The feature star at the top of the spectacular Tree of Light in Killarney takes on an extra special meaning this Christmas as it is dedicated to the memory of a young man who was much loved and is very fondly remembered in the town.
Best known for his work with Killarney and District Motor Club Johnny Hickey was a also a dedicated volunteer with the Christmas in Killarney Festival.
Every year he demonstrated huge commitment to all aspects of the seasonal celebration, helping out in any way he could at any time of the day or night.
Johnny, who passed away suddenly on April 24 last, at the age of 37, was one of the event’s most dedicated volunteers and, in addition to driving one of the spectacular floats in the weekly parades.
He was always willing to lend a hand when preparing for the festival and helping with the clean-up and dismantling duties afterwards.
Johnny, from Riverside Drive, was married to Jennifer with three young children, Alyson, Laura and Conor, and they joined Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Marie Moloney, and Christmas in Killarney Chairman Niall Kelleher, to officially switch on the Tree of Light in the grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral following 6.15pm Mass on Wednesday.
“Johnny was a very dedicated volunteer every year and we really appreciated his goodwill, his good humour and the can-do approach he always displayed,” said Christmas in Killarney Chairman Niall Kelleher.
“Johnny was always there, always reliable, totally dependable and he was always willing to assist behind the scenes.
“Dedicating the star at the top of the tree to his memory is our small way of remembering such a very special person.”
Killarney Parish Administrator, Fr Kieran O’Brien, led a special prayer ceremony for the switching on of the tree and he described it as a very special night for the parish.
“We pray that it will offer light and hope to those who visit the church and visit the parish during Christmas,” he said.
Over 4,500 twinkling bulbs adorn the magnificent 100ft Californian Redwood tree this year but the collective eye of the public will constantly be drawn to the sparkling star at the top – Johnny’s star – which will remind everybody who knew him of a very special and caring person.
Johnny Hickey might have passed on – but his spirit will live on in the town he loved so well.
Photos thanks to Eamonn Keogh and Ted O’Connell
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