One of Killarney’s most talented artists Dermot McCarthy is calling time on his accomplished career. Born in Killorglin, they may like to call him their own but having lived and worked in Killarney for so long we are definitely claiming him as ours.
I know Dermot from my days in the Monastery N.S. Dermot was going around to local schools teaching art at the time and I always remember it as the highlight of our week. He had a knack of taking what looked like a very difficult drawing, and breaking it down into easily digestible, step-by-step instructions. If I rooted through my attic at home I would probably find a clown or hot air balloon painting that I did with Dermot. Although far too modest to admit, I am sure he has inspired many young Killarney artists over the years.
I noticed that Dermot was closing up shop and decided to drop by his Art Gallery on Barry's Lane (High St.) for a chat with himself and his wife Helen. Dermot and Helen are two of the most pleasant and genuine people you will meet and after an hour of chatting with them you can tell they make a great team.
The pair first hit it off at a dance in the Old Town Hall back in 1968 and five years later they were married in Kilcummin Church. At the time, Dermot was a welder and fitter in Liebherr and while the money was decent, his dream was always to own his own art gallery.
The couple ran a craft shop on Brewery Lane for a while selling Dermot’s black and white prints and they also spent a bit of time running another craft store on the Muckross road.
In the mid- 70’s they bought a derelict site on Barry’s Lane from the owners Taylors Bar on New St. with the view of Dermot one day realising his dream. They admit the purchase was a “bargain at the time”.
Not long after, Kerry County Council notified property owners on the lane that a regeneration project was planned to bring new life into what wasa largely derelict laneway. The council told all property owners that they would either have to invest and build up with apartments or sell to someone that would.
Dermot’s wife Helen said this was a stressful time for them. By now (early 80’s) Dermot had taken redundancy from Liebherr and was teaching some art classes in schools while she was working part-time. “We didn’t have the money to do the job that needed to be done”.
A number of approaches were made by different business people in town who said they would build Dermot’s Art Gallery but on the condition that they would have ownership of the apartments above the shop. The couple felt like they had no option but to press ahead with this offer but one day Dermot got a call from a close friend who told him before he makes a decision, at least go down and speak with the bank about getting a loan to redevelop the property themselves.
Helen says “We didn’t have big incomes at the time but we were always good little savers and the lovely young man in the bank took a chance on us, we are glad that he did now”
Self-taught from a very young age, Dermot would have grown up doing a lot of landscape stills and nature paintings, with one particular painting of a bird ending up in a David Attenborough nature book.
Over time his style naturally shifted to the type of work you see in the photos here. It is a more surreal style which is comparable to that of Salvador Dalí, a renowned Spanish artist who is best known for paintings that balance a rational vision of life with one that asserts the power of the unconscious and dreams.
I asked Dermot if he could describe his style and he said he couldn’t, but that an old friend Frank Lewis, who actually gave him his first start with two exhibitions in his gallery, called them “Parable Paintings”.
Each painting has a story and meaning behind it. I was curious to find out about Dermot’s creative process from idea through to the finished product. I thought he might reveal some big secret but to my disappointment he simply replied that "I just start drawing and one shape leads on to another”. The Gallery is stocked with everything, from small A5 prints right up to larger A1 framed pieces. He told me that a small one could take days to complete while the larger ones could take weeks.
Artist Pauline Bewick, who sadly passed away in 2022, used to keep in touch with Dermot described his work as “unique and ahead of its time”. Dermot said that Pauline was a good friend to him, often sharing advice on the best materials to use.
He has been a big supporter of the Killarney Rotary Club down through the years, always donating a piece of his art which would go on to raise a tidy sum of money.
So what’s the plan now he is retiring? “I will still paint, but just for my own pleasure now”. He enjoys reading books and has a keen interest in reading about musicians’ lives. On his favourite music genre - “I enjoyed Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones back in my day, I was a bit of a rocker. I also listened to a lot of blues, long before it became cool” he said with a wry smile.
Helen said that not much will change for the couple, “we will still head off to Rossbeigh Beach for a walk, although the legs aren’t what they used to be. Did you know Dermot was a great runner?” she added. Not a man to heap praise on himself, Dermot reluctantly told me that he ran with Farranfore Athletic Club for many years and also ran one of the first Dublin City Marathons in an impressive time of 2 hours 38 minutes.
I finished up by asking Dermot if he could give one bit of advice to any young artists out there what would he say to them - “Have a clear focus and just go for it, there are a lot more supports out there now for young artists. Kerry County Council have an active arts department and are great for supporting us with events and other stuff - it is a good time to be a young artist”.
As I headed out the door I asked Dermot how it feels to be closing down, to which he replied “We are sad to be closing up and we will miss it, but we feel that we have earned a rest at this stage.”
He added, “Make sure to thank my wife Helen for all the help with my expeditions down the years, and all of our old customers, friends and neighbours that have been so good to us.”
Dermot and Helen are running a closing-down sale with super deals on all of his pieces. I recommend dropping by and checking out the sale - his works would make a great centrepiece on any wall in the house.
Black Valley broadband installation gets underway
Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry. The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland […]
Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry.
The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland to be electrified but broadband in the region is expected to be live in the second half of the year with residents already able to pre-order their connection.
“It is well known that Black Valley was one of the last locations to get electricity due to its remoteness and challenging terrain, so we are extremely pleased to be commencing the rollout of our high-speed fibre network now with a view to connections being available later this year,” said National Broadband Ireland Deployment CEO, TJ Malone.
“We are determined to ensure the rollout is as fast as possible and connection is made easy for Black Valley residents, and we have a plan in place to work around the location’s all-important tourist season.
“Black Valley is a symbol of NBI’s mission that no area will be left behind no matter how rural or remote and we are delighted that this beautiful location moves one step closer to high-speed fibre today, with all the opportunities that will unlock for the local community.”
Players of the year don’t duck a challenge
They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh […]
They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh weren’t going to shy away from the latest task on their home patch.
The two top footballers in the country teamed up to launch a charity duck race which will form part of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney, where they both live.
When the working day was done, busy secondary school teachers David and Louise had some great quack and they got caught up in the spirit of the occasion along the scenic River Deenagh in Killarney National Park.
The reigning Player of the Year and Ladies Player of the Year award winner demonstrated their competitive streak when they expressed confidence that their own ducks will win The Deenagh Duck Dash on the same river at noon on Monday, March 18.
But, luckily, festival chairman Jason Clifford was there to keep the peace and he even threatened to cry fowl and brandish a card at the star players – with duck yellow deemed the most appropriate colour.
Considered by many to be the greatest players of all time in their respective codes, between them, Fossa hotshot David and Corca Dhuibhne star Louise have an incredible nine All-Star awards.
But they might be tempted to swap one if their duck wins the fun-filled race on the day after St Patrick’s Day.
All proceeds from the event will go to St Francis Special School in Beaufort, Killarney which provides specialist education for young people with learning disabilities.
Festival chairman Jason remarked: “This isn’t just a race – it’s great fun for the whole family.
“Picture the scene with a flotilla of vibrant rubber ducks racing down a winding river, their owners cheering them on and all in the name of a fantastic cause”.
Super prizes await the winners, the cost of a rubber duck to participate in the race is just €5 and they can be bought online at https://stpatricksfestivalkillarney.ie/.
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