The National Youth Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland and SpunOut invite you to attend European Parliament (EP) hustings around Ireland, to put youth issues on the agenda.
These events in Galway, Cork and Dublin will be an opportunity for young voters to voice your concerns to EP candidates and to hear how they intend to address youth issues such as youth employment, higher education, mental health, the environment, mobility and language rights if elected.
Find out more on www.pledge2reg.ie or confirm your place below.
Disclaimer: These are public events which will be recorded and by attending you are consenting to be photographed/recorded. Reimbursement available for public transport (bring receipts).
Glow-sticks, dance beats and luminous clothing enlivened Dublin City University last week, as students from first to fourth year relived the glory days of their teenage summers. The occasion? A flashback ‘dioscó déagóirí’ event created by An Cumann Gaelach to celebrate the buckets-full of craic and misadventure had by those who were packed off to Gaeltacht areas around the country during their summer holidays from school.
The scene was a sure contrast from the cramming of stories and grammar consuming secondary school pupils across the country at the same time, as they prepared for Leaving Certificate oral Irish examinations. It’s not uncommon to hear those who experience Irish as a school syllabus shrivel in discomfort upon hearing another focal breathed outside the school gates. There’s no doubting that rote learning and the modh cioniollach have left bad tastes in the mouths of generations.
Despite this, Donegal student Barra O’Scannláin and his Cumann Gaelach committee are successfully convincing students that, beyond the studies, the Irish language is a positive and beneficial cultural asset which an outdated education system shouldn’t rob us of the chance to enjoy. The newly-elected society Chairman has ambitious plans for the 2014 / 2015 academic year to help increase the language’s presence on campus and extend its reach to Erasmus students and those who have but a rusty ‘cúpla focail’.
As demonstrated at the Ceiliúradh celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on the occasion of President Higgins’ state visit to the UK, Ireland has a proud cultural history boasting strong traditional music as well as our own sporting games. When there are many phrases best captured by the poetic strength of the Irish language, why has it been pushed to one side of our cultural identity?
Figures published in the 2011 Census indicate that while a large proportion of the Irish population believe they have Irish, they rarely put that knowledge into practice. Some 1.77 million people answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Can you speak Irish?’, yet under 200,000 people use it weekly. Worryingly, almost one in three 10 – 19 year olds said they cannot speak the language, despite the majority of Irish secondary school students studying Irish for fourteen years through primary and secondary school.
Now that 40 per cent of the subject’s Leaving Certificate marks arise from the oral examination (for both higher and ordinary level students), schools should place more emphasis on righting this wrong. However, in order to fully engage teenagers, they need to see that the language can be fun and useful in life beyond the school walls.
One young non-native speaker who’s found the Irish language useful in life is Berlin polyglot Robert Henneberg. He so enjoyed speaking ‘as gaeilge’, he helped found a branch of Conradh na Gaeilge in his home city. The group now boasts members from Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Germany and Austria.
Henneberg credits his Irish with landing him a position as a teaching assistant in Loreto Secondary School Wexford and while he teaches german, it’s fair to say he’s inspiring an overall love for languages in his pupils. He’s also encouraged me to take up Irish again and look at it from a fresh perspective. As they say, ‘is fearr gaeilge briste ná bearla cliste’.
It’s your language – bain trial as / give it a chance!
Everyone knows where they stand on Christmas; most people love it, some hate it. People in general seem less concerned with Easter. No one hates Easter, at least not from what I can tell. Easter is less celebrated in some aspects but more in others. It certainly is a more religious holiday. That said there is more opportunity to partake in religious festivities than there are with Christmas.
But how do people react to this is interesting. I live in Offaly, smack bang in the middle of the country, so my opinion is based on what I see here. It really interests me to look at the relationship between the commercial and religious aspects of holidays. Particularly those rooted in religion.
Christmas is the easy one. Catholics celebrate Christmas Day as the birthday of Jesus Christ. To mark this occasion they attend mass on the day. Mass is held on various stages over the Christmas celebration, more than would normally be during a typical week. The percentage of people who attend mass on a weekly basis, in my area, has decreased since I was a child. I myself was brought to mass every Sunday up until I could decide for myself and now I choose to no longer go.
