Saturday, 28 March 2009



The Meditation on Loving Kindness

A young female disciple undertook to develop the meditation on loving kindness. Sitting in her room, she would fill her heart with loving kindness for all people, animals and plants.

However, each day when she went to the market for her messages, she found her loving kindness practice sorely tested by one shopkeeper who would subject her to unwelcome caresses.

One day she could stand no more and began to chase the shopkeeper down the road with her upraised umbrella.

To her horror she passed her meditation teacher standing on the side of the road watching in amazement as his pupil gave chase.

She felt ashamed as she went up to him expecting to be told off for her anger.

“What you should do,” her teacher kindly advised her, “is to fill your heart with loving kindness, and with as much mindfulness as you can, hit this pest over the head with your umbrella.”



Here in Inishowen, there are some great deals and bargains to be had particularly on turnkey homes.

Potential buyers see that prices are more affordable and the lower mortgage interest rates are making the idea of buying your own home more attractive.

Ready To Buy: Young Still Keen to have a Home
Falling prices are attracting potential first time buyers to the property market, research has shown. Bank of Ireland carried out the survey with 500 non-mortgage holders aged between 20 and 35 and it revealed that 38% were considering buying a home in the next eighteen months.

Even with the feelings of uncertainty out there 70% of those surveyed still believe that buying a home is one of the basic goals of life. Other European countries, such as Germany, may have a culture of renting but it looks like we won’t be turning into a nation of renters any time soon.

Better Value
Here in Inishowen, there are some great deals and bargains to be had particularly on turnkey homes. Potential buyers see that prices are more affordable and the lower mortgage interest rates are making the idea of buying your own home more attractive.

Aside from falling interest rates, first-time buyers also benefited from an increase in mortgage interest relief announced in the budget. From January 1, the relief for first time buyers was increased from 20 to 25 per cent in the first two years of their mortgage, and up to 22.5 per cent in years three to five.The increased tax relief, which is deducted automatically by lenders, is available for new first-time buyers and first time buyers who bought a house in the past four years. Tax relief at 20 per cent still applies to first-time buyers in the sixth and seventh year of their mortgages.

Cheaper Than Renting
As property prices become cheaper and interest rates stay low, it may be cheaper to pay a mortgage than to pay rent. Financial institutions seem to be happy to lend to owner-occupiers, particularly if their credit rating is good. The AIB and Bank of Ireland have been at pains recently to convince the public they are open for mortgage business with each of them offering a €1bn fund for first time mortgages. The banks are also offering competitive rates to first time buyers.

Greater Choice
First time buyers also have a greater choice of properties on the market at the moment. Given that buying a home is for most of us, a mid to long term purchase/investment and that you are likely to live there for between 5 and 30 plus years, then if you can get credit and can afford it, it makes sense to buy now while prices and interest rates are competitive.

Top Ten Tips when Buying a Home
1. Start Saving for Your Deposit - Banks and building socieites do not give 100% mortgages any more so get a lump sum saved for a downpayment. E.g. If the maximum you can borrow is 92% then you will need a deposit of €16,000 for a €200,000 property.

2. Find out how much you can borrow - Lending criteria are based on a number of different things and take into account the earnings of those who are applying for the mortgage, the ability to repay the loan both now and in the event of increased interest rates applying to your loan in the future. As a general guide, a multiple of two and a half times the basic income of the applicants may be borrowed. There are variations, however. For example: a single person may have lower financial commitments in addition to his/her mortgage repayments and this may increase the amount of money that they can borrow.

3. Understand Your Loan - There are various types of mortgages, 30 year fixed, 15 years fixed, repayment mortgages, endowment mortgages. It’s a jungle of jargon so see make sure you get your provider to explain to you so that you can understand exactly what your mortgage means and what your repayments will be and how they might change. Remember, if you are credit worthy the instituions will want to sell to you so make sure you ask around, try and get independent advice so you don’t need to worry about fluctuating costs from month to month and changing interest rates. Go with a reputable provider.

4. Preparing Your Credit - While everyone knows that their credit score will be an important element in determining their mortgage payments, most do not follow a few simple tips for improving their score in the months leading up to the closing. First, make sure you keep the balance on your credit cards under a quarter of the total line of credit. Also, avoid large purchases or transfers that might appear out of the ordinary. And finally, pay off debts such as student loans that may be keeping your score down.

5. Gather your paperwork - Your lender will generally require 2 years of tax returns or wage slips, a year of bank statements, P- 60’s from the past 2 years, and a list of your current debts such as car and student loans. With strictor lending criterial, the blenders may ask for other information too. Find out what they need and have these prepared before they ask for them. This can save you a lot of time and avoid unnecessary stress.

