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Death of talented actor sends shock throughout Killarney and beyond 

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The untimely passing of talented actor, renowned drama coach, playwright, producer, director and performer, Donal 'Donie' Courtney, has sent shockwaves through the town and beyond. 

Donie in full flow in St Mary’s Church in June 2019. Photo courtesy of Don MacMonagle

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The married father of two passed away on Saturday following a short illness.

The Ardshanavooley man, son of former town councillor Michael and his wife Sheila Courtney, was most well known for his one man show 'God Has No Country' as part of the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Society. Most recently he had set up the West End House School of Arts in Killarney, a professional acting school with his close friend and Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender. 

Donie graduated from Dublin’s Gaiety School of Acting in 1991 and acquired an MA in Theatre Practice from the University of Maynooth. Acting credits include 'The Importance of Being Earnest', 'Philadelphia, here I come!', 'The Man from Clare', 'The Crazy Wall', 'The Chastitute', 'In High Germany', 'Homefront', 'Antigone', and 'Waiting for Godot' and TV work such as 'The Tudors', 'Fair City', 'Acceptable Risk', 'Cutting Grass' and 'Marú'.

"It was with great shock and sadness that we heard of the untimely passing of our dear friend Donie Courtney," Gerry O'Grady from the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Society said.

"In late 2012, Donie, the son of our founding Chairman the late Cllr Michael Courtney, contacted the O’Flaherty Society to advise us of his intentions to write, produce and perform a “one man play” on the life of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. From our archives and through the O’Flaherty family contacts, we assisted Donie with whatever background information we could source. It was his intention to have the play ready for its Killarney premiere during the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Week in late October 2013, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Monsignor’s death and the unveiling of the Memorial on Mission Road. The title of the play would be the Monsignor’s motto of “God Has No Country”. True to his word, Donie performed his play for a three-night run in the Mangerton Room theatre at the Great Southern Hotel. It was a remarkable piece of writing and acting, attracting high praise from all who saw it."

Donal went on to perform 'God Has No Country' around Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA. This included a very special performance in Rome at the invitation of the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See. In February 2019, the play had its 100th performance during a short run at the INEC in Killarney.

"Prior to that performance, we presented Donie with one of Monsignor O’Flaherty’s golf clubs. He made extensive use of a golf club throughout the play and from then on, he could do so with one used by the Monsignor during his golfing exploits in Rome and Kerry.

"Donie’s last performance for us was during the June 2019 Memorial weekend when we presented the Hugh O’Flaherty Humanitarian Award to members of the Irish UN peacekeepers. The centrepiece of the ceremony in St Mary’s Church of Ireland was 'God Has No Country', performed before Government Ministers and Officials, Defence Force Senior Staff Officers, UN Veterans and several foreign Ambassadors.

Before the onset of COVID-19 we were in regular contact with Donie, discussing his plans to extend the touring programme. Through his play, he has dramatically extended the reach of the Hugh O’Flaherty story, in particular throughout the student population of Ireland.

The members of the Memorial Society will greatly miss Donie – a true friend of the Society, using his great creative talent to help us spread awareness in a most unique way. To his wife Adeline and his two young children and to his siblings and the wider Courtney family, we extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences. A master dramatist has left us, but his legacy remains.
Codladh Samh Donie, - May You Rest in Peace."

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Top 10 Essential tips for Leaving Cert Students in lead up to June 5

The final weekend leading up to the Leaving Cert exams can be very tough, as you try to balance last minute revision with much needed rest after a long, exhausting […]

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The final weekend leading up to the Leaving Cert exams can be very tough, as you try to balance last minute revision with much needed rest after a long, exhausting year.

The natural anxiety felt by students is often heightened by the annual media hype around the state exams and it is really important that you do your best to manage that stress effectively, so that you are ready to perform to the best of your ability once the exams start. The following tips may help to keep you focused and a little calmer in the lead up to June 5.

1. Review, don’t cram – Focus on summary notes, flashcards, or mind maps. This reinforces what you’ve already studied. Prioritise areas where you feel less confident, but don’t try to learn new material.

2. Practise past papers – Review marking schemes and time allocation for each question you will need to answer on each paper. Practise a sample of questions against the clock. This will maximise your scoring potential.

3. Organise your materials – Check the exam timetable and highlight your own exams. Prepare the stationary that you need, gather pens, pencils, calculators, and so on. Pack your bag the night before to avoid last-minute stress.

4. Maintain a healthy balance – Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night. Proper rest is crucial for memory, concentration and stamina. Eat well, include proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs in your meals to maintain energy levels. Drink plenty of water, hydration is essential.

5. Try to manage stress – Schedule short breaks during study sessions and do something enjoyable and relaxing, like a short walk, playing or listening to music. Get fresh air and some light exercise. Use relaxation techniques like breathing exercise, mindfulness and meditation.

6. Focus on a positive mindset – Focus on your strengths and remind yourself of your preparation. Concentrate on what you know and not on what you think you don’t! Try to avoid negative self-talk and steer clear of discussions that heighten anxiety, such as comparing how much you’ve studied with friends.

7. Plan your weekend – Create a realistic timetable for the weekend, balancing study sessions with breaks and relaxation and don’t overdo the study. You need plenty of energy for the exams.

8. Stay connected – Talk to friends and family, if you are feeling overwhelmed reach out and get support from loved ones. If it’s helpful, have a short, focused study session with friends to clarify doubts.

9. Keep things in perspective – The Leaving Cert is important but won’t define you and regardless of what happens you have several options open to you. Try to reframe the media hype as the whole country getting behind you, for what they know to be a tough time for you.

10. Get Set for exam day – Double-check the venue, seating arrangements, and required materials for the day of the exam. On the evening before the exam, do a light review of key concepts but avoid heavy studying. Ensure you know how to get to the exam venue and plan to arrive early (at least 30 mins on the first day). Decide what you’ll wear to avoid rushing in the morning and have your water and snacks ready to go.

Above all else, give the exams your best shot! Once they are over you have a lovely ‘study-free’ summer and bright future to look forward to. Go n-éirí libh ar fad, the very best of luck to each and every one of you!

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Disability toilets for Killarney Library

Works to build new toilet facilities for people with disabilities should commence later this year. Cllr Marie Moloney tabled a motion at a recent Kerry County Council meeting. She said: […]

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Works to build new toilet facilities for people with disabilities should commence later this year.

Cllr Marie Moloney tabled a motion at a recent Kerry County Council meeting.
She said: “Application has been made for funding to the Department. As soon as the funding is approved, work will commence on the provision of Disabled Toilet Facilities.
“While ramps are installed for accessibility, it is unacceptable that any public building be without disabled toilet facilities in this day and age.
“I am aware of several people with a disability who constantly use the services of the Library and are very happy with the staff and the services that Killarney Library offers but are disappointed at the lack of disabled toilets.”
“I will be keeping the pressure on to have these facilities provided as soon as possible.”

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