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Killarney men experience one of California’s worst fires





By Michelle Crean

As one of the largest blazes in California's history rages on, two Killarney locals tell the Killarney Advertiser this week just how bad the situation is.


[caption id="attachment_33918" align="alignleft" width="239"] DEVASTATING: Kieran Guerin says the fires are so devastating that he has witnessed a friend lose his house.[/caption]

Kieran Guerin from Gortroe moved to San Francisco in 2003 and then on to Napa in 2011, and says the fires are so devastating that he has witnessed a friend lose his house.

Tony Lynch, originally from Countess Grove, lives about an hour's drive from the worst affected areas but says that they are not immune to its affects as heavy smoke is continuously in the air.

The fires are so dangerous that smoke has even travelled 5,000 miles to Europe and experts say California is experiencing its worst fire year since the Great Fire of 1910 tore through more than three million acres.

It first ignited on September 4 burning through 286,519 acres to date, destroying one hundred structures with another 6,723 under threat. Authorities say that only 32 percent of the fire is contained so far.

"This year's fires steadily grew and honestly most of them are still going with over 18,000 firemen battling the blaze now," Kieran said. "So far 15 people have died. This one is still about 25 miles north of me but the one three years ago was no more than a quarter mile from my house with the wind fanning the blaze right towards where we live. As we speak there is zero chance of rain, so we have at least six more weeks of fire season ahead of us, while all the time hoping that it doesn't come back our way."

He explained one experience that he'll never forget.

"About a month ago my girlfriend went from voluntary evacuation to mandatory so had to drive alongside the freeway watching the fires burning either side as we drove her and her animals south and away from the fires. Packing up a house and picking what is essential to take and leave is not an easy thing to do. How do you decide what is and isn't important in a situation where your life may be in danger? It really comes down to what you can fit in your car and get the hell out before it's too late. This I know only too well because a friend who lost his house got out yet a neighbour of his refused the firemen's orders to evacuate yet the wind changed direction and burnt everything on the other side of the road from his house leaving his dwelling untouched and scorch marks all the way up to his door. Also my neighbour was out at our friend’s winery as they tried to save as much as they could yet the fires burnt it to the ground after they had gotten out."

Just last week the skies were almost pitch black at midday which was "quite freaky", he added.

"When it subsided, it turned to a dark orange sky which was like the apocalypse we've all seen in every doomsday movie ever made. Ironically, Hollywood got this one correct. As my late mom Teresa's saying goes "go mbeirimíd beo ar an am seo arís"."

[caption id="attachment_33920" align="alignleft" width="257"] Tony Lynch from Countess Grove[/caption]

For Tony Lynch, originally from Countess Grove who lives and works as a teacher in CA, say they too are suffering very poor air quality.

“We would wake up in the morning to a car covered in ash and could smell the burning as if there was a camp fire nearby, but the nearest fires were at least an hour’s drive away. Many people experienced breathing issues due to the smoke and with COVID being a respiratory virus, it made some even more anxious.”




Carols by Candlelight

    St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas […]






St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas 2023, December17, at 7.00pm. Admission is free.

Ten Choirs from Killarney parish will join together and sing some of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols.
The carol service is directed by accomplished Musician and Choral Director, Paula Gleeson. Originally from Cork, her family have been involved in all aspects of choral and church music for 50 years.

“This is the best experience as director, working with Fr. Kieran O’Brien, and St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir, I get to work with so many talented people in Killarney. The commitment of Teachers, Principals, and the hundreds of students from the Primary and Secondary Schools is inspiring. The generosity of our sponsors, who were so willing to contribute has helped to make this night a reality. We are all so truly grateful,” she said.

Choirs include:
St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish Choir, organist Anita Lakner
Holy Cross Mercy School Choir
St. Oliver’s Primary School Choir
St. Brigid’s Secondary School Choir
St. Brendan’s Secondary School Choir
Killarney Harmonisers
Killarney Community College School Choir
Lissivigeen National School Choir
Gaelscoil Faithleann School Choir
Presentation Monastery School Choir

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The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians



Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.


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