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Ursula closes the books after 42 years in education




By Michelle Crean 

Memories flowed as much as the tears last week as pupils, colleagues and friends paid tribute to one of the town's best loved principals who has retired after over four decades in education. 

Ursula Coffey with her family celebrating her retirement as Principal and Teacher at Holy Cross Mercy School. From left were: Lee and Jennifer Buckley Kieran and Ursula Coffey Eithne McAuliffe Fintan and Laura Coffey. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Deputy Principal Anne Lucey retiring Principal Ursula Coffey and incoming Principal Alice O’Donnell Davern at the Hotel Europe celebrating the retirement of Ursula Coffey from Holy Cross Mercy Primary School. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Ursula Coffey with her family on the night of her retirement as Principal and Teacher at Holy Cross Mercy School. From left were: Jennifer Kieran Ursula and Fintan Coffey. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Ursula Coffey (seated centre) surrounded by her family and staff of Holy Cross Mercy School on Friday night in The Hotel Europe Killarney on the occasion of her retirement following 42 years of service. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Ursula Coffey arriving in style to her retirement dinner in the Hotel Europe with her husband Kieran and family. From left were: Lee and Jennifer Buckley Kieran and Ursula Coffey Fintan and Laura Coffey. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Marie Westlake making a presentation on behalf of the Parents’ Association of Holy Cross Mercy School to Ursula Coffey on the evening of her retirement. From left: Rhonda Healy Marie Westlake Alice O’Donnell Davern Ursula Coffey Anne Lucey and Breda Flanagan. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Some past teachers of Holy Cross Mercy School pictured with Ursula Coffey at her retirement dinner in the Hotel Europe Killarney on Friday night. Front from left were: Sr Colette Dennehy Ella Stack Ursula Coffey Siobhán Clancy and Helen Prendergast. Back from left: Breda Courtney Murphy Maureen O’Donoghue Mary O’Sullivan and Alison Coffey. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Bridget McGuire (Chairperson of the Holy Cross Mercy Board of Management) making a presentation to retiring Principal Ursula Coffey with Fr Niall Howard and Caitríona Behan. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Ursula Coffey who retired from Holy Cross Mercy School was best remembered for knowing each and every child by name as she greeted them every morning - and for her infamous homemade chocolate brownies which they say were a staple in the school for special days!

For much of her career at the school Ursula taught Sixth Class pupils in what some of her former pupils referred to as her “finishing school” preparing young girls for their transfer to secondary school.

Over the past 16 years she undertook the historic role of the first lay principal of the school.

Under the leadership of Deputy Principal, Anne Lucey with Breda Flanagan and Rhonda Healy, preparations were made for an event to celebrate Ursula’s long and distinguished contribution to life in Holy Cross. Each member of the staff and all of the pupils pulled out all of the stops to make this time a very special one for Mrs. Coffey. Her retirement celebrations began on Wednesday last with a school Mass which coincided with the annual celebration of Mercy Day, a very important feast day for all of the Mercy Community.

Speaking from the Altar in St Mary’s Cathedral Mrs. Coffey reminded all present of the strong links that Holy Cross Mercy School has, which are rooted in the Mercy Community and officially thanked the Mercy Sisters for their generosity to the school. Fr. Niall Howard, former school chaplain, led the pupils, staff, parents and community in prayer during the con-celebrated Mass.

Afterwards the school hosted a gathering in honour of Ursula. She was joined by her close friends and family members and welcomed with a guard of honour by the pupils in their red and grey uniforms waving Mercy flags and applauding.

Thursday saw a variety show put on by the pupils in an outpouring of gratitude and affection for their beloved outgoing principal. Song, poetry, artwork and drama rooted in the curriculum formed the basis for the variety show which was enjoyed by one and all. 

Friday saw Mrs. Coffey leave the school following her final day’s work. She left the building on New Road handing over her famously large bunch of keys to incoming Principal and former Mercy pupil Alice Davern. With rapturous cheers from one and all Mrs. Coffey bid farewell to the building she taught in and ran during her career.

