Gemma gets her voice back... and wins life-long friend

A young Kerry woman who lost her wonderful singing because of a stroke almost two years is well on the way to hitting the high notes once more.

And, it’s all down to her own courage and extraordinary help from a friend.

Rachel O’Brien, a former pre-school teacher from Ballyheigue, had her life turned upside down on March 5, 2017, when she suffered a cryptogenic stroke, leaving her with no control of her hands, legs or speech.

Within months, Gemma Smith, a physio and speech therapist with Acquired Brain Injuries Ireland, Castleisland, had entered her life. Since then, the two have become firm friends - and Rachel is well on the way to getting her voice back.

What happened in Kerry this week


Injured cyclist coming home for Christmas

THE SISTER of a Waterville cyclist, who suffered horrific injuries in a collision in France, said he’s determined to make a full recovery and ‘battle’ his way back to health.

Lucy Curran has spoken of her family’s elation that her brother Michael is coming home on Wednesday for Christmas, following a decision by his medical team at the London rehabilitation clinic where he continues to recover, to allow him travel.

“He’s allowed come home to see us for a few days and he’s arriving on Wednesday and we’re absolutely elated,” an emotional Lucy told Kerry’s Eye.


Footballers turn to romance for Christmas

LOVE IS in the air for Kerry footballers, past and present, three of whom will have tied the knot before the end of the year and one more announcing his engagement to another Kerry sporting hero.

Fionn Fitzgerald, Paul Geaney and David Moran are all getting married this month while Donnchadh Walsh and Irish rugby international Louise Galvin announced their engagement.


Council orders gymnastics club to shut down

KERRY County Council is forcing a Tralee gymnastics club out of their current rented accommodation in Clash Industrial Estate.

The Council is now threatening to take out a court injunction against the club if they don’t stop training their 450 members, mostly children.

Club instructor Theresa Murphy told Kerry’s Eye they are surviving on the goodwill of their landlord, following news from Kerry County Council that they must vacate their premises in the new year.


Credit Union calls halt on savings

THE Cara Credit Union is now so flush with cash that it has decided to cap savings at a maximum of €50,000.

The Credit Union’s 300 members with savings above that level will be informed of the move in January.

This means that the current savings cap of €100,000, introduced in 2015, will be reduced to €50,00 for the foreseeable future.

Previously known as the Tralee Credit Union, Cara is the latest Credit Union to become victims of its own success as members want to lodge more and more cash in their savings account.



Golf helping kids with autism find their swing

A seven-year-old Killarney boy has benefitted so much from an innovative golfing programme that he now refuses to play any other sports.

Fionn Horgan, who has autism, enrolled in Castlegregory Golf Club’s #GameOn programme in September and has since become an avid fan of the game.

Designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum, the programme consists of twelve sessions. Starting in Scoil Eoin in Balloonagh, Tralee, before progressing to Castlegregory Golf Club, all skill levels are catered for and the group doesn’t progress until all the children are ready

Students achieve top awards for spoken poetry

Two Tralee students have won national awards for their poetry speaking skills at a prestigious event in Dublin. Palesa Hlongwane from Presentation Secondary School and Majella Votta of Mercy Mounthawk Secondary School won the Junior and Senior categories respectively at the ‘Poetry Aloud’ competition in the National Library of Ireland (NLI) on Friday last.


Consultant working in UK but suspended here

Dr Clare Hartigan was suspended from working in Ireland by High Court President Peter Kelly on Monday after the Irish Medical Council sought to have action taken against the radiologist.

A HSE report published last week revealed that four cancer patients died prematurely and others are now terminally ill because they were scanned and wrongly given the all-clear at UHK.

A review of more than 46,000 tests at UHK was carried out after management were informed last summer of three serious incidents inside the Radiology Department which would have adversely affected the patients involved.

It transpired that two of these patients affected have since died.


Emigrant sends $1,000 to oppose wind farm

The emigrant, who wants to remain anonymous, sent a handwritten letter and a cheque for $1,000 to the Sliabh Luachra Wind Aware group to help fight a legal battle over the proposed wind farm.

Hundreds of furious residents living in seven townlands are now going to the High Court to fight the construction of 12 turbines by Silverbirch Renewables Ltd which has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanála.

Permission for two further turbines was refused by An Bord Pleanála because they pose a danger to the protected hen harrier.


Kerry is now providing accommodation for 458 asylum seekers in Direct Provision centres in Tralee, Killarney and Kenmare.

The county is home to six of the 33 Direct Provision centres located in 16 counties around Ireland.

Only Cork is providing accommodation to more asylum seekers and the number in Kerry is now equal to the numbers in Direct Provision in Dublin.


Kerry winners scoop €61,000 in TV game show

But it was back to reality and work for Mark on Monday, whose winnings included an electric car worth €25,000, won soon after the popular gameshow started.

Portmagee and Valentia Island garda Dave Morris still hadn’t met his sister, who couldn’t take part in the show herself because she was on a shopping trip in New York.

However, he told Kerry’s Eye, she had been in touch and was delighted with her winnings.

New way of living comes to Killarney

Abode Killarney is Kerry’s first urban co-living community, a concept that is growing increasingly popular in the UK  and already has been introduced in Dublin. It expects to welcome its first residents on March 1.

The Killarney development, at the site of the old Liebherr apartments and German butchers at Aghadoe, will comprise 12 apartment units, including three, four and five-bedroom options, each with its own kitchen and living area.

However, the ground floor of the complex that extends to 500 square metres of communal space, will include a cinema, gym, laundry, kitchen and lounge areas, that will be overseen by a manager. It will also have its own secured parking.


Almost 50 people made a mid-winter splash in Fenit, as they entered the freezing cold water to raise funds for the athletes of Special Olympics Munster, of which Tralee Olympian Brendan O’Connell is a member.

Members of the Tralee Bay Swimming Club were a sight to behold on Sunday, as they braved the elements to raise much-needed funds for a worthy cause.

Kevin Williams, Public Relations Officer with Tralee Bay Swimming Club, says the community effort on the day was outstanding.

Killarney firm offers helping hand to injured fan

TradeKit Direct, based on the Ballycasheen Road, is an electrical supplies store and an affiliate of Sean’s former employer, Precision Cables in County Louth.

In his work as a rep for the cable-supplier, the 53-year-old Dundalk man often visited TradeKit, building relationships with staff and store owner, the late Gerry O’Sullivan. And it was Gerry who had originally planned the coffee morning at the store last Friday to raise funds for the stricken Liverpool supporter.

Amber gets best Christmas present

Elizabeth and Stuart Simmons have seen Amber Jones out with her mom, Sarah and her nana Trish O’Dell, as they pushed their little girl around in a buggy that was not fit for purpose.

Having been told that a wheelchair would only be made available to Amber when she really needed it by the Kerry Intervention Services, Amber’s mom, Sarah, was frustrated that her daughter was not getting the help she thought she needed.

But, thanks to the generosity of her neighbours and friends, little Amber is now looking forward to the freedom and independence that will come with her new mode of transport.

Aine’s artwork goes national!

Aine is 9 years old and a 3rd class pupil in Holy Family NS, Rathmore. She entered the art competition under the theme ‘a force of nature’ with her local Credit Union in Rathmore.

The art-mad pupil heard about the competition at school, and took a number of days preparing her entry. The little artist embraced the theme as she loves to draw animals and nature scenes.

She is delighted to have won the age 8 to 10 category. Her art teacher, Amanda Wright, takes Aine once a week for classes, when she works with many different materials.