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'It's a big hullabaloo over nothing, I have no clue who is behind it'

Majella O'Sullivan meets Jackie Healy-Rae on the way to the bog as the controversy unfolded yesterday

By Majella O'Sullivan

Wednesday June 29 2011

JACKIE Healy-Rae walked out of the pub run by his son Danny yesterday with a job to do.

It was 1pm -- the middle of the day -- and presumably he had just eaten his dinner, as he once claimed the ordinary, plain people of Ireland were wont to do.

He was on his way to the bog, he said. He had a day's work ahead of him. It was in a state and needed some attention.

The sun was shining on the sleepy village of Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, and in between showers it was the ideal day to get the job done.

He may have retired from politics, but Jackie -- who turned 80 in March -- has still plenty to do to occupy his time.

And there wasn't a soul on the village street to delay the former TD from his task except a reporter and a photographer.

As usual, Mr Healy-Rae had time to greet his visitors and was happy to answer questions on the latest controversy to engulf his family.

Dressed in a navy shirt and slacks with his trademark tartan cap, he protested he wasn't really "dressed for photographs" as he was headed to the bog but nevertheless obliged our photographer whom he knew of old.

He was quick to launch a staunch defence of his family, denying any involvement in the controversy where 3,636 calls were made from Leinster House in support of his son Michael when he was a contestant on the reality TV show 'Celebrities go Wild'.

"I know nothing in the world about it and that's the honest truth," he said, adding that he had "no clue" as to who might have been behind the phone calls.

However, he said he and his sons Danny and Michael -- who were mayor and deputy mayor of Kerry County Council at the time -- would have supported some of the people who had been elected to the Seanad so it was likely that Michael would have had his supporters within the houses of the Oireachtas.

"Apart from that I have no clue in the wild empty world," Mr Healy-Rae insisted. "It's a big hullabaloo over nothing. As Michael himself said, it's not that someone stole the money. It all went to charity."

The retired TD had been following the saga on the radio and heard his son defend his position on Radio Kerry that morning.

He hadn't his own mobile phone switched on and all calls went straight to his message minder. His home phone had been hopping all morning -- a reminder of the life he retired from earlier this year.

One of the most recognisable characters in Irish politics, Jackie Healy-Rae has never been far from controversy and created a new political dynasty in a county notorious for dynasties.

His son Michael successfully won his father's Dail seat in South Kerry in February and his place on the county council was taken by Jackie's grandson, Johnny, who now sits alongside his father Danny in the council chamber.

Even his entry into national politics was a coup for the veteran who was first elected to Kerry County Council in 1974.

Having been denied a place on the Fianna Fail ticket in 1997 at the age of 66, Jackie decided to run as an Independent, and pulled off a feat that amazed his opponents.

He vowed at the time he'd "take the whip from no man", and was true to his word never returning to the Fianna Fail fold.

He was re-elected in the 2002 and 2007 elections and yielded massive power by supporting successive Fianna Fail governments in return for certain favours for his Kerry South constituency.

He claims credit for the new Castleisland bypass which opened last year and also funding for a new hospital for Kenmare.

In the dying days of the last Government he was accused of holding the country to ransom when he pledged his support for the Finance Bill on the condition that he got certain concessions in return.

The move was deemed "gombeenism" everywhere except in his own constituency where there was even a grudging respect for his ability to outwit his opponents.

There was also public outrage when it emerged that Mr Healy-Rae got to choose three appointments to state boards and there is still mounting pressure on his son Michael to resign from the Citizens Information Board.

His barrister daughter Rosemary was reappointed to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal but Jackie has always insisted "anything that girl got she got on her own steam".

Closer to home, controversy has also extended to the next generation. Michael appointed brother Danny as his parliamentary assistant following the 2011 elections.

Danny Healy-Rae made headlines earlier this year when he was involved in a land dispute with his neighbour over a right of way on their land in Kilgarvan.

The row resulted in an altercation that led to Mr Healy-Rae being hospitalised. The matter was settled at the circuit court recently.

With all that's happening at home yesterday with the latest controversy, Jackie must have welcomed a day on the bog in Kilgarvan away from the madness.

- Majella O'Sullivan -
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- Irish Independent



May 23rd, 2011 11:47 pm ET

WALESKA, GA – May 24, 2011 (Examiner.com) For eleven years an enigmatic, 11 feet long boulder has been on display in the Hall of Ancients in the Funk Heritage Museum on the campus of Reinhardt University. Thousands of people viewed the boulder. All thought it was something very “special.” Few visitors could make sense out of the concentric rings, circles with crosses, stars and something that looks like a dogwood flower or primitive rose. These carved symbols are known to archaeologists as petroglyphs.

