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Relief as Anastasiya arrives safely from Kyiv to Kerry

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"Nobody expected it to happen - I know I'm physically safe but mentally it's not easy"

By Michelle Crean

The horrors of war on her doorstep forced one Ukrainian woman to immediately flee her beloved country to the safety of Kerry this week.

There was huge relief on Wednesday when Anastasiya Ostrovska (24) - who lived on the 25th floor of a Kyiv apartment - landed safely in Dublin - after days of travel through her country, across the Moldovan border and out through Romania.

Anastasiya, her mother Natalya Ostrovska, and Natalya Maxymenko who works in Tesco Deerpark, were very emotional when they spoke to the Killarney Advertiser yesterday (Thursday) about the atrocities in their home country over the past eight days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered millions of Russian troops to invade Ukraine.

Since then thousands have died - including children - as the Ukrainian people continue to fight for their freedom. Millions have fled into neighbouring Poland and other the countries to get to safety.

"It was definitely a shock for everybody - it was a regular day last Wednesday, I had a coffee with friends and I said I'd meet them on Saturday," Anastasiya told the Killarney Advertiser. "I went home and woke up to war. Something was happening [in the weeks beforehand] but nobody expected it [war] to happen."

Anastasiya explained that the day the war broke out last Thursday everyone remained calm at first but began making practical plans to leave.

"It wasn't chaos, all the people were trying to be calm, getting money and medications from the pharmacy and fresh water just in case, some people were trying to find a safe place. I thought I'd just escape Kyiv and go to my small town Vinetsa. I got there, but it took a long time. There were queues of people walking with bags. I wasn't scared as [at that time] the shooting was on the military bases - but I was always on alert."

Anastasiya made her way to the Moldovan border onto Romania where she met her emotional parents who travelled from Kerry to meet her. From there they flew to Dublin and onto Kerry.

"I know I'm physically safe but mentally it's not easy. I have friends over there."

The three women said that they are all very grateful for all the support not only worldwide but from the people of Kerry and Ireland.

"We are very grateful and amazed with the support and the whole world on our side. I thought we'd be by ourselves. Everybody is doing everything they can."

Speaking about Putin, Anastasiya said that "all the world knows he's a crazy mad man".

Natalya Maxymenko works in Tesco Deerpark is worried everyday for the safety of her 73-year-old mother.

"She's 100kms from Russian soldiers. She doesn't want to leave her home. All of us hope it will be over soon."

She added that she's also very grateful to her colleagues and the public who are generously dropping donations into her workplace.

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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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