Posts Tagged ‘Killarney’

When harsh criticism can be the best thing ever!

October 27, 2014

Boring conference

I was recently at a large, high profile business conference and unfortunately the first segment of it was dominated and ruined by shockingly poor presentations.

I couldn’t believe how these senior business individuals broke nearly every presentation rule – they used boring powerpoint slides with way too much text laid out in bullet point after bullet point.

What’s worse is they insisted on reading each long sentence, word for word letting these shockingly awful slides hijack the knowledge they undoubtedly possess and in the process making them look very foolish in front of a large audience.

The slides should help guide you not hijack you!

To make matters even worse one of the guys drove on, slide after slide, ignoring the ‘warning‘ bell and selfishly ate into the next presenters time – as a result the whole schedule was forced back, which meant many people had to leave that day before everyone had finished.

Despite this when they finished their presentations they each received a polite round of applause leaving them quite oblivious to the fact that they were truly awful.

At the coffee break the predictable chit chat started ..”weren’t those presentations shocking?” ..”the worst I have seen” …”that’s a real pity because he’s a good guy and his presentation let him down” …”surely someone will say something to him

Just as we were chatting one of the ‘car crash‘ presenters passed by and one of our guys who knew him said “well done” ..”oh ..thanks a lot

Why do we do that?

I have no doubt that these guys would have left the conference feeling satisfied that they had stood up, done their presentations and based on the feedback they did quite well. Next time they are asked to present they will probably do exactly the same again worked last time, didn’t it?

Thankfully the day improved and there were some really superb presentations later, which did a huge job for the profile and the credibility of these speakers – they grabbed the opportunity to shine!

killarney lakes

In 2000 Bridgestone Guide author John McKenna, caused a storm of controversy when he slated the fantastic and nationally treasured tourism gem Killarney. In a review this travel writer and food critic stated that “the best way to see Killarney in County Kerry is through the rearview mirror of a car. He added that discerning tourists will avoid the town as it was an Irish travesty surrounded by beautiful lakeland“.

This review sparked an outrage, which made Mr McKenna a hated figure in the town – how could he say such a thing about our beautiful and perfect place?

Despite despising those words and the cruel messenger the savvy locals started to process this truth – maybe our product has deteriorated, maybe our food offering is poor, maybe the town is dirty and shabby, maybe our service levels aren’t quite what they should be and maybe, just maybe this critic might be telling the truth.

Killarney dug in and got to work on their offering and 11 years later they proudly invited back the much maligned John McKenna as a guest speaker to ‘eat his words’ following the town winning the Irish Tidy Town award. He conceded that “the Kerry holiday hotspot has improved enormously and is the undisputed capital of Irish tourism“.

While hearing the truth might hurt deeply (lets face it we all hate being criticised) it could turn out to be the very best thing for you.

Whatever we do we should always look for the person who will tell us the truth instead of applauding and saying “well done”

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

At Fuzion we help our clients with their Presentation Skills and Speech Delivery from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Hugh O’Flaherty and those Poppies

November 3, 2013

Hugh O'Flaherty Statue in Killarney

What a great week.

This was the culmination of an idea and the five years of hard work that followed.

Our idea was simple – we wanted to create a permanent memorial in Killarney to honour Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, the Irish World War 2 hero who instead of turning his back on escapees and people on the run from the Nazi regime, he gave them shelter.

He ignored the rules and the neutrality status of the Vatican and he set up a network of safe houses in and outside Rome and with the help of a special group of people he helped 6,500 to safety until the war was over.

After the war this very special man visited the prisons to ensure the Nazi prisoners were being treated properly, including the head of the Gestapo in Rome, Herbert Kappler.

Visiting the Nazi’s and in particular Kappler, confused many as they had been involved in so many atrocities and in particular would have arrested and quite probably assassinated the Monsignor if they had captured him. When questioned why he was doing this the Monsignor replied with a very simple and pure response

“God Has No Country”

Until I read a review of the book by Brian Fleming, about the Monsignor’s heroic deeds “The Vatican Pimpernel” I did not know of this great Irishman and to our shock we realised that most other people were exactly the same.

Who?” is the most popular response you get from people when you mention his name.

The sculpture with the accompanying story board in a prominent location in Killarney will hopefully change this both with the Irish and the many international visitors to Killarney.

The sculpture was unveiled on October 31st, 2013, the 50 year anniversary of his death before a large audience, which included the O’Flaherty (and Dineen) family, William Derry (son of Sam Derry, one of the key members of the Monsignor’s team), David Sands and Mo Burton (the grandkids of Henrietta Chevalier, the Maltese widow who offered her home as a safe house for escapees in Rome).

In the audience we also had the Israeli, Canadian and British Ambassadors and John Morgan representing ELMS, The Escape Line Memorial Society.

