Coumshingaun, the black lake

The Loop Walk – A Poem about Coumshingaun

by Cian Foley

Our journey begins at the foot of the hill,
no wind through the pine trees everything still.

Stepping on spongey layers of pins,
that fell over seasons before this tale begins.

Many shadows and illusions seem to appear,
red squirrels, kingfishers and wild native deer,
flowers and sorrell and blackberries too,
we stop for a moment to sample a few.

We emerge from the forest and see two peaks up on high,
a stairway to heaven, the sun hits my eye.
We make our way up over boulder and stone,
and feel blessed to bear witness to all this alone.

The use of our thighs muscles makes our hearts pound,
louder and faster as we reach higher ground,
lunging and striding, fighting body and mind,
the rewards being far more than the place that we find.

We pass through a corridor of fern on the track
and when we emerge I let down my ruck sack.
Sat by a gnarled up Hawthorne tree,
we pick off some nice leaves and eat two or three.

I marvel at grass which is lush and so green,
yet half shaggy sheared sheep seem surprisingly lean.
Quickly they clear the path which is trekked,
so often by hikers with mutual respect.

The way is now steeper much more than before
and sweat keeps on flowing from out of each pore
but soon we’ll be at the most beautiful place
where you can wash off the salt and freshen your face,

We get to a rock you say looks like a mouse,
i say a frog that’s as big as a house,
we need not trek higher to get to the lake
but lets continue upwards for the views sake.

Now the path’s clear a straight route to the skies,
the ferns purple blossom is a treat for our eyes.
The jagged rocks like a fortress upon the left peak,
the lake to our right a glimpse now we sneak.

I charge my way up to the castle on top,
and sit out upon my most favourite rock.
I look out to towards the sea like a knight with a sword,
my beautiful kingdom known as Waterford.

But the journeys not over I cannot sit still,
we have some more climbing to tame this wild hill.
So let’s squeeze through stone halls and cross rocky terrain
before meeting a grassy hill once again.

We tackle the grass and get to the base,
of the 40 foot vertical last climbing phase.
Let’s make it easy for me and yourself
and zig and zag up on these stony like shelfs.

We get to the top I’m feeling quite beat
as I stand on the plateaou of wild comeragh peat.
Here the land changes and becomes very stark,
boggy and soggy, springy and dark.

After regaining strength I creep to the right
and peek over the edge at  a magnificent sight,
each time i see it my soul is reborn,
the jewel of the comeraghs, the great Coumshingaun.

Swifts or some swallows great in their size,
swoop and dive past me making loud whirring noise.
I wish I could stay with you up here my friend
but just as the sun is we too must descend.

We walk along the back cliff carefully,
one slip and it’s over for you or for me.
We now cover ground incredibly fast
so lets savour the view on the way while it lasts.

Keep along the horseshoe like route,
the right side more barren, there’s barely a shute,
some burnt out Heather our ankles brush past,
I assume to allow the grass to grow fast

Now to the peak to the left we must keep,
to make our descent safe and less steep.
Through the lush fern now the lake can be seen
in front of the cliff top from where we’ve just been.

We get to the lake the water like glass
reflecting the back cliffs ominous mass.
Midges are flying over the lake
and trout are jumping their fill they will take.

Let’s jump in right here let’s work off a whim,
there’s nothing quite like a freshwater swim.
It’s cold and it’s clear and might make you shout
but you can just drink it down if you get in your mouth.

But what about clothes I hear you say,
you won’t need a towel on this glorious day,
and now we are so close to where we began
well just head straight down after we’ve swam.

I throw on my pants and put back on my gear,
now all is completed the end is so near,
we make a bee line for kilclooney wood
and trace down the hill as fast as we should

On the way down are familiar sights,
which look so much different under  these fading lights.
As we walk through the forest it seems like just like night
yet in reality it’s still fairly bright.

So now we are here, right back at the start,
perhaps now you can see why it’s close to my heart.
It’s been time well spent I think you’ll agree
come back anytime and explore it with me

I’m taking part in a charity trek to Kilimanjaro in September for Diabetes Ireland and would greatly appreciate your support

If you wish to support this cause please visit our everyday hero page: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/nicola-cian-and-emer-s-big-trek

Brennan Catering Supplies

brennan catering suppliesWe recently did an SEO audit and training session with Brennan Catering Supplies, who specialise in selling Hygiene, Bar & Catering Equipment in Ireland, from Chefs Clothing to Coffee and Espresso Machines.

