Legend 'Flor' passes away

ONE of the founders of the Rose of Tralee festival, Florence 'Flor' O'Connor, died after a short illness at his home in Greystones, Co Wicklow, on Saturday, aged 94.

Born and reared in Tralee, he attended Tralee CBS before going on to Castlenock College and University College, Dublin. He often joked that his father bragged that he reared the best-educated butcher in Ireland.

Florence was deeply interested in golf and was captain of Ballybunion Golf Club in 1979 when the club won the prestigious Jimmy Bruen Shield. He will be most remembered for his role in helping create Rose of Tralee festival. The Rose of Tralee as it is today stems from Tralee's Carnival Queen, once a thriving annual event, which fell by the wayside due to post-war emigration.

In 1957 a Race Week Carnival was resurrected in Tralee featuring a Carnival Queen. A year later a group of local businessmen Flor O'Connor, Ned Nolan, Joe Grace and Roger Harty decided to revamp the carnival in a bid to help regenerate the town and encourage tourism. From the outset the festival sought to capitalise on well-placed Kerry people in the civil service in Dublin, as well as Kerry emigrants.

Florence was widely recognised as a driving force of the Festival during its first formative decade. One of his main aims was to put Tralee on the tourist map, an ambition he more than achieved.


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