Eleven now dead with Covid

Five residents of a North Kerry nursing home have now died with Covid-19, in the worst outbreak of the virus in Kerry since the pandemic first hit.

The most recent death of an 87-year-old resident now brings the total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 in Kerry to eleven.

Oaklands Nursing Home in Listowel was struck by an outbreak of the virus in late October which resulted in 31 of the 35 residents contracting the disease, as well as 16 staff members.

What happened in Kerry this week

Kerry legend Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper is set to walk down the aisle, after getting engaged to his long-term girlfriend Céitilís Ní Bheaglaoich last Saturday.

 

Hollywood is raven-mad about Orion, the West Kerry bird who will feature alongside silver screen A-listers Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Willem Dafoe in ‘The Northman’, a new film being shot in Donegal.

 

The government have called time on plans to clamp down on takeaway pubs - which is great news for Jimmy Brien’s in Killarney, who have been delivering pints to their regulars as a way of keeping up contact.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a ‘catastrophic impact’ on charities in Kerry, with many vital charitable organisations in the county now under threat if current restrictions continue.

 

After months of uncertainty and doubt, this week brought relief for many secondary students from around the county as they finally got to sit their postponed Leaving Cert exams.

Barman Alan drives drink to you !

Government plans to put the brakes on takeaway pubs have been scrapped - which is great news for Jimmy Brien’s in Killarney, who have been delivering pints to their regulars as a way of keeping up contact.

Alan Breen, who has been running the Killarney pub for the past seven years, said the deliveries have kept him going as the doors to his bar have been closed.

He is  trying to deliver within the 5km radius, and has been doing a great trade amongst his regulars who call in their orders ahead of time.

Charities endure Covid catastrophe

THE coronavirus pandemic has had a ‘catastrophic impact’ on local charities, according to Pat Lawlor of Banna Rescue.

The Banna Rescue PRO says the future of many vital charitable organisations that provide essential services is under threat if current restrictions continue.

Cancelled fundraising events this year have sparked a funding dilemma for Banna Rescue, with the health crisis impacting the potentially lifesaving charity which costs up to €30,000 to run annually.

The cancellation of the Ring of Kerry Cycle in July meant plans by Banna Rescue to purchase a new €80,000 boat have been delayed - the charity had been selected as one of the six main beneficiaries for this year’s event.

Testing times for exam students

Leaving Certificate students who opted to sit their postponed exams say they are relieved to get started so they can move on with their lives.

After months of uncertainty, it was decided by Government to postpone the 2020 Leaving Cert, and to give students the option of sitting the exams later in the year.

Students were given estimated grades, as well as the option to sit the exam if they felt that is what they preferred.

Nationally, about 2,800 students were unhappy with their estimated grades, and opted to undertake the exams.

Californian Redwood to light up Killarney

CHRISTMAS in Killarney will be very different this year, but a 100-year-old Californian Redwood tree in the grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral planted in honour of Famine victims will again brighten up the town’s skyline.

The 100-foot redwood was lit up as a Christmas tree for the first time in 10 years last year, as the sparkling spectacle of lights proved to be a magnificent focal point for festive celebrations in the town.

And as Killarney hopes to emerge out of the darkness of Covid-19, close on 3,000 bulbs will again sparkle to life and act as a beacon of light for visitors and residents to the town. Planted beside a famine graveyard on the grounds of the cathedral, the redwood pays particular tribute to children who died during the Great Famine.

Hospital backs the Kerry Gift Card

Christmas came early for the Sports and Social Club in University Hospital Kerry this week, when they received their consignment of the Kerry Gift Card.

Now, the club is throwing their support behind Kerry businesses, to show their gratitude to local business people who provide ongoing assistance. The Club has purchased a batch of the new gift card to be raffled amongst staff in the hospital.

Speaking on behalf of the UHK Sports and Social Club, Cora Walsh said: “This year has been tough for everyone and our teams here in UHK more than ever need a reward this Christmas.

Their GOAL is five more records

They’ve already broken fifteen Guinness World Records, and now the Hicksons are going to break five more, as they prepare to go the extra mile for GOAL.

The family from Annascaul is in training for their latest world record-breaking attempts. This time round, they’ve teamed up with international aid charity GOAL for the annual GOAL Mile, which is going virtual this year.

Eamonn, Sandra and Jason Hickson will be joined by Nathan Missin, to attempt five records.

Farmers show muscle on mussels

Over 200 Kerry farmers are joining forces to save the endangered freshwater pearl mussel that’s at risk of extinction from pollution in our rivers and streams.

Kerry has one of the highest populations of pearl mussels in the country, and a new conservation plan called The Pearl Mussel Project is working closely with locals to restore the endangered species in the catchment areas of the Blackwater, Caragh and Currane rivers.

This summer, 207 local farmers across three South Kerry areas received their first payments through the project - and over the coming years, it’s hoped their efforts can restore the numbers of pearl mussels in Irish waters.

Still campaigning after FIFTY years

Defiant residents at Listowel’s Dirha Cottages are continuing their fight to be connected to the nearby public sewerage system - fifty years after their parents first began campaigning.

Built along the Ballybunion Road in the 1950s, the dozen homes are currently serviced by septic tanks, requiring ongoing maintenance from year to year.

Members of the tight-knit community have been demanding change for generations - and in 2007 were told by then Director of Services with Kerry County Council Oliver Ring that work would be going ahead on the sewerage system, provided they pay €7,500 each towards the project.

Kerry fish stocks are booming

Fish stocks are booming in Kerry rivers because of great feeding conditions at sea - and because fewer trawlers are operating due to the pandemic.

Listowel angler James Allman says it’s very encouraging to see such healthy numbers of high-quality salmon swimming the River Feale, and he’s hopeful they’ll continue to strengthen over the coming years.

However, Mr Allman is very conscious that fish stocks in some areas are only a third of what they would have been around a decade ago - and says he’s in favour of extending the ‘catch and release’ restrictions on the River Feale for a third year.

Kerry vistas go virtual!

Tourism in Kerry has been decimated by Covid-19 - but now a pair of West Kerry men are launching a series of guided virtual tours to share the stunning vistas of the Dingle Peninsula with the world.

Described by National Geographic as ‘the most beautiful place on earth,’ the Dingle Peninsula is heavily reliant on tourism - and some businesses such as Rory Brosnan’s Dingle Slea Head Tours have witnessed a 95% decline in trade because of the virus.

To tackle this collapse in business, Rory and his business-partner Colm Banbury spent three days last month recording guided virtual tours of the phenomenal West Kerry scenery, helped along the way by a camera crew and Rory’s wife Eibhlís Ní Chearna - a reporter and presenter with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Jessica plans a crafty fundraiser

Cancer patient Jessica Hilliard was treated for almost eight weeks in the Palliative Care Unit at University Hospital Kerry - and now she’s getting ready to thank the staff there with a crafty Christmas fundraiser.

‘Hands and Heart for Palliative Care’ is not the average fundraiser. The Causeway woman has a background in crafting - and has gifts, hampers and dozens of goods available for her campaign to help raise funds for the palliative care team.

The 41-year-old, who used to run a craft shop in Tralee, with her mother Julie Byrne, said she wants to give back to a service that treated her so well she almost forgets that she is sick.