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The man who built America loved Killarney

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John McShain, who died in September 1989 at the age of 93, was a charismatic building contractor who became known as the man who built America.

A bachelor’s degree graduate from the La Salle University in Philadelphia, during his incredible lifetime, the wealthy construction baron, racehorse owner and philanthropist was the main contractor in the $4.25 million reconstruction of the White House during the Truman years from 1949-1952.

He was also responsible for the construction of the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, the JFK Centre for Performing Arts, Washington National Airport and many other notable US landmarks.

The records of the McShain enterprises in the United States became an important part of the collection of the Hagley Museum and Library which is an archive for commerce, industry and technology, in Wilmington, DE.
A lifelong Republican, John McShain also owned some of the world’s most valuable thoroughbred racehorses and enjoyed a string of top-notch successes in blue riband events like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Ascot Gold Cup, the Irish Derby and the St Leger.

Born in Philadelphia in 1898, McShain was the youngest son of Slaughtmanus, County Derry-born Catholic immigrants, John and Catherine McShain. John Snr went to seek his fortune in America in 1885 where he joined the firm of his uncle, William J McShain before starting out on his own three years later, working mainly on projects sponsored by the Catholic Church.

Destined for a career in the legal profession or as a devout Catholic, possibly a life in the priesthood, at the age of 21 he somewhat reluctantly took hold of the reins of the company, John McShain Inc, following the death of his father.

John Jnr’s wife, Mary Horstmann, a native of Philadelphia who he married in 1927, was a member of a large Philadelphia Catholic family of wool merchants and her pioneering community and charity work later saw her become a Lady of the Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre and a Dame of Malta.

In 1976 she was the recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, the highest honour the Vatican can bestow on a laywoman and, the following year, she was presented with honorary doctorates from three universities.

A close, personal friend of former President of Ireland, Seán T O’Kelly, and a regular visitor to Killarney, in the late 1950s John McShain acquired Killarney House and its sprawling 25,000 estate and he spent the twilight of his life there until his death.

In 1973, the McShains gifted the priceless Innisfallen Island, Ross Castle and 8,000 acres of parkland, mountains and lake to the State and an agreement was reached that, when Mr and Mrs McShain passed on, Killarney House and Gardens would be given to the Irish Government for a very nominal sum.

When his wife, Mary, died in 1998, their daughter Sr Pauline, carried out her father’s wishes and handed the keys and the deeds of the property to the people.
Sr Pauline, a Philadelphia based member of the Society of the Child Jesus order, passed away in March 2019.
John and Mary McShain are buried side by side in his native Philadelphia but their incredible legacy will always live on in their adopted home of Killarney.

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Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]

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The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.

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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]

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The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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