BY SEÁN P. FEENY
LAST night over 300 people attended the launch of a new history book on the town of Letterkenny. Kieran Kelly’s Letterkenny – Where The Winding Swilly Flows has attracted a lot of interest which was reflected in the huge turnout at An Grianán Theatre.
The publication takes an exciting journey into the past to discover the rich and colourful history of the Cathedral town and its immediate environment.
From carving the glaciated valley in the last Ice Age right up to the present day, the reader will meet many people who helped make the town what it is.
The audience was treated to a half-hour play as part of the launch, Echoes Of Time, starring local actors Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Nora Kavanagh and Patrick Quinn.
Echoes Of Time was written by Kieran, a teacher by day, to teach the local significance of the Ulster Plantation to national school children.
Kieran said he was very honoured by the great turnout for the launch of his book, which was over six years in the making, capturing the in-depth history of his native town.
“I consider myself very privileged to come from Letterkenny. I was born in the General Hospital, was baptised in the Cathedral, attended the boys school and later St. Eunan’s College.
“I played football for Letterkenny Rovers and St. Eunan’s and have appeared on this stage many times with various local drama groups.
“My grandmother, Cassie McDaid, ran a second hand clothes shop at ‘the foot of the town’ for many years, rearing me on stories of various notable ‘townies’ and their exploits.
“Each December, I grew up devouring the seasonal treat of the Christmas Annual, pouring over the memories and recollections of many older residents, informing us of what is what like to grow up in the Letterkenny of old. Like Danny in the play, I feel that I am the very definition of a ‘townie’, and I am very proud of that.”
Kieran acknowledged the many local ‘eminent historians of the town’, past and present, saying that with his book he humbly stood ‘on the shoulders of these giants’.
He also paid tribute to the many local businesses that sponsored the production of the book. “Without even seeing a finished product, for believing in me and the book, I am deeply grateful to each of them,” Kieran said.
Kieran said with the destruction of many of its traditional buildings occurring amidst this recent development, many feared that the ‘heart’ of the town had been ripped out, leaving the town without a ‘soul’.
“I disagree. A soul is not visible to the naked eye and can only be perceived by looking ‘beyond the physical’. The people of Letterkenny are the soul of Letterkenny as it is the people who make the town what it is, not its buildings.
“Changes will always occur in this town – they occurred in the past and you can be sure that they will occur again in the future.
“New buildings and roads will continue to come; old buildings will continue to fall. But Letterkenny will continue to survive through whatever future ‘booms and busts’ that will come her way, due primarily to the determination and pride of the people who work and live here.”
“As a ‘townie’, be proud of where you are from and no matter where you may end up in the world, remember Letterkenny for all the right reasons.
“Remember the physical of course, but love and cherish the memory of its people – those that made the town what it is,” he said.
Letterkenny – Where The Winding Swilly Flows is available to purchase online and will be shipped anywhere in the world. Order via www.letterkennytown.com