Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Journalism Society Visit Limerick Animal Welfare

The Journalism Society took a trip to the Limerick Animal Welfare today in Moorestown, Kilfinane. Leaving on a bus from the Arena at 9:30am there were many sleepy heads but on arrival the excitement was heard in the high pitched voices cooing over animals with baby talk that would have sounded extremely creepy and inappropriate in any other context. We were given a tour of the facilities which currently include dog kennels, a cat unit, rabbit hutches and vast amounts of land for horses, pigs, goats, and the cutest little Shetland ponies I’ve ever seen. There is also an unfinished main building that The Sanctuary is currently raising money for.
Then the work began. Each of us was given a dog – temporarily - and we brought them for a walk. In many cases we were being walked by the dogs but we didn’t mind much. We were caught in a small hailstorm but suffered on and luckily missed the downpour that was to follow. Many walker/dog bonding relationships occurred and dogs were named based on personality traits. Mine, for instance, I had christened Tenshie because she was the most pretentious dog I had ever met. But I loved her anyway. Arriving back at The Sanctuary we hungrily sat for lunch before realising we had lost three of our walkers. On calling them we were immediately received by their voicemails. Panic ensued.  Then we got over it and ate without them. After many theories had floated about like mutant dog people in the hills, they arrived eventually, and fully intact.
Next was the fun bit. Washing the dogs. The cooing and giggles were joined by bubbles and squirming puppies. Drying wasn’t so easy because a few were afraid of the hair dryers but seeing a dog play with a towel and get all caught up in it is a laughable sight to say the least. Feeding time and washing up was the prelude to about an hour of sitting in kennels and cuddling puppies and kittens.
Before we left we weeded out one of the outdoor kennels until it was immaculate. There was an accident or two with overturned wheelbarrows but we did an excellent job all the same. The sight of the bus approaching was one of sadness for me. The most difficult thing about volunteering at The Sanctuary is having to leave.
LAW is a registered charity since 1983. It is dedicated to caring and rehoming animals from the entire Limerick area. Over the past five years alone they have saved and rehomed more than 2,000 animals. The Sanctuary has a no-kill policy except in circumstances of irreversible ill-health. They offer talks to primary schools and secondary schools and frequently have these students out to visit the animals and volunteer at The Sanctuary. It now provides shelter for up to 60 dogs and puppies, 50 cats and kittens, numerous rabbits, goats, pigs, horses, ponies and donkeys.
The Sanctuary is currently trying to raise money for the finishing of the new main building which will cost around €1m and the isolation kennel for cats and kittens. Donations can be made using PayPal, Wordplay or directly into The Sanctuary’s bank account or fund. Donations can also be made in their charity shop at 59 Parnell Street, Limerick.
People can also volunteer at The Sanctuary by walking the dogs, feeding the animals, washing up after feeding time, scrubbing out kennels, litter trays and rabbit hutches, helping staff give veterinary treatments, and washing and grooming the animals. Volunteers must be over the age of 16.
Tel. 063 91110 or 087 6371044.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Tattoos, piercings and body mutilation, art form or scourge of our days?

