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Welcome for residents and staff at opening of Deer Lodge in Killarney today




TODAY saw residents move into Deer Lodge Mental Health facility on St Margaret's Road. The opening of the state-of-the-art centre is to be celebrated by the entire community, said the head of Mental Health Services at Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Sinead Glennon.

Ms Glennon described today as “a very significant day for mental health services in Kerry”. “All of Kerry can be very proud of this fantastic €13 million facility, and of the very high level of care which will be provided there,” she said.

In particular, this is an important day for the people who have now moved out of the outdated and “entirely unsuitable” O’Connor Unit, Ms Glennon added. “Thanks to the investment in Deer Lodge, we can now offer improved services and therapeutic intervention in rehabilitative and older persons’ mental health,” she said.

The management of Cork Kerry Community Healthcare paid tribute to the contribution and commitment of all staff involved in the project, from the design stage to completion. “This new facility will transform the lives of the many residents who will use the 40-bed facility in the years ahead,” said Ms Glennon. “Many of the residents and staff at Deer Lodge put a lot of work into the planning process around this opening. I’d like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.”

The mental health recovery unit for adults and older people has been built to a very high standard, and will provide a much-improved environment for the residents, their families and the staff working with them, according to the HSE.

The building is in four “households”, all connected through a central module that features a communal area, therapy areas, entrance, foyer, prayer room and other facilities including a hair salon. Each household has access to an internal landscaped garden area, and each resident has their own bedroom with en-suite facilities. “Care at Deer Lodge will be provided with the aim of ensuring that residents have maximum involvement in their own recovery process and can move towards more independent living,” stated the HSE. “A community based recovery team will work with Deer Lodge residents as part of the individual care planning process.”

The HSE noted that this facility will provide “the footprint” on which future service delivery is shaped and enable the delivery of a safe, effective, quality service in a therapeutic environment for both staff and service users. “The opening of Deer Lodge means that there is an overall increase of eight beds in Mental Health Services in Kerry and those eight beds come with a corresponding increase in staff numbers of 28.5,” stated the HSE.

“The staffing level and model has been endorsed by the Labour Relations Court and is in place in a similar facility in Clonmel. Additional funding of €1.15 million has been allocated for staffing to ensure the safe transfer of residents.”


Above: Deer Lodge staff members Juliette Brosnan, Declan Cronin, Michael O'Leary, David O'Riordan, Mary Lyons, Adrian Morrissey, Anne O'Connor, Aidan Murphy, Cathy O'Sullivan, Mary O'Mahony, Dr Darra Phelan, Louise Fitzgerald, Gerardine Lyne, Ann Mccarthy, Anne Maria Culloty, Noreen O'Sullivan, Christine Carroll, Sheila McCasrthy and Eric Crowe pictured ready to welcome residents to the €13 million Deer Lodge Mental Health facility on St Margaret's Road, Killarney, on Tuesday. PICTURE: DON MACMONAGLE



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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