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Breda O'Connor writes...

When I was asked to write about my I.W.O journey, I said no problem. I will do it in a few minutes, but taking a few minutes to write about this wonderful organisation and its members who unknowingly helped me get my life back and recover from a deep depression would be doing the I.W.O a disservice. Firstly I must give a synopsis of my life pre I.W.O.

I was born and brought up on a Town Farm in Dunmanway ,West Cork in the 1950s and 1960s . This was the era of no electricity, no phones, no cars, but this had absolutely no bearing on our amazing healthy and happy upbringing . The farm was our playground, our picnics were held in the Hay Meadow and our birthdays under the Monkey Puzzle Tree in the front garden overlooking the town. Our beach was buckets of water and a heap of sand. We took the shortcut to school across the fields. I was 12 years old before I first walked through the town to High School. That did not last long as on the last day of my first year I was hit and very seriously injured by a wheel which fell off a truck. It took three years before I could return to school full time but I studied at home and continued on and did my Leaving Cert. I spent two years at Domestic Economy school and then took the first good pensionable job I was offered with the Civil Service in Dublin. Travelling to Dublin then was like going to Outer Mongolia now. I spent nine years in the Civil Service, six of those were spent as a relief worker travelling to all the big towns relieving people for holidays and sick leave. What a way to get to know your own country. I married in 1974 and was forced to give up my job, which was the law at that time. I moved to Foynes , what a shock to the system that was, it was like going back in time. I had my only child James. My mental health suffered really badly as a result of constant interference from my In-laws. In 1986 with one week’s notice to family, we packed our bags and headed to Zimbabwe for four and a half years. While there, we travelled to seven different countries. What an experience. Fast forward 20 years and I was accepted into the I.W.O after meeting one of our deceased members Bridie Culhane. The first day I arrived into Inez’s House was the “First day of the rest of my Life”, the table was full of wonderful Homemade food and everyone was either chatting in a corner or doing a craft. My first impressions were that it was like a “ Hive of Honey Bees”. There was no week that there wasn’t something exciting to look forward to from Theme Lunches, Cookery Demonstrations, Craft Fairs in Dromoland Castle, Fashion Show, Charity Coffee mornings, trips away to Dublin and Cork and wonderful forays to the Burren. The I.W.O at that time had approximately 90 members from at least 15 countries. Living in a small community as I do it is easy to be Insular in thinking and experience, but exposure to multinational Members of the I.W.O provided me with a constant reminder and awareness of the richness and depth of the international cultural experiences of the members. Not long after joining the I.W.O my family started commenting on what a changed person I had become. The darkness lifted and I became more confident in myself. I threw myself into some of the organisation’s activities, promoted the I.W.O every opportunity I got and encouraged some people to take part in more activities, after all an organization is only as good as its Members.

I have happily accepted many roles on the Board down through the years .

2020 has been a very difficult year but we will get through it. For the time being we will continue to meet up every week on Zoom for coffee and a chat .

Looking forward to entertaining you all before 2021 is out. The Table is Set.🤣

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