Serious safety risks to ALL users in the ‘Coolroe Meadows Active Travel Scheme’ proposed by Planning Department of Cork City Council

August 9, 2022

This post is about the proposed ‘Coolroe Meadows Active Travel Scheme’ by Cork City Council, with contributions from our friends and neighbours in Greenfields and Coolroe Meadows.

Contributors: Tim Butler, Greg Canty, John Cassidy, Kevin Cooper, Pat Downing, Tom Doyle, Maeve Murphy, James O’Brien, Elish O’Brien, Deirdre O’Mahony & Senan Power

9th August 2022

We would like to start this post with a positive note about Cork City Council:

Proactively promoting safe “Active Travel” should be encouraged and embraced.

However, any careless, desktop plan, that has not been researched properly, that will without doubt lead to huge safety risks for ALL users, as well as leading to congestion and inconvenience should be stopped.

This is not about voicing a concern, or an opinion.

This is about stopping Cork City Council from making a huge mistake and in the process putting people at risk, not to mention wasting money that could be used in so many other, much needed ways.

They won’t appreciate “the noise” that our community in Greenfields and Coolroe Meadows are making now, but in the long run they will hopefully appreciate the efforts that we are making to prevent a serious mistake, as mentioned already.

An Overview

For someone that isn’t familiar with the Greenfields/Coolroe Meadows estate:

Cork City Council want to install cycle lanes on both sides of the road through the estate, complete with bollards and in the process remove key road infrastructure, existing traffic calming measures, some green areas and 23 mature lime trees.

The road through our housing estates, which is much busier than any of us would like, joins the West side of Ballincollig (a few hundred metres up from the White Horse Bar and Restaurant) to Exit 2 of the Link Road.

The road from Coolroe Meadows (the village side) goes through to Greenfields (with a landscaped roundabout joining the two estates) and exits on either the Link Road, a poor back road to Ballincollig and another poor country road that leads to Killumney and beyond.

With the nature of this road it is a thoroughfare for cars, trucks and motorbikes, but not for bicycles, except for (in the main) any cyclists from the estate itself.

This might seem unusual, but when you consider where the road leads (at Greenfields side), being practical (and safe) very few bicycles will go or come from outside the estate.   

The need..

If there was a huge need for this cycling infrastructure the residents would welcome it with open arms.

There is not.

Cork City Council is trying to solve a problem that does not exist and in the process cause unnecessary problems that carry with them serious safety risks.

Many of the residents have been living on the estate for over 20 years and there has never been a problem. It is well laid out and there have been no incidents that any of us can recall.

We all welcomed the two electronic happy/sad face speed signs that have been successful in getting people to adhere to the 50km speed limit, which works well.

The Process

As well as the actual subject matter there were numerous flaws with the “consultation” process that was executed by Cork City Council for the Coolroe Meadows Active Travel Scheme.

Incorrect naming of the scheme

The title of the scheme is incredibly and carelessly misleading: ‘Coolroe Meadows Active Travel Scheme’.

Coolroe Meadows is one part of the housing estate, there is no mention of Greenfields, which is the other part.

Maybe, this was a careless oversight or it could be viewed by some as a deliberate act to mislead and not draw attention to the subject matter. 

We know that many of the residents of the Greenfields half of the development glanced at the incorrectly named development and concluded that it had nothing to do with them.

If anything, the whole estate is often referred to as “Greenfields” by all residents. 

Timing of the notice

The timing of the notice (issued 1st July, closes 2nd August) clearly coincides with peak holiday times for many people, which could be seen as quite a deliberate act, and certainly not one with the intention of informing all residents of the proposed development.

Quite a few residents are still completely unaware of this matter and many more require a fair and reasonable amount of time to be able to study this issue and be allowed to make a submission if they wish to do so.

Many of the residents who had “spotted” the notice and realising the dangerous consequences of it, resorted to calling door to door to alert their neighbours about the scheme. 

We produced our own literature at short notice, which was delivered to every house in the estate and we also erected signs throughout the estate to inform residents about the scheme.

It was clear from this process that many people were on annual leave. 

Website

The website for making submissions is not fit for purpose and in our view it discourages people from making a submission.

  • The submission portal crashes continuously and this was experienced by many residents that we spoke to
  • Requiring people to register and create a password in an age of GDPR is quite off putting
  • When people were making a submission, the website was reporting that there were zero submissions: most people felt that they were the only one making a submission, which made them feel that “they were the only ones” with an issue
  • The website quoted a 4pm deadline on the 2nd August for submissions while the accompanying literature quoted 5pm

As with everything else to do with this scheme, it was careless and certainly not fit for the purpose of allowing people to make submissions easily.

