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Ireland’s oldest man celebrates 107th birthday!

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IRELAND’S OLDEST: Michael J O'Connor who celebrated his 107th birthday on Tuesday is Ireland's oldest man. Photo: Michelle Crean

By Michelle Crean

 

Not only is he the oldest man in Killarney or even Kerry - but Michael J O'Connor - who celebrated his 107th birthday on Tuesday - is Ireland's oldest man!

And it's a title he's very proud of - as he wasn't expected to live past the age of six after contracting the Spanish Flu. But after months in bed he eventually recovered. Unfortunately his mother Bridie, a teacher in Glencar, succumbed to the illness some months later. His father Daniel, also a teacher in Glencar, died in his 40s.

On Tuesday, the champagne was flowing at his home in Muckross, and there were so many cards that he hadn't had time to open them all!

Not many can say that they have experienced the War of Independence, the Civil War, World War One and Two - but Michael, who worked at sea and then went onto a career in aviation, also remembers the only mode of transport being a horse and cart to get from his home place to Killarney for shopping - to later in life experiencing the contrast with two trips on a Concord to New York.

Michael also went from using the social media of the day - Morse code - in his early career, to later learning to how to send text messages.

Today he says he's agile and "thankfully comfortable" and enjoyed all the well wishes, cards and presents including his seventh medal from the president.

"107 years ago I kicked myself into this world," Michael told the Killarney Advertiser this week.
"I was born in Glencar to Daniel and Bridie, I travelled the world for five years, three in the last war. I then changed to aviation in the early '40s and stayed in aviation for the rest of my life based in Ballygreen between Shannon and Ennis."

Michael came to Killarney 40 years ago in 1980 with his wife Joan, who died in 2008.

"I built a holiday home up the side of a mountain a few years before I retired. Then, when I retired, I sold the house in Limerick and have been here ever since. There's no nicer place in the world - and I've been around most of it!"

SECRET TO A LONG LIFE

Michael let the Killarney Advertiser in on a little secret, saying he puts his longevity down to a daily glass of whiskey.

"The secret is a glass of Red Breast Whiskey every night before bed," he said.

With COVID, he thinks it's very unfair that it has happened but feels people should do as they're asked and stay within the confines of their home as much as possible.

These days he is enjoying his time with his family and watching the History Channel on Sky - and not many can say they have lived through most of it!

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Killarney man wins most-coveted trophy in sheepdog trials

By Sean Moriarty Kilcummin farmer Tom O’Sullivan – one of the main organisers of last month’s Sheep Dog Trials in Fossa – has become the first Kerry man to win the biggest award in the sport. Tom is the chairman of the Killarney sub-committee and was a member of the 15-strong Irish team that participated […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Kilcummin farmer Tom O’Sullivan – one of the main organisers of last month’s Sheep Dog Trials in Fossa – has become the first Kerry man to win the biggest award in the sport.

Tom is the chairman of the Killarney sub-committee and was a member of the 15-strong Irish team that participated in the international sheepdog competition in Aberystwyth in Wales last weekend.

A total of 60 competitors, 15 each from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, contested the biggest event in sheepdog trials on Friday to Sunday last.

After getting through the qualifiers on Friday and Saturday, Tom and his dog Northhill Tess, fended off the challenges of the other top-15 qualifiers to win the International Supreme Champion award.

Not alone is he the first Kerry man to win the competition, which has been running since 1947, he is just the fifth Irishman to do so and the first from Munster.

“The qualifying course was similar to Killarney,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

However, Sunday’s final was much more difficult. His dog had to round up a flock of sheep at the left hand side of the course. Then Northhill Tess, under the guidance of Tom, had to round up a smaller flock and bring them to the same holding pen. When finished, five of the sheep were wearing red collars and Tom had to instruct his dog to separate them and bring them to a separate holding area.

“It is the biggest trophy in sheep dog trailing,” he added. “Everyone who trains a dog does so for this day. It is mind blowing. My family are very proud, they know the time and the work involved preparing for this.”

The standard at the Killarney event last month was evident in Wales last weekend. The Killarney winner, Peter Morgan and his dog Moss, ran Tom to a very close second.

His son Peter Og won the Young Handlers award and Team Ireland were declared the overall winners based on aggregate scores in the final 15.

Tom arrived home to Kilcummin on Monday night to a traditional homecoming bonfire.

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Vaccination centre leaves basketball club homeless

By Sean Moriarty With the National Basketball League set to get underway in two weeks’ time, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club are still unsure where they will play their homes games this season as their usual venue is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre. The local side play Limerick Celtic away on […]

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By Sean Moriarty

With the National Basketball League set to get underway in two weeks’ time, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club are still unsure where they will play their homes games this season as their usual venue is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre.

The local side play Limerick Celtic away on the weekend of October 8 and 9 and their first home game is set for October 16.

Currently their home venue at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre is unavailable as it is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre and according to the Health Service Executive (HSE) this week, there are no plans in place, as of yet, to move out.

Killarney Cougars, the town’s newest addition to the National League, has secured the use of the gym at St Brigid’s Secondary School in the town centre but, as it stands, St Paul’s remain homeless as the season opener looms.

“It is ridiculous at this stage,” said head coach Jarlath Lee. “If you look at what is happening at the Sports Centre, there are very few people in and out of there now compared to the start [of the vaccination roll-out].”

The HSE when contacted by the Killarney Advertiser this week said that they would not be adding to a previous statement issued earlier this month, which said: “In relation to Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre, we are very grateful to staff and management for the use of their facility as a vaccination centre.

“Planning work is well underway for the next phase of the vaccination programme, locally and nationally. This includes a review of where vaccinations are administered in future, but we cannot confirm any decisions in relation to any particular location at this point in time.”

However, the HSE did confirm this week, that the Tralee Vaccination Centre, located at the Munster Technology University, will re-locate to the recently vacated Borg Warner factory in the town. The move is expected to be completed within the next week to 10 days.

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