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Liam reflects on his 45 year teaching career




I had a chance to sit down and have a cuppa with the newly retired Principal of St Francis Special School, Liam Twomey, at Noelle’s Café this week.

Liam has dedicated his 45 year career educating children and before he, and the deputy principal, Kathleen Cronin from Muckross, both retired Friday last, he fulfilled three impressive goals.

MARIE: Liam I would imagine over almost half a decade as principal, there must have been an enormous amount of change within education system at St Francis Special School. I had no doubt that Liam had achieved every goal he set himself. I could see from the way he talked about his students that he cared a great deal for their well-being and education.

“The job as educators is to develop each child’s potential and give the best possible chance to all our students - run the school as if the children were your own,” Liam said. “With the correct environment, and the right resources, this enabled us to do so much. I remember the staff at St Francis Special School and I wanted to come up with a motto. We came up with at least 20 but we settled on ‘Enable, Encourage and Enrich’ - three words the staff had engraved on a pair of cufflinks for me as a retirement gift.”

MARIE: I was all ears hearing about Liam’s recent accomplishments for the school.

“Most schools need a bike shelter Marie, but at our school we cater for bicycles, tricycles and a huge selection of all kinds of mobility equipment. We were successful in receiving funding from Green Schools to complete a fantastic Perspex dome to house all forms of student mobility transport a few months ago, which helps hugely with space for other activities and amenities.

“We also desperately needed our own means of transport at the school, not the type of transport to take the students to and from school but more of a social means of transport for excursions. Little things like a trip to SuperValu to buy the ingredients for cookery class or a visit to the park. We needed an appropriately kitted out vehicle to give our students the education of life skills. Two buses are currently been wrapped and fitted so you will soon see them about in the community. We managed to raise €60,000 and achieve this essential facility for St Francis Special School. “It is a happy talent to know how to play” - that is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is a basic life skill to play, but some children do not know how to play. We teach our students to play with love, kindness, compassion and understanding. We need to be proactive in setting up a play situation for the children within the community. The new buses will give us the freedom to do this.”


“The final project we set out to achieve has been five years in the making with thanks everyone who supported, but with great credit to the Leane family in particular. Our brand new playground was completed on Friday last would you believe Marie, on my last day. A vibrant specialised playground that we are so very proud of. If it was only needed by one child at the school Marie, it is needed.”

MARIE: I congratulated Liam on his great achievements in recent months and how fulfilling that must be as he retired.

“Absolutely impossible without the support of the staff, parents and the community. Kerry people are immensely generous and have taken on St Francis Special School as their own. The services and resources improved only because of this. One of our best sources of funding has been through Cathal Walshe as a beneficiary with the Ring of Kerry annual charity cycle and with Colm Cooper and the Kerry team who involved themselves in fundraising together with many other groups whom we are eternally grateful to. The people of Kerry bought into our vision and entrusted us to deliver and I am very proud to say we have”.

MARIE: So if you were to choose a moment or an achievement at St Francis Special School that you are most proud of Liam, what would that be?

“In 2014 after a long hard battle, we received the most essential and valuable service for our students. We put up a big fight but we finally have a resident nurse at St Francis Special School that we could not do without. Parents can send their children to school with confidence. We no longer have to call them if something seems wrong and we can look after their children for the entire day, keeping them in school to be educated. We are not medical personnel so this was a huge asset for the school.”

MARIE: Going forward Liam, now that you’ve handed over to the new Principal Keith O’Brolacháin, what is your plan for retirement?

“I think it’s better to ‘wear out’ than to ‘rust out’ Marie. The school is in great hands with Keith and I have every faith in the younger generation. I won’t be left idle Marie. I look forward to spending my days doing what I enjoy - travelling, music, carpentry, hiking etc. You only get one crack at life, so you must use your talents to help others but also to enjoy life and help yourself.”

MARIE: Thank you Liam on behalf of the community, for all you have done for the students and their families at St Francis Special School.