6. Study The Local Property Market – Check websites such as and estate agents on line to see what prices houses are going for. Estate Agents might give you details of recently sold homes and if you have information of the asking price of properties, what they sold for, and the price per square foot, this information will help you put in a more competitive first offer and come across as a serious buyer. Make sure you can afford all the extras. There will be insurance and solicitors fees, so find out what these cost and factor them in to your budget.

7. Compare Lenders - After your offer is accepted, check out other providers to make sure you are getting the best rate possible. Be wary of offers that will only last a year or so, check out what they will mean further down the line. Once you have a lender, you will have bargaining power to determine who really wants your business, get the best possible interest rate, and save the most money in the long run. Make sure they are well-known with a solid reputation.

8. Go visit properties - Visit properties, take pictures both inside and out, make notes of pros and cons, Make sure it suits your living needs. Choosing a home where you may be living for a long time is an important mile stone in your life so don’t rush into it.

9. Get an Inspection - When your offer is accepted and it seems that the process is almost over, do not get too attached and believe that the home is already yours. Although it can be a major stumbling block in the negotiations, you absolutely need to have a qualified inspector look for foundation problems, damp and numerous other things that cannot be seen when you stroll through a home. Sometimes the inspector will only find minor problems, but other times there are extremely expensive issues that may make your purchase impossible. Under any circumstances, don’t skip this step.

10. RELAX - It can be expected that this buyiong a home is going to be somewhat stressful considering the major investment and lifestyle change you are making. But it is a positive step and hopefully an exciting experience and once you have bought a house, you can enjoy turning it into a home.

Good luck and happy house hunting!

The Jargon Busting Guide to Getting a Mortgage
Understanding terms that are thrown about when applying for a mortgage can be confusing. Here is the Independent’s guide to what it all means.
Advance: the mortgage loan.
Annuity Mortgage: (or Repayment Mortgage) a mortgage loan where interest and some of the debt is repaid, usually in monthly installments.
APR: stands for Annual Percentage Rate; more accurate measure of interest rate costs for comparison purposes.
Collateral: property that is given as security against the loan.
Contract: written legal agreement between the seller and the buyer.
Conveyancing: the legal work connected with the transfer of property.
Deeds: the documents that evidence the owner's legal entitlement to a property.
Deposit: part of the purchase price - usually 10% - that the buyer has to pay when contracts are exchanged.
Endowment Mortgage: interest on the mortgage is paid, usually each month, and the mortgage itself is repaid from the proceeds of an assigned Endowment policy.
Endowment Policy: this is a special life assurance/savings policy.
First-time Buyer's Grant: a government grant available to first-time buyers who purchase a house as their own residence.
Freehold: ownership of both the property and the land it sits on. In the case of a block of flats, for instance, you may at a later date sell off all the flats and retain the land, in which case you will charge ground rent to the new lease-holders.
Gazumping: when the seller of a property cancels the agreement on an offer from one buyer, in order to accept the offer of a higher price from another.
Ground Rent: annual rent (usually low) paid on a long lease.
Home Owner Payment Protection (HOPP): if you should find yourself unable to work through accident, illness or even redundancy, Payments Protection insurance will pay all or part of your mortgage repayment depending on the cover you choose.
Indemnity Bond: In certain circumstances, lending institutions may insist on an indemnity bond being taken out where the amount of the loan exceeds 75% of the value or purchase price of the property, whichever is lower. The indemnity bond is a "once-off" and not an annual payment.
Interest: interest is the price that you pay for a loan
Leasehold: property that is leased by the owner to a leaseholder or tenant for a fixed number of years. Unless the unexpired period of the lease is at least 50 years, it will be difficult to obtain a mortgage on the property.
Mortgage Protection Plan: life assurance policy assigned to the lender to clear your borrowings in the event of your death.
Mortgagee: a lender, such as a bank or building society, who grants someone a mortgage.
Mortgagor: the person who borrows money to buy a home against the security of the property.
Stamp Duty: a tax charged by the government.
Term: the period of years over which a mortgage is repaid.
Title: the ownership of the property.
Title Deeds: the documents that evidence the owner's legal entitlement to a property.
Valuation: inspection of a property, to check its market value. (This is not a full structural survey, which we advise you to have completed by a qualified architect/engineer).NOTE: The above are very general explanations of what is often quite complex legal terminology. We are giving them here in this format to help your understanding of this guide. If in doubt, contact your solicitor.



St Columba’s Church, Drung re-opened its doors this Sunday after being closed for a year for refurbishment, with a rededication of the church celebrated by Bishop Seamus Hegarty.