The site has thousands of catering products so we began our test by scanning the site technically looking at current position on search engine for various catering products and looked for areas to improve the content, looking at uniqueness of titles, headings, image alt tags and site content in general.

We researched their product sitemaps and verified that products were being indexed correctly, looking for potential issues and analysed competition to see how Brennan Catering Supplies other catering equipment companies were comparing with them. We also looked at things like page load speed, errors, mobile compatibility, back links and other factors that might affect their SERP.

We presented a strategy for them to improve content and online marketing going forward and hopefully, given time, they will see some significant improvements and see their hygiene, bar and catering supplies products shooting up the ranks on the search engine results pages in the near future.

Here’s what John Brennan had to say about our service…

“We are delighted with the service UTD Web Design provided. We are working our way through the recommended advice and there is already an increase in traffic to the site and it is definitely going in the right direction for us, for which we are grateful.”

Masquerade Ball Waterford, Ireland

Masquerade. Beautiful Girl in a Carnival mask

A Masquerade Ball, is taking place in the Athenaeum House on the 2nd of April in aid of Diabetes Ireland.

It promises to be an amazing masked ball with a party atmosphere. Grab a glass of bubbly at the door and get that photo op on the selfie photo booth and make all your friends jealous on facebook before settling in for a 5 course meal in an amazing setting.  Rubber Soul will entertain until midnight when you can finally reveal your identity and then disco the night away with your besties untill late.

Nicola Foley, Emer Croke and Cian Foley are running the night in order to raise funds to take part in a challenge to climb Kilimanjaro for Diabetes Ireland.

masquerade-ball-ticketThe tickets are available now from Athenaeum house at 051 833 999 at a cost of €55 with all profits going to Diabetes Ireland. 80 tickets have been sold already and with only 130 capacity it’s important to book early to avoid disappointment. A handy Mother’s day gift idea!

Masquerade party’s don’t happen in Waterford too often so don’t miss it!

To be in with a chance to win 2 tickets to the ball and a stay over at Athenaeum House on the night+brekkie (worth €200) visit Nicola, Emer and Cian’s Big Trek for Diabetes Ireland facebook page here.

Trek to Kilimanjaro for Diabetes Ireland

It’s gonna be tough to top 2015 for me, having had the honour to compete internationally for Ireland with Kettlebell Girevoy sport and bringing back European and World Gold medals to Waterford.  This year though I plan to do something with all that hiking training I’ve done and continue to do up to Coumshingaun in the beautiful Comeragh Mountains.

This year I’m going to take on the challenge of a lifetime and climb Kilimanjaro with my wife Nicola Foley and our fab friend Emer Croke in a charity trek in aid of Diabetes Ireland.

kilimanjaro-cian-nic-emer-cover The two girls were planning to do this already to mark their 40th Birthday but when a good friend of mine (Liz Murphy) came to me and asked me to do the climb for the Diabetes Ireland charity, I thought to myself, “why don’t we all do it for charity?” It was an excellent idea from Liz and very personal to us as Nicola’s mother and father have type 2 diabetes, Emer’s mother in law also has type 2 diabetes and so does my lovely Nana who has only turned 93 in December.  My friend Liz is herself a Type I diabetic, which is a lot more serious as you’re born with it. Liz, is like the fourth member of the team and cannot take part in the trek herself but will be helping us to hit her funding targets.

Aside: Diabetes is a medical condition whereby the insulin created by your pancreas is not sufficient to deal with the amount of sugar in your blood.  Some diabetics must inject with insulin to help deal with high blood sugar levels, some must manage their sugar levels through diet.  A diabetics blood sugar levels can also drop very low, which can be very serious and they must eat/drink something really sweet like lucozade to deal with this or it could result in loss of consciousness. 

This is my understanding of the condition.  It is my opinion that people without diabetes should also be conscious of condition and their blood sugar levels also and keep an eye on consumption of starchy carbohydrates and refined sugars in order to prevent onset of type 2 diabetes and other health conditions such as obesity.

