Community news: Castleisland

The Celtic Clash 7 poster featuring Siobhán O’Leary
The Celtic Clash 7 poster featuring Siobhán O’Leary

John Reidy

A Kilcummin-born Limerick resident will step into the ring for her first professional fight at the Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh, Dublin, on Saturday night, November 24.

Fighting at super featherweight and promoted by Boxing Ireland Promotions, Siobhán O'Leary is on the Celtic Clash 7 fight card at the Dublin venue and she's bringing quite a reputation to the ring with her.

Siobhán, a social care worker in her adopted Limerick, is half Castleisland and half Mitchell - a fact that doesn't bode well for any of her future opponents.

Coming to the sport of the Queensberry Rules through the fundraising spin-off of White Collar Boxing, Siobhán says she got 'hooked' on the whole concept of contact sport and the fitness and general healthy living that goes with it.

"I actually got into boxing by the accident of taking part in 'White Collar' fight nights, and I fell in love with the whole idea of that kind of sport from there," Siobhán explained.

"I went on and achieved what I set out to as an amateur. I had a great year in 2017, and I won a national senior title at 60kg in the National Stadium with my club at the time, the Corpus Christi Boxing Club in Limerick.

"I decided that it's time for me to move on and into the professional ranks, and I love it.

"Nowadays I'm training in the Functional Fitness club in Limerick, and in Dublin with the SBG in Tallaght.

"I'm training up there in the care of the highly respected Eddie Hyland, and I'm learning and improving from every session with him.

"I believe that, if you truly want to achieve something, no one or nothing can stop you, and if you fail at any stage it's a mark of your strength that you can get back up, and keep going forward and chasing that goal."

"I keep talking to myself and telling myself that this is where I want to go, and I believe it and I know I'll get there. And do you know what? Your mindset is everything, and if you surround yourself with the right people - positive people - they will help to keep you firmly on your journey.

"At 36, I'm an older athlete, and I'm acting and thinking as such. I'm as healthy as a horse and building up to fight-night fitness with every session," said Siobhán - who is reported to pack a punch like a kick from a mule.

Reacting to Siobhán's arrival in the PRO ranks, Boxing Ireland Promotions Manager Stephen Sharpe said that he had already known of her reputation.

"Siobhán had a very successful run in the amateurs, and I've known for some time she hits like a mule, giving the Limerick lads hell sparring, and I had enquired a couple of times what her plans were.

"I was informed that Siobhán was seriously contemplating a switch to the pro-ranks and was weighing up her options. I was instantly impressed by her attitude and commitment. I knew she had boxing ability, but that's not all: Siobhán has substance, she is highly intelligent, articulate, and is as determined as the come," said Mr Sharpe.

Siobhán has a list of sponsors and supporters she wishes to thank for the back-up that's allowing her to pursue a professional boxing career. They include: Michael O'Leary PVC, Kerry; Functional Fitness, Limerick; Dual Nature Massage Therapy, Limerick; Eats of Eden Health Food Store, Limerick; The Commerical Bar, Limerick; Niall O'Sullivan Decors, Kerry; and SBG Tallaght, Dublin. Good Luck Siobhán!


Timmy O’Connor of Newmarket picks up the Patrick O’Keeffe Music Festival award for 2018

The recipient of the 2018 Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival 2018 award for his 'Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra' is Timmy O'Connor of Newmarket.

The award was conferred on Timmy at the concert in Castleisland by just-retired RTÉ presenter and musician, Peter Browne.

However, there's many a slip between glass and lip, and the trophy which was to be presented with the award remained irretrievably locked in its shop of origin in uptown Castleisland.

The fact didn't knock a stir out of Timmy.

The organisers promised to make amends at the first possible opportunity, or as soon as they could drive legally again.

That opportunity arose on Monday night of last week, and four members of the committee made a geographical and idealogical border incursion from Castleisland to Newmarket.

But didn't Con Houlihan himself say that Sliabh Luachra was borderless now and threatening to consume the whole country.

Timmy's trophy was triple-wrapped in a cardboard box in festival president Pats Broderick's car in the care of committee chairman, Cormac O'Mahony, and members Charlie Nelligan and John Reidy.

Scully's Bar, deep in the Cork side of the borderless Sliabh Luachra, was our destination, with musical enjoyment and the presentation of the trophy our mission.

The back room of Scully's was almost fully occupied with musicians, with Timmy O'Connor and Raymond O'Sullivan at the helm.

There was also a fine complement of listeners - many of whom were drinking water and thinking of or expressing opinions on Minister Shane Ross's legacy to rural Ireland.

In his recently elected role as Sliabh Luachra Musician in Residence for the county councils of Cork, Kerry and Limerick, Raymond's son, Eoin Stan, welcomed the Kerry contingent.

During a break in the tunes, Eoin explained the reason for the presence of the visitors from Kerry and, in fairness to him, there wasn't a mention of drink giving rise to the occasion.

For the award citation, Raymond and Eoin Stan wrote about Timmy O'Connor's musical journey thus:

"As a young boy Timmy O'Connor loved to listen to music: at the roadside dances, on his aunt's gramophone and at the dances at his neighbours' houses.

"When an accordion was left behind after one of those house dances, Timmy discovered that he could also play music," according to the award citation by Eoin Stan and Raymond O'Sullivan.

"As a fledgling musician, his enthusiasm was so infectious that many retired players from around dusted off their instruments to share their tunes with him. Timmy in turn shared those tunes with anyone he played with.

"Through his friendship with musicians like Jackie Daly, music that may otherwise have been lost has made its way into the repertoires of players all over the world.

"He is the well-deserved recipient of this year's 'Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra Award' in Castleisland.

"For almost 70 years he has kept the musical flag flying along the eastern frontier of Sliabh Luachra.

