Despite all the various events that took place last Sunday August 26th, to mark the last day of National Heritage week, the Killea Cultural Group were delighted with the attendance at their educational evening in the local hall.
Mick Duff, Vice Chair, welcomed all who came and spoke about the building project currently underway in the village, as they move to the next stage in its construction. Sarah Costigan, from the local Cill Sléibhe Comhaltas Branch then introduced a short music presentation and talked about the success of their Traditional Music School, which is now an official Comhaltas Branch. She acknowledged all those who have helped them get this far, in particular North Tipperary Leader Partnership, through their support via the Killea Cultural Group.
The Secretary of Killea Cultural Group, Josephine Coffey, gave a presentation on the work being done at St. James’ Graveyard through the Historic Graveyard Project. Examples of headstones dating back as far as the 1720s were displayed. There was also mention that a possible Ogham stone from the Celtic period may be present. This would suggest that the Graveyard dates back to the 5th Century, which would also indicate that the correct name of Killea is ‘Cill Aodh’, after the reputed founder of the original Church on the site.
There was notable interest when Noranne Scott, Landscape Architect, soon to officially commence work in Killea in designing a landscape plan for the village, showed the community a draft plan, pointing out the areas to be developed. The community were informed that there is hope to link the Graveyard into the village via a path to the school. This will also take in a 6 acre meadow that will be made available, on a long term basis, to the community for use as public parkland, by Mr. Donald Maher, owner of the Castle House Guest Accommodation business in the village. This will include native woodland developed thought the Neighbourwood Scheme; wetland habitat; walks, and a proposed sculpture trail.
Noranne also made reference to the Cultural Group’s on going work to get approval for a 13.5k Looped Walk with a trail head in the village, through Shannon Development. Significant progress has been made and the community now await decisions from COILLTE and the completion of a screening report for the National Park and Wildlife Services to progress things to the next level.
Finally then a native from Killea, Mr. Denis Meehan, gave an amusing, and at times, nostalgic recount, of adjusting to life in Portugal, where he has lived and worked now, for almost fifteen years. Denis and his family were back in Killea for their annual summer visit and everyone was delighted with his talk, which highlighted the importance of learning a foreign language when in school; the stark difference between the Portuguese culture and that of Ireland, and the massive adjustments that he had to make to settle into life in a new culture. When asked what he missed most about home, he said, without hesitation, ‘brown bread’. When asked what, as a person who now has the objectivity that comes with distance, he saw could enhance or improve his native place of birth, he had to pause to reflect, saying it was a difficult question, given the cultural differences involved. But it was clear that the Portuguese culture places a strong emphasis on very good food and wine, and café culture and Denis had everyone laughing when he talked of his wedding and the arrival of his buddies from Killea to the celebrations in Porto! Denis expressed appreciation for being asked to speak at Heritage Evening. His gratefulness shows the importance for local communities to remember and acknowledge their Parish Diaspora, who live and work abroad, but who still feel such connection and membership of their original home communities.
There was tea and coffee then to follow and an obvious buzz after the presentation of such interesting and exciting work, both being done and proposed for Killea in the months ahead. Marion Carey, Heritage Officer, was present and commended the organisers for the evening over coffee after the event.