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Killarney’s tourism history features in new Sliabh Luachra Journal

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By Donal Hickey

The growth of facilities for visitors in Killarney in the 19th century is recalled in the newly launched Sliabh Luachra Journal.

SHOWBIZ: Stories of the showband era are told in the latest edition of the Sliabh Luachra Journal. Photo: O'Sullivan Family Archive

SHOWBIZ: Stories of the showband era are told in the latest edition of the Sliabh Luachra Journal. Photo: O'Sullivan Family Archive

An article in the 20th edition of the popular publication features the experiences of the authors of two guide books who were among the early tourists who travelled from Cork to Killarney, via Millstreet and Rathmore.

In 1822, George Newenham Wright, an Anglican clergyman, told of finding two principal streets in Killarney, Old and New Streets, and three "tolerable" inns.

However, when William Balch, an American Christian minister and campaigner, came in 1850 tourism had developed further and Killarney had at least seven hotels, including the Royal Victoria (now the Castlerosse) and the Muckross Hotel (now Muckross Park Hotel).

Balch was enraptured by the scenery of Killarney.

“It seemed to me there could not be found a more beautiful place on earth. I certainly do not recollect the sight of one in all my travels,’’ he wrote.

SHOWBAND ERA

Two veterans of the showband era, Neilly O’Sullivan of The Radiant, and Jim McAuliffe of The Specialists, are interviewed for an article which recalls the halcyon days of the 1950s and ‘60s when ballrooms like the Gleneagle attracted thousands of dancers, week after week.

The Radiant was based in Scartaglin and the Specialists in Rathmore.

Neilly O’Sullivan, who has lived for many years in Killarney, drove his band’s Volkswagen minibus to venues all over Munster. On the roof of the minibus was an illuminated sign with the band’s name.

“As the electric sign on the roof ‘radiated’ for miles, dancers could see us coming over the hills of Kerry and the excitement began,’’ Neilly said.

Jim McAuliffe recounted how The Specialists played in many top ballrooms of the era, including the Television Club, Dublin, the Gleneagle, and the Brandon in Tralee, where they once shared a stage with world heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Frazier.

“I enjoyed every minute of my time playing with The Specialists,’’ he said.

However, signs of the demise of the showband era were apparent from the early 1970s as discos and more pop-orientated bands began to take over.

“By 1975, changes in the entertainment scene were clear for all to see,’’ Jim said.

As might be expected, traditional music features strongly in the journal, published by Cumann Luachra, with articles by well-known trad musicians Michelle O’Sullivan and Emma O’Leary.

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Trilogy of comedy on offer by Dóchas Drama

By Sean Moriarty Dóchas Drama Group will present a series of three short comedy plays next week. All three plays are written and produced by Dóchas and will be acted […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Dóchas Drama Group will present a series of three short comedy plays next week.

All three plays are written and produced by Dóchas and will be acted out by the group’s members.

The opening act, ‘Flossing Around’ is written by Ger Madden and directed by Brian Bowler.

“A woman has an innate fear of the dentist. We go on the journey with her as she faces her fears, with hilarious consequences,” explained the group’s Liz Ryan.

This will be followed by ‘Faraway Hills’ which is written by Mary Quirke and directed by Michael Mills.
It is a tongue in cheek look at family life.

“A son wants to get away from small town life. His mother wants to keep him at home but his father can’t wait to see the back of him,” added Liz, who plays the mother in this short play.

Brain Bowler wrote the third instalment called ‘A Little Visitor’ which is directed by Ryan Jones.

“There are lots of misunderstandings when a hypochondriac visits a group of doctors who have other things on the their minds,” added Liz.

The run, which will feature all three performances each night, starts Wednesday next week and continues Thursday and Friday (February 8 to 10) at the Killarney Avenue Hotel. Tickets are €10 and are available at the door.

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Killarney secures three gold medals in national business awards

Three hotels in Killarney have won gold medals at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards. Now in its 33rd year, the awards the best of the best in the […]

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Three hotels in Killarney have won gold medals at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards.

Now in its 33rd year, the awards the best of the best in the hotel and catering sectors across the country.

This year, judges received over 460 entries from 150 hotels, guest houses, country houses, restaurants, cafés, bars and catering companies from around Ireland.

“An important factor in the Gold Medal Awards is the credibility and impartial nature of the judging process. Every property that undergoes this process is subject to benchmarking against a strict set of criteria and a blind site inspection conducted by the judging panel,” said an event organiser.

“This panel comprises respected industry experts from across the hospitality, culinary and catering sectors.”

Three Killarney hotels took top awards in different categories at the awards ceremony held at the Galmont Hotel and Spa in Galway on Tuesday night.

The Great Southern Hotel was named as the best Business and Conference Hotel in Ireland.

“To be recognised among the greatest hotels in Ireland is a marvellous achievement for Great Southern. It is fantastic news and has provided all our staff with a little morale boost. Our Business & Conference partners and customers are extremely important to us with some relationships in place annually for over 30 years. Receiving this recognition for the service we provide is a fantastic achievement and testament to the incredible work of our outstanding staff,” said Michael Jacobi Managing Director said.

The best front of house team award went the staff at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa.

In the Hotel Casual Dining Experience category the Dunloe Hotel and Gardens came out on top.

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