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Will Grace be the Last Singer Standing?

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By Michelle Crean

She loves to sing - but will Killarney’s Grace Foley be the last one standing tonight (Saturday) - viewers will have to tune in to find out.

Classical singer Grace from Ross Road will face competition in the new RTÉ One singing competition ‘Last Singer Standing’ beginning at 8.15pm as she tries to get through to the next stage, and ultimately the final - to win €25,000!

The new mom, who had daughter Anna in late April, said she applied to appear on the show, hosted by Westlife’s Nicky Byrne, to one day show her daughter to go for things you love in life.

Her husband John had told her about the new RTÉ show, and before she knew it, she had filled in an application form.

Then she got an email from Shinawil, the production company who came up with the format for the show.

“I was invited to an online interview and, before I knew what was happening, I was on a train to Dublin for an in-person audition! I hadn't left Kerry in years at this point, and my last audition for anything was a very long time ago. I felt scared, but determined to give it my best shot. I got to sing in front of actual humans again and it was wonderful!”

A few weeks later she heard that she was going to be part of the show.

“I was so over the moon. The day of recording was a phenomenal experience. We were treated like royalty and got to meet incredibly warm people including our lovely host, Nicky Byrne. Nicky guided and encouraged us the whole way. Our pop panel included Samantha Mumba, Nadine Coyle and Joey Fantone who were very supportive and gave only constructive criticism.”

She added that the show is not about shame or embarrassment.

“This show is about fun and great singing. I do have to admit, it is a very daunting situation as you don't know what song you could be faced with and you could even end up trying to sing a song you don't know! Will I be brave and press that buzzer on my first show? Only time will tell!”

And, there is a real sense of 'serendipity' to all this, she added.

“Almost 20 years ago I appeared in another Shinawil production, 'You're a Star'. On this show I performed Phil Coulter's song, 'Remember Me, Recuerdame'. Well, I just recorded this song, after all this time, and Phil has shared it and given it his own stamp of approval. I feel that everything happens for a reason and when it should. I am releasing a new album, 'Unmasked', on November 28 and this includes the songs that have been part of my own story this past few years.”

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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