“We are absolutely delighted to get back into the church again,” said Father John Farren who has been Parish Priest at St Columba’s since 2002. “It is a good day for the Parish and people are very glad to be getting back again after being out for a year.”

For the last year parishioners have been using the community centre at Quigley’s Point and Fr Farren is very grateful that they were able to use the centre. “The management committee were very accommodating at the centre and it was great to have a home while the work was going on, but it is lovely to have the restoration finished,” he said.

Fr Farren feels the beautiful refurbishment and repairs is a reflection of the generosity of the people of the Parish who have been so supportive with raising the funds for the work.

“All parishes including churches in Muff, Iskaheen and Drung have been giving money through local church collections as well as running functions and having a draw. The Greenbank Presbyterian Church in Moville ran a function to raise funds for the refurbishment so it was great to have cross community support as well.”

The main source of donations, the church collections will continue to ease the €1.2 million costs of the refurbishment.

“It was an extensive renovation,” said Fr Farren, “Everything was refurbished from the roof to the floor including new marble sanctuary furnishings and replacing timber beams that had dry rot or woodworm. It is a protected historic building and all the work had to be in keeping with the original style as possible. The project was managed by James Doherty, a contractor from Straboe in Buncrana and Michael Hegarty from Derry, was the architect,” he added.

The church is an attractive building and has one of the most beautiful settings locally. Now that it has re-opened Fr Farren reports that there will be a run of weddings. Every Saturday is booked for the next few months, with 24 marriages already booked in for the rest of the year, ” he smiles. “Some people did postpone their weddings until we got back into the church.”


Charity Fashion Show in aid of Scoil Iosagain


Denise Gallanagh Wood was born in Subiaco in Perth, Western Australia. Her father, Joseph Gallanagh was originally from Buncrana and her mother, Anne is from Wexford and lives in Buncrana near her daughter. Denise’s travels took her to New Zealand, where she met her husband James. Denise worked in Human Services specialising in Community Development and on returning to Buncrana in 2003 she trained as a Life Coach. Her business STARRS focuses on Life Coaching (Business and Personal), Facilitation, (Workshops and Team Building) and Training (Personal Training, Conflict Management, Sustainable Development and Community Development).

You can contact Denise on 086 401 9987 (NI: 078 95612894 or by e-mail:

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I have eclectic tastes. I love music from the soul singers of the 1950’s and 60’s. Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Nancy Sinatra, they are all fabulous. I also enjoy also songs by The Cure, Smiths, Madness. There’s a band called Midnight Oil from Australia that have done some classic songs, let’s not forget the Dubliners too.

What book are you reading?
I have four books on the go. My mother in law sent me over a copy of The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie for my birthday. The book has a succession of interweaving stories by a variety of storytellers, travellers and adventurers. I have also nearly finished Carbon Detox by George Marshall, which is a is a provocative and entertaining approach to climate change. It challenges conventional thinking and offers fresh ways to understand and respond to thisglobal crisis. I am also looking though John Seymour’s book Complete Self Sufficiency. I have got Tony Kearney’s book on the go too called “Who Owns the Future?” and always have a reference book lying around to look at; at the moment it’s Edward de Bono.

What was your favourite childhood game?
I grew up with no TV or radio and lived in an isolated town with few facilities. It was very hot so we would go swimming a lot and get hooked on the latest fads, like tennis balls fixed to bats with bits of elastic. I would draw and read a lot too.

Have you been to the cinema recently, what did you see and was it any good?
I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, about a man who starts to age backwards. It was a happy movie.

What section of the newspaper do you turn to first?
I tend to look at the classifieds for tendering opportunities.

What would you never throw away?
Family photo’s, they are irreplaceable.

Most embarrassing moment of your life?
I have enough self-confidence to not get bothered about getting embarrassed. To be embarrassed means that you have taken a risk, so I think that is a good thing and shouldn’t be avoided.

Favourite TV programme?
I usually watch things that are pretty mindless to switch off. And to think I grew up without a telly.

What job did you want to do when you were a child?
At high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I think it was about fighting for the underdog though and am glad I went down the road of Community Development. Being there when people wanted something was very important to me and I like working on things that makes things better.

Where was your best holiday and what made it special?
Four years ago the family and I went on a fabulous trip to France. We took the car and travelled around for a month. There were no plans and it was the first time we were away in a country with a foreign language so we all worked really well together to cope.

What famous people would you invite around for dinner and why?
Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil . In 2003 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to environment and the music industry. Rosa Parks would also be welcome. Rosa was the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement." On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama she refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

What do you do for a special treat?
Chocolate, wine, movies, time with James, friends, meals, I do them all and cherish every one.

Favourite animal?
Bella, our four-month-old puppy.

Biggest thrill?
Meeting up with family and friends.