We are concerned that this will lead to a large amount of unsuccessful submissions.

Flagged

These issues were flagged with Councillor (and resident of the estate), Garret Kelleher who informed our group that any delay to the process would not be allowed by Cork City Council.  Another Councillor Colm Kelleher made a similar request to the Council and was also refused.

Andrias Moynihan TD, later informed the group that there would be an extension, but only a postal one. 

There was no advertisement to tell people in the estate that this deadline was extended and we learned that councillors who had requested an extension only heard that a postal one was granted through third party social media accounts.

The Proposal.

The proposal includes:

  • The removal of existing pedestrian crossings (with one poorly located replacement)
  • The removal of seven turn lanes (to individual housing estates)
  • The removal of medians
  • The removal of an existing roundabout
  • The removal of 23 mature lime trees

The proposal includes the installation of:

  • Cycle lanes on the road in each direction
  • Bollards to enclose the cycle lanes
  • Ramps at entrances to estates 

The proposal does not take into account:

  • Provision for the school buses

In the section below we will take each of these issues in turn and explain carefully why there is a serious issue with what has been proposed by the planning department of Cork City Council.

Removal of existing pedestrian crossings     

Currently, there are five pedestrian crossings along the Coolroe Meadows/Greenfields road.

These were developed to allow children to safely meet friends in other areas in the estates off the road and are also used by walkers who utilise the estates for recreational exercise, particularly in the evenings and at weekends.

These have worked perfectly for over 20 years and to the best of our collective knowledge there have been no accidents or issues.

It is user friendly and it works perfectly providing opportunities to cross safely in a number of locations.

Best practice – research has recommended that pedestrian crossings should be placed 80 to 100 metres apart in an urban setting, and that distances over 200 metres should be avoided.

The road is about 875 metres long so the two crossings in the proposal will be 400 metres apart on average. As well as being too far apart, neither of the two pedestrian crossings that are proposed are in the Coolroe Meadows section of this road and children use play areas on both sides of the road.

A person in Coolroe Meadows will not walk to Greenfields to cross the road. Once again, this plan was not thought out.

This proposal to reduce the five pedestrian crossings to two will increase the likelihood of pedestrians being struck along this stretch of road. Where pedestrian crossings are too far apart or where they do not facilitate the natural flow of people, pedestrians will decide to cross in a more direct, unprotected route.

Putting pedestrians at risk like this is careless in the extreme, and quite a backward step. 

The removal of seven turn lanes

Turn lanes provide additional physical separation between turning traffic that is slowing or stopped as well as traffic flowing in the opposite direction. Turn lanes have been shown to reduce crashes in many countries.

Essentially, the Coolroe Meadows-Greenfields road was developed as an estate road with many branches which became a major access road to Ballincollig due to the development of the Ballincollig By-Pass. 

The seven turn lanes reduce the chances of rear-end or sideswipe crashes along the road.

Cork City Council’s proposal to eliminate the turn lanes will increase the likelihood of rear-end crashes, stall traffic flow and cause traffic jams. Cork City Council  have not made any attempt at assessing the likely impact of their proposal on road safety in their report. 

Removal of road medians

The road medians work well with the lead up to turn lanes as well as separating traffic in each direction throughout the estate. This becomes very important at the pedestrian crossings, making these safer for those crossing the road.

The road medians also allow traffic some extra space if this is required to pull past a cyclist, to pull around a parked school bus, or in the event of an emergency vehicle, to allow extra space for them to easily pass by existing traffic on the road,

Effectively these provide extra road space should it be required and in doing so they make the road safer for all users.

The removal of the roundabout

The Greenfields roundabout at the centre of the estate facilitates a busy traffic pressure point, allowing traffic to easily and safely join the road from the housing estates at either side of the road.

The roundabout is very effective at slowing down traffic coming through the estate, allowing residents to safely join the road. The approaches to the roundabout incorporate a path, which also allows pedestrians to cross safely at this point.        

The removal of this roundabout would allow all traffic to pass through the estate quicker, putting all users at risk, as well as removing the existing opportunity for pedestrians to cross the road.

The replacing of the roundabout with a busy four arm junction is an extremely backward step, it is introducing a huge safety risk for all users, as well as huge inconvenience for all road users trying to exit or enter the estates at either side.

We refer to a European Commission Road Safety Report about junctions and roundabouts as follows:

[Junctions, at-grade or grade separated, are locations of high accident concentration. In most countries 40 – 60% of the total number of accidents occurs at junctions. Consequently, special attention should be given in determining the type, the shape of junctions, as well as the number of junctions along a road axis and the efficient design of each one.

