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Remembering Rosemary Smith

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By Mike Marshall

“It is a funny thing that in my 50 years of rallying and racing all over the world it is not the wins I think of but the funny things that happened before, during and after the events”.

These were the opening words of the interview which Rosemary Smith gave to Michael O’Mahoney when he was gathering material for Icons of Irish Rallying his brilliant publication of human-interest stories collected from over seventy men and women who have been part of the Irish motorsport scene from the mid-1960s to recent times.

Michael got to know Rosemary and her long-time co-driver Pauline Gullick during his years in Dublin and through his company sponsored several Pauline’ appearances on the Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally as co-driver with the great Jim McRae.

While Rosemary had of course rallied on the Killarney stages years earlier in her time with various works teams on the Circuit of Ireland, it was not until 1992 that she made her one and only appearance in the Rally of the Lakes.

That entry was brought about through the efforts of Joe Foley, a larger than life character who with a number of fellow glass blowers and cutters had set up Tipperary Crystal near Carrick-on- Suir, after the world famous Waterford Crystal had closed its doors.

Joe was a rally enthusiast and thanks to him many motor clubs were able to present beautiful crystal glass trophies which would have been far beyond the club’s budget were it not for the exceptional discounts provided by Joe.

In 1992 Tipperary Crystal came on board as trophy sponsors for the Rally of the Lakes and Joe came up with the idea that to get max return for his involvement the best plan would be to enter a Tipperary Crystal sponsored car, driven by somebody who would be guaranteed to attract media attention.

Rosemary had at that stage virtually finished with competitive driving to concentrate on her Driving School and Fashion interests, but such was the persuasive power of Joe’s idea that the entry list for the 1992 Lakes records Rosemary Smith at No 38, co-driven by Joe Foley in a Class A7 Peugeot.

It is doubtful if the team carried out any recce but it was clear that Rosie’s years of experience gained in tackling rally stages all over the world has not deserted her and she came back to the finish on Sunday evening with an unscratched car and a class win after eighteen of the Classic Killarney stages.

This was the last December Lakes before the switch to May, so the latter stages on both days would have tackled in failing light or darkness, adding to the challenges of the event.

The photo shows Margaret O’Donoghue presenting their class awards to Rosemary and Joe.

Joe left Tipperary Crystal a few years later when the company changed hands.

He went to live abroad but did not enjoy a long retirement before he passed away.

Rosemary and Joe have now left us but thankfully Margaret remains very much with us as an iconic reminder of the pivotal role which the O’Donoghue family and the Gleneagle have played in the development of, not only the Rally of the Lakes and the Historic Rally, but also so many other events and initiatives which have ensured that Killarney always remains in pole position as the premier visitor destination in the country.

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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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