If you are not from Killarney, do not read this for you will not understand the points being made. Scroll down or use the helpful sidebar on the right of your screen to access my other, similarly brilliant blogs. If you are from Killarney, read on...
1. Penny sweets from the Dungeon are the tastiest confectionery known to man.
They taste like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Ok, so I may have stole that line from the Sound of Music but good lord they taste good. And they only cost two cent a sweet. No bent weighing scales in The Dungeon just quality, ambrosial, delectable sweets.
2. We want Hollywood back.
And I don't mean Hollywood as in the district in Los Angeles. Any self-respecting Killarneyite should have their hearts set aflutter with they hear a mere mention of Hollywood. You remember it, the video shop on High Street near Maher's Sports. It didn't just sell videos for rent, it sold posters, video games and memorabilia. And most importantly, it sold happiness.
3. No one likes Dr.Crokes.
Besides themselves obviously. They love themselves. But the rest of the town ain't so fond of our admittedly successful brethren. They're arrogant, they're bombastic and they're unnecessarily ostentatious. For instance, when I was a young'un, maybe around 10 or 11, plying my trade with the more modest Spa GAA, Crokes used to bring capacious buses with leather seats to matches held in Spa even though Spa's pitch is a mere three miles from Crokes'. Just to show off to us country folk I imagine. And they have sprinklers on their pitch. Sprinklers!? In Ireland! Just why?
4. Gooch is still untouchable
Yes our Black and Amber clad neighbours may annoy us but their leading light, Colm Cooper, is a man whose brilliance supersedes the boundaries of foolish cross-town rivalries. He's one of our own, one of Killarney's most revered sons. The Lionel Messi of GAA, a seven time all-star winner and four time All-Ireland champ, he has enthralled a nation with his copious ball-skills for almost a decade now. And he's from Ardshan, boy.
5. The "New" Church.
I'm talking about the Church of the Resurrection on the Park Road, also known by the strange nickname "The Flying Saucer Church". You see it does somewhat resemble a flying saucer. But my infatuation with it is not its appearance but the name it is referred to by the vast majority of Killarney-ites - "The New Church". It amuses me as it's not that new. It's as old as me, I believe it was opened in 1993, yet it is still almost religiously (Oh ho, see what I did there?) referred to as the "new" church. It's pretty young for a church, the Cathedral has been standing for over 150 years now, but the fact the nickname has stuck for almost 20 years is humorous. In my head anyway.
6. Fossa is run by the Germans.
They own the place. Liebherr. Hotel Europe. The German Butchers. They may as well call it Fosselfdorf. Nothing wrong with it, it's a lovely place. Could do with a few more golf courses though, three and a half just isn't enough. Though if I know Germans like I think I do, they will want a bit of "living space". See that new(ish) Spar next to the Reeks roundabout? Think that's a simple, innocent retail outlet? Balderdash. It's a base camp for expansion. Watch out Aghadoe.
No introduction needed. A picture paints a thousand words.
He is to Killarney what Roy Keane is to Cork. Untouchable.
8. Muckross is ridiculously haunted.
Well the Abbey and the house are anyway. Have you ever ventured into the Abbey past sundown? It's like stepping into Silent Hill. Muckross House is arguably as bad. The nursery is apparently plagued by the ghost of a young girl who once resided in the Victorian mansion. Though to be honest the floors are so creaky it could just be the figment of a tetchy worker's imagination. Killarney people are always quick to recognise a monetary opportunity and a haunted tour bus has been in operation for two years now. If there's one thing that Killarney people love it's scaring the shite out of tourists and if you can make a few bob from that all the better.
9. Everyone's climbed Torc Mountain.
We who are fortunate enough to call Killarney home are blessed by some magnificent mountains. And they're actual peaks, unlike those big hills they have in Tralee. They are supreme, imposing, exquisite beasts. Having said that the vast majority of us have only scaled one of them; Torc. Why? Because it's the easiest and there's a pretty waterfall at its base. We'd never bother climbing Mangerton or the Tomies, that'd be far too ambitious for us.
10. Father Kevin's weight loss was amazing.
Yes, if there was one thing that got the folk of Killarney talking recently it was the astonishing transformation of Fr. Kevin McNamara from lard-arsed servant of God to comparatively thin servant of God. It was a real Lazarus job; if Lazarus was fat and not dead. His dramatic weight-loss was not welcomed by every parishioner though as some commentators claimed that his extreme diet has somewhat subdued his notoriously convivial sermons. How wonderfully Irish.
11. Celtic vs Athletic IS the Celtic vs Rangers of Killarney.
Sparks fly when these two meet, at any level, and there's no surprise that parallels are often drawn between the Woodlawn-Direen rivalry and the Old Firm. Just look at the kits for starters. I was a Celtic boy and I played in many a match against Athletic (Scored in some too). Pre-match team talks were passionate, explosive and tinged with a hint of bitterness. I can recall at least twice Athletic being likened to Rangers. Quite an accurate comparison really; Athletic have no money and nobody likes them. Similar enough to Rangers really.
