Local Choir sing for Pope Francis

In what proved to be an extremely emotional weekend for people who made the long journey to Knock and Dublin to see Pope Francis, Castleisland was well represented with a big Kerry contingent attending the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park and the special concert that took place in Croke Park.

Indeed members of the local Castleisland Church choir that featured on RTE’s Mass on Sunday were there also to lend their voices and like many others took the time to remember the occasion well, a quick photograph in front of the Phoenix Park Altar in which the Pope celebrated Mass to in which up to 200,000 attended.

Meanwhile in official stats released on Monday it recorded that the event saw some 1,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics in the park on Sunday along with 900 private security personnel, 500 Gardaí and 500 members of the Defence Forces. More than 200 litter pickers worked through the night on Sunday to clean up all public routes in the park, which re-opened at 4pm on Monday.

Canadian Incentive Buyers ‘Meet in Ireland’

A group of influential travel incentive buyers from Canada, are currently in Ireland on a ‘Meet in Ireland’ familiarization trip, and are being shown around Kerry and Cork to learn more on how they can programme these counties for future high-end incentive programmes for their corporate clients in Canada. The visit is hosted by Fáilte Ireland’s Meet in Ireland team, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland and locally with the Kerry and Cork Convention Bureaux. For the majority of the Canadian buyers, this was their first time to travel to Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland’s Meet in Ireland Manager Ciara Gallagher said:

Business Tourism continues to be one of the most lucrative forms of tourism, with visitors travelling to Ireland for business purposes, spending almost three times more than the average visitor. Last year alone, Fáilte Ireland secured business events worth €162m, accounting for a total of 101,250 international delegates. One of our core priorities for the years ahead is to grow the regional spread of these delegates so that every part of Ireland benefits from business tourism.

Incentive planners are looking for truly unique Destination Experiences for reward and recognition programmes.  Infrastructure, access and value for money and safety are some of the top factors they are considering when choosing a destination for their corporate clients.”  

A bespoke itinerary was designed for the group to showcase what Kerry has to offer and included a cycling tour of the Killarney National Park and House, taking in the Lakes of Killarney and Ross Castle from St Mary’s Cathedral.  A visit to Muckross traditional farm and site visits to a number of Kerry hotels including the Killarney Park Hotel, the Great Southern Hotel and The Europe.  While in Cork the group went on a historical walking tour including Cork Gaol and UCC, the Jameson Midleton Experience and onto to Fota Island Resort and a site visit to Hayfield Manor before heading to Dublin for a show around of its leading venues and facilities.

Kerry Convention Bureaux Sales Manager, Becky Hargrove, said:

Kerry is a spectacular place to inspire, engage and motivate business tourism delegates. Whether it’s an association or corporate meeting or a high-end incentive, we offer unrivalled facilities in idyllic locations throughout our region. 

She added “In the past five years, Kerry has welcomed over 220 conferences/ meetings and 180 incentives with more than 120,000 delegates from over 25 different countries. As a business tourism destination, you won’t find another conference or incentive destination that marries professionalism and cutting-edge technology with such rich cultural history, spectacular natural scenery and abundance of activities”.


Be part of the solution to plastic pollution

The Diocese of Kerry takes up the challenge of Plastic Pollution for the ‘Season of Creation’ 2018. The Season runs from September 1st to October 4th a time when Christian Churches around the world focus on prayer and action to protect the natural world or creation. This time can be described as the churches’ Eco Time.

Be part of the solution to plastic pollution, is the catch phrase for the theme chosen by the Diocese of Kerry for this Season of Creation.

This is not a new initiative to the Diocese of Kerry, but this year all Catholic Dioceses in Ireland have been asked by their bishops to celebrate the season.

The Events include:

  • September 1st A Prayer Event in Tralee Town Park at 11am and all are welcome.
  • In Killarney, St Mary’s, Church of Ireland, is hosting a celebration at 10.30am on Sept 1st, in its own grounds. The people of Killarney from all and any faith traditions are invited to meet to pray for the protection and care of this planet and its inhabitants.
  • Film Plastic in Paradise will be shown in the Killarney, John Paul 2 Pastoral Centre, Rock Road on Wednesday 19 September at 8pm when film maker Vincent Hyland of Derrynane will be present, for this screening of his documentary of the effects of plastic pollution in the ocean. The screening will be followed by a short recycling workshop given by a Recycling Ambassador from VOICE Ireland. Again there will be a warm welcome for all.


A special brochure is being circulated in parishes and throughout the diocese: Be Part of the Solution to Plastic Pollution. All parishes across the diocese will receive copies of this brochure explaining the theme and giving suggestions for practical actions to be taken. This will is also available on the diocesan website.

