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Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!

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Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time of the year.

Last week we asked our readers to take part in our Killarney Town Pulse Survey. We wanted to get a better understanding of local consumer sentiment and to get an snapshot of other issues impacting our standard of living. See a summary of our findings below.

Analysis

So, jobs are aplenty, the minimum wage is set to increase in 2024 and yet according to our findings, locals are not too optimistic about the year ahead.

Just 1 in 10 people reported that they are better off now than they were a year ago. Only 16% expect the economy to be in a better place this time next year and there seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with how the government are tackling key issues affecting our standard of living.

Hasn’t everything gone so expensive?

If I got a euro for every time I heard this the over the past 12 months I certainly wouldn’t be feeling the pinch myself! Generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their personal finances but people’s behaviour is changing under the current climate. We are so frustrated with the cost of everything we are venting at home, in the office, and even while out for dinner with friends. It is not a dig at local business, I know plenty of small businesses struggling to keep their heads above water too.

Inflation is a concern but the real worry is where prices will land

Consumers and businesses are dealing with higher interest rates that have come as a result of the Central Bank trying to tame inflation. Loan products such as mortgages and car loans are more expensive. The noise coming from these issues alone is enough to drown out any positive aspects of the economy.

Stubbornly high inflation is a concern for policy makers, but for the average Joe, we are more concerned about where prices will eventually fall back to. We can deal with some short term pain but with inflation stabilising and some early signs it may even be falling, a large percentage of our survey respondents expect prices to continue to rise. This is backed up by many economists predicting prices will never return to what they were.

It’s not clear how much wage increases have played into higher prices up to now but there is a general consensus that where business margins are tight, higher wages for workers will lead to sustained higher prices for consumers 

Government is failing on issues impacting our standard of living

Research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland last week showed that more than 7 in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. We asked a similar question to locals in our survey and more than 50% of Killarney locals said that either they, or someone they know, is considering moving abroad. This is a sad indictment of our country today.

The pace of housing delivery is dampening young people’s hopes of owning their own home and is even making renting unaffordable. It is not just impacting the youth however, I know of business owners in Killarney where housing shortages are impacting their ability to attract and retain talent, Businesses can’t afford to pay them a wage that allows them to comfortably rent and live in Killarney.  

At the start of September we were reading about a major teacher shortage across the country. Graduate múinteoirí are now ditching Ireland for the Middle-East where their accommodation is often subsidised and their take-home-pay benefits from a largely tax-free society. 

This Wednesday we witnessed a staff walk out at UHK in protest of a recruitment ban in place by the HSE. Reports claim that there are over 90 clerical positions waiting to be filled at the hospital. It is no wonder with all of these added pressures that our nurses and doctors are heading Down Under for warmer weather and better pay and while you couldn’t begrudge them, the drain of health workers in Ireland is leaving those left behind working in stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.  

It’s the uncertainty

The economy is in a strange place at the moment, we are not sure if it is growing, slowing or shrinking. It kind of feels like we are dangling off the edge of a cliff and one big gust of wind could  push us over the edge. The preferred outcome is that we will be pulled back to safer ground but can this government gets to grips with the major issues impacting our standard of living and get the cost of living down to a more tolerable level?

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Pat Delaney Memorial Cup Golf Classic

St Pats East Kerry are running their annual Pat Delaney Memorial Cup golf classic at the Ross Golf Club on Saturday July 6. The format is a 3 person scramble […]

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St Pats East Kerry are running their annual Pat Delaney Memorial Cup golf classic at the Ross Golf Club on Saturday July 6. The format is a 3 person scramble over ten holes and the entry fee is €120 per team. The entry fee will include a goody bag for each player and a cup of Tea/Coffee and scone when the round is completed. Tee times are available from 8am.

Killarney Credit Union is the main sponsor of the event, in recognition of Pat having been a highly respected and effective Chairman of the Credit Union. Pat was a Chairman and Vice President of St Pats East Kerry and he started the annual golf classic over ten years ago as a fundraiser for the Club. Known for his excellent organisation skills and a master salesman who enjoyed persuading the golfers of the Killarney area to take part in the event. He acted as master of ceremonies on the day, meeting and greeting every team prior to their games and to ensure that everyone had an enjoyable day.

On the morning of the golf classic, back in June 2018, Pat sadly passed away. His contribution to hurling and to St Pats demanded that his legacy be commemorated. Pat had also made a major contribution to the Killarney Credit Union at a time of major change in their business, leading the two organisation, St Pats and Killarney Credit Union to combine and rebrand the annual golf classic in Pat’s name.

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Civil War, a song and New York city

  A series of random encounters has resulted in one of biggest atrocities of the Civil War being immortalised in a song. On March 8, 1923, a group of Republican […]

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A series of random encounters has resulted in one of biggest atrocities of the Civil War being immortalised in a song.

