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 Retired Shopkeeper Billy DF O’Sullivan recalls
  First Published 2007
shopping in Killarney
Billy lighting the Christmas candle, with grandaughter Leah.
Once the women with the shawls had their candles and their decorations secured, they embarked on the business of selecting cards. “It was my job to read the cards out for them,” says Billy. “They might have bad eyesight or have forgotten their glasses and I would read the verses for them. One range of cards was written by Brian O’Higgins from Dublin and these were the most popular. Sometimes, I would be asked to write the message as well but when it came to writing the address my mother would takeover. In the retail madness of the 21st century, the idea of having card verses read out by a child in a shop where you might also have the cards written and addressed is more than quaint. “I felt important and the people were lovely to me,” Billy remembers. “They wouldn’t be
by Cleo Murphy
hen Billy O’Sullivan
ined the sales force of D.F. ’Sullivan he was just seven
nasty to a child.” Far from being the centre of attention, today’s children often get lost in the rush during the run up to Christmas. Gone too is the notion of the ‘Motto’. “This was a 12”x6” poster with a single positive thought or guideline for the coming year. It would be hung up for the Christmas and it was part of what they bought,” says
 ears old. It was coming up Christmas and all hands
ere needed - even little nes. The family firm was a rocery shop on Killarney’s
igh Street, with a fancy oods section and an djoining hardware tore.“The women who
ame in wore black shawls,” ecalls Billy.
Billy. “I don’t think they bought presents as much in those days - except, of course, for the children. All the attention was on the decoration and the food.”And food was part of the fare in D.F. O’Sullivan’s. “They made a big deal now about knowing where your meat comes from but in those days everyone knew where their turkey came from. In fact, they would come in and specifically order one of Miss Piggot’s turkeys, or whoever they wanted the turkey from. There was also a turkey market where the farmers sold directly.
The first thing on their
hristmas list was the candle.
art of the preparation was to get e big 2ft candle for the window
nd set it in an old 7lb arthenware marmalade jar. We ad candles in both white and red ut most people preferred the
hite one. They’d fill the jar with
nd or dry earth and steady the andle in it to be lit on Christmas
illy’s grandmother Hannah died
It was held up in the courthouse car park and was quite well known,” says Billy. Then there were all the ingredients for puddings and cakes to be purchased, and crepe paper in magnificent colours. “People used to buy brass wire and make flowers by wrapping the crepe paper around it. They might put flowers on the tree or make a bunch of them for a vase but it’s a craft that seems to have died out altogether,” says Billy. “Every woman used to know how to do that.“I remember how we used to measure the brass wire off the reel by winding it around out hands. You were never looking for an exact measurement, just an idea. And you’d always throw in a bit extra. These days everything
round the time he was coming n board but he credits her with
aking the shop a successful nterprise. She was widowed at a oung age and ran the shop
ngle-handedly until her son took over. “She was a very forward- inking woman. I remember she
esigned a special wrapper that pened up and tied around the 7lb
armalade pot. Then she had it anufactured in Germany,” he ys. “It wasn’t that unusual at e time because there was a lot
f trade with continental Europe efore the war broke out.
illarney people have always een enterprising, anyway. hey’re good at coming up with
eas for souvenirs and things, nd having them made up.”
This year we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the great Gaelic scholar Fr. Patrick Stephen Dinneen who as a member of the Gaelic League in Dublin, was one of the foremost participants in the Irish Revivalist Movement at the start of the 20th century. He died on the 29th of September 1934 at the age of seventy three years. He is described by some of his contemporary writers as a remarkable man who accomplished an unbelievable amount, forty books (from 1900-1934), including two large dictionaries (1904 and 1927), numerous articles for newspapers and journals, whilst giving lectures and conducting Irish classes. Even though the highest accolades bestowed on a writer was conferred on him; a Doctor of Literature for his lexicographical work and a state funeral on his demise, he was a kind, simple, unassuming man who held his family, his neighbours and his fellow writers in the highest esteem. Two oil portraits of him hang on the walls of the National Gallery painted by famous artists Jack B. Yeats and Estella Soleman (wife of the writer Seamus O’Sullivan). They did these for Fr. Patrick as they regarded him as a very sociable person and an important public figure.
Fr. Patrick Dineen A Gaelic Scholar (1860-1934)
  He loved Killarney and always regarded it as his town. In 1902, he produced a guide to Killarney for the Irish visitor called “Cill Airne” in which he described the beauty of the scenery surrounding “Loch Lein” as his brother Joe described it.“The scenery of Killarney most brilliant and charming, I can’t find it’s equal”. A copy of this book is available in the office of the Chamber of Commerce in the town. In the introduction to his edited edition of the poems of Piaras Ferriter of Ballyferriter, he informs us of the part that the poet played in the siege of Ross Castle during the Cromwellian wars, and his capture and his tragic death in the town.
