The Force is with Kerry!

0000LightBlue@Intro Single Col:There’s only a WEEK to go before Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits the cinema screens - and the Force is already with Kerry.

The eighth instalment of the blockbuster movie franchise opens around the world next Thursday and is expected to feature shots of Kerry’s scenery that will stun audiences everywhere.

Fans can expect amazing footage shot on Skellig Michael and at Ceann Sibéal in West Kerry.

Director Rian Johnson has already given the thumbs up to Ireland as his favourite spot to film.

What happened in Kerry this week

A shocking report reveals how suicidal and self-harming children are still being treated in a high-risk and unsafe adult facility at Kerry University Hospital. Independent watchdog the Mental Health Commission (MHC) has compiled a damning report of practices at the Sliabh Mish Mental Health Unit at UHK, condemning the unit as unsuitable, high risk and unsafe for children.

Builder Michael McElligott claimed this week at Listowel Circuit Court that he was hunted out of his native Tarbert and had to return to New York because of a vicious campaign of anonymous letters and a personal vendetta against him 'exercised under the flag of Tarbert GAA'.

A Milltown man who carried out an unprovoked assault in a row over a marauding dog was sentenced to two years in prison at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court last week. The judge said that if people behave like this, they must be prepared for the consequences.

Tralee Credit Union is planning to change its name to Cara Credit Union, and a motion seeking the change is to be put to members at the annual general meeting this Monday. Credit Union management believes the current name does not fully reflect the wide membership and is not “fully inclusive” of its offices in Castleisland and Killorglin, as well as Tralee.

There’s only a week to go before Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits the cinema screens - and the Force is already with Kerry. The eighth instalment of the blockbuster movie franchise opens around the world next Thursday, and is expected to feature shots of Kerry’s scenery that will stun audiences everywhere.

Dedicated Stroke Unit to open in UHK

A decade of campaigning has finally paid off with the opening next month of a four-bed acute stroke unit at University Hospital Kerry.

The new facility means much improved outcomes for Kerry patients.

In the past, Kerry stroke patients had to travel to either Cork or Limerick for the nearest dedicated unit. This new unit in Tralee will shorten the journey before treatment can be administered and it will provide patients with a dedicated team to aid recovery.

They've got Star Wars down to a T!

They’ve got marketing savvy down to a T in South Kerry - Portmagee is replacing the T in its name with a G - to become Porgmagee as the world counts down the days to the release of The Last Jedi.

The village’s temporary new name refers to new characters in the Star Wars films, the Porgs - which are themselves based on the puffins found on Skellig Michael, where much of the new film’s most stunning scenes were shot.

Scientist Sarah makes 'powerful' breakthrough

A Tralee scientist has made a ground-breaking discovery to provide energy for everyday items such as mobile phones and pacemakers at a fraction of the cost.

PhD student Sarah Guerin, from Oakpark, Tralee says she’s really excited by the breakthrough.

This could lead to a naturally-occurring and safer power source for common devices, instead of more expensive synthetic alternatives which sometimes carry toxins.


Ethan shows Christmas spirit with bird boxes

A kind-hearted Castleisland boy is putting his talents to good use and showing the real spirit of Christmas - by making bird boxes and donating some of the proceeds to charity.

Seven-year-old Ethan Ward Higgins is following in his dad’s footsteps and has developed a keen interest in carpentry. Ethan received tools from Santa last year and he has spent the past twelve months creating his own masterpieces.


Roundabout honours council staff, volunteers

The hard work and dedication of Kerry County Council personnel and volunteers in keeping the Park Road area of Killarney looking spick and span over the years was acknowledged at a ceremony on Tuesday, with the dedication of the Park Road roundabout to their name.

Following a proposal from Cllr Michael Gleeson, it was agreed to place signage on the roundabout to recognise the effort in maintaining the area on the eastern end of the town.


Lighting up time for Chain Gang

It’s lighting up time for one of the county’s biggest cycling clubs - and the Chain Gang Tralee will be keeping the lights on for all its official spins, following a decision made at the club’s AGM last week.

The 160-member club passed a motion at its annual meeting that front and rear lights will be compulsory for all riders on Chain Gang spins during winter, and that working rear lights will be a year-round requirement.


It’s all about doing things better

Edmond Harty who heads up the hugely successful Dairymaster in Causeway likes to keep things simple, despite the technology.

His abiding childhood memories are of making things, breaking things and putting them back together again. Edmond Harty says he always favoured a screwdriver over the schoolbag.

Growing up, innovation was all around him. His father, Ned, was running a successful small business, selling and installing milking machines around North Kerry.


'No child seat, no excuse'

‘No child car seat, No excuse’ is the title of a new safety campaign to encourage parents and guardians to take greater care of their children when travelling in vehicles.

Superintendent Flor Murphy and Sergeant Dermot O’Connell were among the local gardaí who launched the awareness campaign at Kilcummin National School last week.

“The initiative was developed as a result of a lack of awareness by motorists of the law surrounding this very important area that can have life changing implications,” Sgt O’Connell said.


Young stars in Siamsa sell-out

Young performers took centre stage in Siamsa Tíre last Sunday for two sold-out shows which got the large audience into the festive spirit.

Students from the Bryan Carr School of Performing Arts showcased their production Merry Grinchmas in front of their parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family in what was a very special event.


Hoteliers get into the swing at Gatsby Gala

The hands of the clock revolved all the way back to the 1920s last Friday night at the Malton Hotel when over 260 Kerry hoteliers got into the swing of things at their annual dinner which was organised as a Great Gatsby Gala.

Following on the heels of three busy tourist seasons in the county, the mood was upbeat as the hard-working members of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels’ Federation enjoyed the black-tie theme night that came complete with a casino.


Christmas revellers get their skates on

They’ve got their skates on and hundreds are flocking every day to Killarney on Ice which is back this year as part of the town’s Christmas celebrations.

The rink opened on Friday and hundreds packed the venue on Beech Road which will remain open right into the  first week of January.