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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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Comedy drama ready for the stage

By Michelle Crean Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage. What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy […]

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By Michelle Crean

Get out your diary and book in these December dates as Dochas Drama Group is ready to take to the stage.

What does a hypochondriac, a grumpy father and a confused visitor to the dentist, all have in common? You’ll have to come along to the Killarney Avenue Hotel on Monday, December 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 at 8pm to find out.

The popular drama group will present their three new comedies featuring the work of playwrights Brian Bowler, Ger Madden and Mary Quirke.Come along for a night filled with fun and laughter. Just the right beginning to the festive season. Doors open at 7.15pm and tickets are available at the door. All tickets; adults, seniors, students and children are €10. Don’t miss a great night out.

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Teens theory is a national winner

Watch out Dallas as three local students are ready to take their science theory and blow the competition out of the water. Liam Waldron, Rachel Griffin and Luke O’Sullivan, Sixth […]

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Watch out Dallas as three local students are ready to take their science theory and blow the competition out of the water.

Liam Waldron, Rachel Griffin and Luke O’Sullivan, Sixth Year students from Killarney Community College, were named SciFest STEM Champions 2022 for their Group Theoretic Approach to Pythagoras’ Theorem.

The national finals of SciFest Ireland were held at the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin last Friday and they were attended by finalists from across Ireland.

The amazing trio will now go on to represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF) which will be held in Dallas, Texas in May 2023.

The students secured their place at the national final after they won the overall prize at the SciFest regional competition at MTU Kerry in May this year.

Their project takes possibly one of the most well-known theorems that everyone remembers from school, Pythagoras’ Theorem. It provides an alternate proof of it, while also highlighting how right-angled triangles naturally provide a link between two coordinate systems and how this special case can naturally recreate the Pythagorean Theorem.

Supported by Intel Ireland and Boston Scientific, SciFest was set up 17 years ago by Sheila Porter and her husband George.

It is the largest, most inclusive STEM fair programme for second-level students in Ireland.

“The aim of SciFest has always been to develop a love of STEM and of inquiry-based learning and every year it is refreshing to see how the students of today continue to love and enjoy immersing themselves in science, technology, engineering and maths,” Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said.

“As SciFest grows each year, we grow more excited to see what new experiments and technologies are thought of and created. This year, students have shown incredible innovation in how STEM can make a positive impact on society, with initiatives in farming, space exploration and healthcare.”

Each year SciFest awards a ‘Teacher of Excellence’ and this year Máire Spillane was the recipient for her work with Luke, Rachel and Liam. She accompanied them to both finals and could not be prouder of this huge achievement at national level.

Killarney Community College held a whole school assembly to congratulate the SciFest champions in school and the SciFest STEM Champions 2022 were met with rapturous applause from all students and staff.

Ms Spillane spoke about the importance of STEM subjects and acknowledged the fact that Killarney Community College offers all students the opportunity to study all four of the disciplines, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and how our students are encouraged to submit projects every year into SciFest. It may be a competition run by science teachers, but in KCC cross-curricular co-operation by teachers of all subjects, is practiced on a daily basis.

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