This 5- week Season of Creation gives parishes the opportunity to include the theme in Sunday Mass, and resources to support this are available. The Radio Kerry programme ‘Horizons’ and the daily ‘Just a Thought’ will also highlight the theme during the Season.

This is an ideal opportunity for all Christian churches to come together as we are all aware of the huge challenges facing our common home, that home for all creation. The issue of plastic pollution is on everyone’s lips right now and not surprisingly as Ireland is the top EU producer of plastic waste. This Season is an invitation to become part of the solution and join the many exciting initiatives, local, national and globa, says Sylvia Thompson, of the Diocese’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee, the group organising the event.




The search for Kerry entries for Top Security’s Frank Maher Classical Music Awards for 2018 has begun and, with a €5,000 top prize, they are Ireland’s largest classical music competition for secondary schools. The 2013 winner and award-winning violinist Mairead Hickey was at the launch in the Crawford Art Gallery and, as this year’s competition is taking place earlier than usual, the closing date for entries is now Friday 14th September 2018.

The Frank Maher Classical Music Awards were created in 2001 by Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of the Top Security Group, to showcase outstanding young talent in classical music. Past winners have received national and international recognition for their achievements and used their prize money as a springboard towards a professional career by funding their studies at some of the world’s most renowned music colleges and institutions, the Barenboim-Said Akademie, Royal College of Music, Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique et de Danse, Kronberg Academy and the Meadows School of the Arts to name a few.

Emmet O’Rafferty said, “I established the Awards to honour the memory of one of my late teachers, Fr Frank Maher, who was a pioneer in the nurturing of musical talent in secondary schools. He would have been delighted with the number of incredibly gifted musicians they have attracted over the years and I wish this year’s prospective entrants the very best of luck.”


The Awards are open to sixth year post-primary students of string, woodwind, brass and piano. The €5,000 top prize will be used by the winner to attend a recognised place of tuition, a course of study in Ireland or abroad or on a purchase necessary for the development of their talent. The finalists will each receive a €250 bursary.


Mairead Hickey added “Winning the Frank Maher Classical Music Awards was a wonderful and important career stepping stone for me. It has helped to open doors professionally, so I would certainly be encouraging any aspiring young musicians to enter the competition. “


The closing date for entries is Friday 14th September 2018.  Seven finalists will be selected by an independent board of adjudicators to attend the competition night on Friday 5th October 2018 at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin to perform in front of an invited audience.


Full details, including rules and a copy of the application form for downloading, are on www.frankmaherclassicalmusicawards.com

Young Kerry lads “Keane” on Five in a Row

It really is a sign of the great development work at underage level carried out by the county that sees the Kerry minor crop of 2018 compete in their fifth successive minor football final next Sunday when Galway stand in the way of a historic 5 in a row.

In fact, if stats could win games, then Kerry would have a strong hand. Unbeaten in 29 games since their victory over Clare in 2014 when Jack O’Connor’s lads left Ennis with a 2-16 to 0-7 win back in 2014.

Four All Ireland victories to date with wins over Donegal (2014), Tipperary (2015), Galway (2016), Derry (2017) and now Galway look to avenge their 2016 loss and prevent something really special in the GAA world, a five in a row.

Still stats do not win games, players do and Kerry manager Peter Keane at every corner of this year’s journey has played down the significance of any of what has gone before. “None of this team has played in those games and in fact they are now a lot younger with the age group gone to under 17”, so in many ways Kerry despite their great showing this year are certainly breaking new ground.

Keane is a realistic when it comes to talk about records and five in rows. “There is no talk by any of the players or us as a management in viewing if that way (5 in a row), these players were only 11 or 12 years when all this (success) all began and all they want is their own medal which is something none of them hold at present”

In many ways, too they are a Kerry team who have shown a different glow to the teams in the past as they have brought a new strength of character as witnessed in their wins over Cork and Monaghan especially. Games in which they were put to the pin of their collars to escape and games in which they never panicked and were calm under pressures. Something that belies their age.

Keane, who is on his own personal three in a row, comes face to face with the team he conquered for his first All Ireland minor crown – Galway.

He is in no doubt that they present a major challenge. “They play good football like Galway teams traditionally have done and like the side we faced two years ago did as well. We don’t see too many weak spots and obviously there is a desire for a double there with the Minor Hurlers having won their All Ireland.”



Kerry’s Star Baker to meet Mary Berry At the National Ploughing Championships

The National Dairy Council is delighted to announce the three finalists of the Dare to Dairy with Mary competition. The three lucky finalists will bring their winning cakes to the Ploughing Championships on Wednesday 19th September and meet the Queen of Cakes herself Mary Berry.

