‘Ordinary people’ is the title of the theme music produced by Drake Music Project for the Irish launch of EYPD2003. We have used this title for our Focus pages in this issue of Frontline. We profile individuals and groups in different parts of the country who avail of an intellectual disability service. They’re not ‘typical’ or ‘representative’ of anyone else—they are interesting people in themselves.
Some of the people on the following pages may already be familiar to readers who had the opportunity to read the excellent ‘Making the most of our potential’ supplement that was published with the Irish Independent on 20 November 2002. The supplement was compiled by the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, in collaboration with The Doherty Advertising Group and Public Relations Partners. We thought it a good idea to revisit a couple of people featured in that publication, and Federation has kindly helped us to make contact with them. In addition, we have a report of the
Robert Jordan, from Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow, works at County Wexford Community Workshop (Enniscorthy) Limited (CWCW (E) Ltd) in the woodwork area of the Centre. He assists the carpenter in getting out orders for our retail shop, Bellefield Design, a stylish retail outlet connected to the Centre.
The woodwork shop at Enniscorthy Community Workshop manufactures furniture in pine, teak, mahogany and oak. The staff and trainees, like Robert, take great pride in their work—all pieces are hand-crafted and designed at the Workshop. Other services provided at the Centre include picture framing, woodwork assembly, sewing, catering, screen printing and various forms of contract work.
Trainees at the Workshop get more from their jobs than work satisfaction. As well as regular job training, they learn about information technology, life skills, home management, job seeking, catering and horticulture. They also learn the skill of self advocacy—how to speak up for themselves.
Robert’s work in the woodwork area consists of measurement of the required timbers to complete orders and the use of woodwork power equipment such as saws, sanders, drilling machines and the router machine.
Robert has just been successful in his application for a position on a FAS Social Economy Scheme with C.W.C.W. (E) Ltd. He will now receive a weekly wage which will be taxable instead of receiving Disability Allowance and will now be a full-time employee of CWCW (E) Ltd. This FÁS programme is a three-year scheme, after which Robert will have potential to seek further employment with CWCW (E) Ltd. or seek alternative employment.
During Robert’s years with County Wexford Community Workshop (Enniscorthy) Limited he has received training, encouragement and support to fulfil his ambitions, both in his working career and his sporting endeavours. Currently the centre is planning the development of a million-Euro project to facilitate its training programme. This will involve the purchase of an adjacent warehouse and will include an indoor sports complex.
Robert is a keen sportsman when he is not working. In September of last year he returned from the Special Olympics European Basketball Tournament in Russia, bringing home a bronze medal with his fellow team members, who also attend CWCW (Enniscorthy) Ltd. He is also talented at soccer, swimming and athletics—his favourite sport. Unfortunately Robert did not qualify to participate in the Special Olympics World Games 2003, but he has been selected to participate in the Torch Run prior to the Games. Robert says that it is a great honour to represent Enniscorthy Community Workshop, his hometown of Shillelagh and, most of all, his country for the third time. His adventure will commence on 2 June when he will fly to Athens, to run across Europe alongside members of the police forces of various countries around the world, before arriving in Larne on 16 June. The Torch Run will then be divided into three separate teams, each covering various routes through Ireland. The teams will travel through 140 towns in Ireland and Robert has been given the honour of running through his Host Town of Enniscorthy.
Also, Robert will be a volunteer throughout the World Games in Dublin, including seven days assisting at the athletics events in Morton Stadium.
GERRY AND THE OLD BEEHIVE
Weekday mornings mean an early rise and shine for Gerry Cornally, who lives with four friends in Lucan, a few miles west of Dublin. He works at The Old Beehive, a restaurant owned by Stewarts Hospital in Palmerstown, and there are usually 50+ people wanting breakfast on their way to work, or from it—several regulars are Guards coming off night duty. Then there’s morning coffee for Palmerstown locals; lunches for business people, ERHA and construction workers; and afternoon tea before the doors close at 4.30- This time of year, the restaurant welcomes family groups for Confirmation lunches and other celebrations.
Gerry’s picture—tending a pan of breakfast rashers—accompanied Louise Holden’s restaurant review of The Old Beehive in ‘Making the Most of Our Potential’ (p.12). After the morning fry-ups, Gerry prepares vegetables and fruit for the lunch menu, or he helps in the kitchen clean-up. The proof that high standards are maintained can be seen from the National Hygiene Awards that the restaurant has gained since it opened in 1994. Before then, Gerry did contract work in the Stewarts Hospital Training Workshop. In his nine years at the Old Beehive, he has learned a variety of skills. Each member of the kitchen staff is given the opportunity to master the preparation of a special dish, which then bears their name. ‘Gerry’s Banoffi Pie’ has pride of place on the menu.
Gerry is jovial and obviously contented in his work. He and his colleagues share much of their leisure time too—going swimming or bowling, or getting tapes from the Stewarts Hospital Library. (By happy coincidence, Gerry’s housemates share his musical taste in Paddy Reilly, the Wolfe Tones and Daniel O’Donnell!)
A resident in Stewarts Hospital since he was 11, Gerry has seen three decades of growth and development in services. He is a proud Offaly man—and, naturally enough, an avid fan of the Loyal County’s hurling team. He and his brother Joe, also at Stewarts, go down to Borris in Ossory every second weekend. Their mother died several years ago, but they visit with their father, brother and sister. Gerry enjoys the craic and the Guinness in the pub across the street from their family home.
The Old Beehive is an old, long stone building, recognisable as a former stable yard. (Arkle is said to have once been in residence!) Stewarts Hospital bought the buildings in the early nineties, and now 8 staff members provide sheltered work options for 35 service users with moderate and severe disabilities—14 in the restaurant upstairs, and 21 in the weaving and craft centre below. (Attractive scarves, throws, tableware and tapestries—as well as pottery—are on sale in ‘Stewarts of Lucan’, at Lucan Bridge.) Just one of the employment options available to Stewarts service users, the Old Beehive Restaurant has proven to be highly successful. The restaurant’s inventive and good-value menus and its bright ambience have been widely praised (viz. Paulo Tullio, Irish Independent Weekend, 1 December 2001). Manager Olive Keating is rightly proud that 85% of their customers are ‘the public’—diners who appreciate good food and good service and leave generous tips that pay for days-out and holidays for the service-user workers. Gerry and his workmates are obviously doing a good job!
The Old Beehive is open Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 4.30pm. It is located in Palmerstown village (from the N4 toward Dublin, turn left into Palmerstown village, then left again at the T-junction. The restaurant is 500m to the east, on the right side of the Old Lucan Road. Ring 01-623 3400, if you want to book ahead, and be sure to ask if Gerry’s Banoffi Pie is ‘on’.