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Historical podcast of Killarney launched




By Sean Moriarty

A whole new understanding of what Killarney was like in the early 20th Century will be revealed in a brand new podcast.

TOURIST OFFICE: This is where Jer 'Gaze' O'Connell worked at the turn of the last century. Photo: Switzer Archive

PODCAST: British Army recruiter Jer 'Gaze' O'Connell is mentioned in the new Killarney podcast. Photo: Switzer Archive

COLLEGE ST: 'Down the Cobbled Lanes' takes its name from the way the streets of Killarney looked in the early 20th Century. Photo: Switzer Archive

Put together by the Muckross House Research Library the historical project is spearheaded by Dr Patricia O’Hare, staff at Muckross Library, and broadcaster J.J. O’Shea.

It takes listeners on a journey down memory lane and explores life in Killarney in the early 20th Century.
Over the course of several months in 1985 an oral history project was undertaken by two members of the Trustees of Muckross House, Tadgh O’Sullivan of Kerry Mineral Waters and Paddy MacMonagle of Killarney Printing Works, who endeavoured to record their early memories of life in Killarney town.

The recordings took place in the kitchen of Paddy’s house on Countess Road, with the assistance of Ned Myers, Manager of Muckross House.

“As might be expected of home-made recordings of that time, the sound is not always of a very high quality. However, the recordings do provide us with valuable glimpses of life in Killarney in the early 20th Century. Extracts from the recordings will be uploaded as a series of podcasts, entitled ‘Down the Cobbled Lanes’ over the coming months,” Dr Patricia O’Hare said.

In the first podcast listeners learn of the former whereabouts of the British Army recruiting office in the town and of the efforts made by local boys to fly the tricolour over Main Street in the period leading up to the War of Independence.

Local historian Damian Switzer was one of the first to listen to the podcast. He says that the recordings mention several shops on Henn St (now Plunkett St) in the early 1990s.

Over one of these shops were rooms that were offered for rent and one of them was rented by the British Army and used by army recruiter Jer 'Gaze' O'Connell.

“He was nicknamed 'Gaze' because he worked for Gazes [tour operators in College Street, Henry Gaze & Sons Tourist Office] and he was a tour guide. He played the bugle and his bother Timothy rowed boats for Hazes on the Gap trips. Jer was a World War One veteran and the British Army recruiting officer for World War One is mentioned in the piece.”



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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