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Smiles of welcome as Killarney House opens to the public




THE doors of Killarney House swung open this morning as the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, together with Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, performed the official launch.

The €10 million project was announced in 2011 by then Minister Jimmy Deenihan and involved a major refurbishment programme for the House and its ornamental grounds and gardens. The project involved collaboration with the Office of Public Works as project managers and Fáilte Ireland.

The three principal rooms of the house, which have been restored to their former glory, are now open to the public for the first time – the dining room, the living room/library and the drawing room. The house is being developed as the main visitor and interpretative centre for the National Park, highlighting the beauty and interpreting the richness and significance of the Park’s landscapes, habitats, flora and fauna as well as telling the story of man’s interaction with the Park over the centuries.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted to be here today to officially open the wonderfully refurbished Killarney House, which will be a fantastic addition to the town's already rich tourism offering. The House's setting is absolutely beautiful, with the ornate gardens already proving very popular with visitors and locals alike. The location of Killarney House is also unique and I have no doubt that it will help to draw many visitors staying in the town into the expanse of the National Park.

"It's great to see the main rooms of the House being open to the public for the first time as we enter the peak summer holiday season. Work will continue on the National Park Visitor Centre at the House which, once complete, will provide an added attraction to visitors and an excellent opportunity to explain the significance and importance of the natural heritage of Killarney and Kerry.

“I am also pleased to announce today that the Irish Museum of Modern Art and my Department have agreed a partnership to showcase its collections in Killarney House, which is a wonderful example of how our National Cultural Institutions can expand their reach.”

Significant State investment has been made in Killarney House, with collaboration across a number of Departments and agencies. “Today is a milestone for the town of Killarney who for so long wanted to see the house restored and utilised for the benefit of the local community and economy. This project is a great example of how investing in our natural and built heritage contributes positively to sustainable tourism,” added Minister Humphreys.

Speaking today Minister of State Griffin said: “Killarney House and Gardens, located within walking distance of the town centre, provide an added attraction for visitors and a vital link between the town and the National Park. It also provides another experience for visitors who are exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. 2016 was a record year for tourism and that strong performance is continuing into 2017. A key part of the tourism success story is our policy of investing in heritage sites such as Killarney House.”

The leas-chathaoirleach of the Seanad, Senator Paul Coghlan, Ballydowney, Killarney, said: "The restored gardens were opened to the public last year and I am delighted that we are now seeing the opening of the rooms of the house with original furniture of Lord Castlerosse, Earls of Kenmare and ‘The Man Who Built Washington’, John McShain.”

Killarney House at a glance

KILLARNEY HOUSE, previously known as Kenmare House, was the seat of the Kenmare family until 1956. The Kenmare family are descended from Sir Valentine Browne, appointed Surveyor-General of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559.

In 1952, the seventh and last Earl of Kenmare died leaving Kenmare House and Estate to his niece Mrs Beatrice Grosvenor. In 1956 the House with a section of the estate was sold and eventually acquired by Mr John McShain, an American of Irish descent, who, with his wife, used the House as a summer residence from 1958 until their deaths

In 1979, Mr McShain sold the estate to the Office of Public Works to be incorporated into the National Park with the provision that the use of Killarney House and its immediate surrounds be reserved for his wife and himself for their lifetimes. In 1998 upon Mrs McShain’s death, the State took over the property.

The three principal rooms of the house have been restored to their former glory and are presented much as they were when the McShain family was in residence. The items on display include items that originated in the former Kenmare House and also many fine pieces acquired by John and Mary McShain.

The house is set in extensive gardens which lead into the wider demesne area and from there into the natural zone of the National Park. The House is situated in the southern edge of Killarney Town Centre. Its formal entrance, known as the ‘Golden Gates’ faces Countess Road and is less than 400m from the centre of the town.

In 2011, the Minister announced a major refurbishment programme for Killarney House and its ornamental grounds and gardens.


Above: The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, sitting at the writing desk of Lord Castlerosse, 6th Earl of Kenmare, shares a joke with Pat Dawson, Manager, Killarney House & Gardens, and Harry O’Donoghue, whose family have connections with the house for three generations. PICTURE: VALERIE O'SULLIVAN



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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