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Mixed reaction to Fitzgerald Stadium as homecoming venueBy Sean Moriarty

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There has been a mixed reaction to the Kerry GAA County Board’s decision to host Monday’s homecoming for the victorious Kerry football team in Fitzgerald Stadium and not the traditional Glebe Car park.

Many felt that the stadium lacked atmosphere and the crowd that turned out to welcome the team home fell well short of previous successful years and was significantly less than the crowd that attended the Tralee homecoming a few hours earlier.

An estimated 13,000 people lined Denny St in the county capital on Monday evening.

“Just a few words on the tremendous reception this evening from this fantastic crowd. I was lucky enough to be here 25 years ago when we turned down Denny Street with Paidí Ó Sé leading us with the Sam Maguire, not having won it for eleven years,” manager Jack O’Connor told the assembled crowd.

"We thought we would never see the likes of it again with 20 to 25,000 lining the streets. But there has to be at least that if not more this evening so that is amazing in itself.”

Later that evening the team travelled to Killarney and to a new welcome venue in Fitzgerald Stadium.

Crowds were visibly smaller than previous similar events in the Glebe and were more scattered thanks to the vast area of the Lewis Road pitch.

“They got it all wrong,” Cllr Donal Grady told the Killarney Advertiser. “The town of Killarney should have done a lot more for our victorious Kerry team. The whole thing lacked atmosphere. You could see it in the players faces.”

The unavailability of the Glebe car park forced the hand of the organising committee but they felt that the crowds were on par with previous town centre events.

Cllr Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan MC’d the night, as he has done for many homecomings in the past.

“It worked very well, I thought, especially for young kids who would not have had room in the Glebe to see everything,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

“For a first time it worked well, like all new things you learn, maybe put a stage in the next time, or have the open top bus go through town and up to the stadium. It made no difference to businesses as they are busy anyway for the last Monday in July.”

The committee in charge of the Kerry Senior Football team Welcome Home event includes members of the Kerry County Board, the East Kerry Board, the Fitzgerald Stadium Committee, Killarney Municipal District Council, Kerry County Council, the Gardaí and the Fire Service.

“The Town Council and the Gardaí made it known to this committee that they were not happy to see a second car park in the town centre unavailable during the height of the busy tourist season - the Glebe Car Park would have had to be closed off on Sunday evening and all-day Monday and the Fairhill Car Park is currently used by Bird’s Funfair. In the absence of any other suitable venue in the town it was decided to hold the event in Fitzgerald Stadium,” John O'Leary of the Kerry GAA Executive Committee told the Killarney Advertiser.

“In my opinion there was a similar crowd to other victorious ‘Welcome Home’ events held in Killarney but obviously you cannot compare a crowd in a four-acre field with a crowd in a confined town centre location such as the Glebe Car Park.”

“Additional car parking, as had been requested by the Gardaí and Kerry County Council, was provided for the event in the Cathedral field and in the old Rugby field off the by-pass road and this was widely advertised.

“I would like to thank the numerous volunteers and stewards who gave of their time freely to ensure that the event was a success.”

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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