Sinead Carr, Richard Morrissey, Mary Wilson, John Bermingham, Isabel Cambie, and Jimmy Brett
By Eoin Kelleher firstname.lastname@example.org @tippstar
The 34th annual Kickham Country Weekend Mullinahone enjoyed a larger than usual opening attendance on Friday, due in part to a fresh panel debate format chaired by RTE broadcaster and Drangan native Mary Wilson.
The topic of debate was 'Rural Ireland 2017,' with five panellists drawn from different walks of life, followed by a lively Q&A session with members of the audience.
The five panellists, John Bermingham, Jimmy Brett, Sinéad Carr, Richard Morrissey, and Isabel Cambie, have a combined wealth of experience in business, media, and local government.
As the popular presenter of RTE's 'Drivetime' Ms Wilson was guest speaker, and paid tribute to local organiser Sheila Foley for keeping the cultural festival going for over 34 years. Ms Wilson said the Drangan she left in the late 70's had several shops, pubs, two schools, a butcher's, a busy Co-Op. “But the Drangan I return to now, has one shop, one school, one pub... you could cry about the shrinking village, and the erosion of local trade, but villages are about communities, and local people.”
The sense of place described by Charles J Kickham, isn't enough to keep young people in rural Ireland, and we are “now in the 'last chance saloon' for rural Ireland.” Mr Bermingham received a round of applause when he spoke on supporting local business. It's up to villagers to support their local shops, rural post offices, or Garda Stations, and people can't complain about shops closing in Mullinahone, if they do all their shopping in Clonmel or Kilkenny, he said “There is an onus on all us to try and spend those few extra pennies locally,” stressed Ms Cambie.
Shallow political slogans such as 'keep the recovery going' at the last election, also highlight the disconnect between Dublin and rural Ireland, the panel heard.
Jimmy Brett said the reality is that modern retailing involves large multiples and we can't ignore that. “What we need are vibrant communities in our villages in particular. We should be planning to create a more suitable environment for people to live in.” Government could for example run services through the Post Offices to support them, added Mr Brett. Sinéad Carr of Tipperary Co. Council said there was no point in looking at returning to an era “20 or 30 years ago” but instead we should look ot the future and ask how can we build a strong network of local businesses to connect people to place.
Friday's Q&A session was followed at 9.30pm by music from Sheehan’s in the ‘Stack of Barley’ bar nearby.
*Saturday August 12th: 2.30pm - Historical walk around the village of Mullinahone guided by Richard Sheehan, meeting at the gates of Killaghy Castle. Refreshments in Knocknagow Community Centre at 4pm. 8pm - Variety Concert in Knocknagow Community Centre. Special Guests ‘Cairdeas’ (Kilkenny Parkinson’s Choir). 9.30pm - Music by Vincent Vaughan in TJ Mac’s
*Sunday August 13th: 11.30am Annual Mass for CJ Kickham and James Maher followed by oration at both gravesides delivered Dr. William Nolan. 3pm - Music and poetry by the Anner at Croc an Oir, Ballycullen, Mullinahone, 9.30pm Music in Lynch’s bar. Photographic exhibition of Mullinahone ‘faces & places’ in Knocknagow Community Centre ran throughout the weekend.