IT HASN’T GONE AWAY YOU KNOW: PEDESTRIANISATION OF PLUNKETT STREET SPLIT OPINION BACK THEN AND NOW
IF you think it’s a divisive issue now, you should have witnessed the heated stand-off that developed when a proposal to pedestrianise Plunkett Street appeared on the local agenda back in 1992.
To suggest that it split traders into separate camps, in terms of the stances taken, is no exaggeration and both sides took to the streets in an attempt to garner public support for their respective arguments.
Tensions certainly ran high,occasionally overheating and, quite hysterically, one journalist working on the story was informed, in no uncertain terms, that he was ”barred” from the street because of the tone of a previous article he had penned on the matter.
Three years prior to the 1992 flare-up, the former Killarney Urban District Council had conducted a plebiscite on the pedestrianisation proposal and traders voted 14-9 against it but, interestingly, 10 of the businesses entitled to vote opted to abstain for reasons best known to themselves.
The 1992 drama developed when those in favour of banning motorised traffic from the street sought a second plebiscite but that infuriated those vehemently opposed to pedestrianisation, some of whom were beside themselves with anger.
An independent survey conducted by Killarney Chamber of Commerce at the time found that 17 businesses on the street were in favour of pedestrianisation with just two against but the anti pedestrianisation lobbyists argued that the chamber had no mandate to conduct a survey in the first place.
Those in favour of pedestrianisation argued that it would boost business, eliminate dangers to pedestrians, improve the image of the street and end traffic gridlock at a time when parking was permitted on one side of the narrow carriageway but those against insisted that it would result in a loss in revenue, prevent delivery trucks from offloading goods and encourage people to congregate there late at night.
Then town council chairman, Paul Coghlan, insisted that a second plebiscite would not be held unless it was officially requested by the business interests on the street.
That didn’t happen and the file was put back on the shelf until three years ago when a trial pedestrianisation of the street was introduced and, of course, it is now closed to traffic completely.
Although some traders – on Plunkett Street and in other areas of the town – remain unconvinced, the majority of businesses say they are happy that the system is working well.
MAN BITES DOG: BUT THE SNAPPY CANINE DREW FIRST BLOOD
AN angry dog bit off more than he could chew when he set upon one colourful Kerry County Council candidate during the course of the 1985 local elections.
Jackie Healy-Rae, then firmly planted in the Fianna Fail camp, was knocking on doors in the Barraduff area of Killarney when an opportunist canine pounced.
“He took the seat clean off a new pants on me and nearly took a leg,” exclaimed Jackie who was convinced that the culprit was “a Fine Gael dog” – even if it wasn’t wearing a blue collar.
But the Kilgarvan publican – later to become the most instantly recognisable politician in the country – quickly got his own back.
“I bate the bejabers out of him. It’ll be a long time before he touches a Fianna Fail man again,” he said.
A popular candidate seeking seats on the then Killarney Urban District Council also had a close encounter with the fang-toothed kind during that election.
Cllr Mort O’Shea, also of Fianna Fail, was campaigning in Adrshanavooley when a dog made his presence felt and snapped at one of his election team, leaving a few molar marks on the leg of his trousers.
Amusingly, it later emerged that the house they were calling to was the home of Cllr Michael Courtney, a long-serving Independent councillor who was previously a member of the Fine Gael party.
The shaggy dog stories were captured brilliantly at the time by local cartoonist Tim Spillane from Woodlawn Park.
DADDY COOL AND RASPUTIN SENT ‘EM HOME SWEATIN’ FROM REVELLES
THEY swapped the Rivers of Babylon for the Lakes of Killarney for one night only – and it generated quite a stir of excitement.
Disco era super group Boney M, fresh from Top of the Pops, were persuaded to perform in Killarney in September 1985 and they packed Revelles Nightclub in the now Killarney Avenue Hotel to the rafters.
Given that Boney M had sold up to 80 million record worldwide, it was quite a coup for the nightclub’s dapper entertainment manager, Michael O’Donoghue, and the fans who paid just £5 for the privilege of being there, were treated to all the Euro-Caribbean group’s smash hits, including Brown Girl in the Ring, Daddy Cool, Ma Baker, Sunny, Mary’s Boy Child and Rasputin.
Revelles was the place to be – and the place to be seen – in the glorious 1980s and it regularly played host to Ireland’s top acts, including Something Happens, Aslan, Don Baker, Davy Spillane, In Tua Nua, The 4 of Us, The Stunning and Eurovision king Johnny Logan.
And that wasn’t the only attraction – the club also entertained the masses with barn dances, beach parties, midsummer Christmas parties, pyjama parties and even hairy chest contests.
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