Ring of Beara Cycle launches school programme

The Ring of Beara Cycle is for kids too! As part of its commitment to make a positive impact on the local community, the Ring of Beara Cycle are proud […]




The Ring of Beara Cycle is for kids too! As part of its commitment to make a positive impact on the local community, the Ring of Beara Cycle are proud to continue to with two great initiatives: its Kids’ Cycle and its sponsorship of the School Cycle Safety Programme.

The Ring of Beara Cycle will take place on May 25 with over 4,000 cyclists taking part. The event starts and finishes in Kenmare town, Co Kerry to complete either a 110km or 140km route encompassing the magnificent mountains, valleys and the rugged coastline of the Beara Peninsula.

Kids’ Cycle
Adults are not the only ones getting on their bikes on May 25 for the Ring of Beara Cycle. The event also has its very own cycle for children around the town of Kenmare. Not only does this give kids a chance to join in the days’ activities with their parents, but it’s free and a great way for kids to get outdoors and exercise in a fun and safe environment.
Open to any child in national school between third and fifth class and following a 2km route around Kenmare and a slightly shorter route for tinier ones, registration is from 9.15am in Kenmare town square. Parents and guardians are welcome to cycle with their children. All participants should bring and wear a safety helmet for the cycle.
School Cycle Safety Programme
Another community initiative from the Ring of Beara Cycle is the Cycle Right Programme, working with local schools to get kids’ up to speed on road safety and cycle best practices.
The Ring of Beara Cycle is working with Cycle Sense and Wheely Good Cycling Academy to deliver this 4-week programme to local schools in and around Kenmare and the Beara Peninsula.
Some 250 students across 8 schools are participating in this initiative, and the schools involved are: St John’s National School, Realt Na Mara National School , Lauragh National School and Tulloha National School in Kenmare, and on the Beara Peninsula: Scoil Chaitigheirn in Eyeries, Oir Cheann iNational School in Eyeries, Cahermore National School in Allihies, Scoil An Croi Ro Naofa in Castletownbere, Mhichil Naofa in Castletownbere, Adrigole N S in Bantry, and Trafrask Mixed N S in Ardrigole.
This initiative is normally paid for by the schools themselves but is now free for all the children taking part thanks to a generous donation by the Ring of Beara Cycle Committee that covers the cost of delivering the programme to these schools.
Cycle Right is the National Standard for Cycle Training and provides practical cycle safety and skills training through Department of Transport, the Road Safety Authority and Cycling Ireland. The aim of the programme is to promote cycle confidence on the road in increasingly complex scenarios delivered by qualified, registered trainers.
No stranger to giving back to the local community, not only does the Ring of Beara Cycle make a significant, positive impact on the local economy, it also encourages kids to enjoy themselves on their bikes and to do this safely with confidence.

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Browne’s Agri Open Day is a must-attend event

Browne’s Agri Open Day is always one that was marked in  Agri calendars as a ‘must-attend event’. This year’s event is taking place on Wednesday May 22 on their site […]




Browne’s Agri Open Day is always one that was marked in  Agri calendars as a ‘must-attend event’.

This year’s event is taking place on Wednesday May 22 on their site in Castleisland.

The event was always renowned for getting great advice on the Agri topics of the day as well as a window into modern developments taking place in all aspect of Agriculture and country living.

The extending of the yard area will allow more space to be given over to even more exhibitors, ensuring all areas of agriculture, and rural life will be showcased on the 22.

There will be experts on hand to advise on Calf Rearing, Grassland management, Weed control, Drainage, Fencing , Shed and Yard Layouts as well as bee keeping, and helpful health advice.

“As well as the great advice, you will be ensured of great deals, great food, great craic and free entry to the many spot prizes that will be available on the day,” said general manager Denis O’Connor.

“All that is asked is your attendance and if at all possible, to make a small contribution to our chosen charity Pieta House.”


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