Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

A major conference takes place in Monaghan tomorrow. In support of the objectives of Monaghan Age-Friendly Alliance, the local branch of the University of the Third Age U3A is hosting an event at the Four Seasons Hotel. The theme is “Positive Living in the Third Age – Enhancing the Golden Years”. This conference is one of the events in the Monaghan Gathering 2013 calendar

The conference will address the challenges, opportunities and policies to be pursued both within Ireland and the European Union to promote a rewarding and life enhancing older age for citizens. With people living longer and healthier lives this presents a major challenge for all policy makers. The conference will open at 11am with a civic reception given by the Monaghan County Mayor Councillor Sean Conlon.

Claire Keatinge Commissioner for Older People NI

Claire Keatinge Commissioner for Older People NI

The speakers include Claire Keatinge, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, who will speak on “Self-help, volunteering and employment of the 50+ generation”; Marian Harkin, Member of the European Parliament will address “Active Ageing – An Age Friendly EU”. It is also hoped that Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Health with Responsibility for Older People will deal with national strategy for an ageing population in the Republic.

Other particpants are Stuart Pollard, Northern Ireland Regional Trustee for the Third Age Trust and Margaret Fitzpatrick, Education Officer with Age Action Ireland, both of whom will address issues to do with the U3A movement on both sides of the border. Those attending will also hear about the most up to date research on home safety for older adults from Lisa Jennings, PhD candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast. Monaghan members will give an outline of the development of the U3A movement in Monaghan and the contacts made with fellow U3A groups in Northern Ireland.

The sessions will be chaired by two eminent professionals from the field of research into ageing matters. Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway. At NUIG Professor Scharf is leading a major programme of work addressing issues relating to ageing in rural communities. Dr. Roger O’Sullivan, Director of the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI). Dr O’Sullivan has undertaken a wide range of research on issues relating to older people including research for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The conference will conclude with a humorous drama presentation by the newly formed Market House Players from Monaghan town as well as the first public performance by the newly formed U3A choir – with some help from the accomplished Oriel Singers.

Monaghan U3A has been in existence for four years and has nearly 150 members. The U3A is a worldwide movement of older people where members share their skills and life experiences – learners teach and teachers learn.

The Monaghan group participates in a variety of learning and social activities which include – a walking group; bowling shared with Knockatallon Bowling Club; social card playing; weekly computer workshops for beginners; gardening classes each autumn and spring; flower arranging; digital photography; spoken French and Irish. In addition the U3A host a very successful monthly talk and lunch at the YWCA premises and of course some very interesting day trips for members.

The conference fee is €20 or £18, which includes lunch and refreshments.

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