On March 8, 1923, a group of Republican prisoners were taken from their temporary prison cells at the Great Southern Hotel and marched to a location near Countess Road.

Less than 24 hours after the more-documented Ballyseedy Massacre near Tralee, the five men named – Stephen Buckley, Tim Murphy, Daniel Donoghue, Jeremiah O’Donoghue and Tadgh Coffey –were killed by Free State troops with explosives and gunfire.

Fast forward over 100 years when local musician and song writer Donal Power was approached by Tadgh Buckley of Killarney Music School.
“He asked me if I would write a song about an incident with particular emphasis on a person who was his long-dead cousin. I told him I’d try and hoped he would be satisfied with the result,” explained Donal.
“He then gave me a copy of Tim Horgan’s book ‘The Stones Still Speak’, containing the story of Stephen Buckley murdered at the Countess Bridge which also contained a letter written by Stephen the night before his death in 1923, which didn’t come to light until six years later. Like many others I was aware of the massacre at Ballyseedy Cross but not the Countess Road, Killarney. So this was the project and the challenge!
“I spent a number of weeks writing a song about the incident. There is a lot of content in the story and I wanted to be true to the content of Stephen’s letter. I completed the song and sang it for him and others at a session where it appeared to make a positive impression. It’s an acoustic ballad which I accompany with guitar.”
But the story does not end there. A New York-based family, direct descendants of the murdered Stephen Buckley made contact with Power.
A man named Thomas Buckley from New York made contact with the local songwriter after hearing the song on Soundcloud.
Thomas explained: “My father Stephen Buckley was born in New York City in 1924. His father Michael Buckley,  named his first son, my dad, after his brother Stephen who was killed at the Countess Bridge in 1923. My older brother is also Stephen Buckley born in New York in

1954.”
Three members of the New York-based Buckley family, Thomas, Stephen and younger brother Timothy, were on a family holiday to Killarney earlier this month.

Power met them and was able to take the brothers to the site of the ambush were he learned that they are also related to Tadhg Buckley, the man who originally asked for the song to be written.

“We don’t know the exact relationship but it is very direct. The three brothers think Tadhg now lives where the murdered Stephen Buckley once lived,” added Power.

The song can be downloaded via: https://soundcloud.com/donal-power-170379558/the-countess-road-massacre.

SONG LYRICS
KILLARNEY, NINETEEN-TWENTY-THREE
A CIVIL WAR ATROCITY
A MASSACRE, A SHAMEFUL EPISODE
FOUR SOLDIERS OF THE I.R.A.
BY FREE-STATE FORCES BLOWN AWAY
EXECUTED ON THE BRIDGE ON THE COUNTESS ROAD

A SOLE SURVIVOR ON THE RUN,
TADHG COFFEY WAS THE ONLY ONE
WHO MANAGED TO ESCAPE AND TELL THE NEWS
OF THE LANDMINE, THE BOOBY-TRAP
THE BULLETS FIRED, THE COVER-UP
THAT KILLED TIM MURPHY, STEPHEN BUCKLEY AND THE DONOGHUES

THE DAY BEFORE THE MASSACRE
WHILE STEPHEN WAS HELD PRISONER
HE HAD A PREMONITION HE WOULD DIE
HE GAVE A LETTER TO THE GUARD
TRUSTING HE WOULD NOT DISCARD
THE MESSAGE TO HIS MOTHER AND THE WORDS THAT SAID GOODBYE

THE GUARD DENIED THE LAST REQUEST
AND KEPT THE LETTER HE SUPPRESSED
WHEN EMIGRATING TO THE USA
HE KEPT THE SECRET SIX LONG YEARS
TILL HANNAH BUCKLEY, THROUGH HER TEARS
COULD READ WHAT STEPHEN WROTE BEFORE THEY TOOK HIS LIFE AWAY

“I’D LIKE TO LIVE A LONGER LIFE
BUT I AM RECONCILED TO DIE
MAY GOD PROTECT MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
REJOICE AND DO NOT MOURN MY LOSS
FOR I AM CERTAIN THAT THE CAUSE
OF TRUTH AND RIGHT, OF PEARSE AND TONE WILL TRIUMPH IN THE END”

“I DIE A TRUE REPUBLICAN
REMEMBER ME TO GALLANT MEN,
TO MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, WHEN I’M DEAD
AND MOTHER, BRAVE IT CHEERFULLY
PRAY THE ROSARY FOR ME
AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO SENT ME TO MY DEATH“, THE LETTER SAID

AND ON THAT SPOT A MONUMENT
COMMEMORATES THE SAD EVENT
WHERE LONG AGO THE BLOOD OF HEROES FLOWED
THOSE MEN WHO PAID THE FINAL PRICE
WHO MADE THE GREATEST SACRIFICE
EXECUTED ON THE BRIDGE ON THE COUNTESS ROAD

The song can be downloaded via: https://soundcloud.com/donal-power-170379558/the-countess-road-massacre.

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