The moving ceremony consisted of speeches by the town Mayor Patrick Courtney, Hugh O’Flaherty, the grand nephew of the Monsignor as well as Jerry O’Grady the terrific chairman of our Memorial Society. We unveiled the plaques that carried the story of the Monsignor, the “God Has No Country” plaque and the sculpture itself.

John Morgan from ELMS left a wreath of poppies at the feet of the sculpture,

We did it!

Five years of organising, events and fundraising – most of which has come from individuals (please note we received no state help nor support from tourism bodies) brought us to this proud moment.

Killarney now has a beautiful sculpture, a permanent memorial, something to be proud of and a new attraction to visitors, which can only help things in the town. It is also a real connection to British, American and European visitors.

Poppies - Flanders Field

Poppie Anger

While this was an incredible week I was dumbfounded that our chairman received a call from an “angry” citizen enraged that we had allowed the Poppy wreath to be left at the foot of sculpture of the Monsignor. I’m glad he didn’t call me ..

How can any Irish person take in this whole incredible project and the very best they can come up with is to get angry with us because of a Poppy wreath. What has happened to someone that this is the only emotion that is stirred from such an occasion?

What is it about the poppy?

The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers. In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe’s heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.

The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts. It was adopted by The Royal British Legion as the symbol for their Poppy Appeal, in aid of those serving in the British Armed Forces, after its formation in 1921′

The Poppy represents something beautiful growing from the sacrifice of others.

Our key objectives with the sculpture of the Monsignor are to honour his selfless deeds and his courage but more importantly to inspire these traits in all of us so that we can do great and selfless deeds in our lives.

While my first instinct would be to give our angry poppy friend a piece of my mind, instead I hope that he can put his anger and prejudices aside and realise what this is really about. Maybe he should stop and smell the poppies…

As a great man once said “God Has No Country

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Factor 15, the Flywheel and that crew in Killarney

September 6, 2011
Irish Summer

See you in 2012?

I’m getting ready for another day, up early and wondering what to wear ..

The rain pounding against the bedroom window and a night of strong winds rattling fence doors and outdoor tables and chairs guides me towards something sensible and yes we will be wearing a coat today. This was after a cold September night (I find that hard to say as don’t really want to admit that August, the summer of 2011 is done and dusted) when we had to fire up the heating for a while. Strangely enough that wasn’t the first time – in August we turned it on twice!

Grabbing a towel from the cupboard in the dark and something drops onto the floor – Light on..My God, I haven’t seen that in a while and I won’t be needing it again for a really long time unless we escape to somewhere sunny for a week (now there’s an idea!). It was a bottle of Factor 15 sun protection – I didn’t get to use much of this in 2011 – whichever way you cut it the summer was shocking and it has left a lot of us really disappointed. We could definitely have done with some (any ..) sunshine.

I illogically held onto the strange idea that we would have a great summer because we had a lousy winter and even more illogically that we would have a great summer because the usual “leaving cert” summer heat wave never happened. Indian summer – nah, doubt it..

What can we do?

At least we don’t depend on the weather too much for our business but it does to some extent as it would affect some of our clients working in the tourism sector and we do a lot of work in this area.

Tidy Town success for Killarney

Tidy Town success for Killarney

Yesterday was a huge day for one of our clients, The Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce. They have just won the Tidy Towns competition for 2011 and unfortunately had to celebrate in terrible weather yesterday (5th Sept, 2011). In Killarney they are hugely dependant on the Tourism sector and as you imagine the lousy weather can’t have helped them a whole pile.

Ironically they had a great year despite the elements – you could put this down to many factors but as a close observer I put it down to simply doing the right thing consistently.

In my last blog I spoke about the fabulous book by Jim Collins, called Good to Great where he scientifically unearthed the factors that led to the sustained success of what he called “Great” companies.

The reasons for Killarney’s terrific Tidy Towns win and the terrific season is rooted in one of the success factors that Jim Collins talks about. He speaks about the Flywheel..

Initially it takes a lot of effort, toil and sweat to achieve a small movement to the flywheel – it takes a lot of people pushing and pushing in the same direction before you achieve any movement – eventually some momentum is achieved and with more and more pushing even more momentum is achieved. Before you know it the flywheel is moving quickly and just needs another nudge now and then in the right direction to maintain the momentum.

To the outside world it looks like it is easy, that success just came knocking on the door and it just had to be opened. To the people involved they are shocked at anyone that thinks it was easy – they remember the times when huge effort was required to achieve even the tiniest momentum.

Killarney – we have been working with them for about 6 years. Yes, they are blessed with the most incredible natural attributes but they have this team spirit, this rising tide mentality, this can do attitude, this belief that nothing happens by itself and that they need to be proactive at all times to achieve success.

Jaunting Cars - Killarney

Winning is Easy?