Many would disagree with me that tattoos, piercings and other forms of body mutilation can be incredible works of art. The very definition of art can be put plainly; an expression of self. There is the over used phrase that a person can wear their heart on their sleeve, but what if we could really show who we are externally. So many people hide behind their clothes and make-up. You may be able to see what their style is, but it could just be current trend, not who they really are. Ink and metal are simple things that can make a huge and dramatic impact to the outside world about who we are. Tastefully done a tattoo can commemorate a particular time in your life and a piercing can tell the world you’re an individual.
However, I believe it is the few who have tainted such an art form. In Ireland for instance there are reputable tattoo and piercing businesses nationwide but there are still some that can be viewed as dodgy to say the least. This is the fault of the Government itself, not the industry. So far, there is no legislation whatsoever regarding tattooing, piercing or body mutilation in Ireland. These businesses are not required to adhere to specific registration requirements, structural or operation standards, employ trained professionals and are not included in any inspection program by the Environmental Health Officers or any statutory inspectorate, according to the Health Service Executive. The EHO does follow up on reports of infection and diseases when the origin is suspected to be a tattoo parlour, but is still lobbying for proper legislation to be put in place.
This legislation is so important to implement and reinforce because health and infection are a major source for concern surrounding body modification. Complications can range from allergic reactions to the inks, metals or even the latex gloves worn by the person giving the tattoo or piercing, to more serious infectious diseases like Hepatitis B and C and even HIV. If enquiring about a tattoo you should ask to see a certificate of registration with the local council and if the business doesn’t have one, leave! It seems silly to warn about only going to a place that seems sterile and hygienic, but if everyone did this there wouldn’t be a problem to write about. The parlour should be cleaner and more sterile than you’d expect of a hospital and if you find one that works with single-use needles instead of sterilising them after use, that’s even better. Professionals will provide you with aftercare instructions too, and this is where it’s up to you. You can look after your new body art properly and love it for years, or neglect it and bad mouth the business when deep down you know it’s your own fault.
This form of art isn’t for everyone and that’s not necessarily a matter of taste, but can be biological. Migration and rejection is something that even I myself have had the displeasure of going through when it comes to piercings. I had my belly button pierced, twice. The first time is my own fault, I caught the bar in my shirt and it pulled, splitting the skin over the bar. The second time however, my body was working against me. What happens is the body sees this piece of metal as a threat and begins to heal the skin behind it instead of over it. The bar will move outwards as more skin grows behind it. I didn’t think it would happen because it had been healed for months before but sadly it was not meant to be. An expensive lesson learned but a cheap form of scar removal from the first time. Migration and rejection happens with surface piercings and once it starts there’s nothing you can do except take the piercing out before it scars. It is possible to re-pierce the same area with a different type of metal and see if your body will accept that but it’s never recommended to pierce that area more than twice. Basically, if it rejects again, give up.
Other than infection from neglect, tattoos come with other problems, fading and distortion. A pretty self explanatory problem, which can happens naturally. Tattoos will always fade; it’s just a question of when. Tattoos can last for years without fading or distorting, with proper care. But if neglected it’s likely to happen sooner. Fading occurs due to poor quality ink and exposure to bright sunlight which fades the pigments of ink. To delay the natural occurrence of fading takes proper dedication on your part. The new tattoo should be properly washed and dried everyday and non-scented lotions should be used. Vitamin E lotions are very good but only AFTER the skin has healed and use a high SPF sun screen too. And whatever you do, don’t pick scabs! You will make it bleed and the inks will run with your blood! Its minimal work but very important. Distortion is often seen as bleeding of the ink, again due to poor quality inks or homemade tattoo guns. Lines can be distorted by trauma to the skin like sudden stretching, burning or other wounds. Most traumas that cause distortion are unavoidable accidents, except one. The baby bump. There are two situations, having a tattoo on your abdomen and then getting or pregnant, or vice versa. Frankly the latter seems extremely dangerous, but it happens. These women seem to forget the bump is going to stretch your skin but won’t be there forever. Stretch marks and excess skin are going to rightly mess up that tat.
One particular case of trend over art that is known almost worldwide is that of Kimberly Vlaminck. This 18-year-old Belgian teen went to a tattoo parlour allegedly to have three small stars tattooed near her left eye. She claims to have fallen asleep in the chair and woken up with 56 stars tattooed on her face. This regretful mistake left her to claim that the tattoo artist Rouslan Tourmeniantz carried out these extra tattoos against her will and there were even allegations of hypnotism and drug induced unconsciousness. While the allegations proved to be false Tourmeniantz’s reputation was tainted to say the least. The press coverage in the beginning seemed to paint him as the villain and feed into this ridiculous stereotype that you can’t trust people with tattoos. While proved innocent in the end his name was still blackened and he lost a lot of business, through no fault of his own.
This art of ink has also caused many issues within the workplace. The majority of workplaces have established a dress code for all of their workers and are perfectly within their legal rights to do so. Tattooing and piercings are an expression of self and some believe it to be wrong to inflict such restrictions on workers. Many terminations have been the result of such rebellions. The restrictions are perfectly legal as long as they don’t discriminate against race, colour, religion, age, national origin or gender. Personally I don’t think someone’s level of professionalism should be judged by their appearance anyway and that includes tattoos and piercings. I do understand that there are some industries of work where it is necessary to cover piercings for reasons of health and safety but in general there shouldn’t be a problem. Unless a tattoo causes particular offence, but that’s not art, that’s ignorance.
Apart from tattoos and piercings, body modifications and mutilations have become extremely popular in recent years. These include: branding; sub-dermal implants; earlobe stretching; tongue splitting, tooth filing, corneal tattoos; scarification; corset piercings and pointy ears. Most are obvious to what they are and can create quite dramatic art but there is only one I have a problem with; corneal tattoos. Whoever would want to get their eyeball tattooed should have their mental health examined first. Body modification can result in infections and diseases but they are easily dealt with or easier to live with due to new medication. But your eyesight is so fragile already and we only have one pair of eyes each. Personally I can hardly put my contact lenses in without flinching, so the very idea of someone taking a needle to my eye and inserting ink that could restrict my sight and result in the loss of my eye is positively vomit inducing!
So should these issues take from the concept of body mutilation as an art form? Are tattoos and piercings and the like only ever to be associated with trouble makers or will people ever see that these issues are few and far apart. We know about the negative aspect of this industry because the positive isn’t publicised. I’ll always admire the dramatic body art people can create using nothing more than ink, metal and a little imagination. Reading the horror stories of tattoos gone wrong etc, has done nothing to defer me from getting some ink myself later on. Piercings didn’t work for me so why not a tat? And frankly, being a walking masterpiece sounds amazing.

