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Hilliard’s winning combination is named Ireland’s Best Cocktail Experience 




A stylish new restaurant and bar, only opened since June of this year, has already put Killarney at the very top of the national cocktail map.

Hilliard’s of Main Street scooped the prestigious Restaurants Association of Ireland 2022 Best Cocktail Experience accolade at a glitzy ceremony in the Convention Centre in Dublin on Monday night.

Hilliard’s dynamic team members, Ariel Sanecki and Skirmas Lelys, were there to accept the honour from Restaurants Association of Ireland President, Paul Lenehan, and their success sparked off great celebrations.

Almost 900 restaurant and hospitality business owners and staff gathered to toast their hard work and achievements at the event and while the Best Cocktail Experience category initially attracted over 70 entries, from all parts of Ireland, it was whittled down to a shortlist of just 10 before Hilliard’s was announced as the overall winner.

The judges took all aspects of the business into account, including the variety and impact of the cocktail menu offering, the setting and ambience in the bar and, of course, a feature cocktail which had to adhere to a Roaring 1920s theme.

Ariel and Skirmas had earlier competed in an actual live cocktail making contest in the presence of the adjudicators who monitored proceedings closely and got to sample their delightful creation, taking technical expertise, taste, presentation and aroma into consideration.


The winning original cocktail, which they named Gladrags – in keeping with the theme of Hilliard’s being a former department store – comprised of a mix of Bombay gin, Killahora ice wine, jasmine tea, peach puree, orange bitters, apricot syrup, orange Cutacoa liqueur and lemon juice.

“It was a great success for the team at Hilliard’s and we are really delighted to put Killarney on the cocktail map,” said Hilliard’s mixologist Ariel Sanecki.

President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Paul Lenehan, said: “The awards are an opportunity to celebrate the existing and up-and-coming talent in the sector and they are a reminder that hospitality is nothing without the dedicated and passionate staff in the industry”.

For close on 150 years, the House of Hilliard traded as a landmark department store in the heart of Killarney town and it was home to the finest handcrafted goods, from drapery and footwear to haberdashery and everything in between.

Among those joining Hilliard’s on the victory podium on the night were Best Restaurant: Chapter One, Dublin; Best Cookery School: Aniar Restaurant and Boutique Cookery School; Best Private Dining Club: No 25 Fitzwilliam Place and Best Digital Marketing: Michael’s, Mount Merrion.

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Walk this way…to Killarney parkrun

By Michelle Crean Killarney’s parkrun has added another element to their ever popular Saturday morning event – suitable for people of all abilities. While most participating up until now enjoyed […]




By Michelle Crean

Killarney’s parkrun has added another element to their ever popular Saturday morning event – suitable for people of all abilities.

While most participating up until now enjoyed a morning run, the local group is now promoting walking for the month of October every Saturday morning at 9.30am in the grounds of Killarney House.

“parkrun is not just for runners, it’s for walkers and people of all abilities, it doesn’t matter how long it takes,” Philip Gammell, Event Director Killarney House parkrun, said.

“We always have one or more volunteer Tailwalkers, who must ensure that everyone else is safely finished before completing the course themselves.”

He added that parkrun global are promoting this for the month of October but the idea is that if walkers start doing it regularly, they will keep coming back after that too.

As well as getting exercise, it’s also great fun and a social occasion, as you get to know lots of people who you’d otherwise never meet.”

You must register for the event but and once done you can walk or run at any parkrun event anywhere in the world.

“Best of all, after parkrun we go for tea/coffee and a scone in The International Hotel. Come and join us next Saturday and bring a friend!

Registration is free on


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Budget 2023 is just plastering over the cracks

By Michael O’Connor The Irish Budget has never been something I have paid too much attention to. My day-to-day focus is predominantly on stock market moves, so it never bears […]




By Michael O’Connor

The Irish Budget has never been something I have paid too much attention to.

My day-to-day focus is predominantly on stock market moves, so it never bears too much relevance, but Budget 2023 certainly caught my attention.

It was set against a backdrop of surging energy prices, inflationary pressures, and a red-hot housing crisis. As one of the few European countries with a budget surplus to dip into, expectations were high.

On the surface, the Budget didn’t disappoint. The €11 billion package had a little something for everyone. The massive package of once-off measures will go a long way toward supporting households and businesses this year.

But when you dig a little deeper, many of the measures are simply providing a short-term sugar rush, with little substance once the initial high wears off.

I get it; financial relief is crucial but adding more money into the economy so people can afford to function in a broken system is not a long-term solution.

Tax cuts have been proclaimed as ‘counter inflation’ measures but are more likely to fan the flames of inflation than eliminate the problem.

Inflation is created when too much money is chasing too few goods. With this in mind, inflation is tackled by reducing the amount of money in the economy or increasing the supply of goods within that economy. Tax cuts do the opposite.

By increasing the amount of money in the system through tax cuts, the government has seemed to double down on the viewpoint that money is both the cause and solution to all of life’s problems.

Fuel to the fire

Sure, these tax cuts will help to curry favour from a political perspective, but from an economic standpoint, you are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Instead of addressing the systemic problems causing the Cost of Living Crisis, they have simply freed up more money so you can tolerate the intolerable price hikes a little longer.

Take housing, for example.

Paschal Donohoe described housing as the “central issue facing the country”.

Undoubtedly there are some positives from a housing perspective in the Budget, but as the “central issue facing the country”, it falls short.

A band-aid solution

The ‘Rent Tax Credit’, in particular, highlights the band-aid solution being applied here.

Renters will be entitled to a rental credit of €500 per year from 2022 onwards. On the surface, this is much-needed relief for renters, but in reality, it simply exacerbates the problem.

Without getting too into the weeds, in economics, you have something called the paradox of aggregation. If everyone gets the benefit, then nobody gets to feel the effects of that benefit because nobody is better off from a relative standpoint.

If you won the lotto in the morning, you would be unquestionably better off. However, if we all won the lotto in the morning, we would all be richer on an absolute level, but you would no longer be better off relative to your peers. Prices would simply increase to account for the higher levels of wealth in the system.

The same logic applies to the ‘Rent Tax Credit’. Everyone gets it, so nobody benefits. It simply just provides another gear for landlords. You can now ‘afford’ to pay higher rents, allowing landlords to raise rents even further. This is not relief but a mechanism to support higher rental prices in the future masked as support for those caught in the rental crisis.

Rent control, short-term letting restrictions, widespread public housing initiatives, subsidies to incentive construction development, and removal of the endless planning regulations. These are solutions that alleviate the supply side of the problem over the long term.

Instead, the government continues to throw more money at the problem so we can ‘justify’ higher and higher prices.

Housing supply

In fact, in a bizarre move, they have now placed a 10% levy on concrete blocks. Environmental concerns aside, at a point where every possible step needs to be taken to incentivise construction development to increase the housing supply in the system, levies are being applied to increase the cost of building even further.

Maybe I’m being overly cynical here. Compared to the UK budget, the Irish offering is a heroic feat of financial prowess, but another short-term response to the newest crisis at our doorstep is not enough.

Long-term allocation of capital and resources to solve the complete supply/demand mismatch in the housing market, nationalisation of energy, and extensive healthcare reform are areas where the bulk of the budgetary surplus needs to be allocated.


Constantly repeating or extending ‘temporary measures’ is far too short-sighted. We have already seen an economic contraction in Q1 2022. These contractions may continue as we stare down the barrel of a recession in Europe. The budget surplus won’t always be there.

When it is, we must prioritise long-term investments focused on solving systemic issues. Plastering over the cracks and hoping that the foundations stay intact until the next political party takes the wheel just isn’t enough.

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