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People facing ‘toughest Christmas in decades’




By Sean Moriarty

It's a choice of "heat or eat" for over 300 local people desperately seeking support from the St Vincent de Paul this Christmas.

Local helpers on the ground say that they've seen an increase in over one hundred people this year who are faced with impossible choices. And, many of those same people are the very ones who previously supported the charity, according to the Killarney branch of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).

Demand for its services is now at its highest in years in the run up to Christmas.

This time last year SVP in Killarney helped around 200 families but that figure will exceed 300 families by Christmas as people grapple with the 'Cost of Living Crisis'.

The local branch says it is getting “over 10 calls a day" from people seeking help and many of those calls are coming from "people who helped us in the past now need help themselves”.

As well as usual food parcels, the local SVP is getting more and more calls from people seeking help to pay their electricity and fuel bills.

The rising costs of energy is having an effect on local families but is also effecting SVP’s budgets.

Last year, on average, the charity gave out fuel vouchers for €400 but they are adding another €200 to this year’s voucher and "that is not even filling a tank”.

Breda Dwyer is the President of the local conference of St Vincent de Paul.

“So far this month, we have helped nearly 300 in some way, we are getting 10 calls a day,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There is a lot of demand for fuel vouchers, people may be getting the Government grant but there are a lot of very old houses in the Killarney area that are almost impossible to heat, they are not insulated.”

The charity has also revealed that the most significant increase in calls this year is coming from lower income earners in full-time employment.

“What we are finding is that people who helped us in the past and now need help themselves," added Breda.

Across counties Kerry and Cork the charity expects to reach a peak of 1,400 calls per week this month.

Local people seeking help should call the dedicated Killarney phone number on 087 6164888.

“If the phone is not answered, leave a message. We will get back to everyone who makes contact.”


The annual SVP South-West Annual Car Draw will be a key fundraising event for the region this year, with tickets and free post return envelopes delivered to every household in Kerry and Cork and the added option of buying tickets online. Donations are also welcome through both channels.

SVP South-West’s Regional Co-ordinator Gerry Garvey said the charity is gearing up for one of the most difficult periods for the South-West region in many years.

“We have received an unprecedented number of calls for this time of year and from all walks of life."

Tickets for the raffle cost €5 each and can be returned in the Freepost SVP envelope or dropped into the SVP Regional Office at Ozanam House, 2 Tuckey Street, Cork or Unit 2 Monavalley Business Park, Tralee.

You can also purchase tickets online at

First prize will be a brand-new Ford Focus, kindly donated by the Kavanagh family’s TOMAR Trust, and there will be six other cash prizes. The final date for entries will be 12 noon on Friday, January 6.

The draw will take on Wednesday, January 11 at CAB Motor Company showrooms, where the winners will be announced. Details of the winners will be published on


A €25,000 donation has been made to the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) local conference in Killarney to help individuals and families over the Christmas period.

The RISE Community Fund supported by National Broadband Ireland, the company delivering the National Broadband Plan (NBP), made the donation to mark National Broadband Ireland’s 25,000th connection to its high-speed fibre broadband network, which was officially announced at the Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney last week.

Killarney Cardiac Response Unit is also one of six community groups in Kerry set to receive €1,000 from the group. The unit now plans to expand their communication systems and provide an additional projector for their training courses.


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Ireland’s oldest citizen has Killarney connections

Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week. Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections. The previous record […]




Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week.

Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections.

The previous record was held by 107-year-old Nancy Stewart who died on September 10 2021.

Although born in Belfast, Máirín went to school in the Mercy Convent. Her father was a customs and excise officer and the family moved around a lot eventually coming to Killarney after spells in County Down and Dublin.

Her mother came from the Rathmore area and her father was from Newmarket in County Cork.

She attended the Mercy Convent and has, in previous interviews, recalled growing up on the shores of Lough Lein.

“Neighbours who had three children were given the job of taking me to school,” she said. “They were annoyed because the children were going to school for two or three years but I was put in to the same class as them – my mother had taught me.”

In 2021 she featured in the book ‘Independence Memories: A People’s Portrait of the Early Days of the Irish Nation’, sharing stories of being kept in school in Killarney during an attack on the RIC barracks down the road.

In 1924 she started a degree in science and a diploma in education at University College Cork, before working in the pathology lab in University College Cork’s Department of Medicine for 16 years.

last year she recalled her story on the podcast: ‘Living History – Irish Life and Lore’.

During the broadcast she talked about her parents’ membership of the Gaelic League in 1910; the Spanish Flu in Ireland in 1918; The Black and Tans in Killarney in 1921; the early days of the new Free State; Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932, visiting the Basket Islands in 1929; and working in the UCC medical laboratory from 1932 until 1948.

This week President Michael D. Higgins hosted an afternoon tea event to celebrate the important role that a variety of people have and can play in different communities and Máirín was among the guests of honour.

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Philip is running over 100kms for Cancer charity

Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday. Phillip has already […]




Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday.

Phillip has already completed four half marathons at various locations around Killarney – all in aid of Kerry Cancer Support Group – or the Cancer Bus as it popularly called.

This is the second time that Phillip has run four half marathon and an official race for the charity.

Back in 2021 he finished with 5km Run Killarney event but his finishing race this time around is over eight times the distance at 42kms.

“We are delighted with Philip’s continued fundraising support but also with his awareness raising for the charity,” Breda Dyland, Service Manager Kerry Cancer Support Trust.

“We are getting busier all the time and still get no statutory funding so are dependent on fundraisers like Philip’s to keep us on the road. We have just put our new wheelchair accessible bus on the Cork route so Philip’s funding will be going towards the operation of this vehicle.”


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