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Smiles all round as Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms reopens

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The sun and the buzz of the Bank Holiday weekend brought many visitors to the National Park where The Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms just reopened for the tourist season.

Proudly supporting Down Syndrome Kerry, they also support local, where I enjoyed a delicious Killarney coffee and homemade apple pie.

I put in a call to Catherine Doyle who I know gives her time generously to Down Syndrome Kerry and the operation of the Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms.

On a well deserved school break, Catherine put me in touch with Ann Ladden (Family Liaison Coordinator) and Norma Doherty (Tea Rooms Manager).

The ladies gave me the run down on operations before I had the pleasure of meeting employees James Doyle and Ann Marie Ladden.

What is the goal of the Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms?

"The main aim here at the Deenagh Lodge is to set up training for our young Down Syndrome adults who are 18+ years, to eventually move out into mainstream work in their communities. There are approx 30 Down Syndrome adults employed at the lodge where they are all paid, working two to four hour shifts where we are now open seven days per week from 9am to 5pm. It is a fantastic facility providing a welcoming environment where they can interact with customers and gain confidence in safe surroundings. The social aspect of dealing with people is hugely important. This year there will be a Instructional Coach on board, hands on in reaching that goal of employment for our Down Syndrome adults, whose parents travel to The Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms from as far as Listowel, Causeway, Limerick and Cork," Norma explained.

What's on the menu?

"We are fortunate to be supported hugely by the community of Killarney, tourists arriving off the horse and carts as well as tour groups in the evenings. All our produce here at the Lodge is home baked. We have hot and cold drinks, toasties, sandwiches, an array of cakes, ice cream and snacks. It's a welcome stop for dogs and their owners to rehydrate after a run or walk in the Park. Norma is a fantastic manager. She and the staff worked hard through COVID and they are the creators of the great atmosphere that is Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms. Together with Norma and her team, the OPW work hard in making it the only facility of its kind in Kerry.

Hello James Doyle...

"I am James from Beaufort and I've been working here for five years. Some days I do two hour shifts but mostly four hour shifts. My favourite thing is the wash up, meeting people, I love carrying trays and thankfully there have been no catastrophes so far! I am lucky to have great strength to carry the trays because I go to Owen Browne for personal training at his gym 'Farm Athletic' in Beaufort," James said.

What is your dream job James?

I attended MTU in Tralee and I spent four years on the Skills4Life course there. I think if I was to pick any job in the world, I would love to go back there to work in one of their offices one day. That would be the dream."

Hello Ann Marie Ladden....

"I am Ann Marie from Castlemaine and my parents bring me to work most days. I am the same as James, I work two to four hour shifts every week. My favourite thing is making new friends here in Killarney and I love to chat to the customers. I get on well with everyone here so it has given me confidence and experience that I can do it!" Anne Marie explained.

What is your dream job Ann Marie? I think you'd make a fantastic model!

"Do you think so? Maybe I would like to be a model one day, but my dream is to become a classroom assistant. I would really love that to help people every day.

The young adults at The Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms are paid directly by Down Syndrome Kerry. Like every young person, they love the independence of spending and learning the value of their own money. Their tips go directly to Down Syndrome Kerry where they are pooled for needed services. The artwork that hangs in the Lodge is the creation of Betty Rohan who sells her work donating a percentage to Down Syndrome Kerry. There is also a beautiful painting at the Lodge by popular local artist Phil O'Grady, currently being raffled where all the proceeds will go to Down Syndrome Kerry.

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Fire warning in National Park

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has appealed to the public not to light fires or barbecues in public places […]

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The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has appealed to the public not to light fires or barbecues in public places this summer.

As they appeal to the public to exercise renewed care and responsibility when outdoors the National Parks and Wildlife Service has increased ground crews on fire patrol and has ramped up aerial monitoring with helicopters and drones.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD said:

“If you notice a fire, please call the emergency services on 112 immediately. NPWS teams are upping their patrols to identify potential fire incidents and act quickly should one break out. However as we know, prevention is better than cure, and we’re asking all members of the public to avoid lighting fires in open areas.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD commented further:

“Our National Parks and Nature Reserves, coastal sand dunes, mountains and upland areas, forests, meadows and urban parks are all places where we enjoy spending time in nature, but they are also home to our precious wildlife and their vulnerable young. This is a really important time of year for wildlife, especially vulnerable ground-nesting birds and mammals who are now rearing their young. We all want to get out and enjoy the good weather but let’s do it responsibly – without putting nature at risk.”

The Director General of the NPWS, Niall O Donnchú, has also asked for everybody’s cooperation to protect nature and said:

“While NPWS has increased ground crews and monitoring from the air this week, we still need to enlist your help to protect nature at this high risk time. We ask that members of the public not light fires or barbecues in any National Parks or Nature Reserves, or indeed in nature generally. We are also asking that the public be vigilant and report any fire activity without delay.”

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Killarney Looking Good Competition returns

Over three decades after it was first initiated, to help improve the aesthetic values of the town, the Killarney Looking Good Competition is back with a vengeance with a new […]

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Over three decades after it was first initiated, to help improve the aesthetic values of the town, the Killarney Looking Good Competition is back with a vengeance with a new committee, new categories, new sponsors and a whole new approach.

When the project was first launched in 1991 it was a relatively low-key community event but it grew in importance with each passing year, culminating in some style when Killarney won the prestigious overall award in the national tidy towns competition in 2011.

After an enforced three-year absence since 2019, due to the pandemic, the competition has now been given a whole new lease of life and the 2023 version was officially launched this week by Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher.

Awards will be presented in 26 different categories and high achievers in the business and residential community will be honoured at a gala prizegiving ceremony at the close of the tourist season.

This year two new categories are being introduced in memory of two remarkable people who played massive roles in keeping Killarney looking its best down through the years.

Yvonne Quill, who passed away last October, was the driving force behind the Killarney tidy towns campaign for several years and she was at the helm when the sought-after overall award was secured 12 years ago.

This year the Yvonne Quill Memorial Award will be presented to the volunteer of the year – a person who the adjudicators consider to be a standout contributor – in the overall effort to keep Killarney tidy.

Up to the time of his death in January 2020, Fr Michael Murphy was the public face of tidy towns and he played a huge part in Killarney, Kenmare and Sneem winning the overall national award in 2011, 2000 and 1987 respectively. Affectionately known as Fr Tidy, this year the Killarney Looking Good Competition will honour his memory with a special Pride of Place award.

In the business community, there will be awards for the best large and small commercial premises, best newly painted premises, best signage and the best retail award with prizes also for the most impressive hotel, public house, restaurant, café, guesthouse and best public building as well as the most improved premises.
In the residential categories awards will go to the best large and small estates, best private residence, best roadside garden, best floral display and best friendly planting award.

Other categories include a green hospitality award, a corporate special responsibility award, a restoration award, best school and a special biodiversity award.
Several highly commended awards will also be up for grabs and the winner of the prestigious overall award will be announced at the prizegiving ceremony.

The Killarney Looking Good Competition is organised by Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and Killarney Municipal District Council and the new committee comprises Sandra Dunlea – a daughter of the late Yvonne Quill – Kathleen Foley, John O’Mahony and Johnny McGuire who is spearheading the project.

MD O’Shea & Sons are the new overall sponsors of the competition and O’Mahony Media Ltd is the media sponsor.

The competition will run throughout the tourist season and businesses and residential areas will be monitored on an ongoing basis.

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