news this was proved to be true when a "homeless" man was pictured with his dog, in a sleeping bag on the street begging for money but later drove off in an expensive car!
However not all homeless people are frauds and out to con people.
Most are genuinely homeless.

Recently I attended the Peace Proms in Dublin, Ireland.
I saw a homeless man lying in a sleeping bag next to a bin, right outside a coffee shop.
I felt so sorry for him but rather than give him money, which could be spent on drugs/alcohol or even be stolen from him, I bought him a "Hot Chocolate" drink and gave it to him.
At least it warmed him up and gave him substance.
I knew in my heart he was genuinely homeless, for he carried a terrible odour and his top was torn plus his hand and nails were in a really bad bad.

At 15 I ran away from home, I slept in the local park for 2 nights and then a friend's family took me in until I returned hone again.
I knew the layout of the park, in daylight and night, it was a familiar place to me however sleeping there made me frightened, uncomfortable and dirty..

Recently, in the UK news, a young lady named Nicole found herself in an unfamiliar location and to her surprise a young homeless man by the name of Mark came to her rescue.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole about what happened.
Here in detail she tells me about "The Heart Of A Homeless Man".

Name: Nicole Sedgebeer

Age: 22

Location: Milton Keynes

When you see a homeless person, what is your initial reaction?
I never used to have a reaction, I have always been so wrapped up in my own world that I walk past without thinking about who they are as a person or how they are feeling.

What happened on the day you met Mark?
The day I met Mark I was on a work night out, I lost a colleague in London on the way to the next venue.
I waited for so long that I missed my last train home.
As I had work the next morning I thought I would wait at Euston for the first train home, The Uber taxi driver confirmed I could wait inside.
I panicked when I realised the door were locked and that’s when I approached Mark.
He walked me to a café, we sat and had some food and I bought some food for his friend who was looking after Marks stuff.
We chatted about his life a little bit and then he said he had to go and get his sleeping bag because he was worried but he would come back for me at 5 when the station will be open.
I waited in the café till 5 but Mark wasn’t there to walk me back.
I had 20 minutes to get my train so I couldn’t wait.
As I walked round the corner Mark was running up the road, he explained that he had to get a bus to come get me and he was sorry that he was late.
When we got back to Euston I asked to take a quick picture with the tiny bit of battery I had on my phone.
I explained to him that these ‘tiny noticeable things’ TNT moments should be documented.
I took his number so I could keep in contact and I got the train home.
Mark called me in the morning at 9 am to make sure I was up and ready for work.

Do you know anything about Mark and how he came to be homeless?
Mark’s story about how he became homeless is personal to him but he has been on the streets for 12 years.

Where is Mark currently living?
Mark was put into a hostel last week.
Due to him being on the streets for so long he has become quite sick so he is now high priority.

What did Mark do for you?
Mark made me notice.
This experience has been amazing.
I have learnt so much from him, about the system and processes they have to go through.
I have also had so many people share moments that they have shared with not just Mark but other people in the homeless community.
It’s great to see how many people remember these moments and how they touch them just as much as my experience with Mark.
As Mark said on the news he’s just as much as a person as anyone else and I would of shared my story even if it wasn’t a homeless man.
Kindness like this isn’t as common these days because people are interacting less with each other.
I think the importance of all this is that the story has gone viral because so many people do not expect homeless people to give back but so many of them do.

You currently have a fundraising application set up in order to raise funds for Mark, how much have you raised to date?
We have hit £12,000

Have you remained in contact with Mark? Yes Mark and I speak on the phone every day.

Is Mark aware of the fundraising in place? Yes, he is very involved in the page.
This is something we need to work together on and this will continue for a long time.

Next time you see a homeless person, how will you react?
Every homeless person is a completely different person so I don’t know.
I definitely won’t be walking passed them anymore and I really want to get involved in some volunteering.
There is a lot of publicity in Milton Keynes, UK at the moment because 2 men have recently died on the streets so I will be looking to help raise awareness.

If you wish to make a donation to Nicole on behalf of Mark please do so via her fundraising page,

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Children's Tattoo Sleeves

TotTude is an online company selling children's wear, mainly tattoo sleeves for children.
Tattoo sleeves are pieces of material from the wrist to the elbow or shoulder with designs on that resemble tattoos.
Some may say they are considered "bad ass" and inappropriate where as others may say they ate a piece of art and fun.
The law as we know states that minors are NOT allowed tattoos but TotTude has a solution with her amazing tattoo sleeves.
If you'd like to view the products available please visit the website at or the social media page at
The owner of TotTude kindly answered the following questions.