His brother Joe, a local poet, had a great affiliation with the town. He composed poems for the tourists. In his poem “Killarney”, he described the town’s important buildings glowingly – Lord Kenmare’s mansion, the “splendid Cathedral”, “The Holy Friar’s Chapel” and “Railway Hotel” etc. Joe also penned a poem praising St. Brendan’s College, where he was a student for two years (about 1885-1887) and dedicated it to the Principal of the College Fr. David O’Leary. “Arise, Saint Brendan’s! and maintain your place amid the greatest colleges.”
Fr. Patrick also collected funds for the erection of the “Speirbhean” across from the Friary to the memory of the Four Notable Kerry poets – Aogan O’Rahilly, Eoghan Rua O’Sullivan, Piaras Ferriter, and Geoffrey O’ Donoghue, whose poems he edited. He composed the Irish verse on the monument and it’s English translation beside it. His Irish play “Creideamh agus Gorta” (Faith and Famine) was performed in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin by actors who were members of the “Keating Branch of the Gaelic League” of which Fr. Patrick was president (1901-1909). This play was staged also in Killarney and Tralee and they enjoyed their experiences especially in Killarney.
Fr. Patrick’s youth was not a pleasant experience for himself or his family. He was born in Corran, in Rathmore parish on Christmas Day 1860 to parents Mathew and Mary O’Donoghue Dinneen. It was post famine times, poverty, evictions, emigration and whiteboys seeking revenge on the middlemen and landlords was widespread in Ireland. The family did not escape this ordeal. They were evicted on two occasions and their house was burned also. All the neighbours helped one another and built temporary homes of sods with a roof of rushes, until the family could build a more satisfactory home. The people survived through prayer, card playing and story-telling in rambling houses. The “Dinneen family” were a very intelligent family. Patrick in particular had high intelligence and also possessed a photographic memory. As a young boy, he was not interested in play, but in old stories, verses and folklore which he collected from his neighbours. His mother Mary had a great interest in literature and passed that onto her children. Their father Mathew was a sheep drover and a very good salesman, so their circumstances improved as they grew older. School was not so exciting either, they attended
Fr. Patrick paid many visits to the town when he came on holidays to his brother Francis and his wife’s house near Barraduff. After offering Mass in the Friary church, he used to call to the old Imperial Hotel in College Street. Daniel Mac Monagle, founder of the “Mac Monagle Photographic Company” who had an office nearby, took a photograph of him in the 20’s at the front of the hotel with Eugene O’Sullivan, (a famous G.A.A. supporter
Fr. Patrick Dineen with Eugene O’Sullivan on College Street, Killarney photographed by Daniel MacMonagle in 1925
very small and vastly overcrowded, but the one joy they had was that their uncle Michael O’Donoghue was their teacher in both schools.
Patrick received his secondary education at a Jesuit School in Limerick (1879-1880). Afterwards he joined the Jesuits at Milltown Park in Dublin and was ordained a priest in 1894. He parted from the Jesuits in 1900 for family reasons and to have more time for his writing. He became a member of the “Gaelic League” (1900), the “Irish Text Society” (1903), the “Organisation of Priests” and the Keating Branch of the Gaelic League of which he was president (1904-1909). He was also involved in all questions relating to the Irish Language as well as his writings. His 1927 Irish English Dictionary is still the most popular Irish book sold. It is on the shelves of famous libraries such as Oxford and Cambridge in England, also Notre Dame in France as well as other International libraries. It has appeared in digital format on the Internet thanks to U.C.C. and is also available on A plaque was presented to the National Library by the “Irish Text Society” in 2004 to mark the centenary of Fr. Patrick’s first Irish-English Dictionary which is on his desk in the Reading Room. Fr. Patrick did most his work in the National library. A plaque has also been erected to him and to his brother Joe in their native place Corran in Rathmore parish.
Fr. Dinneen’s Mass in Gardiner St., and his State funeral was a spectacular event in Dublin (2nd October 1934). The streets were thronged with people who knew him, as he walked the streets for over thirty years on his way to the National Library. The poor whom he was very hospitable with also came out, they did not forget him. The executive meeting of the Oireachtas was postponed and Mr. de Valera, the then Taoiseach and his wife, also most of the Ministers attended the funeral. Priests, scholars, professors from the University from all parts of the country attended, together with his fellow “Gaelic League” friends. He is buried in the poet’s corner in Glasnevin cemetery. May his gentle soul rest in peace.
by Bridie Dineen Grandniece
houses he called on was Gleeson’s shop on the square and the home of his relatives “The Cahills” in High Street. Their son Donall took part in the film “The Dawn” produced by Thomas Cooper, owner of the Glebe Hotel. His last visit was to Farranfore to call on his other relations, “The O’Donoghues” who had a Pharmacy in the village.
  First Published 2014
 W jo O y to w o g H g a s c r
“ C P th a e h b w sa c E B a o m e y si it th d o m m sa th o b K b T id a
 from Firies) with another nameless man. Among the other
Shrone and
National Schools, as they were

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