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Killarney publican behind nationwide campaign

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CAMPAIGN: John C O'Shea with his mother Joan, sister Brigitte Whelan and her children James and Ellie outside their popular High St bar.

 

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By Sean Moriarty

 

A Killarney publican was behind a nationwide social media campaign that highlighted issues being faced by rural pubs who are not allowed open during current COVID-19 restrictions.

Last weekend publicans from all over Kerry and beyond took to social media with their campaign 'Support Not Sympathy' to get their message across.

As of today (Friday) it is 156 days since March 15, they day pubs were told to close. And publicans say their appeal to Government is far from over with further plans to increase the pressure this week - instead of photographing family members or customers outside their pubs - they will now show a sign highlighting the number of days they have been forced to close.

They are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of Government support and action a pubs have been closed since March 15. Those who don't serve food have to remain closed for now while bars that sell a ‘substantial meal’ have been allowed open since June 29.

The Kerry Vintners Association has been particularly vocal on the situation. They wanted to have one voice on social media platforms so set up an online group called 'The Pubs of Kerry' and the new social media campaign was the brainchild of publican John C O’ Shea whose family run the Jack C’s on High St.

The campaign, which quickly spread from Kerry to include pubs in every county, was calling on the Government to offer support to rural pubs. Publicans and their families were photographed outside their closed premises, which was then shared on social platforms and tagged prominent politicians.

It was a direct attack on comments made by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week that he was is “sympathetic” to the difficulties publicans faced.

The campaign was popular on Facebook but gained more traction on Twitter.

“I have experience in running such campaigns,” John C told the Killarney Advertiser. “Some pubs have a Facebook account, some have a Twitter account and some have neither. They sent their photos to me and uploaded them to social media. Twitter is the preferred communication channel of Government. It was a dignified protest but sometime I wonder of the farmers are right – they would have the whole of Dublin city centre blockaded by now.”

He added that publicans can open their bars safely and should be allowed to do so.
"We have spent €12k to €15k preparing our bar – we have the Perspex, we have an outdoor seating area in the lane,” he added. “The only reason we have to stay closed is that we do not do food. We would have to spend another €15k on a proper kitchen and take on more staff. We have never done food. We get a lot of trade from Gaby’s and Bricín across the road. People come to us before or after their meal in the place that does do food.”

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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