"He has also seen service in Britain, mainland Europe and the USA.

"In his time, he has played with all the 'greats', and he is a living link with a golden era in Sliabh Luachra music.

"A humble and grámhar gentleman, Timmy seems as happy playing music with children as with the 'stars', and over his long career he has helped many young aspiring musicians and dancers.

"He has an amazing repertoire which he is always willing to share freely.

"Some of his tunes stretch back to Tom Billy, whose music he picked up from his friend and neighbour, Johnny Mickey Barry.

"In recent years he has turned his hand to composing and regularly surprises us with a new 'jewel'.

"Moladh go deo thú, Timmy, agus go maire tú an céad!", the citation concluded.


Flower show to make a mark for two great causes

Renée McCarthy and friends are arranging A Floral Demonstration by Kathleen Reidy for the River Island Hotel at 7.30pm on December 4. Tickets, at €5, are available at the door.

Kathleen, a native of Ballyduff, North Kerry and living in Camp, Castleisland, is a multi award-winning florist/flower arranger.

She holds the distinction of winning the Féile na mBláth Cup at the Tralee Garden Festival for the fourth time in June 2017, beating 60 other finalists.

All proceeds of the Castleisland show will go to the Kerry/Cork Health Link Bus and the the new Palliative Care Unit in Tralee.

The organisers are putting out an appeal for sponsorship or part funding of the event.

They would greatly appreciate any help and ideas people or companies out there could provide them with. Renée's number is 086 0820590.

Kerry Hospice Foundation has just come through a busy year. Last December it opened a brand new, state-of-the-art, inpatient palliative care unit.

With a flexible configuration, it can care for up to 17 patients at a time. Since it opened it has been full almost permanently, with over 300 patients having made use of the facility.

Such care does not come cheaply. The unit cost the foundation €6.5 million, and every cent of this was raised in Kerry.

"It is a tribute to the people of the county that we had the ability to take on this massive challenge," said Castleisland branch chairman Jack Shanahan.

"As if the capital cost wasn't enough, we also have committed to €400,000 annual funding for five years. In addition, we need about another €100,000 to keep the rest of our services going. When you realize that this is building on our successful Suaimneas Centre - the outpatient palliative care unit, which cost €3.6 million, all raised in Kerry - you can see that we have a regular need to raise funds. Kerry Hospice Foundation is ultimately a self-help group where none of the fundraisers are paid a cent. You can be assured that everything that you give goes directly to providing essential palliative care," said Mr Shanahan.

Kerry Cancer Support Group is a fully registered charity and was founded in 2007. It has gone from strength to strength since then.

"No one should face their cancer journey alone," is its mission statement.

Kerry Cancer Support Group is devoted to maintaining a warm, welcoming environment while ensuring that service users have immediate access to its free programmes and resources.

Professional staff strive to help people affected by cancer in a way that is as supportive and helpful as possible, to achieve the highest quality of life.

Kerry Cancer Support Group is a community-based, volunteer-driven, community-supported organisation.

Its signature service is the Kerry/Cork Health Link Bus, starting out with a 14-seater minibus.

As demand quickly grew so did the bus. Nowadays, a 30-seater bus travels to Cork University Hospital; The Mercy and The Bons, Cork; and The Cork Clinic five days a week.

This brings the service user for treatment, free of charge, where a dedicated time slot has been arranged for users at the hospital, to minimise delays.

This bus serves Kerry and parts of west Cork, and complete confidentiality is guaranteed.

The service is a vital one and has been likened to a 'travelling support group' by users.

There is also a 'bridging transport service' which provides transport to treatment for service-users on a one-off basis where no other service meets their needs.


Thoughts on future of Castleisland town

Opinion by Joe Walsh

When we consider the future of Castleisland we have to accept that the old order classifying Castleisland solely a market town is unviable, practical or sustainable in the present economic climate.

For too long we have struggled with maintaining it as a market town based on agriculture and commerce, as it was in the not too distant past.

Today we see it sliding into a decaying entity and unless there are drastic efforts made to rescue it, the town will linger as a lifeless monument to neglect.

For Castleisland to thrive and capitalise on its existing advantages and amenities a new courageous, daring approach is needed. We need to embrace a new direction.

When we look into the future we see a decline in personal shopping in favour of its online replacement. Increasingly, Ireland is being identified as a tourist destination.

To nurture this concept I submit the following suggestions and thoughts:

(1) Recognise and promote Casteisland as the Gateway to the tourist county of Ireland.

(2) Revive the town as a living centre of population by encouraging the conversion and upgrading of empty and derelict buildings to desirable accommodation and tourist orientated attractions.

(3) Castleisland once had four hotels and various alternative accommodation, it urgently needs increased numbers of quality hotel and hostel accommodation to encourage families, backpackers and cyclists to use the town as a base for touring Killarney, Tralee, Dingle and The Ring of Kerry.

(4) There is huge potential in exploring the culture and music of Sliabh Luachra in Castleisland and adjacent villages.

(5) Promote existing facilities such as An Ríocht Athletic Club; Crag Cave; The Pitch and Putt Club; Castleisland Members' Golf Club and walking tours.

(6) Develop bus tours and some indoor recreation facilities.

(7) It needs a swimming pool of acceptable standards.

(8) There is an urgent need for a strong viable manufacturing or technology business to alleviate unemployment in the area and to breath new life into the commnity.

(9) The Post Office is an integral component for the survival of Castleisland town; it needs revitalisation with extra business such as banking.

(10) New business to be encouraged to locate within the town boundaries as far as possible.

(11) A more equitable approach to rates on business premises in Castleisland is needed.

(12) The business premises known as JK O'Connor's needs to be brought to life as it contributes so much to the design and layout of the town.