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Old friends to re-unite at Sneem Storytelling Festival




By Angela Belassie

Old acquaintances are set to reunite nearly 60 years since first meeting – after they both appeared in an article about the history of an Irish ballad.

A young Batt and Maura at a dance.

Batt and Maura Burns on their wedding day in 1965.

The ‘Bishop’s House’ in Parknasilla Sneem.

Young Richard Graves in the 1960s performing in a play and at the University of Oxford.

Richard Graves with a collection of books written by family members.

Richard Graves made a trip to Sneem in 1965 to retrace his family’s history.

The author of 20 biographies descends from a rich literary legacy – including his grandfather, Anglo-Irish poet Alfred Perceval Graves (APG) and his uncle, poet and novelist Robert Graves.

During his summer trip, Richard, who was then 19, stayed with Batt Burns, who is a Seanchaí and an Irish teacher who grew up in the village.

And by chance they were both quoted in an article about the ballad of Father O’Flynn, written by APG about an unlikely friendship between a Protestant and Catholic priest.

Whiskey and poetry

“I recognised Batt’s name straight away," Richard (73) said.

"I was welcomed by him and his family and we spent an evening, with around 20 of his relatives, singing and reciting poetry.

“The local priest turned up at the party and introduced me to Irish whiskey. Despite the whiskey, it was a very memorable trip and I would return to live in Ireland some years later.”


Batt and Richard have since got back in touch and reminisced about the 1960s and changes in the area.
And Batt has invited Richard, who has lectured widely on literary subjects, notably on the poets of the Great War of 1914-1918, to speak at the annual 'Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival'.

The event, which celebrates the ancient art of yarn-spinning with artists of all ages, will run from November 11 to 13.

Batt, who founded the event in 2011 to help preserve the Irish storytelling heritage, said: “We look forward to hosting Richard at the next festival, which promises to be the best yet.

“Richard has a unique family link with Bishop Graves, APL and Robert Graves. He has many interesting stories to tell, as an author, lecturer and man with strong links to Sneem.”

The pair were set to meet two years ago – but had to postpone due to the pandemic.

Family history

Richard’s great-grandfather was the Reverend Charles Graves, the Anglican Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Agadoe.

The family’s holiday home in Parknasilla, Sneem, became known as ‘The Bishop’s House’ – by which it is still known today and it is at the site of a luxury hotel, which welcomed its first guests in 1895.

Richard, of the digital marketing agency GWS Media in Bristol, which specialises in multilingual sites, said: “My great-grandfather had died 66 years prior to my trip to Sneem.

“But people spoke about him as if he had just gone away for a long weekend. They have a long folk memory in the village and I felt very at home.”

Batt and his late wife, Maura, who were then recently married, hosted Richard and went on to run a bed and breakfast in the village.

To Return to All That

APG, who had been president of the Irish Literary Society, based his ballad on the Catholic parish priest of Sneem and family friend, Fr Michael Walsh.

Richard, who first read about Parknasilla in his grandfather’s autobiography, 'To Return to All That', said: “I had been keen to visit Sneem for some time, especially as my grandfather, APG, died before I was born and I wanted to visit the place where he had enjoyed so many happy family holidays as a child. I returned to the old family home, which had since become lodgings for summer staff. Sneem is a beautiful place and I look forward to returning there.”

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Final delivery as DJ retires

By Michelle Crean There’s hardly a Killarney home he hasn’t been to – but now DJ O’Driscoll has stood down from his duties. Friday night marked delivery driver DJ’s retirement […]




By Michelle Crean

There’s hardly a Killarney home he hasn’t been to – but now DJ O’Driscoll has stood down from his duties.

Friday night marked delivery driver DJ’s retirement from the Killarney branch of Corcoran’s Furniture & Carpets, a position he has held for the last 15 years.

On Friday night, colleagues from all three Corcoran’s Furniture & Carpets stores gathered in the Killarney Height’s Hotel. DJ was also joined by his daughter and her partner for the special night.

“After almost 15 years of steadfast work with Corcoran’s, DJ has been a constant pillar of support for his colleagues and has helped the company go from strength to strength,” owner Kieran Corcoran said.

“Corcoran’s would like to wish DJ the very best of luck for the future and hoping that he enjoys his retirement. Many thanks to Killarney Height’s Hotel for hosting the staff night on Friday. A great night was had by all!”


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Rowers pull together for Order of Malta

Members of Flesk Valley Rowing Club had a strenuous but successful morning on Sunday when they collectively rowed the distance from Malin Head to Mizen Head. And it was all […]




Members of Flesk Valley Rowing Club had a strenuous but successful morning on Sunday when they collectively rowed the distance from Malin Head to Mizen Head.

And it was all done indoors on rowing machines in support of the Killarney Order of Malta.

Just before 11am the Valley armada ‘left shore’, and approximately 40 members aged from 12 to 50ish set to their task with enthusiasm. By midday someone reckoned that Barack Obama’s Plaza had been reached but unfortunately there was no stop for tea, just a splash of holy water, a mouthful of Lucozade and a few jelly babies for the lucky ones!

As the kilometres clicked slowly by the temperature started to rise and the cry went up from the gasping veterans to open all the doors!

No such problems for the junior relay crews who had a fantastic morning rowing, laughing, and racing each other all the way to the finish.

The junior members who took on the half-marathon distance individually were amazing throughout and got stronger as the finish line came into view.

“We’re delighted with how the morning went,” Tadhg Kelly from Flesk Valley said.

“There was a great atmosphere in the venue, and we are grateful to all the parents and Flesk Valley supporters who came along to encourage our young and not-so-young rowers. It was great too to see the members of the Order of Malta in attendance to offer their support, and the club would like to thank everyone who donated on the day.”

Tadhg also expressed his thanks to the underage coaches and committee members for looking after everyone during the event. He especially wanted to mention everyone at Celtic Steps and the Killarney Racecourse for facilitating the club and Workmens Rowing Club and Glenflesk GAA for the use of their equipment.

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