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Presidential salute for Margaret




A WOMAN who once thought she was too old to return to learning has been honoured by none other than the President of Ireland.

Killarney’s Margaret Scully was a special guest of President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, and was there to represent Kerry people who have returned to learning to address the literacy skills they missed out on first time round at school.

The event coincided with National Literacy Week and the National Adult Literacy Agency’s First Step Campaign.

Margaret has been taking classes in reading, writing, math and technology with Kerry Education and Training Board (ETB) over the last seven years. Like many people, her learning journey started when her young boys went to school and needed help with their homework.

“I would make every excuse not to help them because I had nothing to draw from. I got six years of education. I started at 6 and finished at 12. That was my education,” said Margaret.

At the start she was worried she would not be able, or that people would laugh. “I was terrified. But I thought I have to do something. In the long run you have to take that first step and do it for yourself,” she said.

Since starting literacy and adult basic education classes with Kerry ETB, not only has her literacy developed, but she has done other things with her new found confidence and skills, including taking up community roles, such as being the South Kerry Coordinator for the Team Hope Project that organises shoe boxes as presents for disadvantaged children at Christmas time.

She has also trained as a NALA Literacy Ambassador, to go out and give talks to others about her experience. “Meeting the President of Ireland representing Kerry adult learners was a great honour,” she said.

"My motto is to encourage others. It is not like going back to school. There are no teachers. No one will talk down to you. I stay away from those words– they have connotations for me. Now when you go back as an adult, it is your choice and your decision. You work with a tutor not a teacher alongside you. You are equals. They make you feel so welcome.”

Kerry ETB has eight Adult Literacy & Basic Education Centres spread around the county. Call 066-7193900 or go to for further information.


Above: Patron of the National Adult Literacy Agency President Michael D. Higgins congratulates Margaret Scully at a reception in Aras an Uachtarain to celebrate Literacy Awareness Week. Picture: Colm Mahady/Fennells



Carols by Candlelight

    St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas […]






St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas 2023, December17, at 7.00pm. Admission is free.

Ten Choirs from Killarney parish will join together and sing some of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols.
The carol service is directed by accomplished Musician and Choral Director, Paula Gleeson. Originally from Cork, her family have been involved in all aspects of choral and church music for 50 years.

“This is the best experience as director, working with Fr. Kieran O’Brien, and St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir, I get to work with so many talented people in Killarney. The commitment of Teachers, Principals, and the hundreds of students from the Primary and Secondary Schools is inspiring. The generosity of our sponsors, who were so willing to contribute has helped to make this night a reality. We are all so truly grateful,” she said.

Choirs include:
St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish Choir, organist Anita Lakner
Holy Cross Mercy School Choir
St. Oliver’s Primary School Choir
St. Brigid’s Secondary School Choir
St. Brendan’s Secondary School Choir
Killarney Harmonisers
Killarney Community College School Choir
Lissivigeen National School Choir
Gaelscoil Faithleann School Choir
Presentation Monastery School Choir

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The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians



Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.


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