I’m of Kerry, reminiscences of Johnnie Roche was launched in the River Island Hotel, Castleisland on Saturday evening.
It scores a hat trick for Mr. Roche, who has in recent years published Listowel to the Liffey and Born for Hardship – with a fourth book, Terryfaha, in the pipeline.
Johnnie, who is chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, put pen to paper to share and preserve some of the jokes, songs and recitations that formed part of his social past.
He had also written two essays about local social history, the first tackling, among other things, the importance of the town in the history of the land purchase acts, notably the role played by the Moonlighters as precursor to the Land League.
His second essay concerns the lives of women long ago, that is the hardships endured by a silent, resilient and uncomplaining majority.
It was decided to combine this varied content and as such, the book is divided into four sections, with a selection of photographs.
Many turned out for the launch on what was a wet, cool evening, but their efforts were rewarded with the parley of event host, Frank Lewis, who enlivened the audience with jokes and passages from the book.
He also engaged the author in discussion about many aspects of his essays in such a way that the evening was akin to a Saturday night chat show – live.
Mr. Roche’s son and namesake, on a visit from New Zealand, recited a verse recalled with great affection from gatherings in the family home at Firies, and Jack Shanahan, chairman of the Kerry Hospice Finance Committee, said a few words about the work and ongoing fundraising of the Kerry Hospice Foundation, to which organisation Johnnie is contributing €1 from the sale of every book. The book is for sale at various outlets in Castleisland.