Business Name:

When was the business established?

What products and for what age range do you sell?
Our main product is tattoo sleeve shirts for babies and children.
They are available in sizes newborn through youth large.

Here in Ireland your "tattoo sleeves" for babies have caused some highs and lows, what made you decide to design and sell them.
I was a baby and children's photographer for 10 years, and during that time I had a lot of little boys come in and their mothers would always complain that there wasn't any unique clothing options for them.
Girls have a lot of different options, but for boys it was always either polos or button down plaid shirts. 
So I came up with the idea of the tattoo sleeves on t shirts, made a few to test out, and started selling them online and it's grown ever since.

What's your best selling product to date?
The basic black t shirt with chopper style sleeves has been really popular:

What are your plans for the future of the business?
I started this business so I could be a stay at home mom to my 4 daughters, and I plan to hire some other stay at home moms in my community to work for my business.
I would have them do sewing, marketing, and other business tasks from their own homes while their kids were at school. 
I also plan on expanding into different products and adding more styles of our current products.

The Most Haunted Building In The World

Loftus Hall
Hook Head
New Ross
Co Wexford



Tel: 051-397728

Loftus Hall situated in County Wexford, Ireland is owned by Mr Aidan Quigley and his family.

Loftus Hall was named "The Most Haunted In The World"
Weather you believe in ghosts or not, Loftus Hall is still a wonderful and magnificent place to visit.

I had the opportunity to interview the owners, here are my questions and their answers.
I'm certain you'll find this a very interesting read.

What is the name of the Hotel/ House?
Loftus Hall.
Loftus Hall is a seasonal tourist attraction offering guided tours and much more...
Although Loftus Hall is in a state of disrepair; it's history, heritage, and fabled Legend shine through.
Both the Hall's exterior, and interior rooms, exude an eerie and fascinating feeling, and many of our visitors experience this in some form.

What is the location?
Loftus Hall is located on the haunting Hook Peninsula in South County Wexford, on the South East coast of Ireland.

When was the attraction established?
After being abandoned for a number of years, Loftus Hall was purchased by the current owners in 2011, and opened as an attraction for Halloween 2012.
In 2016 Loftus Hall is celebrating it's 666th Anniversary Year, as the first Hall built on the Loftus lands was in 1350.

You were named The Most Haunted House In The World in regards to that title, what have staff and customers experienced within the premises?
Following a visit from the world renowned U.S. Paranormal Investigators "Ghost Adventures" in 2014, their expert judgement of the paranormal classification of Loftus Hall quickly spread following Loftus Hall's feature on their TV Halloween Special Episode in 2014.
Loftus Hall's owners, staff, and locals had always been very aware of the Hall's paranormal accreditation, as anyone in close proximity of the Hall for an extended period has tales to tell of their experiences.
In 2015, Loftus Hall started working with an Irish paranormal investigation team, hosting public paranormal investigation Lockdown events, and these provided us with a fantastic opportunity to create the ideal conditions to capture and log paranormal activity.
We now keep a paranormal activity log on site, and anyone visiting Loftus Hall can access this log and add to it with their own experiences.
The paranormal investigation team have recently carried out some private investigations, and have been capturing EVP recordings which certainly seem to indicate a strong presence beyond out realm at Loftus Hall.
Some of these can be found on our Facebook page of anyone is interested in listening to them.

Do you know who it is haunted by and why it is haunted?
The most well known spirit presence associated with Loftus Hall is that of Lady Anne Tottenham Loftus.
Lady Anne was the youngest daughter of the family who were resident at Loftus Hall in the year 1765 when a tall, dark, handsome stranger arrived at Loftus Hall looking for shelter in a storm.
Legend claims that whilst this charming stranger was invited to stay at the Hall for as long as he wished, he and Lady Anne fell instantly in love.
However, one night, during a card game, Lady Anne dropped a card on the floor and when she bent down to pick up the card, she noticed with horror that the handsome stranger had kicked off his shoes and he had cloven hooves for feet. She screamed and fell unconscious, and having been identified as the Devil he truly was, the stranger flew into a fire ball of rage, and shot up through the roof, leaving the stench of sulphur and brimstone in his wake.
Following this horrific experience, Lady Anne lost her mind, and was subsequently locked away in the Tapestry Room at Loftus Hall for the remainder of her life.
Not many realise that Loftus Hall was always considered a "haunted" Hall long before this incident, but when Lady Anne eventually passed on, the ghostly activity at the Hall increased significantly, and this pattern has continued ever since.