Likewise I do not attend mass at Christmas time. However, many people I know do go to mass at Christmas and would not be seen near a church during the year. This group of people will also bring their children to mass with them. We now have the option of a children’s mass on Christmas Eve, so you do not have to attend on Christmas morning apparently, and this mass can be known as the busiest over the Christmas period. But it is clear people feel the need to attend mass.
After some months of preparation and buying toys and presents and decorating the house, this holiday is the biggest of the year! In comparison to this, Easter is also a religious holiday but it is less glorified. The holiday is celebrated with chocolate. Can it be said that Easter is a less popular Catholic event because of the lessened commercialised status? When you take an evaluation of it, this does seem to be the case.
Catholics celebrate Easter as the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. But it begins a month previous with Ash Wednesday. Followed by this there is a month long fast of lent where a Catholic will give up a luxury or take on extra task for the period of 40 days and nights as they believe Jesus Christ fasted for this period in the desert. Then they celebrate Holy Week in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday was the day of the Last Supper, then Good Friday when Jesus Christ was crucified for his people and then Easter Sunday, he rose from the dead.
There are so many religious events, which take place in over a month and an actual lent fast in preparation. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also fast days and Catholics will refuse to eat meat on these days. While there are so many religious events occurring the commercial side of Easter never took off to as big of an extent as Christmas did. You celebrate commercially with chocolate.
This is extra for the many Catholics who have not had anything chocolate or sweet for over a month. But that is it and it is over after one day. Children are given two-week holiday breaks at this period. Schools and many colleges take a week before and a week after Easter off. In comparison to Christmas which children are in school up to a few days prior. In summation, by less glorifying the Easter celebration it has retained it’s religious integrity much more than that of Christmas. It is clear commercialising it ruins the actual meaning of the holiday for Catholics. Sure some chocolate is involved on the day but this is only one day.
There is many other days in the Easter season that go untouched by the commercial industry and it should stay that way. To go back to my opening statement, people are not as clear on where they stand with Easter because they do not need to be. Christmas will be in your face from September onwards regardless of your religious beliefs. This is not the case with Easter.
Chocolate Eggs will be placed around stores you can get them two weeks before or the day before there is no mad rush or panic about. Easter is therefore celebrated, as it should be. By those who choose to believe in it and for those who do not I’m sure they will still enjoy their chocolate on Sunday morning!
Are you registered to vote? Some of you may know the answer; others won't. First off, see if you're on the register of electors here If you're registered, great. If not, don't worry! You've some time left.
The annual electoral register is normally published in February each year, however you can still apply for inclusion on the supplementary electoral register until May 6th.
That gives you a while to get your name down on that list before the deadline - the local and European elections are on May 23rd and they're pretty important. We'll be deciding who makes important decisions for us on our doorsteps, as well as in the EU. Register, and have your say.
Registering to vote is simpler than you think. It'll be dealt with by your local authority - your county or city council. Generally, this will be the council in the locality where you grew up. All you need to do is pop down to your local council's offices and pick up an RFA1 form, or just head on over to checktheregister.ie to download the relevant form. This is the easiest way to register - the form needs to be filled in by you then you just pop down to a Garda station who needs to verify that it is, in fact, you who's registering.
Once this is done, your details will be added to the register of electors and you'll be able to vote in local, national and European elections (once you're eligible, that is)
If you're over 18 and an Irish citizen, you're sorted. You can vote for any person in any election for as long as you live in Ireland! If you don't meet those criteria, things can be a tad more difficult. Fear not, though, you still might be eligible to vote!
If you're a non-Irish citizen and want to vote in the elections here, you'll need to be an Irish resident since at least September of last year and, of course, be over 18. You'll still need to register, though, so make sure you fit at least one of these criteria and get yourself the right form and get your name down on that list!
This is always an awkward one. Many young Irish people are living in different parts of the country for college or work, living abroad or on holidays when the elections roll around. If, for one of these reasons or any other reason, you can't make it to your local polling station on May 23rd, there could be a way around it. For college students, it can be a tad awkward because you're not technically living away from home full time! There's not much point in registering to vote in your college town if you'll be back home for the summers and possibly living in a different area after you graduate. This also poses a problem for people with an illness or disability!
If you can't make it home on May 23rd but want to vote, there is a way to do it. It's a very high-tech method of voting - postal voting. Exciting, right? Basically, you'll get your ballot sheet in the post and be able to fill it in, as per instructions, pop it in the post and your vote is in. Sorted!