The main objective of junction design is to increase convenience, comfort and safety while at the same time enhancing the efficient movement of all road users (motor vehicles, buses, trucks, bicycles, and pedestrians).

Junctions are intended to operate where vehicles often must share space with other vehicles and pedestrians. Negotiating a junction requires many simultaneous or closely spaced decisions, such as selection of the proper lane; manoeuvring to get into the proper position; need to decelerate, stop, or accelerate; and need to select a safe gap. 

An important safety aim is to match the speed at which drivers negotiate the junction with the complexity of the decisions to be made. This can be done, for example, by only allowing simple merging manoeuvres on high speed roads or by ensuring that drivers reduce speed on the junction approach (e.g. by deflection of path through a roundabout). Sight lines should provide drivers with sufficient information to make safe decisions, but not tempt them to try to select short gaps in conflicting traffic flows]

The report specifically mentions left turns (in an Irish context this would be right turns)

[It should be noted that left (right) turns are high risk movements on a level junction. Research results in Great Britain have shown that these movements (right turns in Great Britain) are responsible for around 70% of all accidents on three-arm junctions]

Please note that what is being proposed is an even more dangerous four arm junction.

The report proposes that in situations like this, a roundabout is a perfect solution that reduces risk:

[Converting junctions to roundabouts can improve safety and traffic flow. 

Roundabouts can contribute to road safety in the following ways:

  • Conflict points between the traffic streams are theoretically reduced
  • Roads users entering the roundabout have to yield to road users already in the roundabout, thus they are forced to observe traffic at the roundabout more carefully
  • All traffic comes from one direction
  • Left (right) turns are eliminated
  • Speeds are reduced, as drivers have to drive around a traffic island located in the middle of a junction

Roundabouts reduce the number of injury accidents depending on the number of arms and the previous form of traffic control. There appears to be a larger effect in junctions that used to have yield control than in junctions that used to be traffic controlled. Fatal accidents and serious injury accidents are reduced more than slight injury accidents]

Intuitively and from experience of the estate, we know that the roundabout was well designed taking into account the residents as well as the traffic passing through.

What has been recommended goes against all best practice – it is introducing a proven safety risk to replace a proven safety solution and it must be stopped.

The removal of 23 mature lime trees

There are 50 mature lime trees lining either side of the main road through Coolroe Meadows (from R608 to the roundabout at entrance to Greenfields) (48 limes on the west and 50 on the east side plus a few new recently planted ones, so ~100). Each tree is 7-9 m tall. They have circumferences of 50-90 cm at breast height and all are about 25 years old.

Ecological importance – These lime trees play an important ecological role in our urban estate. Lime leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of many moth species, including the lime hawk, peppered, vapourer moths which are found in the estate. These moths are in turn food for bats which are protected species. Lime trees are also host to very large numbers of aphids which extract sugar from the leaves. The aphids then excrete a dilute sugar solution as a liquid waste which honey bees drink (so important for local honey growers). The aphids are a source of food for many animals including other insects and birds (long tail tits are regularly seen feeding on the trees). Thousands of ants move up and down each tree trunk every day to milk the aphids and protect them from predators. These ants are also food for birds. 

Importance as a carbon sink – A lime tree of 9 m height and diameter of 26.5 cm has a total carbon biomass of 0.86 tonnes (including underground roots). As they are mature they will continue to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at much greater rate than any new young trees that are planted e.g. it will take ~50 young trees to grow for 1 year to capture the amount of carbon in one of these mature lime trees! The removal of 23 mature lime trees will potentially see all this carbon released back into the atmosphere as they break down.

Aesthetic and health effects – The 100 lime trees are visually very impressive as you walk or drive down through Coolroe and now these mature trees are an integral part of our civic space. But beyond the visual, many studies have now shown that even short-term exposure to urban green spaces (such as our road of lime trees) can reduce stress, increase positive emotions and mood, and increase mental and physical health. Even a quick survey any evening will show hundreds of people walking or running along past these trees. There is no doubt that Coolroe Meadows/ Greenfields estate is a place where people choose to exercise for improved mental and health reasons.

The introduction of “road” cycle lanes

The proposed road cycle lanes are just 1.5m in width.

The left 0.4m has drains which cyclists will need to avoid

If bollards are used (as part of the proposal), it would further reduce the usable space to the cyclist’s right as they would need to avoid contact with them. This would equate to approx 0.4 of further unusable space.

This leaves a safe width of only 0.7m, a typical cyclist cannot maintain this position so precisely.

If a parent is cycling with a child, it will likely result in the child in the cycle lane and the parent cycling in the car lane beside them.

If bollards are used it will also lead to dirt piling up in the cycle lane, as we can see wherever these are in place. The road sweeper will not be able to clean inside the bollards, which is already an issue outside Colaiste Choilm school in Ballincollig.

