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Helen highlights the importance of hospice care




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 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: 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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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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