12. Our Tesco is bigger than Tralee's Tesco, HAW-HAW.
It's much bigger and ours isn't plunked in the middle of a gaudy shopping mall. It's bright, it's accessible, it's open 24 hours a day but most importantly, it's the biggest Tesco in Kerry. Petty I know but we'll have it.
13.We also have Marks and Spencer.
Oh yes. While having a larger Tesco may be construed as somewhat of a hollow victory (It's not that much bigger), possessing a Marks and Spencers is quite the feather in the cap for Killarney. It's not that we're particularly mad about M&S it's just that Tralee hasn't got one. And the only reason we have one is because Tralee Town Council rejected one, much to the consternation of the Tralee people. Makes it even sweeter.
14. Reminiscing about the SummerFest.
It used to be great. We used to get Westlife, Snow Patrol, Bryan Adams, Elton John, Tom Jones, the Cranberries and P!nk. Now we're lucky if we even get Mike Denver. The SummerFest is a shadow of its former self, sure, those artists wouldn't be my personal favourites but they're massive, multi-million pound selling musicians. They put us on the map. Now all we have are a few juggling workshop and a poxy parade. Ho-hum.
15. Kilcummin is the biggest parish in Ireland.
Of course it is. Have you not seen it? Its borders stretch from Currow to Rathmore. Admittedly, the vast majority of that is bog but bog is still land. Of sorts. North Kerry folk claim disingenuously that Ballymac is bigger. They would be mistaken. And anyway, if they are right and Ballymac's land mass is somewhat larger than Kilcummin's, let Kilcummin have the title anyway. It's all they have besides a post office and three primary schools.
16. Kerry vs Cork in Killarney is the pinnacle of the Summer.
Fitzgerald Stadium is a wonderful venue. Possibly the most scenic pitch in Ireland. Any game is a joy to behold within its sacred walls but nothing, I mean nothing compares to when Cork come to town. It's the only time you feel outnumbered in your own town as Cork bring an army of supporters. The atmosphere, the rivalry, the passion... they're all great yes but the best thing about playing Cork in Killarney? They haven't beaten us in 18 years here. Fortress Fitzgerald Stadium. Oh and the way that College Street and Plunkett Street are pedestrianised for the match does help create a carnival atmosphere.
17. Four Star Pizza Facebook competitions.
It's an impulsive reaction for most Killarney people. Big match coming up, better get onto the Four Star Pizza Facebook and enter into the prediction competition. 2-1 Man Utd. 19-13 Ireland. 2-12 - 1-9 Kerry. It's a PG form of gambling. I've never won, a myriad of people always seem to get there before me rendering my carefully constructed prediction obsolete. It's not just about the free pizza, it's about the prestige.
18. Old names will always stick.
Rebranding and renaming were popular trends during Celtic Tiger Ireland but Killarney folk are a stubborn bunch and as such the old, traditional and frankly better hotel/shop names have stuck. The Malton? Oh you must mean The Great Southern. Quality Hotel? That's Ryan's, love. Euro 2 Store? That would be Pound City, madam. My father has displayed a gargantuan level of stubbornness by referring to Tesco as Quinsworth and The Plaza as The Three Lakes. Impressive, though in fairness, my father still thinks it's 1986.
19. If you are aged 25 or under you went to the Let's Go summer camp at least once.
Oh it was a wonderful summer camp. They used to visit your school around April time, teasing you with a brochure detailing the plethora of fun activities on offer. It was held in the Pres Gym during July I think and it always seemed to be sunny. Oh the fun we had, sure we played the customary, quotidian sports such as soccer and football but often we would venture into the hitherto unexplored worlds of lacrosse, rounders, hockey and even cricket. And who could forget the heavenly Teddy Bears' Picnic held within the lustrous confines of the Desmene? Just exquisite.
20. Jedward won't go away.
Jedward are like chlamydia; annoying, rash-like and they just won't go away. The INEC has been "graced" by their presence eight times in under three years now and it doesn't look like they'll be leaving any time soon, not as long as prepubescent girls are willing to fritter their parents' money away on tickets for them. My cousin, an avid Jedward fan who has attended all eight of their concerts here, claims that they come back because they love Killarney and they love the reception they get here. They don't. They just love money.
21. The ongoing problem with difficult pronunciations of place names.
Well it's not a problem for us astute Killarney people but pronunciation of place names is a big problem for non-Killarney-ites. Here's a short lesson. Fossa is pronounced Fu-ssa. Spa is pronounced Spaw. Gneevguilla is pronounced Gin-ee-gil-aa. Dr.Crokes is pronounced twats.
22. Fassy fassy fassy fassy Fassbender.
He's ours. Period. Jealous and emulous non-Kerry folk often point to the fact that he was born in Germany as proof of his non-Kerryman standing but he's ours. He went to the Sem and was an alter boy in the Cathedral for Christ's sake. How much more Killarney can you get?