The dirt will become dangerous when wet and will further encourage cyclists to use the road.

As experienced cyclists will tell you,  a bad cycle lane is worse than no cycle lane.

Bollards as part of the cycle land infrastructure

We have already outlined the issues with bollards and why they are not a solution.

There are three further issues with bollards as part of this plan:

  • They prevent cars from pulling in for emergency vehicles (this is already an issue in the centre of Ballincollig)
  • They prevent school buses from parking to collect and drop off children
  • They are unsightly and are not appropriate in a residential setting

Introduction of ramps at the entrances to each estate

There is no need for any such interference with the roads in the estate, which functions quite well currently.

The faster moving traffic due to the removal of the roundabout, the removal of turn lanes and medians and the introduction of ramps, are collectively and disproportionately punishing the residents of the estate in favour of through traffic.

Entering and exiting their estates will be more difficult and will lead to increased risk taking, adding even more risk to this already poor plan.

Provision for a bus stop

There are school buses that stop between the entrances of the Fernwalk and Woodberry estates near the Greenfields roundabout. 

This serves as a collection point for children living locally, many of whom are dropped off by adults arriving in cars and parking nearby. The existing median, which the proposal would remove, has allowed passing cars to pass a stopped bus. 

The plan takes no account of this, confirming the lack of basic research that went into this plan.

General safety

During the course of over twenty years the estate has thankfully had an exemplary safety record, with no serious (or even minor) accidents that we can think of.

If there were genuine safety concerns the residents of Coolroe Meadows/Greenfields would be the very first to clamour for relevant improvements.

Existing cycles usage

As already explained the cyclists using the road network in the estate will predominantly be residents.

Of those surveyed adult cyclists use the road and will mainly use it to exit or enter the estate on the Coolroe Meadows side.

Cycle traffic is minimal and cyclists report that there are no issues, with the medians allowing for cars to safely pass, if the need arises.

Younger cyclists will mainly use the wide, low density footpaths on the estate, and in all likelihood will not exit from the estate onto the busier roads.

False Statements in the Proposed Plan

We wish to refer to a number of points in the Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report

Risk of accidents: 

In relation to the risk of accidents the report states:

As the development involves the upgrading of services, the risk of accidents should be reduced

This statement is incorrect – Services have been downgraded, which increases rather than reducing risks as we have carefully outlined above.

The report states that the project “is unlikely to have a significant impact on the landscape of the area

The removal of mature lime trees, grass verges, a beautifully landscaped roundabout and the introduction of plastic bollards will have a huge, and very unnecessary impact on the landscape, as well as damaging the environment and carbon footprint.

Summary

The Cork city Council ‘Coolroe Meadows Active Travel Scheme’ as proposed, is a careless desktop plan that was prepared with no proper research and one that goes against all best practice and road for road safety guidelines..

The plan is a poor attempt at solving a problem that does not exist, and in doing so it would not only destroy a well planned and well functioning road layout, but it would introduce significant safety risks for all users.

As well as being an extremely poor plan, there were also significant issues in the naming of the plan, the timing of the consultation and the IT systems to support the processing of submissions.

On behalf of the concerned residents of Coolroe Meadows and Greenfields we wish to state that it is our clear objective to reject this plan, and in doing so to prevent Cork City Council from making a serious mistake that will put ALL road users at risk.

Councillors

We are calling on all councillors to meet with us and represent our interests in this matter.

We are inviting councillors at their convenience to meet with a representative of the estate before the 24th August and walk the estate to fully understand the serious safety consequences of the proposed plan.

We have also invited councillors to attend a meeting of residents on the 24th August at Oriel House Hotel at 8pm.

Cork City Council Planning Department

We have also invited the planning department to attend the meeting on the 24th to listen to our serious concerns.

Contact Us

For queries or suggestions please email:

coolroemeadowsrs@gmail.com

Updates

We will update you with any extra information on this blog post including meetings and updates for Councillors and Planners.

The ones you go further for..

July 21, 2022

You know the different types…

The one you do everything for, they want extra and they appreciate nothing.

The one who trusts you to do what you promised, you do even more and they appreciate everything.

A meeting cancels and I have an hour free that I wasn’t expecting….

Which client do I want to give that extra time to??

This stuff is easy, we hopefully learn how to get the best from people as we go, it’s not rocket science!

Trust the professionals to do what they promised, be nice and say thanks

#WinHappy

Greg

Greg is a partner at Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

New cars and 1st world problems

July 19, 2022

I was sitting on the wall outside Cogans Toyota dealership in Carrigaline in glorious sunshine on this Friday afternoon.