Unfortunately, for Irish citizens living oversees, you can't avail of this method of voting. Expats are excluded from the register of electors. The only exception to this is if you are a soldier (or soldier's spouse) so if that's you - get in touch with your local authority about voting from overseas.
All of the forms you could possibly need to register to vote, change your details or whatever else you may need to do can be found here. Get downloading and register to vote - this is your chance to have your say.
When I say positivity I’m sure the stereotypical image of a yoga master who preaches good karma and bathes in vegetable juice comes to mind. However we should not be so quick to run from new concepts as we are always growing and evolving as people so why can’t our views on the world evolve also? For many people growing up in Ireland, you are taught that religion is the key to joy for God grants all goodness, and I am not here to challenge religion but only to apply the same values based in religion to a more open playing field for all to explore.
Firstly let me give you the 411 on ‘success’ and ‘perfection’. Success in the modern age is based on How wealthy you are, how many Facebook friends you have, and what level college degree you receive. "Oh you have a 2:2 BA Honours degree in English? Not good enough, NEXT."
Success should be measured on your personal happiness and your own goal set. We all follow different paths so don’t be swayed by the lure of stereotypical success based on old views if that is not what you want because what you want is most important, remember life is short and we are not infinite creatures so live for you and live in the here and now. Alongside the picking order of success is the most popular lie we all buy into, perfection.
We strive for the PERFECT body, the PERFECT partner and the PERFECT life, but we are searching for the unattainable and when we ‘compromise’ we feel cheated. In today’s world we focus far too much on perfection, a concept that is a lie for perfection is in the eye of the beholder and given that we all hold different truths how can we have a universal perfection? The acknowledgement of this concept is your first step to a more positive you.
Why did I begin by speaking about success and positivity? Well I wanted to make sure your views on such things lie in the right place for in my understanding of positivity we must be sure of our own true person and our own true goals before we can reach them, so if we become positive beings based on knowing we are on the right path for us, the power of positivity will be much stronger.
Positivity is a state of being; we create our own reality in our mind so we can all adopt a more positive mindset and thus a more positive life. If I am a positive person I am less likely to attract negative people and less likely to become negative myself. We must however realise that when things out of our control such as an illness, the loss of a job or the loss of an important person in our lives occurs occurs we must allow ourselves time to grieve but look for the light in every darkness and the lesson in every mistake. Positivity much like religion is a guide in life and a path to follow rather than a judge.
“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in awhile, so that we can see life with a clearer view again” – Alex Tan
"But Bebhinn, I simply can’t find the positives right now?" This is something I hear far too often. Firstly let me say if you feel you are suffering from depression or feeling suicidal please seek help through 1Life, Samaritans or Aware as soon as possible. If you are on the path of recovery and embarking on the path to positivity stop, remind yourself of that question you just asked and now re-read what I just said.
It is a path you are on, but even a direct path has many stops and many possible delays, what’s most important is that you always return to the path. When negative thoughts flood your mind remove yourself from your current situation, simply step outside take a deep breath and remind yourself of the reasons you chose this path, the reason you want to recover and the reasons you want to find a more positive life.
In the first lesson of positive thinking I want you to practise the self indulgent ‘I CAN’. In moments of doubt and those moments when your negative thoughts disallow you to embark on something you truly want fight them, remind yourself you CAN do it, you WILL try and if you fail it is not a negative experience it is a positive in the light that it is a learning curve. When we lose the ability to learn we lose ourselves. Let nothing hold you back from what you truly want in this life. Let your ability to try be your driving force. There is no shame in trying there is only shame in the ‘What ifs’?
Go forth and be awesome. Remember if you are on the right path for you no one can ever change that, be strong in yourself and all that you gain will be strong also.
I first discovered Chris Hadfield around the same time as just about everyone else. I had seen some of his pictures of Dublin and Ireland from space, and I began following him online and kept track of what he was posting. He shared some incredible things with us, from pictures of his view of the world from space to youtube videos on how to brush your teeth in zero gravity. I found him very interesting, and so did everyone else, which is why he remains so popular even back on earth.
When Commander Hadfield came to Ireland in December to sign copies of his book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, an event that I had been planning to go to for months in advance, I was in work. So, my sister went into town, got a book for herself and for me and queued for hours around the side of Easons in the wind and the rain, alongside hundreds of other people, so that she could have the book signed for me.
