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Town stunned by sudden loss of Johnny Hickey

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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.

 

FAMILY MAN

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.

WORKING LIFE

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.

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Picture This announce Killarney gigs

Following on from being the fastest act ever to sell out the Gleneagle INEC Arena, with tickets going in under five minutes, Picture This have announced their only Irish shows of 2021 with a three-night run at the Killarney venue on December 16 -18. These exclusive gigs coincide with the release of their brand-new album […]

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Following on from being the fastest act ever to sell out the Gleneagle INEC Arena, with tickets going in under five minutes, Picture This have announced their only Irish shows of 2021 with a three-night run at the Killarney venue on December 16 -18.

These exclusive gigs coincide with the release of their brand-new album ‘Life in Colour’ set to be released June 25 via Republic Records.

“We are so excited to be playing at the INEC Arena this December,” Picture This frontman, Ryan Hennessy said.

“It is a place that holds many fond memories for us from starting out in the Acoustic Club to selling out the arena in record time. We have missed the atmosphere and the people so much and can’t wait to be reunited!”

Representing music’s biggest global underdog story, Picture This have unassumingly captivated listeners in every corner of the world, amassing nearly 300 million total streams, selling out stadiums, and inspiring praise from Billboard, ThisSongIsSick, and many more.

Their new album ‘Life in Colour’ boasts hits such as ‘Things Are Different’, ‘LA House Party’ and ‘Unconditional’. Thus far, tracks from the record have already gathered over 25 million total streams and counting prior to its arrival.

Tickets from €49.90 plus booking fees for these exclusive shows go on sale this Friday at 9am www.inec.ie and www.ticketmaster.ie.

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Renowned chef to host men’s charity cookery demo

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To celebrate International Men’s Health Week, cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has organised a live cookery demonstration with renowned chef, Mark Doe.

It takes place on Tuesday next, June 15.

Open to all men dealing with cancer, the free Zoom cook-along event will take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, where the famous Just Cooking cookery school founder will share some of his expertise with participants.

Mark has chosen a simple marinated chicken in pitta bread with wedges and coleslaw as his dish of choice for the evening, and will be taking participants through the steps to create their very own meal via this live cook-along event.

“We wanted to do something special to mark International Men’s Health Week and we are honoured that Mark has agreed to come on board to host this exciting event,” Recovery Haven manager Siobhan MacSweeney said.

“The free event is open to all men who are dealing with cancer, not just our own clients, so we are encouraging as many men as possible to sign up for what promises to be a great, fun evening.”

Anyone interested in taking part is required to register in advance by phoning Recovery Haven Kerry on 066 7192122.

Once registered you will receive a Zoom link to join the cook-along on the evening as well as the list of ingredients you will need.

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Loss of Kerry to Dublin route a “severe blow” 

  Ths loss of the Stobart Air Kerry to Dublin routes – which was announced yesterday (Sunday) that it’s to cease trading with immediate effect – will have a serious impact on the county, in particular the tourism and hospitality industry. Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is urgently requesting the Government act quickly on the collapse of the […]

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Ths loss of the Stobart Air Kerry to Dublin routes – which was announced yesterday (Sunday) that it’s to cease trading with immediate effect – will have a serious impact on the county, in particular the tourism and hospitality industry.

Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is urgently requesting the Government act quickly on the collapse of the airline and appoint a replacement.

The tourism group said that the loss of the routes is “such a severe blow to an industry that has been the most impacted by COVID for over 15 months and will take years to recover”.
 
Passengers affected are advised not to travel to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information.

The Department of Transport is currently examining the implications of the announcement while Kerry County Council said it has full confidence in the future of Kerry Airport and will work closely with airport management to ensure the quick restoration of this key route and the future development of further air traffic routes into the county.

Minister for Education and Kerry TD Norma Foley said that she was “saddened to hear the announcement”.

“I have spoken directly on the issue with Kerry Airport and Minister Eamon Ryan and officials regarding the importance of the restoration of services, including the Dublin/Kerry route which is vital to the region. We are all committed to finding a pathway forward for the restoration of connectivity as a matter of urgency.”

The Government is acutely aware of the devastating impact that COVID-19 restrictions are having on the aviation sector.

By the end of June, the sector will have received approx. €300 million in State funding spanning employment supports, waiver of commercial rates and deferral of taxes. The bulk of the support to airlines is through the TWSS/EWSS wage subsidy schemes which were specifically designed to maintain the link between employers and employees. Liquidity support has also been made available by ISIF to large aviation enterprises.

This is in addition to PSO support of approximately €7 million per annum for the affected routes.

LIFEBLOOD

Tourism in Kerry generates €661 million annually, employing some 14,000 people. COVID-19 has forced 82% out of the workforce into unemployment. Tourism supply and support businesses have also been severely affected with thousands of employees out of work and companies struggling to survive.

“Connectivity and transport is the lifeblood to rebuilding tourism,” Pat O’Leary, Chairman of KTIF said. “The tourism and aviation sector is critical to the economy and viability of life in Kerry, it impacts on every household. It was the first industry to feel the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the last to recover. The Government can save vital tourism and businesses connectivity by moving swiftly and confidently appointing a replacement to service these crucial routes. Our thoughts are with the employees at Stobart Air, our colleagues in Kerry Airport and the tourism and aviation industry who are all working so hard on recovery and reopening plans.”

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce said that Stobart operated the Kerry-Dublin service with great professionalism and customer care was always a priority, and that they wish them well as the face a very difficult time.

“Killarney Chamber won’t be found wanting in its commitment to support Kerry Airport and we have every confidence that John Mulhern and his team possess the ability, the knowledge and the determination to bring about the restoration of the service,” Niall Kelleher, President, Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, said. 

“Going forward, Kerry Airport will be critical to reopening the Kerry economy and we must all work to build on any opportunities that arise to provide greater access into the county. Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce is fully committed to help find a pathway forward for the restoration of connectivity.”

 

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