Annual Outing: Lisadell House

Wednesday, 8 June 2016: Annual Outing: Lisadell House

Annual Outing: Lisadell House
Annual Outing: Lisadell House

In keeping with tradition the last meeting before the summer recess was the Annual Club Outing. This year it was a coach trip to the West of Ireland on Wednesday 8 June enjoyed by some 45 members with wives and members of Ladies Probus. The first stop was Parke’s Castle on the shores of Lough Gill for a cruise to the Lake Isle of Innisfree. On a beautiful morning, members enjoyed coffee and scones in the passenger lounge with its panoramic windows, while the guide recited some of Yeats best loved poems, including “Stolen Child” and, of course, “Isle of Innisfree”. The party then moved on to Lissadell for a conducted tour of the house, with opportunities to visit the gardens and view an exhibition celebrating the life Constance Markevicz. All too soon it was time to get back on the coach for the short drive to Davis’ Restaurant or Yeats Tavern for a convivial evening meal. Back in Omagh members expressed their appreciation to Probus President, Paul Gallagher, for arranging the outing and to Club Secretary, Gerry McConigle, for his part in organising such a memorable day out.

Derick Rainey: Campsie Post Office

Wednesday, 1 June 2016: Derick Rainey: Campsie Post Office

Derick Rainey: Campsie Post Office
Derick Rainey: Campsie Post Office

On 23 April 2015 Derick and Pat Rainey retired and Campsie Post Office closed after some 63 years of continuous service to the public. It was opened in 1952 by Miss Matilda [Tilly] Hamilton who married Thomas MacLaine in 1953. Together they ran the Post Office from the front room of their home in Campsie Road until 1985 when it passed on to Thomas [Tommy]McIntosh. The business was taken over in 1990 by Hubert and Jean Hamill and acquired by the Raineys in 2001. Derick admitted that he had no previous experience of managing a Post Office but found that his background in financial services stood him in good stead. Over the next four years he and Pat worked hard and in 2005 won the “Best Post Office in Northern Ireland” Award: in 2006 they were runners-up in the UK nationwide competition. In the decade which followed Derick and Pat expanded the business, moving into Banking Services, Motor Taxation, Greeting cards, toys and Stationery, First Day Covers and souvenir coin sets issued by the Royal Mint. Their success earned Mrs Rainey a portrait on the front cover of “SUB-POSTMASTER”, the trade paper of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters. In retirement Derick joined Probus and enlivened his to talk to fellow members with amusing anecdotes of customer requests and a short history of the Post Office since its foundation in the reign of King Henry VIII.

Brendan Hegarty: Local Government Reform

Wednesday, 25 May 2016: Brendan Hegarty: Local Government Reform

Brendan Hegarty [left] with Probus President Paul Gallagher
Brendan Hegarty [left] with Probus President Paul Gallagher

Having explained the political make-up of the new Council [16 SF, 8 UUP, 6 SDLP, 5 DUP and 5 Independents] and the composition of the Executive Team, Mr Hegarty provided some interesting statistics. In relation to Northern Ireland as a whole, the district has 20% of the land area, 30% of the forests, 6.2% of the population, 5.6% of the jobs, and 11% of the businesses. FODC has some 7,340 businesses, 83% of which have 5 or fewer employees. More than 13% of the population is age 65 and over, a figure expected to increase to 20% by 2025. Although the merger of the two councils has gone smoothly it has not been without its problems. One in particular relates to the cost of refuse collection and increasingly stringent regulations on how much can go to landfill and how much must be re-cycled. Mr Hegarty then dealt a range of issues relating to the management of a public organisation which employs over 1,000 people and has an annual budget of over £30 m. He spoke about its Constitution, Corporate Plan, Themes and Priorities as well as issues to be addressed over the next three years. After taking questions on Fracking and the Strule Shared Educational Campus, Mr Hegarty was thanked for his talk by Probus member Eamon Cunningham.

