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Liam reflects on his 45 year teaching career

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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.”

NEW PLAYGROUND

“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.

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Sam Maguire to feature at next week’s AugustFest

Killarney Racecourse is set to host the exciting three-day summer horse-racing festival from Thursday August 18 to Saturday 20 inclusive. The festival also marks 200 years of racing at Killarney Races […]

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Killarney Racecourse is set to host the exciting three-day summer horse-racing festival from Thursday August 18 to Saturday 20 inclusive. The festival also marks 200 years of racing at Killarney Races offering patrons great racing, history, socialising, entertainment and so much more at Ireland’s most scenic racecourse.

With lots of ticket levels and packages including food and beverage options to choose from, whether it is close to the action general admission tickets or silver service fine dining, there is something for everyone at Killarney Races. Live music, fashion, and fun for all the family complement the best of summer racing at the track this August.

Thursday and Friday are evening meetings and Saturday is an afternoon event with all race cards offering seven thrilling races for spectators to enjoy each day.

Thursday is Sam Maguire evening. And to mark Kerry’s recent success and Killarney Races bi-centenary celebration, Killarney Races are offering an amazing deal on the opening day of their three-day event. On Thursday August 18 patrons will enjoy admission, a racecard and a €5 free bet all for €20! The first race is approximately 5pm with gates open from 3pm. Come early, bring along your jersey and camera, it’s going to be a great evening.

Friday will see the new entrance officially open, as racing officials and elected representatives unlock the gate to the next 200 years at the popular Killarney track, first race at approximately 5pm with gates open from 3pm. With music on the lawn from Donal Lucey and from Tom Cats in the Jim Culloty bar after racing the après racing party is sure to be a ‘winner alright’!

Saturday is AYU Ladies Day and all about the glamour as fashionistas bring the curtain down on AugustFest in fine style. AYU is an Irish based and Irish owned cosmetics company set up by renowned make-up artist Suzie O’Neill. With over €1,500 in prizes for the most stylish ladies to dress up for, what’s not to love! Gates open from 12 noon with the first off at approximately 2pm.

“At AugustFest we will be celebrating a major milestone here at Killarney Races, 200 years of racing in Killarney which is amazing,” Killarney Racecourse Chairman, Gerard Coughlan said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all locals and visitors to Killarney to come along and be part of the 200 year celebrations and share in this historic moment with us as we officially open the gates on the next 200 years! It’s a rare opportunity to be able to say ‘I was there the day they celebrated the bi-centenary’ anywhere and what a great story to share with the grandchildren in years to come. On that note, we are looking forward to welcoming multiple generations of families during AugustFest, so make a plan and come along and join us for what will be a most remarkable festival at our beautiful boutique racecourse this August!”

The feature race on the opening day of AugustFest is the Vincent O’Brien Ruby Stakes (listed), the Kingdom Gold Cup Handicap of €50,000 and the Gain Advantage Race Series. On Friday, the day two feature is the Grade B Handicap Hurdle of €50,000 and the EBF Novice Hurdle, with four competitive chase races. The final day of the festival the feature is the Grade B Handicap Chase of €50,000.

Adult tickets are available from €20 and children under 14 go free ensuring a great day out for all the family. For those who love a deal, the “Punter’s Pack” is a great value-added option and if you want to live it up check out the Maurice O’Donoghue Suite and Panoramic Restaurant options.

For all ticket details and festival programme information visit killarneyraces.com.

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Jessie Buckley’s album shortlisted for prestigious award

Killarney superstar Jessie Buckley has been shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize Album of the Year. Her collaboration with Bernard Butler ‘For All Our Days That Tear the Heart’ is […]

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Killarney superstar Jessie Buckley has been shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize Album of the Year.

Her collaboration with Bernard Butler ‘For All Our Days That Tear the Heart’ is one of 12 albums shortlisted for the prestigious award which will be revealed in London on September 8.

“Neither of us really knew each other and it was actually a blessing in disguise because we met each other in the moment and trusted each other, took a leap of faith and in a way come in just the way we were and not because of who we are,” she told a press conference at the awards announcement in London last week.

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