West Kerry Community News

Declan Malone and Joan Maguire

When Kurt Kyck first set foot in Cloghane as a 20-year-old he made such a dramatic impact that it has become part of the folk history of the area.

Kurt's first glimpse of West Kerry was through the window of a German warplane flying low over Brandon Bay on 20th August 1940, as the pilot struggled to find his bearings after going off course on a reconnaissance mission over the Atlantic. Minutes later the four-engined FW 200 Condor crashed on the steep, mist-covered slope of Faha ridge, where some of the wreckage remains to this day. By extraordinary good fortune the crew of six survived and the only injury that was sustained happened when one of the men broke his leg jumping out of the wrecked plane.

Believing they were on an island, the Germans set off down the hill towards the sea carrying a life raft with them and, near the grotto at Faha, they met locals who had heard the crash and were rushing to the scene. They were brought indoors and offered tea and thus began a relationship that was further cemented at the weekend when Kurt Kyck's son and grandson - Kurt and Max - visited Cloghane to erect a memorial seat near the crash site. That job was completed on Saturday and, as was the case in August 1940, the locals were happy to help.

On Friday night, as Max held his stag party in Micheál O'Dowd's pub in Cloghane, Kurt Jnr sipped pints and told of how his father, who served as a radio officer on the warplane, was interned after the crash along with the rest of the crew in the Curragh army camp where the regime was relaxed and inmates were allowed out to work on neighbouring farms and to socialise.

Kurt said his father heard about a local family where the father was Irish, the mother was German and the couple had "four lovely daughters". Kurt Snr visited the house, fell in love with one of the daughters, Lillian, and they married during the war while he was still interned in the Curragh.

When the war ended Kurt Snr was repatriated to Germany - suffering a difficult passage through England en route - and it was six years before he was able to return to Ireland to be reunited with his wife and their first child.

They moved to Portarlington and Kurt Snr got a job with Bord na Mona, setting up the company's first mechanical turf-harvesting machinery. They had three children one of whom, Wolfgang, became a pilot with Aer Lingus while Kurt Jnr set up KMK Metals Recycling company, which now recycles over 70 per cent of Ireland's electrical and electronic waste.

Kurt Jnr said he first visited the crash site at Faha in 1977 and this opened up family discussion of his father's wartime history, which had previously been little mentioned. However, it was 1990 before Kurt Snr returned to Cloghane and it was only during the journey there that he told his family about some of the events leading up to the plane crash 50 years earlier.

The Condor crew were returning to their base in Bordeaux from a reconnaissance mission to identify shipping targets for German U-boats in the Atlantic when they were involved in an 'engagement' with a convoy off the coast of Mayo. Exactly what happened was not made clear, but Kurt Jnr said it his father clearly "was not happy about it" and it was enough to dampen his father's enthusiasm for Germany's Third Reich. The plane was possibly damaged in the encounter and Kurt Jnr said this may have been the reason it was off course and flying low in an effort to identify landmarks when the crash happened. Doubtless the men felt lucky to be alive and lucky to be in Ireland, but it seems there was one thing that bothered Kurt Kyck for the rest of his life: the plane was 'brand new' with only a few thousand kilometres on the clock and they had wrecked it.

The secret is out as Muireann wins RTE folk award

It's hard to say whether Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh was more surprised at winning the award for Best Traditional Folk Track at the RTE Radio Folk Awards last Thursday or at Pauline Scanlon's ability to keep a secret.

At the awards ceremony in Vicar Street, Dublin, Muireann won the award for her recording of 'Bean Dubh a' Ghleanna' - a track on her latest album Foxgloves and Fuchsia. The award was presented to her by her friend and fellow singer Pauline Scanlon from Dingle.

The West Kerry lady's voice has won critical acclaim and her latest album prompted Donal Lunny to comment: "I think she is singing more beautifully than ever. Mysterious perfection". So maybe the award wasn't entirely unexpected but Muireann was definitely surprised that Pauline managed to keep that secret to herself even though the pair spent the evening together.

