29 August 2017
By Tom Collins
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D, announced the landmark €5 Billion Good Cause figure at a special Lotto draw to mark the National Lottery’s 30th birthday in RTE recently. He said the Good Cause fund has made a crucial contribution to life in communities all across Ireland over the last three decades.
The thousands of Cork Good Cause beneficiaries include Fermoy’s Blackwater Sub Aqua club and Cara House in Skibbereen.
It’s their dedication and selflessness which sets the divers and support teams of the Blackwater Sub Aqua club apart. For 36-years the club has been involved in at least 200 search and recovery operations across Ireland often working in the most difficult of conditions – both on and offshore.
The Blackwater crew are all volunteers who pay for their own personal gear, medical expenses and even training. And often when called upon they must organise time off from their jobs to carry out their vital work.
While they work most regularly in the Cork and Munster areas the club is often asked to dive elsewhere too and took part in the recent operation off Blacksod in Mayo following the tragic crash of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.
And key to ensuring their efforts are as successful and effective as possible is the quality and maintenance of their equipment. Over the years the Blackwater Sub Aqua club has received a number of grants from the National Lottery Good Causes fund, the most recent of which, €25,076, came in 2014.
“Boats in particular are very expensive and we must have the most effective safety and protective equipment which allows our divers maintain communications with the support team above water throughout,” explains Tim Carey of the Sub Aqua club which is based in the town of Fermoy.
Another good cause which National Lottery funding has positively impacted on is Cara House – a nursing home in Skibbereen, Co Cork, which recently underwent a vital renovation financed by a €120,000 grant from the Good Causes fund. Further Lottery funding over the years has also gone to the Skibbereen Geriatric Society, which hosts regular Luncheon Days, which are attended by an average of 50 people from around the Skibbereen area – the eldest user being 99 and the youngest 65.
“Over ten weeks the builders came in and transformed the place,” explains Aine Minihane, service manager at the Skibbereen Luncheon Club, adding: “Walls were knocked, old bedrooms removed, three large bathrooms installed, accessibility for all catered for, a conservatory built and designers made the building flow for the benefit of everyone who uses it.”
“We want it to be like a large sitting room where people can relax and enjoy themselves rather than a clinical facility. We make sure the newspapers are there when they come in, that the freshly baked scones are ready and that the kettle is on. We aim to combat loneliness and isolation and bring people together in a positive manner which is what we do,” says Aine.
She recalls her favourite memory of Cara House which was in summer 2016 when the house was full to cheer local rowing heroes, Gary and Paul O’Donovan on to win silver medals at the Rio Olympics. “It was a magical day for everyone in and around Skibbereen and here in Cara House our older adults were as animated, vocal and delighted as anyone.”