President Mary’s June Greetings

Even though I cannot visit the branches in person I am still connected to you all as I keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Now as the restrictions lift, we need to have courage, develop trust and confidence in doing things again. We cannot let Covid-19 overwhelm us, we must try to learn how to deal with it in a way that makes life liveable but different.

Above all let us stay safe by following HSE and government advice based on scientific evidence. “There are no longer detailed rules in place imposed by the State, everybody in society will now exercise their own judgement and take personal responsibility for decisions that they make. NPHET has asked that physical distancing be maintained while cocooning for over 70’s will continue to be recommended.” Covid-19 will continue to be a threat to the world.

We have to start reliving our lives, start building relationships and having fun. Human connection is essential in a lonely world. There was a palpable feeling of excitement and elation when we were permitted to travel within 20km of our homes while still avoiding unnecessary journeys. It felt like getting back to normal living but situations are not as they were. Life has changed. Disappointment, grief, mourning, loss of what used to be can set in. Village life has changed, businesses have closed, shutters are drawn on old businesses and way of life.

If 2020 is telling us anything it is telling us to enjoy the moments we have, don’t take any day, anything or anyone for granted. We cannot control what is happening around us but we can control how we respond.
Everyone has a personal story of what life was like in isolation. Friends recovered from the virus which gave us hope but sadly too we lost loved ones which caused great pain, people suffered in isolation not being able to bury the dead surrounded by the support of community and loved ones. To those suffering bereavement I extend my sincere sympathy.
We now need a flexible mindset. Identify the light at the end of the tunnel, adopt positive coping skills. Take care of yourself, listen to reliable news bulletins, set goals, try to follow a daily routine. Go easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are valued and cherished. Eat well. Sleep well. Stay strong.

Let us Care and Connect and Love each other

Interview with Mary Kyne President of The Retired Teachers’ Association of Ireland, 2020

Congratulations, Mary, on recently becoming President of the RTAI, this must be a great personal achievement, and is in keeping with your lifetime of energetic public service in Oughterard and elsewhere. Firstly, could you briefly fill us in on the RTAI?

The Retired Teachers’ Association of Ireland was founded in Dublin in the early 50s and it has grown to over 10,300 members organised in 32 branches throughout the 26 counties. It is a vibrant and energetic fellowship of retired primary teachers. The growth of the organisation didnt happen by chance but evolved from the commitment and dedication of Branch officers and members over the past 70 years.

What benefits does the Association provide members?

There are two key aspects to the work of the Association, one at national level and one at local level.

At national level there is a strong focus on looking after the interests of retired teachers in relation to pensions, social welfare entitlements, taxation, health insurance and other issues that impact on teacherswell-being and welfare; providing counseling, advice and services to individual members is central to the Associations work.

At local level there is a strong social element to its work. It provides an opportunity for members to engage in a variety of activities and events such as day tours, tours abroad, book clubs, choirs, bridge clubs, yarn clubs, lectures, computer courses, yoga, Tai chi, and golf outings to name a few. Those activities provide an opportunity for members to remain in touch with former colleagues as part of a collegiate and supportive network.

How do members keep in touch?

Members meet at branch AGMs in June, at annual memorial masses for deceased members of the Association, and at lunches and coffee mornings in outlining areas of the branches to facilitate those who cannot attended regular meetings. Social activities and events are posted on the RTAI website. Branch members also get together to celebrate special events.

Our RTAI magazine “Comhnascis delivered three times a year to our membership. Members living alone or in residential homes welcome this contact with the general cohort of members as it keeps them entertained and in touch with their former colleagues. A recent personal example of how the magazine can bring members together was that during the pandemic I had a pleasant surprise when Seán Smyth, a former colleague of my husband Frank, made contact with me, as a result of seeing my photo in Comhnasc. Seán explained: Back in 1955 when I celebrated my 17th birthday I was a member of my local parish football team that won the County Monaghan Intermediate Championship. On that team was a young footballer (teacher) from Galway called Frankie Kyne. I admired this young man and it was Frankies encouragement that led me to take up teaching as a career. In 1984 I met Frankie at a Football Banquet celebration in Clones. There are just four surviving members of the team now and we often wondered what happened to Frankie Kyne - the fastest forward in our area.

Your Presidency has coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak, how did this impact your work?

My aspiration on taking up office on the 3rd of March was to reach out in a meaningful way to members confined to their homes and in residential care. I was aware that social isolation, loneliness, loss and bereavement all have a direct impact on well-being and mental health. I wanted members to know that their membership was valued and that they were not abandoned. I had unwittingly chosen as my motto for my year as President - Care & Connect. Just one week later, life changed. Coronavirus hit the country with a bang. Suddenly we were caught off guard. Care & Connect took on a totally different meaning. Over 70s were obliged to isolate within their own homes and others had to stay two meters apart. Now in the month of June we have moved on. All conferences, branch and executive meetings have been cancelled so as an Association we now rely on Zoom meetings to conduct our business. My chain of office is still in its box and will remain there until restrictions are lifted.

