Sean Fitzgerald, Small Boat Surveying

Wednesday 06 November 2019
Speaker, Sean Fitzgerald. Topic: Small Boat Surveys

Sean Fitzgerald [left] with Probus President, Oliver Loughran

Sean Fitzgerald is captain of a Stena ferry operating on the Irish Sea.   Approaching retirement as a Senior Master he undertook a further course of study to become a qualified ship surveyor.   Today he runs his own business [JMF Survey] specialising in small boat surveys.   Sean compared what he does to buying a house. Having seen a property few people would proceed to purchase without a survey.  The same applies to boats;  the cruisers that ply Lough Erne can range in price from £20k to £400k and require a pre-purchase survey to get insurance. Without insurance a boat owner cannot get a berth in a marina and may even be debarred from certain waterways.   Being drunk in charge of a boat is punishable by fines of up to £20k and 2 year’s imprisonment.   To allow a full inspection of the hull, a boat can only be surveyed when out of the water, this being only one of a long list of structures, fixtures and fittings that form part of each survey. Sean also does work for marine insurance companies, surveying boats following collisions and accidents to assess the damage.  More information can be found on the company website   He was thanked for his very interesting talk by Probian boat owner, Michael Cooney.

Clare Johnston, Terex – Finlay

Meeting of Wednesday 30 October 2019
Speaker: Clare Johnston from Terex – Finlay

Clare Johnston with Probus President, Oliver Loughran

Clare is based at the company’s manufacturing plant in Omagh where she is Group Operational Training Manager.  Having explained that TEREX is a global company headquartered in the USA with sales in 2018 of 5.1 billion dollars, she showed slides to illustrate its reach. More than half its income is from sales of Arial Work Platforms [cherry pickers], the other big product line being machines for crushing, screening and washing.   The Omagh plant manufactures some 600 crushing machines per year.   Members of the club recalled how it all started when John Finlay began making block-making machines in 1953, priced at £14/10 shillings in Scarffe’s.   In 1976 a specialised screen production unit was opened in Omagh and the first tracked mobile crushers were produced in 2005.  Since then the history of TEREX in Omagh has been one of continuous improvement and development.   “Telematics” were introduced in 2016; this enables the company to keep track of all its machines wherever they may be working in the world, monitoring performance and wear and tear.   Clare’s fascinating account of her work generated much interest, many recollections and lots of questions.

Sonia Slevin “Drink wise – Age well”

Meeting of Wednesday 23 October 2019
Speaker, MS Sonia Slevin. Topic “Drink wiser – Age Well”

Ms Sonia Slevin with Probus President, Oliver Loughran

Sonia began by distributing evaluation sheets to determine if knowledge about, and attitudes towards, alcohol changed during session. Her over-arching message was that healthy ageing requires a controlled approach to diet, exercise and alcohol use combined with varied social activities to stay outward looking and mentally alert. Starting with the current recommended Government guidelines of 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women, she challenged members to guess how many units there were in a number of popular measures, for example, a pint of beer, a glass of wine, a single measure of spirits.   Sonia further explained that it takes one hour for a unit of alcohol to clear the body and it is not speeded up by cups of coffee, eating a meal or an Ulster fry for breakfast the morning after the night before. The reasons for alcohol consumption rising with age were examined, as were rates of dependency and sources of help.   Sonia’s talk provided  scope for lots of witty banter but members nevertheless took seriously the importance of her message.   She was thanked for an engaging talk by Probian Eamon Cunningham

Amy Burns RSPB

Meeting of Wednesday 16 October 2019
Speaker, Ms Amy Burns, RSPB

Probus President, Oliver Loughran, with Amy Burns RSPB

Amy is the RSPB’s Estate Manager for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.   She heads up a team of seven who collectively manage the bird life on 43 of Lough Erne’s 154 islands along with 210 hectares of wetland and 400 hectares of forest.   Essentially the work is about habitat management and maintaining a variety of environments for the particular needs of particular birds.   Lapwings, also known as Plovers and Peewits, thrive in hay meadows which these days are artificially created by strimming.   Curlews need longer grass in which to nest and hide their chicks and wetland in which to forage. Sadly, their numbers are in steep decline due to habitat loss.  The RSPB owns a herd of Highland Cattle which it moves from island to island to graze and keep the vegetation short.   Amy showed slides and played recordings of the calls of several species monitored by the RSPB including Snipe, Redshank, terns and gulls.   RSPB in Fermanagh also manages 600 hectares on Cuilcagh Mountain, home to Red Grouse, Skylarks and a few Hen Harriers.    Amy’s work brings her into daily contact with all sorts of wildlife including huge array of butterflies and moths. Her talk prompted many questions and much interest, for which she was warmly thanked by Harman Scott.

