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Marie meets: Father Kieran O’Brien celebrates 20 years as a Killarney priest 





Celebrating 30 years of service in any line of work might well reward recognition in the form of 'glitz and bling' or perhaps a night on the tiles with friends!

It is important to celebrate longevity for many reasons, including the dedication, continuity and commitment, to improve and motivate, and the ability to change over three decades, within our society and the community of Killarney. I was delighted, after much persuasion, to score an opportunity to chat with Fr Kieran O'Brien, on his 30th anniversary of being ordained a priest in 1993, where 18 of those years, have been served the people of Killarney!

Have you always wanted to be a priest Fr Kieran?
"I come from a very ordinary family Marie. A home where three generations lived, my grandmother, my parents and five children, me being the middle child. There were no expectations for me to become a priest. I have great memories of sitting in the same seat at Sunday mass each week with my family. I had one uncle and two granduncles who were priests so there were always great religious values amongst us all at home. I was never an alter server but I gained financially as well as spiritually when I served for my uncle, Fr Humphrey McMahon's (RIP) masses when he'd return on holiday (he passed one year after my ordination). It came as no surprise to my family when I left for Maynooth, at the age of 18. My parents worked hard to put us all through education. It was especially hard times as my father had lost his job just before I began in Maynooth. There were 80 students in my class, and 300 in the college when I arrived. I lodged at the college for 6 years and made many friends, most of which still reside in parishes throughout Ireland, so was delighted to have the opportunity to reunite in Maynooth, to mark our 30th year in the priesthood recently".

Did you always stay in Kerry?
"The Diocese of Kerry spreads as far as West Cork and Kerry has a foreign mission too but I'm a home bird, Marie, so all of my posts have been in Kerry. I began in Killarney in 1993 before moving to Dingle in 1999. I then went to Ballyferriter in 2003 for two years before heading home to Tralee in 2005 and returned to Killarney in 2012, where I've stayed since".

What is your most memorable moment throughout your career?
"Getting Killarney!! It meant so much to me, it still does now. I was one of 6 hopefuls. I was ordained in Killarney's Cathedral by Bishop Diarmuid O'Suilleabhain, and my parents were married here, 60 years ago, Brendan (RIP) & Margaret O'Brien. Out of college, I had all the academics but not the practical. I was the youngest priest to start out of those six and I am now the administrator of Killarney parish today. I have learned from my experiences and my mistakes. Overall I have been blessed to spend over half my career in this parish. Killarney is a wonderful community to be part of. I have already married two out of 8 children that I baptised when I arrived. These were extra special occasions for me.

Outside of the day job, what do you enjoy in your spare time?
"I enjoy sports of all kinds and played with Austin Stacks when I was younger. I also loved handball as a child and play twice a week with Spa GAA".

What gives you the energy to keep going?
"I suppose I am on a journey with the people of the parish all the time. I get huge rejuvenation from visiting the schools I am assigned to, Loreto, Tiernaboul and Lissivigeen National Schools. I love to answer the children's questions, especially from those preparing for sacraments. I have great memories of the parish priest visiting my school as a child and the break it gave from schoolwork!"

What is the most difficult part of being Fr Kieran O'Brien?
Definitely, the sorrow when a loved one is lost. You worry and hope you will say the right thing. I found it hard to serve my own father's funeral but it was also something I considered a huge honour.
I also find it difficult when colleagues change parish. The notice is three weeks. Any change is difficult, changing house, changing jobs and the adaptations that are incurred.

What do you think are the biggest challenges of the 21st century?
"Fear is the main challenge for the lack of priests going forward. The church plays a huge part in the many joyous as well as sorrowful milestones throughout life. It is difficult to cover a number of parishes and communities, instead of one, all the while sustaining the energy to celebrate and empathise accordingly. I worry will our churches not always be open if we do not have the manpower to sustain them.

What is your message for Christmas 2023?
Christmas is a homecoming, even for me! Once all my masses are said, I am at the same table where I have always been in Tralee. When all the masses are said, I conveniently arrive moments before the turkey is carved!!
Christmas is a joyous time of year. For some, it can be more painful as every year brings about changes in our lives. Rest, and cherish the moments, and the time spent with loved ones over the festive season, and I hope the New Year brings health and many blessings to everyone for the year ahead.

Congratulations on your 30 years of service Fr Kieran O'Brien. It was a no-brainer to take his celebratory portrait by the most impressive and 'blingiest' location in Killarney, the Tree of Light!



30 years of Innisfallen Island MassThe annual special concelebrated Mass on Innisfallen Island takes place next week.

Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm. Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by […]




Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm.

Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by Geoffrey O’Donoghue who sadly died four years after it began.

“There was an Augustinian Monastery on Innisfallen Island and the people, including priests and monks and they say Brian Boro, went out there to study. The lake, Lough Lein is called ‘The Lake of Learning’,” said his wife Mary who carries on the tradition in his memory.

“My husband Geoffrey was a descendent of the O’Donoghues and he wanted to have Mass on the island. The O’Donoghues built Ross Castle and owned the lands and the lake surrounding it which was later donated by John McShane to the people of Killarney. He [Geoffrey] asked one of the friars and one day he got a call from the OPW that there would be a plaque unveiled to John McShane and they asked if the Mass could coincide with it. It was attended by Sr Pauline, John McShane’s daughter.”

She added that all the public are welcome to attend. Boats, which will have a nominal fee to cover their costs, will be carrying passengers out from 4pm onwards.

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Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]




A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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