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Local man prepares to celebrate 100th birthday

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100 YEARS OLD: John Coffey from Lewis Road will celebrate his 100 birthday this weekend. Photo: Michelle Crean


“There are so many changes I’ve seen - it’d take you a month to write it all down.”

By Michelle Crean

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It’s not many who can say they’ve reached the 100-year milestone - but for Killarney’s John Coffey who still drives independently around town - this weekend will be very special.
Tomorrow (Saturday), John from Lewis Road – who will be classed as a Centenarian - will be joined by family from all over Ireland, Australia and America for an enormous party in Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.

Then on Monday - the official day he turns 100 - neighbours and friends have organised a Mass for him at the Croke’s Clubhouse where Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson, will present the President’s cheque to him.

John is the last of 12 children born to Jeremiah and Nora Coffey (nee O’Connell) in Carnahone, Beaufort on August 26, 1919.

He took over the role as a Cottage Rent Collector from his father from 1939 to 1948, cycling from Beaufort back to west Kerry on a daily basis - which he now attributes to his good health and long life.

He then took a job in Killarney Town Council as a Community Welfare Officer and built the family home on Lewis Road with his wife Kitty O’Shea from Brandon, who he met on his travels. They had five children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

John, who is blessed with a pin sharp memory and good health said that he has witnessed many changes over the years – not all of them positive.
He has memories of the Civil War in 1923, remembers the old battered roads, the introduction of electricity, met Pope John Paul II, and has witnessed the changes modern life has brought.

He also puts his good health down to family genes as his father died aged 99 and his mother aged 97, as well as the active lifestyle he had as young man cycling to west Kerry and building the family home block by block with local man Batty O’Connor.

He has also been through some harder days with the loss of Kitty in 1996, his son Denis who died suddenly eight years ago and son John Joe who died aged 13.

And he has requested no presents this year for his birthday but has instead asked if anyone wants to give something, they can make a donation to Down Syndrome Kerry.
“What do I want presents for!” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

He said that there are so many changes he’s seen - it’d take you a month to write it all down.
“The changes are unreal. People have more comfort now than years ago. God almighty, it was real hardship back then. There was no electricity and no tar on the roads. The sense of community is gone completely now. There was no knocking on the door, you’d just walk right in.”

And when it comes to modern technology, although he has a mobile phone – he doesn’t use it. He knows about smartphones and tablets but says he got by all these years without using them and warned that soon children “won’t be able to add two and two together”.

“In one sense technology is good,” he said.
“It can go to the extremes too – but there has to be moderation with everything. You must go with the times - you can’t stop progress.”

And some traditions he keeps, like baking a Madeira cake everyday – something his loving wife Kitty did everyday of their marriage.

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Lissi’s love of nature nets prize

After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition. Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature. Each Biosphere participating awarded […]

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After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition.

Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature.

Each Biosphere participating awarded local prizes with the top entry from each being submitted to the international competition between the three.

This week the two judges for the international element Author Dara McAnulty and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, have unanimously chosen ‘The Otter’ by Lissi Nickelsen (Kerry) as winner of the inter-Biosphere Young Nature Blogger 2021.

“I absolutely love the observational detail in this piece,” Dara McAnulty, author of ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ and the youngest ever winner of The Wainright Prize for nature writing said:

“You can really feel that breathless excitement and tension of seeing an otter. The drawing shows how multimedia can be used to great effect in a blog.”

Professor Martin Price added that it “is a beautifully written blog about a very special encounter”.

“I really get the feeling of what Lissi observed so carefully, and her joy about spending time with an otter! And the drawing is wonderful too!”

Lissi will receive a young naturalist writing set from Dara McNulty, a framed otter picture from Wildlife photographer Vincent Hyland, Wild Derrynane, and a family kayak trip in the Kerry Biosphere.

The winning entry can be read on the Kerry Biosphere website www.kerrybiosphere.ie/news.

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The only certainty is uncertainty

By Michael O’Connor    “History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the […]

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By Michael O’Connor   

“History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee

Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq down 2.2% and 3.5%, respectively.

This 147th twist in the pandemic tale got me thinking about how much we think we know when really, we know nothing at all.

At the start of the year nobody would have predicted that 2020 would have played out the way it did. Very few would have predicted that 2021, with promising vaccines and a return to normality would have represented so little change, but here we are.

Everyone loves to pretend like they fully understand what this all means and what will happen next. I get it; who doesn’t love the warm cozy allure of certainty. We all want to exist in a world where we know what lies around the corner.

History is a perpetual stream of mistaken opinions and unpredictable outcomes, but the predictions won’t stop. People will cast their views with deluded certainty about what to expect next by extrapolating the current conditions out into the future, but the current conditions aren’t a constant, and the game is always changing.

Unfortunately, the reality is, nobody knows what’s next, and the sooner you can discard any naive sense of conviction, the easier it will be in both life and investing. While this statement may seem morbid on the surface, loosening our grip on our need for certainty can be liberating.

Remember, while it is important to have expectations and predictions, predictions are not fact, and you will be wrong. Not always, but you will be wrong, so try not to be overly tethered to your current version of the truth.

Lean into the uncertainty

Accepting that nothing is certain can often be cast as an impotent statement in a world obsessed with knowing all the answers.

In an industry where uncertainty is the ultimate enemy, telling investors to submit to it is often met with disdain, but accepting the inevitability of uncertainty is so important if you want to avoid going stir crazy as you try and hold for the long term.

Of course, discarding uncertainty is easier said than done. Worrying about factors beyond our control is an inherent part of the human condition. However, simply being aware that the game is not predictable and nobody truly knows the final outcome may help you reduce your craving for certainty.

My advice

Stop reaching for perfection in a world of constant uncertainty. Stop obsessing about making the right decision one hundred percent of the time. Even the best investors in history have had their fair share of howlers. Ultimately you just need to be right more often than you are wrong.

The solution

Create an investment portfolio centred around what you believe to be the most probable outcome based on available information and incorporate enough diversification to function as a buffer.

In a world where anything is possible, all you can do is focus on what is most probable, allow for a margin of error to support you when your assumed outcomes don’t play out and simply let go of the rest.

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