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A Heartfelt message from a Ukrainian migrant in Killarney

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By Natalia Krasnenkova As a migrant in Killarney in 2023, I reflect on the significance of the International Day of Migrants initiated by the UN General Assembly in 2000. Little did I expect this day to personally touch my life, but due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, I increasingly find myself feeling like a forced migrant.

Natalia Krasnenkova was one of the first Ukrainian war refugees to arrive in Killarney

Amid the festive spirit of Christmas, reminiscent of the biblical story where Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with baby Jesus, I can't help but draw parallels to the 8,000 Ukrainians in Kerry today who resonate with the pages of the Bible as forced migrants.

Like the family of Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus in their arms 2,000 years ago, Ukrainian families have become a forced-migrant nowadays.
What is it like being a migrant? It means a complete loss of control over life's basics. Living in a hotel without cooking facilities, we can't control even the simplest things like food. Zero absence protocol means we're not allowed to leave the hotel, marking our presence there every day. Starting anew as a migrant involves learning a new language, searching for jobs, mastering new professions, and adapting to unfamiliar rules. Often, it feels like being a failure, struggling to comprehend half of what is said around you.

Living as a forced migrant means navigating two parallel realities. While physically in Killarney, attempting to forge a new life, thoughts and emotions frequently return to Ukraine, where the war persists and loved ones endure. Constantly checking the news and calling home is a ritual, reassuring ourselves that our dear ones are still alive.

However, our migrant experience in Killarney is also adorned with bright moments. Grateful for the support of local families in Fossa and Killarney from the early days, we, the first Ukrainians at the Innishfallen Hotel, received immediate assistance, clothes, toys, bicycles. The kindness of Sean Sweeney from the local scout organisation, Nicola Lynch uniting mums from Fossa School to raise funds for vouchers, and Maria Carol O'Sullivan's thoughtful gestures made our days brighter.

The O'Raw family sheltered a Ukrainian family, and the Killarney Immigrant Support Center (KASI), NEWKD, SKDP, and Kerry County Council have been a significant support. While I may not name everyone, the warmth and hospitality received are deeply appreciated.

Eager to contribute to the close-knit community, we participate in local events like the St. Patrick's Day parade, Christmas celebrations, and organise concerts, film screenings, and volunteer projects. Symbolically, we brought and planted 20 viburnum bushes along the Killarney municipal area, expressing our gratitude to this community that has embraced us.

Being a migrant is challenging, but the local Killarney community makes our stay a bit easier. I extend my heartfelt thanks to every local resident, family, and organisation that supports us.
In the spirit of the season, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Personally, I dream of meeting the next day's migrants at home, in Kyiv, in a peaceful Ukraine.

Natalia Krasnenkova

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Pat Delaney Memorial Cup Golf Classic

St Pats East Kerry are running their annual Pat Delaney Memorial Cup golf classic at the Ross Golf Club on Saturday July 6. The format is a 3 person scramble […]

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St Pats East Kerry are running their annual Pat Delaney Memorial Cup golf classic at the Ross Golf Club on Saturday July 6. The format is a 3 person scramble over ten holes and the entry fee is €120 per team. The entry fee will include a goody bag for each player and a cup of Tea/Coffee and scone when the round is completed. Tee times are available from 8am.

Killarney Credit Union is the main sponsor of the event, in recognition of Pat having been a highly respected and effective Chairman of the Credit Union. Pat was a Chairman and Vice President of St Pats East Kerry and he started the annual golf classic over ten years ago as a fundraiser for the Club. Known for his excellent organisation skills and a master salesman who enjoyed persuading the golfers of the Killarney area to take part in the event. He acted as master of ceremonies on the day, meeting and greeting every team prior to their games and to ensure that everyone had an enjoyable day.

On the morning of the golf classic, back in June 2018, Pat sadly passed away. His contribution to hurling and to St Pats demanded that his legacy be commemorated. Pat had also made a major contribution to the Killarney Credit Union at a time of major change in their business, leading the two organisation, St Pats and Killarney Credit Union to combine and rebrand the annual golf classic in Pat’s name.

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Civil War, a song and New York city

  A series of random encounters has resulted in one of biggest atrocities of the Civil War being immortalised in a song. On March 8, 1923, a group of Republican […]

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A series of random encounters has resulted in one of biggest atrocities of the Civil War being immortalised in a song.

On March 8, 1923, a group of Republican prisoners were taken from their temporary prison cells at the Great Southern Hotel and marched to a location near Countess Road.

Less than 24 hours after the more-documented Ballyseedy Massacre near Tralee, the five men named – Stephen Buckley, Tim Murphy, Daniel Donoghue, Jeremiah O’Donoghue and Tadgh Coffey –were killed by Free State troops with explosives and gunfire.