Donna Harbison, Spec Savers

Meeting of Wednesday 10 October 2019
Speaker, Ms Donna Harbison and the team from Spec Savers

[L – R] Glen, Donna, Emma and Cathy with Club Vice-President, Michael Cooney
On Wednesday 9th October, Omagh Men’s Probus Club welcomed a team of speakers from Spec Savers in Omagh. Introduced as Donna, Cathy, Emma and Glen they began their presentation by briefly describing the range of services available.  These included Eye-tests, Eye Health, Glasses – frames and lenses – Hearing Tests and Domiciliary visits.   Not all eye problems are sight- related and Spec Savers advise on and treat conditions such as Dry Eye, Sticky Eye, Streaming, Red Eye and “Floaters”. It was explained that the top four causes of sight loss are AMD [Age-related Macular Degeneration] Glaucoma, Retinopathy resulting from diabetes and Cataracts which cause cloudy or hazy vision. Having discussed the range of tests and treatments now offered by optometrists, Donna introduced Glen, an accredited audiologist, who tests hearing and advises on hearing aids. So many issues related to hearing and sight loss were raised that a lively question and answer session ensued. Leaflets were distributed to provide more information and encouragement offered to visit Spec Savers in Market Street for individual assessments of eye and hearing health. The team was thanked for a most interesting visit by Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney

Mr Mickey Harte

Meeting of Wednesday 2 October 2019: Speaker, Mr Mickey Harte

[L – R] President, Oliver Loughran, Mickey Harte, Vice-President, Michael Cooney
On Wednesday 2 October Omagh Probus resumed after the summer recesss, and following a welcome back President, Oliver Loughran, congratulated member Bob Lingwood on his 101st birthday. He then paid tribute to two members who had sadly passed away since the club had last met on 29th May, namely Mr Ron Burch and Mr Wilbour Knox. The guest speaker was Mr Mickey Harte, best known as manager of Tyrone GAA but someone whose outlook on life which stretches well beyond football pitch. In fact Mickey surprised some members by not mentioning Gaelic games once in a talk in which he shared his philosophy for life and the values he had acquired along the way. Beginning with his childhood in Ballygawley where he was the youngest of 10 children, Mickey described how the church was the centre of community life and family prayers were said at the close of each day. Mickey married Marian in 1978 and together they had four children – three boys and a girl. The loss of Michaela in 2011 was an tragedy which tested the family’s faith, strength and courage. Mr Harte spoke movingly about what motivates him and how he has used his convictions to motivate and inspire others. Throughout his talk Mickey’s sense of humour surfaced time and again in stories, anecdotes and one-liners that captured the wit and wisdom of a man who commands respect and admiration across the community, the county and the island of Ireland.

Mrs Libby Armstrong

Meeting of Wednesday 29th May 2019
Speaker: Mrs Libby Armstrong Topic: Waterways Ireland

[L – R]  Jim McBain, Libby Armstrong, Oliver Loughran, Probus President
“Waterways Ireland” is a North/South Body established under the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999. Based in Enniskillen it has imposing Headquarters on the shores of Lough Erne.   Its remit is the management, maintenance, development and restoration of the inland navigable waterway systems throughout Ireland.   15% of its annual budget of €25m comes for Stormont and 85% from Dublin, the division reflecting the distribution of waterways in each jurisdiction.   There are 7 major navigation systems in Ireland – Barrow River, Erne System, Grand Canal from Dublin to Limerick, Royal Canal from Dublin to the Shannon, the Shannon itself and the Shannon-Erne Waterway. In total Waterways Ireland manages 1000 km of navigable waterway, 429 km of towpath, 175 locks, 1200 heritage structures and 13,900 m of moorings. Developed in the 18th century for the transport of goods, the waterways are now used mainly for recreational purposes, something which generates millions of Euro for the tourist industry.  The Cruise Hire Sector is worth some €65m per annum while events such as the European Wakeboard Championships on the Lower Bann added another €7.9m to the local economy.   Angling, walking, cycling, canoeing, camping and glamping add to the attractions as do visits to the many historic places of interest along the way.    Libby was thanked for a most interesting and informative talk by Probus President, Oliver Loughran.

