by Pat Brosnan

Rose of Tralee Festival

Last week the Annual Rose of Tralee Festival, which was transmitted on 2 successive nights on RTE 1 television, helped to brighten up what has been a very dull and disappointing summer. The appearance of all those lovely girls each year from all over Ireland and indeed from many other countries all over the world is certainly something very special in the capital town of “The Kingdom” each year. From the time away back in the ‘fifties when the first Rose of Tralee, Kathleen Sheehy, won the contest, ever since the Festival has grown from strength to strength and it is now recognised worldwide as a huge international event. The first rose of Tralee winner Kathleen Sheehy was daughter of the famous and widely known John Joe, Kerry footballer and prominent republican and he was also a top official in The Irish National Insurance Company for which some of us worked for many years when we were also employed with the New Ireland Assurance Company.  Both the New Ireland and Irish National worked closely together and shared the one office in Tralee. It was during this time back in the fifties that some of us got to know the Sheehy family. John Joe had always a kind word for the agents whom he used address as ‘the lads’. No airs or graces by this famous Kerryman and because of this he was particularly well liked by the agents and the office staff. Some of John Joe’s family also worked with The Irish National. Niall was a full time employee with the company and so were his two cousins Paddy and Eddie Murphy. Late Paudie, God rest him, and his sister Kathleen also worked occasionally in the office and it was through this that we got to know the family well. Niall and Paudie were both prominent Kerry footballers and so were Brian and Sean Óg.

When Kathleen became the 1st Rose of Tralee we were delighted at her selection as we were equally saddened at Paudie’s death.  Since those days of the ‘fifties The Rose of Tralee Festival has evolved into what it has become today.  During the past couple of years local Kerry man Dáithí O’Shea has certainly brought new life into the contest and many now consider him the best presenter of them all since the contest began.  While the Festival has been a major success down the years, in more recent times some of the entries have been pre-adjudicated on and this means that a number have missed the final countdown which in some cases seems a bit unfair after all the work and effort which local committees have put into the selection of their Rose. Unfortunately the Limerick entries have been some of the early casualties during the past couple of years, so it is to be hoped that some arrangements will be made to include all the entries in the live television interviews, so that the public, as well as appointed adjudicators can have some knowledge of how the choice is made.  By including all the entrants, even though it had to comprise some extra viewing time on television, it would nevertheless be a good public relations exercise for both RTE and the Rose of Tralee Committee and would be due recognition of some of the local Rose nominees and those who go to the trouble and expense of organising the competitions.


Late Mick Barrett

The death occurred during the weekend of Mick Barrett, Glenastar, Carrigkerry and formerly of Glenagragra. Mick, who had been in declining health for some time past, had been a patient in St Ita’s Hospital, Newcastle West, where he was well cared for. He and his wife Alice and their family were highly regarded members of the local community. In his younger days Mick was a brilliant musician and was much in demand for bands and musical groups at the time.

The removal took place on Friday evening from Riedy’s Funeral Home to St Mary’s Church, Carrigkerry and was attended by a large number of people who called to pay their respects and sympathise with the family.  There was also a good attendance at the Requiem Mass on Sunday morning and afterwards at the funeral. Sympathy is extended to his wife Alice and their family, his brother Dan and all his other relatives. ‘May his soul rest in peace.’

Fr Jerry Roche Memorial

Members of the Fr Jerry Roche Memorial Committee visited Valentia Island last Saturday to inspect the memorial that has been designed by Alan Ryan-Hall who carries out a business on the island. The Committee members have reported that they are very pleased with the memorial which is due to be erected in Athea later this year. The generous and very Christian gesture by the Roche family in requesting the authorities in Kenya to commute the death sentence on three of the men who have been convicted of Fr Jerry’s tragic killing – as Ann Cunningham, speaking on behalf of the Roche family, rightly pointed out – hanging these criminals would solve nothing and would probably make the situation even worse and more traumatic for the Roche family, who have already suffered enough.  While nobody, of course, would want the killers to get away with their dastardly criminal act, as Ann Cunningham pointed out, with their convictions justice has been and will continue to be done through prison sentences without resorting to the death penalty or punishment by any other violent means to which the Roche family would be opposed.

In these worldly and materialistic times when so many are calling for revenge and hate rather than for justice and forgiveness this shining example of the Christian message of forgiveness by the Roche family in requesting the commuting of the death sentence on Fr Gerry’s killers is certainly a headline for all of us to follow.  Christian forgiveness is unfortunately a rather scarce commodity these days when so many are crying out for revenge rather than justice even for the most trivial of offences or insults , real or imaginary, that some people think have been inflicted on them. It is surely time that we rediscovered our sense of tolerance and understanding. If the Roche family can do something like it in the midst of their grief and sadness so can all of us if we set our minds to it.

Family Re-union

Last Sunday afternoon we had a gathering of Brosnan family members from various parts of Kerry, Limerick and relations as far away as England and New York. The whole idea of having a family reunion was brought about when my nephew Neil Brosnan, my brother Sean’s oldest son, and his wife Anne were visiting us from New York. My sister-in-law Kathleen, her son Tim, who is my nephew, and Tim’s wife who is Mary Lane from Brosna all suggested that we hold the reunion in their place in Dromada West, where we all, of course, originated from and spent our boyhood and youthful days.

What a party it was meeting some of my nieces we had not seen since they were children and of course, my nephews, grandnephews and grandnieces which somehow we meet more often. Members of my own family and grandchildren were also there.  There was plenty of music and set-dancing in the concrete yard out the back where two tents had been set up in case it rained, which thankfully it did not.

The music was supplied by my nephew John, his son Neil and my other nephew Neil from Listowel, as well as a friend of his – a top class banjo player also from North Kerry whom Neil had brought with him when they had played in the open air stage during the Fleadh and Féile sessions in Athea some years ago which he recalled. Neil, from New York, and his wife Anne really enjoyed their holiday which continues until this weekend.

As well as avoiding the Hurricane which struck New York they travelled to different parts of the country here and met several relations from both sides. Anne’s father was from Dublin and her mother from Galway. Neil’s mother and my sister-in-law, who was the former Bridie Walsh from Derry, Listowel is still living at 90 but is now in a nursing home. Neil served in the New York Police for 27 years but is now retired for some time and works in another security job. They both visited us in Knocknagorna and Athea last Friday night accompanied by Seanie and Eamon. We all had a meal together at Pat and Sheila’s home in the Lower Road.

No doubt Neil and Anne enjoyed their visit and meeting all the relations and they will surely take back to New York many happy memories with them.