Are the spirits that reside at the Hall friendly or malevolent?
A variety of spirits have connected with guests to Loftus Hall.
In our paranormal lockdown events, a very popular spirit is "Michael" who either frequents the card room or the upper floor. He does have a bit of an eye for the ladies, and so generally responds much better to female "call outs".
A child spirit has also been experienced a number of times upstairs, and this spirit is very playful, but oftentimes this spirit quickly disappears and is replaced by a much more malevolent male one.
To feel the atmosphere change completely can be very frightening.
Lady Anne is an interesting spirit, neither friendly or malevolent.
Many people do feel a strong sense of sadness in the Tapestry room, and really feel the tragedy of her story.
She has made herself known a number of times, and does seem to feel a strong connection to Billy, one of the investigating team.

What are the qualifications, skills and abilities if the staff?
The staff at Loftus are predominantly students, who have strong interpersonal skills and incredible story-telling and guiding skills.
All our paranormal events are hosted by our third party paranormal investigation team, as they are the experts in this area.

How many people can be accommodated?
Loftus Hall is not habitable, and therefore there are no accommodation options available to visitors.
We do have a variety of tour options: house tour, historical tour, paranormal lockdown, Halloween tours etc.
All details of these, availability, and booking can be found on our website booking page:

What facilities do you have?
Facilities include:
Gift Shop
Tour & Facilities are Wheelchair Accessible
On Site Parking
Toilet Facilities
Free Wi-Fi
Private Beach
Courtyard Seating & retail area
Fairy Door Trail within the Walled Gardens

Additional information:
Tour option prices vary depending on your preferred experience option, and all prices can be found on our website booking page:
A full calendar with all our opening dates can also be found on our website:
Our website - where much more information can be found - is

Knitted Knockers

Breast Cancer is a malignant Timor that starts in the breast cells.
It can grow into the tissues surrounding the breast or spread to other parts of the body.
The majority affected are women but men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too.
A lump in the breast is the most common sign to look out for however if you have a lump in your armpit, changes in the size and shape of the breast, skin changes and/or nipple changes then I would suggest you seek medical advice from a professional.
I've previously written a blog about skin cancer and interviewed a lady who was diagnosed with it, and I've written about breast cancer after finding a label called "coppafeel" inside a bra I bought.
However, I wanted to bring your attention to Knitted Knockers, a charity of volunteers who knit breasts for women who have had a mastectomy.
Here is my interview with a lovely lady called Barb from the USA.
After speaking to Barb, it came to my attention that here in Ireland there is a Knitted Knickers charity too but I didn't know this when I contacted Barb.
If you live in Ireland and wish to get in contact here is a link to their social media

Knitted Knockers USA Interview:

When was Knitted Knockers established, by whom was it established, and why? 
I founded in 2011 after having a mastectomy. 
My friend made me a beautiful “knitted knocker” that was soft, light, huggable, could be worn in a regular bra and best of all was made by someone who cared.  The traditional breast prostheses can be hot, heavy, expensive and my doctor told me most women were not satisfied with them.
I did not invent knitted knockers. 
To the best of my knowledge the first pattern was developed by Beryl Tsang and she called them Tit Bits. 
Then a young woman from the state of Maine in the US who owned a yarn shop had a mastectomy. 
She made one for herself and proceeded to share it with others.
Her friends came up with the name Knitted Knockers. 
When I contacted her in 2011 to see if I could help out she said she was no longer in business and unable to continue providing knitted knockers. 
She was thrilled that I was interested in providing them to those that wanted them.

Is Knitted Knockers a profitable business or a charity? 
Knitted Knockers Support Foundation aka is a non profit charity run 100% by volunteers and survives from donations.

At what cost are the knitted breasts?  Women can request their free knitted knockers at
We send them all over the world.  Donations are always gratefully accepted but never required.

Apart from knitted breasts, do you make/sell other products? 
No, our mission is to connect volunteer knitters with breast cancer survivors to provide free knitted knockers. 
We do various fundraising events to help generate the funds to continue providing knitted knockers free to the women who can use them.

When an order is placed what information is required from the buyer? 
Women can request their knitted knockers at
She can request her size (A-DD or larger upon request), her color preference, whether she needs a single or pair, and any other information she feels is pertinent, such as allergies, etc.