Mrs Margaret Mitchell

Meeting of Wednesday 22 May 2019
Speaker: Mrs Margaret Mitchell. Topic: “My Galapagos Trip”

[L – R] Carol Simpson, Margaret Mitchell, Oliver Loughran, Probus President.
Margaret’s trip to the Galapagos Islands required four flights – Belfast to London – London to Madrid – Madrid to Quito and Quito to the Galapagos. In Quito, capital of Ecuador, she was joined by her daughter Suzanne, son-in-law, Dom and seven-year-old, Imogen.   Together they spent some days sight-seeing in Quito before flying on to Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands. There they boarded a luxury yacht for a memorable cruise around the archipelago.  Although they form a cluster in the Pacific Ocean the islands differ significantly one from the other in terms of geography and wildlife; some are covered in lush tropical vegetation while others are barren.   This has given rise over millennia to the unique array of plants and animals, birds and marine life, which in 1835 inspired Charles Darwin to develop a theory about “The Origin of Species”.   Since the wildlife has evolved in isolation animals and birds show little fear in the presence of people and Margaret had many wonderful close-up photos of sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, albatross and penguins – to name but a few. Snorkelling with green turtles and close encounters with giant tortoises which can grow to 1.8 m and weight 400 kg were among the highlights of this extraordinary trip of a lifetime. She was warmly thanked for her talk by Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney

Mr Michael Stinson

[L – R] Vice-President, Michael Cooney, Michael Stinson, Probus President., Oliver Loughran.
Meeting of Wednesday 15 May 2019
Speaker: Mr Michael Stinson, Ulster Wildlife Trust. Topic: Red Squirrels

Michael began by explaining that he was nearing the end of a three-year project, sponsored by the Ulster Wildlife Trust, into the Northern Ireland’s red squirrel population.   Using camera traps four strongholds for red squirrels had been identified in the Province – The Northwest around Limavady, The Glens of Antrim, The Mourne Mountains and Fermanagh and West Tyrone.   Grey squirrels were introduced to Ireland in 1911 when six pairs were presented to a newly married couple in Co Longford as a wedding present.   Released into a walled garden they soon escaped, multiplied and are now common in the central and eastern counties of Ireland but less so in the west where forest habitats are replaced by bogland.   The impact of the” greys” on the “reds” has been a dramatic decline in the native species due to the greys more aggressive foraging behaviour and the fact that they carry a disease – squirrel pox – to which the reds have no immunity.   However in certain parts of Ulster the tide is turning.   Pine Martens, hunted to near extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries are now protected and making comeback.   Surveys have shown that as the population of Pine Martens grows the population of grey squirrels declines.   This in turn helps the reds which can co-exist with Pine Martens.   Michael was thanked for an informative and engaging talk by Probian Hugh Ward.

Red Cross First Aid

[L – R] Probus President, Oliver Loughran, Rebecca Donnelly, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Michael Cooney [Probus Vice-President] and Gary Nugent
Geraldine demonstrating CPR

The talk opened with a challenge.   Could you provide First Aid in an emergency?   All present hesitated because they admitted they would be unsure what to do and fretted that they might do more harm than good and end up being sued.   Mrs Fitzpatrick assured her audience that everyone can do something and in the space of 50 minutes proved her point with a convincing demonstration in which she was supported by her two Red Cross colleagues, Rebecca Donnelly and Gary Nugent.   The first response to an emergency is to shout for help or dial 999.   If the patient is bleeding an article of clothing can be used to apply pressure to the wound.   The acronym F.A.S.T. is a good guide when called upon to help someone who has had a stroke – Face, Arms, Speech and Time – the most important thing being to get the person into hospital in the shortest TIME possible.   If someone has had a heart attack and stopped breathing it is essential to begin CPR right away. Geraldine demonstrated the correct technique on a mannequin before showing an attentive audience how to use a defibrillator.   Having taken many questions along the way she and her team were warmly thanked for an excellent talk by Probian Eamon Cunningham.