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Johnny’s star shines brightly this Christmas

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The feature star at the top of the spectacular Tree of Light in Killarney takes on an extra special meaning this Christmas as it is dedicated to the memory of a young man who was much loved and is very fondly remembered in the town.

Johnny Hickey was a dedicated volunteer with the Christmas in Killarney Festival every year and he demonstrated huge commitment to all aspects of the seasonal celebration, helping out in any way he could at any time of the day or night.

Johnny, who passed away suddenly on April 24 last, at the age of 37, was one of the event’s most dedicated volunteers and, in addition to driving one of the spectacular floats in the weekly parades, he was always willing to lend a hand when preparing for the festival and helping with the clean-up and dismantling duties afterwards.

Johnny, from Riverside Drive was married to Jennifer with three young children, Alyson, Laura and Conor. His family joined Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Marie Moloney, and Christmas in Killarney Chairman Niall Kelleher, to officially switch on the Tree of Light in the grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral following 6.15pm Mass on Wednesday.

“Johnny was a very dedicated volunteer every year and we really appreciated his goodwill, his good humour and the can-do approach he always displayed,” said Christmas in Killarney Chairman Niall Kelleher.
“Johnny was always there, always reliable, totally dependable and he was always willing to assist behind the scenes. Dedicating the star at the top of the tree to his memory is our small way of remembering such a very special person,” he added.

Killarney Parish Administrator, Fr Kieran O’Brien, led a special prayer ceremony for the switching on of the tree and he described it as a very special night for the parish.

“We pray that it will offer light and hope to those who visit the church and visit the parish during Christmas,” he said.

Over 4,500 twinkling bulbs adorn the magnificent 100ft Californian Redwood tree this year but the collective eye of the public will constantly be drawn to the sparkling star at the top – Johnny’s star – which will remind everybody who knew him of a very special and caring person.

Johnny Hickey might have passed on – but his spirit will live on in the town he loved so well.

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Kerry base confirmed for Rás Mumhan

By Sean Moriarty Preliminary details of the Rás Mumhan have been announced by Cycling Munster. The four-day international cycle race will, once again, be based at the Riverisland Hotel in […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Preliminary details of the Rás Mumhan have been announced by Cycling Munster.

The four-day international cycle race will, once again, be based at the Riverisland Hotel in Castleisland and will run from Good Friday until Easter Monday.

The final route has not yet been revealed but it is expected to follow a similar path to the 2022 edition.

Last year, due to organisational difficulties, the Rás Mumhan committee asked local clubs to take charge of each day of the race.

Killarney Cycling Club hosted the Easter Saturday leg of the race, including managing the stage start in the town centre, the Category One mountain climb at Bealach Oisin Pass and the stage finish in Sneem.

“We are looking forward to seeing everyone at Easter and we wish all the riders the best of luck in their preparations for the event. Further details to follow as they are confirmed,” said Race Secretary Sinéad Moriarty.

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Showcasing Killarney to an influential audience

Kerry’s hospitality professionals turned out in style for the Skal President’s Dinner on Saturday night. It’s the social highlight of the year for professional tourism and travel organisations and it […]

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Kerry’s hospitality professionals turned out in style for the Skal President’s Dinner on Saturday night.

It’s the social highlight of the year for professional tourism and travel organisations and it was also a perfect opportunity to show the best of Killarney. Held in the Plaza Hotel, it was hosted by Kerry Skal President Michelle Rosney who used the occasion to highlight the best of Killarney’s performing arts talent, cuisine and locally produced drinks. There were special performances on the night by singers and dancers from St Brigid’s Presentation Secondary School and the West End House School of Arts who brought The Liberator, Daniel O’Connell, back to life for one night only to deliver a passionate dramatisation of a famous speech. Skal is the largest international hospitality networking organisation in the world with 13,000 members in 308 clubs in almost 90 countries. Fáilte Ireland Chairman Paul Carty said in his speech that the contribution Killarney has made to the Irish tourism industry should not be underestimated. He added that the tourism industry supports over 3,500 jobs in Killarney and over 7,000 in the rest of Kerry. He said the hard work put in by tourism professionals in Killarney over the years is paying off and when Fáilte Ireland surveyed hundreds of domestic and international tourists, at the height of the season last August, they couldn’t speak highly enough of their experience with 97 percent saying they were very satisfied. “The national figure is 90 percent so Killarney is actually seven percent higher than the national average and that’s truly exceptional,” he said. Over 55 percent of visitors to Killarney also spend time in other parts of Kerry and towns, like Dingle, Kenmare and Tralee, and really benefit from the spin-off.

INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

The Fáilte Ireland chairman said his organisation is acutely aware what Killarney has faced in recent years and the challenges it currently faces and every support possible will be provided to help.

Mr Carty said Fáilte Ireland last year launched a destination experience and development plan for Killarney and that will see the town reach its full potential through sustainability and the development of year-round tourist attractions.

He said costs were also a big concern with energy bills, in particular, going through the roof and putting businesses under serious pressure.

Staffing was another serious problem for the industry as so much talent was lost during the pandemic.

“An awful lot of great people left our industry and they’re not coming back, so there is a great shortage,” he said, adding that Fáilte Ireland was working hard to overcome the difficulties being experienced.

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