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Start your career research early in Sixth Year




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

It’s a bit of a shock to the system for everyone, but it is very important to hit the ground running in terms of your work rate and approach to study and revision from early on. The same applies to your career research. Many of you will have done some career exploration in Transition Year and Fifth Year which is really valuable. If you haven’t, don’t worry there is still plenty of time. Students who have done the Leaving Cert previously will tell you just how quickly the year seems to go. Before you know it the time will come to make decisions about what direction you want to take next. You don’t need to be told that this is a really important decision, which means you don’t want it to be a rushed one. Starting your research early in Sixth Year will allow you to take time to look at all the options available to you which will then enable you to make an informed decision when you need to. I’ve no doubt that many of you are already feeling stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of having to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. You don’t need to make that decision now, but you will want to decide what form of education or training you would like to pursue for the next couple of years and what career areas/sectors interest you in the foreseeable future.

Seek out supports and valuable resources


My advice is to start by making an appointment with your guidance counsellor in school who will give you some great suggestions of pathways and courses that might suit you, answer any questions you have and support you through the decision-making process. Ultimately you will have to decide what direction you want to take after school, but using all the really good supports and resources available to you will help hugely, that and taking the time to do proper research!

Steps for successful career research

Step 1: The research starts with yourself; consider your likes, dislikes, interests, skills, strengths, personality traits, values, aptitudes, competencies and subjects you are good at. Think about what motivates you. If you are finding this process difficult, look at some of the free self-assessment tools available online on websites such as,, and on the Exit Entry App. They will help to get you started and will give suggestions on broad career sectors as well as specific careers and courses that are worth looking in to. However, you will need to do further research!

Step 2: Explore the world of work, the career sectors and actual job titles. Think about the work settings that appeal to you and those that don’t! The sites mentioned above have extensive information on lots of career areas. Take a look also at the weekly webinars on various career areas from @synergycareers.

Step 3: Look at the education and training options that will help you to develop your skills, knowledge, expertise and experience in a particular area to start you off in your career. You will be continuously building on these over the years. Think about the many options – apprenticeships, traineeships, post-leaving cert courses, CAO courses, study abroad options and more. Then look at the detail of what you will be studying by looking carefully at modules, how they are assessed and the breakdown of practical and theoretical learning. Make sure all of this suits the type of learner you are. Register for the open days, many of which will be virtual again this year, starting from the beginning of October. Put any questions you have to college staff who are only too willing to answer them. You will find details of all career events on a weekly short video by @classroomguidance and lots of really informative Podcasts on courses and colleges on @leavingcertguidance.

Remember there is not just one pathway for everyone, there are many – make sure to explore them all early in Sixth Year and then make an informed decision that you will be happy with.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor - For details see or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.



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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Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!



Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time of the year.

Last week we asked our readers to take part in our Killarney Town Pulse Survey. We wanted to get a better understanding of local consumer sentiment and to get an snapshot of other issues impacting our standard of living. See a summary of our findings below.


So, jobs are aplenty, the minimum wage is set to increase in 2024 and yet according to our findings, locals are not too optimistic about the year ahead.

Just 1 in 10 people reported that they are better off now than they were a year ago. Only 16% expect the economy to be in a better place this time next year and there seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with how the government are tackling key issues affecting our standard of living.

Hasn’t everything gone so expensive?

If I got a euro for every time I heard this the over the past 12 months I certainly wouldn’t be feeling the pinch myself! Generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their personal finances but people’s behaviour is changing under the current climate. We are so frustrated with the cost of everything we are venting at home, in the office, and even while out for dinner with friends. It is not a dig at local business, I know plenty of small businesses struggling to keep their heads above water too.

Inflation is a concern but the real worry is where prices will land

Consumers and businesses are dealing with higher interest rates that have come as a result of the Central Bank trying to tame inflation. Loan products such as mortgages and car loans are more expensive. The noise coming from these issues alone is enough to drown out any positive aspects of the economy.

Stubbornly high inflation is a concern for policy makers, but for the average Joe, we are more concerned about where prices will eventually fall back to. We can deal with some short term pain but with inflation stabilising and some early signs it may even be falling, a large percentage of our survey respondents expect prices to continue to rise. This is backed up by many economists predicting prices will never return to what they were.

It’s not clear how much wage increases have played into higher prices up to now but there is a general consensus that where business margins are tight, higher wages for workers will lead to sustained higher prices for consumers 

Government is failing on issues impacting our standard of living

Research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland last week showed that more than 7 in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. We asked a similar question to locals in our survey and more than 50% of Killarney locals said that either they, or someone they know, is considering moving abroad. This is a sad indictment of our country today.

The pace of housing delivery is dampening young people’s hopes of owning their own home and is even making renting unaffordable. It is not just impacting the youth however, I know of business owners in Killarney where housing shortages are impacting their ability to attract and retain talent, Businesses can’t afford to pay them a wage that allows them to comfortably rent and live in Killarney.  

At the start of September we were reading about a major teacher shortage across the country. Graduate múinteoirí are now ditching Ireland for the Middle-East where their accommodation is often subsidised and their take-home-pay benefits from a largely tax-free society. 

This Wednesday we witnessed a staff walk out at UHK in protest of a recruitment ban in place by the HSE. Reports claim that there are over 90 clerical positions waiting to be filled at the hospital. It is no wonder with all of these added pressures that our nurses and doctors are heading Down Under for warmer weather and better pay and while you couldn’t begrudge them, the drain of health workers in Ireland is leaving those left behind working in stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.  

It’s the uncertainty

The economy is in a strange place at the moment, we are not sure if it is growing, slowing or shrinking. It kind of feels like we are dangling off the edge of a cliff and one big gust of wind could  push us over the edge. The preferred outcome is that we will be pulled back to safer ground but can this government gets to grips with the major issues impacting our standard of living and get the cost of living down to a more tolerable level?


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