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No Listowel races for Donie for the first time in over 80 years

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NOT AT THE RACES: Donie Sheahan studying the form at his Lewis Road home. He is missing Listowel Races for the first time in over 80 years. Photo: Sean Moriarty

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For 80 consecutive years much loved Killarney pharmacist and horse racing enthusiast Donie Sheahan hasn't missed the Listowel Races - until this year came around due to the current pandemic restrictions.

Journalist Sean Moriarty took some time out to chat to Donie to find out how the 94-year-old felt about not being there, having instead no choice but to resign to the fact that he had to watch it from the comfort of his own home.

The traditional September Harvest Festival meeting comes to a close tomorrow (Saturday) but, as it is run behind closed doors, Donie has been forced to watch proceedings on television and not trackside.

It is the first time since he was a little boy that Donie, who turned 94 in April, could not be there in person to see the action unfold.

Instead he sits at home and watches the action unfold on racing channels like At the Races and TG4.

“I would much rather be there,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

The Lewis Road man’s family are steeped in the history of Listowel Races. His parents William and Lena ran a pub and boarding house in the town.

The pub had six livery stables to its rear, at a time when there were no stables at the island racecourse so jockeys and racehorses lodged with the Sheahan family for the duration of the meeting. The family would collect horses off the train ahead of the meeting.

“I have memories from when I was no more than six or seven-years-old,” he recalled. “We would walk the horses down to the Island, sometimes over the bridge and other times across the river. I got to know a lot of people.”

And this is how Donie and his late brother Tommy developed their lifelong love affair with horse racing.

Tommy went on to serve as chair of the Listowel Race Committee and his daughter, Donie’s niece, Dr Helen Lynch from Tralee, currently sits at the table.

“There is a huge family connection there,” he added.

On qualifying as a pharmacist Donie moved to Killarney in 1950, and after a spell with the medical department of Kerry County Council and the Southern Health Board he set up a thriving pharmacy in the town centre.

This allowed him to follow his true passions, which also includes Dr Crokes GAA Club and Kerry football, and he became a successful racehorse owner.

He has had a lot of success over the years including several Listowel winners, but the big one - The Kerry National - escaped him as he recorded two second-places with ‘For William’.

“I had three or four winners in Listowel but for two years in a row the Kerry National escaped me,” he added.

Other fond memories include winning the Fairyhouse Easter Festival in 2010 with ‘For Bill’, and jockey Davy Russell.

‘For Bill’ was named after a close friend Bill Murphy, a Garda Superintendent in Killarney, after he passed away.

In more recent years Donie has represented the European Breeders Association at Listowel.
If that organisation sponsored a race he would be called upon to hand out the trophies.

“It is funny but people always remember you when you give them a prize!"

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Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]

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The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.

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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]

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The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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