So we did some research and decided to do it and we made our initial donation of €750 and now we have to raise €14,250 in for Diabetes Ireland in order to take part in September.  We will be doing trojan work organising events over the year and will be donating as much as we can personally also in order to assist hitting our targets.  Between this and our deposit we have already raised over 2000 towards the trek in a few short weeks.

To get to our first 1000 in online donations I got my chest waxed which can be seen on our charity trek facebook page if you are not too squeamish LOL.

We have a number of fantastic events lined up in order to raise funds for Diabetes Ireland.

On the 1st of March we will be holding a Big Trek Quiz Night in Revolution Waterford.  Doors will open at 8pm and Quiz starts at 8.30.  We will have prize for winning team and a raffle on the night also with some great prizes.

masquerade-ball-ticket

Our main event will be our fabulous Charity Masquerade Ball, which is happening in the Athenaeum House on the 2nd of April. The schedule of the night includes, prosecco reception & photobooth, 5 course meal, live band Rubber Soul, balloon raffle, masks off, and DJ till late. The tickets (designed and printed by UTD Web Design, shameless plug) are available now from Athenaeum house at 051 833 999. With approximately 80 tickets sold already and only 130 capacity it’s important to book early to avoid disappointment (these tickets would make a nice Valentines day gift… hint hint lads!).

Click here to find out about our fantastic competition to win 2xTickets to the ball and an overnight stay with brekkie for 2 at the luxurious Athenauem house, worth house €200!!!

We hope to have a Charity Rock Concert night too featuring the legendary 80s Hair Rock band Sleeze n’ Cheeze a few weeks after the charity ball. Venue and Date TBC.

After this we will be having a race night on 20th of May (venue TBC) to hopefully really bring us towards our final target and then we can prepare for the trip mentally and physically. We hope to do some bag packing or collection day in supermarket so if anyone can help us out there we would appreciate it.  You can contact me personally at ciandfoley@gmail.com if you wish to help us out.

We will be doing a lot of training locally, but we cannot prepare for the altitude.  The local mountain range we will be preparing on is just over 2000ft to the highest point, Kilimanjaro is over 19000ft, so it is 10 times the height of the back cliff of Coumshingaun.  When we get to about 10,000ft we will really begin to feel heavy footed so it’s important that we are as fit and light as possible by the time we get there.

Thanks a million for taking the time to read this blog. We’re delighted to be raising funds for this very good cause and we can’t wait to take part in the challenge.

Find out about our events on our Facebook page: Nicola, Emer and CIan’s Big Trek Facebook Page

If you are thinking of donating online to sponsor us, we would really appreciate it. You can just go directly to our everyday hero page and all of that money goes straight to Diabetes Ireland: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/nicola-cian-and-emer-s-big-trek

 

 

 

 

 

Wigworld – Waterford Medical Related Hair Loss Website Relaunch

wigworldWhen Joyce O’Carroll contacted me to re-build her new Wigworld website she asked me to create something clear and stylish that worked well on both mobile and desktop computers.

Wigworld specialises in wigs and hair pieces for people with medical related hair loss due to Chemotherapy , Radiotherapy , Alopecia, Trichotillomania and Thinning Hair.  There were many products listed in galleries and we decided to present them with a pinterest type gallery.

We used plugins to extend the default gallery with a lazy load gallery using lightbox effect when images are clicked.  This provides a nice way to view thumbnails at a glance and allows the user to scroll through in an intuitive way on mobile and desktop without using unnecessary bandwidth. It also allows Joyce add new images easily.

The site uses a slider for the header which can be easily updated with new images also.

There are several wordpress plugins installed to make the site work well with google in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and also with Social media through social share buttons.  We also installed plugins for security to prevent hacking and unauthorized login attempts.

Here’s what Joyce had to say about her new site and our service:

“I’m thrilled with my new website its clean and clear just as I asked for. I didn’t want a clutter site like so many others.

Cian understood my vision. He was professional ,ease to work with and interested in my wishes!