Dee was inside going through the paperwork before she collected her brand new car and I was trying to do the necessary to change over the insurance.

I took the contact number from the insurance disk and began the process….”we are experiencing a high volume of calls“.

I was now on hold and at the beginning of another frustrating loop of waiting while listening to auto messages on the AXA Insurance “customer line”.

Our lines are busy and you will be waiting for 10 minutes. If you prefer click 1 and we will send you a link

I did that and the damn link didn’t work and I found myself back at the beginning of the queue.

It looked for my e-mail address and the nine digit policy number – what was on the disk was more than nine numbers.

After hearing the “10 minute” message over and over for at least 10 minutes it eventually changed to a “5 minute” message.

This repeated over and over for at least 10 minutes and my frustration was building and building: “your call will be answered in under 5 minutes”, over and over.

A thought struck me ….what a silly 1st world problem

It’s a gorgeous Friday

You are about to collect a new car

….Life is pretty good

I imagined a Ukrainian woman sitting on a wall somewhere with her two children, hungry and scared.

Her partner is fighting in a brutal war, her home has been destroyed by Russian bombs, they have left all of their belongings behind, she is in a strange country and is totally at the mercy of others to provide food and shelter to her and her children.

What is she thinking?

Where will we be sent, will we have our own room, will my husband survive, do we start all over again – what’s going to happen to us?

I quickly went from her nightmare to my situation when a voice came on the phone.

How can I help you?

I started to first explain about the long wait, the link to the website and the 9 digit policy number.

He wasn’t listening “what can I do for you?

I explained that we were collecting a new car and I wanted to change over the insurance.

Can you call out your 9 digit policy number please?

Which 9 numbers do you want?” And I called out what I did have.

That’s an AIB policy that we underwrite, you need to call them directly” he said

Hold on… this is the phone number listed on my disk, which brought me to you and you are telling me I have to repeat this whole process again with some other call centre?” – I wasn’t happy ..

Do you want the AIB number or not?” He was getting short with me now.

Why print the AXA number on the insurance disk that you issue to AIB customers if it is wrong?” I was getting just as cranky.

He hung up the phone….he was too busy for this frustrated Cork boy!

Jill in Cogan’s garage had the AIB insurance “hotline” number and literally in under two minutes the job was done.

We drove away in Dee’s beautiful new car.

We work our socks off for it but ….we are pretty damn lucky!

Greg

Greg is a partner at Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

A very simple gesture of a handshake to diffuse a hostile situation

June 20, 2022

I was standing at the ATM on the South Mall in Cork and suddenly from behind me I heard a booming voice “Excuse me, excuse me”.

When I turned around it was a guy on a bike shouting at people to get out out of his way as he sped through.

One of the pedestrians quite rightly had an issue with this speeding cyclist who should have kept his racing for the road and suddenly the two of them were arguing.

The cyclist was way out of order so I jumped to the pedestrians defence.

He’s right, what are you doing racing on the footpath?” I said.

Suddenly he’s in my face, a tall guy, one of these triathlon types, dressed in black from head to toe.

What’s your problem, tell me, tell me-I was being polite, I said excuse me

I responded “You were roaring, and besides, you shouldn’t have been cycling on the footpath

He came closer to me and repeated what he already said. I repeated what I said and he repeated what he said, getting closer again. This was only going to escalate.

I looked at him and told him it was a waste of time talking to him if he couldn’t get the point about cycling on the footpath and I turned to walk away.

He came after me and once again he was repeating what he had already said “What’s your problem, I was being polite

This was pointless …I looked at this tall guy, all fired up and from nowhere I found myself offering my hand to shake his. This could go either way, but it was one way of breaking the cycle (pardon the pun!)

He looked puzzled for a second and then met me in a handshake. I said “hey man, calm down, it’s a Friday

He smiled and said “you are right, that’s what I call great conflict resolution!

He then hugged me and said he probably shouldn’t have been on the footpath and we both wished each other a good weekend and parted ways.

My spontaneous gesture surprised even me, and I was amazed at how quickly it diffused something that could have easily turned ugly.

It turns out a handshake is hard to resist as we are programmed to treat it like a gesture of kindness or friendship – try it !!

Greg

Greg is a partner at Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Tom Cruise and Tom Jones teaching us older boys valuable lessons..

June 13, 2022

I don’t think it’s the very best time to be an older man in this world due to a whole number of reasons and circumstances and quite frankly some quite awful examples of male personalities that we all know only too well.

At a panel discussion recently that I was chairing for a client, we tried to take on a number of issues about bias including Gender, Race and LGBTQ and how these issues may affect the workplace dynamic and career progression. At this session I heard for the first time the expression “male, pale and stale” which was used by one of the participants when referring to men of my age group and older (over fifties effectively).