The NDC received a huge volume of high standard entries from all over the country and baking enthusiasts really impressed the judges who included Chandima Gamage Head Pastry Chef at Dromoland Castle, Food Writer and judge of Great Irish Bake Off, Lilly Higgins and Ciara Leahy, Consumer Editor of the Irish Farmers’ Journal.

One of the winners is Natasha Daly originally from Birr but now living in Kerry and working as a Cardiac Physiologist. Natasha created Sloe Gin and Blackberry Cakes for the competition, she said

There is a large crop of blackberries growing in the field behind my home so I wanted to create a recipe using them. (The bottle of sloe gin was from a supply that I made last year). The recipe was developed from a number of different ideas, while trying to incorporate dairy products into the recipe. Each layer as I made it was sampled and approved by my husband.  I enjoyed doing the mirror glaze as it was something I had never tried before. While the recipe contains double cream in the blackberry layer the end product ended up being surprisingly light”.

Natasha will join the two other finalists who are Sonia Steedman who created a Pistachio, Rosewater, Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake and Mitchelstown and Anne Dunne who created Hazelnut Sable Biscuits with Ricotta Mouse, Caramelised Pears and Crushed Praline

Prizes: Each finalist will receive a €300 voucher for Ballymaloe Cookery School and an Afternoon Tea Hamper filled with Goodies, free entry into Ploughing and will have Afternoon Tea with Mary Berry.


Mary Berry said “I’m looking forward most to meeting people and food producers at the National Ploughing Championships and tasting some good Irish food. Irish stew is one of my favourite dinners, even better with a chunk of soda bread. My mother used to make it when I was young and I still make it for my children and grandchildren.” You just can’t beat a good crumble or pie with homegrown berries or a stew with neck of lamb,” she remarks excitedly.

Mary Berry and finalists will be at the National Dairy Council stand at the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday 19th September.


Kerry County Council has today (Wednesday) lodged the planning application for the South Kerry Greenway with An Bord Pleanála. The planning application is being made for the development of a greenway amenity measuring almost 32km between Glenbeigh and Reenard on the Iveragh Peninsula in south Kerry. The proposed greenway runs parallel to the Ring of Kerry which is an iconic and internationally renowned tourist route popular with cyclists and with breath-taking scenery.


The planning application comprises an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which assesses the anticipated environmental impact of the project. A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) notice for the acquisition of the privately-owned lands to allow the council to develop the greenway will be published on Thursday.


If confirmed by An Bord Pleanála, the CPO will allow Kerry County Council to acquire the land necessary for the project. The scheme impacts on 222 landholdings and 197 landowners and was the subject of extensive public consultation over the past decade. The Council will continue to engage with landowners throughout the process and a dedicated information line will be made available.

The three-metre wide paved surface greenway will run from the townland of Reenard southwest of Caherciveen to the townland of Faha west of Glenbeigh. The route will, in the main, be constructed on the corridor of the abandoned Great Southern railway line with off-line sections being constructed on adjacent lands and local roads. It will include the provision of car parks, and the upgrading of existing bridges and tunnels such as the Cahersiveen Railway Bridge, Gleesk Viaduct and tunnels at Drung Hill.

Copies of the EIAR, CPO notice and other documentation will be available from this Friday, 31 August, at council offices in Killorglin, Cahersiveen and Tralee and on the Kerry County Council website. Submissions on the order must be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by 19 October next.

An Bord Pleanála may decide to hold an oral hearing having regard to any submissions received.


Kerry Holstein Friesian Breeders Club Awards Night

Holstein Friesian Breeders Club held its annual herds competition awards night at Ó Riada’s Bar and Restaurant in Ballymacelligott recently.

The competition is open to pedigree herds from all over Kerry and judging was carried out over a week during the summer by Limerick man, Michael Laffan – the herds competition judge.

The KHFBC herds competition is based on meeting set standards and production guidelines and there are spring and autumn category awards with sub-division occurring in some of these categories.

Dairymaster, the Kerry based farm industry giant, has a long association with the Kerry Holstein Friesian Breeders Club and company representatives took an active part in the presentation of the awards on the night.

Shows, sales, awards, field evenings and social gatherings for the youth wing of the club make up the yearly round for the members.

At its 2018 annual general meeting the following officers were elected: President: Richard Langford; Vice President: Michael Maunsell; Secretary: Geraldine Harty; Chairperson: John Dillon; Vice Chairperson: Seamus Curran; Treasurer: Leo O’Connor; PRO: John Barrett; YMA Coordinator: Christopher Heffernan; YMA Secretary: Aisling Harty.

The Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) is a member owned organisation directed by an IHFA board which is directly elected from its 3,700 members in 15 club areas of which the Kerry club is one.

The association is licensed by the Department of Agriculture to issue ancestry and pedigree registration certificates.