On receiving the award from her good friend Pauline, Muireann said: "She never told me; we were talking all night and she never told me".

In her acceptance speech Muireann gave credit to the many musicians who have worked with her, including Gerry O'Beirne, Dónal O'Connor and Donagh Hennessey. She also paid tribute to her husband Billy and her daughters. "We are always singing at home, which is what is important" she added.

Baile na bPoc's Cormack O Beaglaíoch was also shortlisted for an award, but that category was won by Clare's virtuoso fiddle player Martin Hayes.

At the awards, host John Creedon commented on the wellspring of musicians and singers stemming from West Kerry. "West Kerry has provided us with a remarkable number of really beautiful traditional singers, sean nós , English Irish, so many good singers it is beyond belief" he said.

Clearly, the future is bright for music in West Kerry as another group of highly talented young musicians comes of age.

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Men’s Shed carves out a place in the community

A year after it was established the Dingle Men's shed is thriving with the facilities and membership growing steadily.

The men's shed was set up in April 2017 and last Saturday an open day was held at their Ballintaggart base, which previously served as a cowhouse but has now been turned into a well developed working space.

Founding Member Des McQuaid explained the layout of the shed. It is divided into three areas, the first for socialising , the second to be developed in the future for metalwork and the third a well established woodworking area.

The facilities at the shed have been used for personal projects by the members and for assisting local community based projects. Des explained that men can come along with projects that they are working on and avail of the expertise, companionship and equipment. The shed has just finished making plant boxes for Dingle Tidy Towns.

The shed is now equipped with toilet facilities and has recently acquired broadband from Kerry Broadband at a substantially reduced cost. With these facilities the shed will start computer classes shortly using in house expertise. Men's health issues are also on the agenda: a Tai Chi class will start next Monday and the shed committee are looking at starting a yoga class.

The shed is for men of all ages but especially for those who are retired or unemployed. It is open from 11am to 1pm five days a week, Monday to Friday. Contact Des at tdmcquaid@gmail.com or 087 2396489.

Pobalscoil team shows impressive style in rugby clash

Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne wouldn't exactly be known as a home of rugby but that might yet change if the class displayed by the school's under-15 team last Wednesday is anything to go by.

PCD was filding a team for the first time in recent years when the comfortably overcame the challenge of Mercy Mounthawk Tralee in a McCarthy Cup first round clash at the Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne grounds in Carraig. Their superior strength, fitness, kicking and ball handling were impressive and those skills will now be tested when the meet Abbeyfeale at an away match in the next round of the schools competition.

Stormy Monday leaves Féile an Bhuailtín under the weather

The crafts workers who had the fruits of their labour on display in the comfort of Óstán Ceann Sibéal had the best of it at Féile an Bhuailtín on Bank Holiday Monday.

And for good reason - outside driving rain and a perishing wind from the east blowing through Baile an Fheirtéaraigh put paid to the planned horse shoe throwing and shot putt competitions along with other outdoor activites. Even the children's fancy dress was a bit under the weather, although young bakers who opted for scary cakes rather than scary costumes managed well with their endeavours.

Many felt that it might have been better for the féile to have clashed with the county football final on a sunny Sunday than to face to rigours of a stormy Monday. Only Molly the sheep in her trailer outside Tigh an t-Saoirsigh might have felt otherwise. Molly was the prize - either on the hoof or in a cardboard box - for anybody who could guess her weight and, with her time running out, Molly must have felt that a wet day was better than no day at all.

Michael surprises with gift of glass

A surprise addition to the artworks in An Diseart was installed on Saturday after meister Michael Elsmann from Germany arrived with a stained glass window he had specially created for the building.

Michael has become a great friend of An Díseart since he first visited in 2016 to view the Harry Clarke stained glass windows in the neo-Gothic chapel of the former Presentation Sisters convent. On that visit Michael noticed that a number of panels were loose and in danger of falling out of some of the stained glass windows.

