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Supporting students through the decision making process




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

Supporting a young person who is making career decisions can be daunting for parents and guardians.


To begin with, the pressure of the Leaving Cert year is often felt by the household, not just the student themselves. Words of encouragement from you as parent or guardian, are often misinterpreted as extra pressure to achieve high grades. It is absolutely natural to want our young people to realise their potential at the end of their journey in secondary school but it is important to remember that lots of students don’t flourish in the Leaving Cert. Many do so when they find the pathway that they really like which suits their style of learning and facilitates them to develop skills and competencies that go far beyond the scope of the Leaving Cert exam.

Parents and guardians have a huge influence on a young person’s career path so taking time to discuss their ideas about what they are interested in is hugely valuable. By approaching the discussion in a friendly and encouraging way you take on the role of a career coach which means you can become the sounding board as they go through the process of making a decision. It is a process that can take some time so try to be as patient as possible as they explore different ideas. Often this can mean switching direction several times but that is all part of the stage that they are at. It is also really important to be as open as possible to the many different pathways now available to school leavers and to encourage your teenager to explore all avenues open to them. Listen to all their ideas without judgement but don’t be afraid to probe them on what it is they like about a particular course or option. Always encourage them to dig deeper!


Lots has changed since parents/guardians of the current cohort of young people left school so it is very understandable for you to feel inadequate to be able to guide them, but there is lots of help available. The first point of call is the school Guidance Counsellor. Encourage your son/daughter to make an appointment with their guidance counsellor and prepare questions with them in advance of the meeting. Attend any information sessions/career events held by the school even if you have gone through the process before with an older sibling. Each child is individual and lots of changes are taking place in the landscape of apprenticeships, and further and higher education, so make sure you are well informed. You can also do this by attending the virtual open days hosted by colleges or taking your son/daughter to the on-campus events where they are happening. Such events generally host an information session specifically aimed at parents to cover the move to college, finance, accommodation, access routes such as HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) and DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) and so on. I recommend that you explore the websites such as,,,,,,, and, all of which have lots of information and resources.


Parents and guardians are very important role models for young people making career decisions so discuss your own career journey with them, what helped or hindered you from making decisions when you were younger. It will help them to know that this is a process that everyone goes through, that you have been there too and that you understand that making a decision is stressful. It may also help to remind them that they are not deciding what they want to do for the rest of their lives, they are just planning the next step!

I will be hosting a free webinar for parents in association with the Education Centre Tralee on Tuesday next (November 16) at 7pm, ‘How to help your son/daughter make effective choices after the Leaving Cert’. To register see,

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.

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Proinsias says farewell to Gaelscoil after 33 years

By Michelle Crean For over three decades one face has been constant at Gaelscoil Faithleann but today (Friday) it all changes as the school’s first and only Principal to date […]



By Michelle Crean

For over three decades one face has been constant at Gaelscoil Faithleann but today (Friday) it all changes as the school’s first and only Principal to date says a fond farewell.

It’s a day full of mixed emotions for Proinsias Mac Curtain who was appointed the school’s Principal on September 1, 1989.

Today, the school’s 245 children and staff will host a number of events at the school for him which are sure to stir a few emotions.

It follows a special Mass on Innisfallen Island on Saturday morning as 150 children, staff members, parents council and Board of Management members boarded a boat for the occasion. And the location was apt as the school is called after the island, Proinsias explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“It was lovely, it was meaningful as the school is called after Innisfallen Island. I’ve been blessed with the school community down through the years. It was a pleasure to work with school staff and parents, Boards of Management – but the most important is the children. I’m proud of them and their achievements. They are great children and I’ll miss them.”

He said the school will be in great hands as Lisa Ni Iarlaithe, who has been at the school since 1991, takes over as Principal.

He also praised the hardworking staff.

“I’ll miss it but I’m comfortable to step back as the school is in excellent hands.”

Proinsias is originally from Tournafulla Co Limerick. He began his career as a teacher in Scoil Iognáid in the centre of Galway city, the largest Gaelscoil in the country at the time.

Shortly before he died his father Jerry, who loved to holiday for a few days a year in Killarney, had heard of a new school opening here and phoned Proinsias to tell him. The rest they say is history.

He says his love of Irish language was inspired by Tournafulla Primary School Principal Liam O Loineacháin and in St Ita’s College Abbeyfeale by Jim Tierney and the late Johnny Nelligan.

And although three decades is a long time, Proinsias says it flew by and that he has seen many changes over the years. The first is seeing the children of former pupils coming to school. The second is the advancement of technology – some good and some not so good!

“The biggest change was the growth of technology, the changeover to the whiteboard and the use of devices which makes it challenging for parents. It’s wonderful you can access so much, but there are advantages and disadvantages.”

He added a huge thanks to his wife Karen who supported him down through the years when he was out late at meetings, adding that she was “very patient”.

He also thanked Sean O Luanaigh.

“He has been my chairperson since the start and has been such a tremendous support, help and guidance down through the years.”

In retirement he plans to spend more time with his family including his three children Ruadhán, Meadhbh and Cormac.

He also plans to get more involved in Beaufort Tidy Towns as well as the Annals of Innisfallen project.

“It’s always been an interest of mine. I also plan to relax for a few weeks, make more time for family, and I look forward to playing more trad music, bee keeping, gardening and travel.”


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Start clocking up those ‘Kingdom Kilometres’

With an increase in daylight hours there’s no better time to clock up the ‘Kingdom Kilometres’ on foot or by cycling along the county’s two new Greenways. The recently opened […]




With an increase in daylight hours there’s no better time to clock up the ‘Kingdom Kilometres’ on foot or by cycling along the county’s two new Greenways.

The recently opened Kingdom of Kerry Greenways between Tralee and Fenit and between Listowel and Abbeyfeale are already proving hugely popular with locals and visitors to Kerry.

Representatives of the tourism Industry, local public representatives, travel writers and influencers gathered in Kerry on Monday to experience the exciting new tourist attractions and welcome the arrival of the longer daylight hours as the clocks changed over to summertime.

Sarah Hanrahan, a social media influencer who posts about Irish travel and has more than 100,000 Instagram followers, described the experience.

“Ireland has some of the most amazing outdoor spaces. For a lot of my followers and other people, connecting with green spaces has become much more important to their overall sense of well-being as well as their health and fitness. It’s been really gorgeous to experience the Tralee to Fenit, and Listowel to Limerick Kingdom of Kerry Greenways; a fantastic trip sampling the warm hospitality of Kerry and a great reminder of the active holiday options that are right on our doorstep.”

The new purpose-built trails provide an accessible and inclusive experience for visitors of all abilities.

Mayor of Tralee, Cllr Mikey Sheehy and the Mayor of Listowel, Cllr Aoife Thornton, said that the greenways offer an exceptional recreational amenity for everyone to enjoy.

“The greenways are situated in some of Kerry’s most scenic landscapes and offer spectacular and safe off-road facilities for people of all ages to enjoy as the landscape comes into bloom. They also offer warm hospitality at the trail head towns of each route.”

Visit to find out more.


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