CELEBRATING 40 years of art in 2013, opening day at Féile Ealaíne na Cásca attracted large crowds to An Máimín, Baile an Fheirteáraigh on Easter Sunday.
The event has become a real West Kerry institution and 2013 saw 101 artists exhibit 188 pieces of work, alongside art by pupils from Scoil an Ghleanna, Scoil Naomh Eirc, Scoil Mhaolcheadair, Scoil an Fheirteáraigh, Scoil Dún Chaoin, Scoil Cheann Trá, Scoil Naomh Eoin Baiste, Scoil Chill Mhic a'Domhnaigh, Bunscoil na mBráithre Críostaí, Bunscoil na Toirbhirte and Scoil Naisiúnta an Chlochán.
Féile Ealáine na Cásca first began in 1974 when renowned artist Maria Simonds-Gooding exhibited 'Dwellings I' in Scoil Gobnait, Dún Chaoin. Ms Simonds-Gooding first visited Dún Chaoin in June 1963 having "crossed-over" from Dooks. Before long she was, by her own recollection "captivated" by the area's remoteness, its people, language, traditions and landscape.
After finishing her studies in 1968 she met Bráthar Caomhánach who introduced her to a small Blasket Islander's cottage in Dún Chaoin, which she subsequently bought at auction. A little later she was approached by Micheál Mac Giobún, who was the manager of the Chomharchumainn at the time, to exhibit her work in Scoil Dhún Chaoin.
"I agreed on two conditions – the first being that the painting 'Dwellings 1' should be in the exhibition as it encapsulated everything about this landscape as I perceived it at that time," she recalled. The second condition was that "everyone with drawings and paintings would be included in the exhibition as well as the National Schools of the Peninsula".
"People were shy initially about showing their work but this was overcome with a bit of persuasion. Interest grew among the wide range of participants and viewers as the community came to view the exhibition year in year out. Thanks go to the Comharchumann who have organised Féile na Cásca over the last 40 years, and to the art teachers who have got such outstanding and imaginative results from the children," Ms Simonds-Gooding added.
A plethora of some of the region's best known artists were present including Liam O'Neill, Tomás Ó Cíobháin, Niall Naessens and indeed Ms Simonds-Gooding herself, along with renowned Moyvane author and poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice and a host of up and coming artists. The exhibition will run daily at An Máimín until Sunday April 7.