Where we are:
Downe U3A is based in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, an hour’s drive from Belfast in one direction and from the border with the Irish Republic in the other. Downpatrick’s claim to fame lies in a grave where (allegedly) Saint Patrick is buried but there are lots of authenticated historical connections which our local museum promotes very well.

Membership/Activities:
After 5 years we have almost 200 members who can choose from 21 interest groups; Art, Books 1, Books 2, Bridge, Circle dancing, Computing, Concerts, Crafts, Film, Hill walking, History, Lunch, Opera, Out & About, Poetry Appreciation, Scrabble, Singing, Tai Chi, Theatre, Travel, Walking, Website, Wine Tasting, as well as a monthly meeting with a speaker. We are lucky to have the use of the clubhouse of Downpatrick Golf Club (which has a course described as one of golf’s hidden gems), but we also use local halls and homes. In a recent development we came to an agreement to show opera in the local cinema which otherwise would be unused in the mornings.

First and foremost we provide a social life and keep minds and bodies active. We offer mainly interest groups rather than classes. Our groups generally have fewer than 15 people at each event so that new members can soon widen their circle of friends, especially if we finish off with lunch or coffee.

Personal comment
Personally, through my U3A membership, I have read books which I would not otherwise have picked up, gone to the theatre and watched films, learned about (and enjoyed) different wines including one from India, developed an interest in Irish history and researching it, learned how to set up and maintain a website, learned how to relax through tai chi and discovered great local walks which took me to places I did not know about.

Sheila Magee