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Hotel spearheads eco-tourism project




By Michelle Crean

A new eco project - Ireland's first hospitality urban farm - has launched in Killarney.

Over the past year, while society has been forced to hit pause, the team at O’Donoghue Ring have been busy behind the scenes - and came up with Killarney Urban Farm, Ireland's first hospitality urban farm, growing salads, herbs and vegetables for bars, restaurants and hotels in Killarney with the objective to curtail food miles.

The ultimate pandemic pivot, Killarney Urban Farm has transformed the space formerly a late night bar to a natural, earthy and innovative space in the heart of the town centre. With cutting-edge research and development, patented technologies, and a leading multidisciplinary team saw a lush and leafy installation complete with exclusive Green Towers, designed to produce high-quality food on a hyper-local level.

First tested by NASA in the 1990s, tower farms are vertical growing systems that feed and water plants through ‘w’ - a technique whereby roots hang suspended in the air while nutrient-rich water is distributed in the form of a fine mist, with the O’Donoghue Ring Collection becoming the first non-residential unit to house the Green Towers in Kerry.

Beehives were also introduced to produce some of the finest honey for the properties in Killarney, from the floral nectar of the neighbouring Killarney National Park.


“The tower farms will contribute to the group’s sustainability efforts by allowing the culinary team to grow their own produce just steps away from the kitchen, for a truly authentic ‘Farm to Plate’ experience. Not only do these elegant growing systems use 90% less water than traditional farming and produce 30% more plant yield, they also reduce transportation distances, packaging and waste,” Gemma Ring, Director of the O’Donoghue Ring Collection, said.

To celebrate the launch, John O’Leary, Culinary Director of The Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa, part of the O’Donoghue Ring Collection, has created a unique offering that will be launching in November which invites guests on a guided tour to explore the technology that powers the farm, savour a taste of a plethora of fresh organic ingredients along with picking up some exclusive cooking tips and techniques. There will be tastings of dishes and a signature cocktail that encompasses everything the towers represent – hyper-local freshness, sustainability and innovation. The tour is followed by a 4-course sustainable tasting menu at The Tan Yard restaurant featuring ingredients produced by the towers.

The Killarney Plaza is now a certified member of The Green Hospitality Programme Ireland (GHP), has been awarded the Eco-Label and is currently in the process of receiving its 50 Shades Greener certification. As a member, the group has pledged its commitment to minimising social and environmental impact. The O’Donoghue Ring Collection is a proud member of the Killarney Hotels Sustainability Group, a signed charter between 22 local, independent hotels who collectively work together to reduce the environmental impact of the industry’s services and activities.

Other ongoing initiatives led by the group’s internal Green Team include the ambition to create a paperless workplace, the championing of food sustainability by sourcing from local producers with the inclusion of 10km Local Legacy dishes with all food on the dish sourced from within 10km of the restaurant, foraging their own produce and the introduction of e-chargers at the Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa and Killarney Avenue Hotel.

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Ireland’s oldest citizen has Killarney connections

Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week. Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections. The previous record […]




Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week.

Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections.

The previous record was held by 107-year-old Nancy Stewart who died on September 10 2021.

Although born in Belfast, Máirín went to school in the Mercy Convent. Her father was a customs and excise officer and the family moved around a lot eventually coming to Killarney after spells in County Down and Dublin.

Her mother came from the Rathmore area and her father was from Newmarket in County Cork.

She attended the Mercy Convent and has, in previous interviews, recalled growing up on the shores of Lough Lein.

“Neighbours who had three children were given the job of taking me to school,” she said. “They were annoyed because the children were going to school for two or three years but I was put in to the same class as them – my mother had taught me.”

In 2021 she featured in the book ‘Independence Memories: A People’s Portrait of the Early Days of the Irish Nation’, sharing stories of being kept in school in Killarney during an attack on the RIC barracks down the road.

In 1924 she started a degree in science and a diploma in education at University College Cork, before working in the pathology lab in University College Cork’s Department of Medicine for 16 years.

last year she recalled her story on the podcast: ‘Living History – Irish Life and Lore’.

During the broadcast she talked about her parents’ membership of the Gaelic League in 1910; the Spanish Flu in Ireland in 1918; The Black and Tans in Killarney in 1921; the early days of the new Free State; Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932, visiting the Basket Islands in 1929; and working in the UCC medical laboratory from 1932 until 1948.

This week President Michael D. Higgins hosted an afternoon tea event to celebrate the important role that a variety of people have and can play in different communities and Máirín was among the guests of honour.

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Philip is running over 100kms for Cancer charity

Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday. Phillip has already […]




Local runner and charity fundraiser Philip Kissane is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he lines up for the Cork City Marathon on Sunday.

Phillip has already completed four half marathons at various locations around Killarney – all in aid of Kerry Cancer Support Group – or the Cancer Bus as it popularly called.

This is the second time that Phillip has run four half marathon and an official race for the charity.

Back in 2021 he finished with 5km Run Killarney event but his finishing race this time around is over eight times the distance at 42kms.

“We are delighted with Philip’s continued fundraising support but also with his awareness raising for the charity,” Breda Dyland, Service Manager Kerry Cancer Support Trust.

“We are getting busier all the time and still get no statutory funding so are dependent on fundraisers like Philip’s to keep us on the road. We have just put our new wheelchair accessible bus on the Cork route so Philip’s funding will be going towards the operation of this vehicle.”


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