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Biddy tradition alive and well in Kilgobnet

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By Sean Moriarty

After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic the Biddys were back with music, dance and in great form in Kilgobnet on Sunday evening.

The rural community near Beaufort is one of the few areas in Ireland still celebrating St Brigid’s Day in the traditional ways.

Dressing as the Biddies is one of the oldest and most colourful customs in Ireland, a blend of pagan and Christian pageantry, held on February 1 each year.

Next year the day will be marked nationally with a Bank Holiday for the first time but the rest of Ireland will have to look to the small mid-Kerry community to see how it is really done.

Not unlike the Wren Celebrations in West Kerry, celebrating the Biddy is all about tradition.

Locals dress up in uniform – the official colours of the Kilgobnet Biddy is red and green – and they visit local areas to dance at crossroads and play music.

Two local guardians, Mike Coffey and Kilgobnet National School Principal Maura O’Connor, ensure the correct protocols are followed.

Miss O’Connor passes these traditions to her pupils and staff. The school’s Board of Management identified the Biddy as a potential fundraiser and apart from the pandemic, the school has organised an event every year.

“It was fantastic,” teacher Mary Anne Leane told the Killarney Advertiser. “Local man Mike Coffey makes all the costumes and he knows the protocols. It is great to have the proper traditions – often things get diluted when you try to revive them. This year we could not go around from house to house as we usually would, but we were at Sweeney’s Cross which is a known location for crossroads dancing. We visited Kissane’s Shop too. The older people were able to see us there.”

She praised her school Principal Maura O’Connor who has done so much to keep the Biddy tradition alive in both the school and in the locality.

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Chamber hosts post-budget briefing

Local accountancy firm OCKT Ltd hosted a post-budget briefing on Wednesday. Organised by the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, the lunchtime briefing kept local business people up to date […]

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Local accountancy firm OCKT Ltd hosted a post-budget briefing on Wednesday.

Organised by the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, the lunchtime briefing kept local business people up to date following Tuesday’s Budget.

The briefing explained the main points from Budget 2023, and suggested some tax planning initiatives.

The event took place at the Peregrine Suite at the Killarney Park Hotel.

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BUDGET: Businesses require support to remain competitive

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has given a mixed reaction to this week’s budget. It has welcomed budgetary recommendations that will offset the cost of energy and is hopeful […]

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Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has given a mixed reaction to this week’s budget.

It has welcomed budgetary recommendations that will offset the cost of energy and is hopeful new Gardai will be assigned to Killarney following an increase in recruitment announcement.

However, the business group has criticised the VAT increase sanctioned for the tourism industry for March 1 and that it will lobby the Department of Finance to reverse this decision.

Chamber President Niall Kelleher said it is imperative that businesses are given every assistance to remain productive and competitive and, in the process, enable them to retain staff.

“The plan to help businesses with the rising costs of electricity and gas is welcome but, that said, it was essential given just how vulnerable and exposed many of them are feeling just now,” he said.

A €200 million scheme, administered by Enterprise Ireland, will support larger firms involved in exporting and manufacturing while another scheme, aimed at small and medium sized businesses, will cover 40 percent of the hike in electricity or gas bills, up to a maximum of €10,000 per month per business.

The Chamber expressed some concern, however, that no commitment was given to extend the nine percent tourism and hospitality VAT rate beyond February 2023.

“We will be lobbying intensively to ensure the lower rate is continued well beyond the date mentioned by the minister as it is essential that hotels, restaurants, guesthouses, cafés and other tourism-related businesses are given the tools they require to remain competitive,” Mr Kelleher said.

“The lower VAT rate is needed to protect jobs in the industry, especially now that energy costs are soaring at an alarming rate,” he added.

The Chamber President also welcomed the Budget commitment that 1,000 new recruits will be accepted into the Garda College in Templemore and that more Garda overtime will be sanctioned to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“Given that the population in Killarney multiplies dramatically during the tourism season, I would fully expect extra human resources to be sanctioned for the town.”

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