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One Killarney man’s 25-year Pretty Polly mission




Jerry O’Grady, former director of Pretty Polly in Killarney and a member of the board of trustees, has welcomed Kerry ETB’s decision to develop the site into a third level education building.

He was there when the factory closed in 1996 and returned when Pretty Polly’s parent company tried to make a second go of it.

He oversaw the sale of the site to Killarney Town Council under the strict caveat that the premises would be used “For the purposes of benefiting the general community of Killarney and its surrounding area”.

O'Grady was part of a three man group of trustees that also included the UK based Group Financial Controller Sam Sturgis and fellow former Pretty Polly Director, the late Tom O’Donohoe.

This week’s news is a very welcome development, he explained.

“There were a number of false dawns and disappointments while the fabric of the building and its facilities rapidly deteriorated,” he said.

“But all’s well that ends well and we are greatly heartened by Minister Harris’s announcement of the planned transformation of the Pretty Polly property into a Kerry ETB third level National Centre of Excellence for the hospitality and related sustainable energy industries," he said.

“Great credit is due to all involved in the Kerry Education and Training Board and the Local Authorities in arriving at this exciting and progressive plan. It is most appropriate that Ireland’s tourism capital should become the home for the industry’s future sustainable development.

"How gratifying to see that the long-running Pretty Polly property saga is finally coming to what appears to be a most welcome and very satisfactory conclusion."

Pretty Polly Timeline

1967 Pretty Polly opens in Killarney leading to a peak of 1,200 jobs

1991 Pretty Polly’s Global Operation bought out by Sara Lee

1996 Factory closes

1995 Factory offered to Irish Industrial Agency (IDA) in an effort to attract a new operation

1996 – 2000 A board of trustees actively promote the buildings to IDA

1999 Sara Lee, Pretty Polly’s parent company, returns offering 300 jobs

2005 Sara Lee closes

2005 Ownership transfers back to board of trustees

2006 A medical products firm creates 50 jobs on the site

2006 Killarney Town Council purchases factory from Board of Trustees

2009 Building emptied for final time with the closure of the medical firm

2015 Killarney Municipal District elected members apply pressure to Kerry County Council executives to do something with the site

2017 Plans to develop both the former Denny factory in Tralee and Pretty Polly in Killarney to get funding as part of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

2018 BNP Paribas fails to find a buyer on behalf of Council (crucially, before the 2019 local elections)

2021 In March the Council revealed it is to build houses on a portion of the sprawling acre site

2021 In May local councillor Marie Moloney, a board member of Kerry Education and Training Board reveals that the ETB are actively interested in the site as a potential training centre

2022 Kerry ETB announce plans to build a training centre on the site

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Rathmore students look to the future

Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities. The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness […]




Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities.

The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness Week which was held in schools and other education settings nationwide last week.

The focus throughout the week in their school was to highlight the wide range of options open to them when they leave school and to realise that there are pathways to suit all types of learners.

Students from First to Sixth Year took part in activities to get them thinking about their future plans.

First and Second year students completed a module on ‘My Pathways’ and Third Years had an introductory talk on options after school.

Transition Year students worked on a display on all the options and pathways available after school which will remain up permanently.

Senior Cycle students attended the Careers Fair in Munster Technological University (MTU) where they got a chance to meet universities, colleges of Further Education, agricultural colleges, apprenticeship and more education and training providers from around the country including past sudent Aidan O’Mahony at the stand with An Garda Síochána.

Leaving Cert and LCA students had a really informative talk in school on Further Education and apprenticeships from Ella O’Donoghue, Admissions Officer of Kerry College.

The week finished with a talk for Senior Cycle students on Business and Law options in UCC by Ian Wallace.

“A highlight of the week was the involvement of past students, who sent us video clips on their career stories so far and shared tips with students,” Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor at the school, said.

“It was fabulous to see how well our former students have done and it was really important for our current students to see the diversity of pathways they have taken including apprenticeships, Further Education courses, university, travel, setting up businesses and returning to education as mature students. We are really grateful to the past students who reconnected with us for this week, their input was inspiring and invaluable.”

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Students have education and fun London trip

Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London. The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city […]




Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London.

The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city after landing. They visited some of the famous locations on the journey, such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. They enjoyed a night at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End watching ‘The Lion King’.

The girls went to The Natural History Museum on day two, which has one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artefacts. They took their time looking around the massive cathedral-like structure’s sculptures and frescoes. Four coloured zones that focus on topics including the environment, evolution, the planet, and wildlife make up the museum’s divisions. They then took pleasure in a trip to the fascinating Science Museum. It was the ideal location for someone with an inquisitive mind, full of amazing things to do and explore.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was the next stop on the itinerary. The V&A’s collection of art spans 5,000 years, from prehistoric periods to the modern era. The Mouse Trap, an Agatha Christie play, was the entertainment for this evening at the St Martin’s Lane Theatre. The play’s 70th anniversary was this week.

On day three, the girls boarded a capsule for a 30-minute spin of the London Eye and marvelled at the breath-taking sights of London. After that, they went to the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Planetarium and Astronomy Centre, where they experienced an amazing adventure through space. They went to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, planting one foot on the eastern and the other on the western hemisphere of our planet.

The girls ended their evening at what was a highlight for many at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

On the final day before flying home, the girls went to Oxford Street to do a spot of shopping.

“A great trip was had by all where many memories were made,” said Sheree Murphy, one of the teachers who travelled with them on the trip.

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