Biggest Challenge?
I moved away from the disability sector of my work and set up on my own working in training and development. I also published a book called Bona Fide -True Kiwi Stories about Life as a Teen, which was a collection of short stories about growing up in New Zealand.

What was the best present you ever got?
James and the children are so good at giving me presents. My last one was a home made spice rack.

What were the last things you bought just for yourself?
A dress from a charity shop in Derry and a twill basket.

Favourite past-time?
Painting in acrylics. I used to work in a picture framers so I can mount them too.

Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
The Rococo period in the 18th century. The art and interior design was fantastic.

What do you have for breakfast?
Today I had two bits of toast with honey and a cup of coffee.

What was your first paid job?
That was the picture framing. I used to work late nights on Thursday and Saturday mornings at a supermarket when I was at high school

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
I have had lots of good advice. “Just trust yourself.” is one that an old boss in New Zealand told me. It was great for my self-confidence.

Personal belief?

If it’s going to be – it’s up to me…….

CELEBRATION - 25 years

The retirement committee and board of governors at the time.

The teachers 25 years ago...

St Orans Celebrate 25 Year Anniversary

St Orans National School in Cockhill are celebrating their twenty-five year anniversary with a mass on Thursday 2nd April at Cockhill Chapel at 7.30 followed by a get together in the community hall. All are welcome, particularly past pupils and parents and it will be a great opportunity for a trip down memory lane. There will be a display of old memorabilia and photos as well as refreshments on offer and no doubt plenty of stories and craic.

St Orans National School opened its doors on the 4th April 1984 and Master Michael McNelis, who was the principal at the time, remembers the excitement of the big move from St Mary’s School (now the Youth Club).

“Jim Sheridan was down at the old school with a tractor and trailer, supervising getting all the old stuff out, while I was up at the new school, supervising everything in the new class rooms.” Master McNelis is in fine reminiscing form.

“The children were very excited about moving into this big new building, though some of the wee ones were a bit nervous. I remember a couple of days after the big move, I found some infants in the hall crying. When I asked them what was the matter, they just looked up at me with trembling bottom lips…’We’re lost’ they cried.”

Master McNelis, originally from Glencolmcille had come from St Orans School in Sleadrin to St Mary’s in Cockhill in 1971 bringing 28 children with him. It was a time when the Government policy was to amalgamate schools, closing down the smaller ones. It wasn’t long before St Mary’s was also too small and there was talk of building a new school, but the planning process was long and drawn out.

At this stage St Mary’s School was bursting at the seams. It was a 4-room school with 160 pupils, so they were using 3 pre-fabs and the upstairs room in the chapel for classrooms.

Meanwhile the school was fundraising like crazy and they bought land from one of the teacher’s, Mary McKinny’s, father. By October 1982, they finally had the go ahead from the government and in the end Mr Hanson, the contractor, put up the school, very quickly.

It was decided to call the new school St Orans’ after the school that had been closed at Sleadrin and to make a distinction from St Marys. (Saint Oran was from Donegal and a companion of St Columba).

One of the features of the new school was the community hall. “We decided to make the general purpose room bigger so it could be used as a community hall” Michael explains “and it was well used. There were great plays put on there in its day.”

Plays were not the only entertainment that centred around the school; sport particularly football and gaelic were popular, there was an annual sports day, cycle tours all over Inishowen and of course preparations for the St Patrick’s day parade.

The pupil numbers continued to expand, with probably the biggest influx being when 50 new children started with the new Crana View estate being built.

Margaret Keller, the acting vice principal, has been connected to the school for a long time. Originally a pupil at St Mary’s, she came back there as a teacher not long after finishing her college teacher training. She is one of the original teachers who moved to St Oran’s and is still happy to be teaching at the school.

“There was great excitement when we moved in,” she explains “It was a lovely bright building, the classrooms were big with running water and toilets and we had great space outside too with the new playground.”

Margaret, who is now teaching the children of parents she had taught in the past, really appreciates the wonderful community spirit that is part of the tradition of the school.

“There is a great feeling of warmth here. It really is lovely. Every-one helps out. There is great involvement from children, parents and grandparents too. They help out in all sorts of ways, from serving on the parents committee, to fundraising, making teas and baking for events such as the mass on Thursday and confirmations and attending school trips.”

One change that Margaret, who teaches senior infants, has seen over the years is the increase in different cultures attending the school. “We are seeing pupils from various countries coming here and it adds to the richness of our community. We have had pupils from Ghana, Poland and Romania and it is great to learn about each others traditions, for example at Christmas.”

St Oran’s National School is proud to have strong roots in educating the local youth and will no doubt continue to be a vibrant focus for the local community in years to come.

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