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Passing of one of Killarney’s most-prominent business men

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By Sean Moriarty

 

Business man John ‘Richard’ Hilliard, who died on Wednesday in Heatherlea Nursing Home, was a man ahead of his time.

Mr Hilliard was one of the true old-stock of Killarney. His family built a retail empire that took over most of High St and Main St, including a department store where Mac’s Restaurant and Sheahan’s Centra now sits.

Across the street, where both the Kilkenny Shop and MD O’Sheas are now, they operated their original store and bicycle shop.

On High St, to the rear of current-day Penneys was the location of the family’s Tuf shoe factory from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Indeed, the multi-story car park to the rear of Penneys is officially referred to as Hilliard House and the lane to the store’s side is called Hilliard’s Lane. There was a small blue cottage on the laneway where the Hilliards sold excess shoe stock at discounted prices to locals.

EMPLOYMENT

 The shoe factory gave employment to hundreds of Killarney people over the years and offered unique working and payment conditions in its early days.

Employees were paid a rate for each pair of shoes that they made; a good craftsman could make two pairs a day but they could choose their own working hours once their targets were met.

The factory closed in July 1985, after a bitter six-week strike over proposed redundancies. The company needed to cut the workforce to compete with cheaper EU imports.

Speaking in the Dáil in June 1985, local TD John O’Leary, who was seeking Government intervention on the strike said: “This industry was started by people making handmade shoes in 1881. In 1936 the present premises were built and occupied by a firm known as Hilliard and Palmer who were most successful in the manufacture of footwear. In 1963-64 this company was taken over by G.B. Britten and operated under G.B. Britten for a few years. Then a company known as Tuf Shoes, Killarney, was formed and the company has been trading since then as Tuf Shoes, Killarney. I understand that this industry reached its peak in the late '60s and the '70s.”

HISTORY

The family are steeped in the history of Killarney, his grandfather owned the Lake Hotel and Richard grew up in Coolclogher House on the Mill Road, nowadays a popular wedding and holiday home rental venue. Richard was a keen historian too and this was acknowledged in a statement issued by St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Killarney.

“Richard has been a mainstay of our church, a great churchman, and of this community, a great one for the local history and a prominent public figure in his heyday and a businessman of the town. His passing leaves a gaping hole in the character of the community; the end of an era. His knowledge and reminiscences were always a lively part of any gathering. One of his notable achievements was being an oarsman on the historic re-enactment in 1963 to mark the 1400th anniversary of the crossing of St Columba from Ireland to Iona in a sea-going currach; he gave a memorable lecture and slide show in our church during the Killarney Mountain Festival in 2018.”

Richard is survived by his children, David, Adrian, and Audrey (Australia), daughters-in-law Louise and Valerie, son-in-law Bo, grandchildren Sarah, Robert, Rodney, Danielle, Emma, Jonathan, and great-grandchildren Aiden, Ava, Aoife, Rhys, and his sisters Raymonde and Cecily. He was predeceased by his wife Pearl.

A private funeral will take place in St Mary's Church of Ireland today (Friday) afternoon at 2pm, followed by burial in Killeagy Cemetery, Muckross.

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Artists invited to showcase work at Wine and Art night

It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November. The pandemic enforced its absence and now […]

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It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November.

The pandemic enforced its absence and now every effort is being made to make up for lost time.

Widely regarded as one of the social highlights of the year in Killarney, this year’s gathering will take place in the Great Southern Killarney on Wednesday, November 30, commencing at 7.15pm.

Tickets, which will be available at the door, are priced at €20 and all proceeds raised on the night will go to deserving local charities and community organisations.

Over the years the evening of wine and art has raised tens of thousands of Euro for great causes and the 2022 proceeds will be of enormous benefit to the chosen groups.

This year, once again, the event is being held in association with Daly’s SuperValu and supported by Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company.

Rotary Club President, Rayla Tadjimatova, has appealed to all artists who might like to showcase their work on the night to get in touch with club members, as soon as possible, to guarantee inclusion.

“We are reaching out not only to artists who have supported the event in the past but to any new artists who wish to take the opportunity to place their work in front of a very appreciative local audience of up to one thousand people on the night,” she said.

Those interested should email killarneyrotaryclub@gmail.com as soon as possible.

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Gardai seek whereabouts of missing Kerry teen

Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager. Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3). He is described as being […]

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Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager.

Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3).

He is described as being approximately 6ft in height, of a slim build with brown hair and green eyes. When last seen Nicolas was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a black hoody top. He was also carrying a black bag.

Anyone with information on Nicolas’ whereabouts is asked to contact Tralee Garda Station on 066 710 2300, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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