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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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​​Bursaries presented to schools at Lions Club open night

By Michelle Crean Three Killarney schools have been awarded bursaries from a local group. Killarney Lions Club made the presentations to Killarney Community College, St Brigid’s Presentation School and St […]

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By Michelle Crean

Three Killarney schools have been awarded bursaries from a local group.

Killarney Lions Club made the presentations to Killarney Community College, St Brigid’s Presentation School and St Brendan’s College to help support students in need.

It took place at their open night recently in the KDYS Youth Centre.

The night featured different exhibitions about Killarney Lions Club activities such as the Annual Christmas Food Appeal and the Kerry Clubs Fair.

“It was great that people made the effort to come and find out more what Killarney Lions Club does, despite the weather on the night. We are a voluntary group so community support is vital for activities such as our Christmas Food Appeal which will kick off very soon.”

The Killarney Lions Club, through its members, assists various groups and individuals in and around the community. Lions do this through voluntary activities, fundraising and by holding various types of events in support of a great many local causes.

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Staff celebrated for their long service

Stalwarts of the tourism industry in Killarney were delighted to celebrate their long term team members with a gourmet dinner in Great Southern recently. The event was held for all […]

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Stalwarts of the tourism industry in Killarney were delighted to celebrate their long term team members with a gourmet dinner in Great Southern recently.

The event was held for all team members of the Great Southern and Killarney Royal who have over 10 years of service, and was hosted by Michael Jacobi, Managing Director, Hayfield Family Collection and Mark Scally, Financial Controller, Hayfield Family Collection.

32 employees celebrated on the night, with the Great Southern represented by John Fitzgerald with 53 years of service, Martina O’Leary with 44 years of service and Kathleen Bhuiyan with 31 years of service. From Killarney Royal Joseph Hurley celebrated 37 years of service with John Harrington celebrating 32 years and Nuala Doolan celebrating 30 years.

“It is an absolute pleasure for us to celebrate our long term staff members,” event host and Hayfield Family Collection Managing Director, Michael Jacobi, said.

“They have played such an integral part in achieving the high standards we are known to provide and are such familiar welcoming faces for our guests.”

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