EDITOR –As a very proud native of Dear Old Skibbereen and once albeit novice oarsman back in the late seventies, I would like to clear up some ambiguities and misinformation being disseminated regarding Skibb and its magnificent rowing club, mainly by the national media.
At the outset, Skibbereen is very much more than a town of 2,700 residents. It is essentially a bustling market town near the southernmost tip of Ireland that serves a considerably large hinterland.
That area encompasses a cluster of neighbouring affluent villages and habited islands stretching from Mizen in the west to neighbouring prominent towns to the north and east. Anyone strolling down the main street on a shopping weekday will realise the commerce and vibrancy typically resembles that of a provincial town catering for many thousands of people.
When it comes to the rowing, Skibbereen and districts are blessed with a deep nautical heritage from both a geographical and seafaring aspect.
Fishing yawls and coastal rowing had a long historic tradition on the heavily indented south west coast going back centuries.
Lest we forget, witness our Barbary friends who paid a visit before sacking Baltimore in the 17th century. These north African pirates voyaged mainly by means of crude sailing rigs, backed up by oarsmen when prevailing winds became unfavourable. Over decades, open sea coastal rowers competed against the very best clubs from the likes of Kilmacsimon to Sneem and further afield.
Then our founding members shrewdly discovered in the late sixties that the river Ilen as it meandered past Skibb town – widening to a sheltered tidal estuary that eventually opened out onto Roaringwater Bay – was a local gem.
It was the ideal location for placement of an inshore rowing club as it presently stands.
A location like this with its near perfect bathymetry, shelter from the open Atlantic and proximity to a nearby town would be difficult to find elsewhere on south or west coasts of the Emerald Isle.
But most pertinent is that the club could attract a pool of enthusiastic rowers – not just from within the town’s boundaries but from an extensive hinterland and beyond.
Hail and exhibit Skibbereen Rowing Club.
After all, maybe Skibb and its environs owe its rowing prowess to the Barbary pirates!
Malahide, Co Dublin.
Keep an eye on your heart as you get older
EDITOR – I would be grateful for the opportunity to highlight to readers of The Southern Star a forthcoming webinar taking place on heart valve disease.
As more and more of us live longer, heart valve disease is increasingly an issue that we may need to face. Indeed, it has been described as the next cardiac epidemic.
The webinar, Listen to Your Heart, is taking place on Thursday September 16th at 7pm, as part of Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week.
It will be presented by consultant cardiologist Dr Samer Arnous and will focus on the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and how it is detected and treated. The patient perspective will also feature and members of the public will have the opportunity to put their questions to Dr Arnous.
Heart valve disease – where valves in the heart are damaged or stiffened, causing reduced or blocked blood flow – is common, serious, but treatable.
Symptoms include breathlessness and becoming dizzy. If readers over the age of 65 years are finding that small everyday tasks are feeling more like an ordeal, it might be a good idea to ask their GP for a stethoscope check – at least once a year.
However, symptoms are not always present and, so, as a matter of good heart health management, I would encourage all those over 65 years to try and have an annual stethoscope check.
We know that one in eight people over the age of 75 suffers from moderate to severe heart valve disease.
Sadly, up to half of symptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis – where the aortic valve is not working properly – die within two years of developing symptoms, if not treated.
So, it is clear that early detection and timely treatment is vital for a longer, and better quality of, life. Remember, always, listen to your heart.
If readers are interested in finding out more about heart valve disease, we invite them to join our upcoming webinar – they can register at www.croi.ie/valvewebinar.
Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity
Newcastle, Co Galway.
Not exactly a barrel of joy to greet visitors
EDITOR – On a recent visit to Skibbereen I was completely taken aback at what I saw being promoted as an ‘art piece’ at the roundabout at the Ballydehob road exit.
It was a great achievement for the arts community when the ‘one percent’ scheme was introduced to showcase art and sculpture on our roadsides.
A mountain of barrels depicting the local brewing of alcohol does not seem in keeping and does nothing for the artistic aesthetic of the town.
Having just seen a heartfelt image of the local talented rowers on the main street in the town, this collection of alcohol barrels in particular really jarred with the message Skibbereen has been known for in the past.
The town has a rich history and culture, and, as an artist myself, I believe something of more substance with meaning that resonates with people would be more appropriate.
A large sign or structure relating to alcohol is not what I expect to see in any town.