The late Michael Maye
A GIANT of Kerry tourism throughout the 1960s and 1970s is widely mourned this week following his death on Monday at 77 years of age after a long illness.
Tralee native Michael Maye passed away in his adopted home of Galway on Monday morning surrounded by his loving wife Joan and their children.
Former Kerry manager of Cork/kerry Tourism and a former president of the Festival of Kerry, he is remembered this week as a giant of tourism in the county at a time when the industry was still in its infancy in many parts of the county. Indeed, Michael was central to the success of a number of tourismrelated companies, from the Tarbert-killimer Ferry to Siamsa Tíre.
He is fondly remembered by all as an absolute gentleman whose dynamic approach to the industry and whose support for those working within it played a key part in the success story of Kerry tourism.
Born in the Blackpool area of Tralee, by Milk Market Lane, Michael moved at a young age with brother Gerard and parents to a new home in Caherina, Strand Road. His first job was with The Kerryman and after some time cutting his teeth at the newspaper he took up a position with CIE, working in his home town and in Skibbereen.
It was a professional return to his roots, however, that was to see the Strand Road native's life take a very welcome turn. Maggie Maye's newsagents next the Bon Secours was a Tralee institution at the time, one of the best known shops in town and run by Michael's aunt. It was while working there that Michael met his wife Joan during a visit to her brother in the hospital.
The couple were married in 1962 and it was a source of great comfort for his family that they were able to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary together at home earlier this year.
In his time as Kerry tourism manager Michael was central to the establishment and work of the Tarbert-killimer Ferry, Listowel Writers' Week, Siamsa Tíre, the Tralee Chamber of Commerce, the Festival of Kerry among other organisations.
"He truly was a giant of Kerry tourism," Siamsa Tíre founder Fr Pat Ahern said. "Indeed, Siamsa Tire would not have become a longrunning show but for his support. We had completed a series of TV programmes as Siamsóirí na Ríochta in 1968 and had packed away all the materials with no plans to use them ever again.
"But one day I met Michael on the street and he asked me if I would consider doing the show on stage for visitors. He got funding for us then and we had our first show on stage in the Balloonagh National School Hall in 1968. So Michael was very much the catalyst for the whole Siamsa story that followed." Michael became a founding member of the new Siamsa Tíre company founded in 1974.
He is survived by wife Joan, children Michelle, Sandra, Brendan and Deirdre and brother Gerard. Michael is predeceased by his son Finbar.