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Muckross Abbey and the strange story of John Drake

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By Sean Moriarty

The Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson, is asking for the public’s help as he tries to piece together the mystery of man who came to live in the Muckross area in the 18th century.

When Muckross Abbey was unoccupied during the mid-18th century, a man known as John Drake made the abandoned building his home. He slept in a bed made from old coffin boards, in the recess of the Abbey’s fireplace, and wind-proofed the nearby window with earth and rubbish.

He never revealed his business, where he came from, or why he chose to live as his did and was met with equal amounts of curiosity and respect by locals.

“He was said to be under 40 years of age, refined in nature and 'scholarly' in appearance. He never discussed his past, his plans or his reasons for adopting this unusual abode,” Mayor Gleeson told the Killarney Advertiser. “He never asked for alms and was never known to eat in any dwelling other than his own. He had enough money to buy some food and indeed was known to give a halfpenny and his prayers to any person who seemed more destitute than himself.”

He lived in the Abbey for 11 years until one day he disappeared without trace.

“One day in late springtime, John was nowhere to be seen. Just as suddenly as he had arrived to the Abbey he had now disappeared. His 'bed' lay unruffled, but nothing else remained. John had gone quietly into the dark night and was never again seen in Muckross or heard of elsewhere,” added Cllr Gleeson. “The mystery of the unusual life of John Drake in Muckross remains just that - a mystery of a quiet and gentle man who arrived unannounced and departed without trace.”

Some years later a young woman arrived to Killarney looking for the man. Very little is known of the woman, she was reputed to be a foreigner and visited the Abbey and seen to be weeping at Darke’s fireside bed.

If any of our readers have information about John Drake or other curious stories send to them to sean@thekillarneyadvertiser.ie and we will publish some of the more quirky stories as well as pass any clues onto Mayor Gleeson.

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NPWS survey to find out impact of fires

By Michelle Crean The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April. The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find […]

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By Michelle Crean

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April.

The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find out the biological impacts of the fires in the 26,000 acre park.

The fires in April burned from Friday night on April 23 until around 12pm the following Monday when they were finally brought under control.

Parts of the Park were scorched resulting in flora and fauna being wiped out. Some fires came as close as 10 metres to a church and school in the Black Valley area.

Fires raged near Tomies Wood and fire crews from five different districts quenched fires near the properties under threat. A real threat was for The Oak Woods but fire fighters managed to avert danger.

The fire is believed to have begun on the Kenmare Road area escalated by the strong winds.

“The purpose of this tender is to commission a comprehensive survey of the impacts, and the chrono-sequence of fire recovery or otherwise, on lands burned over the past four decades, as well as surveys in unburned areas, in order to assess the biological impacts of the fires, in particular the fire of April 2021, on the biodiversity of Killarney National Park,” an NPWS spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Killarney spin will bring comfort to patients

By Michelle Crean Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town. Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22. This year due to COVID […]

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By Michelle Crean

Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town.

Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22.

This year due to COVID restrictions the 54321 team will run with two teams of five people, all female – who are raising funds for one single charity – Comfort for Chemo Kerry.

Their four day challenge will include a cycle the Ring of Kerry on day one (Thursday 19), a climb up Carrantuohil on day two (Friday 20), a cycle from Killarney to the foot of Cnoc Na Tobair and then climb Cnoc Na Tobair on day three (Saturday 21) finishing off with a cycle of the Skellig Ring on day four (Sunday 22).

In advance of the ninth annual challenge they will first participate in the spinathons at various locations to help raise much needed funds for this year’s chosen charity.

The first of the spinathons will take place on Saturday, July 31 in Listowel, Killorglin, Dingle, Cahersiveen. On the day volunteers will take to the spinning bikes from 10am to 5pm in different locations around these towns.
This will be followed by Killarney on Sunday, August 15, and Tralee on Saturday, August 28.

When choosing this year’s charity, organisers contacted a past participant and a dear friend, Mairead Dunphy from Glencar who is currently on her own journey with cancer.

“We wanted to show our support to Mairead and knowing that she would like to support those who have supported her on her journey so far, she had already being looking at ideas to raise much needed funds for Comfort for Chemo Kerry,” TJ O’Connor said.

“Please support Comfort for Chemo Kerry by giving what you can.”

For more information about the spinathons go to www.54321challenge.org or the Comfort for Chemo Kerry Facebook page for online donation information.

There’s also a GoFundMe page: ‘Comfort for Chemo Kerry – 54321 Challenge 2021’ which has a €20,000 target set up.

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