Memorable Events of The Gathering Summer Documented in Year-Book

At the launch of the Kerry Gathering Year Book were from left: Joan Holland, Cllr Jim Finucane, Mayor of Tralee, Pat Mitchell and Marie O'Sullivan. ©Photograph: Domnick  Walsh - Eye Focus
At the launch of the Kerry Gathering Year Book were from left: Joan Holland, Cllr Jim Finucane, Mayor of Tralee, Pat Mitchell and Marie O’Sullivan. ©Photograph: Domnick Walsh – Eye Focus

Kerry hosted just over 250 Gathering events in the summer of 2013 and each one, including the East Kerry Roots Festival and Brosnan Clan Gathering, is documented in the Kerry Gathering Yearbook which was launched in Tralee at the end of 2014.

On the night, representatives from each of the events were presented with a certificate in recognition of the valuable contribution which their event made to The Gathering Ireland, 2013. Each certificate, which was presented Cllr. Jim Finucane, Mayor of Tralee,  was signed by President Michael D. Higgins.

Brosnan Clan Gathering

The East Kerry Roots Festival and Brosnan Clan Gathering took place in Castleisland and the surrounding parishes from July 25-28, 2013. The event was organised by East Kerry Reaching Out, a voluntary organisation with charitable status. It was the objective of this organisation to organise and deliver a series of events, which best reflected the circumstances, lifestyle and pastimes, of our ancestors in East Kerry. In this, the year of “The Gathering”, the festival strove to celebrate the journey of the East Kerry diaspora and to unite their progeny with their ancestral roots in Castleisland and the surrounding parishes of Ballymacelligott, Knocknagoshel, Brosna, Cordal, Currow, Currans, Scartaglin, Farranfore, Firies and Kilcummin.

Prevalent Surname

The Brosnan family name was selected for the Clan Gathering, as it one of the most prevalent surnames in East Kerry. Brosnans from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Dubai, USA, Canada, Germany and the UK, travelled to Castleisland to participate in the gathering. These included a family party of 16 from New Zealand, whose ancestor emigrated from the Currans area in 1856 (and was ultimately responsible for the founding of a town, called Kerrytown in New Zealand!). A large group of Daleys travelled from the USA (they had “Brosnan blood” in their veins from their maternal side). “Local” Brosnans from all corners of Kerry and the surrounding counties also converged on Castleisland during the four days of the event.

A Personal Invitation to ‘Come Home’ 

In the main, the 60 or more foreign visitors who attended the event had been to Ireland before. However, on this occasion each and every one of them felt that they had received a “personal invitation to come home”. This above all else made the journey from as far-afield as Australia and New Zealand worthwhile. The four-day programme would have daunted a triathlon competitor, with a range of cultural and heritage events which were both novel and traditional. Over the four days there was a true merging of cultures, with amongst other things the Haka being performed in O’Riada’s, Ballymacelligott, a Māori lovesong entitled Pokarekare, being sung at the Ancestors Mass in Killeentierna and the newly elected Ceann Fine Sean Brosnahan from New Zealand surprising everyone with his rendition of an old Irish air.

Memorable Time

The feedback after the event was very positive with comments such as: “Thank you to all the organisers for such a brilliant and memorable time and the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people” (Jenny St John, UK). “Thanks to you and all the wonderful people who worked so hard to put the Brosnan Gathering together.  It was really wonderful, and a great success and I am sure will bring many more Brosnans back to their roots in the future” (Hannah (Brosnan) O’Callaghan, US). “Please accept my very sincere appreciation for a most enjoyable weekend and reunion. I can understand and appreciate the volume of work and time, which you all devoted to organising the events and I am sure you must feel very proud and delighted at the success of the entire weekend. It was amazing to meet so many of our distant relations (Sara Daly, NZ)

Left Hearts and Souls in Kerry 

Well, we made it back to New Zealand safe and sound, but I think we left some of our hearts and souls in Kerry!  Dad and I want to send a huge thank you to the Kerry Brosnans, the organising committee, and really all the people of the Slieve Luachra. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed every single minute we spent with you.  Dad asked me to tell you what a great experience it was for him and how much he will treasure the memories (Sean Brosnahan NZ).

All in all it was four days, which felt like a lifetime, where roots were re-established, friendships were forged and bonds made which will far outlive the 2013 gathering event.