I would have no problem recommending Cian”

Jack Meades Bar & Beer Garden Relaunch

jack-meadesI was delighted to be asked to redesign the Jack Meades Bar & Beer Garden website. We originally designed the site over 5 years ago before responsive design became mainstream.  The site was indexing well on Google but wasn’t mobile friendly so I was chuffed to be asked to redesign the site by Liam Hartley and bring it up to date.

Liam wanted more traditional colours for the site too and a more striking logo so we went for black on white with a little red motif using the traditional lettering from the old logo and a red menu bar to perhaps reflect the extensive hurling tradition of the area.

The site is clean and crisp and a lot more striking now, and as per usual clutter free.  We want the site audience to get the information they need without fuss.

The site is built with wordpress so came with blog/news by default and the slider we used brings you through the grounds from the famous tunnel at Halfway house, around the grounds to see the extensive facility including the old bar, the main bar and beer garden, the kids playground and the historic lime kiln and beautiful grounds.

Well wear lads!

Cian Foley – World Kettlebell Champion :-)

cian-1Yes you read that right! I have to keep saying it out loud because it’s still surreal. I’m a World Kettlebell Champion fulfilling a dream of mine for a number of years.  After winning the Europeans in my category (adult men’s long cycle, 78-85kg bodyweight with 2x24kg bells) this year, I was quietly confident going into the worlds knowing that if I trained hard, cleaned up my diet and got a bit more clever about what I was doing with my technique, I could increase my repetitions and be in with a chance of winning.  My coach Rosaleen Flynn (Rosie is coach at Waterford Kettlebell Club based at Peak Fitness in Cleaboy business park in Waterford) put together a periodisation plan for me and knew when to push and when to lay off to get me as prepared as possible for D-Day.

Photos by Gerry Donnelly © 2015 AIKLF

Between the 25th and 29th of November, the IUKL World Kettlebell championships were held in Ireland in DCU’s sports complex in Dublin and run by the AIKLF. Kettlebell Sport (or Girevoy Sport), is a Russian sport where athletes compete with one or two kettlebells (16, 24 or 32kg) for 10 minutes with the aim of getting as many repetitions (reps) as possible. 565 athletes attended the event from 36 countries, which means it was the biggest kettlebell event in the world to date.

On the day, I managed 87 reps with Per Olhans, the Swedish champion, coming in second with 85 reps, and Karsten Bollert from Germany in third with 82 reps.  There were 14 athletes in total who turned up for the event from countries across the world including Russia, USA, Australia, Serbia and England, see table below for full results:

Men’s <85K Amateur LC – World Kettlebell Championships Resultsresults

Here’s my 10 min set from the worlds championships…

I’m especially delighted to have won a gold medal in Ireland. That made it really special because my family and friends were there to give support. My wife Nic, the kids, my mother and father, my father in law, sister in law, sister, god son & niece and pal Burkie and his wife Juneanne, along with my fellow club members were all there. I really appreciated everyone being there and heard them during my set, you can hear them shouting in the video above. I had to give absolutely everything to get those last 2 reps to win and all the running up and down to Coumshingaun and jumping into the lake for months may have been the difference, thank God.

cian-2Photos by Gerry Donnelly © AIKLF 2015

In terms of big wins for me, I won a European medal in Bulgaria in July of this year and won the Pan American Open Championships the year before in Columbus Ohio at the Arnolds, but this is the biggest for me so far. It’s very satisfying to set a goal and then achieve it.

Big thanks to my wife Nicola and children for giving me the time to train and support needed to focus on the event.  Thanks to my training buddy Kieran and his wife Cathy for opening up their gaff for me to train during the winter months.  Finally, thanks to my coach Rosie from Waterford Kettlebell Club who put together an excellent training plan for me. It obviously worked!

Waterford Kettlebell Club is based in Peak Fitness in Cleaboy Business Park.  If anyone is interested in getting involved or finding out more about Kettlebell Sport in Waterford please contact Rosie or any of the lads in there and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Click here to listen to an interview I did with Open Tempo with Eoin Tubritt

It’s an amazing second chance for me to have gone from being an 18 stone unhealthy slob to <13 stone kettlebell lifting athlete over the past few years.  It was a slow progression but I’m delighted that I got on to that path and how far I’ve come. If you told me 5 years ago that I’d be a European and World Kettlebell lifting champion in 2015 I’d have laughed in your face so I guess what I’m saying is  that there is hope for everyone, if you have belief in yourself and are willing work hard.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Now back to the real world, website anyone LOL?