Shane Rolston: Game Angling in Omagh

Wednesday, 18 May 2016: Shane Rolston: Game Angling in Omagh

Shane Rolston:  Game Angling in Omagh
Shane Rolston: Game Angling in Omagh

Mr Rolston, a Fishery Officer with the Loughs’ Agency, explained that in Omagh anglers have access to have access to 27 miles of river bank and some of the best fishing in the UK by joining Omagh Angling Association. The agency has an Education Programme which promotes angling as a healthy outdoor sport and leisure activity. He had with him a selection of rods, reels, lures and flies which he used in conjunction with video clips to demonstrate popular methods of fishing for trout and salmon. A licence to fish and permit to trespass are required and management regulations govern when a fish may be taken home for the table and when catches must be released back into the river. Rainbow trout do not breed in Irish waters and are unwelcome in our rivers when they escape from fish farms because they compete with juvenile trout and salmon. “Sustainability” is the watchword of the Loughs’ Agency. This makes room for predators such as otters, herons, kingfishers and cormorants as these indicate a healthy ecosystem. Seals occasionally follow fish up river and recently one was spotted dining on a large salmon in the river Finn. Having taken many questions Mr Rolston was thanked for a fascinating talk by club member, Kenneth Collins, himself a keen angler.

Dr Ian Humphries: Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful

Wednesday, 11 May 2016: Dr Ian Humphries: Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful

Dr Ian Humphries:  Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful
Dr Ian Humphries: Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful

Dr Hunphries began by stating that the only way to keep Northern Ireland beautiful was to inspire people to create greener and more sustainable communities. Considerable progress had been made through a variety of programmes, including Eco-Schools, Blue Flag Beaches and Green Flag Awards for institutions that had demonstrated commitment to waste reduction. He set this against a background of global warming, world population growth and declining biodiversity. In Northern Ireland over £40,000 was spent in 2015 picking up litter. In April each year teams of volunteers collect litter from selected beauty spots with over 20,000 items being recovered from some popular beaches. A change in attitudes is clearly required which is why the Eco-schools Project is so important; children are keen to engage and learn a lot by participating in the programmes encouraged by “Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful” campaign. Getting the message to a wider audience is more challenging and useful ideas have come from a public education programme in the USA called “Don’t Mess with Texas” However the slogan “Don’t Rubbish Northern Ireland” regrettably never caught on and has been replaced by “Live Her Love Here”. Dr Humphries concluded by saying that most people are now aware of the issues, and things are improving. Following a lively question and answer session he was thanked for his talk by club member Oliver Loughran.

Janice Porter: “It’s a Dog’s Life”

Wednesday, 4 May 2016: Janice Porter: “It’s a Dog’s Life”

Janice with Club Member, retired Veterinary Surgeon, Pat McParland
Janice with Club Member, retired Veterinary Surgeon, Pat McParland

Set up in 1997 Grovehill Animal Trust aims to rescue and re-home unwanted or abandoned animals in Omagh and surrounding areas. To date it has saved some 11,000 animals. The trust is a registered charity with operating costs of £8,000 to £10,000 per month, all of which depends on fund-raising by volunteers. While Grovehill does accept stray dogs and cats, Janice explained that most of their animals are brought in by pet owners no longer in a position to care for their pets and keen for a new home for their cat or dog. All animals are given a veterinary health check on arrival and any illnesses or conditions treated immediately. All undergo a comprehensive re-homing process in which the suitability of both animal and owner are assessed to ensure that both will be happy together. Janice illustrated the work which she and her team do by talking about the distressing condition in which some animals arrived and showing photos of happy healthy dogs and cats awaiting a new home. The trust works closely with the wider community to raise awareness of animal welfare issues and enjoys a good working relationship with the District Council dog wardens and animal welfare officers.

Dr John McClure: The Development of the Red Cross Movement

Wednesday, 27th April 2016: Dr John McClure: The Development of the Red Cross Movement

Dr McClure [left] with Probus President Paul Gallagher
Dr McClure [left] with Probus President Paul Gallagher

As National Chairman of the British Red Cross Society from 2001 – 2007 Dr McClure was uniquely placed to address the club on the origins and development of the Red Cross Movement. In terms of those who have made lasting contributions to the wellbeing of mankind throughout the world it is somewhat sad that the name of Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross and first recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace, is not well known. Today 187 countries – more than in the United Nations – are supporters of the Red Cross Geneva Conventions which set out the humanitarian principles by which casualties of conflicts and prisioners of war are to be treated. In tracing the development of the Red Cross from its foundation in Switzerland 1863, Dr McClure described how Henry Dunant had gone from hero to zero. Having set up the Red Cross he became a hero but, like volunteers in the organisation today he was an unpaid and when his business enterprise failed he was left with nothing. For a time he lived rough on the streets of Paris before he was rehabiltated by the organisation he had helped to set up. Whilst the ideals of the Red Cross are globally accepted, its emblem of a red cross on a white background is a sensitive issue in some middle eastern countries where it has been replaced by a red crescent on a white background. Dr McClure was thanked for an enlightening, engaging and informative talk by Probus member, Jim McBain.

