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More the half crown than the crown




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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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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