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Stranded circus urgently needs power

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STRANDED: Stephen Courtney, his wife Teresa and baby Cora are unable to move from Fels Point in Tralee as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

By Sean Moriarty

A circus that was due to perform in Killarney this week is stranded in Tralee as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and urgently needs diesel or electricity.

Circus Vegas, which is one of Ireland’s longest-running, is stranded in the Fels Point area of Tralee and is calling on the Council to allow it to connect to the local electricity mains or for locals to donate diesel so they can heat and light their caravans.

The touring circus, operated by the famous Courtney family, is one of three circus families in Ireland, and was due to perform in Killarney this week as part of the town’s St Patrick’s Day Festival. The Fossett and Duffy families each run a circus, while two different branches of the Courtney family run separate tours.

Circus Vegas was only able to perform on Tuesday and Wednesday last week before they were shut down. As a result, they have not earned a penny since last Wednesday night (March 11).

There are 29 people currently stuck in Tralee as they do not have enough diesel to move on.

Many of their performers are from Eastern Europe and cannot return home because of travel restrictions in their homelands. They cannot move from Tralee either as they have already siphoned diesel from their fleet of trucks to power generators to keep their caravans warm.

Management were able to secure Social Welfare payments for some of the staff so they have money for food. They were already in difficult times as they were unable to erect their Big Top during the many storms to hit Ireland in recent months and have only worked for a total of two weeks since Christmas.

They are looking for permission to connect to an ESB-owned power-point nearby but so far have failed to secure the required permits.

“We operate on a week-by-week basis,” Stephen Courtney told the Killarney Advertiser. “We are ok for food and water, we need diesel or if anyone knows someone high up in the Council or ESB, ask them if we can connect to the power box. We cannot do it without a permit and we are not going do anything illegal.”

Circus Vegas has been offered a field near Killarney by a local businessman but it is unable to move as trucks are currently without diesel. Even if they did move they are left with the same problem as any new location would require either a diesel or electricity supply.

“If I moved the whole lot I risk getting in trouble with the Gardai, they will be asking me why am I moving everything – it won’t look right,” added 48-year-old Mr Courtney who was born into Circus traditions. “We don’t get any money from the Government, we are not considered performing arts by the Arts Council. This could be the end of Circuses in Ireland.”

If anyone can help the circus, either in terms of diesel or securing the correct permits to connect to the mains box in Fels Point, Tralee should contact Stephen Courtney on 085 8637495.

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Killarney co-drivers to the fore at this weekend

Two Killarney-based co-drivers will contest this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the fourth rounds of the British Rally Championship. The two-day event gets underway tonight (Friday) with one stage set to be run under the cover of darkness. On the startline will be Muckross man Noel O’Sullivan and Aghadoe’s Mikie Galvin. O’Sullivan, co-driver to Welshman Osian […]

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Two Killarney-based co-drivers will contest this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the fourth rounds of the British Rally Championship.

The two-day event gets underway tonight (Friday) with one stage set to be run under the cover of darkness.
On the startline will be Muckross man Noel O’Sullivan and Aghadoe’s Mikie Galvin.

O’Sullivan, co-driver to Welshman Osian Pryce, is the current leader of the series while Galvin, who reads pacenotes for fellow Killarney and District Motor Club member, West Cork’s Keith Cronin, is eighth after missing the opening round.

“The element of darkness certainly brings an additional challenge to all the crews, especially since most of us will not have done any night stages for some time, the most recent I did was in 2017 on the Ulster Rally,” Cronin noted.

The route layout reads like an extract from the itinerary of the World Championship counting RAC Rally of the 1980s, featuring familiar locations such as Dalby, Gale Rigg and Langdale, and it will be the Dalby Forest test that opens the competition shortly after 8pm tonight.

Meanwhile, Irish rallying returned last Sunday after the pandemic-enforced lay-off with the ‘Munster Car Club’s Cork 20’.

London-based Listry co-driver Shane Buckley was the best of the local entrants, guiding Daniel Cronin, Keith’s brother, to fifth overall.

Ger Conway and his driver Stephen Wright were just two places and 8.9 seconds behind in another Ford Fiesta RC2. It was Conway’s first taste of a RC2 car since he and Rob Duggan finished second overall on the 2018 Donegal International Rally.

“There is a taste of more after this,” said Ger after a trouble-free day.
Damien Fleming came close to making it four local co-drivers in the top 10. He and his driver Stephen McCann were 11th, just 16.6 off the leader board. They said it took a while to get used to the bumpy Irish tar after a recent trip to the Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

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Education Minister officially opens The Mon’s new classrooms

A town primary school – which has a deep connection to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty – has a whole new look which was officially opened today (Friday) by the Minister for Education. Norma Foley TD officially opened the newly constructed wing to the Presentation Monastery Primary School on New Road which will house two special needs classrooms, a multi-sensory room […]

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A town primary school – which has a deep connection to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty – has a whole new look which was officially opened today (Friday) by the Minister for Education.

Norma Foley TD officially opened the newly constructed wing to the Presentation Monastery Primary School on New Road which will house two special needs classrooms, a multi-sensory room and a general-purpose hall.

The project, which was funded by Department of Education along with money raised by the school as part of their ‘THE MON-ster Fundraiser’, was just one of three officially opened new additions to the school along with a special dedication of the school’s hall in honour of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a past pupil of the school from 1909-1914.

Also, The Most Rev. Ray Browne, Bishop of Kerry, officially opened a three-classroom extension at the school’s present site which was opened in 1958 having moved from its College Street location which was opened in 1838 by the Presentation Brothers.

Former Supreme Court Judge Hugh O’Flaherty and Mrs Pearl Dineen the nephew and niece of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty officiated over the dedicating of the school’s new hall to past pupil, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, in recognition of his heroic deeds during WWII.

O’Flaherty, who also taught at the school later, became better known for the role he played in World War II while at the Vatican leading over 6,500 prisoners of war, partisans and Jews to freedom to earn him the title of the ‘Vatican Pimpernel’, leading to the 1983 film ‘The Scarlet and the Black’ with Gregory Peck portraying the role of O’Flaherty.

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

A special outdoor classroom ‘Dotts Garden’, dedicated to the memory of Dorothy (Dott) Hennggler the 2011 Washington DC Rose who died at the family home in Baltimore from a brain tumour, was officially opened by Anne O’Shea (aunt of the late Dorothy), and Àine McMahon (cousin of the late Dorothy and BOM member). The outdoor classroom was beautifully decorated over the summer by artist Katríona Lynch.

Due to COVID restrictions, the main event took place outdoors with staff joined by a small group of pupils selected from each of the classes representing the student body along with members of the school’s Board of Management.

“Your achievements have been remarkable over the last number of months,” Minister of Education, Norma Foley, said today at the official opening.

“It is my wish going forward that the next year in education will be less complicated, less trying and less difficult one. I think school staff are deserving of that. We can put the COVID atmosphere behind us and we are moving positively along. We hope that in a few months we will talk about living in a post-COVID time. The story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty speaks of the calibre of students produced here, but it also speaks of the courage and bravery and vision that Kerry people can have in the most difficult and trying of times.”

School principal Colm Ó Suilleabháin, who is shortly moving on to St Oliver’s NS in Ballycasheen, was delighted to be in attendance to see the building come to fruition.

“It’s a fantastic culmination of hard work by the staff and the Board of Management, and we are delighted to see the school is fully equipped and resourced for the next generation of pupils from Killarney and beyond,” he said.

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