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Spectacular week of festivities in Killarney

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Killarney became the undisputed fun capital of the country over the past week with the town playing host to the annual Ring of Kerry charity cycle and the spectacular 4th of July festival.

Thousands of people flocked to the town for the dual festivities with 4,500 people participating in the cycle on Saturday while the streets were packed four deep for the gala Independence Day parade on Tuesday night.

Even the weather played its part for the 175km cycle with no rain recorded although the wind in coastal areas and on Moll’s Gap proved quite testing for the charity champions that took to the saddle.

There was a real party atmosphere in the town before, during and after the cycle with a huge demand for the open air screening of the Kerry v Tyrone championship encounter in the Beech Road car park close to the finish line on Mission Road.

Hotels, restaurants and pubs reported a rip-roaring trade for the cycle which has again raised tens of thousands of euro for benefiting charities.

When the bicycles were put back in the rack, Killarney turned its attention to the 4th of July celebrations and what a gala celebration it turned out to be.

Music and other quality entertainment acts filled the town from early afternoon when the flag-raising ceremony, at which recently elected Mayor of Killarney Cllr Brendan Cronin officiated, took place at the town hall but the undoubted highlight was the bumper parade which wound its way through the packed streets on Tuesday night.

Incredibly elaborate floats, marching bands, cheerleaders, Disney characters and colourful flag-bearers took to the streets and there was a special guest appearance by American footballers from Georgia Tech, including star kicker David Shanahan who hails from Castleisland.
The Orange County Ancient Order of Hibernians pipe and drum band made the long trek from the US to participate and they were joined on the night by the Gleneagle Brass Band and marching bands from Millstreet and Blarney.
This year’s 4th of July festival was significantly extended to become a three-day celebration of Killarney’s close and long-established links with the USA.

On Sunday evening there was a high quality dramatisation of the life and times of the McShain and Bourn Vincent families to mark their generosity in donating Killarney National Park, Killarney House and Gardens and so much more to the town.

The event – featuring and highlighting outstanding local talent – was held in the courtyard of Killarney House and close on 150 guests were treated to a feast of music, song and poetry.

On Monday night Killarney House and Gardens also played host to an open air concert featuring hugely popular local band Truly Diverse and that was followed by an open air screening of hit musical Mamma Mia which attracted close on 1,500 people.

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, who organised the festival in association with Kerry County Council, thanked the numerous dedicated volunteers that helped with the smooth running of all events and praised local businesses for playing their part by decorating their premises with a US theme.

Visitors were particularly impressed by the Flesk Restaurant on Main Street – which has long links with the American Legion – as the exterior of the building was spectacularly festooned with American flags and red, white and balloons and it really captured the spirit of the occasion
 

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Kerry rowing clubs flock to Killarney for the start of the coastal season

There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the […]

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There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the Lake’ time-trial for coastal one-design boats.

The event, hosted by the local Flesk Valley Rowing Club, signalled the start of the summer season for clubs rowing the coastal ‘one-design’ boats.

It was fitting that on the weekend that the Killarney National Park celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House to the public, that hundreds of people also flocked to the Flesk Valley shore to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of the park.

Speaking after the event, Flesk Valley chairman, John Fleming thanked all the Kerry clubs who supported this new event and congratulated all the first-time rowers taking to the water in a competitive event for the first time.
“We were delighted to welcome our neighbouring clubs Workmens’ and Fossa, and look forward to renewing rivalries with them again at the Killarney Regatta at the end of this month,” he said.

“We would also like to thank Mary B. Teahan, Andrew Wharton, Johanna King and the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association for all their support and encouragement, and Denis O’Leary for coordinating safety on the water.”
Flesk Valley would also like to thank the Killarney National Park, Leanes Tool Hire, Hegartys Shop and Muckross Rowing Club for their support.

“This was a great start to the coastal rowing season, and augurs well for the months ahead as clubs build towards the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships to be held in Dingle at the end of August,” added the chairman.

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NPWS announces nature scholarships to mark ‘Muckross 60’

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of […]

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Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House and Gardens to the public. The scholarships will be funded and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Niall O Donnchú said, “Killarney and Muckross have a very special place in Ireland’s heritage legacy, and  such beautiful gems need constant care, nurturing and indeed protecting by future generations. In supporting these third level scholarships, the NPWS is building the knowledge base of the future to assist those generations in continuing to realise the full beauty and nature value of the very unique Muckross House and Gardens and Killarney National Park.”

Mr O Donnchú added: “Killarney has a long history of scholarship, research and frontier work on nature and that continues to this day in the management of Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens. The endowment of these annual scholarships is a very clear attestation that this crucial work continues to be undertaken across our national park system and especially here in Killarney and Muckross. This work has been pioneering in respect of wildlife and nature research and indeed the reintroduction of endangered species and the discovery, even this year, of more.”

Minister for Education and Kerry T.D. Norma Foley also welcomed new scholarships to mark the 60th anniversary of Muckross House.

“Muckross House is one of the jewels in the crown of Kerry tourism and received almost one million visitors last year. These scholarships will further add to our understanding of this outstanding part of our national heritage,” she said.

Muckross House was built by the Herbert family, who were local landlords. They became very wealthy during the 18th century due to the working of the copper mines on the Muckross Peninsula. They commenced the building of the present Muckross House in 1839. It was completed in 1843 at cost of £30,000, just two years prior to the Great Irish Famine. The Herbert family hosted the visit of Queen Victoria to Muckross House in 1861 but later got into financial difficulties and lost the house in 1897.

It was then bought by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family. He in turn sold it in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian gold miner. Bowers Bourn gave it to his daughter Maud as a wedding gift when she married Arthur Rose Vincent, an Irish barrister who later became a Senator.

After Maude died from pneumonia in 1929, Arthur Rose Vincent decided to donate Muckross house to the Irish nation as a memorial to his wife. Muckross House was transferred to the state in 1932 with its 11,000 acre estate and became Ireland’s first National Park in 1933.

The park and gardens were opened to the public but the house remained closed until 1964 when it was reopened as a folk museum on June 14, 1964 following a campaign by people in Killarney.

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