Recently when it comes to reading I've not been the best at keeping it up. I've started so many books and I have so many more that I've intended to start reading. But this book I read straight away, and I continued to read it straight through over the next few weeks without drifting off towards something else. The reason is it's one of the most interesting books I've ever read.
I wasn't really sure what to expect. I suppose I thought it would just be like any other autobiography - an account of their life and their career up to the point that they're at now. Essentially, that's what it is. But it's also so much more. Reading this book has taught me so many things about Chris Hadfield, about what it is like to be an astronaut, about the logistics behind becoming an astronaut and travelling to space, about hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, I think it's taught me something about myself. Every situation faced by Hadfield is met by determination and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done to continue on, even if the odds of achieving your final goal are against you.
He talks you through the mindset of an astronaut faced with any situation, teaches you how to think like an astronaut to successfully overcome or "work the problem". Reading this I started to realise that everything he says can be applied to any situation. You don't have to be sitting on a launchpad counting down until you're blasted to space to know that there's ways you can work efficiently under pressure. Any advice he gives for that situation can equally be applied to the 5 exams I have to sit this month. And you don't have to be one of 5,329 applicants for a position as an astronaut to understand the importance of remaining focused and being prepared even if there's a chance you may not end up exactly where you expected to be.
I am one of quite a smaller number of people applying for my year abroad in Canada. The university that is my top choice is a popular one this year. I can relate every bit of Hadfield's astronaut application process to my own study abroad process, however insignificant it may seem in comparison to his mission, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm determined to secure my place at my top choice but willing to accept that I may end up at a different university. It's all the same stuff, just on a smaller scale.
I think that this book is a reminder that if you have a goal in life, the best thing you can do is to keep working towards it, stay focused and always try to do what you can to bring yourself closer. It doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it's important to you. In 1969 when Chris Hadfield decided he wanted to become an astronaut at the age of 9 it was an idea that was, at the time, quite impossible. The important thing is that from that day on, even though the likelihood was that it would never happen, he set about planning his life around this ultimate goal, and did everything he could that could get himself closer and then one day, it became possible. If he gave up all those years before and just said "nah, it'll never happen", then it wouldn't have happened. But he didn't, and it did.
There are always going to be obstacles in your way. You might see a future for yourself that seems so unlikely that you tell yourself to snap out of it and get on with the real world. But that doesn't mean that you can't keep doing things, even small things, that could lead you there. Some day, the future you want for yourself might become your real world.
Stranger things have happened. People have been to space.
I leave you with this comic from Zen Pencils, who turned a quote from Chris Hadfield, which basically sums up all this post has been about, into this incredible comic:
I am now 16-years-old. I have had bad years and good years, but I just want to share my story with you guys.
Three years ago, I was just having a normal Wednesday night in when we got a call saying that my uncle has been rushed into hospital. I didn’t go, but my parents rushed off. I knew something was up though, so stayed on Windows Live Messenger all night waiting for my uncle's daughter to log on. She never did, so I became very upset! The next day I went to school and couldn't stop thinking about him.
I wrote letters and I prayed and cried a lot. That Thursday, my little brother and I were taken out of school early and brought into the life support unit in the hospital. This was it: I knew something was up. I left with my older brother and talked to him about it, he said that this might be it and that we were all there for the family and that we had to be strong. But I wasn’t able to be strong.
To this day, my uncle inspires me. Yet there he was, so very ill. I couldn’t bring myself to see him because it was just too upsetting. Sadly, the worst happened: he died.
Afterwards, I took up fishing, one of his most favourite sports. So my brother and I have lived the memory of him. We even fish in a spot he fished in as a child.
Three years on, I am told that I am the spitting image of him, wherever I go. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it gets to me too, as I didn’t get to tell him I loved him or to say goodbye. I know that we will meet again someday and go fishing (I hope). However, my family have never gotten over it and it has led to rows and lies and fights! We do always make up in the end though.
I just want to get my story out there to show that there is happiness after you lose someone. I even took up a sport that I like. I go fishing at the lake and just sit and peacefully talk to him. And when I catch a fish, he's always there beside me.
So don’t be scared to express what you want or feel because it's always okay to. There is a way through this.
What is wrong with us? We can be as advanced and as mature as we like, but yet be buckled by a smile or a flutter of eyes, rendering us helpless and mindless. Can it be stopped?
