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Sem students have sights set on solar energy system



SELF-SUSTAINABLE: Kacper Bogalecki with Gearoid McGorrin, Rian Gill, Ethan Slattery, James Smith, Navansh Johnson, Fionn McCloskey and Paul Foran implementing a more self-sustainable and climate friendly project in the Sem. Photo: Grigoriy Geniyevskiy


By Colm Looney

Innovative students have decided to up their game when it comes to self-sustainability in their secondary school to try to win a grant for solar panels to cut heating costs.

Students at St Brendan’s College have formed the ‘Self-Sustainable Sem’ committee and have entered into the national ‘Friends of the Earth Solar Schools’ competition which would allow them to access a grant that would cover 90 percent of the costs for solar panels for their school.

This journey began last year with the beginning of the ‘Fridays for Future’ strikes all across the country, when a select group of students decided something should be done on the school’s behalf.

“A group of students, myself included, got together with the supervision of Ms Sheehy and Ms Quirke for our first meeting,” Director of the Self-Sustainable Sem, Kacper Bogalecki, told the Killarney Advertiser. “We discussed what kind of action our school could get involved in. We started off with the ºC+ that we made out on the basketball court and worked our way along from there.”

They got involved with the RTE Youth Assembly on Climate Action and some of the students attended the event.

“Following this it was suggested to us that we attempt something for the ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award which occurred around November. We came together to seek out ways in which the school could become more self-sustainable.”

So far this year the school has implemented an outright ban on plastic bottles and has replaced all plastic consumables in the canteen with more renewable or recyclable options. After a meeting with Green Party member Dr Anne-Marie Fuller, the group learned of different ways to make the school more eco-friendly such as implementing a uniform renewal system and a TerraCycle scheme.

The lads recently posted a video on FOEIreland YouTube and members of the committee asked the people of Killarney for their assistance, to like their post and share it with each other and received an amazing response back.

“Our main goal is to reduce our carbon footprint and to hopefully assist our local community at the same time,” Kacper said. “We also aim to make the school more self-sustainable and climate friendly.”




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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