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No Listowel races for Donie for the first time in over 80 years

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NOT AT THE RACES: Donie Sheahan studying the form at his Lewis Road home. He is missing Listowel Races for the first time in over 80 years. Photo: Sean Moriarty

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For 80 consecutive years much loved Killarney pharmacist and horse racing enthusiast Donie Sheahan hasn't missed the Listowel Races - until this year came around due to the current pandemic restrictions.

Journalist Sean Moriarty took some time out to chat to Donie to find out how the 94-year-old felt about not being there, having instead no choice but to resign to the fact that he had to watch it from the comfort of his own home.

The traditional September Harvest Festival meeting comes to a close tomorrow (Saturday) but, as it is run behind closed doors, Donie has been forced to watch proceedings on television and not trackside.

It is the first time since he was a little boy that Donie, who turned 94 in April, could not be there in person to see the action unfold.

Instead he sits at home and watches the action unfold on racing channels like At the Races and TG4.

“I would much rather be there,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

The Lewis Road man’s family are steeped in the history of Listowel Races. His parents William and Lena ran a pub and boarding house in the town.

The pub had six livery stables to its rear, at a time when there were no stables at the island racecourse so jockeys and racehorses lodged with the Sheahan family for the duration of the meeting. The family would collect horses off the train ahead of the meeting.

“I have memories from when I was no more than six or seven-years-old,” he recalled. “We would walk the horses down to the Island, sometimes over the bridge and other times across the river. I got to know a lot of people.”

And this is how Donie and his late brother Tommy developed their lifelong love affair with horse racing.

Tommy went on to serve as chair of the Listowel Race Committee and his daughter, Donie’s niece, Dr Helen Lynch from Tralee, currently sits at the table.

“There is a huge family connection there,” he added.

On qualifying as a pharmacist Donie moved to Killarney in 1950, and after a spell with the medical department of Kerry County Council and the Southern Health Board he set up a thriving pharmacy in the town centre.

This allowed him to follow his true passions, which also includes Dr Crokes GAA Club and Kerry football, and he became a successful racehorse owner.

He has had a lot of success over the years including several Listowel winners, but the big one - The Kerry National - escaped him as he recorded two second-places with ‘For William’.

“I had three or four winners in Listowel but for two years in a row the Kerry National escaped me,” he added.

Other fond memories include winning the Fairyhouse Easter Festival in 2010 with ‘For Bill’, and jockey Davy Russell.

‘For Bill’ was named after a close friend Bill Murphy, a Garda Superintendent in Killarney, after he passed away.

In more recent years Donie has represented the European Breeders Association at Listowel.
If that organisation sponsored a race he would be called upon to hand out the trophies.

“It is funny but people always remember you when you give them a prize!"

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COMMUNITY AIR AMBULANCE TASKED 512 TIMES DURING 2021

The Irish Community Air Ambulance has yet to receive any sort of government funding despite being called out on 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021. Last year was the ICAA busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020. The organisation is […]

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The Irish Community Air Ambulance has yet to receive any sort of government funding despite being called out on 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021.

Last year was the ICAA busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020.

The organisation is Ireland’s only charity-funded HEMS Air Ambulance. It works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies from its base in Rathcool, near Millstreet, in Co. Cork. Each helicopter mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated.

The CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, Micheál Sheridan said that they engaged with the Government and regional political leaders throughout 2021 to secure some State support for the vital service.

FUNDING

Micheál Sheridan said, “The HSE is releasing funding to private Ambulance firms to provide support during the continuing crisis yet the Irish Community Air Ambulance is still entirely funded by public donations. The increased number of taskings during 2021 show that we provide a vital service,” said Mr Sheridan.

“The cost to run the charity during 2022 is expected to be €2.1 million which is a significant amount of money to raise. We are so grateful to all our supporters who help us to bring hope to those in emergency situations but we will continue to engage with the Government to provide funding during these uncertain times.”

There were more calls to cardiac arrests, farming-related incidents and falls from heights during 2021. Cardiac arrests accounted for one in five calls with 103 taskings last year, that’s up from 81 during 2020.

