HOLY WAR THREAT FORCED TRAFFIC PLAN RETHINK
DUNNES Stores promised better value for Killarney when the retail giant obtained planning permission for a new superstore on New Street in late 1992.
But the plans hit a hitch in December of that year when a proposal from the county planning office, suggesting that all service vehicles would approach the store from the western side of New Street, sparked an angry reaction in the town hall.
Construction work was well underway when the matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the then Killarney Town Council where fears were expressed that the traffic proposals would put the safety of schoolchildren at risk.
Councillors noted that the traffic flow favoured by planners would result in a very significant increase in vehicles on New Road where two national schools and two secondary schools were located.
One of the schools, Holy Cross Mercy, had already voiced concerns in writing to the council.
Cllr Dermot O’Callaghan told the meeting: “Children will be killed if all that traffic is passing through New Road – it will be a death-trap”.
And Cllr Michael Courtney predicted that there would be “holy war” if the plans went ahead.
“Is it a Kerry joke or a Killarney joke?“ he asked.
The meeting heard that Dunnes Stores had received planning permission three years earlier for a 5,770sq m development and later applied for an additional floor pace of 324sq m. There was to be provision for 193 car parking spaces at the rear of the new store.
The project eventually proceeded after the plans were altered to provide all vehicular access from New Street as opposed to New Road. And almost three decades later, Dunnes is still thriving – and the traffic is still flowing.
THE DAY KILLARNEY’S FIRST CITIZENS REVVED IT UP
THEY could never have been classed as stereotypical bikers but two Killarney councillors certainly looked the part when they took on the role of Easy Riders back in September 1992.
Even without the standard leather gear or a trace of denim, and without a tattoo on a forearm between them, Cllrs Paul Coghlan and Michael Courtney wouldn’t have looked out of place at any Hell’s Angels gathering.
The then mayor and deputy mayor of Killarney were playing host to a big-spending group of international bikers from the FIM Moto-Camp who were paying a high profile and colourful visit to town.
And the game-for-a-laugh councillors couldn’t resist the temptation to nip out from the civic reception and around the back of the town hall where photographer Valerie O’Sullivan was waiting to catch them in action as they whizzed around on a power-packed Honda.
Council Chairman Coghlan, who later became a senator, and the late Cllr Courtney were both very highly-rated members of the local authority who worked tirelessly on behalf of local business and tourism interests.
But they always found time for a little light-hearted moment or two, insisting that if a fun snapshot would help put Killarney on the map as a destination for all, then aim that camera in the right direction.
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