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More the half crown than the crown

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When Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, two of her daughters, large retinue and press corps departed Killarney by train on August 29, 1861, “the consensus was the ordinary people were a model of loyalty and allegiance to the crown.”

The lavish visit was recalled again in 2011 in the press clippings ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland. The nobility rode along side Vic’s carriage. Dragoons and equerries and other long forgotten ranks in this republic accompanied her, along with 400 members of the constabulary in dress uniform drawn from Cork, Limerick and Kildare.

The who’s who of Kerry got to meet and greet the Queen during her three-day stay in Killarney. Killarney House, owned by Lord Castlerosse, was the public side of the visit, while her stay at Colonel Herbert’s place at Muckross House was more private.

Hundreds of boats lined the quays as she set out by barge on the lake; thousands lined the lakeshores and streets to cheer on the Queen. She visited Innisfallen. She walked around Muckross Abbey. She took a ride in a landau around Muckross estate.

The late Séamus McConville, former editor of the Kerryman, searched the archives of the 150-year-old Kerry Post in 2011

“The royal carriage was drawn by four dark bays, with outriders and footmen behind. A guard of honour of the 18th Royal Irish were drawn up and presented arms, and the escort was composed of 40 of the 1st Royal Dragoons. Lord Castlerosse and Colonel Herbert as lieutenant of the county rode on either side of the carriage.

“The assemblies on five monster galleries, erected by Lord Castlerosse, joined with the thousands on the road (to Killarney House) in the heartiest of demonstrations of welcome. The Queen seemed greatly impressed and highly pleased with the enthusiasm of the people and bowed repeatedly to the right and to the left, with a marked and gracious manner, to the assembled thousands.”

It seems there was a spontaneous loyalty in Killarney to the Crown. These days of course, it’s not the Crown that is the important issue – it’s the half crown. The visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the communication of their visit by a large press corps, will hopefully draw the British loyal tourist in their hordes to Killarney as it did in 1861.

The English Market in Cork - a down at heel, fly-blown place when I lived in the city - has seen a transformation and a surge of visitors since Queen Elizabeth was snapped heartily laughing at the fishmonger by Killarney’s Valerie O’Sullivan and Cork has been put on the tourist map.

Back in the day, Castlerosse, and Herbert to a lesser extent, would have been fully aware of the value of Queen Vic’s visit to local tourism too. Tourism was already thriving in Killarney, drawing poets like Tennyson (The splendour falls on castle walls… Blow, bugle, blow…)

And while Queen Victoria’s visit is often mistakenly said to have started tourism in Killarney, it was a far more pedestrian piece of infrastructure which actually clinched it for the town. Before Victoria, the railway had arrived and it was this 1853 event which more than anything literally drew the tourist - and allowed the Queen to progress to Killarney in just six and a half hours from Dublin.

“The opening of the Dublin to Killarney railway line in 1853 brought this remote region within reach of a host of new visitors,” Killarney’s Donal Horgan of Lewis Road writes in his splendid book on tourism The Victorian Visitor to Ireland, published in 2002.

Killarney, of course, ticked all the right boxes for the Victorian tourist: a romantic lakeside setting, spectacular ruins, day trips, lots of parkland and lots of ways to amuse, and quality accommodation.

A huge industry has been built on the 1861 visit, so much so the town is now almost wholly dependent on tourism. But challenges remain: access is still an issue, a year-round business is still someway off, and we still do not have a third level tourism college which would set proper professional standards across all sectors of the local industry.

Courting the loyal and neighbouring British tourist - particularly in the shoulder and winter season - might just clinch it.

There has, of course, this time been an attempt to spread the Prince around like the proverbial pound of butter so Tralee for instance can reap a tourism benefit. Our own Moira Murrell, the county chief executive who is a very fair-minded person indeed, is credited with swinging it for Tralee .

And the county town, a stronghold of republicanism, which a mere decade ago refused safe haven to the British flagship store Marks and Spencers (who had to seek refuge in Killarney), can’t get over its good fortune.

