Members of the Rural Science Association (RSA) enjoyed a very interesting Field Trip to Co. Cavan on Saturday November 8th. The first visit was to the Virginia Show Centre Ltd, a most ambitious project undertaken by the Virginia Agricultural Show Society. The new Show Centre is located on the Virginia Showgrounds. It is being used for a variety of community purposes such as the hugely popular Virginia Agricultural Show, the Annual Vintage Fair Day and Pumpkin Festival. The Centre also has facilities for dedicated classes and various intermittant and fundraising activities. The project received funding of €500,000 from Cavan/Monaghan LEADER. Members also enjoyed great hospitality from Kathleen Duffy, Press Officer for the Centre and members of the Show Committee and were very complimentary about the catering facilities and beautiful lunch provided on the day.
Following the tour of the Centre and refreshments, members then visited the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff. This Museum aims to collect, conserve and ultimately display the material, heritage and culture of Co. Cavan and the environs for the benefit of the public. It contains a very strong focus on the First World War and those from Cavan who fought in it. The Museum also has Trenches in the grounds which really highlight what soldier’s endured while on the battlefields. This is an excellent facility in Cavan which members of the RSA would very strongly recommend.
The first part of the day concluded with a visit to Sheridan’s Cheese Mongers located in the old Virginia Road Railway Station at Pottlereagh, Kells, Co. Meath. This business is passionately committed to sourcing highest quality artisan products and forging direct links with food producers. Sheridan’s Cheese Mongers believe in the importance of farm house cheeses and are currently expanding its wholesale business in order to bring these products to the home and export markets. As evidenced by the visit, the vast amount of artisan foods displayed is also a huge hit with the locals and visitors alike.
The afternoon session featured on “Age Friendly County Louth”. This project was piloted in Co. Louth through Louth County Council and is now being rolled out nationwide due to its success. An overview of this project was given by Mary Deery B.Sc, Project manager and RSA member. The main messages coming from this presentation were “we need to plan for getting old”, “we need to make decisions earlier than later”. As we are all getting older, we have to take responsibility for our quality of life. Mary gave some interesting statistics – every second child born today will live to be 100, 30% of the EU population will be 65+ by 2050, the over 80s age group is expanding more and the way we do business now will not meet requirements. The biggest issue for the aging population will be Dementia. All stakeholders involved in the process must deliver to achieve in improving participation, health and well-being and delivery of services to the elderly. The Age Friendly Co. Louth project was funded by a €500,000 grant from Atlantic Philanthropy.
The afternoon concluded with a Q+A session and a presentation by Paddy Byrne, recently elected President of Muintir na Tire, the National Association for Community Development. This delved into the history of Muintir na Tire, how it operates, achievements and plans for the future. Muintir na Tire also has a strong focus on “Aging in Rural Ireland” and this was discussed.