July and April were the busiest months of the year for the service with 57 missions completed each month. Cork, Kerry and Tipperary accounted for the majority of taskings. The Irish Community Air Ambulance was also tasked to Clare, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Mayo, Galway, Offaly, Laois, Wicklow and Kildare.

One in every three taskings required an airlift to hospital. There were 111 transfers to Cork University Hospital during 2021 which equates to 66% of all transfers. University Hospital Limerick accounts for 20%.

TRANSFERS

Micheal Sheridan added, “There were also transfers to hospitals in Kerry, Tallaght, Galway, Temple Street, Crumlin and The Mater as we saw an increase in the number of times we were required to transfer children and young people to specialist paediatric hospitals in Dublin. We cover an area of 25,000 square kilometres and treat some of the most critically ill and injured patients, bringing them to the hospital that is best suited to their life-saving needs, not just the closest hospital geographically.”

SERIOUSLY INJURED

Diarmuid O’Donovan from Cork was seriously injured when he was thrown over the handlebars of his bike while cycling around Slea Head, Co Kerry in May 2021. He said he needed to be brought to a dedicated Trauma Centre quickly.

“A moment of carelessness saw me hit the road. I was on my own but thankfully it wasn’t long before I was found. Paramedics, a local doctor, the local Fire Service and Gardai all responded,” he explained.

“I was drifting in and out of consciousness and it quickly emerged that I needed to be at Cork University Hospital as soon as possible. I wasn’t in a suitable state for a two-and-a-half-hour journey by road so the Irish Community Air Ambulance was tasked and landed in Ventry. The journey to CUH by helicopter took just 30 minutes. I had 28 different bone breaks including my spine, shoulder and ribs as well as a punctured lung. I underwent several procedures that evening and spent 12 days in hospital. I believe it could have been far worse if I had not been transported to CUH so quickly and that my recovery has been much faster as a result.”

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Now is a good time to plan features in the garden

Now is an excellent time to have a look at your garden and plan any new beds, water features or seating areas. With relatively little growth, it is easy to take measurements and mark out where your new project will take place. There are a few things to bear in mind when planning new features. […]

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Now is an excellent time to have a look at your garden and plan any new beds, water features or seating areas.

With relatively little growth, it is easy to take measurements and mark out where your new project will take place.
There are a few things to bear in mind when planning new features. First, the practical: are there water pipes, septic tanks, gas or electricity lines etc in the way?
Or, if planning a feature where construction is required, is there access to water and electricity?
Secondly, if you are planning a new bed, what is the soil like in that area, or have you better ground elsewhere which can be exploited?
I have learned over the years that the best thing to do with an area of bad soil is to cover it with paving!
On the other hand, if you are planning a patio, should you excavate the topsoil for use elsewhere? Planning a new bed or planting area is a lot of fun, and I always think it is a good idea to take the time, close your eyes and give your imagination free reign. Consult magazines, gardening websites and social media!
Have a look at a friends’ or neighbours’ gardens for ideas.
Decide how much time you have to maintain it, and keep in mind Irish weather, commitments and other hobbies.
Often we take on gardening projects which we think, at the time, we will have time for. Say you want to commit to, for example, three hours of gardening a week – Saturday morning is the one time you have free.
Guaranteed one of those Saturdays it will rain! Then there is a morning spent mowing. Weeding will take up another few hours. Time flies, no matter what you do…and with age, I am coming to realise we have to work realistically with the free time we have. Gardening should not become a job you are forced to do.
Plan what the new area will be used for, and again, keep time in mind. Maybe a mixed area is better than a single purpose one.
What I mean by this is, you may have decided this year is the year to grow vegetables. Rather than planning out half your garden as a rotating vegetable garden, it may be better to plan out two small beds and a seating area, surrounded by an area of wildflowers.
This can then easily be converted to a larger veg garden if you feel the trial run went well, or converted entirely to a patio. In my experience, it is wise not to commit to a large scale project, especially if you are new to it.

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