It struck me that while we were talking about biases, here was quite a blatant one and I realised that this is how many would view me, my generation and older. They have us written off!!

When we give an opinion, when we apply for a job, when we present an idea or go after an opportunity are we written off by many because quiet frankly we are viewed as being “male, pale and stale”?

I was talking to a male colleague who recently applied for a board position and from the credentials that were required, you could not get a better fit. Knowing him I would 100% want him sitting around the board room table providing guidance and wisdom and with a huge moral compass.

He wasn’t even considered because of, you guessed it ..a gender quota and an organisation trying to be politically correct and balance the male/female ratio.

While I understand some of the rationale for this policy, I can also understand how my colleague felt in this scenario where merit is discarded – he is talented, qualified and experienced but sadly the wrong gender, the wrong age, the wrong colour and instead of getting frustrated, maybe accepting his lot and throwing in the towel, putting on the slippers and instead deciding to coast to retirement?

All of this can start to make us older boys, feel irrelevant, past it and possibly done and dusted and suddenly our whole mindset shifts to a poor place.

I went to see Top Gun: Maverick last week and I saw 61 year old Tom Cruise in the all action movie. He looked great, he apparently flew those fighter jets himself, drove the fast motorbikes and got the girl!

And just this weekend I went to see 82 year old, great grandfather, Tom Jones (not my choice !!) entertain a packed house at The Marquee in Cork, full of energy and passion. He was brilliant and totally different to what I was expecting.

In a funny way both of the Tom’s shifted my thinking and reminded me that we still have so much to give and so much of this is down to our attitude.

I can’t do anything about my colour or my gender, but I’m definitely not that stale guy that you think I might be. Most importantly I must make sure that I don’t think it!

Age is a mindset..

Greg

Greg Canty is a Principal of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

Three Weddings and a Funeral

May 26, 2022

February of this year was heart-breaking for the whole family as Liam, Dee’s older brother passed away very unexpectedly from an illness that we all expected him to fully recover from. You can just imagine the deep shock and sorrow experienced by everyone in the family as well as by his friends and colleagues.

As I sat with the family in the church in Tralee for the funeral mass it was so comforting to see friends and family paying their respects and I was very surprised to see my buddy, Fr. John Aherne on the altar with the local priest.

Fr. John had agreed to marry Rachel (Liam’s daughter) and Michael that year and he popped along to support and offer some comfort – he’s not from the parish and went out of his way to be there, despite having his own obligations that morning. This kind gesture meant so much to us and the family.

Despite the family not being very religious or regular churchgoers, I was really impressed how the local priest officiated the funeral mass, this incredibly sad occasion, and how well he had prepared with so much information about Liam and the legacy he left behind. He brought him to life in a special way and helped everyone on this tough day.

Sadly I found myself in Dungarvan for another funeral a month later. My uncle Noel passed away while mountain climbing with friends and it was clear from the sheer number of attendees how he touched so many lives with his work as a teacher and the general work that he did in the community, in particular for those with special needs.

Noel, wasn’t “a believer”, he wasn’t a regular churchgoer and yet again I was so impressed by the expertise of the priest who officiated the funeral mass and how he brought Noel to life in conjunction with the family and their beautiful eulogies.

And less than a month later I was at yet another funeral. My cousin Christopher, a young man who lost his battle with cancer. I witnessed yet another priest expertly officiating the funeral mass and honouring his life and legacy.

Three different priests and my friend, Fr.John, all incredible professionals operating at the top of their game, performing the most delicate of tasks for people when they are at their most vulnerable.

There is such a balance between holding the hand of those family members that are in deep sorrow and at the same time celebrating the life of the beloved person that we have lost.

A few weeks later and I’m back in church again but this time it is for a wedding!

It’s the wedding of Rachel and Michael, a happy occasion but also a very sad and emotionally raw one because Liam wasn’t there and it was still so close after he had passed.

We met Fr.John the night before for dinner and I asked him about how he was going to approach this special occasion because it did carry that huge weight of sadness – there was no getting away from it.

He didn’t go into any detail but he said he had it covered.

Rachel and Michael came to the altar with the best man, Robert and the bridesmaids at the beginning of the ceremony.

You could feel the huge weight of sadness in the church as well as the sense of celebration.

..and Fr. John began

“I’d like to welcome you all here for the wedding of Rachel and Robert

Rachel gave Fr. John a look, whispered loudly “It’s Michael” and the whole church spontaneously burst into laughter.

The tension was broken, we were allowed to laugh and while the sorrow never left us we were able to celebrate the special and very happy occasion.

