By Sean Moriarty
There was an air of stunned silence across the town as news of the sudden and untimely death of popular Killarney man Johnny Hickey started to filter through. The devoted father of three and tireless community worker passed away suddenly on Saturday morning aged just 37-years-old.
Tributes have been pouring in since for the Riverside Drive resident, who was originally from Pinewood Estate.
There is no aspect of Killarney life that Johnny had not touched. He was best known as a dedicated member of Killarney and District Motor Club and a champion rally co-driver. He also volunteered for other clubs like Killarney Cycling Club, Legion GAA, Killarney Athletic FC, St Paul’s Basketball Club and Killarney Tidy Towns.
His passion for motorsport stemmed from his father Charlie, an equally popular garage man in the town.
The father and son team competed together for the last 20 years, only on one occasion in that time did the pair miss a Rally of the Lakes. Among their many career highlights was winning the Southern Four Rally Championship in 2016.
“Johnny has left us far too young and his going leaves a great void in the lives of those who knew and loved him,” said a motor club statement. “For Killarney and District Motor Club, a return to rallying without Johnny will be a much poorer place, where his knowledge, advice, contacts and incredible work ethic will be sorely missed and virtually impossible to replace.”
When local rally driver Rob Duggan won the Young Rally Driver of Year Billy Coleman Award, Johnny looked after all his press and publicity work.
Despite his own success in rallying, his proudest moment in the sport came when his two best friends, Rob Duggan and Colin O'Donoghue won the overall and modified section of the Killarney Historic Rally in 2019.
His rally work was recognised nationally. Cartell.ie has been the long-time sponsor of The Rally of the Lakes and Johnny worked alongside senior management of that company for years.
“You couldn’t beat the motivation, dedication and commitment from Johnny for the Rally of the Lakes. Year after year he tirelessly put in the hours to ensure every part of his involvement of the rally was perfected,” Richard Lahiff, Head of Business Development at Cartell, said.
“Many a late phone call was had to ensure this perfection and that Cartell, as sponsors, were happy with everything he done. A true gent and a great friend to me and all in Cartell.”
He put so much time into the motor club, as press officer, event programme editor and countless hours behind the scenes it was hard to believe he had time for anything else.
His first real passion was mountain biking and as a member of Killarney Cycling Club he was a former Junior National Champion.
He passed on that interest to the next generation of mountain bikers in Killarney and was the driving force behind one of the club’s first mountain bike trails in Muckross. To this day it is known as ‘Hick’s Trail’ in honour of the amount of work he did at the time.
“It is the first track that anyone starting out at mountain biking is brought on,” said a Killarney Cycling Club statement. “There is a lot of young kids owe it to Johnny for getting into mountain biking. As we in the cycling game say it has a little bit of everything and very forgiving, just like the man himself.”
He was also a willing volunteer with the Killarney Tidy Towns group and drove their road sweeper on many occasions.
"His expertise at driving the mini-sweeper helped Killarney keep its clean and tidy image. Johnny's efforts put the finishing touches in keeping our town clean," a group spokesperson said.
His number one priority was his childhood sweetheart and wife Jennifer and his children Alyson, Laura and Conor.
Johnny and Jennifer were married in St Mary’s Cathedral less than four years ago, the same church as his requiem Mass on Tuesday.
When his two daughters wanted to get involved in their own choice of sport, it wasn’t enough for Johnny to merely sign them up.
Instead, he invested in their passions as much as his own. He helped out with the Little Dribblers section of St Paul’s Basketball Club and the family are huge supporters of the club’s national league team.
He got involved in Killarney Athletic FC and Legion GAA because that is the route his daughters followed.
“Alyson and Laura are juvenile members of our club and Johnny would have been a great supporter up at Direen. We are deeply shocked at this news,” said Legion GAA.
The arrival of Conor less than two years ago was a proud moment too.
He worked for local businessman Con Duggan for over 20 years and in that time Johnny became Con’s right-hand man.
“He was as good as a brother to me and almost a son,” said Con. “I depended on him night or day, he was a friend and a business partner, and he is going to be a huge loss.”
Another great, but less known, passion for Johnny was cookery; sharing recipes with his great friend Kevin O'Donoghue.
Johnny is survived by his wife Jennifer, his children Alyson, Laura, Conor, his parents Charlie and Joan, sister Charlene, brothers Cathal and Stephen, father-in-law Dermot O’Connor, mother-in-law Marie, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, neighbours, and a wide circle of friends. He was sadly predeceased by baby Jenelle.
Motorists urged to be vigilant during deer breeding season
Deer are most active from late September until early November as the breeding season gets underway – but this causes huge problems for drivers especially from dawn and dusk. “While the rut is an amazing experience to witness it is also a time when there is an increased incident of road traffic accidents involving deer […]
Deer are most active from late September until early November as the breeding season gets underway – but this causes huge problems for drivers especially from dawn and dusk.
“While the rut is an amazing experience to witness it is also a time when there is an increased incident of road traffic accidents involving deer as male deer go in search of females and younger males are ousted by dominant males forcing deer to cross roads and motorways,” Damien Hannigan from the Irish Deer Commission said.
Drivers are being advised to reduce speed, stay alert and dip their headlights as the full beam may cause the deer to freeze.
“If a deer has crossed in front of your vehicle, be aware that others may follow. Do not approach an injured deer. If you are involved in a deer road traffic accident or come across a deer that has been involved in a road traffic accident, immediately contact the local Gardaí.”
The Irish Deer Commission operate a humane deer dispatch scheme with 75 trained volunteers assisting agencies and charities who deal with an increasing number of deer vehicle collisions nationally.
On Sunday October 10 the Irish Deer Commission will hold a Red Deer Rut Watch event in Killarney National
Park. It has taken place in Killarney continuously for over 5,000 years and Killarney National Park is acknowledged as one of the best locations in Europe to observe the red deer rut.
This family friendly event is being hosted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is free. There will be talks by a Conservation Rangers and the Irish Deer Commission, along with a display of native red deer antlers.
Booking is available only online via visit www.irishdeercommission.ie.
Happy Birthday Sham
Well-known Killarney character Seamus ‘Sham’ Courtney celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (Thursday) at his favourite town centre watering hole. Sham who has entertained countless tourists over the years with his pronounced Kerry accent is one of the town’s best loved characters. One video recorded by RTE’s Today Show around the time of his 71st birthday […]
Well-known Killarney character Seamus ‘Sham’ Courtney celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (Thursday) at his favourite town centre watering hole.
Sham who has entertained countless tourists over the years with his pronounced Kerry accent is one of the town’s best loved characters.
One video recorded by RTE’s Today Show around the time of his 71st birthday has amassed 7.5 million viewers.
Yesterday he visited one of his favourite pubs, Jack C O’Shea’s on High St, where proprietors John and Joan O’Shea and their ever-present dog Ginny placed decorative balloons around the bar to mark the occasion.
Motorists urged to be vigilant during deer breeding season
Deer are most active from late September until early November as the breeding season gets underway – but this causes...
Happy Birthday Sham
Well-known Killarney character Seamus ‘Sham’ Courtney celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (Thursday) at his favourite town centre watering hole. Sham...
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