“Oh, the days of the Kerry dancing Oh, the ring of the piper’s tune Oh, for one of those hours of gladness Gone, alas, like our youth, too soon!”

The Kerry Dance by J.L. Molloy

In one of my recent columns, I was extolling the beauties of Athlone, Mayo, and Galway. Two weeks ago, I went to the beautiful County Kerry to a place called Portmagee, which is a tiny and picturesque fishing village on the Atlantic in south Kerry at the mouth of Valentia Island.

It got the title of Tourism Village of Ireland in 2012, and so well it should. Now, I am going into a bit of personal affinity and affection for Portmagee. In 1997 and 1998, Enda, my late husband (RIP ), and I went on holidays to Valentia Island. I myself returned in 1999 and 2000. We had friends who lived there, Tadgh and Ailish O’Donoghue.

In Portmagee, The Moorings is a renowned guesthouse/bar/dining room on the main and only street in the village, where all the houses are painted a different colour. In fact, if you are coming across the bridge towards Portmagee it is very much like a Spanish village. I always think of Portmagee with great affection. Little did we know it but these last few years were among Enda’s last years in this world. He didn’t know it and I didn’t know it.

But we enjoyed this part of County Kerry so much. To me it will be forever bound up in my mind with the happy memories of Enda and I, and the O’ Donoghues and the Kennedys (owners of The Moorings ): great nights out, great music, great innocent fun together. And oh readers we were so gloriously happy, Enda and I, during those Kerry holidays in wonderful Valentia and Portmagee. I often think of them and I am happy all over again.

Hence the lines above, which for me always epitomise the fun of County Kerry. So what was I doing down there so far away last weekend? Well I went down to fulfil a commitment I had made to a lovely young secondary school teacher, Norma Moriarty from Waterville, whom I had met some years ago and again recently at an election function.

Norma is a county councillor from the south of County Kerry, and she and John Brassil from the north of the county are going forward for Fianna Fáil for the next General Election. I had undertaken to do a coffee morning function for them and I duly arrived at 11am in Portmagee to meet the embrace of Gerard and Patricia Kennedy, all the rest of the friends I knew, and the new friends whom I made on that lovely Saturday morning.

It was a great success and she and John will be worthy representatives for Fianna Fáil in the constituency of Kerry. Kerry looked breathtakingly beautiful; sunshine all day. We drove around to St Finian’s Bay, which is a lovely cove on Valentia Island where early in September adults and children alike were frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean. While I was there the film crew had arrived to go out to the Skelligs for the Walt Disney film.

As you know, there are a lot of arguments both for and against such filming on such an ancient monastic site. However it has been good for South Kerry with crowds of people, lots of excitement and more and more people getting to know about the beauties of Valentia Island and its surrounding hinterland. The election noise is really gearing up fast.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the week beginning September 7, 8, and 9, saw a large grouping of female candidates from all parties converging on The Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. Women for Election is funded by the Ireland Fund and is a very competent organisation which aims to give informative lectures and actions to all women candidates for the next General Election, no matter what party they are standing for.

It was great fun meeting them all and recognising in them the steely determination no matter what party they were representing that they were going to succeed. I had the honour of speaking at lunch with them on the last day and it was a good experience all round. Lisa Chambers from Mayo was there as was Rose Conway-Walsh, also from Mayo. Fine assertive ambitious women both of them.

Likewise, Senator Lorraine Higgins of Galway East, a very worthy candidate. Most of these women did not win their places to go forward through the gender quota path. Rather, most of them are experienced councillors and I wish good luck to all those determined women I met. Conventions in all parties are proceeding now at a very fast pace, and by the end of September most of them will have been held.

The national executive of the various parties sits down and decides if and where they will add candidates dependent upon those already selected. Most parties have this provision in their rules, and it is often deemed to be very necessary. Farewell to Kerry for those happy memories.

Slán go Fóill,

MARY O’ROURKE.

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