Fr.John spoke about Liam throughout and reassured us that he was there with us celebrating.

When I spoke to him after about his huge “gaffe” he promised me that this had never happened to him before but he told me that “God works in mysterious ways” – he is right!

We never (at least I hadn’t) really consider the special role of our priests in these happy and sad occasions, and like all of the jobs that we do every day, this is their profession.

In a strange way on these huge occasions they are like the event organiser and the MC all rolled into one and what I witnessed was four different priests in different locations who each are experts at what they do.

I’m not very religious. I don’t go to mass but I do see and value the very special work that these special men do for all us.

Thank you Fr. John Aherne.

Greg

Greg Canty is a Principal of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

Cashel Palace Hotel and the €15 Tea and Scone!

March 30, 2022

What are we seriously like when a printed receipt from a disgruntled customer makes the news in our national newspapers?!!

The outraged Ciara who was charged €45 and 10% gratuity for her and her two guests for their tea/coffee and scones, politely shared her receipt online and boom, outrage and national news.

Let’s pull back from this outrage for half a second and calm our “outrage” jets.

The Cashel Palace Hotel is a brand new five star hotel that has just opened after huge investment, the amount of money that most of us can only dream about. The owners had a vision and brought this fantastic property to life in the best possible way and part of this is delivering five star service to guests which does not come cheap.

This special property has most people talking in a very positive, admiring way and have no doubt it will bring business to the area, the type of clientele from Ireland and overseas who want special experiences.

If we want to sit and relax in a brand new five star property and enjoy five star linen service with the best of coffee and tea, fresh home made scones with jam, butter and cream, then this will come with a price that must cover all of that and yes, make a profit for the business!!

While €45 plus 10% gratuity (I do hate that automatic add on) is a lot of money but it is probably necessary to cover someone occupying a much in demand table for as much time as they choose.

Ciara won’t be back anytime soon but many will.

The Cashel Palace Hotel isn’t where any of us will go everyday for our scone and coffee and a chat but on that special occasion we will dress up, make it a very special occasion and enjoy the food and surroundings and pay that premium price, because sometimes you do get what you pay for.

While Starbucks will charge you the bones of €8 for the same, you know and I know that it isn’t the same because it’s not just about the scone!

So, maybe instead of outrage, let’s congratulate Adriaan Bartels, his team and the vision of the owners for being brave and creating such a special place for all of us to enjoy on those very special occasions.

Greg

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The day little Hazel comes home…

March 22, 2022

Today is a really special day in my life.

We have many of those special days throughout our lives including personal life moments, great gigs, famous Liverpool wins and even that day I scored the winner in a final of a school match where we were the total underdogs (I am probably the only one who remembers that match!).

Today is going to be another very special day because my granddaughter who I have never seen in person before comes home to Ireland from New Zealand where she was born last October.

The day Hazel was born was very special – we were at a John Spillane gig at the wonderful venue upstairs at The White Horse when the news came through on the 7th October that she was born, and while becoming a “granddad” waves in the beginning of another stage of life it was quiet overwhelming in a way that was different to everything else that came before.

There was that sense of relief that baby and mum were doing good and the elation that knowing another part of you has joined us in the crazy world of ours (and at such a crazy time).

The time since she was born has been quite strange as we have had to experience her through a mix of photos and videos online and in a way, sadly this has become the norm and five months later sometimes it’s hard to believe that I do actually have a granddaughter when they are so far away.

It must be so hard for anyone who has family and friends, who for whatever reason have decided to choose a life in a different country – quite simply I think the personal cost is too much.

I decided to write this piece today to capture my thoughts before Brendan and Ayla come home and I see little Hazel for the first time because I know that life won’t quite be the same once I see her!

Little Hazel…welcome home.

Greg

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Gratitude..

March 14, 2022

I was 57 last Friday and I was determined to do a few very simple things on the day.

I walked the dogs first thing as I always do with Dee – they love getting out!

The intention was to not work at all but I was busy with some client commitments, but I like what I do so that was more than ok.

I met mum for lunch – nothing fancy but it was great to see her.

Ellen my daughter popped by to say hello, which was great.

I popped in next store to say hello to our fantastic neighbours and their two kids – such special people.

And we popped down to the local, The White Horse with friends for dinner and drinks and while I was there Brendan, my son rang and we chatted briefly and I got to see little Hazel, my granddaughter over WhatsApp – they will be back from New Zealand in the next two weeks.

After dinner we came back to the house for a night cap – everyone was tired so it was just the one.

Before going to bed I checked my phone and returned the many messages with birthday wishes from friends and family.

That was it, another birthday spent with Dee and some of the other special people in my life and the two dogs of course.

