What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
It’s easy to have a perfect day in Kilkenny! I guess for me I love running so it has to be a run by the river down by the canal, grabbing some fresh bread in the Pantry for breakfast and then roaming the Castle Park with the boys and visiting their Grannies.
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
I’m biased here but both my parents have been at the forefront of Kilkenny life and as a child we grew up in a social whirl in our house where there was always people coming and going. My Dad, the late Eamonn O’ Keeffe did a huge amount to draw businesses to Kilkenny and promote the city and my Mum (Maureen) has always been active on the business and social front in Kilkenny especially with music. Our lovely cousin Gina Shine was a huge asset (and a big loss) to Kilkenny for her influence on music to younger people.
What’s your first Kilkenny memory?
The floods! These were part of our childhood and whilst it caused great upheaval it was a great time of community spirit and we used to have loads of fun.On the eve of a flood we always had to stay up late as we had to move furniture from the shop. We would be exhausted but we worked hard as a family and with neighbours to protect all the houses and business on John Street. Back then we had a huge issues with large trucks going through the city and I have a very vivid memory of my Dad standing out in front of a truck making it stop – the pressure of the water pushed by trucks had cracked and broken windows in business in the past so my Dad used to try divert them or get them to at least drive slower….
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
The city – it’s beautiful. It has so much to offer from a historic perspective as well as being just a lovely place to wander about with great shops and cafes.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
The city, the castle and the river are simply stunning. We have so many medieval attractions to be proud of and the countryside is beautiful which plenty to see like Kells, Woodstock Gardens, Jenkinstown. Kilkenny is well known too for the many great festivals it runs throughout the year.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
I’m an avid reader – inspired by growing up beside the county library so I guess I would have to say Gullivers Travels – I loved it as a child and although not from Kilkenny Jonathan Swift did go to Kilkenny College back in the 17 century!
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Adjusting to change caused by Brexit be it soft or hard - farmers need to diversify ! Rural tourism - Kilkenny has so much to offer beyond the city we should promote and encourage visitors beyond the city. The environment, we all have to push retailers/manufacturers etc. to change packaging to recyclable so less plastic is used. We as customers have to make them change.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
For the centre of the city to get more life back in it retail wise – it’s so different now to when I was a child. The life of the city was High Street..the centre of town. Look at giving free parking for the first half hour. The city needs more parking too at a reasonable rates.