Im conscious of members who are suffering, who have been bereaved by the virus or any death and who are now feeling alone, isolated and disconnected without the support of wakes, funerals or human contact at this time. I extend to them and their families my sincere sympathy.

When this time of fear and uncertainty passes, and it will pass,we will be ready as an association to Care & Connect in a meaningful way to make this world a better place for all mankind.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing this with us, and we wish you every success in this most difficult of years.

Keeping Healthy at Home

By Sarah Keogh, Dietitian and Nutritionist

The changes and restrictions of the past few weeks have been quite an upheaval. Many of us are full time at home with limited access to all our usual exercise and food. It’s not difficult to feel out of sorts and lacking in energy. We take a look at some of the key foods to keep eating, the right nutrients to help your mental health and how to put it all together – especially if it is not you doing the shopping anymore!

Fill up on fish
Rich in healthy omega-3 fats, oil-rich fish are an amazing food to eat. Omega-3s make up a substantial part of your brain and people who eat a lot of fish get less dementia and have better mental health. Fish is also rich in B vitamins, needed to help release energy from food as well as calm the nervous system. Salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are great sources of omega-3s – fresh or tinned. But white fish can add some too. Sea bass is actually a good source of omega-3 and a great alternative if the other fish are a bit too strong for you. Aim to have fish at least twice a week. Hate fish? You can still get some of the benefit by taking a fish oil supplement with around 500mg of EPA every day.

Go Nuts
Often seen as fattening, nuts are actually a great food – packed with nutrients. Nuts are a good source of iron and magnesium, two key nutrients for mental health. Magnesium is important for healthy sleep and iron helps to get oxygen to all the cells in your body. A handful of nuts a day is a great way to top up on these key nutrients. Try almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios or brazil nuts. You can eat them as a snack or add them to cereals and yoghurt.

Focus on Fibre
Reduced exercise can have a negative impact on digestion, slowing everything down. Adding plenty of fibre can help keep things moving as they should. Wholegrain foods are a great source of fibre – wholegrain breads, high fibre cereals, brown rice and pasta. If you are checking labels, look for foods that have 6g of fibre per 100g or more. Seeds are another great way of adding fibre. All seeds are high in fibre – linseeds/flaxseeds, sesame, chia, sunflower. They are also a great source of zinc which helps maintain a strong, healthy immune system.

Build your bones
Don’t neglect your bone health! Although you may not be able to get out for your usual walk, do try to do some exercise. Your bones really need to do some work to stay healthy. Even walking around your home or garden (if you have one) or going up and down stairs helps to keep hips strong. Lifting some light weights - even cans of beans or bottles of water help to keep wrists and spine stronger. Go online and look up some of the exercise videos aimed at people who are cocooning. have lots of excellent, free, videos that you can try.
When it comes to food, the key nutrient for bones is calcium. You need about 800mg of calcium every day. 3 servings of milk, cheese and/or yoghurt everyday will get you well on your way to what you need. One serving is 200mls of milk; 30g (or two thumbs) of cheddar cheese; or 125g pot of yoghurt. If you don’t take dairy, try a calcium fortified plant-based milk alternative e.g. soya or almond. You need three servings a day here as well. If you don’t take either, you might want to think about a calcium supplement.

Sunshine Vitamin
One big problem with cocooning is that you might be getting even less vitamin D than usual. Vitamin D can be hard to come by in Ireland at the best of times and it’s a key nutrient for your immune system as well as your bones. Studies show that older people who have good levels of vitamin D have fewer respiratory infections. Vitamin D also helps you to absorb calcium and build healthy bones. The best approach here is to take a daily supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms. Even if you do get out into the sunshine, studies are clear that older people find it harder to make vitamin D and a supplement is usually necessary to get the best benefit.

Putting it all together
Take a look at the foods listed above and add them to your shopping list for this week. See what you can do to build them into what you are eating most of the time. And don’t worry if you find you are having more treats than you would normally. Comfort food is called comfort food because it works and this is a time when lots of us need a little comfort. Just balance out any extra treats by making sure you bring in the key foods that will help your body feel better. Make sure you are drinking plenty of liquids (and not just alcohol…) so that you stay hydrated. And keep talking and communicating. Even a little social interaction can lift your mood and help give you the energy to do a little more exercise and prioritise the foods that will give you a greater nutritional boost.

Submitted by Mary Kyne 
April 21st 2020

Message of Hope and Solidarity

A Dhaoine Uaisle,

The staggering speed with which the Coronavirus has spread has caught us all off guard. It has shown us that we are depending on something much bigger than we think. It has made us appreciate the luxury we lived in, the abundance of product, freedom and health that we took for granted.

