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“The McShains loved Killarney… They should have been honoured long ago”

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The caretaker who has looked after Killarney House & Gardens since 1986 and knew the McShains personally has thrown his weight behind the Killarney Advertiser’s McShain Campaign, insisting that the generous American couple should have been honoured years ago.

Harry O’Donoghue started working for John and Mary McShain as a 22-year-old in 1986, shortly after the pair permanently relocated to the Killarney holiday home they had owned since 1959. Before that they would spend six months of the year here in Killarney and six months in Arizona.

With regards to the Killarney Advertiser’s campaign, Harry says there was ample opportunity to memorialise the McShains in the past but the council, for whatever reason, failed to act.

“Years ago when the council got the land for Mission Road off the McShains, I pleaded with them to name it the McShain Road,” the popular caretaker explains. “They turned a blind eye to it.

“It’s a real pity that nothing is called after them. It’s shocking, really. There’s only one place in Killarney that I know of that’s named after them: the McShain Suite in the Plaza Hotel.

“It would be nice if the council erected a statue outside on the Mission Road or even at the Golden Gates. All these years later, they still haven’t recognised what the McShains did for them. They got everything for nothing.”

Harry kindly gave me a tour of Killarney House this week and as well as giving me a fascinating insight into the history of the famous Killarney landmark, he was quick to point out how fond John and Mary were of the town, and how fond the town was of them.

“They loved Killarney - they called it a ‘gem’. Peace and quite. That’s what they wanted and that’s what they got. They were very nice people and they were very good to all of us, especially my parents. Everyone locally had good time for them. John would take his pony and trap out around Ross Island and people loved to see him.”

Harry and his family have a long and storied history with Killarney House. He took over the caretaker role from his late father Paddy and his grandfather, Tim, was a valet to the last Earl of Kenmare, Lord Castlerosse. Castlerosse was shot in the trenches during World War I and Tim, who was serving alongside him, saved his life. Thereafter the Anglo-Irish nobleman (real name Valentine Brown) took the O’Donoghue family under his wing and provided them with jobs all over Europe.

The loyal caretaker is just the latest in a string of local people who have voiced their dismay that John and Mary McShain are yet to be appropriately memorialised by the town of Killarney.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser last week, Mayor John Sheahan, the Chamber President Paul O’Neill, TD Michael Healy-Rae and the General Manager of Killarney House & Gardens Pat Dawson all backed the idea of recognising the McShains in some way. The people of Killarney also seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of honouring the altruistic couple.

What do you think? Should Mary and John McShain be recognised for what they did for Killarney? What would be the most appropriate way of honouring them? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@killarneyadvertiser.ie.

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Massive Park Road housing development given green light

A private developer has been given planning permission to build 249 new residential units at Upper Park Road. The development, which will be built on a recently cleared site near […]

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A private developer has been given planning permission to build 249 new residential units at Upper Park Road.

The development, which will be built on a recently cleared site near An Post’s sorting office, will include a variety of properties from five-bed houses to single apartments, along with a crèche and over 500 car spaces and over 300 bike spaces.

The development has been welcomed by local councillor Martin Grady.

“Killarney has a massive housing shortage so this is very positive. It will retain young families in the area, stimulating economic growth,” he said. “After 17 years of different planning applications it’s finally coming to fruition.”

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Ballydribeen residents living in fear due to anti-social behaviour

Residents in the Ballydribeen are living in fear as a result of increased anti-social behaviour in the estate. Several serious incidents in the estate have resulted in several Garda visits […]

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Residents in the Ballydribeen are living in fear as a result of increased anti-social behaviour in the estate.

Several serious incidents in the estate have resulted in several Garda visits in the last week.

Local councillor Martin Grady told the Killarney Advertiser that residents are “living in fear” as a result of very serious incidents in the last week alone.

One house in the estate was badly damaged when fire crackers were placed inside a letter box.

Another house had its windows smashed in over the weekend.

“It’s a major problem,” added Grady after meeting residents there earlier this week.

One of the most serious incidents occurred on Tuesday night.

A passing motorists had rocks thrown at his car while driving along the bypass whch is adjacent to the estate.
Taking to social media, local primary-school teacher Pádraig O’Sullivan posted:

“Travelling home tonight, at 11.05pm on the Killarney side of the bypass our car was hit by a rock – not a pebble – from the Ballydribben side , which hit the passenger door.

“It was centimetres away from hitting the window where my father, who is visually impaired, was sitting.

“This could have caused catastrophic permanent injury to him.

“The Killarney Garda were on the scene within three minutes.

“They can’t be patrolling the bypass all night.

“It comes down to parenting. You should know where your children are at this hour and be able to teach them what’s funny and what ruin a person’s life or cause a fatal crash.“

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