Fast forward over 100 years when local musician and song writer Donal Power was approached by Tadgh Buckley of Killarney Music School.
“He asked me if I would write a song about an incident with particular emphasis on a person who was his long-dead cousin. I told him I’d try and hoped he would be satisfied with the result,” explained Donal.
“He then gave me a copy of Tim Horgan’s book ‘The Stones Still Speak’, containing the story of Stephen Buckley murdered at the Countess Bridge which also contained a letter written by Stephen the night before his death in 1923, which didn’t come to light until six years later. Like many others I was aware of the massacre at Ballyseedy Cross but not the Countess Road, Killarney. So this was the project and the challenge!
“I spent a number of weeks writing a song about the incident. There is a lot of content in the story and I wanted to be true to the content of Stephen’s letter. I completed the song and sang it for him and others at a session where it appeared to make a positive impression. It’s an acoustic ballad which I accompany with guitar.”
But the story does not end there. A New York-based family, direct descendants of the murdered Stephen Buckley made contact with Power.
A man named Thomas Buckley from New York made contact with the local songwriter after hearing the song on Soundcloud.
Thomas explained: “My father Stephen Buckley was born in New York City in 1924. His father Michael Buckley,  named his first son, my dad, after his brother Stephen who was killed at the Countess Bridge in 1923. My older brother is also Stephen Buckley born in New York in

1954.”
Three members of the New York-based Buckley family, Thomas, Stephen and younger brother Timothy, were on a family holiday to Killarney earlier this month.

Power met them and was able to take the brothers to the site of the ambush were he learned that they are also related to Tadhg Buckley, the man who originally asked for the song to be written.

“We don’t know the exact relationship but it is very direct. The three brothers think Tadhg now lives where the murdered Stephen Buckley once lived,” added Power.

The song can be downloaded via: https://soundcloud.com/donal-power-170379558/the-countess-road-massacre.

SONG LYRICS
KILLARNEY, NINETEEN-TWENTY-THREE
A CIVIL WAR ATROCITY
A MASSACRE, A SHAMEFUL EPISODE
FOUR SOLDIERS OF THE I.R.A.
BY FREE-STATE FORCES BLOWN AWAY
EXECUTED ON THE BRIDGE ON THE COUNTESS ROAD

A SOLE SURVIVOR ON THE RUN,
TADHG COFFEY WAS THE ONLY ONE
WHO MANAGED TO ESCAPE AND TELL THE NEWS
OF THE LANDMINE, THE BOOBY-TRAP
THE BULLETS FIRED, THE COVER-UP
THAT KILLED TIM MURPHY, STEPHEN BUCKLEY AND THE DONOGHUES

THE DAY BEFORE THE MASSACRE
WHILE STEPHEN WAS HELD PRISONER
HE HAD A PREMONITION HE WOULD DIE
HE GAVE A LETTER TO THE GUARD
TRUSTING HE WOULD NOT DISCARD
THE MESSAGE TO HIS MOTHER AND THE WORDS THAT SAID GOODBYE

THE GUARD DENIED THE LAST REQUEST
AND KEPT THE LETTER HE SUPPRESSED
WHEN EMIGRATING TO THE USA
HE KEPT THE SECRET SIX LONG YEARS
TILL HANNAH BUCKLEY, THROUGH HER TEARS
COULD READ WHAT STEPHEN WROTE BEFORE THEY TOOK HIS LIFE AWAY

“I’D LIKE TO LIVE A LONGER LIFE
BUT I AM RECONCILED TO DIE
MAY GOD PROTECT MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
REJOICE AND DO NOT MOURN MY LOSS
FOR I AM CERTAIN THAT THE CAUSE
OF TRUTH AND RIGHT, OF PEARSE AND TONE WILL TRIUMPH IN THE END”

“I DIE A TRUE REPUBLICAN
REMEMBER ME TO GALLANT MEN,
TO MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, WHEN I’M DEAD
AND MOTHER, BRAVE IT CHEERFULLY
PRAY THE ROSARY FOR ME
AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO SENT ME TO MY DEATH“, THE LETTER SAID

AND ON THAT SPOT A MONUMENT
COMMEMORATES THE SAD EVENT
WHERE LONG AGO THE BLOOD OF HEROES FLOWED
THOSE MEN WHO PAID THE FINAL PRICE
WHO MADE THE GREATEST SACRIFICE
EXECUTED ON THE BRIDGE ON THE COUNTESS ROAD

The song can be downloaded via: https://soundcloud.com/donal-power-170379558/the-countess-road-massacre.

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