Friends of the late Mike Kenny might appreciate the reminder that this evening marks the third anniversary of his untimely passing late on the Friday evening of August 12th 2011.
His friend and ally, David ‘Dauber’ Prendiville and myself went up to St. John’s to mark the occasion this evening. There isn’t an event that we meet at without raising a glass or two to him. The stories of his high-stool escapades and mannerisms are kept alive in our meetings and in our memories.
We had to tell him this evening that Sheila Prendiville’s Bar & Grocery was closed. And that it is unlikely to open again because of the cursed health and safety rules which are contributing in no small way to the crashed and abandoned appearance of small towns throughout the country today. ‘Boy Oh Boy’ as he’d say.
I chose the picture of him here at work on the clay model for his bronze of Sean Ó Riada because he loved the idea that he had become a sculptor whose work was being recognised at this level. We often talked about lives wasted and people not getting the chance to do what they were meant to in life. Much of his musing at this time was pointed inward and was eating at him. Enter Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich. He came out of the west with the ‘Johnny O’Leary job’ in Killarney and Kenny was on the road to where he wanted to be. Seán Ó Riada followed soon after and he was well on his way – if only life had dealt him a different hand.
During the annual Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival, at a time when he really shone and revelled in the company of the people he called his own, he’d be flattered by the amount of people who recall dealings or meetings they had with him in the course of his stewardship of the festival.
This is just a gentle reminder that if you have a glass in your hand this evening lift it towards Killarney Road, Castleisland. If you have an instrument close by play a bar or two of something slow. Or simply light a candle for the man who brought more than his share of light to the company he kept during his time among us. Though we spent most of the last thirty years laughing and fighting – but mostly the former – I was just getting used to him when he died. You couldn’t but miss him. I hope God, when He gets used to him, will be good to him.