In 2008, Dr, Joseph Kitchens, Director of the Funk Museum, became determined to discover the meaning of the boulder in the heart of his museum. He began contacting archaeologists, petroglyph experts, and Native American scholars in hope of finding an answer. Although he modestly denies it, Kitchens himself, became knowledgeable on the petroglyphs of the Southern Highlands in the process of seeking answers to his own questions. He stated that one of his dreams is obtain more petroglyphic boulders that are now exposed to the elements, and put them safely on display in the Funk Museum.

One petroglyph consultant wrote a report interpreting the petroglyphs as being symbols associated with the Canaanite god, Baal. Another consultant interpreted the boulder as a star chart. It may be a star chart, but the researcher could not determine for which two nights of the year, the star chart would be accurate. Another expert decided that the boulder was a map of Cherokee towns. The only problem is that Cherokees did not arrive in the region where the boulder was found until after the American Revolution. Only a couple hundred Cherokees lived within 20 miles of this boulder and they did not live in towns. The petroglyphs appear to date from long before the 1700s, anyway.

In early 2011, Kitchens made contact with two organizations that were composed of innovative, but serious researchers. The American Petroglyphic Society is composed primarily of scientists and archaeologists. Its past focus has often been the petroglyphs of the Southwestern Desert, but more recently interest as spread to all of the Americas. Kitchens, also contacted several members of the People of One Fire, an alliance of Native American scholars (and their friends.) Members of the Society of Georgia Archaeology have researched some of the petroglyph boulders discovered in northern Georgia.

The Creek Indians have lived in Georgia for at least 2,200 years. Their ancestors built the state's famous mounds. Creek scholars told Kitchens that most of the designs on the Reinhardt boulder were not now part of their artistic tradition, and that in the past, the Creeks were more into carving realistic stone statues, not petroglyphs. They did notice a small cross within a circle, which is an important religious symbol for both the Creeks and the Yuchi's.

The Yuchi Indians have probably lived in Georgia at least several hundred years longer than the Creeks. Yuchi's in Oklahoma and Virginia sent word to Kitchens that the concentric circles WERE part of their artistic tradition. They symbolized "time portals" or "star gates." One mentioned a realistic stone tablet found in southeastern Tennessee, which he thought portrayed a Yuchi soldiers wearing a kilt with concentric circles on it.

Broadening the scope of the research to a national scale has resulted in the riddle of the Reinhardt Boulder finally being solved this week. North American researchers made contact with the Irish Megalithic Organization. It’s founder, author Anthony Weir, of Northern Ireland, has been documenting and photographing the petroglyphs of Ireland for three decades. <

Weir’s photographs describe petroglyphic boulders in western Ireland that are almost identical to petroglyphic boulders in the northern part of the State of Georgia. There is a boulder on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry that has the same glyphs as the Reinhardt boulder and is approximately the same size. The Reinhardt Boulders’ concentric circles are a common theme of petroglyphic boulders all along the western Irish coast. However, the answer to the riddle of the Reinhardt Petroglyph has created many more questions about North America’s history before Christopher Columbus’s voyages.

The petroglyphs on the Reinhardt Boulder are identical to those found on boulders along the Atlantic Coast of Ireland that date from the Early Bronze Age. The Irish petroglyphs were carved by non-Celts at least 1,500 to 500 years before the use of a unique form of Celtic writing, known as the Ogam Script. Irish researchers are not certain of the original meaning of the concentric circles, but many of the petroglyphs seem associated with graves.




Bike Tours Around County Kerry

Legendary landscapes and biking roads with more sheep than cars are only two of the many reasons that Easy Rider Tours, a 25-year specialist in European cycling vacations, recommends Ireland for cyclists planning their first-ever overseas bicycling holiday. Fascinating history, a lively culture, friendly locals, and perfect pints of Guinness all add to Ireland’s allure for the adventurous cyclist.

“Learning about local history and culture enhances any travel experience, and Ireland especially lends itself to that,” says Easy Rider director Jim Goldberg.

Ireland’s contemporary history is easy to relate to, from the potato famine of 1845 to Queen Elizabeth’s recent visit. Its ancient history is both mysterious and romantic, from mystical stone circles and tombs to legends of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley. “A typical day’s bike ride in Ireland can encompass 3,000 years. There’s no better way to exercise, learn, and have fun all at the same time,” says Goldberg.

The lack of a language barrier is another big advantage, he continues. “The Irish are great conversationalists and love to chat. The ability to converse easily with the locals makes a world of difference in getting the most out of a first-time European bike trip.”

