Never forget that when the sun goes down, the stars come out

BEAUTY, true beauty, will always find a way to blossom.

Killarney might now have its eyes closed in enforced springtime slumber. But this too shall pass.

Even in the eerie stillness, in its near deserted, lonesome state, the town retains its magical lure and emits a remarkable sense of place proving, yet again, that everything has charm but not everyone sees it.

Even Covid-19, in all its barefaced ugliness, can’t detract from what God bestowed on Killarney on a day when he was in a particularly good mood. The spectacular springtime blooms captured in the series of photographs featured here confirm that nature, at its glorious best, is still all around us. It is part of what we are and it is enriching our lives in spite of the burdens we currently have to contend with.

A herd of deer take advantage of the quieter green areas surrounding the Lake Hotel

Through skilful planning by professionals, years of dedication by volunteers and sheer hard graft by so many, the breath-taking backdrop of the majestic lakes and mountains has almost seamlessly been mirrored in the town itself. Killarney is, after all, called the town in the park for good reason.

The usually vibrant, bustling urban landscape, its brightly coloured buildings, lovingly crafted traditional shopfronts and wonderfully appropriate sculptured features paying homage to our deer, our salmon, our people and our legends, more than complements the natural beauty that encircles the town, explaining just why one astute observer once famously remarked, ‘Ah there is no place on earth quite like Killarney – and I have seen much of the world’.

The town is still now, silent and obedient; shutters drawn, curtains pulled, doors no longer ajar, lights switched off, no feet on the welcome mat, no warm embrace of welcome.

Yet, even at the height of the devastating, brutal Covid invasion, Killarney’s poetry still flows and everybody is secure in the knowledge that the path to recovery after this devastating period in our lifetime will be marked patience, resilience, togetherness and getting back to what it is we do best.

Covid-19 is battering us with all its terrifying, vicious unforgiving might but Killarney has stuck out its chest and still stands tall, a pure act of defiance from a town and a people with a real sense of self-worth.

People are living in fear. The Church doors are locked with ceremonies held before empty pews. Businesses have been forced to shut. Roads are being crossed when others approach. Our respected elders are housebound. We are all living by almost suffocating restrictions. Frontline staff are wilting under pressure. Loved ones are out of reach. Jobs have been lost. And, utterly devastatingly, loves ones have been taken.

A message of hope flies over Main Street in Killarney

But the deep vibrancy of the tulip, the sunshine ray of the daffodil and the brilliant blush of the cherry blossom that currently add such a joyous splash of colour to Killarney’s streets, on private roadways, in family gardens – like those photographed here by Valerie O’Sullivan – can be and should be viewed as a great symbol of hope, beacons of nature that point to better, brighter, smiling days ahead.

This will pass. There will be better days. We need to be brave, we need to be sensible, we need to be careful and we need to listen to and heed the advice of the heath authorities and medical professionals. They have pleaded with us to remain indoors whenever we can, not to wander too far from home, to care for one another and to look forward to the day when we pull back the blinds, take down the shutters and leave the door ajar again.

Then we can embrace our loved ones without fear. We can hug our friends tightly and walk confidently side by side with neighbours and strangers, just as we used to do. This difficult, dreadful, devastating time will not and should not ever be forgotten but we can, eventually, store it away in the deep recesses of our minds and instead focus on what really matter and those who really matter.

Never forget that when the sun goes down, the stars come out and now it is time, perhaps, to keep our fears to ourselves but to share our courage.

At least now, we know that when life returns to normal – and it will – we have so much to be grateful for here in beautiful Killarney.

This too shall pass. In the meantime, until it does, please adhere to the message on the giant banner that flies defiantly over Killarney’s Main Street: Take care of yourselves and each other.

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