While it is easy to get a little bit down with each passing year (and those numbers getting bigger!!) all I could feel this year was huge gratitude for being around to see another one and for spending it in a relatively safe country.

(God love the poor woman pictured above as she left her home and belongings in Mariupol in Ukraine – it makes no sense)

Thank you….

Greg

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The voices of some special women

March 8, 2022

On this, International Women’s Day 2022 I would like to put a spotlight of some of the fantastic women that have been wonderful guests on my Win Happy podcast over the last six months.

I have chosen twenty one different women for this post, all very diverse in terms of what they do and their stories, all interesting in their own right.

A huge thank you to each of them for their time and their passion.

To these, my special female colleagues in Fuzion Communications and all of my fantastic female friends, my daughter, my mum and of course Dee, have a great day ….I salute you!

I hope you click and enjoy some of these special conversations.

Greg

1. Michelle the vintage shop owner in New Jersey who I ended up getting a very rare book that was written by a special friend of ours called Jane Maas, the author of the book ‘Mad Women’

The note in the 2nd hand book from the Bad Reputation Boutique!

2. Jude Sherry who has worked tirelessly in Cork with her partner Frank O’Connor to put a spotlight on all of the derelict properties that could be rescued and put to great use

Solving city dereliction and creating homes, creative spaces, startup hubs and removing eyesores in the process – a Win Win discussed with Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry of Anois

3. Saoirse Trought is a very clever, special young woman who chatted to me about the tough Covid student years and much more

Perspectives of our bright, young generation with 3rd year college student, Saoirse Trought

4. Joanne Hession a friend and Dublin Chamber colleague believes we can all be a leader in our own right and make this world of ours a better place.

Everyone can be a leader regardless of their role says Joanne Hession of LIFT

5. Maria Walsh MEP and former Rose of Tralee and my Fuzion colleague, Ciara Jordan joined me to chat about PRIDE.

PRIDE – All you need is love with Jack O’Rourke, Maria Walsh and Ciara Jordan

6. Elizabeth Adeyemo shared her courageous young story about what it was like living in Direct provision for 7 years and how it nearly crushed her

Elizabeth Adeyemo – Exhausted in the limbo of uncertainty

7. The very lovely Heritage Officer from Monaghan, Shirley Clerkin shares her passion about nature and our heritage.

Less screen time and more green time says Shirley Clerkin

8. Aideen Quirke, CEO of Cork Printmakers explains exactly what they do!

Making art accessible with Aideen Quirke of Cork Printmakers

9. The passionate artist Elizabeth Cope unveiled her exhibition about the horror that was the Magdalene Laundries

The “9,000 babies?” exhibition with renowned Irish artist Elizabeth Cope 

10. Why not start a new festival that celebrates design and creativity – meet architect Amy McKeogh!

Design Pop Festival 2021 with Founder and Creative Force, Amy McKeogh

11. I just adore Sinead Cabot, the winemaker and her attitude towards life

Riding the waves and trusting where they take you with winemaker and lover of life, Sinead Cabot

12. Jacqui Taaffe helps to empower people who have suffered an awful personal experience in their lives

Inspire, Heal, Empower – How to take back control with author Jacqui Taaffe

13. The rough and tumble about the music business with Suzanne Rhatigan – hits or misses?

“What do they say” about singer, songwriter Suzanne Rhatigan – Hits or Misses?

14. Fiona Descoteaux of Innovate Communities believes in solving deep problems in society and doesn’t walk away.

“I don’t walk away” says CEO of Innovate Communities, Fiona Descoteaux

15. All the way from the USA, Washington based Mary Jane King incredibly witnessed both 9/11 and January 6th.

Witnessing both 9/11 and the Capitol Riots – life and business in Washington DC with architect Mary Jane King

16. Author and journalist Mary Ann Sieghart wants to close “The Authority Gap” one man at a time!

“Changing the world one man at a time” with author of best seller The Authority, Mary Ann Sieghart 

17. Singer and songwriter Grainne Hunt finally gets to have the career she wants

From Tax Returns to Lilacs – the life of a singer songwriter with Grainne Hunt 

18. All the way from California, Jen Hajj took a while to get to her music career.

There are lots of paths to happiness says singer / songwriter Jen Hajj

19. Noreen Coomey guides us to making those small and big changes in our lives

From “Happily Pissed Off” to Winning Happy with coach and psychotherapist Noreen Coomey

20.. Who else could have pulled off a “Red Head Festival” and made it a huge success other than Joleen Cronin!

When a quirky idea becomes a crazy reality

21. Dr. Sarah Barry of Trinity college has a big conversation about our health system and which country is the best to get sick in

The accidental academic, Dr.Sarah Barry on the health system in Ireland and much more