23. No sleeping during Rally of the Lakes.
Atypical for a Killarney person, I loathe the Rally of the Lakes. I am not someone who sees cars as celestial beings there to be worshipped and adored. No. I am more pragmatic in my approach to them. They are machines for transporting me from one to place to another. So when May Bank Holiday rolls around, I shut my doors and my windows and try to block out the incessant rumbling and rustling of car engines that pervades through the saintly Killarney air. Those dastardly boy racer ruining our already terrible roads with their souped-up Fiat Puntos. I dare you to get a good night's sleep during the Rally of the Lakes.
24. Giving tourists the wrong directions is very, very fun.
Especially American ones because you can visualise them pulling a ferocious, exasperated strop when they realise you've pulled a fast one on them. "Gleneagle Hotel yeah? It's out the Cork road past the Minish train tracks." Works a treat every time.
25. St.Finian's scared the shite out of you as a youngster.It's so imposing. It watches over the town like a pernickety mother and creeps over Fitzgerald Stadium like a serial killer. The architecture of it is archaic and the stories associated with it are abhorrently scary. And every time I used to pass that as a child people would joke that I should be in there. Not funny. Just terrifying.
26. Bird's Bazaar is the Disney World of Killarney.
Okay, as time passes you do become more aware of the Bazaar's limited size and perceptible of the lofty prices of its amusements but come on, it's still a bastion of childhood memories. An enduring part of an ever-changing world. And no matter how much you curse it and ridicule it, you'll still bring your dog along to the Dog Show just so you can nab yourself a ticket for five free rides. The bumpers are fun at any age.
27. The massive architectural mistake on St.Mary's Church of Ireland, Main Street.
See it yet? Oh Protestants, is there anything you can do right? Besides plantations obviously.
28. Bragging about how tidy Killarney is.
As an acutely proud Killarney man, I will brag about ANY of my town's boons. Our lakes, mountains, national park and famous, Victorian houses are easy routes to take so I like to gloat about more discreet things like how tidy we are. Tidy Town Champions 2011, bitch. I also have a knack for bragging about Killarney having the nicest graveyard in the world; Aghadoe. Quite a morbid boast, I know, but my God it's a nice graveyard. As my great-grandfather used to say, "People are dying to be buried in Aghadoe."
29. The Killarney Advertiser is the bible of Killarney.
It's such an intrinsic part of our being now. The Advertiser. It's been going for almost 40 years and we still love it. The birthday section, the jobs section (which has become increasingly coveted in the past three years), the sports section and I've even become accustomed to reading the "Business of the week" section on a regular basis. The Outlook is a worthy challenger, it does have jokes and Fr.Kevin's column, but the Advertiser is the real winner. Friday evening after work/school the first thing you look for is the latest copy of the Killarney Advertiser. It even smells divine.
30. Ross Road is the D4 of Killarney.
If not the D4 of Kerry. It just reeks of bourgeoisie. Nothing untoward about that, it's arguably one of Killarney's nicest areas. It's just pretty posh. It has a racecourse, a castle and a golf course for Christ's sake.
31. The Kerry team homecoming is one of the highlights of the year (When they win anyway).
It actually follows a fairly rigid routine, does the Kerry homecoming. Botty, for better or for worse, is always MCing the event and it's his job to placate the crowd. He does this by promising us that "The lads are on the way. They're on the bypass at the minute". He repeats this sentence five or six times with it losing any semblance of credibility with each passing utterance. They're not on the bypass of course, they're still in Tralee. When they finally do arrive, an open top bus parades down the Lewis Road, through College Street before finally alighting in the Glebe Car Park. During this short journey, "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner is blaring through the speakers of the bus. After this the Kerry team celebrate merrily on a makeshift stage, the captain attempts an alcohol fuelled speech, Darran O'Sullivan plugs Ulster Bank and a magnificent course of fireworks pierce the night sky.
32. 15 year olds spend their Friday nights in Deerpark Pitch and Putt course.
And they're not practising their putting skills either. Killarney teenagers are blessed with an infinite amount of suitable spots to illegally consume their illegally purchased alcohol and Deerpark Pitch and Putt is the most popular spot of all. Probably because there are quite a few bushes to conceal their illicit behaviour and plenty of getaway routes when da shades inevitably arrive to spoil the party.
33. Nobody likes Jackie Healy-Rae or any of the Healy-Raes for that matter.
Let me just clarify one thing, though Jackie was and the equally irritating Michael is an elected politician for our constituency, Killarney is not a bulwark of their support. They may have captured the imagination of the less perspicacious parts of Kerry South such as Killorglin and Kenmare but they are not popular in Killarney. They embarrass us nationally on a regular basis and they wear silly hats. And not good silly hats, bad silly hats. And they won't shut up about that roundabout they built in Lissivigeen. Thanks for that Jackie, now please shut up.