‘My agri roots instilled a strong work ethic’ – volunteer

A Kildare woman who developed a strong work ethic as a result of her farming background was recently honoured for her service to a National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) charity shop.

Kathleen Kiernan, who grew up on a farm in Clonfert, outside Maynooth, and who volunteers at the NCBI charity shop in Celbridge, was one of 20 people presented with certificates of achievement at a lunch in the charity headquarters in Dublin, recently.

My father was a cattle dealer and had dry stock; we kept cattle, sheep, turkeys and hens. We all helped out – it was work, work, work.

“I was often up at 6:00am for lambing. I bottle-fed lambs and also cleaned out sheds. I was used to being on the go all the time,” she said.

Kathleen went on to pursue a career in retail; she worked in Cassidy’s drapery in Dublin, as well as Switzers and Brown Thomas.

Now retired, she relishes the chance to volunteer at the NCBI charity shop. She urges others, particularly those in rural areas, to consider offering their services.

“For anyone who is lonely or isolated, it is a brilliant way to get out and meet people. You get back more than you put in.

“You get to work with people of different age groups and it keeps you in touch with what’s going on. I’ve made great friendships and I love passing on what I learned during my training – particularly the importance of treating customers well,” said Kathleen.

We are a great team and we have great fun. We are always busy and I think people know and appreciate the hard work that the NCBI does. It truly offers a great service.

When Martina Jordan from Bunclody, Co. Wexford, isn’t helping her husband Martin on the family mixed farm, she assists the NCBI with fundraising, and running the local charity shop.

“I enjoy interacting with people and the sales element,” she said.

“It’s a good cause that does a lot of great work. We hold a lot of fundraisers – such as table quizzes and bucket collections. I get a great sense of personal satisfaction from helping out,” Martina said.

Finbarr Roche, head of property and retail at NCBI, paid tribute to the charity’s 700-strong volunteer force. He said that without their help, the NCBI could not open its doors. Further information is on: www.ncbi.ie