The town is beautiful, it is spotless, the tourist product is superb, the hotels, guesthouses and B&B’s know their business and are experts at delivering a genuine welcome. They have Summerfest, they have the Rally, they have Christmas in Killarney, they have the Irish Open, they have the right attitude. You may have noticed the teams of volunteers in Killarney, adults and children early in the mornings and late in the evenings painting, tidying, gardening and picking up rubbish all around the town – at one point this year there was a row because some of these guys refused to be featured in some PR shots for a TV programme.

That’s not why they are doing it” we were told. That goes against the grain with our Never Waste a Good Story mentality – very frustrating. It does tell you a big story about them – this is about collective pride in their town. Well done Killarney!

They can’t do anything about the rain but they can can decide how they go about their business – control what you can, go about your business in the best possible way and if the sun shines it’s a bonus!


Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Michael Courtney Tribute

February 1, 2010
We will meet again

We will meet again

Last week (26th January) a man that was very special to us sadly and unexpectedly passed away.

We were working together on the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Committee in Killarney for the last two years. Michael Courtney, a Councillor in Killarney and Chairman of the Committee brought energy, warmth, commitment and a unique sense of humour to the project. The whole team have made terrific strides since we began the project and in Michael’s honour we will be even more determined to achieve our ultimate goal.

Michael always appreciated our input to the project and thanked us  in such a way that made you always feel very special.

We will miss him greatly at our meetings and we will especially miss the cup of tea afterwards in the restaurant at the International Hotel, where he always spent half the time chatting to pretty much everyone who entered the restaurant!

Michael, thank you ..

Greg Canty is a partner at Fuzion Communications

Have you heard of Hugh?

October 19, 2009
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

Just as Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize you might think about Irish people down through the years who may have been worthy of the same award. How many people spring to mind and in the same breath I will ask you ‘Have you heard of Hugh?’

Two years ago I was coming back from Berlin after a fabulous weekend with some friends. We had a great time with the usual mix of late nights, shopping and visiting the various tourist attractions. We had a very sobering visit to the Holocaust museum, which was quite depressing and a very real reminder about how crazy our world is capable of being.

On the plane home I spotted an article in the Irish Examiner reviewing a new book The Vatican Pimpernel, about an Irish priest working in Rome, who had helped save over 6,500 people during World War II. First I thought that it must be a fictional story about the war and I read on quite intrigued. To my utter amazement I discovered that this actually happened and the Irish priest in question had been born in Cork and grew up in Killarney!

How could this be possible? How was it that for all 40 plus years of my life that I had not heard about this Irish hero who was from literally just down the road? Asking practically everyone I met I was getting the same response – no one had heard of this terrific Irish man.

The man in question was Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

During World War II, the Monsignor held a senior position within the Vatican. However despite the fact that the Vatican had a neutral capacity during the war the Monsignor could not just ignore pleas for help from people in need. When approached at the gates of the Vatican by people who were in danger and were looking for shelter the Monsignor decided he had no choice but to help. During the course of the war he provided shelter and ultimately saved the lives of over 6,500 people of all nationalities and religions.

Besides being incredibly courageous what I find most fascinating was the strategy, sophisticated planning, organisational and business brilliance of the Monsignor. Despite his life being in constant danger he managed to manage and finance a project that secured a network of safe houses to protect and shelter prisoners of war in Rome through a combination of friends and rented accommodation. With his own life at risk, he managed to raise funds on an ongoing basis that paid for these premises and also provided food and clothing over an extended period for all the people in hiding and kept all of this going until the Allies arrived in Rome in 1945.

A key element to keeping the operation going despite the constant presence of the Nazis was his intelligence network, which succeeded in keeping everyone safe despite many close shaves.

After the war his work did not stop there, the Monsignor spent much of his time visiting German prisoners ensuring that they were being treated properly by the authorities.

The Monsignor received many decorations, including, Commander of the British Empire and the US Medal of Freedom. The Monsignor retired to Cahirciveen for the last three years of his life and on 30th October, 1963 he sadly passed away. His death was mourned throughout the world, including a front page tribute in the New York Times.

Up until this past year, the Monsignor has never been officially recognised in Ireland by either government or church.

While we can’t exactly compare, we all are now in tough times and we need courage, flexibility, adaptability and ingenuity to steer our way through this tough economical crisis. At the same time we do need to do our best to work with our colleagues, suppliers and customers in a compassionate and respectful manner as they could very well be under severe financial pressure.

To learn more the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty check out the book by Brian Fleming, The Vatican Pimpernel, visit the memorial website or hire the DVD The Scarlet and the Black featuring Gregory Peck as The Monsignor.

On the weekend of the 6th November in Killarney, the second annual memorial weekend takes place, in honour of The Monsignor. The weekend includes a presentation of his life in pictures at The Killarney Outlet Centre, the presentation of the Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award and a fundraising concert so that funds can be raised for a permanent memorial to be erected in Killarney in honour of the Monsignor.

Have you heard of Hugh? We must never forget..