About Kerry Mental Health Association

Our MissionKerry Mental Health Association promotes mental health and supports people on their journey of recovery from mental ill-health.

Our Vision – We strive to develop an understanding of mental health within our community and to foster a culture where people with mental health difficulties are respected and supported.

The nine Branches which make up Kerry Mental Health Association pursue befriending and support activities to enrich the lives of neighbours and friends who are living with mental illness.

We support those in our community who are actively managing a mental illness, their families and friends and the provision of high-quality mental health promotion for the local population.

Kerry Mental Health Association is run by a Board of Directors which is registered with the Charities Regulator.

Our organisation is based on the spirit of volunteerism and is reliant on the time given generously by our volunteers who form the backbone of our association.

Kerry Mental Health Association is an Approved Housing Body with nine residences in Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Killorglin, Rathmore and Cahersiveen providing housing for people living with mental ill-health who are on the county council housing list.

John Drummey was appointed as the General Manager in October 2020. His experience across a range of sectors in Kerry have prepared him to lead our organisation, recruit and motivate volunteers and to develop, implement and manage business strategies and plans for Kerry Mental Health Association.

Contact John Drummey on [email protected] or 064 66 31009 / 087 7909487

The Beginning

Kerry Mental Health Association (KMHA) was formed at a public meeting in Tralee on 29th November 1966 with the aim of supporting people with mental ill health through a range of befriending activities. The members of the Association also had the aim of promoting an understanding among the public of mental illness, advocating empathy with those who are experiencing ill health and removing the stigma associated with mental illness.

It remains a goal of Kerry Mental Health Association to educate students in secondary schools and third level about mental health and to make them aware of the resources that exist to help those with mental illness or who’s mental health may be under pressure for any reason.

On 28th June 1971, seven members formed The Kerry Mental Health Association CLG (a company Limited by Guarantee) and the Registrar of Companies issued an Original Certificate of Incorporation on 10th August 1971. The first directors were:

  • Michael D O’Shea, Hardware Merchant, 7/8 Main Street, Killarney
  • Jack Larkin, Farmer & M.C.C. Ballygrennan, Listowel
  • Dr Sean Murphy, Psychiatrist, Upper Lewis Road, Killarney
  • Rev Patrick J. Horgan, St Brendan’s College, Killarney
  • Michael Moynihan, Psychiatric Nurse, Ballydowney, Killarney
  • Timothy Mason, Company Secretary, 9 James Street, Tralee
  • D.P. O’Donnell, Company Director, Loreto Road, Killarney


The registered aims of KMHA appear in our Memorandum and Articles of Association (link this to the relevant page on the Charities Regulator website).

The general philosophy continues to be the promotion of mental health and wellbeing through research, using local media, public talks, and literature.

On his appointment, our former Development Manager, Dan O’Connor commenced a Public Speaking Project in schools aimed at providing teenagers with an understanding of mental ill-health. Winning teams progressed to National finals. For many years Mental Health Ireland operated this programme nationally until 2012. Under the project:

  • Mental Health Resource packs were delivered to schools
  • A countywide study of stress in secondary students was completed
  • A Directory of Services and Supports for Young People was prepared and delivered to schools along with posters on mental health promotion
  • Schools were encouraged to enter the national Mental Health Ireland Art and Photography competitions


The arrival of mobile phones saw Dan develop a TEENTXT system which was eventually passed over to Childline due to the massive growth in use.

What We Do


A major aim of KMHA is to provide a befriending service to persons living with mental ill health and many activities continue to this day, including:

  • The provision of housing
  • Recreational programmes
  • Transport
  • Support for local HSE Day Centres and in-patient facilities
  • As much as any good neighbour would do for someone

Our Branches now support a range of activities in HSE Day Centres, including the funding of FETAC education in numeracy and literacy; Art; Music therapy; Horticulture to name a few.


KMHA has nine branches throughout Kerry, the first of which was established in Tralee in 1972. This was followed by Killarney (1989), Iveragh/Caherciveen (1991), West Kerry/Corca Dhuibhne (1997), Castleisland (2000), Listowel (2000), Kenmare (2003), Rathmore/East Kerry (2004) and Killorglin (2004).

The growth in Branches coincided with the employment of Dan O’Connor as KMHA Development Manager. Dan later moved into the role of KMHA Housing Manager.

Our Branches raise and spend c. €70,000-€80,000 annually delivering their services.

Approved Housing Body

In addition to the establishment of new Branches, Dan O’Connor also spearheaded the purchase of houses with finance coming from the profits of the Ross Products cardboard box factory and loans from Kerry County Council.

Our most recent house at Ard Álainn in Killorglin was purchased without recourse to a local authority mortgage, mainly due to the massive fundraising work of Liam Hassett, his family, and the Branch members.

We now have nine houses accommodating 55 tenants located in Tralee, Killarney, Caherciveen, Rathmore, Listowel and Killorglin.

Dan O’Connor established strong links with Kerry County Council Housing Department, the Irish Council for Social Housing and with HSE Social workers to ensure a quality living experience for our tenants. In many areas our Branch volunteers maintain contact with residents offering a range of befriending services. The HSE provide on-site nursing and catering supports to the residents in a number of the houses. Dan O’Connor retired from Kerry Mental Health Association in November 2021.


The Head Office of Kerry Mental Health Association CLG is located on the site of the former Ross Products Cardboard Factory.

The factory was established as a sheltered workshop in the 1970’s to take the Industrial Therapy Department of St Finan’s Hospital to a new and more work-structured setting with a view to helping the trainees from the hospital to progress to paid employment outside of institutional supported settings.

This factory operated successfully up to c.2006 when Celtic Tiger generated competition from cheap Chinese imports heralded the demise of the cardboard factory. Eventually the business was closed in 2010.

The factory machinery was sold-off and the factory was divided in two parts – one licensed to the Killarney Men’s Shed (which is a good fit for the promotion of mental health) and the remainder was developed to provide office facilities for the KMHA Development Manager and Accounts Clerk.

A Café/Shop was developed to provide a shopping experience for persons with mental ill health and to a range of customers from other services such as Kerry Parents and Friends, as well as the general public. Mags Keogh is the manager of the Ross Café and associated meeting and activity rooms which are available to hire to various groups from the wider community.

Other spaces at Ross Products have been made available to Killarney Order of Malta, South Kerry Development Partnership and Killarney Valley Vintage Club. Many members of this vintage club are retired mechanics and farmers, some of whom live alone. It provides an important point of contact for them and supports their mental health and wellbeing.

Kerry Mental Health Association CLG made the decision to appoint a General Manager to develop the growth and expansion of the charity through the recruitment and empowerment of volunteers and the management of fundraising activities.

John Drummey was appointed to the role in October 2020. John’s experience across a range of sectors in Kerry have prepared him to lead our organisation, recruit and motivate volunteers and to develop, implement and manage business strategies and plans for Kerry Mental Health Association.