How do you dispatch your goods and how long is delivery? 
We mail out orders. 
We try to send them out within 2 weeks of receiving the order. 
Sometimes it takes a bit longer if we run short of a size or color preference.

Are the knitted breasts adjustable? 
We leave the backs open a bit so that stuffing can be added or removed as needed. 
They also work well for women who have had a lumpectomy and radiation which can cause a breast to shrink. 
By simply removing most of the stuffing it can be laid over the existing breast to fill the gap and balance things out. 
After adjusting stuffing our pattern allows for the knocker to be loosely cinched up allowing for future adjustment as needed.

How do you gain funding? 
Some grateful recipients donate funds.  We run fundraisers and there is a “make a donation” link on our website.  
The knitters provide their own yarn so the funds are used for postage, packaging, print materials, stuffing, etc. 
We are very particular about the yarn used since they will be worn against sensitive, scarred skin. 
It must be very durable as it will be worn every day and must remain soft after washing. 

Do you have  website? 
Yes, our website is  Our patterns are free and have been downloaded 88,000 times. 
We have video tutorials on how to make great knitted knockers. 
Our videos have been viewed 80,000 times. 
We have a Facebook page with 11,000 likes and are on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter (@knitted_knocker) and Google Circles.

What additional information can you share with me?
We are always looking to inspire and equip knitters all over the world to provide these free little gifts of comfort to the women in their communities. 
Groups can register on our website so others can find them. 
We provide print materials to medical clinics, knitter and crocheter groups to help get the word out as well. 
We currently have 1 group operating in Ireland that is registered with and we are working with 2 others that will be registered soon.

Here is a message I quoted from the lovely lady called Barb who kindly answered my questions above.
"Thank you so much for helping spread the word"
And that is exactly what I'd like for you, my readers to do.
Please share the link to this blog with all your friends and family.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

It is 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 and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes. 

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including: salty-tasting skin persistent coughing oftrn with phlegm, lung infections, wheezing or shortness of breath, poor growth and/or weight gain and frequent greasy and bulky stools.


I had the oopportunity to interview Kirstie Tancock, a young and inspirational woman with cystic fibrosis.

Here are my questions and her answers.

What is your name? Kirstie Tancock

How old are you? 26

What is Cystic Fibrosis? A genetic condition that affects the organs by clogging them with thick stick mucus. This can particular affect the lungs causing repeated infection and lead to respiratory failure. Along with impairing the function of the digestive system, liver, pancreas among other things. 

When were you diagnosed with cystic fibrosis? 6 weeks old

At 21 you were told you needed a lung transplant and without one you only had days to live, what was your initial reaction? I was placed on the lung transplant list at 21 I was told I had 2 years entially but this wasn't the case, with in week I was told I had 6 months and another few weeks I was placed on life support. I knew time was running out before the doctors told me. I just wanted to make sure my family were ok.

How does CF affect your daily life? I have to take huge amounts of medication and before my transplants hours on treatments. Struggling to breathe. 

After your transplant you had to learn to walk again, why? I was placed on life support before my first transplant aswell as been bed ridden weeks before this lead to muscle atrophy (muscle wastage). So I had to regain strength in my muscles.

Sadly a year after the transplant your body started to reject it, how long was it till you found another donor? I was placed back on the list on a Thursday and a set of lungs were found only the day after. I didn't have long left so it was now or never.

How long was your recovery process? For my second transplant, My initial recovery was extremely quick within 3 1/2 weeks I was home but I had had radiation therapy before this really slowed my overall recovery. I think it really took a year to start to feel normal energy levels.

Today you teach pole dancing, what was your inspiration to do that? I took a class in college and loved it. It's gymnastics, dance, acrobatics all in one, I found it really easily and it was a exercise I could do with very little lung function. I'm constantly inspired by other pole dancers, by my students and by those with cf. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Babies With Angel Wings

I personally have never experienced the loss of a baby and I hope I never do. However I know people including my own mother, who has experienced this.

The death of a baby is often unpredictable and no one is to blame.

There are 5 types of infant deaths such as;
Stillbirth = A baby that has died in the womb after having survived through at least 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Neonatal Death = The death of a baby within the first 28 days of life.
Miscarriage = The loss of a foetus before having the chance to survive.
Serious Abnormalities or Illness = When the baby has no chance of survival due to illness.
Cot Death = The unexplained death of a baby during sleep.

