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Cathal chosen as grand marshal for Killarney parade




A well-known and much loved community volunteer has been given the honour of leading this year's St Patrick's Day parade.

Cathal Walshe (76), a retired member of An Garda Síochána, has devoted his whole life to voluntary community work and to helping and supporting others.

He will also be allocated the VIP berth on the reviewing stand on Main Street.

A native of Galway city, Cathal was a Garda in Killarney from 1970 until his retirement in 2003, working initially on the beat and as the patrol car driver before he joined the scenes of crime team and, finally, becoming Juvenile Liaison Officer. And it was the latter role, working closely with schools throughout south and east Kerry, that gave him the most job satisfaction.

Graduating from Templemore in 1966, prior to transferring to Killarney he spent three months based in Castleisland and three years in Farranfore.

In terms of his commitment to community life, Cathal has no equal as he spends almost all of his time helping local organisations, charities and community groups in any way he can.

Cathal has been the PRO for the hugely successful Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle for an astonishing 40 years and he has played a huge part in the event by helping to raise a whopping €18.6 million for various charities.

He cycled the event himself on 19 occasions but, these days, he leaves that task to his son, Enda, who is becoming a Ring of Kerry veteran in his own right.

The highly coveted role of grand marshal for this year's St Patrick's Festival Parade Killarney, is Cathal Walshe, honouring his incredible volunteer work for more than 40 years in the town of Killarney. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

Cathal also sets the questions and fills the role of quizmaster for numerous fundraising table quizzes and he spearheaded the annual quiz for the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, which has been running for 20 years.

Many years ago Cathal launched the Killarney Sports Stars Awards which he ran for 13 years, honouring the area’s great achievers in the various sporting arenas, both nationally and locally.

Other events Cathal has been closely associated with over the years include the establishment of the Torc Youth Club and Woodlawn Youth Club. He is a member of the board of management at Gaelscoil Faithleann, PRO for both the Kerry Hospice and the Darkness into Light walk and he is also very involved with the Kerry Comfort for Chemo organisation.

A passionate sports fan, Cathal is also an officer with the Gleneagle Pitch and Putt Club and he is a GAA season ticket holder, seldom missing a Kerry game no matter where they are playing.

He also served on Killarney Town Council for nine years but retired from active politics in 2014 and he had a stint as chairman of the Killarney Drugs Liaison Committee.

Cathal, the father of two boys, Finbarr and Enda, and a grandfather of four, married Tralee native June Moriarty in 1970 but, sadly, his life-long companion passed away in August 2020.


He said he considers it a wonderful honour to be asked to be grand marshal for the parade and he is really looking forward to the occasion.

“I love being involved in the community and I’m a firm believer in the old saying that life is like an echo in that what you give you get. It’s never too soon to do an act of kindness because you never know how soon it could be too late,” said Cathal who was honoured with a Radio Kerry-Fexco Kerry Hero award last Christmas.

Remarkably fit and full of energy, despite having fought his own battle with serious illness last year, undergoing major surgery and chemotherapy for bowel cancer, Cathal said his recipe for a great life is physical exercise, a good diet, sleep without medication, retaining a sense of humour and remembering that life itself dictates that there will be days when you will laugh and days when you will cry.

St Patrick’s Festival Chairman, Paul Sherry, said Cathal is a most worthy recipient of the honour of leading the parade in Killarney given what he has done for the town and its people for over half a century.



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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