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Potatoes are a fantastic beginner’s crop

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Every year I do an article about potatoes, which might seem repetitive, but there are always gardeners new to this.

It seems that this year there are more people than ever growing their own veg and spuds, maybe the joy of it, or the situation in Eastern Europe is the reason. In any case, I think planting potatoes is one of the most rewarding crops, for adults and especially children. You don’t need a lot of land to grow spuds, they can even be grown in potato bags or pots - or tyres stacked on top of each other.

There are also great pots available with a basket in them which you can lift out to watch the progress!

Seed potatoes are available from February onwards, but it is too cold to plant them out then. To give them a head start, a technique called chitting is employed. To chit, simply take your seed potatoes and put them on a cardboard tray, ensuring they do not touch. Alternatively use the molded side of an egg box. Place in a cool but bright spot, free from frost. They will sprout, but this is exactly what you want. You can start to chit potatoes from the beginning of February onwards, for planting out in mid March.

There are three main types of potatoes; first earlies, second earlies and maincrop. The difference between them is planting out times and harvesting times.

First early varieties are:

Duke of York, Orla, Sharpes express, Casablanca and Arran Pilot. They are planted out from March, but need to be protected from from frost. Plant them 30cm apart, 60cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest in June.

Second early varieties are:

British Queen, Homeguard, Nicola and Charlotte. Plant out from March, again protecting from frost, 30cm apart, 60cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest in July. Maincrop varieties are Rooster, Kerr Pinks, Setanta, Golden Wonder, Maris Piper and many more. Plant out from the beginning of April. Plant 40cm apart, 75cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest from August onwards.

Earthing up – what is it?

It is done when the potato plants are about 20-30cm tall. Pile soil loosely around the stems. This encourages potatoes to form higher up the plant than they would normally, increasing your yield quite substantially. With maincrop varieties it can be done twice.

Blight is caused by fungal spores which are airborne and particularly prevalent in warm humid weather. There is usually a blight warning given on weather forecasts. First symptoms are yellowing foliage, followed by dying foliage. Quickly after that the potatoes will rot. To prevent blight, you can spray with Copper Mixture. It works by sealing the leaves with a layer of copper, preventing the fungus from taking hold. If the disease takes hold, cut away all the foliage, take it away and if possible burn it. Leave the potatoes in the ground for several days, and hopefully they will not be affected.

There are blight resistant potatoes, such as Sarpo Mira. These are not as prone to getting the disease. Planting first and second earlies is also a good way to avoid blight, as they are usually harvested before the blight season begins.

If you are starting a vegetable garden, potatoes are a fantastic beginner’s crop. They loosen the soil in preparation for future crops, but they are also more or less trouble free and quick growing. They are an excellent crop when gardening with children, large enough to handle, resilient to being stood on in the garden, and the surprise young children get when you dig up that one small spud which has magically become a bucket full is something to see!

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Roger and Brendan really into the SWING of things

A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves […]

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A Killarney man who has been living in the US for over 30 years has maintained a very strong connection with his hometown through a novel golfing tournament which involves a regular challenge against local players.

Roger O’Sullivan, originally from Loreto Road and a member of the Rainier Golf and Country Club in Seattle, has linked up with another Killarney man, Brendan Keogh of SWING Golf, on several occasions to bring a group of golfers from the Seattle club to play a number of Kerry and Irish courses.

They compete for the Cider Cup which is their own unique take on the Ryder Cup.

In 2010 Roger led a group of 18 golfers from the US to play in Ireland and they repeated the journey and the adventure again in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

They had another trip planned in 2020 but that was cancelled due to Covid but they returned again in 2022 and a group of 44 golfers were back in Killarney in recent weeks to test their skills on the Kerry courses and against local players.

“Since we first started doing this in 2010 we have had 102 different golfers travel from Seattle,” Roger explained.
“I met Brendan Keogh on one of my visits home and he travelled to Seattle, at my request, and organised sponsorship at my golf club.

“Since then our trips have been expertly organised by SWING Golf who book us preferential tee-times, set up the schedule and coordinate our bus drivers. We have never had an issue or anything to worry about. Being friendly with Maurice O’Donoghue, we have always stayed at Scott’s Hotel,” he added.

The US visitors take on local players when in Killarney and this year there was 100 golfers playing on the Killeen course on the first day of their visit.

“The support of the locals has been incredible and I wouldn’t do this without them,” said Roger.
“There have been numerous friendships made over the last 14 years. We have supported a local charity on every trip and for the last two it has been the palliative care unit at University Hospital Kerry. This year we raised €5,100,” he said.

A former student at St Brendan’s College, Roger’s parents were Tony and Juliette O’Sullivan and his father was the head chef in the Gleneagle Hotel for over 20 years before the family purchased Danesfort Lodge at Woodlawn Cross on the Muckross Road.

Roger has been married for 20 years to Amy from Tampa, Florida and they have one daughter, Gracie.
Brendan Keogh joined SWING in the early days of its operation as financial operations manager, working alongside the late Paddy O’Looney.

A member of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club for 40 years, he is the current CEO and he will have served 33 years next September.

SWING, the brainchild of former Kerry Group chief, Denis Brosnan, markets and promotes the premier golf clubs in the south west and also runs an incoming golf agency.

Records show that the company has booked over 350,000 rounds of golf in the south west alone but it also facilitates golfers wanting to play elsewhere in the country.

The company’s senior team of Brendan, Eileen O’Sullivan and Tommy Pierce have 60 years of experience bringing golfers to these shores.

Killarney has been a huge beneficiary as it is a base for most visiting golfers while on the Kerry part of their trip. The locals like seeing the high spending golfers arrive in April for a season than runs until mid October.
2024 is busy and it is also looking positive for 2025.

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Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years

Killarney Toastmasters Celebrates 20 Years

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Over 30 members, past and present, gathered last Tuesday in The Dromhall Hotel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Killarney Toastmasters club.

Several founder members were present including Frank O’Sullivan and Bernadette Noonan, who are still current members of the club.
Members embrace the core values of Toastmasters International which are “respect, integrity, service and excellence”.
This year Killarney Toastmasters welcomed eight new members of various nationalities, who have brought many talents with them to this international club.
Outgoing president Anthony Walsh said: “I am heartened by the progress of new members and, following the success of the current year, I am looking forward to a bright future for the club.”
Anthony passed the chain of office on to incoming President Ann Hannan, who is very excited about leading the club in the year that Toastmasters International celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

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