The human brain: so evolved, so complex and so ruddy useful in everyday activities. I mean, try and imagine life without one and you couldn’t, simply because your imagination is in your brain. It’s more advanced that the bridge of the Starship Enterprise! And each and every one of us has one just hanging out in our heads – brilliant. The human brain is the biggest mammal brain in relation to body size. The frontal lobes are also the most developed of any other animal. These handy little bits hang out at the front (frontal, it’s in the name really) and deal with logic, self-control and imagination, the stuff that makes us human really.
Now before you accuse me of having a zombiesque love of brains, I realise that the brain isn't all good. It misplaces PIN numbers just when I’m at the ATM and it muddles up words as they are on their way down to my mouth. Plus, for as long as I can remember, it has been developing crushes on people. Not just passing admirations either, but 'full whack', lack-of-sleep-causing infatuations.
At the beginning, these are wonderful. It’s the same as the early stages of love, which feels a bit like eating too much lemon meringue pie – you feel a little sick, but you’re happy about it. You want to see this person as much as possible, perhaps changing your daily schedule slightly to do so. You think of any excuse to talk to them, if you are even able to talk to them. Then you start to torture yourself with every little smile and hair toss they exhibit, until you are convinced you love them. Eventually, you convince yourself that they love you too.
At this stage, some people finally pluck up enough courage to make that all important first move. This can be tricky because the object of your affection may either: a) not know you exist, or b) not think of you along the same lines, i.e. the greatest living thing to walk this earth, and oh how you make the earth so much better by just being in it.
Of course, there are the occasions where mutual feelings have been sizzling below the surface. Great, but you can forget about having any sort of meaningful relationship. You have created a pedestal so high that you will need good walking boots and some sort of energy bar to mount it. They are only human after all, and not the god or goddess you have created them in your brain to be, and so they are probably just going to disappoint you. Even if you’ve both been crushing equally on each other, you are both going to end up disappointed. So all and all, the whole crush situation is a lose-lose one.
So why does our brain allow us to have them? Continually we fall harder and harder for people, not learning from past crushing crushes, much like the lab rat that keeps reaching for the food pellet, despite the continuing electric shock. The thing is, crushes come from lust, and lust is an irrational feeling from a very primitive part of our brains. No matter how developed our frontal lobes become, we will always have these feelings, until evolution gets its act together anyway.
In the meantime, we have to try and live with them. Just as the Enterprise runs best with a mixture of Spock's and Kirk's logic and instincts, our heads also run better with a balance. So will we continue to have crushes and the gut wrenching feelings that go along with them? Yes, but we will also understand why. Don’t worry if that little fact doesn’t cheer you up, it’s not supposed to.
What is a smear test?
The smear test is a method of screening that detects pre-cancerous changes in a woman's cervix (the neck of the womb). That means the test will show up any abnormal changes that could lead to cancer of the cervix. A smear test can detect changes very early on, at a pre-cancerous stage. Cervical cancer can take 10-15 years to develop, making it a very preventable disease. After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women: that’s why we need to have regular smear tests.
It’s recommended that women start having regular smear tests (about every 3 years although there’s a lot of different opinions) from their early 20s upwards. However if you’re younger than that and sexually active, you should ask your doctor if it’s a good idea to start smear tests earlier. When you have your first smear test you’ll need to return for a second test one year later.
What happens during a smear test?
See Tellher.ie for more information on cervical cancer and the link to human papillomavirus, the smear testing process and lots more.
Rub a dub dub dub.... welcome to the world of massage. It may be something you think of as a luxury for special occasions, but massage has many health benefits and is worth pursuing on a regular basis.
Whether you are a massage regular or have never been touched, check out our guide.
Health benefits of massage:
Types of massage:
Budgeting for massage:
How to give yourself/ a friend a massage:
Chocolate truly is the stuff of the god's.
Few foods can boast such an amazing melt-in-the-mouth experience as good quality chocolate. Yummy! Yet choc is not just an amazing indulgence, it even packs a nutritional punch. Yep, chocolate contains magnesium, zinc, copper and iron. It even contains a type of fat called stearic acid, which is supposed to be good for the heart. It’s all good.
Chocolate has been around for eons, so it certainly has an interesting history about it. Here are a few tidbits: