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Niamh helps Ireland to silver at European rowing championships




By Tim O’Shea

There were celebrations in Muckross last weekend, where members of the local rowing club were closely following proceedings the European U23 Rowing Championships, taking place in Belgium.

BELGIUM: Irish rowers at the European U23 Rowing Championships in Hazewinkel Belgium. From l-r: Ciaran Purdy (silver medalist in the Men's Lightweight Single) John Armstrong (coach) Niamh Coffey (winner - B Final Women's Lightweight Single) Ryan Spellman 10th overall in the Men's Heavyweight Single. Photo: Rowing Ireland

At the Hazewinkel lake venue in the north of the country, Muckross rower Niamh Coffey was making her international rowing debut having been selected to row for Ireland just two weeks earlier during a final water trial.

Her qualification however was the culmination of years of dedicated training both on land and water and followed her participation in several rounds of trials over the past rowing year.


In a sign of the highly competitive standards required for qualification, the University of Limerick student was selected as the sole female representative for the prestigious competition with just two male rowers also selected, namely Ciaran Purdy of Queens University Boat Club and Ryan Spellman, a fellow student and rowing teammate of Niamh with UL.

Niamh, the daughter of Sean Coffey and Denise Casey of Muckross, continues a successful family tradition in the sport of rowing.

Niamh’s own involvement in rowing began during her first year in secondary school and from an early stage, her talent and commitment to the sport was evident.

In the past two years, Niamh has continued to develop her rowing talent and has met the rigours of a demanding training programme head on, all the while balancing her training with her studies in physiotherapy.

In 2021, Niamh caught the attention of many in the Irish rowing scene in winning not one but four Irish championship titles in a single weekend.

This resulted in Niamh’s eligibility ascending to the Senior grade of Irish rowing for the 2022 season with the Irish Championships of July this year witnessing a very memorable win for Niamh and her family.

Niamh’s talent did not go unnoticed by the Irish coaches who oversee the Rowing Ireland High Performance programme from their base at the National Rowing Centre.

Niamh’s selection for the European U23 Championships saw her train under the guidance of renowned Queens University coach John Armstrong.


On Saturday last, Niamh made her mark in the first of three heats with an impressive win over scullers from Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Finland.

This saw her qualify directly from the A/B semi-finals on Sunday morning with tough competition waiting from the competing heat races. In her semi-final race, Niamh was fourth with the competitors from Greece, Great Britain and Italy claiming the A final places and Niamh progressing to the B final.

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Jim awarded for life-long service to the community

By Michelle Crean Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community. Jim […]




By Michelle Crean

Listry local Jim O’Shea was honoured last week as members of the community council presented him with an award for his life-long service to the community.

Jim received the O’Shea Award for 2022 at a meeting of Directors of Listry Community Council held on September 21.

Jim has been involved in Athletics from a very early age both as a competitor and administrator.

He was very much involved with Community Games in Milltown/Listry as organiser and coach. He was also involved with the Farranfore Maine Valley Athletic Club since its foundation.

Over the years Jim has competed in athletic events, mainly high jump and long jump, both in Ireland and abroad.

Recently he travelled to Derby in the UK in the British Masters Championship and won Gold in the 100 metres and Long Jump and finished second in the High Jump.

Jim, who is a very modest man, was actively involved with Listry Community Council as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and for his commitment to keeping our community litter free by organising a number of litter picking days each year.

Always interested in fitness, Jim often came along to the Listry Seniors Social day and led the group in gentle exercises.

“Jim is a very worthy recipient of the O’Shea Award 2022 and we thank him for a lifetime of service to others,” Tony Darmody, Chairman, said.

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New book recounts stories from the Irish Civil War

The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922 Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in […]




The killing of 17-year-old Bertie Murphy in Killarney in September 1922

Historian and author, Owen O’Shea recounts one of the most shocking murders of the Civil War which occurred in Killarney a century ago this week.

There were many tragic episodes and incidents during the Civil War in Kerry. One of the dreadful features of the conflict was the young age at which many on both sides of the conflict were killed in 1922 and 1923.

In Killarney in August 1922, for example, two young Free State army medics were shot dead by a sniper as they stepped off a boat onto the shore of Inisfallen Island. 18-year-old Cecil Fitzgerald and 20-year-old John O’Meara, both from Galway, had joined the army just a few months previously and were enjoying a boat trip on the lake during a day’s leave when they were killed.

The following month, one of the most shocking deaths to occur in Killarney in this period was the murder of a 17-year-old boy from Castleisland.

Bertie Murphy, a member of Fianna Éireann, the youth wing of the IRA, was just 17-years-old when he was taken into custody by Free State soldiers while walking near his home in September 1922. His mother saw him being taken in away in a truck to the Great Southern Hotel where the army had established its headquarters in the town.

The improvised barracks had a number of prison cells in the basement where anti-Treaty IRA members were detained. The prison would become renowned as a place where beatings and torture took place: a young man whose brother was an IRA captain was taken there and ‘mercilessly beaten to get him to reveal information’. He was then ‘thrown down a coal chute and left as dead’.

On Wednesday, September 27, a Free State army convoy was ambushed by the IRA at Brennan’s Glen on the Tralee road and two officers, Daniel Hannon and John Martin, were killed. Bertie Murphy had been in one of the army vehicles – he was being used by the army as a hostage in an attempt to prevent attacks by anti-Treaty forces. It was common for Free State convoys to carry a prisoner as a deterrent to IRA ambushes and attacks.

When the convoy returned to the hotel, they were met by Colonel David Neligan, one of the most ruthless members of the Kerry Command of the Free State army. Neligan had been a member of Michael Collins’ ‘Squad’ during the War of Independence and was an experienced and battle-hardened soldier.

Neligan demanded to know why the soldiers had not taken any prisoners during the ambush at Brennan’s Glen, in which two of his officers had died. The soldiers, in a frenzy following the ambush, threw Bertie Murphy down the steps of the hotel. In the presence of other soldiers, Neligan began to beat up Murphy at the bottom of the steps and then shot the prisoner. In her book, ‘Tragedies of Kerry’, Dorothy Macardle says that Murphy lived ‘until the priest came’, but died shortly after.

Another prisoner was in custody in the hotel at the time. Con O’Leary from Glenflesk was brought down from his cell to identify the dead man. But so extensive were Murphy’s facial injuries that O’Leary was unable to identify his fellow prisoner.

Newspaper reports wrongly reported that Murphy had been wounded during the engagement at Brennan’s Glen and had ‘succumbed to his injuries’ on returning to Killarney.

At Murphy’s inquest which was held a fortnight later, General Paddy O’Daly, the head of the Kerry Command, sympathised with Murphy’s family but insisted that Murphy had died in the ambush at Brennan’s Glen. He said his soldiers had done ‘everything humanly possible for the man’.

He reminded those present that deaths like Murphy’s were the fault of reckless IRA leaders who refused to accept the authority of the people. ‘It is the women and children’, he said, ‘that are suffering, and for all the suffering that is being endured those leaders are to blame’.

It would not be the last time that O’Daly and senior army officers in Kerry would cover up the actions of their soldiers in the county. Nor, sadly, would it be the last time that young men, on both sides of the divide, joined the long list of victims of the Civil War in the county.

Owen O’Shea’s new book, ‘No Middle Path: The Civil War in Kerry’ will be published by Merrion Press in mid-October and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon and at

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