In his book on tourism, Donal Horgan also notes how the Prince of Wales was so taken by the Gap of Dunloe in 1858 he broke into a rendition of God Save the Queen.

Now, one has to wonder if Martin Ferris, and even the Fianna Fáil Mayor of Killarney, or Tralee, will be so moved by Prince Charles this time, and perhaps even Camilla, there will be a spontaneous embrace of the UK anthem - for the sake of the half crown, of course.

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Local activities this weekend for National Heritage Week

A number of events will take place in Killarney this weekend as part National Heritage Week 2022 which runs until this Sunday. This year’s theme is biodiversity and sustainability. Tomorrow […]

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A number of events will take place in Killarney this weekend as part National Heritage Week 2022 which runs until this Sunday.

This year’s theme is biodiversity and sustainability. Tomorrow (Saturday) the Life in the Bogs – Family Funday in Cronin’s Yard, Beaufort, runs from 10.30am – 2.30pm.
Activities include; Bog in a Bottle activity – learn about how bogs are made, Plants of the Bog – learn about the different plants in the bog and how to tell them apart, Pond Dipping in Bog Pool – Use nets and find out what creepy crawlies can be found in Bog pools, Birds and Mammals of the Bog – learn about the different animals that live in our bogs, and a Scavenger Hunt. Tickets are free but bring €2 for parking.

On Sunday the Harpers for Heritage concert takes place at Muckross Schoolhouse with Fiachra Ó Corragáin, Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman from 7.30pm to 9pm.

There’ll also be an exhibition from the Killarney National Park Photography Competition based on the theme of ‘Our History, Our Future’ in Killarney House and Gardens while the Me and the Moon will create Bee/Bug hotels and sustainable eco bird feeders today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) from 11am – 4pm at Muckross Schoolhouse.

The Heritage Council is encouraging people to visit www.heritageweek.ie to see what other events are taking place in their locality or across the country. Participants can browse the website and create a bespoke National Heritage Week ‘Events Trail’ to help them plan their week according to their location, their particular heritage interests and their preferred event type, such as a festival, performance, exhibition or re-enactment.

“This year, National Heritage Week looks to the past to create a better future,” Chief Executive of the Heritage Council of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan, said.

“The theme of sustainable heritage and biodiversity encourages us all to reflect on how our history and heritage can play a part in protecting our planet. Whether it’s learning a new skill like embroidery, blacksmithing or pottery making; better understanding how to prevent biodiversity loss in our own back gardens or country lanes; or gaining fresh insight into the history of our art, music or the Irish language and sharing this knowledge among friends and family, there are endless ways to get involved. I would encourage people to visit the National Heritage Week website and browse the vast array of events and projects taking place and plan their week.”

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Killarney girl has an important part to play in Rose Festival

By Michelle Crean A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Chloe Nott […]

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By Michelle Crean

A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival.

Chloe Nott (7) from Fossa was thrilled to find out that she has been paired with Arizona Rose Sophie Owen.

She’s now super excited as the Festival kicks off tonight (Friday) and is looking forward to being part of the big parades which attract thousands to the streets of Tralee tomorrow (Saturday) and again on Sunday.

“We found out about three weeks ago, she was picked from hundreds from all around the country,” Chloe’s mom Gemma told the Killarney Advertiser.

Last Saturday the Rose Buds came together for the first time in the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee where they met the Kerry Rose Édaein O’Connell and received their sashes.

Tonight (Friday) they’ll enjoy a party in the Meadowlands and have a busy weekend meeting and greeting people when they take part in the Festival’s activities including a trip to the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

“I’m so excited to meet my Arizona Rose,” Chloe, who is going into Second Class in Fossa National School, said.

Gemma and her husband Eric and son Luke (9) went to Reidys in Killarney to tell Chloe the exciting news.

“My mom gave me a rose and told me I was a Rose Bud. After she told me I was bursting with excitement.”

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