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Explore all options outside of CAO




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

Naturally, students are really focused on finalising CAO course choices ahead of the July 1 deadline but it is important to explore all the other options available outside of this too.

Some of those options are now linked on the CAO website on but they don’t share the July 1 deadline, are not based on Leaving Cert points and provide a huge variety of education and training opportunities in multiple areas and sectors. Many now also provide progression routes onto higher levels of qualifications on completion.

Further Education and Training

Check out the options at Post Leaving Cert (PLC) level in Colleges of Further Education. With almost 2,000 courses available nationwide there is something for everyone. See individual FET Colleges for more details or Applications for these courses are accepted up to the autumn start dates but popular courses do fill up early so don’t delay with your application.

At local level check out the extensive range of courses available at Apprenticeships are another fantastic option. Details of the 65 apprenticeships currently available can be found on with several more under development. Openings in apprenticeships become available throughout the year. Traineeships are another great option for skills-based and employment-focused training and they also recruit throughout the year. See for more details and also the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

For students or adults who need a more supported journey in education and training, take a look at the wonderful opportunities offered through the National Learning Network nationwide on and at local level take a look at the very successful programmes running in their Tralee centre.

Study Abroad Options

It is also still possible to apply to study outside of Ireland. To check out opportunities to study through English in Europe, go to and For anyone interested in applying to universities in the UK, the UCAS Clearing system opens on July 5 on which always has lots of great courses open to new applicants.

So the key message to all students is to take another look at all options both within CAO and outside of it. The pathways after the Leaving Cert are many and varied and pave the way for a very bright future. Make sure to check them all out in plenty of time in order to be well positioned to move on the next and exciting part of the journey!

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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Olga Tkachenko: My resilience in life is the ability to see only the good

Olga Tkachenko and I run five kilometres every Saturday with the Killarney House Parkrun. This fragile and smiling woman always runs easily and beats me every time. It seems that […]




Olga Tkachenko and I run five kilometres every Saturday with the Killarney House Parkrun.

This fragile and smiling woman always runs easily and beats me every time.

It seems that everything in her life is as easy as jogging.

But this is not quite so.

Olga grew up in Donetsk city, Donbass region. Her sister Maryna and parents lived here. A large and friendly family, they owed a holiday home in the region and would gather there for vacations and holidays. This house was a symbol of this family.

In 2014, Russian troops entered Donetsk and drove their military equipment right into the yard of the house.

From here they started shelling the Donetsk airport.

Soon the house was completely destroyed. All that remains of the house are two walls and a few pots. The family nest was devastated. Her sister Maryna tried to save the surviving property and came under fire. Fortunately, she was not injured.

Olga moved her parents to another place, and she went to Kyiv with her husband and children. All they took with them were two laptops and a few warm things. Life had to start from scratch.

Olga’s sister Maryna moved to Dnipro city, where she found a new job.

The sisters went their separate ways, but still maintained a very close relationship, calling and supporting each other every day.

Maryna’s husband and Olga’s husband are brothers and share the same last name – Tkachenko.

They have children two months apart. Olga jokes that she and her sister have a topic to talk about – their common father-in-law and mother-in-law.

Having lost their homes in 2014 due to Russia’s military aggression in Donbas, the sisters built their lives in two different cities – Irpen (near Kyiv) and Dnipro. But when the war broke out in 2022, they found themselves together again.

The sisters managed to board an evacuation train bound for Poland. Again, they only had one bag each and a one-way ticket.

“Fear drove us as far as possible. The main goal was to save the children. We did not know where we were going. We wanted to escape as far as possible from the war and the borders of Russia,” says Olga.

After staying in a refugee camp in Poland for several days, they decided to go to Ireland.
Were they worried about going into the unknown?

But Olga says that when she is together with her sister, it gives both women confidence and stability. Together, it’s not so scary anymore.

Olga says that it is impossible to get used to the fact that you lose your home every time and get used to life. It is impossible to accept that everything has to be started from new.

But she has one secret of resilience – the ability to see the good in the circumstances in which you find yourself.

Here in Killarney Olga focuses on the beautiful nature, she learns a new language, and goes jogging. She never regrets.

Olga’s sister Maryna Tkachenko has already found a job and works in as a designer in Killarney. The sisters help each other a lot and are very worried about their parents and grandmother, who remaine in Ukraine.

“Our parents spent a month under the occupation of Russian troops in a village near Kyiv. My 70-year-old mother, as in 2014, went to negotiate with Russian soldiers and persuaded them not to shoot. We are glad that our parents’ house survived this time. Because in 2014 we already lost one home. Our parents would not have survived this a second time,” adds Olga.

That is why she will soon go back to Ukraine.

She explains her motives: “I want to be where I am most needed. My eldest daughter, parents and grandmother are in Ukraine. My daughter works as a volunteer every week, clearing the rubble of buildings, so I want to help my country as well. After dismantling the ruins, we will see our beautiful country again.”


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Jon Kenny to star in hilarious comedy in the INEC

Michael Scott’s iconic production of John B. Keane’s hilarious dramatic comedy The Matchmaker is coming to the INEC next month.  The play opened in Spirit in January 2001 starring Anna Managhan and Des Keogh. […]




Michael Scott’s iconic production of John B. Keane’s hilarious dramatic comedy The Matchmaker is coming to the INEC next month. 

The play opened in Spirit in January 2001 starring Anna Managhan and Des Keogh. The production went on to tour Ireland, sell-out at the Edinburgh Festival, become a video and DVD with Sony, a BBC Radio Series, and play ‘off Broadway’.

Many of Ireland’s leading actors have joined the production over the years, including, Mary McEvoy, Ann Charleston (Madge in Neighbours), Geraldine Plunkett, Des Nealon and the late Mick Lally, one of our most loved actors.

Now for its 21st year, one of Ireland’s leading dramatic actresses Norma Sheahan joins Jon Kenny, who was part of the Irish comic duo d’Unbelievables with Pat Shortt, in this iconic production at the Gleneagle INEC Arena on September 18. Together they play a myriad of characters in this hilarious and earthy dramatic comedy.

The play follows the efforts of Dicky Mick Dicky O’Connor to make matches for the lonely and lovelorn. Using his inimitable way with words and his one sense of “devilment” and wit, Keane delves into the longings, hungers, fears and foibles of this collection of lonely country people and creates a marvellously colourful world, taking us back to a simpler time, when phones were few and far between and the only web was one left behind by spiders.

Norma Sheahan loved by audiences from her roles in The Clinic, Bridget and Eamon and Moone Boy, is the only other actress apart from Vanessa Redgrave to have sold out the Gaiety Theatre in a one woman show (not once, but twice) in her role as Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine which has just completed an enormously successful national tour. The production is directed by Michael Scott.

Tickets from €27.90 are on sale now from and 

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