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Des Cahill wanted part of the Killarney Advertiser action

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Acclaimed sports broadcaster Des Cahill was so enamoured by the formula of the Killarney Advertiser that he once considered buying it, according to a passage in his autobiography ‘Play It Again Des’.

Cahill, who spent 40 years in journalism – some of it in the print media but most of it with RTÉ – resided in Killarney in the 1980s and was so impressed with the town’s number one publication that he even thought about purchasing it from founder and owner Danny Casey, the father of current Managing Director Cormac Casey.

“It was owned by Danny Casey, a great character, and he mentioned at one stage that he might sell it,” Cahill reflects, although it’s likely that Danny was engaging in some friendly banter with the young journalist. “He must have thought it was ludicrous that a young fella like me would talk to him about buying it, but I was interested, the thought struck me that you could have a good business and really develop it.

“Danny had a very successful formula, the paper was free but advertising paid for it, but I doubt he took me seriously when we spoke. Apart from anything I wouldn’t have had the money to buy it. Anyway, God knows what kind of an accent I would have ended up with if I’d stayed there for 25 years.”

On several occasions Cahill relates how lucky he has been in life to do the job that he loves so much. His father was the principal teacher in Corofin in Co. Clare and Des was born in Ennis Hospital. What he did not know for many years was why they moved to Dublin but one day he was trawling through the local Clare newspapers in the National Library when he came across the report of drownings in a lake in Clare.

His father’ first wife and two of her children went swimming in a local lake one day and all three were drowned. After this tragedy, Des’ father moved to a Dublin school and remarried. So Des spent most of his life in Dublin.

His father got rid of the TV so they depended on the radio and this is where Des got hooked on the drama of sport. He studied for his journalism certification in Rathmines and started his career at the tender age of 18 with the Irish Press. He spent some time in Carlow and then four years with the Kerryman. Donal Hickey was a great help to him. He also introduced him to the bog and that heavy work did not suit the soft city boy.

Donal and Des were the first to break the story of the Kerry babies and Joanne Hayes. Des says that he is a real softie at heart and felt so much for the innocent Joanne Hayes who had to wait for 34 years (January 2018) before she got an apology from the gardaí. They secured a DNA profile that confirmed that she could not have been the mother of the Cahersiveen baby.

He also relates how he joined the Crokes. He was in the Fáilte Hotel talking to Dermot O’Callaghan who suggested to him to call into Eddie O’Sullivan in the Tatler Jack pub. “If I’d been sent across the road to Murphy’s Bar I’d have ended up playing for the Legion.”

He relates a very funny incident playing at full forward for the Crokes junior team against Firies on a very wet day. The umpire was very vocal and supportive of Des cheering wildly when he scored and giving out about the rough play of the Firies full back. He followed them down to the other goal for the second half. That was unusual. All was revealed at the end of the game when the umpire said, “I’ve an auld court case coming up next week, if you could keep it out of the paper…”

This was typical of the people in Kerry; they were mortified that their names would be in The Kerryman for drink driving and other places where they might have broken the law.
He really enjoyed reporting on the then Killarney UDC where some of the councillors would make these big speeches if they saw him writing. They wanted to get their names in The Kerryman while other people wanted to keep their names out of the paper. Welcome to the Kerry psyche, said Des. He had great admiration for Maurice O’Donoghue and for Michael Healy-Rae.

A job came up in 1984 in RTE so with tears in his eyes, he and Caroline left Killarney. He got the job in RTÉ but he makes an unexpected admission. “To this day I really do not have a good broadcasting voice. It’s undeniably squeaky, so I feared I would perish on that rock.”

He need not have worried as he soon made his mark on radio and on TV. He travelled all over the world to cover all kinds of sports where there were Irish athletes taking part. Included are the Tour de France, the Olympics, soccer in Saipan and many more. He met with and interviewed world superstars. These included Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Katie Taylor, Sonia O’Sullivan, Kelly and Roche and Michael Phelps, who has 28 Olympic medals.

He is fluent in Irish and has a great grá for the language. He interviewed Michelle Smith for Radio na Gaeltachta and got to like her. She was defiant to the end but her medals were tainted after Atlanta. She maintains that she never tampered with the sample. However, she is erased from sporting history because of the loss of faith after the whiskey in the jar.

There is an interesting chapter on The Sunday Game and the various pundits. He has an interesting take on Joe Brolly who is always “pushing out the boundaries.” He goes on to say that he is “kind, generous, social-minded person, but he is also the greatest hoor on earth. He is a cranky, whingey, fecker and that is all rolled into one.” One other point Des makes is that he does not dye his hair.

He also does a piece on the part he played in Dancing With the Stars and how he got over his nervousness to go so far in the competition.

The style of this book is very readable and he does give us a great insight on the way sports reporting develops for a man that is consumed by it all and likes nothing more than bringing it to the listeners and viewers. Des concludes that, “life has its bleak and dark sides but there are some incredibly uplifting and positive moments, the most inspirational people, and sport regularly reflects that… I have been lucky in my life. I ended up with the best job in Ireland.”

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Possible return to campus for college students

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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