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Calls to honour Killarney’s unknown World War 2 heroine

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By Sean Moriarty

Efforts are being made to honour a Killarney woman who played a key role in opposing the Nazi occupation of France during World War 2.

Janie McCarthy was born Bohereen na Goun, New Street, in 1885.

She was educated at The Convent of Mercy and went to France in 1910 where she worked as an au pair in Brittany and as a teacher for 15 years in Vannes.

She was teaching in Paris when the Germans occupied the city during World War 2 and she immediately joined La Résistance.

Her heroic efforts were similar to those on Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty’s efforts in Rome.

She specialised in rescue work and saved many lives during the occupation of France, including members of the allied armies and intelligence services.

She was awarded France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honour, the Croix de Guerre and a Croix de la Resistance. The United States of America also honoured the Killarney native with the Medal of Freedom while Britain awarded her the Tedder Certificate.

Monsignor O’Flaherty has already been remembered in his home town. A town centre street bears his name and there is a mural painted in his memory on the gable of a High St building.

There are now two separate calls to honour Janie McCarthy in a similar fashion.

Mayor Marie Moloney wants to erect a plaque at her reputed birthplace on Bohereen na Goun and eventually name the proposed new inner relief road after her.

The road will link Bohereen na Goun with New St and the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Road on the top of High St.

“There is a huge lack of women being recognised for their humanitarian, community and business work in Killarney town. I am now asking that a plaque be erected to commemorate the work and the heroism of the late Janie McCarthy, in France during World War 2,” Cllr Moloney told Wednesday’s Killarney Municipal District meeting.

“It is now time for Killarney to honour our own native. In addition to a plaque, I am asking that when the time comes that serious consideration be given to naming the new link road at Bohereen na Goun after Janie McCarthy.”

Cllr John O’Donoghue had a similar motion before the meeting.

Heroic deeds

“Her heroic deeds are too numerous to list in their entirety today but she visited the civilian camp at Saint Denis, to whom she donated much of her wages, and was also involved in numerous dangerous missions, risking her own life to rescue parachutists and bring them to safe houses in Paris,” he told the meeting. “In recognition of her contributions, she has received some of the highest awards that can be bestowed upon a civilian by the French, American and British Governments, but she is yet to be recognised by her own people and it is time we put that right.”

Cllr O’Donoghue is also asking for people who have a historical knowledge of Janie to come forward. His council predecessor, his uncle Michael Gleeson, made several attempts to honour the war hero in 2005 but they never came to fruition.

“The purpose of my bringing this motion before you today is to ask that this Council immediately initiate proceedings to honour Janie, and also to launch an appeal to members of the public for further information regarding her life. Michael Gleeson is in contact with a person who is carrying out research for a proposed thesis on her life and legacy, and when this research is complete we would be delighted to bring more information before this Council.”

According to research by Gleeson, Janie (or Janíl as she was known in France) was born in 1885, probably in High Street Killarney to Michael and Margaret McCarthy and was baptised on January 20 of that year.

The family initially lived here but by the time of the 1901 Census, the family are listed as living at number 15 New Street. While it is impossible to state with absolute certainty where number 15 New Street is today, there is evidence to support it approximately being where Dr McCullough now resides.

There are additional mentions of the family living at 74 New Street but these are difficult to verify. The latter New St address would tie in with an older Bohereen na Goun address.

Janie also featured in a booked called ‘Hidden Kerry’, published in 2014, by local author and journalist Breda Joy.

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Wine, art and lots of catching up at popular fundraiser

By Michelle Crean Spirits were high and the atmosphere electric at this year’s Wine & Art Night which had a huge attendance on Wednesday night. Over 50 exhibitors gathered in […]

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By Michelle Crean

Spirits were high and the atmosphere electric at this year’s Wine & Art Night which had a huge attendance on Wednesday night.

Over 50 exhibitors gathered in the Great Southern Killarney as the Killarney Rotary Club’s fundraising event – which is one of the biggest in the town each year – was back after a COVID break.

During the afternoon the artists and crafters, many who travelled from all over Kerry, Clare, Cork and even Waterford this year, organised their display for the event. Later that evening there were a lot of familiar faces but also some new people who absolutely loved the evening.

There were many wines available to taste as well as cheese and breads at the event which is run in conjunction with Daly’s SuperValu, Killarney and Killarney Brewing Company.

“There was a huge attendance and everybody was in good spirits to be back to normal,” President of Rotary, Rayla Tadjimatova, said.

“Many of the patrons were buying some art as Christmas presents and the members of Rotary were delighted to be kept busy packing these. A portion of all art sales goes to the fundraiser. One local young man, who is only 16, exhibited his beautiful photographs of local scenic areas. There was an auction of donated works of art and a Kerry Jersey. All one hundred percent of the proceeds from this auction goes to the fundraiser.”

Mike Neeson entertained the crowd on arrival and right until the end of the night.

“Mike is a great supporter of our events and we would like to thank him for keeping everybody entertained.”

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust ran the raffle and they had some wonderful hampers and gifts to be won.

Beneficiaries from this year’s event are: Coolick NS, Gaelscoil Faithleann NS, Knockanes NS, Holy Cross Mercy NS, St Francis Special School, Kerry Stars, Killarney Athletic AFC, and Killarney Cougars Basketball Club.

She thanked everybody for attending and everyone for their help organising the event.

Some, she added, had never been before and said they did not know what exactly the night involved but will definitely be back again next time as it was “so enjoyable”.

“We hope the money raised will help the beneficiaries to proceed with projects,” she said.

“We are delighted for Rotary to be able to help these charities, community groups and schools through our fundraising event.”

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Comedy drama ready for the stage

By Michelle Crean Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage. What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy […]

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By Michelle Crean

Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage.

What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy father and a confused visitor to the dentist, all have in common? You’ll have to come along to the Killarney Avenue Hotel on Monday, December 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 at 8pm to find out.

The popular drama group will present their three new comedies featuring the work of playwrights Brian Bowler, Ger Madden and Mary Quirke.Come along for a night filled with fun and laughter. Just the right beginning to the festive season. Doors open at 7.15pm and tickets are available at the door. All tickets; adults, seniors, students and children are €10. Don’t miss a great night out.

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