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Education and training opportunities for learners who need extra support




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

Have you or someone you support faced significant challenges which have impacted on your experience to access education and training opportunities?

If so, I highly recommend that you check out the services offered by the National Learning Network (NLN) centres nationwide? NLN provides education, training and specialist support to students and adults with extra support needs.

Over the years I have seen students who have faced big challenges personally, educationally and socially go on to develop their skills and self-confidence by completing courses which are suited to their interests at a pace which suits their learning needs. NLN offer courses which are designed to help build student’s confidence, knowledge, assertiveness, and to give them independent living skills. Most students progress onto further education or employment.

Who are these courses for?

NLN provides training and specialist support to young people and adults who, for a variety of reasons, may find it difficult to gain employment or need extra support before progressing in education. This includes young people who may not want to, or be equipped to, access traditional post-school pathways. Regardless of circumstances, be it long-term unemployment, physical or mental illness, disability or extra support needs, the NLN offers a welcoming and supportive environment for students from the age of 16 to 65.

NLN has 50 centres across Ireland which offer courses in a welcoming environment for participants. There are 70 programmes available at a mix of levels and are accredited by QQI, City and Guilds and other recognised awarding bodies. The courses vary from centre to centre but cover multiple options such as business, catering, computers, horticulture, art and design, wellness, employability skills and much more.
There really is something for everyone! The courses provide relevant practical experience gained in meaningful work placement and classroom-based learning.

You can check out the full list on -

Key aspects of the NLN education and training programmes include:

* Continuous enrolment (students can start any time)
* Small class sizes
* Personalised learning
* Free courses – all courses are funded by the HSE or the local ETB
* Students keep any social welfare payments they are entitled to
* Person-centred approach where every course is tailored to the student’s needs and delivered at their pace
* On-site psychologist to support student’s well-being and learning goals
* Course sampling – many students try a course out before committing
* Job-seeking skills – CV writing and interview techniques

NLN are running a national Open Day this Wednesday (August 24) from 11am to 1pm. Potential students, adults and parents are invited to drop into any of the their centres nationwide to chat to staff and see the wide range of diverse courses available. For more details on your local NLN centre and on how to apply check out, email and follow on @NLNireland on social media platforms. It will be the start of an exciting journey. National Learning Network Kerry are based in Clash Industrial Estate, Tralee and can be contacted on or 066 712 2533.

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 - See or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Ireland’s oldest citizen has Killarney connections

Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week. Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections. The previous record […]




Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week.

Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections.

The previous record was held by 107-year-old Nancy Stewart who died on September 10 2021.

Although born in Belfast, Máirín went to school in the Mercy Convent. Her father was a customs and excise officer and the family moved around a lot eventually coming to Killarney after spells in County Down and Dublin.

Her mother came from the Rathmore area and her father was from Newmarket in County Cork.

She attended the Mercy Convent and has, in previous interviews, recalled growing up on the shores of Lough Lein.

“Neighbours who had three children were given the job of taking me to school,” she said. “They were annoyed because the children were going to school for two or three years but I was put in to the same class as them – my mother had taught me.”

In 2021 she featured in the book ‘Independence Memories: A People’s Portrait of the Early Days of the Irish Nation’, sharing stories of being kept in school in Killarney during an attack on the RIC barracks down the road.

In 1924 she started a degree in science and a diploma in education at University College Cork, before working in the pathology lab in University College Cork’s Department of Medicine for 16 years.

last year she recalled her story on the podcast: ‘Living History – Irish Life and Lore’.

During the broadcast she talked about her parents’ membership of the Gaelic League in 1910; the Spanish Flu in Ireland in 1918; The Black and Tans in Killarney in 1921; the early days of the new Free State; Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932, visiting the Basket Islands in 1929; and working in the UCC medical laboratory from 1932 until 1948.

This week President Michael D. Higgins hosted an afternoon tea event to celebrate the important role that a variety of people have and can play in different communities and Máirín was among the guests of honour.

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Philip is running over 100kms for Cancer charity

Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday. Phillip has already […]




Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday.

Phillip has already completed four half marathons at various locations around Killarney – all in aid of Kerry Cancer Support Group – or the Cancer Bus as it popularly called.

This is the second time that Phillip has run four half marathon and an official race for the charity.

Back in 2021 he finished with 5km Run Killarney event but his finishing race this time around is over eight times the distance at 42kms.

“We are delighted with Philip’s continued fundraising support but also with his awareness raising for the charity,” Breda Dyland, Service Manager Kerry Cancer Support Trust.

“We are getting busier all the time and still get no statutory funding so are dependent on fundraisers like Philip’s to keep us on the road. We have just put our new wheelchair accessible bus on the Cork route so Philip’s funding will be going towards the operation of this vehicle.”


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