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A case of mistaken identity at Killarney Races




The final festival of the season, AutumnFest took place at Killarney Races last weekend, Delivering a fun-filled programme with increased crowds, top-class racing and a superb atmosphere.

Despite a rocky start on the weather front on Saturday, it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance. With no less than a dozen individual hen and stag parties raring to go at the track, the bars were full, the bookies were busy and the craic was mighty.

Thankfully, the sun shone for punters for the National Hunt card on Sunday which was a fantastic day of racing action, although not without plenty of drama and media headlines too.

Over the weekend, Tote very generously sponsored 11 races and EBF sponsored 3 races, attracting a good entry with all the top yards represented. Trainer Jessica Harrington enjoyed a double on Saturday with the O’Brien brothers Donnacha and Joseph each on the winners board with Navel Force and Gamble Veloci obliging for the pair respectively.

Bang Po ridden by Donagh O’Connor and trained by Ross O’Sullivan was promoted to winner status, following a case of mistaken identity and subsequent disqualification.

A handling mix up meant a stable with two horses on the card ran the wrong horse in the wrong race which in turn duly went on to win. On inspection the mix-up was identified and the horse was disqualified by the stewards.

The unusual occurrence was witnessed by bumper crowds at the meeting with many guests in attendance from Ireland and the UK.

The trainer involved, John Feane, was fined €3,000 by the stewards and held his hands up over the incident. He told Racing TV: "It's human error. I was unfortunately delayed getting to the races. I was stuck in traffic and got here ten minutes late.

"I have apologised to the owners, this has cost everyone money.

The wrong horse was tacked up and I noticed the error immediately when I arrived in the stable yard. It's history now, but people study history to discover where things go wrong. At point-to-points we scan every horse before they go into the parade ring. Maybe in the future it might help trainers and stable staff if that was brought in at race meetings instead of just scanning the winner after the race.

"But on saying that, I'm not blaming anyone bar myself. I've accepted the fine. I have the right to appeal but I'm not going to. I would like to apologise as sincerely as I can to the punters and the owners. I will put this behind me and go forward."

Sunday was a national hunt race day with seven exciting races over jumps.

Dual purpose trainer Joseph O’Brien got on the board again with Goodie Two Shoes winning the first race of the day. Enda Bolger’s Solidary Man won the Novice Hurdle in impressive fashion with Darragh O’Keeffe on board.

Much to the delight of punters, strong favourite in the market ‘Londonofficeiscalling’ obliged at 5/2 in the 4th race for father and son combination Eric and Conor McNamara, covering the expenses of the day for many in attendance. Tony Martin’s Read to Return ridden by Philip Enright took the Tote Fantacy Beginners Chase to bring down the curtain on the festival and indeed the season at Killarney Races.

Killarney Racecourse Chairman, Billy O’Sullivan commented “What a lovely meeting AutumnFest turned out to be, it was a great two-day meeting that was thoroughly enjoyed by all with some fantastic winners. I would like to thank all our patrons, supporters and sponsors and the horse-racing industry without whom racing would not be possible. We truly had a wonderful 2023 season and can’t wait to do it all again next year!”

Next year, Killarney Races will bring you four festivals to enjoy over the months of May, July, August and October.



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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