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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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Killarney twinned with Italian town

By Sean Moriarty It has taken 10 years but the Italian town of Casperia is now an official twin town with Killarney. The idea to twin the picturesque town near […]




By Sean Moriarty

It has taken 10 years but the Italian town of Casperia is now an official twin town with Killarney.

The idea to twin the picturesque town near Rome was first mooted by the old Killarney Town Council.

However, when town councils were discontinued in 2014 the task was handed over to Killarney Town Twining Association and was supported by the elected Killarney Municipal District members of Kerry County Council.

A delegation from the association and the council visited Casperia in 2019 to sign the Italian side of the twining agreement.

The pandemic further delayed the process but on Thursday last Killarney Mayor Niall Kelleher and Casperia Mayor Marco Cusso met to formally sign the charter in Killarney.

“This was honouring a commitment made by the former town council to establish a twinning under European guidelines back in 2014,” said association chairman Sean Counihan.

“Unfortunately the town councils were abolished and Killarney Town Twinning Association pursued the matter.

“We are delighted that the municipal authority saw fit to move the beautiful town of Casperia near Rome from association status to full twinning with Killarney.

“We deeply appreciate the members’ positivity in honouring the former Town Council’s decision.”

The signing between the two mayors took place over the St Patrick’s Festival weekend when Killarney Town Twining Association also welcomed groups from other towns like Pleindfeld in Germany and Concord, North Carolina, USA.


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Music and fun at Fossa Rambling House

By Sean Moriarty The Fossa Two Mile branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann held its first Rambling House night of music and dance on Saturday night. Their return to the stage […]




By Sean Moriarty

The Fossa Two Mile branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann held its first Rambling House night of music and dance on Saturday night.

Their return to the stage was timed to coincide with the St Patrick’s weekend celebration and also marked the first big event at the Castlerosse Park Resort since it re-opened on Thursday night following its winter break.

As well as a feat of Irish music, dance and poetry, Fossa-based Ukrainians gave performances in their native language too.

“What a great night we had at our CCÉ Rambling House last Saturday night,” Chairman Tim Kissane said.

“There are so many people to thank that we apologise in advance if we miss anybody out. Firstly, to the management and staff Castlerosse Park Resort for hosting our event and the wonderful service they provided.

“To our very talented stalwart musicians Mike Jack, Noreen and Maura who entertained us all so well from start to finish.

“To all our guest performers, from The Racing Pigeons to the Biddy Group and all the singers, musicians and storytellers in between go raibh mile maith agaibh. Special mention to our Ukrainian singers who performed two songs in their native language for us on the night. Thank you to all our members and supporters and to Fear an Tí, Mick Myers agus Bean an Tí, Theresa Kissane who kept the night flowing. Our fireplace display was kindly lent to us by the Beaufort Pioneers and adorned with ‘things of old’ from Brendan O’Sullivan.”


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