The healing process is difficult for an parent but holding the baby in your arms can bring a little comfort, it often creates a memory of time spent with the child.
Memories however sometimes fade over time so by capturing a tender yet heartfelt moment on camera can provide a visual reminder that parents can keep forever.
And that is why I decided to interview a registered charity called "Remember My Baby" who help comfort parents by taking photographs of the baby who is no longer with them.

Remember My Baby

Are you a charity or a profitable business?It's a Registered Charity rather than a business, we are not a commercial concern - Remember My Baby

When was "Remember My Baby" established?
We were launched in August 2014 and gained charity status in December in England & Wales, and February 2015 in Scotland.

Why did you decide to establish "Remember My Baby"?
Some of the co-founders have suffered a loss of their own or been touched by the loss of someone close to them - the footprints in our logo belong to the stillborn daughter of one of the co-founders. Photographs have been increasingly recognised as beneficial to grieving parents, along with hand and footprints. RMB's growing network of Volunteer Photographers increases the number of parents having the choice of remembrance photography - our goal is for all parents to be offered this choice on the loss of their baby.

How do you raise funds?
We are very fortunate that many parents who have benefited from our service donate and/or raise funds. We launched a JustGiving campaign to raise funds for our special RMB USB memory sticks, on which we load parents' images and send to them. We set a target of £1000 in a year, but reached more than double that in just over two weeks! People really want to help.

Social Media my baby/

Just Giving


The Board of Trustees for Remember My Baby are as follows;

Cheryl Johnson, Chair & Mat Co-ordinator

Nicky Heppenstall, Vice Chair & Bereavement Liaison Officer

Alison Bryan, Treasurer

Michele Selvey, Membership Secretary

Ruth Trotter, NHS Liaison

Heidi Fuentes, Web Administrator

Anna Marina, Public Relations & Fundraising Co-ordinator

Jocelyn Conway, Recruitment Co-ordinator

Sponsors of Remember My Baby are as follows;

Zenfolia, Life After Loss, Premier Print & Design, Esperi, Print Foundry, SprinterZ, Doula UK, Pro Am Imaging, The National Photographic Society, The Newborn Photography Show, MTA Photo Albums, One Vision Imaging, Digita Lab, The Societies of Photography, Sim Imaging, The Guild of Photographers and SkyParlour.

Remember My Baby (RMB) is a UK based organisation. The service offers to take "baby remembrance photography" to UK parents who have sadly lost their baby before, during or after birth. They were established 18 August 2014 by a team of UK professional photographers. Many of the team members have personally experienced the loss of a baby. They can apply for grant awards, gift-aid plus other funding and this is because they are a registered charity.

This is a FREE service however people can makeca donation if they wish to.

The photographs taken provide the parent(s) and loved ones with hope to deal with their grief and precious memories that will last a lifetime. The photographs are presented to the parent(s) in the form if a disc or a USB memory stick which means the photographs can be printed at home, a chemist or a photography shop.

Remember My Baby is inviting Bereavement Midwives and Specialists to contact them with their details which will then be added to the database.

As with an application for work, paid or voluntary, any professional photographer wanting to join Remember My Baby will be assessed on their photography skills. Anyone that would like to become a Volunteer Photographer's Assistant must apply through Remember My Baby, this is due to confidentiality. Remember My Baby does not charge for those being assessed although there is a membership fee at a cost of £15.00 This cost has a gift-aid attached which increases the benefit, financially to Remember My Baby. The £15.00 is used to pay for domain names, insurance and the basic daily running of the charity. As a Remember My Baby member you will be given access to support and guidance. Remember My Baby is currently in the process of developing "training for members" which will take place via workshops around the UK.

If you are or know of a business/company that would like to sponsor Remember My Baby please contact their email at

If you are a professional photographer you should be aware that it is against the Volunteer Service Agreement and the Code of Conduct to advertise your own personal business through Remember My Baby.

The goal of Remember My Baby is for every hospital and birth centre in the UK to have access to at least one Remember My Baby photographer.

If you wish to gain further information on the service provided by the photographers, please email

The following was taken from

I dreamed a little dream,
Once upon a time.
I dreamed we'd be together one day,
Sweet little baby of mine.

Sadly that dream was not meant to be,
And it's very difficult to know,
That now you won't be coming to me.
You weren't strong enough to thrive and grow,

But I know that you're in heaven now
And that's a very good place to be.
And I know that when I get there,
I'll recognize you, and you'll know me.

We'll get to share the love we would
Have shared here on this earth.
And then we'll know without a doubt
What all this waiting was worth.