This quiet time has allowed us to put aside all our problems that we once thought were important and is showing us what is really important. We have woken up to the sheer fragility of our lives and have come to realise the reality of human inter-independence. We breath the same air and we share the same planet.

Our ancestors faced many difficulties in the past. We are now facing difficulties as we are now in a more intensive stage of curtailing the Coronavirus. We are confined to our homes and gardens while vulnerable RTAI members are in residential care where there are clusters of the virus in some.
This is a challenge for us to help our doctors and nurses so they can help us. We will do our part to keep the demand on our health services down. “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,” (people live in one another’s shelter); Comhar na gComharsan (co-operation of neighbours) – both were much used phrases and much practised acts by our ancestors. But we will have hope for the future. Is gaire cabhair Dé ná and doras.

Be cheerful, do not be a slave to rumours of fear and panic as we struggle through the trials and tribulations of this virus. When this time of fear and uncertainty passes and it will pass let us be ready to CARE and CONNECT with each other in a meaningful way to make this world a better place for all mankind.

This is a time to be slow
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All senses of yourself
And all your hesitant light.

John O Donohue

Enjoy as best you can this quiet time.
Seasfaimid le chéile gualainn le gualainn

Care and Connect and share the love that lives within you.
Casfaimid le chéile amach anseo le cúnamh Dé.
I am with you in spirit.

Mary Kyne
March 30th 2020

Nature Awake

In the unprecedented times we are living in,we are compelled to take solo walks. It is a time for reflection. A time to enjoy the marvels of nature around us.

Taking a solo walk over the waterfall and along the banks of the Owenriff river opposite my house I took delight in seeing cows grazing in the fields, lesser celandines, dandelions, primroses, daisies and furze in full bloom.The birds are singing, building their nests.

Nature is oblivious to the pandemic sweeping the globe.
Enjoy this quiet time.
Share the love that lives within you.

Care and Connect.

Seasfaimid le chéile gualainn le gualainn.


Mary Kyne March 2020

Coronavirus 2020

Thanking you for shaking us and showing us we are depending on something much bigger than we think.
Thank you for making us appreciate the luxury we lived in,
the abundance of product, freedom, health
and realise we were taking it for granted.
Thank you for stopping us.
To make us see how lost we were in the business of life. 
Not having time for the most basic things.
Thank you for allowing us to put aside all our problems we thought were so important and showing us what is actually important.
Thank you for stopping the transfers
The earth was begging us to look at the pollution for a very long time.
We didn’t listen.
Thank you for all the fears.
STRESS has been a global disease for years
But not many of us wanted to face it.
And now we have to face it and learn how to embrace it with love and the support of our community.
Thank you for the revaluation of our lives.
Thank you that we finally understand what it means that WE ARE ALL CONNECTED.
Thank you for the union between us all.
We knew the world had to change.
Thank you for helping us to undermine everything and giving us the chance to build the world from the very beginning
This virus is part of us
It is between us, in us.
It connects us all either physically or energetically.
Gradually support the immune system
But let us see things from many perspectives
It is up to us to see which perspective we choose.
But best be aware of all of them
Be grateful. Stay Safe.

Seasfaimid le chéile gualainn le gualainn.
Gach dea ghui,
Mary Kyne
20th March 2020

President's Address to RTAI Members

A Dhaoine Uaisle,

COVID-19 has changed our world in ways we could never have imagined. This pandemic is a fast spreading health crisis with no certain end in sight forcing entire societies to shut down.
We should not be disheartened. CARE and CONNECT by phoning a friend and supporting each other. We will get through this crisis.
Is treise muid le chéile.
Perhaps this piece I would like to share with you by Fr. Richard Hendrick OFM will bring you comfort.


Yes there is fear
Yes there is isolation
Yes there is panic buying
Yes there is sickness
Yes there is even death
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that just after a few weeks of quiet the sky is no longer thick with fumes – but blue and grey.
They say in the streets of Assisi people are singing to each other across empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that hotels and businesses in Ireland are offering free meals and delivery to households.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality.
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and remember that -
Yes there is fear
But there does not have to be hate
Yes there is isolation
But there does not have to be loneliness
Yes there is panic buying
But there does not have to be meanness
Yes there is sickness
But there does not have to be disease of the soul /spirit
Yes there is even death
But there can always be rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how you live now.
Today, breath
Listen, beyond the factory noises of your panic.
The birds are singing again.
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming.
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul/spirit.
And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square

You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Go gcoinneoidh Dia i mboise a láimhe sibh go léir.
Beannachtaí Dé is Muire libh,
A chóiche is go brách.

Mary Kyne
March 16th 2020

P.S. I have sent this to Head Office so that it can be shared with all Branch secretaries.