See previous post: ‘Santa is Real’ Music Video

santa-is-real-sparkle

Santa is Real!

My Christmas Story

Santa is Real is about remembering back to when I was a child waiting up in bed to catch Santa Claus coming into my room. One Christmas eve I could have sworn he came in and rubbed my sleepy head. Each Christmas eve I’d stay awake to see if he’d come into my room again and I heard noises on ceiling which I presumed was the sleigh thumping off the roof.

Sadly as the years went by, I forgot about Santa and the magic of Christmas and I grew up.

Later I got married and we now have two lovely children and they are so excited about Christmas eve and hope Santa will visit them too. Passing on the legend of Santa to my kids has brought all that Christmas magic back, so much so that I wrote a little song and created this cute little music video (with the help of my kids) to go along with it…

This is my Christmas story. Santa is Real :-)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Waterford Web Design!

Novel Hen Party Idea – Sallyfort Mini Farm

hen party idea waterford ireland sallyfort farmWe recently put together a new site for Dermot O’Brien in Sallyfort Farm, in Stradbally Co. Waterford.

Before I started to build the site I went for a visit to the farm to get a feel for the place.  The view of the Comeraghs was the first thing that struck me.  A magnificent panoramic view of the entire range from east to west.

Dermot then showed me around the farm, the huge indoor area, the farm itself with all the animals, the milking parlour out the back and he took me for a spin around the fields in the tractor.

He then took me for a brilliant spin through the countryside in his Fire Engine….

“Wait, did you say Fire Engine???”

Yes, Dermot took me on what I can only describe as a Safari around Stradbally, listing to music blasting away.  We went along the coast to Ballyvooney and through narrow winding country roads in a Fire Engine with the siren going.  Surreal, but some crack.

So what’s this got to do with Hen Nights?  Well, the main reason Dermot upgraded the site was to add in a service for Hen Parties with a difference.

If you’re organising a Hen Party it might be worth your while visiting the Hen Party ideas page on the Sallyfort Farm website and then talk to Dermot. You can do anything you like on site, organise food, games, drinks, beauty treatments, pet animals, go beserk on bouncy castles, milk cows, dance, take in the breathtaking views and go for a mad spin on a fire engine with Dermot.  You’re in between Waterford City and Dungarvan too so you have options with regards to having a night out on the town also.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Website

odyssey-themeWe recently built a fairly large site for Odyssey Parenting in Northern Ireland with bespoke functionality.

This site uses wordpress as a platform and has a multi user login system for administrators and trainers running Parenting Your Teen courses for the team at Odyssey.

There is an interesting process flow and a number of technologies that were used to achieve it.  Trainers apply to run the programme via the front end, which starts the process and admins then can approve trainers after vetting process.  Once approved trainers can then apply for courses for parents to attend.  Once these are approved the course is displayed via a map on the front end so that parents can apply.

The map was built using and SVG file which makes it fully responsive and interactive http://www.odysseyparenting.org/for-parents/find-a-programme/   the data fed to the SVG comes from the trainers database and so it generates the code on the fly to display the map.

Once a course is up and running stress level questionnaires are automatically delivered to parents before and after a course and are filled in via special links sent to them via email.

Administrators also have a full back office to explore attendance levels and improvements in stress levels amongst parents through filtering based on an array of demographics.

It was a challenging project, but we relished the challenge and produced a result that Odyssey were happy with. Here’s what Odyssey said about us…

“It has been a privilege working with Cian Foley in the design and development of our Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen website. His friendly, fast and efficient, delivering our brief was on time, within budget. From conception to completion of the website, his advice on what would work best for us was always smart and insightful. We would highly recommend working with Cian. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen website is everything we wished for and more. The feedback from practitioners has been very positive. Cian was and is available, looked after us personally and no question went unanswered. Cian’s advice and assistance throughout the process has been invaluable. He is experienced and dedicated which has really helped us to design and implement our website quickly and effectively and designed to a superior standard, giving us the serious online presence that we needed. We will continue our excellent relationship with Cian Foley.”

– Maria Rogan, Director for Operations