The Sex Industry

A sex shop is a shop that sells products related to adult sexual pleasure and/or erotic entertainment.

Some might say that ladies who use sex toys are simply having "safe sex with a battery operated boyfriend" and that sex toys are the reason for "sexless marriages"
Its true that in a way it is safe sex with a battery operated boyfriend but in today's society there are many sex products suitable for couples and not just women so sex toys are not the cause of sexless marriages.

The first steam powered vibrator called "The Manipulator" was invented in 1869 by an American physician called George Taylor.

Today I interviewed a the owner of a sex shop in Wales, UK
I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Faith Attwell and wish her and her business the very best for the future.

Faith Attwell


Business Name:

Business Location:
Cardiff, Wales, UK

Do you have a website? for online shopping and for our Cardiff store information

When and why did you establish a sex shop?
In 1999 because I was at a loose end in my career and really, really wanted an Internet business.

Have you had criticism from family/friends who were against it or did you have their full support?
Some were very supportive and some friends took the mickey!

Where do you get your stock from? Depends on the stock but sometimes the UK, and sometimes as far afield as China

What is your most expensive product and least expensive product?
We have a 50p Peacock Feather tickler and a £130 vibrator

What is your best selling product to date? A bullet vibrator for women

Have you or would you consider inventing a sex product?
Yes I have invented a sex toy that funnily enough, didn’t work the way I expected it to but instead worked for something else and was a winner!

Is there an age limit to enter your store? Yes 18.
It is for adults only

If you weren't selling sex products what would you be doing?
Working as a PA to a stage building company for Television, or if I could afford it, I would open a gym

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Madeline Stuart Story & Interview

Madeline Stuart is a young beautiful and remarkable Australian woman who is an inspiration to many.
Madeline has Down Syndrome but that has not stopped her from working hard and achieving her dream.
Although some people discriminate against disability, the model agency has welcomed Madeline with open arms.
Madeline has been recognised with the "Melange Model of The Year" and she even has her very own namesake bag too.

I also need to mention Madeline's mother and manager, Rosanne who has been a huge support to her daughter.

You can follow Madeline via her social dedia page on Facebook.

Also here is a link to her website.

Madeline is the ambassador and a founder of a dance company called Inside "Outside Theatre Company" which launched a Dance Ensemble.
The Dance Ensemble was established for young people with disabilities who have talent to move towards working professionally in the industry.
Please click on the Go Fund Me 
Any donation, big or small can help.


My Interview With Madeline Stuart.

Name: Madeline Stuart

Age: 19

What disability do you have?
Down Syndrome

How does your disability affect your daily life?
I am reliant on my mum for a lot of things.
I need her to take me to places as I can’t drive and we have no public transport where I live.

When and why did you decide to become a model?
In August 2014 I went to a fashion parade and decided that is what I wanted to do.

What agency do you work for?
I don’t have an agency, I wish I did.

How did you feel at your very first photo shoot?
Like a princess, I love doing photoshoots.

Have you met any celebrities through your work?
A few but we are just all people, some of us are just more well known.

Are your family and friends supportive of your career?
My mum and my friends are supportive, there has been a few that were not but I have to live my life how I want to.

What are your thoughts on the "size 0" debate within the model industry?
I am a size 0 so I fall within that scale.
I do think it silly that we usually only portray one sort of individual on the runway as that is like reading a fairy tale. It does not reflect real life.

Can you share any beauty tips with me? Don’t wear to much makeup, try to be as natural as possible

What advice would you give someone wanting to be a model?
Believe in yourself and be true to yourself.

Finally, don't let anyone ever put you down or tell you that you can't do something.
Disability or not, the World we live in has many doors to open with many wonderful and exciting opportunities along the way.


Monday 18th April 2016

Madeline's manager Rosanne has emailed me an update which I've added below.

Leaving for moscow.

Madeline stuart model

I thought I might send you this, we are currently at the airport about to leave for Russia. I have attached the program and some photos from this morning of Maddy’s last gym session on the way to the airport and her friends that came and saw her off.

The professional photos were taken last week on our block of land in Brisbane that have just come through. Photographer Saidie Creative.

Hi we are happy to supply you some pictures but I would need you to link Madeline's social media in your story which is below, if you can only link one please link FB.


Please send me the link once it is online so I can post it and if it is printed please send us a copy to the address below.

Kind regards

Rosanne Stuart


Madeline Stuart Modelings



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