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Kerry Airport is a triumph of spirit over reason




Killarney’s Tom Randles and the Tralee Chamber Alliance have tackled the Irish Times business position last weekend that it is time for Kerry Airport to “fly solo”. Propped up with Government grants, the “village” airport stands as “peculiar example of the Republic’s sub-standard ability to plan good transport solutions for its citizens,” is the Irish Times’ view

The country is paying to subvent an airport for a village of 84 and a passenger load of a quarter of the 1.2 million that makes any airport near viable, the Irish Times Cantillon column stated.

As Kerry Airport approaches its 50th anniversary, it is time to let it go on a wing or a prayer as it is “a drain on finances,” is the consensus of the column, a column inspired by the French-Irish man regarded as the father of economic writing, Richard Cantillon (born in Kerry by the way).

Dublin is being held up as an example of a busy airport. But there is no mention of the fact that Dublin Airport has among the worst records in Europe this summer in terms of flight delays. Dublin is overloaded and as this column has argued before, the Dublin load should be spread around, not least to Cork where buses depart the city on the hour for Dublin Airport. There is a lobby now for a second and maybe a third runway for Dublin!

Kerry Airport is, of course, a triumph of spirit over reason: most achievements in the human sphere are. (It is necessary increasingly to say “human sphere” because the species has increasingly to compete with dogs/animals on the one side, and robots on the other.) But it is particularly dispiriting to see the Kerry Airport project attacked by the Dublin establishment, of which the Irish Times is the respected voice.

Certainly, faced with “economic reason” (is there any other kind these days?) Kerry does not “need” an airport. It has already a heavily subsidised rail and bus link, this is true.

Generations of TDs and ministers, as I have pointed out before, have failed us spectacularly in Kerry with regard to road links. It is belittling, and surely must be embarrassing for anyone involved in national politics, to see how long it is taking to get two basic bypasses for Kerry in Adare and Macroom when what is needed are motorway links to Tralee and Killarney.

When you think about it, there are more rural than city TDs in the Dáil, yet they have failed again and again to cross party lines and come together and come up with proper infrastructure for south and west Munster. In their failure they have allowed Dublin to eat up the rest of the country. This is the real failure of the Dáil: the failure of the rural TDs to adopt a common strategy so the rest of the country can prosper.

The truth is that the country properly planned “needs” only one airport and that  would be in Athlone smack in the centre with high speed rail and road links. That is not going to happen.

But what is entirely glossed over by everyone are the real reasons that inspired Kerry Airport and I turn to the introduction by airport chairman Denis Cregan to Donal Hickey’s 2009 book Kerry in the Jet Age, where the founders are rightly called “visionaries”.

“One of the many motivating factors for the building of the airport was the need to create access to Kerry for many people who emigrated for economic purposes. In the early years of the airport project, the visionaries would have been very familiar with the writings of John Healy, his championing of rural Ireland and his book Nobody Shouted Stop.”

The social reason was one, the industrial development of the region was another, Cregan says, giving full credit by the way to politicians for the grants for the airport.

But I would suggest there is an overwhelming third reason: Kerry needs increasingly not just to be connected to Dublin, which has failed it, but directly to Europe and North America, so it can bypass Dublin.

Unfortunately, the Dublin-centric view only sees the road to Dublin, and the need to connect with Dublin. Kerry in its increasing reliance on tourism and hopefully foreign investment has at least as great a need to be nearer Berlin and probably Boston these days.

And on this note, the Cantillon column might need to reflect on that key correspondence through history and before the foundation of this State, between Kerry and Europe, whether it is via Daniel O’Connell or Richard Cantillon. Like O’Connell, who was educated in France, Cantillon emigrated to France, not Dublin, and it was there he developed his economic theories.

Dublin has had plenty of time to give Kerry opportunities and a fighting chance over the past 100 years. It has failed to do so. It is time now for Kerry to fly solo in a real sense and time to recognise the reason for the need of the airport is not just economic need.

As Tralee Chamber Alliance argues, it is more, not less, investment that is needed for Kerry, “an airport  with direct flights to seven destinations: London Luton, London Stansted, Frankfurt-Hahn, Berlin Schönefeld SXF, Alicante and Faro (summer) with Ryanair, and to Dublin with Aer Lingus Regional offering connections to the United States and Middle East.”



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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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Ballymac charity vintage run on October 1

The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1. The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac. Registration […]




The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1.

The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac.

Registration begins at 9:30am and sets off at 11am.

“There will be two separate routes with one for tractors and the other for cars and motorbikes. Proceeds on the day are in aid of Castleisland Day Care Centre and we’ll have plenty of spot prizes to giveaway too in the morning,” said the club’s PRO Kieran Glover.


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