John Coonan is Chairman of the Kilkenny Age Friendly Seniors Forum, where he works tirelessly to make Kilkenny a great place to grow old in.
What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
After breakfast, Ann and I collect the grandchildren and go to Castle Park, Jenkinstown or Discovery Park in Comer for a nice picnic and time in the Play area followed by a visit to the Café. To finish the evening, after leaving the children back we sit out in the garden at home. Radio, paper and a glass of wine .. a relaxing family day!
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
The late Bishop Birch, for his work with the poor lonely and the travelling community and was a deeply spiritual Man with his development of the Peace in Christ retreats. Another great Kilkenny mas is Paddy Donnelly, former city and county manager of Kilkenny as he was the longest city and county manager ever in Ireland. He was involved in the restoration of the many fine buildings and the setting up of the Civic Trust, Design Centre and Butler House to name a few.
What's your first Kilkenny memory?
Being brought by my parents to meet my uncle and aunt Molly & Larry Phelan in Emmet’s Street and on to the local Moore’s Corner shop to get a small bag of sweets. Then down to the water barracks to watch the Giants of local Basketball where teams from the American Navy played and the world famous Harlem Globetrotters played the basketball players from the Marble City.
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
Kilmanagh! I’m Ballyline born and reared, educated and participated in sport for the first half of my life with a great civic spirit. Now where I live in Ardnore, the quality of life in Kilkenny is fantastic for all citizens both young and old.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
Its unique history as the Medieval Capital of Ireland and as it was once the capital in 1642 with Parliament Street getting its name from Parliament house where the government sat , just at the entrance to the now Market yard beside the Bank of Ireland. Also Kilkenny is the First Age Friendly City in Ireland thanks to the fantastic voluntary groups like the Kilkenny Seniors Forum and Kilkenny Age County alliance.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
Gerry Moran can paint a picture with his stories and I always looked forward to reading his unique column in the Kilkenny People every Thursday before it moved to its Wednesday publication in recent years.
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
We have to protect the villages and towns in the county to ensure that they get the same services we have in the city. No matter where one lives in our county they should have a high quality of life and community services.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
To give a guarantee to all who wish to live in Kilkenny that they receive the full support of the local and national government to fulfil that dream to live, work, and rare a family in what I believe is the greatest city and county in Ireland. This will make Kilkenny a great county to grow old in.