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Meet the Killarney woman in the heart of the biggest US news stories this year




By Sean Moriarty

Working from home has taken a very different twist for one Killarney woman. Niamh Cagney is a producer with MSNBC in Manhattan, but over the last year she has covered some of the biggest news stories in the world from both New York and Muckross.

ON THE SCENE: Yasmin Vossoughian reporting from the Capitol Hill riot last January. The show was produced by Niamh Cagney from her Muckross home.

She is currently at home in Lough Guitane where she maintains her role as a news producer for the ‘Yasmin Vossoughian Reports’ show which airs every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the United States.
She also works on the station’s other current affairs programmes like ‘Morning Joe’ and ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports’.

Niamh has been living in New York for the last four years, and after a stint with Fox News, she has been working for MSNBC for the last two and a half years.

Over the course of the last 18 months she has covered and produced some of the biggest news stories in America, including the biggest of them all, The January 6 storming of Capitol Hill in Washington, and not least the global pandemic.

“This year has been one of the craziest news cycles I've worked through,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “At the beginning [of the year] both Covid and January 6 definitely rivalled each other in our newscasts... A lot of the time January 6th would inch ahead in our coverage.”

The January 6th insurrection happened while she was still at home in Ireland on her extended Christmas break and she faced new challenges of trying to produce one of America’s biggest news programmes while operating on Irish time.

“Yasmin was on the ground reporting during the riot,” she added. “She was there watching everything unfold, while my team and I sat at our laptops in different corners of the world wondering what the hell was going on... Now, as we approach the one year anniversary of that attack, it's still very much part of the news agenda.

“We are still reporting on the before and after, and it's wild to think we still don't have a concrete conclusion of what happened. Trump and his inner circle are still being investigated, some of his supporters seem to be willing to risk a huge amount to avoid harming him. We also have that very real possibility of him running [for president] again in 2024 – which is obviously a major angle we're looking at for the next news cycle.”

The Global Pandemic was also a huge part of her working life over the last 18 months.
“The vaccine has given us endless stories, from vaccine hesitancy to misinformation,” she said.
Unlike most of Europe, where vaccination rates are as high as 90 per cent, the USA is hovering at about 60 percent uptake. The Federal political system adds to the complexity.

“This is putting pressure on [President Joe] Biden,” she said. “And it gets amplified – a Democratic State Governor is more likely to go along with whatever guidance is coming out of the White House... a Republican Governor could really swing either way, and that's when you see tensions developing.”

Irish news consumers only get snapshot of what is happening in America through television news bulletins and national newspapers but the sheer size of the country gives way to so many different opinions so that what is seen on this side of the Atlantic will never be able to tell the full story.

"It really puts into perspective how massive the country really is when you have reporters travelling to these areas throughout the Deep South and really Red states talking to residents about the pandemic. It's easy to get trapped into hearing the voices and opinions of people in New York and California and big metropolitan areas, when in reality they make up such a small representation of the country."

Cagney is currently at home in Muckross, and her working days starts around 1pm Irish time.
“Americans consume news in a different way, they all have their favourite presenters on their go-to TV stations,” she said. “Viewers are more inclined to stick with a few select news sources.”

She will return to New York in January where she will head back to the studio and office work for the first time in nearly two years.

Niamh works in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the centrepiece skyscraper of the Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan.

The building's name is sometimes shortened to 30 Rock, a nickname that inspired an NBC sitcom of the same name.
It is the tallest structure in Rockefeller Center, and the 28th tallest building in New York City.

“Fingers crossed we will be back in 30 Rock in January,” she concluded.



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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Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!



Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time of the year.

Last week we asked our readers to take part in our Killarney Town Pulse Survey. We wanted to get a better understanding of local consumer sentiment and to get an snapshot of other issues impacting our standard of living. See a summary of our findings below.


So, jobs are aplenty, the minimum wage is set to increase in 2024 and yet according to our findings, locals are not too optimistic about the year ahead.

Just 1 in 10 people reported that they are better off now than they were a year ago. Only 16% expect the economy to be in a better place this time next year and there seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with how the government are tackling key issues affecting our standard of living.

Hasn’t everything gone so expensive?

If I got a euro for every time I heard this the over the past 12 months I certainly wouldn’t be feeling the pinch myself! Generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their personal finances but people’s behaviour is changing under the current climate. We are so frustrated with the cost of everything we are venting at home, in the office, and even while out for dinner with friends. It is not a dig at local business, I know plenty of small businesses struggling to keep their heads above water too.

Inflation is a concern but the real worry is where prices will land

Consumers and businesses are dealing with higher interest rates that have come as a result of the Central Bank trying to tame inflation. Loan products such as mortgages and car loans are more expensive. The noise coming from these issues alone is enough to drown out any positive aspects of the economy.

Stubbornly high inflation is a concern for policy makers, but for the average Joe, we are more concerned about where prices will eventually fall back to. We can deal with some short term pain but with inflation stabilising and some early signs it may even be falling, a large percentage of our survey respondents expect prices to continue to rise. This is backed up by many economists predicting prices will never return to what they were.

It’s not clear how much wage increases have played into higher prices up to now but there is a general consensus that where business margins are tight, higher wages for workers will lead to sustained higher prices for consumers 

Government is failing on issues impacting our standard of living

Research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland last week showed that more than 7 in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. We asked a similar question to locals in our survey and more than 50% of Killarney locals said that either they, or someone they know, is considering moving abroad. This is a sad indictment of our country today.

The pace of housing delivery is dampening young people’s hopes of owning their own home and is even making renting unaffordable. It is not just impacting the youth however, I know of business owners in Killarney where housing shortages are impacting their ability to attract and retain talent, Businesses can’t afford to pay them a wage that allows them to comfortably rent and live in Killarney.  

At the start of September we were reading about a major teacher shortage across the country. Graduate múinteoirí are now ditching Ireland for the Middle-East where their accommodation is often subsidised and their take-home-pay benefits from a largely tax-free society. 

This Wednesday we witnessed a staff walk out at UHK in protest of a recruitment ban in place by the HSE. Reports claim that there are over 90 clerical positions waiting to be filled at the hospital. It is no wonder with all of these added pressures that our nurses and doctors are heading Down Under for warmer weather and better pay and while you couldn’t begrudge them, the drain of health workers in Ireland is leaving those left behind working in stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.  

It’s the uncertainty

The economy is in a strange place at the moment, we are not sure if it is growing, slowing or shrinking. It kind of feels like we are dangling off the edge of a cliff and one big gust of wind could  push us over the edge. The preferred outcome is that we will be pulled back to safer ground but can this government gets to grips with the major issues impacting our standard of living and get the cost of living down to a more tolerable level?


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