independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Image of his dad Pat Kenny steps into the past to recreate zoo postcard scene

The original John Hinde postcard of Pat Kenny's father, James, feeding the elephants at Dublin Zoo

HE'S Ireland's best-known chat-show host but few people know that Pat Kenny's father Jim was once the country's best-known zookeeper.

The famous photographer John Hinde was so taken with James Kenny's love of animals he made him the subject of at least three of his famous coloured postcards.

Now, almost 40 years later, Pat Kenny has helped to recreate one of the images taken at Dublin Zoo in 1969 in which his father was photographed feeding an elephant.

Pat faithfully adopted the same pose as his father and wore a zookeeper's uniform and peaked cap for the picture taken two weeks ago.

The image, in which the elephant salutes with his trunk held aloft, features in 'Cartai Poist', a TG4 series which traces the subjects of the Hinde post-cards and which seeks to recreate the images.

Pat Kenny told the Irish Independent: "They found out my father was the zoo-keeper in it and asked me to help out, and I was delighted to do so".

Speaking about his father's long career as senior zookeeper at Dublin Zoo, the broadcaster said he was very proud of the work his father did before his retirement in 1976.

"It was a tough job in those days but he loved it immensely. He loved to talk to people about the animals and he was very popular with the members of the zoo. Many people in those days visited often and took out annual memberships. His name was James, but people just called him Jim, and they'd come and see him.

"Christmas Day was always tough because it was a working day and he would have to go and feed the animals. I remember him getting up early for the feeding and he'd come back later. He loved the job.

"Winters, though, were not bad at all because it got dark early and the animals all wanted to sleep. It meant he finished early in the afternoon," said Pat.

Paula Kehoe, producer of 'Cartai Poist', which is to be shown on September 17, said: "It was very touching to have Pat Kenny involved and it lent it all a very real, personal touch."

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