The IHFA is responsible for the validity and upkeep of the herd-book of Holstein Friesian cattle and for giving direction to the development and promotion of the breed in Ireland through its many events and services.

12 Kerry Post Offices to close

An Post have announced the closure of 159 rural post offices across 25 counties with a dozen of them in Kerry.

The post offices will close following the retirement of the local postmasters and An Post has provided a list of the nearest post offices to the locations affected.

An Post says that the retirement of the postmasters was agreed as part of historic agreements with the Irish Postmasters’ Union and that it will seek to ensure that the services enjoyed by customers are not affected.

The company says that services in the closed post offices will be consolidated in the nearest available office that remains open.

“An Post is very grateful for the contribution of the postmasters over so many years. We will work with the communities that they have served to ensure that their needs continue to be met by An Post for the future,” managing director Debbie Byrne said in a statement.

An Post says that all of the post office locations are in locations where there are fewer than 500 people living and that 100 of them are in remote areas with fewer than 50 occupied dwellings.


Kerry Post offices that are closing (12)

Asdee is closing and the nearest is Lisselton 8.6km

Ballinskelligs is closing and the nearest is Waterville  12.7km

Ballylongford is closing and the nearest is Tarbert      8.2km

Ballymacelligott is closing and the nearest is Castleisland      8.7km

Banemore Cross is closing and the nearest is Lyreacrompane  7.2km

Currow  is closing and the nearest is Farranfore       4.4km

Duagh is closing and the nearest is Abbeyfeale 7.3km

Gneeveguilla is closing and the nearest is Rathmore     6.3km

Kilflynn   is closing and the nearest is Abbeydorney        4.8km

Knocknagoshel is closing and the nearest is Abbeyfeale        9.8km

Mastergeehy is closing and the nearest is Waterville       8.5km

Moyvane is closing and the nearest is Tarbert                     8.2km

Kerry Hoteliers call on Government to keep 9% VAT

 Hotel and guesthouse owners in Kerry and across the country are calling on the Government to avoid introducing measures in this autumn’s budget which could damage the tourism industry. Tourism is one of Ireland’s largest indigenous industries, supporting approximately 235,000 jobs. Hoteliers warn that while the industry has made great strides in recovery in recent years, this growth cannot be taken for granted. The Irish Hotels Federation, which represents almost 1000 hotel and guesthouse across the country, is calling on the Government to maintain the 9% VAT rate in the forthcoming budget. The Federation says it is one of the key components to the recovery in tourism in recent years and continues to support jobs in the sector and encourage reinvestment.

Niamh O’Shea, Chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation says the 9% VAT rate has been shown to be the right rate for the sector, bringing Ireland more closely in line with tourism VAT rates in other competing European countries and enabling Irish tourism to become more competitive. “Its positive impact has exceeded expectations. Over 65,000 new jobs have been created across every town and county since 2011, making the 9% VAT rate one of the most successful job-creation initiatives in modern times. Here in Kerry our local tourism sector now supports 15,700 jobs and contributes some €533m to the local economy.”

While the sector has achieved a return to growth, Ms O’Shea says that there is no room for complacency with the tourism sector facing enormous difficulties due to the uncertainty around Brexit and the fall in the value of sterling. “Our industry is heavily dependent on the economic environment of our major source markets, and we are very vulnerable to external economic shocks, as the fall in UK visitors has shown. At a time of serious economic uncertainty around Brexit, it absolutely incredible to suggest that the Government should undermine the  sector and impose hundreds of millions in additional taxes on visitors, and make us less attractive.  “Government cannot influence the economic conditions affecting other countries but policy measures that can enhance competitiveness are within their control. The 9% VAT rate has been hugely significant in underpinning the recovery of the tourism sector.  Any increases in taxes on tourists now would make a very fragile situation worse by making us less competitive and attractive as a destination.”

The adverse effects would be felt across the tourism industry according to Ms O’Shea with regional areas, especially those that are heavily reliant on seasonal and UK markets, being hardest hit.  “The strong growth achieved in recent years illustrates the economic and job creation potential of our industry at a national and local level. Tourism now generates €2 billion in taxes for the exchequer each year while every euro spent in tourism an additional €1.16 is spent in the wider economy, reaching into every town and village. Our industry is on track to creating a further 40,000 jobs nationally over the next five years, but only if the right economic environment exists, and that includes retaining the 9% VAT rate.

Tourism growth is also allowing hoteliers across Kerry to re-invest revenues in refurbishment, renovation, product development and innovation. Ms O’Shea says this much needed investment is critical for improving competitiveness and is an essential element of the sector’s response to the direct and indirect challenges of Brexit. “We should be focusing on ensuring that the right conditions are in place so that tourism in Kerry and across the country can deliver long-term sustainable growth and further employment generation,” she said.