Community news: The Islandman

Hearts Content Cable Station Centre in Canada
Hearts Content Cable Station Centre in Canada

The Cable property at Heart's Content, Canada, with significant ties to the history of global telecommunications, is one step closer to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is very significant news for Valentia Island's campaign for recognition as an Industrial World Communications site as the first tran-Atlantic cable laid between Europe and America occurred at the points of Valentia and Heart's Content.

On Wednesday, Canada's Minister responsible for Park Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Heart's Content Cable Station Provincial Historic Site is one of eight places the country is adding to its tentative list for World Heritage Sites consideration.

Heart's Content was the final destination for the first successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, connecting the Trinity Bay community to Valentia, Ireland. The cable station itself was originally built in 1876, with an extension added in 1918. It operated until the 1960s. Today, the building serves as a museum and gift shop.

Prior to the Canadian announcement, Mícheál Lyne of the Valentia Island Development Company and the campaign to recognise Valentia Island, through the significance of the Cable laying, as a World Unesco Communications Site, wrote thus in the recently published Valentia Island Newsletter of 2017:

"Every 10 years, each country establishes what is known as a tentative list of around 10 projects on which they are prepared to work with communities and can, if the government so desires, submit one project to UNESCO, Paris, each year for consideration(no guarantee).

"Currently, Ireland has seven projects on our tentative list which was updated in 2010, with little or no progress on any project. The Republic of Ireland has but two recognized sites, the last to be recognized was the Skelligs in 1996. Our tentative list will again open in 2020 and the hope is that we can make it onto that list.

"Meanwhile, Canada's tentative list opened last January and Newfoundland has applied to get Heart's Content onto the Canadian list. There have been 41 applications in Canada and less than 10 will succeed to make their tentative list. Should Heart's Content succeed in Canada, there is the possibility that both the Irish and Canadian Governments will take a joint approach which, in effect, would mean that we wouldn't have to wait until 2020 for the Irish Tentative List to open. There is a long road here with very many obstacles and no guarantee of success either way. However, it's our intention to forge ahead anyway and develop the museum on the ground floor of the station with an innovation centre upstairs to include high speed broadband."

Den (89) worked hard to build a good life in England

On Friday, December 23, the death occurred at the age of 89 of Denis (Den) Murphy, who resided in Rusthall Avenue, Chiswick, West London, and was originally from Chapeltown, Valentia Island.

His parents were Michael (Mikey) and Ellen Murphy of the Chapel Road in Chapeltown

Den, similarly to so many people from the Valentia and Iveragh area, emigrated from his native island to England in 1952.

He first worked in the building sites of Birmingham and subsequently worked in various areas throughout England to finally work and settle in London. His employment saw him operate with such well-known and long-established companies as McAlpine, John Lang, and the Murphy brothers of neighbouring Renard.

Those were the days when Irish people went in huge numbers to England with many engaged in the hard graft of physical work in the building sites and roads of Britain; an era of mass Irish construction employment of nature and numbers that will hardly be repeated in future times.

Some, unfortunately, fell on hard times in the loneliness of the major cities of Britain but many, such as Den, made good lives for themselves to retire and finish with a comfortable and good quality of life there.

When this scribe visited him at his home in Chiswick last March, he was in the company of his daughter Eileen; her husband, Doug Jackson; as well as his granddaughter and baby great granddaughter. He was very interested in the goings on at his home in Valentia Island and enquired of and spoke of old friends, many long gone.

He bought The Kerryman newspaper diligently and was recently very disappointed when the nearby shop, in which he purchased it, closed.

Den Murphy, whose English-born wife, Ivy, passed away in 2013, was one of the last of his era of many Valentia Islanders who left for England in the '50s and early '60s

On Thursday, January 25, his remains will arrive at 5pm to Our Lady of Grace & St Edward Church in Chiswick. After Requiem Mass at 12.30pm on Friday, January 26, his burial will take place in Morplake Cemetery, Clifford Ave. London. SW14 7BU.

Sincere condolences are offered to his daughters Joanne and Eileen and their families; sisters Kit (Birmingham) and Nancy (Sister Brendan, Birmingham); brothers Pat Joe (Birmingham) and John (West Country, England); nieces; nephews; and all concerned. Solás sioraí dó.

Over 60 attend Glór na nGael event

A special thanks to everyone who attended the Glór na nGael-sponsored Irish language culture event 'as Gaeilge' on Thursday, December 21, at the Royal Hotel, An Chois, Dairbhre.

Over 60 adults and children were in attendance that evening and it was great to see the progress the primary school children are making with their dance teacher, Rebecca Galvin, in set dancing, sean-nós, and with the brush dance. It's wonderful to see so many boys take an interest in dancing and keep this long cultural tradition of men dancing with women going into future generations.

Jane O'Connor from Portmagee and Julia Cooper from Valentia - who are both fabulous sean-nós dancers, having competed in Scór na bPáistí, Fleadh and the Oireachtas - joined them on the night and impressed us all with their great footwork. They are both great role models for the younger children. A few Irish poems and a short story, 'An Fear Sneachta', were heard and a number of books, courtesy of Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, were given out and were positively received by the children. There is a continued interest here on the Island in the Irish language, and events like these help to get us all together, embrace our language and do our part to speak Gaolainn.

We are delighted to note that this gathering wasn't the only one that day where Teanga na nGael was faoi lánluas. The amount of free flowing Gaeilge heard, spoken and enjoyed at the hair salon, 'A New You' by Marie Walsh-Hurley and her team on the Cooil Road, was heart-warming to say the least. Patrons left the salon that day not only with great Christmas haircuts and styling, but also with the reminder that one can have just as much fun communicating ' as Gaeilge' as you can with any other language.

Distinguished visitor with impressive rugby credentials

GG O'Sullivan is a Valentia Islander based in Dublin since the '70s. A keen sporting enthusiast, he has for many years been a loyal supporter of the Shannon Rugby Club in Limerick.

His association with that club has seen him develop a strong friendship with Gerry 'Ginger' McLoughlin, the former Shannon prop forward and 18 times capped Irish rugby international. McLoughlin was on the Irish team who won the Triple Crown in 1982 and will forever be associated with his world-famous push-over try of that year in Twickenham versus England.

Ollie Campbell converted the try, and subsequent victory over Scotland gave Ireland its first Triple Crown since 1949. He also toured with the Lions in 1983 and was a Labour county councillor and former Lord Mayor of Limerick.

Gerry, affectionately referred to as 'Locky' in Limerick, was in Valentia, staying with GG over the Christmas holiday period, and danced the night away in the Ring Lyne Bar on New Year's eve. He also visited the home of Con 'Hayes' O'Connor of Killalin, Over-The Water, in Cahirsiveen.