Mr Aiden Bunting

Meeting of Wednesday 27 February 2019.  Speaker Mr Aiden Bunting. Topic “The Health Service”

Mr Aiden Bunting [Left] with Probus President, Oliver Loughran
In a wide-ranging presentation, Mr Bunting spoke about the range of services provided by the Health and Social Care Trusts  in Northern Ireland including Health Promotion, General Practice, Hospitals, Mental Health, and Family and Children’s Social Services. Over 55,00 persons are employed in the delivery of Health and Social Care, including doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, and support service such as physiotherapy, audiology, podiatry. The list also includes the ambulance service and those employed in the social, clerical and administrative services. Having outlined what the HSC is trying to achieve in terms of promoting good health and treating those who are ill, Mr Bunting turned his attention to the challenges facing HSC such the impact of an ageing population, waiting lists, staff shortages, and financial constraints. He then examined Disability and Mental Health Services showing how these contributed to Western HSC Trust expenditure of £704m pa. One of the many statistics provided is that in a typical year the Western Trust carries out over 250,000 X-Rays, CT Scans and Ultrasounds and that the Ambulance service has over 58,000 call-outs. Following Mr Bunting’s presentation, members were keen to engage in discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the Health Service, while praising the hard work and dedication of those who whose up-hill task it is to keep the population fit and well.

Mr Gerard Turbitt, Ironman

Wednesday 20 February 2019, Mr Gerard Turbitt; Ironman


[L – R] Probus President, Oliver Loughran,  Mr Gerard Turbitt, Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney

Mr Turbitt was invited to speak to Probus because of the awe he inspires in the local community as an Ironman.  This is an extreme endurance event in which competitors take part in a Triathlon that starts with a 3.8 km swim, followed by 180 km cycle ride and finishes with a full Olympic marathon of 42 km.   Race officials usually allow competitors 17 hours to complete the event before ruling participants “out of time” and classifying them as DNF [Did Not Finish]. Gerard has completed 5 Ironman events, his time in each being between 12 and 13 hours.   Overall time is a factor of the conditions; courses can involve cycling up mountains, running in hot weather and swimming in open water.  Recently in Wales while competing for Ireland he was first in his age group and earned the right to compete in the world championships in Hawaii in October 2019.   Currently in training for this he spends hours each week swimming in Omagh pool, running on local roads, and stamina building regimes at home and in the gym.

Mr Turbitt began his talk going back to his childhood in Omagh and Castlerody National School in Tycur, which looked very much like the Primary School now preserved in the Folk Park.  From there he progressed to Omagh CBS and onwards to Queen’s University, Belfast where he studied Dentistry.  Gerard talked about the many changes in dentistry during his career and despite having loved every minute of it he felt ready to retire in 2015.   His reminiscences of walking the Camino, skiing in the Alps, running the London, Dublin and New York marathons kept members engrossed for the entire session and prompted much discussion about his outstanding achievements in retirement.


Wednesday 13 February 2019:  Ms Marella Fyffe & Mr Sean Tracey:   CAMIO [Cooperation against mining in Omagh]

[L – R] Michael Cooney, Probus Vice-President, Marella Fyffe, [CAMIO} Sean Tracey, Oliver Loughran, Probus President

Mrs Fyffe was introduced by Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney. She admitted that her concerns about mining in the Omagh Area grew rapidly when she learned that bore holes had been drilled 150 meters away of the Glenhordial reservoir.  She was worried that the water supply in the Omagh area could become contaminated. Having lived in Australia and experienced first-hand the impact of mining and mineral exploitation on the environment she formed a local pressure group called CAMIO [Cooperation against Mining in Omagh]. In her campaign to stop mining operations in the Sperrins she got ready support from Mr Sean Tracey, an engineer whose family home is located close to the site of the proposed processing plant near Greencastle. Sean’s concerns prompted him to examine the planning application submitted by Dalradian Gold Ltd to the Government. Contained within its 10,000 pages he found some facts which disturbed him, for example the proposed processing plant will be bigger than the new hospital and the tailing stack for rock waste big enough to cover an area from the Swinging Bars roundabout to the Sacred Church and stand 54 meters high, the equivalent of a seven-storey building. Further issues addressed by Mrs Fyffe and Mr Tracey can be found on CAMIO’s Facebook page

Omagh Ladies hear about History all around us

History All Around Us


Omagh & District Ladies’ Probus had their monthly meeting on Thursday, 7 February in Omagh Library.  Their guest speaker was Frank Sweeney.  Frank is no stranger to Ladies’ Probus, having spoken on a prior visit about Street Art in Omagh.  His topic on this occasion was Historic Monuments and Sites in Tyrone.

He gave an illustrated and very interesting talk about local ancient sites in the local area.  These included Beaghmore Stone Circles, Dun Ruadh, the Creggandeveskey Court Tomb, Cregganconroe Burial Site, Aghascrebagh Ogham Stone and  Dunmisk Fort.  Even those of us who had visited some of these sites learned so much from Frank’s very entertaining and informative talk.

He brought us closer to our own time and discussed places of interest such as Dunmullan Church and Graveyard, Donaghanie Graveyard and the local legend associating it with St Patrick,  and Drumragh Old Church and Graveyard.

His talk provoked many questions from those in attendance.  On behalf of those present, Rosemary Clements thanked Frank for addressing the meeting and for his extremely interesting talk.

New members, or those who may just be interested in joining Omagh & District Ladies’ Probus would be welcome to attend our next meeting when our speaker will be Dr Patrick Fitzgerald who will be speaking on Emigration & Genealogy.  This meeting will be at 2pm on Thursday, 7th March in Omagh Library.

Mr Peter Scott RNLI

Meeting of Wednesday, 6th February 2019: Guest Speaker: Mr Peter Scott, Education Officer, RNLI.

[L – R] 1st Vice-President, Michael Cooney,  Guest Speaker, Peter Scott,  Probus President, Oliver Loughran

Peter was introduced by 1st Vice-President, Michael Cooney, as someone with whom he had spent many hours on the waters of Lough Erne providing emergency cover during boating events and sailing regattas on the lake. Starting out in Enniskillen as the privately funded Lough Erne Rescue Service, recognition was gained in 2001 when it became the first inland RNLI Station in the British Isles. Since then a second state of the art facility has been opened on the Lough at Carey Bridge. 95% of all RNLI personnel are volunteers and all are competency trained in the necessary skills. While the RNLI is justly proud of rescues made at sea and in major inland waterways, the Institution aims to go further with an education programme that alerts boat users, surfers and swimmers to the dangers of open water. Fishermen on jetties, party goers on cruisers and people larking about on the bank all need to be aware of the hazards of being on or near deep dark cold water.

Peter illustrated his talk with video clips and equipment demonstrations before inviting questions. These elucidated that the busiest lifeboat station in Britain is on the River Thames, that emergencies on rivers and small lakes are dealt with by the Fire and Rescue Service and that the RNLI needs £25 m per annum to stay afloat. Vandalism of emergency equipment such as like- belts on piers and embankments is a problem that is being tackled by the Police and Community Safety Partnership as part of a wider programme aimed at keeping people safe around water.

Peter’s talk was very well received and prompted several members to reminisce on the boating, sailing and fishing escapades of their past.