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Last updateMon, 22 Aug 2016 6pm

Back You are here: Home Entitlements Entitlements News

who's got talent


Guitars are everywhere – they make a huge range of sounds and are the easiest instrument to sing along to. But, as most of us found out early in our lives, they are surprisingly difficult to learn. And that’s even if all your fingers work normally – they’re almost impossible if you have arthritis or a few fingers missing. So, since the modern guitar first evolved - approximately 150 years ago – people have been trying to make attachments to make them easier to play.

Unfortunately, the challenge sounds a lot simpler than it is, because the mechanism has to replicate the human hand, which is an incredibly complicated structure. Various systems have been devised over the years to hold down the strings in all the right places - including steam-powered contraptions and ones involving miles of wiring and electronics. Hardly ideal if you just want to lie back in your hammock and sing old Bob Dylan songs, or join in a session in your local pub.

So it’s not surprising that the Chordelia Guitar Machine is creating quite a stir. Launched last month from a tiny workshop in West Cork, it does the hard part for you by making the chords when you pull a lever. Now all you have to do is strum. And sing.

Last year, Tim Rowe reluctantly had to down-size his commercial beekeeping venture, because of increasingly wet summers. ‘No honey meant no money – and that was a scary prospect.’ Looking around for a replacement, he went back to a project he’d begun 11 years earlier – the Chordelia.

‘I’d given up on it many times, because progress was so slow. Getting the correct pressure on the strings was the hardest part. I made 59 versions of it altogether, before I got one to work reliably. That was a good day.’

Having established (and patented) some new aspects of the design, he still had to work out how to manufacture them. ‘That involved a lot of noise and sawdust coming from the back-bedroom! People said they should be plastic, but I’m a carpenter and I know wood best. And wood feels right for them.’ He has started with the simplest model – the Chordelia number five – which makes the five most commonly used chords. With it you can play literally hundreds of songs. He expects to launch the 7-chord and 9-chord models before too long.

‘They’re not for musicians’, he says, ‘they’re for ordinary people who just want to play some songs on the guitar. Because music and singing should be for everyone.’

You can see for yourself on

Healthcare Access And Costs Abroad

Many disabled people miss out on holidays to places they’d otherwise love to go, because they’re worried that they would not get the healthcare they need there. Sadly, in some cases this is the truth. Health infrastructure issues, economic limitations, or the convoluted (and sometimes expensive) nature of the healthcare systems in some places means that those with serious conditions which may need medical treatment during the holiday would be better off picking a more medically congenial country. However, a disability need not be nearly so limiting as one may expect. Plenty of countries have agreeable deals with Ireland, allowing Irish citizens easy access to necessary healthcare. Read on to find out more.

Great Britain And Northern Ireland

Irish citizens travelling to Great Britain or Northern Ireland are entitled to free healthcare on the NHS. They have no need to obtain any kind of health insurance, but may need to show an identity card which proves that you are Irish.

EEA Nations

If you are travelling to a nation within the European Economic Area (including Iceland), you may well be entitled to free or greatly reduced healthcare. The precise nature of the healthcare you’ll be able to obtain varies greatly from nation to nation, of course, as does the price (or lack thereof). Nations like Germany and Denmark provide a high standard of easily accessible healthcare, while you may experience more issues in nations like Romania. The important thing to note for travel within the EEA is that in order to access the benefits of Ireland’s EU membership when it comes to healthcare, you will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These are easily obtainable via the health service. The EHIC entitles you to reduced-price or free healthcare in participating European nations, but will not cover the costs of any emergency transport back to Ireland, should you so require it.

The USA And Canada

You’d be well advised to sort out some health insurance some time in advance of heading to the USA, as their privatized healthcare system can be prohibitively expensive. Sadly, this is especially true for foreigners and those who have long-term medical conditions. It’s not too hard to find some insurance to suit you, but do make sure that you do your research properly and find something which will cover you properly should you find yourself needing to make use of an American hospital. Canada, meanwhile, has a nationalized health service, which means that its healthcare is generally more accessible and affordable than that in the USA. However, the government of Canada does not extend free healthcare to foreign nationals who are not resident in Canada. Should you wish for healthcare in Canada, you are similarly advised to obtain health insurance before flying out. On the plus side, the standard of healthcare in both these nations is reasonably sound, meaning that you’ll probably be in safe hands should you find yourself in need of medical attention.


Australia has a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with Ireland, meaning that Irish citizens are entitled to subsidized (although not free) health services. It’s worth noting that not all services are covered under this agreement, so check before you go!

Elsewhere In The World

The quality, availability, and affordability of healthcare elsewhere in the world varies greatly. Some nations have deals with Ireland which allow Irish citizens more affordable healthcare, while others don’t. You can usually find out whether or not this is the case via a simple internet search.