Later that evening Ursula and her family were chauffeured by helicopter to the Hotel Europe where her retirement dinner was held. The pupils, parents, staff and Board of Management of Holy Cross Mercy School, wish Ursula and her family all the very best as she begins this next chapter of life’s journey.

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Five questions to ask yourself before buying a stock

By Michael O’Connor, When it comes to investing, nothing is certain. There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy. […]




By Michael O’Connor,

When it comes to investing, nothing is certain.

There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy.

The truth is, investing is hard, and building a portfolio of top stocks that beat the market is something that even financial professionals have trouble doing consistently.

For most people, investing in index funds is the perfect hands-off approach, providing broad exposure to the stock market at a very low fee. Even my own personal portfolio is made up of roughly 70% ETFs despite the fact I invest in the market for a living.

But I believe some stock picking is a good strategy for many hands-on people.

Taking a small portion of your overall portfolio and diligently selecting a small number of companies to invest in gives you an opportunity to learn about the investing process and fully understand the businesses you are investing in, which helps to build conviction in your positions.

From a psychological standpoint “collector’s instinct” kicks in, enabling people to participate and invest more money over time.

Lastly, for Irish investors, there are tax benefits to consider. If you invest in individual stocks, you are taxed at the CGT rate of 33%, and the first €1,270 of your gains are exempt from CGT each year. When investing in index funds or ETFs, you are taxed at the exit tax rate of 41% with no annual exemption.

For those interested in picking individual stocks, here are five questions you should ask yourself before investing in any company.

Do I understand the business?

Too many people invest in businesses they don’t understand because it ‘sounds good’. If you have no idea how the company works, you won’t have the conviction needed to hold onto the stock when an inevitable downturn comes.

Can the balance sheet withstand severe, temporary adversity?

This seems obvious, but so many people invest in companies without understanding how much money a company holds and who they owe money to. Economic cycles are guaranteed. You must ensure that the company has enough cash-on-hand to avoid becoming obsolete when activity slows.

Will the company benefit from long-term trends?

Make sure the company will remain relevant into the future. If the stock is cheap now, it may be cheap for a reason.

Is the company enjoying profitable growth?

Not growth at all costs, but a combination of sustainable growth and value. All this information can be found online at sites like

What are the risk factors?

Is the company trying something new and untested? If yes, who are its competitors and how successful are they? If other players are more established, this company may have a tough time breaking into the market.


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Ballyspillane staff open up mental health conversation

By Michelle Crean “Hello, How Are You?” that’s the question staff at Ballyspillane Community Centre will be asking next week as part of a new campaign. It’s all in partnership […]




By Michelle Crean

“Hello, How Are You?” that’s the question staff at Ballyspillane Community Centre will be asking next week as part of a new campaign.

It’s all in partnership with Mental Health Ireland (MHI) and the centre will host an information/coffee morning on Thursday next (March 30) at 12.30pm at their centre and all are welcome to attend.

The campaign initiated by MHI identifies the need for positive engagement and connections with the people around us.

It asks people to engage in open conversations about mental health and prompts us all to ask the question “How Are You?”

The word HELLO is a useful acronym to guide everyone through such conversations, H: Hello, E: Engage positively with the person, L: Listen actively, L: Learn about the person and O: seek options to assist the person if required.

“We all need a listening and compassionate ear sometimes to get us through some challenges in our lives and I think the pandemic has opened a new way of looking at the world, where we can all recognise the challenges that people experience more readily,” Derek O’Leary, Manager of Ballyspillane Community & Family Resource Centre, said.

“Our team here are in the business of supporting families and individuals across the Killarney area and beyond and see the challenges that people face first hand. We also see the positive impact that a caring person can have in such circumstances and this campaign that encourages positive engagement, regarding mental health is a great reminder to us all, the role we can play is assisting others who are struggling.”

Ballyspillane Community & Family Resource Centre provide a suite of support and intervention services including family supports, social prescribing/community connection services and physiotherapeutic services across the Killarney municipal area and beyond.


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