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The man who bought Killarney (and gave it back to us for nothing)

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You might not recognise the man in this picture, but you should. I have to confess my own ignorance here; I didn’t know much about him either until I read an article by local historian Damien Switzer in this year’s edition of Killarney Magazine, which was published a couple of weeks ago.

The man pictured is John McShain, a multimillionaire American philanthropist who was born in Philadelphia in 1898. He took over his family’s construction business in 1919 and went on become one of the most successful builders of his time.

When he was 59, McShain was part of a syndicate that bought Killarney House and Gardens (and later the 8,300-acre Kenmare Estate in Killarney, an area of town that included Killarney House, the Demesne, Ross Castle and Innisfallen from Lady Grosvenor). Two years later he bought out the syndicate, answering the age-old question, “How do you buy Killarney?” in the process.

So how did it come to pass that 8,300 acres of private property – the site of some of the most spectacularly beautiful scenery in the world – found its way back to the people of Killarney? It’s not exactly something you just give up for free out of the goodness of your heart.

Unless you’re John McShain. In 1973 McShain and his wife, Mary, gave Innisfallen and its historic ruins to the nation. A few years later, they handed over their estate for a nominal fee on two conditions. First: they wanted to live in Killarney House for the rest of their lives. And second: they insisted that the land would forever be part of Killarney National Park.

John died in 1989 and Mary in 1998. Killarney House and Gardens, located in the heart of the town, has since been redeveloped and it has quickly become one of the most beloved spots in the entire park.

Killarney is an incredible place and we have a great many people to thank for that. Some of them have been memorialised in place names and roads, such as famed men of enterprise MD O’Shea and Dr Hans Liebherr. Other famous sons, like legendary musician Johnny O’Leary from Gneeveguilla and Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, have had statues erected in their honour.

But what about the man who basically gave Killarney to the people of Killarney? Imagine not having access to Killarney House and its gardens, the Demesne, Ross Castle, the middle and lower lakes, Innisfallen… It’s unthinkable.

Damien Switzer has called for walls of Killarney House and Gardens to be pulled down to make it more accessible to locals and tourists alike and this section of the park to be renamed the John McShain Memorial Park. He would also like to see a statue to erected somewhere prominent in town. After all we have the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park in Muckross. I, for one, agree with him. It seems strange to me that someone who played such a massively positive role in our past should be so absent in our present.

What do you think? Should Killarney House and Gardens be renamed John McShain Memorial Park? Should we erect a McShain statue? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@killarneyadvertiser.ie. 

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The secret is in the book!

By Michelle Crean  The secret to finding your true happiness is all in a new book which will guide readers to unlock their potential. Brazilian native Michelle Hadad, who moved to Ireland 14 years ago has written ‘The Secret Box: Concave and Convex’, a 432 page book which addresses the issues of suicide and develops into […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

The secret to finding your true happiness is all in a new book which will guide readers to unlock their potential.

Brazilian native Michelle Hadad, who moved to Ireland 14 years ago has written ‘The Secret Box: Concave and Convex’, a 432 page book which addresses the issues of suicide and develops into two different narratives.

It is also a follow up to her previous work ‘The Secret Box…Finding the Key’, a 192 page paperback launched by Michael Healy-Rae TD and reviewed by now retired judge James O’Connor, in October 2017.

Michelle, who studied adult psychology and is a NLP practitioner who encourages clients to transform limiting self-beliefs, explains that this version continues the story of Maria from the first book.

In the first book, the reader compares and contrasts their own life experiences with those of Maria and ask themselves the very question posed at the end of the book in the final chapter or ‘Padlock 13’ – “who are you?”

“Readers are outside the box, they see their own stories – that’s when we judge others,” Michelle told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It is fiction and the story is in two versions, the positive is bigger than the negative. There is always hope regardless of pain.”

She added that people need to forget about what others think, and focus on their own values and traditions.

“It’s a self help book, it doesn’t matter what people think of us, life’s too short. I’m motivating people in a positive way because of my NLP and psychology qualification.”

However, she emphasised that readers don’t have to have read the first book to understand the second one.

“Maria is the leading figure and there’s a few characters from book one but you don’t have to read that to get book two.”

She added that she’s thankful to everyone who helped her along the way.

“I have been blessed to have met so many people to help with my books.”

Both books are available from O’Connor’s Centra, The Reeks and Horans Health Store on Beech Road.

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Green light for teen accommodation

By Michelle Crean  Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead. An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment. The teens living within the premises […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead.

An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment.

The teens living within the premises will be supervised by applicant Eileen O’Brien who will live on the ground floor of the premises.

The two one-bed apartments on the second floor would either be rented out or used for independent living for the teenagers as they reach adulthood.

The two-bed apartment will be on the third floor. There are also plans for balconies at second and third floor levels.

The proposed apartment building is contemporary in design with a mix of stone and render finish on the lower floors and synthetic burned timber finish on the upper floors. The second floor is recessed at the front and the third floor is recessed at the front and the rear with a decorative feature on the front elevation comprising dark grey timber steel poles. The building will also have a flat roof.

Planning permission was granted subject to 14 conditions including a two-metre high boundary wall to be constructed on south, south-western boundaries of the site and there’s to be no overnight commercial guest accommodation.

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Fans return to Fitzgerald Stadium after eight months

By Sean Moriarty Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game. Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game.

Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the first game at the stadium since the 2020 Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Football Championship Quarter-Final when Glenbeigh-Glencar played Beaufort on October 4 last year.

Due to current restrictions only 200 fans were allowed attend Saturday’s big match. That will remain in place for Kerry’s opening Munster Championship tie with Clare on June 26.

“It had been more than eight months since Fitzgerald Stadium welcomed back fans to the venue,” stadium PRO Tatyana McGough told the Killarney Advertiser. “Everything went exceptionally well.”

She is hopeful that more restrictions will be eased on July 5, paving the way for an increase in capacity to 500 fans in time for the July 25 Munster Final.

“It is likely that from July 5 up to 500 spectators may be permitted to attend games. We hope this number will increase for the Munster Final. If it is a Cork versus Kerry Munster Final the game will be fixed for Sunday July 25 at 4pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The stadium’s staff are very confident in being able to host any number of fans that may be allowed.”

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