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Killarney Guide Leaders achieve Guiding’s highest accolade!



WHAT A CHALLENGE: Sarah Canavan (left) and Sarah Kenny (right), who completed the Explorer Belt challenge in Belgium.


“It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience”

By Michelle Crean

While living on just €3.25 a day and completing a 180km hike and 12 projects in 10 days - two Killarney Guide Leaders reached the pinnacle of Guiding!

Sarah Canavan (23) of Knockasartnett and her team-mate, Sarah Kenny (23) of Firieswere among 12 Irish Girl Guides members to take on the Explorer Belt challenge in Belgium - while carrying all their camping and cooking equipment, clothes, food and water.

The challenge is held every three or four years to test the skills young women have learned through their involvement in Guiding.

The two Sarahs, along with 12 Irish Girl Guides, kept a log book and successfully completed a series of projects during their 10-day survival adventure in the Westhoek region. The projects involved finding out about the local culture, history and geography without using a smartphone and doing a service for the local community. Their route took in many of the Flanders Fields historical battle sites as well as towns and countryside and a day at the seaside.

“Overall, it was a great experience,” Sarah Kenny, who works as a dietitian in St James’s Hospital in Dublin, said. “There were many challenges and long days but the people we met along the way were so lovely and so kind. One of the highlights was our first indoor night when we didn’t have to put up our tent, and our lovely hosts made us dinner. Another was finding the most delicious ice-cream after a long day walking.”

There were many challenges along the way but the two Sarahs never felt like giving up. “Some days were hard but I think we were both a bit too stubborn to give up,” said Sarah Kenny.

The highlights were meeting the local people – “everyone was so welcoming” – and learning about World War 1, she added.

“I genuinely didn’t know anything about World War 1 before taking part in the Belt,” Sarah Canavan, a Commerce student at NUI Galway, said.

There were blisters, sunburn and extreme tiredness at times during the 10 days, but these subsided on the last day when they were collected by the organisers.

“The biggest highlight was definitely getting on the bus at the end and collecting all the other teams and hearing their stories,” said Sarah Kenny. “Receiving the Explorer Belt, following the assessment interviews, was such a great feeling. We were extremely nervous beforehand and had convinced ourselves we weren’t going to get it.”

“There was pain at times but I cannot remember the pain now,” Sarah Canavan said. “It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”





Carols by Candlelight

    St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas […]






St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas 2023, December17, at 7.00pm. Admission is free.

Ten Choirs from Killarney parish will join together and sing some of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols.
The carol service is directed by accomplished Musician and Choral Director, Paula Gleeson. Originally from Cork, her family have been involved in all aspects of choral and church music for 50 years.

“This is the best experience as director, working with Fr. Kieran O’Brien, and St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir, I get to work with so many talented people in Killarney. The commitment of Teachers, Principals, and the hundreds of students from the Primary and Secondary Schools is inspiring. The generosity of our sponsors, who were so willing to contribute has helped to make this night a reality. We are all so truly grateful,” she said.

Choirs include:
St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish Choir, organist Anita Lakner
Holy Cross Mercy School Choir
St. Oliver’s Primary School Choir
St. Brigid’s Secondary School Choir
St. Brendan’s Secondary School Choir
Killarney Harmonisers
Killarney Community College School Choir
Lissivigeen National School Choir
Gaelscoil Faithleann School Choir
Presentation Monastery School Choir

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The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians



Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.


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