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Tralee couple bring memories of the Ireland of days past to brilliant life in latest Life & Lore Collection


A priceless trove of memories of life gone by in the Kingdom has entered the public domain courtesy of a Tralee couple who have been interviewing and recording some of the county's greatest characters for many years now.

The Irish Life and Lore Collection 2018 was published online last week by Tralee historian couple Maurice and Jane O'Keeffe, in their latest instalment of a series that can fairly be said to archiving some of the most fascinating testimony on the great changes in Irish life in living memory.

Their latest collection won't disappoint Life and Lore fans , with 86 interviewees from right across the country - but with a strong Kerry flavour, given the historians' backgrounds - giving brilliant accounts of life in days gone by.

"The new collection contains 86 interviews carried out over the years, and sadly a lot of the interviewees have passed away since the recordings were made," Maurice told The Kerryman.

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"None of the interviews in this collection have been published before as they didn't fit neatly into the categories we had focused on in the past, but we were always very keen to publish them in their own dedicated collection, and we're delighted to now make it available."

On scrutinising the material anew ahead of publication, Maurice and Jane could see a number of other categories suggesting themselves, with the collection divided accordingly across a number of fascinating topics, from the Shannon Estuary to Celtic scholarship and mythology, Irish urban life to music, poetry and song, and more.

"In the Shannon Estuary category, we interviewed the very last Foynes Islander Michael Finucane.

"Michael, who sadly passed away since the recording was made, gave us a great interview in the course of which he shared his recollection of saving people from drowning after a flying boat en route to Foynes crashed in the Shannon," Maurice said.

A Ballylongford namesake Michael 'Nookie' Finucane and pals Billy Walsh, Sean Morrissey and John Roche feature in another Estuary interview. "Billy was a great character who recalled walking from his native Lenamore to Tralee to get the train to Cobh in order to get the ferry to England!"

Beale man Thomas Donovan also delivers a brilliant account of life in his part of the Estuary, Beale, telling of his coastguard great-great-grandfather. The late, great scholar Mons Pádraig Ó Fiannachta features in the Celtic Mythology section, recounting his life story and how he achieved his life's three main goals: to catalogue all the great manuscripts in Maynooth; to translate the Bible into Irish and to create a dictionary of Old Irish.

Tralee native Dr Eunice McCarthy shares this category with Mons Ó Fiannachta as another incredible Kerry scholar. A native of Tralee, Dr McCarthy went on to become Professor of Celtic Studies in UCD. "Dr McCarthy gave a fantastic take on women in mythology, which had been a rather neglected area of study until she came along," Maurice said.

Killarney's Clare O'Sullivan, Dingle's Muiris Rohan, Moyvane's Dan Keane and many more comprise the rest of the audio volume available at Journalist Vincent Browne will launch the collection at the RDS on September 12 next at 2pm as Maurice and Jane issue an open invitation to attend to Kerry people in the capital.