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Meet Noeleen and Bridget, Third Age members in Summerhill

Posted on 20th April 2016

Kate Madden, a transition year and work experience student interviewed two of our local members to find out more about what being part of Third Age in their community means to them.

My name is Kate Madden and I am a Transition Year student. I recently had a week’s work experience in Third Age, Summerhill. During the week I interviewed two members of the organisation to see what membership means to them.

The first member I interviewed was Noeleen Pearle. Noeleen grew up in the oldest part of Dublin, the Liberties, with her two brothers and her parents. When Noeleen left school, she worked in a cinema kiosk, and later joined her friends who were working in a shoe company.  I asked if she had any dream job when she was growing up. “When I was a child, children played and went to school and adults worked; and when it came to your time to get a job, you grabbed which ever one came first. It was different then,” she said.

Her aunt lived in Summerhill, and so Noeleen visited Summerhill most weekends and during every holiday. This was how she met and married Christy, who was born Summerhill, and so she settled in the village. Noeleen was married very young by today’s standards, she had eight children and now has nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Looking back, Noeleen says her best memories from her experience of Third Age are from the dramas and concerts. “I am a person who wants fun, I am here for the fun,” she says – a wish fulfilled by Third Age. Her last words to anyone thinking of joining are: “Absolutely join! There should be a Third Age in every parish in Ireland – they don’t know what they’re missing!”

Third Age was founded by Mary Nally 28 years ago, and Noeleen was one of the first members of the organisation. She decided to join because her husband had been ill, he didn’t want to leave the house, and wasn’t a great one for joining groups.  But Noeleen felt too young to sit in an armchair for the rest of her life, so she joined first on her own. Over the years, Noeleen encouraged Christy to go along to one of the social gatherings in Third Age, and after that he never wanted to leave. “He loved it. He did things in his life that he never would have done only for the Third Age, and he found he had many hidden talents including a taste for drama,” she said.

Noeleen has now been part of Third Age for 26 years. She says this has given her many opportunities to travel that she otherwise might not have had. She has been all over Europe in group trips and holidays with other members. Noeleen has many hobbies. Her favourites are playing bingo in the local Community Centre, card playing and drama. She told me about all the plays put on by the Third Age Drama Group,  who have performed in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, the Waterfront in Belfast, the City Hall, Cork and in Derry.

She has found that her membership has given her an amazing social life,  full of fun and activities. “We get educated about older age, about our rights, and not take any nonsense just because you’re older”, she says. Noeleen avails of the Third Age Bus which offers a door to door service to many members. “The bus travels down valleys and up hills,  making it as easy as possible for us to be involved,” she says.

Third Age’s first national programme was Senior Help Line, and Noeleen was one of its first volunteers “This is where we volunteer to answer a free phone line where depressed or lonely older people can ring in and talk to an older person. We had a rota to make sure that there was someone at the phones all the time. We were a listening ear”, she said.

Looking back, Noeleen says her best memories from her experience of Third Age are from the dramas and concerts. “I am a person who wants fun, I am here for the fun,” she says – a wish fulfilled by Third Age. Her last words to anyone thinking of joining are: “Absolutely join! There should be a Third Age in every parish in Ireland – they don’t know what they’re missing!”

Another Third Age member, Bridget Moran, was born in a small village in Mayo. Growing up, she worked at the knitting factory in her village for six years, where it employed 20 people. Her daily routine was like that of many in rural Ireland - “people get up, go to work, come home,  have dinner, and then do your bit  on the farm milking the cows,” she remembers.

Bridget moved to Co Meath when she married. Today, she is 89 years of age, with 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

“It is [Third Age] great for keeping you young at heart. Coming to the Third Age is my whole life. Everyone involved is wonderful!”, Bridget Moran, Third Age member

She joined the Third Age many years ago, seeing it  as the perfect opportunity to meet new people. She had no idea at the start what to expect,  but soon realised that there was always something going on,  and always a spare seat for anyone to join in.

The Third Age has become a huge part of her life. What the best thing about it? “The best thing from my point of view is that it gets you out every week meeting people and having a great time. I really enjoy  the fitness group on Monday mornings we have a great laugh while working out. My fondest fondest memories are going on the trips to Cork and Wexford”

Bridget also keeps fit by going for daily walks, and enjoys music and singing. She too avails of the bus service which collects and drops her each day to her front gate,  making it easy for her to get to and from the centre. Each day after their morning activities, the Bus brings members to the local Community Centre, where a four course meal is on offer for only €5. Like Noeleen, Bridget would encourage more older people to join Third Age “It is great for keeping you young at heart. Coming to the Third Age is my whole life. Everyone involved is wonderful!”, she says.

Find out more about the services that are offered by Third Age in Summerhill

Contact the local team by phone from 9am - 5pm (046) 955 7750 to find out more about joining as a Third Age member

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