Western Shores is Easy Rider’s easiest and most popular Ireland Bike Tour for first-time European peddlers. The seven-day cycling vacation spins through County Clare, Connemara, and Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Highlights include the seaside village of Doolin (whose pubs are a Mecca for traditional Irish musicians and their fans), the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren National Park (including a naturalist-guided hike), and an evening of folk tales with an Irish storyteller.

Accommodations are in country manor houses, with a fairy-tale finale at five-star Ashford Castle in County Cong. Each group is accompanied by two native Irish cycling guides who are also experts on local history and lore. In addition, a support vehicle is always available to provide snacks, offer assistance, and carry luggage (not to mention tired bikers). The per-person tour price of $3,195 includes all accommodations, most meals, two guides, support vehicle, and in-country transportation. Trip dates for 2011 are July 24-30 and September 3-9.

Easy Rider also offers two additional bike tours in Ireland geared toward stronger cyclists. “Coasting Kerry” is a nine-day ride through Ireland’s most famous landscapes, including the Gap of Dunloe and Killarney National Park. “Celtic Challenge” is an eight-day Ireland bike tour specially designed for the expert cyclist, with rides averaging 60 miles per day through County Kerry and County Cork. Bike tour departures for 2011 run from June through September; groups are limited to 16 participants.

For a free catalogue or more information on Easy Rider’s cycling vacations in Ireland and bike tours in Europe, Canada, and New England, contact Easy Rider Tours at 800-488-8332 or visit http://www.easyridertours.com.

About Easy Rider Tours.

Since 1986, Easy Rider Tours has specialized in biking vacations in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the Canadian Maritimes, and New England. Each of Easy Rider Tours’ itineraries provides the company’s signature balance of cycling, culture, and cuisine, delivering the experience of a lifetime to active travellers worldwide. Website: http://www.easyridertours.com.




I won’t let Kerry down, pledges ‘massively privileged’ O’Neill

By John Fogarty

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Kerry trainer and selector Cian O’Neill has promised he won’t let the county down and insists the perception of the team as a side lacking potential is wrong. As reported by the Irish Examiner, O’Neill has come on board with Eamonn Fitzmaurice where he will share coaching duties with the manager. 

He has also been given a selector’s brief which he will fill along with Mikey Sheehy and Diarmuid Murphy. Kildare man O’Neill is honoured to be named the first selector from outside the county. 

"I feel hugely privileged to be involved with Kerry in any capacity full stop," he said, "but to be acting in the role of selector as well is hugely important for me because that’s where I am and see myself working with football teams. 

"For Eamonn to see me in that regard is a massive privilege. I give everything to each team I have worked with and it will be more so again in Kerry. I won’t be letting anyone down. It’s a dressing room where many have succeeded and many are hungry to do what the guy sitting across from him has done. Contrary to what the wider public may believe, there is huge potential there." 

O’Neill sat down with Fitzmaurice to discuss teaming up with him on October 2 despite suggestions in Mayo he had decided to jump ship prior to the All-Ireland final. 

He was then linked with a return to Tipperary following the appointment of Eamon O’Shea as manager with whom he enjoyed three fruitful seasons. 

The UL lecturer is glad the rumour mill has come to a halt. 

"It was an awkward time because the speculation was out of kilter in terms of the sequence of events. 

"Some people in Mayo may have looked at it one way then in a different light when a return to Tipperary was rumoured and said ‘maybe he wasn’t telling us lies’. The thing was I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. Everything is sorted now and it’s all water under the bridge." 

As mentioned in these pages last month, O’Neill had taken the decision to leave Mayo due to the impact the long commutes between Limerick and Castlebar were having on his bad back. 

"Health is a big thing but even lifestyle as well. My partner only moved down to Limerick last Christmas and all of a sudden I’m gone three or four nights a week from a city that she doesn’t know. 

O’Neill has discussed with Fitzmaurice putting together a strength and conditioning structure for under-age footballers in Kerry. 

"It’s important that any senior squad is continually replenished. Some county teams can fall into the trap of relying on the current but the health of a team is also dependent on what’s coming behind them." 

Kerry have also decided to re-enter the McGrath Cup next year after passing on defending their 2011 title earlier this year. 

Munster chairman Sean Walsh is happy Kerry are back in the McGrath Cup.

"I am delighted to see Kerry back in the McGrath Cup because they should have never been out of it. My feelings on Kerry’s withdrawal last year are well documented. It did the competition no good, as Kerry was beaten All-Ireland finalists and the holders."


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