If you must travel with medications, it is crucial that you check whether or not these are allowed in the nation to which you are heading, and whether or not you must declare them at customs. While most common medications can cross borders fairly easily, some are regarded as controlled substances or even drugs in certain nations. You could find yourself labelled a drug smuggler simply for attempting to preserve your health! So check before you go what the bigger picture is regarding any drugs you have to take with you. Your embassy will be able to help you with this, as will any good travel agent. Should you find that your medicine is banned or controlled - don't despair. Your doctor may be able to suggest a non-prohibited alternative

Post written and submitted for publication by Anne Smith


Allanna Needs Room to Grow

My name is Keith Russell.My daughter Alanna is 5 years old with cerebral palsy she is wheelchair bound. Alanna was a twin but her sister died shortly before birth, Alanna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth. We need to convert our house to accomadate my daughter which is costing €100,000 I need to raise €70,000 as the council is giving us €30,000 for it. I live in a 3 bed mid terrace house which is why it is costing so much. We are in desperate need of this as my daughter is gaining weight and it is getting increasingly harder to lift her up and down the stairs.We would appreciate any donations towards this. It has taking us 2 years to get this planning as my neighbour has been objecting and I was reluctant to fundraise incase we didn't get it.
Help spread the word!

Every little bit helps, Gofundme link below.


Cerebral Palsy at a Glance

We use the term cerebral palsy to define numerous neurological conditions that occur when the brain is damaged during birth, before birth or soon after birth. Though not a very common disorder, thousands of children are born with speech difficulties, vision and hearing problems, epilepsy, and cognitive issues due to this condition each year. In the United Kingdom alone, 1 in 400 children are born with cerebral palsy in a year. makes an impressive attempt to include some of the most important facts and stats about the condition in the below infographic. Don’t forget to check it out!


Avoiding Depression - What Actually Works for Disabled People?

Depression is a far, far bigger problem than most people realise. Not only on a personal, but on a societal level. For individual sufferers, it is a life-altering and, in some cases, life-destroying condition which often renders people disabled in terms of their ability to carry out normal day to day living - despite seeming in full physical health. On a societal level, the rising levels of depression and the impact they’re having on society (economically, socially, and even politically) are ringing alarm bells in health authorities the world over.

Depression is an often devastating mood disorder. It’s likely that the depression of some sufferers may be influenced by their genetics, which render them more vulnerable than others to depressive episodes. For others, it may be brought on by a variety of factors, or attack apparently at random. If you are genetically predisposed towards depression - do not worry. This does not necessarily sentence you to a lifetime of recurring depression. The manifestation of a predisposition towards depression can be influenced by a number of lifestyle and health factors. While this by no means indicates that the development of depression is your ‘fault’ for not staving it off effectively enough (it’s an unpredictable and hard-hitting disease, and we live unpredictable lives!), if you know that you have a tendency towards depressive episodes, there may be some things you can do to limit them. Here are a few of the things that science says reduce your chances of developing depression:

Exercise - Particularly Outdoors

Exercise can help to fend off depression, and spending time outdoors can also help to fend off depression. Both appear to release mood-boosting chemicals within the brain, which have both a short and a long-term effect upon one’s depression risk. Spending time outside seems to aid our mental health in a variety of ways, for reasons which are not yet fully understood, but which are too clearly evident to ignore. The ‘greener’ and more ‘natural’ the outdoor location, the better. Sunshine on the skin infuses us with Vitamin D, and may aid in the production/release of mood-boosting hormone serotonin. Meanwhile, exercise improves both our physical and our mental health through a variety of mechanisms, including improving blood flow to the brain and the provocation of ‘natural highs’ via endorphins. Walking in particular is considered to be an excellent exercise by which to fend off depression. It often occurs outside - thus bestowing all of the outdoor mental health advantages - and appears to have a semi-meditative ‘rhythm’ to it which the human brain finds very useful indeed. It’s a kind of active meditation, which allows our brains the time and space to sort out and eliminate sources of psychological stress, while simultaneously providing great brain-boosting exercise.

Eat Right

We know, ‘exercise’ and ‘eat well’ are boring sets of advice which aren’t always practical. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the brain relies upon the body for everything, and your body relies upon the fuel it’s given. The better the fuel, the better the body operates. The brain needs nutrients as much as any other organ, and if it’s deprived of the correct nutrients, it won’t work as well as it should. An increasing body of evidence is linking depressive disorders to poor diets. Diets rich in green, leafy veg, wholegrains, fish oils, and fruits are likely to reduce the eater’s risk of developing depression, while unhealthier diets actively increase that risk.

Prioritise Time - Especially Time For Relaxation

Stress is a major, major factor in the development of many cases of depression. While stress has many causes, lots of people state time pressures as a prominent cause of stress. Piling more work and tasks into our days than we have time to deal with is not a healthy way to live our lives - we’re not designed to do more than a few hours of ‘work’ each day, and our brains can’t take that kind of stress. To prevent depression, prioritise spare time in which to relax and let stress levels lower naturally. For some, this may lead to making harsh choices between time and money. On the one hand, it’s nice to be comfortably off - but, if spending too much time earning is taking a toll on one’s mental health, it’s probably best to render oneself slightly more money-poor in favour of being time-rich.

Sleep Well

The human brain needs sleep in order to function properly. Sleep disturbances and a failure to get enough sleep are massive problems in the modern world. We no longer follow natural sleep cycles - we go to sleep and wake ourselves up at artificial times, and this results in a good deal of lost sleep and chronic waking exhaustion. Our lack of sleep - or lack of good sleep - also means that our brains do not get the opportunity to do the vital ‘cleaning out’ and ‘taking stock’ they need, which can in turn lead to problems like depression. To keep depression at bay, therefore, try to follow a natural sleeping pattern, and see a doctor if you’re having trouble with sleep.

Post written and submitted for publication by Anne Smith