Kilkenny Seniors Forum take stock of one year, and look ahead to next five

Health, mobility, and public transport among the issues discussed over the course of the day

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



Martin Brennan, Cathaoirleach David Fitzgerald, Liz Kelso, Pat McLaughlin, John Coonan, Deirdre Dunne and Colette Byrne at the event on Friday

Mobility issues, the health service, and public transport were among the issues that arose last Friday in the Ormonde Hotel as part of Kilkenny Seniors Forum AGM.

The event was chaired by John Coonan of the Kilkenny Seniors Forum. Addressing the conference, Mr Coonan said the aims of the forum are to ensure that Kilkenny is — and continues to be — a great place to grow old.

Proceedings were opened by Minister of State John Paul Phelan, who spoke of the valuable contributions made by the group. He praised the links with the local authority, and other groups and organisations.

Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne, who this year took over the role of Chairperson of Kilkenny Age alliance from Nicky Brennan, also addressed the audience.

She praised the work of Gardai in their community visibility, and said working with Age Friendly was vital to informing the work that the local authority carries out.

“To me, the biggest thing you can have is power to influence. You are shaping the policies of organisations in Kilkenny,” she said.

She said this was why so much effort went into things like footpaths and signage.

“ It’s good for everyone in society,” she said.

“Age-Friendly isn't just about older people.”

She noted a new five-year strategy was launched last year following consultation.

“All of it is dependent on funding, but we know what we need to do,” she said.

Healthy debate

In keeping with the spirit of healthy debate, some members from the audience wanted to make their views known there and then. One man wanted to know about seats for bus shelters at Urlingford and Johnstown.

“Proper seating is what we want — like they have here,” he said.

“They put it in on Ormonde Road and Market Yard.”

Ms Byrne said she heard these comments, and also said the new city bus service would be up and running by the second quarter of next year.

“It was supposed to be Christmas,” interjected one lady from the floor. Ms Byrne said a lot of work was being done by the NRA on the matter and the council was working with them.

“It's a pilot scheme for three years funded by the NRA,” she said, encouraging people to use it or risk losing the service without sufficient takeup.

Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council David Fitzgerald said that when he was Mayor of Kilkenny in 2011, he had the honour of signing the Dublin Declaration on behalf of Kilkenny. He said there were no doubt challenges in Kilkenny, but encouraged older people to see themselves as ‘a resource’.

Other speakers on the day included Pat McLoughlin, Chair of Alzheimer’s Soceity of Ireland; and Deirdre Dunne, from the St Luke’s steering group, which has done tremendous work towards making the local hospital on more ‘age friendly’; and Seamus Nugent, informed the gathering of the initiatives Kilkenny Sports Partnership have available.

Local businesses, groups, Gardaí and organisations had viewing and information stands to display their goods and services. Attendees also enjoyed a three-course meal, while local musician John Travers then had everyone on their feet with music, songs and games, making it a day to remember.