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Three wise men lined up for style event




THREE wise men have been lined up to choose the best-dressed lady at this weekend’s South Kerry Ploughing Championships and Harvest Show on Fleming’s Farm in Grenagh, Fossa, in Killarney.

Local insurance agent and DJ Gavin O’Leary, who was the best-dressed man at the Killarney Races in July, will be joined by master entertainer Jack Patrick Healy – described as Killarney’s Liberace – and dapper gentleman farmer Sean O’Donoghue as the celebrity adjudicators in the style contest.

They will also select the best-dressed man and the most eye-catching Wellingtons with fantastic prizes up for grabs for the winners, including overnight stays in the five-star Europe Hotel and Resort for the best dressed winners and a voucher for MacBees fashion boutique.

Sunday’s day-long carnival will also feature a bonny baby contest with a prize of a full Kerry GAA playing strip for the winner while Macra na Feirme will be back with their hugely popular celebrity dunking Super Soaker stall and a traditional tug-o-war.

In addition to hosting a rugby blitz on the day, Killarney Rugby Club members, meanwhile, will run the fun maze in the maize with all proceeds from that event going to the club.

Now in its fourth year, the South Kerry Ploughing Championships and Harvest Show is a charity community event that turns back the clock and looks to the future on the same afternoon.

Fast developing into one of the social highlights of the year in Kerry, it has already helped to generate in excess of €60,000 for local organisations and this year’s beneficiaries will be the Kerry branch of the Irish Kidney Association, Down Syndrome Kerry, the Irish Pilgrimage Trust and the Kerry-Cork Health Link Bus.

It is organised by the Killarney Valley Classic and Vintage Club and there will be several celebrities in attendance on the day, mingling with the thousands of people expected to flock to the venue on the main Killarney to Killorglin road.

A big attraction this year is that it will incorporate the National Rally of the Irish Vintage Society, showcasing Ireland’s great heritage, with vintage tractors and vehicles and static and stationary engines visiting from all over Ireland. This year’s show will also feature a round of the Irish Tractor Pulling Championships which is always a great spectacle.

The event will feature numerous trade stands, traditional and modern method ploughing demonstrations, shearing competitions, harvesting demos, machinery showcases and traditional farm practice exhibitions.

There will be an all-breed dog show with several prize categories, including best groomed, cutest face, best dressed, best rescued dog, best in show and best junior handler. The adjudicator will be Kathleen Allen of Doggy Do’s Grooming.

Two fun zones with rollercoasters will be on site to keep children – and the young at heart – amused and novelty sideshow events this year will include baking competitions and live music to create a real party atmosphere.

Several food zones will be on site at this year’s South Kerry Ploughing Championships and Harvest Show and there will be activities and novelties on the day for people of all ages and interests, including vintage and classic vehicle displays, stationary engines, competitions for fabulous prizes and so much more.

A major traffic management plan will be enforced while the Ploughing Championships and Harvest Show will take place in an adjoining 60 acres of land owned by the Fleming family. Visitors are asked to follow the instructions of the stewards and Gardaí.

Above: Organising committee member Eilish Cronin models a pair of stylish Wellingtons for celebrity best-dressed contest judges Gavin O'Leary, Sean O'Donoghue and Jack Patrick Healy.



The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians



Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.


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Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!



Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time of the year.

Last week we asked our readers to take part in our Killarney Town Pulse Survey. We wanted to get a better understanding of local consumer sentiment and to get an snapshot of other issues impacting our standard of living. See a summary of our findings below.


So, jobs are aplenty, the minimum wage is set to increase in 2024 and yet according to our findings, locals are not too optimistic about the year ahead.

Just 1 in 10 people reported that they are better off now than they were a year ago. Only 16% expect the economy to be in a better place this time next year and there seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with how the government are tackling key issues affecting our standard of living.

Hasn’t everything gone so expensive?

If I got a euro for every time I heard this the over the past 12 months I certainly wouldn’t be feeling the pinch myself! Generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their personal finances but people’s behaviour is changing under the current climate. We are so frustrated with the cost of everything we are venting at home, in the office, and even while out for dinner with friends. It is not a dig at local business, I know plenty of small businesses struggling to keep their heads above water too.

Inflation is a concern but the real worry is where prices will land

Consumers and businesses are dealing with higher interest rates that have come as a result of the Central Bank trying to tame inflation. Loan products such as mortgages and car loans are more expensive. The noise coming from these issues alone is enough to drown out any positive aspects of the economy.

Stubbornly high inflation is a concern for policy makers, but for the average Joe, we are more concerned about where prices will eventually fall back to. We can deal with some short term pain but with inflation stabilising and some early signs it may even be falling, a large percentage of our survey respondents expect prices to continue to rise. This is backed up by many economists predicting prices will never return to what they were.

It’s not clear how much wage increases have played into higher prices up to now but there is a general consensus that where business margins are tight, higher wages for workers will lead to sustained higher prices for consumers 

Government is failing on issues impacting our standard of living

Research published by the National Youth Council of Ireland last week showed that more than 7 in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. We asked a similar question to locals in our survey and more than 50% of Killarney locals said that either they, or someone they know, is considering moving abroad. This is a sad indictment of our country today.

The pace of housing delivery is dampening young people’s hopes of owning their own home and is even making renting unaffordable. It is not just impacting the youth however, I know of business owners in Killarney where housing shortages are impacting their ability to attract and retain talent, Businesses can’t afford to pay them a wage that allows them to comfortably rent and live in Killarney.  

At the start of September we were reading about a major teacher shortage across the country. Graduate múinteoirí are now ditching Ireland for the Middle-East where their accommodation is often subsidised and their take-home-pay benefits from a largely tax-free society. 

This Wednesday we witnessed a staff walk out at UHK in protest of a recruitment ban in place by the HSE. Reports claim that there are over 90 clerical positions waiting to be filled at the hospital. It is no wonder with all of these added pressures that our nurses and doctors are heading Down Under for warmer weather and better pay and while you couldn’t begrudge them, the drain of health workers in Ireland is leaving those left behind working in stressful and sometimes dangerous conditions.  

It’s the uncertainty

The economy is in a strange place at the moment, we are not sure if it is growing, slowing or shrinking. It kind of feels like we are dangling off the edge of a cliff and one big gust of wind could  push us over the edge. The preferred outcome is that we will be pulled back to safer ground but can this government gets to grips with the major issues impacting our standard of living and get the cost of living down to a more tolerable level?


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