The Killarney Advertiser’s campaign to have American philanthropist John McShain officially recognised for his contribution to the town is gaining momentum. Local residents, businesspeople and officials have all voiced their opinions in the past two weeks and we are pleased to report that the reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Historian Damien Switzer first called for McShain, who purchased and then returned for free a large section of what we now know as the National Park, to be acknowledged by renaming Killarney House & Gardens the John McShain Memorial Park. He also suggested erecting a statue in his honour. Since Damien’s article was published in Killarney Magazine, locals, many of whom had never heard of the Philadelphia native, have been united in their disbelief that McShain has not already been honoured.
We took to the streets of Killarney to find out what the people think.
Should Killarney House & Gardens be renamed John McShain Memorial Park? Should a statue be erected in McShain’s honour?
John Sheahan (Mayor of Killarney): What the Advertiser is saying is spot on. I definitely think a statue would be a suitable way of recognising what John McShain contributed to the people of Killarney. There’s no doubt that he was a very generous man and he should be remembered. It’s remiss of us not to have addressed this already. A statue at the house looking down at the lake would be very apt.
Kate O’Leary (proprietor of The Laurels Bar): Killarney House and Gardens is a veritable treasure. It is THE hidden gem of Killarney, a little oasis of calm in the heart of our vibrant town. What incredible vision John McShain had and I think it would be a wonderful expression of our gratitude to erect a statue in his honour. There are lovely recesses along Mission Road, any of which would be an ideal location for such for a tribute.
Paul O’Neill (President of Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce): I read Damien’s article with great interest and speaking to people in town, he has really struck a chord with locals. I think that John McShain and the family certainly deserve recognition from Killarney for their incredible generosity. I probably wouldn’t like to change ‘Killarney House & Gardens’ but without a doubt we as a town should acknowledge in a very public way this invaluable gift.
Nicole Rodriguez (tourist from Rhode Island, USA): I had never heard of him but it sounds like he did a lot for the town. I think tourists from the States would like to see a fellow American honoured in Killarney. A statue would be nice!
Pat Dawson (General Manager, Killarney House & Gardens): I have read the article in last week’s Advertiser and I am glad that the story of John McShain is being shared with your readers. Currently, our guides provide visitors to Killarney House with details of the life and times of John McShain and his vision and generosity in making sure that the unrivalled landscapes of the Killarney Valley. The suggestion of having a bust or a statue of John McShain on display in or at Killarney House is one that I am sure our Department would look favourably upon and we would be happy to cooperate and support any local efforts to that end. The suggestion of re-naming the area around Killarney House is unlikely to be a runner, however. The entity which is the National Park, which includes the Muckross Estate and the Kenmare Estate, has an official status and I do not foresee any changes in that regard.
Micheál O’Donoghue (O’Donoghue Ring Hotels): I would be very much in agreement with honouring John McShain in Killarney. The ideal opportunity was when the Cherry Tree Walk was replanted but I strongly believe that there should be something to recognise his contribution.
David Neeson (local man): To be honest, I didn’t know who John McShain was until I read the article. I’d be strongly in favour of honouring him… I’m surprised there isn’t already something named after him. I do a lot of running down around the Demesne and I can’t imagine what the town would be like without the National Park.
Micheal Healy-Rae TD: I think a life size statue inside the Golden Gates would be a great way to recognise and honour him for what he gave to the town of Killarney.