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Pádraig Harnett remembered at special musical event




By Sean Moriarty

Liam O’Connor is instantly recognised as one of Killarney’s top musicians but the man who put him on the road to stardom was honoured on Friday night.

Liam O'Connor Oisin O'Connor and Lisa Aherne performing at the tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Deputy Michael Healy Rae Paudie Eileen and Niall O'Callaghan and Deputy Danny Healy Rae at the Liam O'Connor music tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett in The Fáilte Bar on Friday night with proceeds going to Killarney Celtic 'Football for All'. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Bridget and Liam McGuire Bridget O'Keeffe and Paul Byrne at the tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett on Friday. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Saoirse Cillian Oisin and Liam O'Connor performing at the tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett on Friday. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Deputy Danny Healy Rae Cllr Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan Eileen Healy Rae Cllr Johnny Healy Rae Tim Coffey Brendan Harnett Cllr Maura Healy Rae and Mark Harnett at the Fáilte Bar on Friday night. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Mary Murphy Patsy Cusack and Ita Looney at the Liam O'Connor music tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett on Friday night. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Liam O'Connor entertaining the crowd: Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Dancer Michael Cahill and Liam O'Connor performing at the tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett on Friday. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

At the Liam O'Connor music tribute on Friday night were front from left: Noreen O'Connor Cillian O'Connor Edel Harnett and Oisin O'Connor. Seated in centre are: Saoirse O'Connor Maura Daly Harnett Liam O'Connor and Brendan Harnett. Back from left are: John Don O'Donoghue Sean Daly David Harnett Kathleen Harnett Mark Harnett Mary Lyne Jane O'Donoghue Paul Sherry Robbie Harnett and Michelle Hurley. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Seated in front are Paul Sherry Maura Daly Harnett Sean Daly and Mary Lyne. Back from left are: Michelle Hurley John and Jane O'Donoghue and Noreen O'Connor at the tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett in the Fáilte Bar. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Packie O'Connor Joanie O'Donoghue Noreen O'Connor and Billy O'Donoghue at the Liam O'Connor music tribute night in memory of Pádraig Harnett in the Fáilte Bar on Friday night with proceeds going to Killarney Celtic 'Football for All'. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Shirley O'Sullivan Dorothy O'Grady Guerin Lisa Hegarty Lisa Aherne and Elaine Price at the Fáilte Bar on Friday night. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

A section of the crowd enjoying the night in memory of Pádraig Harnett in the Fáilte Bar. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Liz Moloney Edel Harnett Oisin Doherty and Zara Blackwell at the Liam O'Connor music tribute night on Friday. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Pauline Sheehy celebrating her 60th birthday with family and friends at the Liam O'Connor music tribute night. From left are: Siobhan Murphy Aoife Brosnan Dolly and Katie Mangan Pauline Sheehy Gemma Mangan Amy Lennon Lisa O'Regan and Helen Brosnan. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

The late Pádraig Harnett wore many hats in town but was better known as one of the town’s best sports journalists as he was a cycling, soccer and basketball expert.

The Park Road native devoted a huge amount of his time voluntarily to Celtic Football Club and St Paul’s Basket Club.

He was a founding member of the local Nottingham Forrest FC Supporter's Club.

A former hotel and cinema manager, Pádraig Harnett’s sudden passing last October left a gaping hole in all facets of Killarney society.

One man who is missing his late friend more than most is the world champion accordionist Liam O’Connor.

He wanted to do something to celebrate Pádraig’s contribution to the town he loved so well.

On Friday night last, Liam organised a special gig at the Fáilte Hotel in memory of the man who once acted as tour manager for his band.

The concert, which also raised money for Killarney Celtic 'Football for All', was attended by close to 300 people.

These included members of the extended Harnett families, politicians, sports stars and friends of the very well-known Killarney man.

“Not many people know that around 25 years ago, Pádraig introduced me to Paudie O’Callaghan of the Fáilte Hotel,” Liam explained.

“Paudie was very busy with gigs at the time but he offered me a Wednesday night slot and the rest, as they say, is history. He was a loyal friend, so honest and very intelligent and down to earth and was a larger-than-life character.”



The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians



Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.


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Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!



Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time of the year.

Last week we asked our readers to take part in our Killarney Town Pulse Survey. We wanted to get a better understanding of local consumer sentiment and to get an snapshot of other issues impacting our standard of living. See a summary of our findings below.


So, jobs are aplenty, the minimum wage is set to increase in 2024 and yet according to our findings, locals are not too optimistic about the year ahead.

Just 1 in 10 people reported that they are better off now than they were a year ago. Only 16% expect the economy to be in a better place this time next year and there seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with how the government are tackling key issues affecting our standard of living.

Hasn’t everything gone so expensive?

If I got a euro for every time I heard this the over the past 12 months I certainly wouldn’t be feeling the pinch myself! Generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their personal finances but people’s behaviour is changing under the current climate. We are so frustrated with the cost of everything we are venting at home, in the office, and even while out for dinner with friends. It is not a dig at local business, I know plenty of small businesses struggling to keep their heads above water too.

Inflation is a concern but the real worry is where prices will land

Consumers and businesses are dealing with higher interest rates that have come as a result of the Central Bank trying to tame inflation. Loan products such as mortgages and car loans are more expensive. The noise coming from these issues alone is enough to drown out any positive aspects of the economy.

Stubbornly high inflation is a concern for policy makers, but for the average Joe, we are more concerned about where prices will eventually fall back to. We can deal with some short term pain but with inflation stabilising and some early signs it may even be falling, a large percentage of our survey respondents expect prices to continue to rise. This is backed up by many economists predicting prices will never return to what they were.

It’s not clear how much wage increases have played into higher prices up to now but there is a general consensus that where business margins are tight, higher wages for workers will lead to sustained higher prices for consumers 

Government is failing on issues impacting our standard of living

Research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland last week showed that more than 7 in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. We asked a similar question to locals in our survey and more than 50% of Killarney locals said that either they, or someone they know, is considering moving abroad. This is a sad indictment of our country today.

The pace of housing delivery is dampening young people’s hopes of owning their own home and is even making renting unaffordable. It is not just impacting the youth however, I know of business owners in Killarney where housing shortages are impacting their ability to attract and retain talent, Businesses can’t afford to pay them a wage that allows them to comfortably rent and live in Killarney.  

At the start of September we were reading about a major teacher shortage across the country. Graduate múinteoirí are now ditching Ireland for the Middle-East where their accommodation is often subsidised and their take-home-pay benefits from a largely tax-free society. 

This Wednesday we witnessed a staff walk out at UHK in protest of a recruitment ban in place by the HSE. Reports claim that there are over 90 clerical positions waiting to be filled at the hospital. It is no wonder with all of these added pressures that our nurses and doctors are heading Down Under for warmer weather and better pay and while you couldn’t begrudge them, the drain of health workers in Ireland is leaving those left behind working in stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.  

It’s the uncertainty

The economy is in a strange place at the moment, we are not sure if it is growing, slowing or shrinking. It kind of feels like we are dangling off the edge of a cliff and one big gust of wind could  push us over the edge. The preferred outcome is that we will be pulled back to safer ground but can this government gets to grips with the major issues impacting our standard of living and get the cost of living down to a more tolerable level?


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