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 Killarney pub celebrates 100 years in heart of community!




First opened in 1923 by Matthew Cahill, four generations of his family have not only run the bar, but have been reared from birth on the top floor, sharing their home with the countless faces that have passed through the doors.

Celebrating 100 years of pulling pints on High Street, and serving tipples, toasties and toddies, the pub is now run by fourth generation  Cara O'Connor and her 'great staff', as she refers to them, continuing to cement the O'Connor legacy to their locals and tourists alike.

Passed on by her father, Tadhg O'Connor, who sees the customers as "more than just punters, they are the friends and family who have seen my siblings and I grow from children here on High Street, passing on the pub trade from generation to generation for over ten decades now. As my mother used said 'its only bricks and morter' but it's also a great honour to bestow to the next generation," Tadhg explained.

O'Connor's is seeped in history Cara. You can see that from the moment you walk through the door.

"My great grandfather was Matthew Cahill from Gortbee, Beaufort, who stopped off in Scotland picking potatoes on his way to Boston where he ran the Speakeasy Bar before returning some years later, setting up his hackney business with a brand new Buick imported from America.

"He married my great grandmother Molly O'Sullivan, who was a cook in Victoria House. They had one daughter, my grand mother, Kitty Cahill, who worked the hackney business for her father at 16 years, before marrying my grandfather Teddy O'Connor, Ardmoneill, Killorglin, in 1950, taking over the bar together when my Dad Tadhg was born in 1958" Cara explained.

O'Connor's is over the door, so why do locals refer to the pub more so as Teddy's?

"Oh he was a real personality was my father Teddy" Tadhg explained. "He was a prominent Kerry footballer in his day, having won an All-Ireland medal in 1946 against Roscommon and played in the Polo Grounds in New York the following year. It was here that Teddy met his sister Molly, for the first time, as she had emigrated before he was born.

"As luck would have it, Molly’s son, named Kerry, was mascot on that day in New York too.

My father soon changed the name of the pub to Teddy's and when my wife Mary and I took over the pub in 1990, it was an easy decision to make in changing the name of the pub to O'Connor's as Mary's maiden name is also O'Connor. To this day, locals will always refer to O'Connor's as Teddy's which I love".

What do you think has made O'Connor's such a successful pub for the past 100 years?

"We have a strong affiliation with the GAA with Teddy playing for Kerry and my Dad Tadhg, who played with the Kerry Minors in 1976 and captained the team in 1977 and today we have music in the bar 7 nights a week and I have also noticed many talented visitors throw their hand to the piano upstairs which is always a treat. As a family, I'm not sure if we might have succeeded without the help of cousin Tess, the glue who held the generations together for the bones of 40 years, running the pub, minding children, which included my sister Lisa and I too.

"She was well known for her work in the fish shop which Teddy ran on the premises, providing an array of fish direct from the fishmongers to many hotels in Killarney. Tess handled all the deliveries in a van she christened 'the yellow submarine'. As a publican, come fishmonger, come Nanny, she never touched a drop and she never married. Where would she find the time?" Cara laughed.

So you're fourth generation Cara. Do you carry the same traits?

"The apple didn't fall far from the tree with my Dad and Grandfather" Cara explained. Both adored the outdoors and sports, all the while running a pub. Their love for football and the lakes saw a variety of punters pass through the doors at O'Connor’s. Teddy used to run the larger boat at Ross Castle, The Pride of the Lakes and my father is first in the door here at 8:30am each morning to meet tourists and take them on the Gap Trip which he operates out of and I usually arrive at 12 noon to open the pub daily".

"My partner Marcel and I, revamped and reopened O'Connor's on the first week of March 2020 and due to Covid we closed it on St Patrick's Day, just two weeks later. Studying retail design in Dublin, I spent many summers travelling around the U.S and New Zealand working in bars.

"Needless to say we were disappointed after all of our efforts to reopen O'Connor's as a brand new team but we adapted with the restrictions creating an outdoor atmosphere with awnings and heaters, even creating 'Teddy's Toasties' (which are still on the menu) to accommodate the governments €9 food rule at the time. It was ironic how the pandemic enhanced O'Connor’s and we built on that as restrictions eased to indoors.

"Whilst remaining traditional, we are cosmopolitan here on New Market Lane, and enjoy a great relationship with our Mexican, Italian, and Indian neighbours, together with the very popular Good Boy Coffee and Curious Cat Cafe. Dad can still be seen on busy nights as traffic warden on Old Market Lane.

"We work well as a team and we are always learning. I think it's important to adapt offering cocktails etc whilst maintaining the tradition that is O'Connor's Bar, High Street, Killarney. Marcel & I are looking forward to welcoming our customers in celebrating our 100th year in business in the coming weeks".

Before I left the premises, I heard a call "Miss, I'm looking for a blonde in a black dress", the familiar voice of Tim The Butcher, a regular for over 50 years, who is welcomed daily by the staff at O'Connors. The same welcome received by previous regulars John B Keane, Ted Jones, The Dubliners, Brendan O'Brien, the Dixies.

Tim was in safe hands and soon accompanied by his blonde wearing a curvaceous black dress, lovingly handed to him in the form of a creamy pint of Guinness from the barman.

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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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