A TOUCHING story of love and loss lies behind the upcoming release of an 11-track album featuring some of West Kerry's finest singers and musicians as well as artists from Russia, America and the UK.
Compiled and recorded by Ballyferriter based musician Paul Kirkman, the cover note on 'Suaimhneas' says it all. "This CD and all the music within is dedicated to Sue Kirkman who, after one week of our move to Ireland in 2010, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Sue died six weeks later."
Paul said his beloved wife Sue was in remission from breast cancer when the couple made the decision to relocate from the UK to Ballyferriter. "You can wait to do things all your life but we just said it was the time to act - so we sold up and moved," Paul told The Kerryman.
They moved to West Kerry in 2010 but tragically, a little over a week later, Sue was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. She died six weeks later. "We did think of going back to England for Sue's final days, but she was too ill to leave," said Paul.
Paul was devastated by Sue's prognosis but was equally overwhelmed by the kindness of his new neighbours and the close knit community of musicians 'back west' who took him to their heart.
"My neighbours were incredible – they really took care of me," he said. "They brought me food, checked up on me, made sure I was OK."
Paul is also generous in his words of thanks for the consultant, doctors, nurses and support staff in Kerry General Hospital's pallative care unit for their continuous care in Sue's final days.
"Sadly there is no palliative care ward at present; if anything Sue's illness really highlighted the need for a palliative care ward with round the clock care in Tralee," said Paul.
Paul, a former session bass guitarist in the UK, found himself gravitating towards West Kerry's numerous musicians. He came up with the idea of making an album to raise funds for a planned palliative care ward in KGH.
Last July Paul asked some of the musicians if they would like to support the planned album. They did, and the labour of love took eight months to complete; the longest Paul has ever spent on one album.
Looking at the line-up of names involved in 'Suaimhneas' (which means peace or serenity in Irish) it's hard to believe Paul and his wife knew nobody in the area when they moved to West Kerry in 2010. The album boasts a wealth of musicians and singers, including Bríd Donnelly and Cillian Ó Briain, Eilín Ní Chearna, Mark Crickard, Aina and Eugenia, Aidín Ni Conmhail, Páidí Mhárthan Mac Gearailt, Breanndán & Breandán Ó Beaglaoich, Aine Uí Laoithe, Mike Venner and Jan Fitzgerald. The album also features an original track named 'Co. Kerry', written and recorded by Paul.
Suaimhneas will be launched in Tigh Uí Mhurchú, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh on Saturday April 27 and is on sale in Ventry Post Office, An Cat Dubh, Dingle Book-Shop, Dingle Record Shop (Mazz's) and other local outlets. The album is also available to purchase at PaulKirkMusic.com.
"I thank all those who gave me the support qnd the strength to complete 'Suaimhneas'; I have been overwhelmed by the support, care and empathy of the people of Dingle and in particular those back west, Paul added.