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“Park resources are at their lowest ever level”

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A small number of politicians have been angry with me over last week’s column on the shameful state of the Blue Pool and particularly on my questioning their lack of thought and of not taking the National Park seriously. Yet the National Park is “a disgrace”, one concedes

I am glad they are angry, because if they are angry maybe they will get together and apart from wound the messenger, do something by way of united lobbying and serious strategic thinking.

While one or two local councillors may join a “meitheal” in cutting rhododendron, and much credit to them they do, this is not strategic or serious thinking for the National Park.

Killarney Nature Conservation and the Greens and other volunteers did exactly this three decades ago, before it was called a meitheal.

But whatever it is called, cutting a piece of rhododendron and poisoning it here and there is a skirmish, it is not the battle and it is only a part skirmish of part of the battle. Such attacks did not work 33 years ago, and they won’t adequately answer the problem now.

What needs to be done? Maybe we need to examine what it is we understand by ‘National Park’?

The way it emerges in the public forum is very strange. The park is where deer run out from woods in the dark of night onto the path of innocent motorists, where ticks reside, lurking under fern bringing the debilitating Lyme disease, where the army needs to be called in to tackle the rhododendron, where planning is restrained for one-off houses, where people get lost, are knocked down by cyclists, break legs, and need to be rescued.

In other words, the Killarney National Park in the public forum, even in Áras and Chontae Tralee, is problematic – sometimes it strikes me that it is being viewed like the threatening dark forest in the European imagination.

Then there is the Fáilte Ireland image that everything is perfect. The truth lies elsewhere. The real story within the park is that resources are at their lowest ever level.

It is now, of course, quite conveniently being allowed back to nature – let run wild, based on some laissez faire and skewed interpretation of conservation that things are not to be touched. Trees that fell in 2010 alongside walkways remain where they fell, rotting and ugly; wooden bridges disintegrate and are not repaired; deer are over-running what is left of the yew and oak forests; what remains of the forest floor is eaten by sheep; river beds are not dredged or cleared of weed; deer fencing cannot be put up on roads because it would interfere with the deer.

This is just plain neglect. It is cockamamie for not having a plan, for not being bothered to come up with one, for not investing or lobbying for manpower, and for pretending to understand conservation.

Yet the vast majority of Killarney people have a deep connection with the park, and understand instinctively what it is and what it should be. To them the park is Killarney’s unique and ethereal beauty, a place of pleasure once confined but now available to all.

They understand the National Park is a place that encourages reflection and awe - but it is also a place to be managed.

It is therefore beyond belief that no national politician claiming to represent this town grasps the fundamental importance of the National Park for the people of Killarney and makes it a priority.

Perhaps this says as much about politicians, who are meant to be our legislators, as it does about the state of the park.

There is in fact an act, the 1932 Bourne Vincent Memorial Park Act, to accept the “gift” of the Muckross Estate which obliges the Commissioners for Public Works and the minister responsible to manage and maintain it properly “for the general purpose of the recreation and the enjoyment of the public”.

Section 12 of that 1932 legislation specifies “all works necessary” for the proper maintenance and management of the park for the public enjoyment. This includes the employment of enough personnel such as “water bailiffs and game keepers and workmen”.

So, if the walkways in the Blue Pool are not manageable, if the forests are neglected and endangered, if the deer over-run, is it enough for our TDs and senators to put down odd questions? Should our legislators, who include now a minister, not be pursuing a breach of primary legislation on behalf of the people of Killarney? Should they not be urged to do so by local councillors?

It says a lot that if two landlords managed it for hundreds of years the new Ireland, turning away billions in tax from Apple, and coming down with politicians and public servants, can’t.

A month in the park might help after all…

 

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BIG CELEBRATION

Well-known Killarney man, Donncha Crowley, who lives in Woodlawn Park, was joined by his friends and staff from Centra, Muckross Road, to help him celebrate his very special 50th birthday on Saturday. Donncha is a keen cyclist, and well-known for his mastership of Suduko, and expertise on puzzles and general knowledge quizzes, winning many competitions […]

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Well-known Killarney man, Donncha Crowley, who lives in Woodlawn Park, was joined by his friends and staff from Centra, Muckross Road, to help him celebrate his very special 50th birthday on Saturday. Donncha is a keen cyclist, and well-known for his mastership of Suduko, and expertise on puzzles and general knowledge quizzes, winning many competitions down through the years. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

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Musician Liam O’Connor back and busier than ever

By Sean Moriarty Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions. On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions.

On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig in London.

Liam and his family played at the Kerry County Council organised ‘ANSEO’ concert in North Kerry that was run to coincide with the Listowel Harvest Festival last weekend.

It was his first live show since he played at St Brendan’s College, Killarney when he shared the stage with special guest, former Irish rugby coach, Joe Schmidt. That event took place on March 11, 2020, the night before the country entered its first COVID-19 lockdown.

The ‘ANSEO’ series of concerts signalled the return of live music in Kerry and the O’Connor family shared the stage with other local musicians like Tim O’Shea and his Afro Trad Ireland group.

“People were delighted, they were mad for it, they were obviously missing it,” Liam told the Killarney Advertiser. “But they are not letting go just yet, they are still a bit hesitant.”

This Sunday Liam heads to London were he will help Dan Tim O’Sullivan steer sheep over Southwark Bridge (see page 36 for more on this story).

To cap an exceptionally busy period for the local accordion player, he has joined forces with Moya Brennan of Clannad fame. Brennan and O’Connor will release a new single – ‘Strong in Numbers’ on Friday next, October 1.

They previously performed together at a concert in the Friary in 2017.

“It was such a positive experience for all of us we just had to repeat it,” he added. “So not only have we done this recording of ‘Strong in Numbers’ but we are planning to do the Friary again later this year. After that, I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Meanwhile, the ‘ANSEO’ series visits Killarney on Sunday night.

The Fair Hill car park will host two shows featuring: The Gleneagle Concert Band; Pauline Scanlon with Mick Galvin; The Small Hours; The Rising; Cathal Flaherty and Truly Diverse.

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