By Pam Ryan

Pretty Vacant

It’s hard to sit in a classroom filled with young Irish people and not have to fight back the urge to slap each and every single one of them in the face.

As an outsider looking in it’s hard to determine if the vapid stares and shifting eye sets are out of embarrassment, fear or the early stages of Asperger’s syndrome. God help anyone who’s given the difficult task to actually speak to a group of 18-25 year olds these days as unintelligible grunts, chair shuffling and sparse eye contact are the only social cues that are offered with any degree of vigour.

Dictators and Football Boots: The story of Spanish Football

Lionel Andrés Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro

When searching for an explosive introduction to any story about La Liga, could there be one more fitting, than simply the names of the leagues two most powerful players?
However, it is important to state that they are but two of a long list of supremely skilled sportsmen plying their trade in sunny Spain. La Liga is now regarded as the best league in the world, despite what you may hear from our very patriotic yet sometimes over-confident cousins across the Irish Sea.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Perfect Christmas gift for Thomondgate

“If you want something, you have to get it for yourself.” After years of being overlooked for community funding, these were the words of a delighted and determined Colin McInerney, just one of the committee members who have battled for a sports facility for the forgotten estate of Thomondgate.

With a €10,000 fund secured from Limerick Regeneration, phase one of the new sports park has now begun at the site on the Long Pavement Road. This will include two football pitches and changing facilities for the newly established Northside Legacy FC, Thomondate’s first football club.

Plans are now going into place for phase two, a running track, basketball court, handball alley and dirt bike course could transform this site into one of the best community sporting facilities in the country. The hard work of fundraising and campaigning for the remainder of the near €100,000 needed for such an ambitious project begins for the people involved.

The initial idea for the development has been inspired by the members of the club, who have up until now had to travel every weekend to Southhill to play their home matches. This combined with training in Corbally, it was plain for everyone to see, that there was a home needed for the Legacy in their own area.

“We have been depending on lifts and paying for cabs to bring us to games on a Sunday, this facility is long overdue for this side of town.” said Frankie Daly, another of the core people involved from the start.

Combining these aspirations with the great teamwork of two normally opposing councillors in Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan and Labour’s Tom Shortt, the plans and dreams have evolved into the fantastic project which has now started.
Both councillors described how community spirits have risen dramatically since this project began and has been so noticeable that the local Gardai have also become involved in helping out.

“I used to get 20 phone calls a week from Thomondgate residents about young guys hanging around with nothing to do and getting into mischief, now because of the club, this has improved.” said Cllr Quinlivan.

It is hoped now that when the pitches are ready in the coming months, the club can expand even further with more teams from the underage level. All involved have very high hopes for the future, and believe that with the other sports being added to the park soon after, this could be the beginning of something very special for the Thomondgate area.

With some determination, community togetherness, help from the Gardai and a good working relationship between two very different political parties, it is inspiring too see what a community can achieve when will is combined with hard work.
Anybody wishing to get involved in this project as a volunteer, player or in some form of sponsorship can contact Colin McInerney at 085-1343504.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Journalism society to visit Limerick Post and Live 95 fm

The Journalism society will be visiting Limerick's Live 95fm and the Limerick Post on Wednesday to see a real working media environment. This will be our second foray to media outlets after our trip to Sky, The Times and the BBC.