St Gerard’s Senior Citizens group has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The group held a celebration dinner at the Crowne Plaza and members recalled many wonderful memories and indeed there were some sad moments too as departed friends were also fondly remembered.
The group is based at St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church Alphonsus Road and meets at the St Gerard Centre attached to the church.
“It all started with Fr Clancy,” said Marie Begley, who has been secretary of St Gerard’s since the very early days.
“He went round the houses and told people that he wanted to get something going for older people and people living alone.
“Tom O’Reilly was the first chairman. Then there was the late Johnny Mullen, the late Tom Cotter, and also Harry O’Connell. Kitty Warnock also played a major role.”
They started with eighty members and it quickly took off.
The events covered are bingo sessions, quizzes, talks, and excursions.
“We have outings three times a year,” said Marie.
“We would cover Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter. So there is plenty of dancing and plenty of music.”
St Gerard’s a lso have connections with groups across the border. The late Biddy Kafferman from Meigh in south Armagh was a great support and friend.
And Pat Kearney who runs a club in the North is another great friend.
Another event they took part in, last year, was the Tea Dance Tunes events organised by the National Concert Hall.
This was organised in conjunction with the Louth Local Authority Arts Office.
Some of Ireland’s finest musicians performed at these events for a wide cross section of older people in Louth.”
They included vocalist Liz Ryan, Niall Kinsella on piano and accordionist Peter Canavan, who performed popular ballads, songs from musicals and some light opera, with audiences encouraged to join in, sing along and dance.
The musicians had substantial experience in tailoring performances through their involvement in Health in Harmony, a music outreach programme specially developed by the National Concert Hall and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
“We believe passionately in the healing power of music and are delighted to be successfully partnering with Create Louth on this programme, Simon Taylor, Director of the National Concert Hall, said at the time.
“We believe that access to music enhances everyone’s life, but can particularly enhance the quality of life for patients in care settings, and inspire expression, through music, for them, their carers and families”.
They visited Carlingford Nursing Home, St Oliver’s Hospital, The Birches, and St Gerard’s.Dundalk on May 21 at 11am,
So it has been a wonderful 25 years for St Gerard’s.