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Change of pace for Noreen who served over 20 years in the hotel industry

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In 2020, the year of COVID, Killarney celebrated 250 years of tourism. Two years later, the buzz is somewhat back and the summer season has well and truly begun.

I took some time to chat with Noreen McGillicuddy, popular receptionist at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel, who as of last week, now enjoys retirement. Noreen has contributed over 20 years of service to the hotel industry, having worked diligently for the Post & Telegraph (P&T) all over Ireland prior to her career in hospitality, she is possibly the only person I know who has had a sleepover in Deenagh Lodge! Here’s how it went.

“Until the age of 13, I lived in Waterville with my parents with my brothers David (Dáithí) and Sean and my sisters Eileen (RIP) and Sheila (RIP). Sheila worked within the hospitality sector as a hairdresser to guests and locals at the Great Southern Hotel and the Aghadoe Heights to name just two. We lived on New Street for five years before moving to Ardshanavooly and I went to school in the Presentation Convent. I then completed a secretarial course in the Technical College and soon began working with the P&T where my first post was in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, in the late 1970s, where I worked connecting calls on the telephone exchange,” Noreen began.

Having heard on the news only last week how the last telephone box had been dismantled in New York and now the city operates on a WiFi basis, I thought to myself how far we have come in the world of technology in a mere 50 years.

“The P&T took me to many parts of Ireland Marie, including Carrig on Suir, Waterford, Cork and Tralee and covered lots of holiday relief nationwide including the Department of Justice in Killarney on reception and telephones. One of the most interesting parts of the job which entailed huge responsibility and confidentiality was the updating of the telephone records of Ireland."

Another change that sprung to mind, the Golden Pages and Residential phone directories; a multifunctional item which might well have doubled up as a step or door stop in many homes around Ireland, now nowhere to be seen.

“I enjoyed working in Tralee, it was closer to home and my family," Noreen added.

"I spent 20 years there where the highlight was the annual Rose of Tralee Festival where I took part in many events. As things wound down with Eircom (formerly P&T), I was ready for a new chapter and retrained in the hospitality industry through CERT with Echard Gosh (RIP) and Angie O’Brien (Vendrick’s Restaurant) over in Kenmare specialising in Front Office. These courses were fantastic training and it touched on every aspect of tourism and hotel work, not just the course title. I made many friends and began my career within the hospitality sector with Sheila Casey, Torc Great Southern Hotel just a stone's throw from my front door. It was a busy spot which I thoroughly enjoyed. When the Torc Hotel closed for the season, I wasn’t left idle for long and began at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa. I worked with many great managers. I began under the duo that was Pat and Marie Chawke and 20 years later, I retired from Aghadoe under Ewan Plenderleith. Over those 20 years, I worked closely with the same Front Office Manager, Siobhan O’Shea, for the majority of my time at Aghadoe. The view at Aghadoe gave me a lift daily, so it was easy to extend this wowness of Aghadoe to the guests on arrival. I have been fortunate to have worked with so many great people throughout my career in Aghadoe, many of which I can now call great friends,” Noreen explained.

DEENAGH LODGE

I asked Noreen about her sleepover at Deenagh Lodge. How unique, I thought, to have actually stayed in a house seeped in local history, a beautiful attraction in the Demesne of Killarney National Park.

“My father, Danny McGillicuddy, was from the beautiful island of Valentia and my mother, Mary Casey, was from Killarney. My grandfather, Con Casey, worked and lived in the estate and in later years became a caretaker of Deenagh Lodge.

I was delighted to hear that Noreen had been recognised by her team at Aghadoe as a nominee at the recent Kerry IHF Awards event and also to hear that together with other long term staff members at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel. Noreen was gifted a beautiful watch and a day out with her colleagues. 20 years is a long time I thought, so to finish our chat I asked Noreen what advice would she have for anyone who is thinking of a career within the hospitality sector.

“No two days are the same Marie. Guest satisfaction is hugely rewarding and there are many opportunities to work your way up to management within the hospitality sector. Killarney is the cream of the crop and the hub of tourism in Ireland.”

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Roger and Brendan really into the SWING of things

A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves […]

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A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves a regular challenge against local players.

Roger O’Sullivan, originally from Loreto Road and a member of the Rainier Golf and Country Club in Seattle, has linked up with another Killarney man, Brendan Keogh of SWING Golf, on several occasions to bring a group of golfers from the Seattle club to play a number of Kerry and Irish courses.

They compete for the Cider Cup which is their own unique take on the Ryder Cup.

In 2010 Roger led a group of 18 golfers from the US to play in Ireland and they repeated the journey and the adventure again in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

They had another trip planned in 2020 but that was cancelled due to Covid but they returned again in 2022 and a group of 44 golfers were back in Killarney in recent weeks to test their skills on the Kerry courses and against local players.

“Since we first started doing this in 2010 we have had 102 different golfers travel from Seattle,” Roger explained.
“I met Brendan Keogh on one of my visits home and he travelled to Seattle, at my request, and organised sponsorship at my golf club.

“Since then our trips have been expertly organised by SWING Golf who book us preferential tee-times, set up the schedule and coordinate our bus drivers. We have never had an issue or anything to worry about. Being friendly with Maurice O’Donoghue, we have always stayed at Scott’s Hotel,” he added.

The US visitors take on local players when in Killarney and this year there was 100 golfers playing on the Killeen course on the first day of their visit.

“The support of the locals has been incredible and I wouldn’t do this without them,” said Roger.
“There have been numerous friendships made over the last 14 years. We have supported a local charity on every trip and for the last two it has been the palliative care unit at University Hospital Kerry. This year we raised €5,100,” he said.

A former student at St Brendan’s College, Roger’s parents were Tony and Juliette O’Sullivan and his father was the head chef in the Gleneagle Hotel for over 20 years before the family purchased Danesfort Lodge at Woodlawn Cross on the Muckross Road.

Roger has been married for 20 years to Amy from Tampa, Florida and they have one daughter, Gracie.
Brendan Keogh joined SWING in the early days of its operation as financial operations manager, working alongside the late Paddy O’Looney.

A member of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club for 40 years, he is the current CEO and he will have served 33 years next September.

SWING, the brainchild of former Kerry Group chief, Denis Brosnan, markets and promotes the premier golf clubs in the south west and also runs an incoming golf agency.

Records show that the company has booked over 350,000 rounds of golf in the south west alone but it also facilitates golfers wanting to play elsewhere in the country.

The company’s senior team of Brendan, Eileen O’Sullivan and Tommy Pierce have 60 years of experience bringing golfers to these shores.

Killarney has been a huge beneficiary as it is a base for most visiting golfers while on the Kerry part of their trip. The locals like seeing the high spending golfers arrive in April for a season than runs until mid October.
2024 is busy and it is also looking positive for 2025.

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Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years

Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years

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Over 30 members, past and present, gathered last Tuesday in The Dromhall Hotel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Killarney Toastmasters club.

Several founder members were present including Frank O’Sullivan and Bernadette Noonan, who are still current members of the club.
Members embrace the core values of Toastmasters International which are “respect, integrity, service and excellence”.
This year Killarney Toastmasters welcomed eight new members of various nationalities, who have brought many talents with them to this international club.
Outgoing president Anthony Walsh said: “I am heartened by the progress of new members and, following the success of the current year, I am looking forward to a bright future for the club.”
Anthony passed the chain of office on to incoming President Ann Hannan, who is very excited about leading the club in the year that Toastmasters International celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

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