As a master stained glass craftsman Michael was the right man to put the problem to right. He offered his services free of charge and, with the help of locals including some of our resident German speakers, had temporary repairs completed within a few days. He returned last summer to carry out permanent repairs to the damaged chapel windows and he reckons they should now be sound for the next couple of hundred years or so.

Last week Michael was in Dingle again - this time to make arrangements for a visit next June of the Chorart Rheingau choir, in which he sings. While he was in town he surprised An Díseart with a a gift of a new stained glass window which he crafted in his workshop near Mainz in honour of the late Mons Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. Michael is no man for idle holidays and before the weekend was out he had the new window depicting Msgr. Pádraig Ó Fiannachta and the Bíobla Naofa installed at the entrance door to An Díseart.

This new window adds to the stained glass collection housed in An Diseart with works by Harry Clarke and a set by the Mayer company in Munich. More recently the centre acquired a piece of work from local stained glass artist Clare O Halloran. Fr. Jim Sheehy, Chairperson of An Diseart, said: "We are delighted by his generosity, the window is a present to An Díseart and so to the people of Dingle".

Michael also found time to give a taste of the style of musical work his choir will present in June 2019, when he sang the Credo in Latin from the pulpit in the parish church on Saturday evening.

He returned to Germany on Monday and back to work as a stained glass meister, leaving people delighted by his generosity and his mastery.

An Díseart s open from 10 until 4pm Monday top Friday for anyone who would like to view the new window.

Maritime Weekend to hear of massacre, pirates and tragedy

Massacres, pirates, smuggling, tragedies and the work of the Coast Guard are among the topics that will be covered over the course of the Dingle Maritime Weekend, which will be held on this Saturday and Sunday in Mara Beo aquarium.

Now in its tenth year, the weekend which was set up for Kevin Flannery and retired harbour master Brian Farrell to celebrate Dingle's maritime heritage has proven hugely popular among those with an interest in the sea and local history generally.

Lectures make up the bulk of this coming weekend's events with talks ranging from Dr Conor Brosnan's account of the massacre of 600 Irish and foreign troops, women and children at Dún an Óir in 1580, to Des Ekin's tales of pirate adventures and atrocities along the Irish coast.

The tragic loss of 21 lives that occurred when a boat from Ballyferriter foundered during an attempt to recover cargo from a drifting shipwreck in 1818 will be discussed by Dáithí De Mórdha. A boat from Dún Chaoin was also at the scene but failed to rescue the Ballyferriter men and Dáithí will outline how the incident left the two parishes torn with ill-feeling and bitterness for generations afterwards.

On Sunday morning Ted Creedon, who has recently completed an M.A. on the evolution of the coastguard in Kerry, will give an illustrated talk tracing the development of the service on the Dingle peninsula from 1821 to1922. Topics covered include coastguard stations, personnel, smuggling, rescue, fisheries, famine, integration, conflict and war.

On Sunday afternoon Louise Overy of Mara Beo will host what promises to be a very informative workshop focusing on plastic pollution in the seas around us. The workshop is aimed mostly at children but adults are very welcome also and, as Kevin Flannery emphasises, it's a subject we badly need to learn about, especially as West Kerry lies right in the track of a tide of plastic rubbish that is washed northwards by the Gulf Stream. More graphic information on the impact of plastic waste on our seas will be provided by an EPHEMARE photo exhibition which is being hosted by Mara Beo over the weekend.

And on a lighter note, Mara Beo will be selling copies of Billy Dillon's video recordings of the Blessing of the Boats in Dingle in the early 1990s, when 'health and safety' hadn't yet become a monster and hundreds of people would cram onto the decks of trawlers for a trip to the harbour's mouth and a blessing from Mons Padraig Ó Fiannachta (RIP). The proceeds from sales of the video will be donated to the RNLI.