Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Places: Kerry

Listowel in County Kerry in the West of Ireland which I left when 18 is now a place I love returning to, not only to see family but also I really enjoy being there. Its the most westerly part of Europe, with that great quality to the light, and I really like the social life of small towns where everyone knows everyone and the bar life. Of course it was a different story back in the '60s when I was a teenager and couldn't wait to get away to where it was all at, and Ireland was a grim place back then, economically and culturally. Things have gone full circle now of course and the economy is bad again, but the quality of life remains the same. Here's to my next trip.
Above: the wild Atlantic at Ballybunion beach. Next stop over the water is New England.
Places of interest for me: County Kerry, Cork, Clare. Listowel is a very colourful, literary town whose residents included Bryan McMahon, John B Keane, Maurice Walsh (author of THE QUIET MAN, there is a garden commemorating him nearby), they have an annual Writers Week, as well as the annual horse races. I love doing the bars now with my brothers, and enjoying the live music played. I used to be fascinated as a child, that America was just on the other side of that wild Atlantic, as we looked out from the cliffs above Ballybunion and Ballyduff. Now Clare and Galway are full of marvellous sights and places, as one's North Kerry heritage calls one back again and again. Fenit Harbour with its lighthouse and tribute to the early sailor Saint Brendan is also a new favourite of mine.

Below: Lobster pots and boat at a fishing village where my mother grew up, opposite the seaside resort of Ballybunion, a well known golf course. Of course re-discovering one's Irish roots is quite frequent as one gets older, after leaving there as a teenager! It used to be quite a journey to Listowel from London, via ferry from Wales, but now with Kerry Airport its just an hour's flight away, and with recent internet and multi-channel cable connections, one does not feel its too remote any more.
Local artist Olive Stack has produced a very nice book on the area with great illustrations (top).

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