A few weeks ago a surprise phone call from CARE my local cancer care center in Clonmel led to an invitation to attend a two night residential stay at LARRC  http://cancersupport.ie/about-us/our-team/ (Lakeland Area Retreat & Cancer Centre), which is now a National Cancer Support Centre.

I agreed to go as I have generally taken all opportunities presented to me in the last two years, I’ve become a bit like Jim Carey in that film Yes Man…….. luckily it hasn’t caused me as much problems as Jim had in the film. I’m always afraid if I refuse next time an opportunity comes I might not be well enough to participate, so it’s a case of Carpe Diem for me from now on………..

My middle child was a bit concerned that I might find myself incarcerated in some religious cult, and asked what I would do if they tried to convert me while I was there,……. I assured her I would find the nearest bus stop…….. and use my newly acquired free travel card to make my way home to our Agnostic/Atheist strong hold…….. So it was with some amusement I realised that the LARCC building is actually part of an old Agricultural College that is attached to one of the oldest Friaries in Ireland……the grounds contain very unique life-size stations of the cross, I did get a bit of a start when I stumbled across them at dusk one evening, It’s not my cup of tea, but I could appreciate how set in the lovely woodland grounds with a babbling stream they bring solace to the many visitors that come there to pray…………, but it is strictly optional for anyone attending the sanctuary in fact because of the separate entrances to both buildings, you might never know the friary was even next door,…………. it is worth a visit if not for mass just to see the beauty of the stained glass windows and the cut limestone walls, it’s a beautiful building, and admired by all creatures large and small…………so much so, I was joined by a little mouse as I sat in the peace and quiet admiring the architecture.


The Cancer sanctuary staff made me and my travelling companions, very welcome from the moment we arrived. We were greeted with a lovely lunch of baked cod, followed by a healthy fruit plate, there was a strong emphasis on eating healthy as the Multyfarnham Cookery School is also part of the old Agri college and the award-winning team of Dan and his lovely wife Kamalika provided all our meals during our stay and Dan kindly gave us a cookery lesson on our first evening…………we were spoilt, every meal they had something unique and delicious and nutritious for us to eat and they also provided snacks and homemade Juices for us to nibble and drink throughout the day……its not surprising they won Best Cookery School in Ireland 2016 seeing off some very stiff competiton. Kamalika even created a booklet containing all the recipes we had tasted and many more for us to take home and try out, which was a lovely surprise.

Kamalika & Dan Multyfarnham Cookery School

On our second morning we went on a field trip, to Belvedere House and Gardens, we travelled with the lovely Briga and Mariaed and took a leisurely stroll around the house and gardens, we got to see it at its stunning best as it was a beautiful day, and many of the flowers and shrubs were in full bloom. It’s a place you could happily spend a day,……….something for everyone, the lakeside walk with playgrounds on route would keep little ones entertained not to mention the Fairy garden which is beautiful. Full of nooks and crannies……….. Belvedere is a real gem, if I lived closer I would be a regular visitor. There is a lovely coffee shop for a well needed rest after exploring the gardens and woodlands, and if I find myself in that part of the country I will definitely be stopping off for another visit……………

View from Belvedere House to Lough

 Belvedere Fairy Garden
Lough Ennell

When we returned to LARCC, Kamalika again had outdone herself with a beautiful Sri-Lankian chicken curry and saffron rice served on Banana leaves with Dhal. It tasted as good as it looked…………..it didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture but it was packed full of tasty veg and I will be making it for family soon, now I have the recipe from my booklet…………….. after lunch we had another treat in store we had the second of our relaxation therapies. The therapists are all highly qualified and the therapy rooms like little oasis of calm, I really enjoyed my reflexology session and the MLD facial massage I was so relaxed I nodded off, hope I wasn’t snoring…………

We all had our own private bedroom with en suite and got to choose on arrival which we would like to stay in……………, they were very comfortable with plenty of fluffy towels supplied, but also a call bell if anyone should need help at any stage throughout their stay. I didn’t do any research on the centre and all I had to go on was the enthusiasm of Seamus from CARE, and some info on the medical form that had to be completed, in order to attend. Safety is taken very seriously and there are fully qualified nurses on call at all times throughout the residential stays. The nurses were lovely and we stayed up chatting very late with Catherine on our final night, we had thought about heading down to the village for a drink but as the night unfolded we were enjoying the chat after dinner too much to move……………maybe next time.

On our final morning, after breakfast, we had a lovely meditation session with Ger, she spoke about the value in all of us taking some time out for ourselves each day, allow yourself the time to unwind and relax, as I headed home to Tipperary that’s how I felt……..relaxed and refreshed, LARCC can offer many different experiences,  go for the food……….the therapies…………..the spirtuality of the friary………….the counselling…………the space to gather your thoughts…………the understanding and kindness of strangers……………

Thank you to all at CARE Clonmel, the staff at LARCC  and those who continue to fundraise and contribute so these centres can continue to provide these services it’s really appreciated by those that use them…………………