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Volunteer says Special Olympic trip was a “life-changing experience”

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And Special Olympic hero Gary welcomed home in Killarney and Castleisland

By Sean Moriarty

The Killarney woman who volunteered for the Irish team at the recent Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi has described her experience as “life-changing”.

Leanne Cronin, from Spa, has been a volunteer with Special Olympics Ireland for little over a year, after signing up for a scheme set up by her employer, Kerry Group.

She was the only Kerry person on the 74-strong volunteer team in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

She witnessed first-hand the success of Castleisland athlete Gary O’Sullivan who won a gold and silver medal at the games.

Gary, a member of the Kerry Stars, won gold in the shot put competition and backed this up with silver in the 400m walk.

He returned to Kerry last weekend to a hero’s welcome at the Dromhall Hotel on Friday night after a Garda escort from the railway station. On Saturday night he was paraded through his native Castleisland.

“It was a privilege to share my Special Olympics World Games experience with Gary. Gary is a gent,” she said. “Although we approached the games from different angles I felt so fortunate to be in Abu Dhabi for the Games when a proud Kerry man displayed his best ability and put his hard months of training to good use. He raised the flag not just for Ireland those days, but Kerry also, and that made me very proud. It was phenomenal, the entire experience,” she added. “To witness the sportsmanship and the friends for life that I made from all over the world. We were treated like royalty over there and the people of the UAE were some of the friendliest people I met in all my travel. The experience was life-changing.”

Leanne started volunteering for Special Olympics Ireland last year and her first major event was the Dublin qualifiers in June and this prompted her to join the local Kerry Stars Special Olympic Club as a volunteer.

“I was lucky that Kerry Group set this up. I always wanted to volunteer but this helped me take the next step,” she added. “The great work that the Kerry Stars do in all sports is fantastic.”

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Local author’s debut book makes Late Late Toy Show

Killarney art psychotherapist Katie O’Donoghue was delighted to spot her first children’s book on last Friday’s Late Late Toy Show! ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ was written and illustrated by Katie, and published by Gill Books in July. With almost every eye in Ireland on the Toy Show every year, children’s authors, illustrators and publishers […]

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Killarney art psychotherapist Katie O’Donoghue was delighted to spot her first children’s book on last Friday’s Late Late Toy Show!

‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ was written and illustrated by Katie, and published by Gill Books in July.

With almost every eye in Ireland on the Toy Show every year, children’s authors, illustrators and publishers compete for a much-coveted spot on the set. Aware that her book had been sent to Ryan, but not having heard anything from RTÉ, Katie was thrilled to see it in a prominent position. It was a wonderful surprise to discover ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ had been placed in the front row of the book corner. There, it had a little chair of its own and was even embraced by a cuddly toy.

It was visible many times over the course of the evening, particularly during the book discussion, an incredibly proud moment for first-time author Katie.

“I have to admit, when I saw ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ cradled in the teddy’s arms, I may have jumped up and down with excitement,” Katie told the Killarney Advertiser.

What began as a lockdown project while Katie was living in London and missing her family in Kerry, is providing comfort to children around the world.

Using a gentle story with gorgeous illustrations, Little Squirrel and his forest friends teach young people a variety of simple coping techniques.

“These skills will benefit children their entire lives and the book is even helpful for adults who are prone to worrying and overthinking,” she added.

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No 2021 return for Killarney on Ice

By Michelle Crean Fans of the ice will be disappointed to hear that Killarney on Ice will not return for a second year. Following its huge popularity year on year since returning to Killarney in 2015, the promoters of Killarney on Ice are disappointed to confirm that they are unable to operate again this year. […]

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By Michelle Crean

Fans of the ice will be disappointed to hear that Killarney on Ice will not return for a second year.

Following its huge popularity year on year since returning to Killarney in 2015, the promoters of Killarney on Ice are disappointed to confirm that they are unable to operate again this year.

Rising case numbers, uncertain COVID-19 restrictions, and insurance challenges have been the main drivers behind the decision not to open, according to the company.

As Kerry’s only festive ice rink, the facility has brought much fun and life to the town over the years, attracting thousands of people from all over the county, and indeed the whole country, with many families coming to stay overnight in Killarney and enjoying all that this great town has to offer.

As well as friends and families coming to skate, schools, youth clubs, sports teams and employees of local companies use the group booking discount rate to plan sessions on the ice, and Killarney on Ice would like to thank them all for their continuing loyalty.

“We sincerely hope to be back better and stronger in 2022, and we look forward to welcoming all of our valued customers,” Tim O’Donoghue, the promoter of the rink, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“In the meantime, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.”

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