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Centenary of Headford Ambush set for March 2021

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DESIGN: The proposed design for the site of the Headford Ambush.

 

By Sean Moriarty

There are calls for a permanent outdoor museum to be built on the site of the Headford Ambush.
The centenary of the event, which marked Kerry’s arrival in the War of Independence, will take place on March 21 next year.

 

It was one of the key local events in the 1921 War of Independence, carried out by the Irish Republican Army on March 21.

An IRA brigade intercepted a train carrying British troops who were travelling between Kenmare and Killarney. The subsequent gunfight left 14 men dead; nine British soldiers, two IRA volunteers and three civilians.
Local man Dan Allman was one of the leaders of the ambush, but he and his colleague Jimmy Baily were the two IRA men killed in the attack.
A monument stands at the site of the ambush - but this has fallen into disrepair.
The site is also significant in the history of railway transport in the county. Headford Junction linked Kenmare and Kilgarvan with the rest of the country including Great Southern Railway branch lines to Mallow and Killarney.

Killarney Advertiser owners Cormac and Noelle Casey now live in the house that served as the station’s tea rooms up until the 1960s.

In recent years, Irish Rail replaced the manual level crossing at the junction with an automated crossing but the former site has also fallen into disrepair.

Mr Casey believes with the centenary fast approaching that the time is right to repair the monument and to also mark the significance of the railway industry in the area.

 

DESIGN

To that end, staff at KC Print, the Killarney Advertiser’s parent company, have come up with a design for an outdoor museum that would mark the event and, at the same time, honour Kerry’s contribution to the Civil War effort and the railway heritage of the county.

“Up to this point in the war, Kerry’s effort was considered weak and that we were not playing our part, but the Headford Ambush was very significant as it was central to the start of the Kerry effort,” he said. “Headford Junction is also very important in the railway history in the country. One of the longest serving steam engines ran on this line up until the 1960s. Our proposal is to develop a low maintenance outdoor museum that can be visited at any time.”

[caption id="attachment_34405" align="alignleft" width="340"] DERELICT: The site of the ambush has fallen into disrepair.[/caption]

Paving from the now derelict Headford railway platform could be used to construct the museum that would also feature steel artworks as a direct link to the railway industry.

Kerry County Council officials lodged an application for funding to the Department of Culture, Arts and Gaeltacht and money to the tune of €10,000 was confirmed this week.

The funding was welcomed by local politicians including Deputy Danny Healy-Rae, Cllr Maura Healy-Rae, Niall Kelleher, Mayor of Killarney Brendan Cronin, and Kerry Mayor Michael Connor-Scarteen.

“Myself and Maura thank the committee for their great efforts and works and wish them all the best with the works,” said Danny Healy-Rae. “Cllr Maura Healy-Rae had a motion before Kerry County Council requesting them to apply to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for funding and I also made a submission to the Department about this.”

Cllr Kelleher lives very close to the monument.

“I welcome this news for the locality, it is important to mark this occasion,” he said.

Killarney Mayor Brendan Cronin was another local councillor who pushed for funding for this project both at Municipal and county level.

 

FAMILY LINK

County Mayor Connor-Scarteen has a direct family link to the ambush.

[caption id="attachment_34406" align="alignleft" width="341"] HISTORIC: Mayor Patrick Connor-Scarteen and his father Michael with one of the actual rifles used in the ambush 100 years ago.[/caption]

"I grew up hearing so much about the Headford Ambush which took place in March 1921, it was undoubtedly one of the most significant military engagements in Ireland during the War of Independence,” he said. "I'm proud of the integral part played by Tom O'Connor-Scarteen, my grand-uncle who was the last of the IRA to leave the ambush site. I want to thank the local committee and fellow councillors who also pushed for funding.”

Local committee members include Derry Healy, Tina Healy (who is a grand-niece of Allman), Jimmy Casey, Seamus Moynihan, Liz Spillane and Mike Scannell.

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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