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Commemoration planned to mark 100 year anniversary of Tom and John O’Connor-Scarteen

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Next month marks 100 years since the deaths of National Army Officers Tom and John O’Connor-Scarteen and a special commemoration is being planned.

The public are invited to a gathering in Old Kenmare Cemetery to remember Tom and John O’Connor-Scarteen on Sunday September 4 at 1.30pm where they'll be an oration by Minister Peter Burke TD.

The brothers grew up on a farm at Scarteen, Blackwater, between Sneem and Templenoe. They adopted the name ‘Scarteen’ after the townland. Their parents Michael and Deborah owned and operated a bakery and grocery shop at 5 Main Street, Kenmare.

Tom and John were both active members of the Irish Republican Army and fought in many engagements against the Crown Forces during the War of Independence between 1919 and 1921. Tom played a prominent role in the Headford Junction Ambush, Killarney in 1921, one of the major incidents of the Anglo-Irish War.
The Treaty which followed the end of the war and which was signed in December 1921 divided Ireland. The terms of the agreement split the Irish Republican Army, Sinn Féin and the wider community. It also divided Dáil Éireann but a majority of members, 64, voted in favour, with 57 against. Three Kerry TDs voted for the Treaty and three voted against. Michael Collins became the leader of the Pro-Treaty faction and Éamon de Valera became head of the anti-Treatyites.

Tom and John O’Connor Scarteen were among those who listened to Michael Collins speaking at a Pro-Treaty meeting in Killarney in April 1922 and they were motivated to join the new army of the Free State. They, along with other local lads, enlisted in the army on their return to Kenmare. As experienced combatants during the War of Independence, they rose through the ranks, Tom to the rank of Brigadier General and John to the rank of Captain.

The bitter divisions over the Treaty led to the outbreak of the Civil War which began on June 28 1922 when the Provisional Government launched an assault on the Four Courts in Dublin which had been occupied by anti-Treaty republicans for several weeks. Among those fighting in Dublin when the war began were the Scarteen brothers.

Kenmare was among the large towns in Kerry which came under the control of the Free State Army during August 1922. The O’Connor-Scarteens led a large landing of over 200 troops by boat at Kenmare on August 11 and seized control of the town. Many local men enlisted under their command. A few days later, Tom commanded a seaborne army detachment which captured Cahersiveen and Waterville.

Anti-Treaty forces in south Kerry launched an audacious attempt to recapture Kenmare on September 9 1922. As the republican assault on Kenmare began, at about 7am a group of Anti-Treatyites burst into the bakery owned by the O’Connor-Scarteen family at 5 Main Street. Tom and John were asleep in their beds upstairs. The sentries keeping an eye out for Anti-Treatyites had earlier been sent home. It was a premeditated attack: it was later claimed that the local IRA had ‘cast lots’ to decide who would carry out the killings.

Tom was just 20 and his brother, 25.

The shooting of the Scarteen brothers took place within weeks of the deaths of Michael Collins. The incident resonated beyond Kenmare and beyond the confines of the Civil War.

The funerals which followed saw the town come to a standstill.

The Scarteens were among approximately 175 people who died in the Civil War in Kerry which claimed the lives of almost 90 Pro-Treaty National Army soldiers, over 70 Anti-Treaty IRA, and 15 civilians.

Politically, the death of the Scarteens would remain to the fore in the history and politics of the county for over a century, with two of their brothers, a nephew and a grand-nephew all serving in either local or national politics as representatives of Fine Gael.

One hundred years later the O’Connor Scarteens are still heavily involved in politics in Kerry: Tom and John’s brother, Timothy, served on Kerry County Council alongside another brother, Pat, who also served in Dáil Eireann and Seanad Eireann. Pat along with his son, Michael, and grandson, Patrick, have 74 years unbroken service on Kerry County Council. Cllr Patrick Connor-Scarteen was Mayor of Kerry/Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council in 2020-2021 and was elected Cathaoirleach of the Kenmare Municipal District in June 2022.

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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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