Christmas dreams really do come true!

At this time of year, dreams really do come true - just ask Saoirse Coffey, who’s looking forward to her first Christmas with her 10-week-old baby, Fíonn.

Five years ago, doctors in the UK told the Tralee girl she was dying of liver failure. Her family was called to her bedside, and she was offered the Last Rites.

But brave Saoirse battled through - only to be told she’d never be able to have children.

Now she’s looking forward to a dream Christmas - her first with her beautiful new baby boy.

And she has a special Christmas message to share with everyone.

 

What happened in Kerry this week

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Christmas dreams really do come true. Having been told by doctors that she was dying and would never have children, Tralee woman Saoirse Coffey is now getting ready to celebrate Christmas with her miracle baby Fíonn.

 

Killorglin teen Julie Bowell has just become a Christmas internet sensation after her version of the classic carol O Holy Night went viral, clocking up over 30,000 viewings in just a few days.

 

Having spent Christmases in Kerry for the past 20 years, Caroll Spinney, the man behind Sesame Street’s ‘Big Bird’ and Oscar The Grouch, had been planning to visit again this year before his sad, untimely passing last Saturday.

Big Bird’s goodbye to  Kerry

The man behind Sesame Street’s ‘Big Bird’ was due to celebrate his 86th birthday in Kerry this Christmas, before his untimely passing on Saturday.

Caroll Spinney brought joy to millions of children across the globe for the past five decades, voicing and operating the eight-foot Big Bird along with Oscar The Grouch on the long-running TV show.

After meeting stonecutter Paddy Fitzell from Rusheen in Ballylongford in the 1990s, he fell in love with Kerry, and returned here to celebrate his birthday every Christmas for the past 20 years.

“We were good old friends, and he was a very down-to-earth man,” said Paddy, who has been friends with Carroll Spinney since the 1990s.

Top doctor may decide to quit

The head of Kerry’s colposcopy unit, Dr Nóirín Russell, says she has not ruled out resigning her position over unrealistic expectations around CervicalCheck and abuse being levelled at frontline staff.

Dr Russell – an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and lead colposcopist with Kerry Colposcopy Service – said the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for women as a result of media reporting around the CervicalCheck review.

The colposcopy unit in Tralee is the diagnostic and treatment arm of CervicalCheck which employs four full-time and one part-time staff.

‘Bombshell’ as Nicole opts for Carol!

Hollywood A-lister Nicole Kidman obviously knows that if you want to get ahead, you get a hat.

So the star of the new blockbuster film Bombshell - and Tom Cruise’s former missus - opted for one of Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly’s amazing creations as part of her stunning photo shoot in the latest edition of the Tatler UK style magazine.

This is not the first time that Carol Kennelly’s work has been chosen by showbiz and celebrity superstars.

When Armageddon thriller hero Liv Tyler featured on the front cover of Tatler UK she also chose one of Carol’s headpieces.

Feale and Cashen in ‘poor’ condition

An infestation of harmful algae is having a detrimental impact on the quality of water in two major catchment areas in North Kerry.

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed that the Cashen Estuary near Ballybunion and the Upper Feale near Listowel are now classified as now being of ‘poor’ ecological status following the growth of phytoplankton in the water.

Phytoplankton are microscopic algae that drift along with water movements and, in a balanced ecosystem, provide food for a wide range of sea creatures including shrimp, snails, and jellyfish.

Jimmy’s latest peak performance

Former Kerry football star Jimmy Deenihan is hitting new heights - he has reached base camp at Mount Everest after a challenging two-week trek.

The 67-year-old spent three months training on Carrauntoohil ahead of the attempt last month on Everest Base Camp, which has an altitude of 5,400 metres.

He was joined by fellow adventurers, Tralee sisters Carly and Blondie Horan - who climbed Kilimanjaro in 2014.

The five-time All-Ireland winner described the climb as one of the most difficult challenges he has ever attempted.

Dig deep to help others this Christmas

A BARRADUFF woman, who has worked with Trócaire in Africa for the past 18 years, is appealing for people in Kerry to dig deep into their pockets this Christmas and support families living in areas affected by war and extreme poverty.

by David Byrne

Families fleeing conflict urgently need food, shelter and healthcare this festive season in many of the countries where Trócaire works, according to Martina O’Donoghue.

“Millions of children around the world have known nothing but conflict in their lives,” she said.

“Their lives are on hold because they are living in war zones.

Kerry students get Gaisce Awards

IT was a morning of pride at Dublin Castle as seven Kerry students received their prestigious Gaisce Gold medal awards from President Michael D Higgins.

Six of those completed their awards with Killorglin Community College and former The Green CBS in Tralee student Jaison Hellstrom was also awarded the Gold Gaisce medal at the special ceremony.

As part of the achievement, Jaison undertook a number of activities over a 12-month period including learning how to speak sign language, volunteering in a thrift shop run by Adapt and organising his own venture journey for the award programme - a three-day hike along the Dingle Way.

Killarney will have two major cinemas

CONSTRUCTION on a new five-screen cinema and entertainment facility in Killarney by Omniplex Ireland has got underway.

The new multiplex cinema will be located on the site of the former Torc Great Southern Hotel on the Park Road, beside the Killarney Outlet Centre.

This will become the second cinema in Killarney - Cinema Killarney is less than half a mile away on East Avenue Road.

According to Omniplex Ireland, construction is ‘progressing well’ and it is expected that the new Killarney cinema will open to the public next summer.

Drawing admirers!

Dancers, lovers, cats and Kerry footballers are just some of the silhouettes popping up all over Tralee - thanks to Kerry’s own Banksy.

Former teacher and court sketch artist Mike O’Donnell is stalking the streets at night, searching for the perfect spot to place his hand-drawn and thought-provoking images.

After suffering a near fatal accident where he was knocked off his bicycle, Mike decided it was time to start doing what he felt he was designed to do. So, he went back to drawing.

€950k for Reeks farmers

FUNDING OF €950,000 announced by Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, for the MacGillycuddy Reeks Project will pay 23 farmers in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) carry out realistic and achievable improvements on their land to improve biodiversity.

The project is one of 23 European Innovation Partnership projects and is aimed at developing practical, achievable actions to solve issues facing farmers in the Reeks. Patricia Dean, project manager for the European Innovation Partnership for South Kerry Development Partnership, which is leading the pilot project, explained it worked along the lines of other farm schemes, where farmers receive payment for work carried out, and the greater environmental output, the higher the payment.

“What we’re doing is trying to improve the condition of the mountain, working with our farmers to improve its environmental condition,” Ms Deane said, explaining that the 23 farmers involved in the pilot project had identified what actions could be targeted.

Optimistic outlook from Kerry’s hoteliers

‘Magical’ was how the Christmas market in the John Mitchels GAA Complex was described - even the grown ups were mesmerised by Santa’s grotto.

The market was held last Saturday and Sunday and was packed out on both days until the weather warning put an end to the festivities but not to worry, there is another chance to visit the market this weekend coming, December 14 and 15th.

At last weekend’s market, over 50 stalls with every craft, trinket and unique Christmas gift were set up but it wouldn’t be a Christmas market without Santa Claus, who kindly dropped by with his trusty polar bears in tow. And while the kids flocked to see Santa, the grown ups were left mesmerised at the magical cave creation that was Santa’s grotto for the weekend.