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138-year-old handcrafted furniture returns to Killarney

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A PIECE OF HISTORY: James Flynn pictured with the rare 138-year-old piece of handcrafted furniture which he brought back to Killarney from Boston.

 

By Sean Moriarty

A rare piece of handcrafted furniture, that dates from just after the famine era, has made its way home to Killarney thanks to the efforts of a local woodworking enthusiast.

James Flynn is a former ESB district supervisor for South Kerry. Since his retirement he has devoted his time to tracing the history of Killarney’s Arbutus Furniture Industry and restores pieces that he finds in online auctions all over the world.

In October he discovered a games table for sale in Boston. He bought the beautiful handcrafted item which was only delivered to Killarney late last month.

While he was waiting for the table to arrive he traced the history of his new found purchase. He discovered it was made in a workshop where Reidy’s Bar now stands on Main St. It was made by a local craftsman by the name of James Coakley in 1882 or 1883.

Mr Flynn was able to source an original sales brochure from one of the Boston World Fairs.

The table was listed for sale in the brochure which said it was made by Coakley, further authenticating his new purchase.

The Arbutus Tree, sometimes called the Killarney Strawberry Tree, is more prevalent in Killarney National Park than any other region in the country.

There was huge furniture manufacturing industry in Killarney and particularly in the Gap of Dunloe area between the 1820s up to the close of the industry in 1953.

The American Exhibition of the Products, Arts and Manufactures of Foreign Nations was held in Boston in 1883 and 1884.

“I'm big into the craftsmen of Killarney town and every chance I get I highlight the skills that they had. There are three just like it on display in Muckross House,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “It is a beautiful piece of work but what I am really trying to highlight is the great work that Killarney’s Arbutus craftsmen did. They exported stuff all over the world in the height of the famine. Up to 60 or 70 people were employed in this industry and they competed with some of the best furniture makers in the world. James Coakley of 4 Main Street manufactured the table and he took it to the foreign exhibition with other stuff in 1883.”

Last week Mr Flynn decided to bring the handcrafted piece of furniture back to its correct home and, without telling anyone, put the item on display outside Reidys. He attracted a great deal of local attention from a safe distance.

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Artists invited to showcase work at Wine and Art night

It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November. The pandemic enforced its absence and now […]

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It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November.

The pandemic enforced its absence and now every effort is being made to make up for lost time.

Widely regarded as one of the social highlights of the year in Killarney, this year’s gathering will take place in the Great Southern Killarney on Wednesday, November 30, commencing at 7.15pm.

Tickets, which will be available at the door, are priced at €20 and all proceeds raised on the night will go to deserving local charities and community organisations.

Over the years the evening of wine and art has raised tens of thousands of Euro for great causes and the 2022 proceeds will be of enormous benefit to the chosen groups.

This year, once again, the event is being held in association with Daly’s SuperValu and supported by Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company.

Rotary Club President, Rayla Tadjimatova, has appealed to all artists who might like to showcase their work on the night to get in touch with club members, as soon as possible, to guarantee inclusion.

“We are reaching out not only to artists who have supported the event in the past but to any new artists who wish to take the opportunity to place their work in front of a very appreciative local audience of up to one thousand people on the night,” she said.

Those interested should email killarneyrotaryclub@gmail.com as soon as possible.

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Gardai seek whereabouts of missing Kerry teen

Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager. Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3). He is described as being […]

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Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager.

Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3).

He is described as being approximately 6ft in height, of a slim build with brown hair and green eyes. When last seen Nicolas was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a black hoody top. He was also carrying a black bag.

Anyone with information on Nicolas’ whereabouts is asked to contact Tralee Garda Station on 066 710 2300, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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