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Make the most of the Christmas break to review career options




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

At this stage of the year Leaving Cert students tend to be exhausted. It has been very busy since September working hard to complete courses, to make progress with projects and to settle into the routine of study.

The Christmas holidays will bring a much needed break from school and the opportunity to rest and recharge the batteries. Spending time with family and friends will bring a welcome and well-earned break from the books. With six months to go until the exams start, now is the time to relax and re-energise.

Research the detail

It is also the ideal time to review your career plans for after school. When you go back to school in January it will be really busy preparing for the mocks so it would be great to have one less thing to worry about. Being off school means that you will have the headspace needed to research your options carefully and make important decisions. Now is the time to look at the range of options available in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) through CAO, in Colleges of Further Education, apprenticeships, traineeships and other training programmes. It is important to research the detail carefully – entry requirements, module content, work placements, opportunities to study abroad, career pathways and progression to further study on completion. Think about how you learn best and choose options that reflect that.

Applying to CAO

If you have not already registered for CAO, do so over the Christmas holidays on There is a ‘demo version’ of the form on the CAO website which you can use as a practice run. Once you have registered you have until February 1 at 5pm to complete the application and add in your course choices. You have the options to list 20 choices on CAO in total, 10 choices at Level 8 and 10 choices at Levels 7/6. You will have plenty of time to change course choices later on when the Change of Mind facility opens in May, but if you are applying for courses that are ‘restricted’ they must be added in by the February 1 deadline. If you register by January 20 you can avail of the discounted fee of €30 which increases to €45 up to February 1.

Options outside of CAO

Colleges of Further Education are accepting applications for courses starting in September 2022, many of which have progression routes on to Higher Education on completion. Check them out on where you will also find information on traineeships. Applications for a wide range of apprenticeships are advertised on an ongoing basis, see for details. If you have plans to apply for colleges outside of Ireland take note of upcoming application deadlines. Applications to Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales must be made through by January 26 at 6pm and require you to complete a personal statement and get a reference so don’t leave it until the last minute. Check out the deadlines for European colleges on and

Taking time to explore all options, while you have the time to do it over Christmas, will help you to make an informed decision and ease the pressure and stress coming up to the application deadlines. Remember you will still have lots of time to review your options and change your mind later, but for now focus on exploring all the different options open to you. Read the detail, get familiar with the relevant application processes over the holidays and where possible complete them, so you can go back to school in January with a clearer focus, looking forward to what 2022 will bring! Wishing you an enjoyable and restful Christmas!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see

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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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Ballymac charity vintage run on October 1

The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1. The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac. Registration […]




The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1.

The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac.

Registration begins at 9:30am and sets off at 11am.

“There will be two separate routes with one for tractors and the other for cars and motorbikes. Proceeds on the day are in aid of Castleisland Day Care Centre and we’ll have plenty of spot prizes to giveaway too in the morning,” said the club’s PRO Kieran Glover.


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