Billy Pollock: Omagh Lawn Tennis Club

Wednesday, 20th April 2016: Billy Pollock: Omagh Lawn Tennis Club

Billy Pollock with Probus President PaulGallagher
Billy Pollock with Probus President PaulGallagher

Mr Pollock was introduced by club Vice-President, John McCandless whose words of welcome included mention of Billy’s other enthusiasm being that of a “radio ham”. Billy thanked the President and members for their invitation to speak and had doubted his ability to do so as many of the club records (covering the period 1921 – 1995) had ben mislaid. The club was formed in October 1892 and in March 1893 land was acquired from the Fleming Estate. A croquet lawn established in 1896. Billy’s talk focussed on people well-known in the world of tennis both locally and abroad. The club entered a period of decline in the 1970’s and he told many amusing anecdotes about their efforts to turn things around. The President thanked Billy Pollock for his most enjoyable and informative presentation. On Wednesday 20th April the club welcomed a new member, Mr Ivor Samson.

Anthea Owens, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: Recycling

Wednesday 13th April 2016: Anthea Owens, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: Recycling

Anthea with Probus Vice-President, John McCandless
Anthea with Probus Vice-President, John McCandless

Using slides to illustrate her talk Ms Owens began by demonstrating the scale of the problem presented by waste management and recycling. On average each household produces 1 ton of domestic waste per year, the bulk of which is dumped in landfill sites. FODC [Fermanagh and Omagh District Council] operates two landfill sites, Tullyvar in Co Tyrone and Drummee in Co Fermanagh. In 2014 – 15 the Council spent £3.5m on collection and a further £4.7 m on disposal. The remainder of Anthea’s talk was on the theme of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Recovery. Food waste averages out at £60.00 per household per month. For advice on how to reduce this she referred her audience to the website www.lovefoodhatewaste.com. Discussion about the appropriate way to dispose of textiles, plastic, glass, paper, card, metal, ashes, polystyrene and paint made for lively exchanges and generated many questions. In closing she encouraged members to download the FODC app “bin-ovation”, which contains useful information on waste management and recycling in the local area. Anthea was warmly applauded for her talk which had kept members fully engaged for over an hour.

Inter-club Quiz

Wednesday, 6 April 2016: Inter-club Quiz
The annual inter-club quiz was contested by 17 teams from Probus Clubs in Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Londonderry, Omagh and Strabane. The quiz master was Joseph Cummings and after 8 rounds, each with 8 questions, Londonderry Men’s Probus Club emerged as the winners of the James Eakin Shield for the third consecutive year. The Bert McCrory Cup for the best Omagh Team was won by Omagh Probus Men’s Club 1, the club having entered 3 teams. The event took place in Omagh Golf Club and guests were treated to tea, coffee and refreshments during the half-time interval. The morning also included a succesful raffle with prizes donated by members of Omagh Probus Club.

Londonderry Probus Quiz Team receiving the James Eakin Shield from Omagh President, Paul Gallagher, [centre] [L – R] James Stewart, David Burke, George Glenn and Jim Moore
Londonderry Probus Quiz Team receiving the James Eakin Shield from Omagh President, Paul Gallagher, [centre]
[L – R] James Stewart, David Burke, George Glenn and Jim Moore

Receiving the Bert McCrory Cup from Omagh President, Paul Gallagher [second left] are Omagh Men 1 [L – R] Kenneth Collins, Eamon Cunningham, Oliver Loughran, Michael Collins
Receiving the Bert McCrory Cup from Omagh President, Paul Gallagher [second left] are Omagh Men 1
[L – R] Kenneth Collins, Eamon Cunningham, Oliver Loughran, Michael Collins