LEAVING THE BLASKETS – FROM THE EVACUATION TO THE GATHERING
All Photographs from the Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir (The Blasket Centre) archive
1953 was the year the Blasket Islands were evacuated. Life on the Island had become unsustainable.The dwindling island community was re-settled on the mainland and life on the Blaskets became a memory. A memory that would not be forgotten – for two reasons. Anthropologists had flocked to the islands to record the way of life and traditions of the fairly closed community off the Kerry coast. And the scholars encouraged the locals to preserve their memories. Up to the point of evacuation, the Blasket community had retained a particularly pure form of the Irish language and unbroken links with an oral heritage that the classical scholar George Thompson believed to be as old as, and comparable to, that of Ancient Greece.
As well as a photographic exhibition in Dunquin at the Blasket Centre, we should mark two other important events
ONE of the most eagerly anticipated events of The Gathering took place last weekend as Dr Mícheál Ó Cearna (Mike Carney), the oldest surviving Blasket Island native, will travel home to his native Corca Dhuibhne from Springfield, USA, to launch his memoirs.
‘From The Great Blasket to America – The Last Memoir by an Islander’ (by Michael Carney with Gerald Hayes) was launched in Ionad an Bhlascaoid on last Friday night after Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan officially opened ‘The Blasket Island & West Kerry Welcome Home Week’.
Mike Carney, who was born on An Bhlascaoid Mór in 1920, is the oldest living native of the Blasket Islands. He left the island in 1937 to seek out a future in Dublin before eventually emigrating to Springfield, Massachusetts in the USA. (The Kerryman) You can also watch the Video of Mike Carney here.
The second highlight of the West Kerry Gathering was the arrival in Dingle of two cousins who had never actually met before and the meeting in Ireland is now being filmed with the title The Crest. The two surfing cousins, Dennis DK Kane (25) and Andrew Jacob (33), hadn’t met before the trip. DK runs a surf board company in California where he shapes and builds boards. Andy is a commerical fisherman who lives to surf in New England where painting surf boards is his passion.Their grandfathers had been brothers and best friends but, separated by their lives on either side of America.
The two surfers, great-great-grandsons of Padraig Ó Cathain, the King of the Blaskets, are chasing waves in this most famous of Irish waters. As the Irish Times reported on Saturday “More family members, John and Eliza Kane, are producing The Crest, and it was they who wanted to forge a story from the island – but they wanted to make something bigger than just their own family tale. They see a hunger for identity in the US right now that’s greater than ever. Particularly among the second and third generations”
Note: Some of the above info from the Irish Times, Irish Independent & Kerryman.