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Painting the town black and white in honour of Charlie

A SEASIDE village is going black and white in honour of comedy icon Charlie Chaplin.

Residents of Waterville, Co Kerry -- the Hollywood giant's favourite holiday destination -- painted their houses and shops in the colours over the weekend ahead of the first Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival, which takes place in August.

GAA legend and festival ambassador Mick O'Dwyer even got in on the act to give his premises a facelift.

The former Kerry manager has fond memories of Chaplin and a close family connection.

"My mother Mary O'Dwyer used to cook for him," he told the Irish Independent.

"She was the cook in the Butler Arms Hotel, where the Chaplins used to stay, for about 40 years.

"I can well remember him. He became part and parcel of the local community and spent most of his time here fishing on Lough Currane, which was one of the best fishing lakes in Europe. He became fanatical about fresh water fishing when he was around.

"You'd see him regularly walking on the promenade. What he liked about Waterville was that nobody bothered him while he was here."

Chaplin used to holiday in the village with his family, who have maintained their links to the area. Two of his daughters, Geraldine and Josephine, own holiday homes in the village and visit regularly.

Josephine Chaplin is the festival's patron.

However, when Chaplin first came to Waterville in the early 1960s, some locals were disappointed.

"We were told the Chaplins were coming down the village and there was great excitement," said Eric Murphy, who became the family's driver.

"We were very disappointed when we saw him. We thought we'd see the man with the bowler hat and the turned out legs."


A documentary on Charlie Chaplin and Waterville, which is being filmed in June, will premiere at the festival.

One of the festival organisers, London-based consultant Dr Ellie O'Sullivan, said they are hoping it will become a major international event.

"It's always been a dream to have a Charlie Chaplin festival and last year we decided to do it," said Dr O'Sullivan, who has remained firm friends with Josephine since they began holidaying at the Butler Arms Hotel at the same time.

The comedy film festival, which runs from August 25 to 28, will have a 'circus' theme, in honour of one of Charlie Chaplin's favourite films, 'The Circus', and Fossets' 'big top' will provide the venue for most of the screenings.

Irish Independent