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Killarney men experience one of California’s worst fires

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By Michelle Crean

As one of the largest blazes in California's history rages on, two Killarney locals tell the Killarney Advertiser this week just how bad the situation is.

 

[caption id="attachment_33918" align="alignleft" width="239"] DEVASTATING: Kieran Guerin says the fires are so devastating that he has witnessed a friend lose his house.[/caption]

Kieran Guerin from Gortroe moved to San Francisco in 2003 and then on to Napa in 2011, and says the fires are so devastating that he has witnessed a friend lose his house.

Tony Lynch, originally from Countess Grove, lives about an hour's drive from the worst affected areas but says that they are not immune to its affects as heavy smoke is continuously in the air.

The fires are so dangerous that smoke has even travelled 5,000 miles to Europe and experts say California is experiencing its worst fire year since the Great Fire of 1910 tore through more than three million acres.

It first ignited on September 4 burning through 286,519 acres to date, destroying one hundred structures with another 6,723 under threat. Authorities say that only 32 percent of the fire is contained so far.

"This year's fires steadily grew and honestly most of them are still going with over 18,000 firemen battling the blaze now," Kieran said. "So far 15 people have died. This one is still about 25 miles north of me but the one three years ago was no more than a quarter mile from my house with the wind fanning the blaze right towards where we live. As we speak there is zero chance of rain, so we have at least six more weeks of fire season ahead of us, while all the time hoping that it doesn't come back our way."

He explained one experience that he'll never forget.

"About a month ago my girlfriend went from voluntary evacuation to mandatory so had to drive alongside the freeway watching the fires burning either side as we drove her and her animals south and away from the fires. Packing up a house and picking what is essential to take and leave is not an easy thing to do. How do you decide what is and isn't important in a situation where your life may be in danger? It really comes down to what you can fit in your car and get the hell out before it's too late. This I know only too well because a friend who lost his house got out yet a neighbour of his refused the firemen's orders to evacuate yet the wind changed direction and burnt everything on the other side of the road from his house leaving his dwelling untouched and scorch marks all the way up to his door. Also my neighbour was out at our friend’s winery as they tried to save as much as they could yet the fires burnt it to the ground after they had gotten out."

Just last week the skies were almost pitch black at midday which was "quite freaky", he added.

"When it subsided, it turned to a dark orange sky which was like the apocalypse we've all seen in every doomsday movie ever made. Ironically, Hollywood got this one correct. As my late mom Teresa's saying goes "go mbeirimíd beo ar an am seo arís"."

[caption id="attachment_33920" align="alignleft" width="257"] Tony Lynch from Countess Grove[/caption]

For Tony Lynch, originally from Countess Grove who lives and works as a teacher in CA, say they too are suffering very poor air quality.

“We would wake up in the morning to a car covered in ash and could smell the burning as if there was a camp fire nearby, but the nearest fires were at least an hour’s drive away. Many people experienced breathing issues due to the smoke and with COVID being a respiratory virus, it made some even more anxious.”

 

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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