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Helen highlights the importance of hospice care

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Fulfilling her husband's dying wish led to a young widow's drive to highlight the importance of a hospice which cared for him in his final days.

Kerry Hospice Foundation staff made sure Derry (Jeremiah) O'Leary (44) got to see his favourite horse-racing festival with friends in the comfort of his own home, just weeks before he passed away.

Derry was so impressed with the care and treatment given to him that he asked his heartbroken wife Helen Mannix O’Leary to hold a fundraiser for the centre after his death.

The hugely popular resident of Muckross Road - and native of Inch, Kilcummin - lost his three year battle with lung cancer on April 11, 2020 - COVID-19 restrictions depriving many friends and relatives the chance to say their goodbyes at his funeral.

So Helen staged a coffee morning as a way to say thank you to the hospice for helping her husband keep his independence right up to the end.

She will be doing so again on Thursday, September 22 - and is also asking others to register to host a coffee morning as part of the Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice at www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or by calling 0818 995 996.

The nationwide event, which has raised over €41.5 million since its inception, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

"We were engaged for 10 years and married for just seven when he died. He was sick for three years, but he put up a great fight," Helen said.

"He was a huge sports fan and a Liverpool supporter but he absolutely adored horse-racing. He went to the Cheltenham Festival each year and to many of the local meetings, where everyone knew him.

"Indeed, it was at the Galway Races that he proposed to me. Due to his illness, he couldn't go to Cheltenham in 2020 and ahead of it, on February 26, he got really sick and was taken to the hospice.

"He made the nursing team promise to have him back home in time to watch the racing on his own TV with friends and relatives."

Horse-racing kept him going through his illness but the hospice ensured his independence until the very end, with everything he needed to pass away at home, she explained.

Together for Hospice, The National Hospice Movement represents 26 hospice and specialist palliative home care providers supporting patients and their families nationwide.

Funds raised locally stay local and go back into each local hospice service, helping to pay for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home care visits, specialist equipment and new hospice builds.

"COVID-19 restrictions only allowed immediate family to see him at the end and no-one was allowed to attend his funeral. I found this really hard because he was hugely popular in the parish and beyond,” added Helen.

"We were a young couple who didn't even think of sickness when this happened and all of a sudden, we were relying on people to get us through it and that's what the hospice staff did.

"I had to think about how I was going to continue paying the bills and the mortgage as well as other issues like getting a medical card.

"These are basic things that I never thought I'd have to know about and I didn't know the first place to begin looking for answers.

"The hospice staff were incredible. They had a dedicated person to guide me through every step. No question was silly to them and they just knew what to do to make things a little better at every turn.

Derry knew he wouldn't get to hold a fundraiser to say thank you for everything the hospice did and so he made me promise to hold one for them.

“A coffee morning felt like the right thing to do and it gave people who couldn't get to the funeral a chance to get together and remember him with laughter because he was such a character.

"No-one thinks about hospice care until it's needed but unfortunately our story could be anyone else's tomorrow."

Register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22, or on a date that suits you, at: www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call-save 0818 995 996. Hosts are provided with a free Coffee Morning Pack containing Bewley’s coffee, posters and invitations.

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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.

Performance

Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at mike@theislandinvestor.com.

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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]

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By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.

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