Hugely positive response to message of 'Tralee My Love' letter

The open letter carried on the front page of last week's Tralee edition has been widely embraced

Frank O’Reilly, Johnnie Wall and Judith Scanlon have expressed their support for the ‘Tralee my Love’ campaign’. Photo Joe Hanley
Frank O’Reilly, Johnnie Wall and Judith Scanlon have expressed their support for the ‘Tralee my Love’ campaign’. Photo Joe Hanley
Jimmy Moran of Moran’s Foodstore with the co-author of the Tralee My Love open letter outside Jimmy’s well known shop

Stephen Fernane

Positivity, pride and bucket loads of nostalgia are just some of the powerful responses to 'Tralee My Love' - the letter that featured on last week's front page of The Kerryman calling on townsfolk to rekindle their love for Kerry’s capital.

The emotional, handwritten missive penned by Rebekah Wall and Ash Maguire of Madden's Creative Hub in Milk Market Lane is part of the couple's drive to promote Tralee and for people to 'fall in love' with it again.

"We're absolutely thrilled and we didn't realise the response would be as big as it is. I think we underestimated it," Rebekah said. 

Reaction to the letter has come from far-flung places like Chicago, Sydney, Canada, and London, while Tralee native Emma Houlihan, in Melbourne, is involved with the Melbourne Rose of Tralee Centre and commented that the letter is a fantastic template for encouraging girls to come forward to be a Rose as it gives them 'a sense' of the town.

Rebekah explained how the letter even resonated with an Italian student visiting town, who said of Tralee: 'It's a town that taught me so much in so little time'.

"I think that was a lovely reaction. Tralee people all over the world have reached out to the letter. I think they like that something positive is being done, something that might spark a revival in pride for Tralee."

Certain lines within the letter also make reference to some of Tralee's businesses. Rebekah and Ash set out last week to visit business owners and pose for pictures with the letter. 

The Kerryman also received a positive response from readers via email, letter and messages to its Facebook page.

One Tralee lady even felt so inspired after reading it that she left her phone number asking to be contacted if she could help promote Tralee in future campaigns.

The next stage in the 'Tralee My Love' journey is to make a video showing the best of Tralee with the letter read out as an overlay. A 'Tralee You Are...' notice board has been erected in Madden's Creative Hub that allows people to write down what they love about Tralee.

"We're hoping this will encourage people to share their quotes and thoughts. We're getting a great response to our notice board; one writer even wrote that 'a romantic dinner for two in Kaleli Kebab at 2am' is what they love most about the town!" she said.

Another motivating factor behind the letter is Rebekah and Ash's insistence that it is not driven by any economic or monetary outcome - generating an emotional response is its primary aim.

Historically, Tralee is very much a market town where people created their own wares and sold them. It is this same creative background that needs to be remoulded and rebranded for the future, according to Rebekah.     

"People in Tralee have always been creative and our future aim is to make Tralee the creative capital of Ireland. This is what we want to spearhead. Tralee is a market town and we need to embrace who we are." 

"Tralee people are known for creating their own produce, or creating the right conversation that will ultimately find a creative solution. We are currently working on projects that will be revealed in the weeks ahead and we welcome everyone to get in touch with any ideas they have. The purpose of the letter is not for it to be put away in a drawer, but for it to create a movement and a conversation."