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Kerry Airport is a triumph of spirit over reason

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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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Jim awarded for life-long service to the community

By Michelle Crean Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community. Jim […]

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By Michelle Crean

Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community.

Jim received the O’Shea Award for 2022 at a meeting of Directors of Listry Community Council held on September 21.

Jim has been involved in Athletics from a very early age both as a competitor and administrator.

He was very much involved with Community Games in Milltown/Listry as organiser and coach. He was also involved with the Farranfore Maine Valley Athletic Club since its foundation.

Over the years Jim has competed in athletic events, mainly high jump and long jump, both in Ireland and abroad.

Recently he travelled to Derby in the UK in the British Masters Championship and won Gold in the 100 metres and Long Jump and finished second in the High Jump.

Jim, who is a very modest man, was actively involved with Listry Community Council as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and for his commitment to keeping our community litter free by organising a number of litter picking days each year.

Always interested in fitness, Jim often came along to the Listry Seniors Social day and led the group in gentle exercises.

“Jim is a very worthy recipient of the O’Shea Award 2022 and we thank him for a lifetime of service to others,” Tony Darmody, Chairman, said.

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New book recounts stories from the Irish Civil War

The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922 Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in […]

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The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922

Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in Killarney a century ago this week.

There were many tragic episodes and incidents during the Civil War in Kerry. One of the dreadful features of the conflict was the young age at which many on both sides of the conflict were killed in 1922 and 1923.

In Killarney in August 1922, for example, two young Free State army medics were shot dead by a sniper as they stepped off a boat onto the shore of Inisfallen Island. 18-year-old Cecil Fitzgerald and 20-year-old John O’Meara, both from Galway, had joined the army just a few months previously and were enjoying a boat trip on the lake during a day’s leave when they were killed.

The following month, one of the most shocking deaths to occur in Killarney in this period was the murder of a 17-year-old boy from Castleisland.

Bertie Murphy, a member of Fianna Éireann, the youth wing of the IRA, was just 17-years-old when he was taken into custody by Free State soldiers while walking near his home in September 1922. His mother saw him being taken in away in a truck to the Great Southern Hotel where the army had established its headquarters in the town.

The improvised barracks had a number of prison cells in the basement where anti-Treaty IRA members were detained. The prison would become renowned as a place where beatings and torture took place: a young man whose brother was an IRA captain was taken there and ‘mercilessly beaten to get him to reveal information’. He was then ‘thrown down a coal chute and left as dead’.

On Wednesday, September 27, a Free State army convoy was ambushed by the IRA at Brennan’s Glen on the Tralee road and two officers, Daniel Hannon and John Martin, were killed. Bertie Murphy had been in one of the army vehicles – he was being used by the army as a hostage in an attempt to prevent attacks by anti-Treaty forces. It was common for Free State convoys to carry a prisoner as a deterrent to IRA ambushes and attacks.

When the convoy returned to the hotel, they were met by Colonel David Neligan, one of the most ruthless members of the Kerry Command of the Free State army. Neligan had been a member of Michael Collins’ ‘Squad’ during the War of Independence and was an experienced and battle-hardened soldier.

Neligan demanded to know why the soldiers had not taken any prisoners during the ambush at Brennan’s Glen, in which two of his officers had died. The soldiers, in a frenzy following the ambush, threw Bertie Murphy down the steps of the hotel. In the presence of other soldiers, Neligan began to beat up Murphy at the bottom of the steps and then shot the prisoner. In her book, ‘Tragedies of Kerry’, Dorothy Macardle says that Murphy lived ‘until the priest came’, but died shortly after.

Another prisoner was in custody in the hotel at the time. Con O’Leary from Glenflesk was brought down from his cell to identify the dead man. But so extensive were Murphy’s facial injuries that O’Leary was unable to identify his fellow prisoner.

Newspaper reports wrongly reported that Murphy had been wounded during the engagement at Brennan’s Glen and had ‘succumbed to his injuries’ on returning to Killarney.

At Murphy’s inquest which was held a fortnight later, General Paddy O’Daly, the head of the Kerry Command, sympathised with Murphy’s family but insisted that Murphy had died in the ambush at Brennan’s Glen. He said his soldiers had done ‘everything humanly possible for the man’.

He reminded those present that deaths like Murphy’s were the fault of reckless IRA leaders who refused to accept the authority of the people. ‘It is the women and children’, he said, ‘that are suffering, and for all the suffering that is being endured those leaders are to blame’.

It would not be the last time that O’Daly and senior army officers in Kerry would cover up the actions of their soldiers in the county. Nor, sadly, would it be the last time that young men, on both sides of the divide, joined the long list of victims of the Civil War in the county.

Owen O’Shea’s new book, ‘No Middle Path: The Civil War in Kerry’ will be published by Merrion Press in mid-October and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon and at www.owenoshea.ie.

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