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Over €70k donated to three charities



CHALLENGE CHEQUE: The 54321 Challenge 2019 raised €72,506 for three Kerry charities. Front from left are: Caroline Lynch, Denis Daly (Skellig Stars) Maura O'Sullivan (Kerry Hospice Foundation), Frank Heidtke (Dingle Coast and Cliff Rescue Service), and Maggie Teahan. Seated in second row from left are: Audrey Graham, TJ O'Connor, Tony Dunne and Catherine Foley. Standing at back row from left are: Ann Foley, Diarmuid Foley, John Falvey, Martin McCarthy, John O'Donoghue, Declan Sheehan, Maureen O'Sullivan Dennehy, Cian Higgins, Anne McCarthy, Michael Foley, Irene Heffernan and Pat Sullivan. Picture: Eamonn Keogh


It was yet again a mighty challenge but it was worth it as a whopping €72,506 was this week handed over to three Kerry charities.

On Saturday last, participants who took part in this year’s 54321 Challenge met in The Victoria House Hotel to present a cheque to this year’s selected charities; Skellig Stars, The Kerry Hospice and Dingle Coast and Cliff Rescue Service. This brings the amount raised to date by the 54321 Challenge to €206,712 for various Kerry charities.

This year’s 54321 Challenge took place from the August 22 – 25 with 37 people, the largest number of participants since the Challenge was started. It began from the GAA grounds in Killorglin and they cycled around the Ring of Kerry on day one.

This would exhaust most people but not these, as they were up early again the following day, travelled to the base of Carrauntoohil, and climbed Ireland’s highest mountain.

“The conditions on the day were challenging but the heads never went down,” one of the organisers, TJ O’Connor, said.

Having returned safe and sound from Friday’s challenge, on Saturday they once again took to the bicycles and cycled from Killarney to the foot of Mount Brandon and climbed it, the persistent rain throughout the climb did not dampen the spirits of this amazing bunch of people, they even sang a few songs and danced a set when they reached the top.

The challengers spent a welcome night in Dingle before embarking on the final day which was a cycle from Dingle to finish where it all started in Killarney where they received a hero’s welcome at the Gleneagle Hotel where supporters of all three charities gathered to welcome them home, followed by well-deserved drinks and pizzas at Kayne’s Bistro.

“It was a weekend of bonding, banter, singing, struggles, laughs but most of all a great sense of achievement in completing the challenge on a personal level and for three great causes for all the participants,” he added.

“On behalf of the Skellig Stars, The Kerry Hospice and Dingle Coast and Cliff Rescue Service and the 54321 Challenge team we would like to say thank you to all those who have sponsored and supported us along the way.”

The date for next year’s event will be confirmed shortly and they will be recruiting teams so if you would like to be part of next year’s Challenge or would like further information please call the event organisers Carole Moran on 087 9471336 or TJ O’Connor on 087 6277141.

Follow them on Facebook: 54321challenge or visit




Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally



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



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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