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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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Killarney man wins most-coveted trophy in sheepdog trials

By Sean Moriarty Kilcummin farmer Tom O’Sullivan – one of the main organisers of last month’s Sheep Dog Trials in Fossa – has become the first Kerry man to win the biggest award in the sport. Tom is the chairman of the Killarney sub-committee and was a member of the 15-strong Irish team that participated […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Kilcummin farmer Tom O’Sullivan – one of the main organisers of last month’s Sheep Dog Trials in Fossa – has become the first Kerry man to win the biggest award in the sport.

Tom is the chairman of the Killarney sub-committee and was a member of the 15-strong Irish team that participated in the international sheepdog competition in Aberystwyth in Wales last weekend.

A total of 60 competitors, 15 each from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, contested the biggest event in sheepdog trials on Friday to Sunday last.

After getting through the qualifiers on Friday and Saturday, Tom and his dog Northhill Tess, fended off the challenges of the other top-15 qualifiers to win the International Supreme Champion award.

Not alone is he the first Kerry man to win the competition, which has been running since 1947, he is just the fifth Irishman to do so and the first from Munster.

“The qualifying course was similar to Killarney,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

However, Sunday’s final was much more difficult. His dog had to round up a flock of sheep at the left hand side of the course. Then Northhill Tess, under the guidance of Tom, had to round up a smaller flock and bring them to the same holding pen. When finished, five of the sheep were wearing red collars and Tom had to instruct his dog to separate them and bring them to a separate holding area.

“It is the biggest trophy in sheep dog trailing,” he added. “Everyone who trains a dog does so for this day. It is mind blowing. My family are very proud, they know the time and the work involved preparing for this.”

The standard at the Killarney event last month was evident in Wales last weekend. The Killarney winner, Peter Morgan and his dog Moss, ran Tom to a very close second.

His son Peter Og won the Young Handlers award and Team Ireland were declared the overall winners based on aggregate scores in the final 15.

Tom arrived home to Kilcummin on Monday night to a traditional homecoming bonfire.

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Vaccination centre leaves basketball club homeless

By Sean Moriarty With the National Basketball League set to get underway in two weeks’ time, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club are still unsure where they will play their homes games this season as their usual venue is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre. The local side play Limerick Celtic away on […]

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By Sean Moriarty

With the National Basketball League set to get underway in two weeks’ time, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club are still unsure where they will play their homes games this season as their usual venue is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre.

The local side play Limerick Celtic away on the weekend of October 8 and 9 and their first home game is set for October 16.

Currently their home venue at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre is unavailable as it is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre and according to the Health Service Executive (HSE) this week, there are no plans in place, as of yet, to move out.

Killarney Cougars, the town’s newest addition to the National League, has secured the use of the gym at St Brigid’s Secondary School in the town centre but, as it stands, St Paul’s remain homeless as the season opener looms.

“It is ridiculous at this stage,” said head coach Jarlath Lee. “If you look at what is happening at the Sports Centre, there are very few people in and out of there now compared to the start [of the vaccination roll-out].”

The HSE when contacted by the Killarney Advertiser this week said that they would not be adding to a previous statement issued earlier this month, which said: “In relation to Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre, we are very grateful to staff and management for the use of their facility as a vaccination centre.

“Planning work is well underway for the next phase of the vaccination programme, locally and nationally. This includes a review of where vaccinations are administered in future, but we cannot confirm any decisions in relation to any particular location at this point in time.”

However, the HSE did confirm this week, that the Tralee Vaccination Centre, located at the Munster Technology University, will re-locate to the recently vacated Borg Warner factory in the town. The move is expected to be completed within the next week to 10 days.

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