West Kerry loses a wealth of local knowledge with the death of Seán Moran
West Kerry lost an extraordinary store of local history with the death last week of Seán Moran, who carried around in his head a genealogical map of the local community.
Seán, who was aged 81 when he died at home last Wednesday, February 27, knew everyone, their family ties and even distant relations at home and abroad. It was an exceptional fund of very local knowledge that was built on a pride and passion for West Kerry and one which he was always happy to share, particularly in later years when he worked less and had more time to talk.
Seán was known far and wide as one of Dingle's most successful businessmen, a course he started on when he persuaded his father, Jack, to buy him a car after he completed his Leaving Cert in 1954. Jack had operated a taxi service from the 1920s and once he was equipped with a car Seán followed into the same trade.
During the depressed days of the 1950s he drove many emigrants from West Kerry to the docks in Cobh and later to Shannon airport to catch the boat or plane to a new life. He heard of their hopes as they left and would later take great joy in hearing of local emigrants who had done well abroad.
Seán spent a year working in England in 1956 and was going to emigrate to the USA the following year but the plan fell by the wayside and instead he focused on developing a business at home. In the late 1950s he branched in school buses, opened his first garage on a site he bought at the top of Green Street, and also got into the car rental trade.
Business progressed well over the following years and in 1968 Seán was well placed to seize the opportunity of a lifetime that was presented by the filming of Ryan's Daughter in West Kerry. Faraway Productions needed a fleet of cars and drivers to transport the actors and crew, Seán invested heavily to win the contract and then reaped the rewards.
His business thrived; in the early 1970s he expanded into plant hire at a time when EEC-sponsored land reclamation was greening the hills, and in 1973 he opened a greatly expanded garage on the Mail Road. In the meantime, he had invested in land, which gave him an opportunity to indulge an interest in farming that he had from childhood. Land that he bought included the racecourse in Ballintaggart, which proved fortuitous for the Dingle Race Committee as Seán was only too happy to continue to make the field available for the annual race meeting.
Séan rarely took holidays and his working life was never interrupted by retirement. In his later years he may have worked less and chatted more, but until very recently he would still be seen behind a desk in the garage or behind the wheel of a taxi.
At Seán's funeral on Saturday members of the Sráid Eoin Wren played at the graveside in Milltown - a tribute that was well earned by a man who was born on John Street and a lifelong member of the Wren, which he captained for a time in the late '50s/early '60s.
Seán is survived by his wife, Bernie, their children John, Fiona, Maura, Orla, Tara, and Dónal, and 12 grandchildren, including Seán Óg who bravely lined out with Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne for their victorious Corn Uí Mhuirí final match against St Brendan's on Saturday.