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Connie says goodbye after 16 years at Ballyspillane Centre




FOND FAREWELL: Pictured at Ballyspillane Resource Centre for the retirement celebrations of Project Coordinator Connie O'Leary from front l-r: Josie Slattery (Treasurer BOM) Eibhlín Ní Chathain (Chairperson BOM) Connie O'Leary Theresa O'Neill (Childcare & Preschool Manager) and Derek O'Leary (Incoming Project Project Coordinator). Back row l-r: Ann Moynihan (TUSLA PPFS) Cathy O'Sullivan (TUSLA PPFS) Denny Hayes (Administrator) Marian McCabe (CDW) Norma Costello (Front Office) Kayleigh Power (Family Support Officer) Louise Kiely (Family Support Worker) Sophie Haighway (Front Office) and Gerardine Breen (Front Office). Photo: Marie Carroll-O'Sullivan

With a commute of less than five minutes on foot door to door to her place of work, Connie O'Leary is the definition of the 'heart of the community'.

She has more than given back to society since she moved into her home in Ballyspillane in 1979.

After 16 years in the role, Connie is hanging up her boots as Project Coordinator at Ballyspillane Family Resource Centre.

She has always held the best interests for Ballyspillane from the word go!

"I was very lucky to have worked with the best"

Keeping the O'Leary name in passing on the reins, Derek O'Leary, (who recently appeared in last month's 'Marie Meets', with Killarney Musical Society) will succeed in filling those rather large boots!

From being a resident in the community of Ballyspillane to Project Project Coordinator at this beautiful establishment Connie, tell me how it began?

"As we lived in the area, I decided to volunteer with the local residents association in 1994 having completed Youth & Community Development Studies with UCC. With two other members of the residents committee at the time, we set up a Youth Club in Ballyspillane which we ran together for five years, and in 1995 I was elected as Chairperson of the Residents Association and held that position until 2005," Connie said.

"My role as Project Coordinator began from a store room with another member of staff at the time working out of our community facility with two rooms. In 2005 we were thrilled to be awarded Government funding to build a new centre, which was completed in 2009. Working in the community sector is never without challenges, but I knew I loved it and this is where I wanted to be. The reward is seeing the changes the services and the facilities offer to peoples' lives and the feedback from parents and local principals of the schools in our area kept us all going. It is hugely rewarding. Sitting in my office here today at the purpose-built Ballyspillane Family Resource and Childcare Centre, with a team of 20 staff providing a universal range of community and family support services to families and communities in the Killarney Municipal District area, gives me great pleasure to see how far we have come since I began my position here. It has been a shared journey in supporting the community together. We are a team here in Ballyspillane and always have been. From the different Board of Managements down through the years, to the community volunteers, past staff and the wonderful present team, I was very lucky to have worked with the best. The centre is bright, welcoming and vibrant, and offers a range of family support services including a high quality childcare service for parents and children. I am very proud to call it my place of work."

Connie, can you give me a brief outline of what services the centre offers to the public?

There are many but here are a few - community childcare, crèche &and preschool, parenting programmes, Meitheals, strengthening families programmes, counselling and play therapy, summer camps, KETB LCYP creative youth projects, family support, and support for those in Direct Provision centres, health and well-being initiatives, domestic violence awareness campaigns, mental health and suicide prevention supports. There are many more Marie but I hope this gives you an insight of the daily happenings here at the Ballyspillane Resource Centre.

Throughout your term here at the Ballyspillane Resource Centre, what have been your most memorable or proudest moments?

"There are three that spring to mind. In 2011 we were thrilled with the wider acknowledgement by Kerry County Council as a nominee of places for Mary McAleese to visit, which she did. As well as our staff, we invited a resident from each household in Ballyspillane, local VIPs and representatives from our community groups were invited to attend on this special day. In 2012 we won Pride of Place and the theme of our application was celebrating 25 years of Community Development. In 2019, in partnership with the local Residents Association, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Ballyspillane Estate, inviting the many agencies we work with to celebrate with an ecumenical community blessing at the centre."

Having been such a huge rock to the community, how will you manage to pass the door given it's literally on your doorstep?

"I am ready to retire and spend time with my family and extended family who have supported me throughout my career since the very beginning. My husband Jimmy retired during COVID, a difficult time to establish new routine, so I am looking forward to spending time with him, my daughter Miriam, Dan, and my lovely grandson Éanna. I am delighted to be retiring and even more delighted with what has been achieved while here. As a family, we are looking forward to taking a break away in the coming weeks to celebrate my retirement as well as a special someone's significant birthday. I won't be idle Marie. I am still involved in a volunteer capacity in many areas. I am very confident in Derek, and I know he will continue to do a wonderful job in bringing the centre to the next level."

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Status Orange Weather Warning for Kerry

Met Éireann has issued two weather warnings for Kerry on Wednesday, 27 September, A Status Orange warning for heavy and intense rainfall is in place from 9am to 3pm while […]




Met Éireann has issued two weather warnings for Kerry on Wednesday, 27 September,

A Status Orange warning for heavy and intense rainfall is in place from 9am to 3pm while a Status Yellow warning for strong and gusty winds is in place from 7am on Wednesday to 12am on Thursday.

Possible impacts and disruptions include difficult travelling conditions, localised and coastal flooding, power outages, fallen trees and branches and poor visibility.

Kerry County Council is advising members of the public to prepare for severe weather on Wednesday and to ensure that items vulnerable to high winds are stored away. The Council is also advising motorists to travel with extreme caution on Wednesday and to expect surface water and spot flooding on all routes.


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World Rally Champion Phil Mills’ Killarney visit

Former World co-driving champion Phil Mills will be one of the guests of honour at a special Killarney and District Motor Club event next month. The club is celebrating Prodrive’s […]




Former World co-driving champion Phil Mills will be one of the guests of honour at a special Killarney and District Motor Club event next month.

The club is celebrating Prodrive’s association with the Rally of the Lakes on October 14.

The legendary British motorsport preparation firm was responsible for building some of the most iconic associated with the local rally.

The celebration, which will raise funds for the Jack and Jill Foundation, will be hosted by the voice of Irish motorsport Alan ‘Plum’ Tyndall.

Welshman Mills, who won the 2003 World Rally Championship, alongside Petter Solberg has confirmed his attendance at the Killarney Racecourse-based event.

He is just one of many superstars attending the showcase.
“Accompanying the stars will be a collection of iconic Prodrive machinery, ranging from the BMW E30 M3, all the way through to the Subaru Group A and World Rally Cars the 1990s and early 2000s,” said Killarney and District Motor Club vice chairman and organiser Mike Shea.

“All proceeds of this event will go directly to the Jack & Jill foundation helping provide support and special care to children across the country and is a once in a lifetime event.”

This event is in association with: Lyons of Limerick; C.Wharton Tool Hire Ltd; BG Motors Ltd; Castleisland Tyre Centre; Aherns Motor Group; Reen’s Rathmore Peugeot; KC Print and Moriarty’s Central Car Sales


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