Page 16 - The Kerry News 2018
P. 16

Continuing Traditions of 50 years of Christmas Get Togethers
Exciting New Menu
Some Old Time Favourite Dishes Along with New Favourites to Find
Kayne’s Turkey Burger is Back!
€1 from each burger goes towards the local St. Vincent De Paul.
Ring in the New Year with Live Music in the Bar.
Muckross Road, Killarney
T: 064 6639300 |
mountain. It was raining and midnight was approaching. The one good thing to say about the situation is I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by family and fellow members of Cór Chúil Aodha, the choir founded by Seán Ó Riada. There were some torches and a few night lights illuminating us. There were a few bottles of a local brew doing the rounds to keep us warm. We had gathered there at the Top of Coom for a very special purpose.
framed clipping from the Irish Times featuring an Irishman’s Diary about composer Seán Ó Riada. He had spent the last few years of his life in Cúil Aodha. Like many in the Múscraí Gaeltacht village, he treated the Top of Coom as a local and no doubt there was many a famous session before he died in 1971. Back in 1987, there was a commemoration of Ó Riada with concerts in Dublin involving, amongst others, the Oscar winning composer
Cakes For All Occasions
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IKeeping a tradition alive on New Year’s Eve with Concubhar Ó Liatháin
t was New Year’s Eve, 2012. I was musician to experience the warm welcome standing outside, high on the slopes of a of the Top. On the wall of the bar is a
Sean O’Riada
will definitely experience that welcome and might even hear ‘Glanlea’. That Sunday afternoon the pub hosts a special afternoon of songs in the company of Eoiní and Danny Maidhcí from Cúil Aodha as they remember along with other singers their brother Diarmuidín who was killed in a car accident in 1991. Every year since then the singer and broadcaster has been remembered during an annual Éigse.
The ‘Éigse’ could be said to mark the official start of the Christmas festivities
in the area and if there’s a climax, it’s the annual New Year’s Eve get together in the Top when locals sing farewell to the old and greet the new with a rousing rendition of the local anthem, now sung all over Ireland, “Mo Ghile Mear”. If you’re in the Top of Coom, this coming New Year’s Eve, you will hear it again.
Although that song has been covered by many such as Sting and the Chieftains,
the song was originally put together by members of Cór Chúíl Aodha in the dark days after the death of Seán Ó Riada. It was his son Peadar, who took over at the age of sixteen in those tragic circumstances, my father Dónal Ó Liatháin and other members of the choir who decided that
an anthem was needed to bind the choir together following the death of our founder. It’s a song which closes every performance by the Cór and it’s the air played when locals are carried from the church on their final journey.
Which brings me back to the starting point of this article. Standing outside a burnt
out pub in the pouring rain as midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve.
Ten, nine, eight....three, two, one.
And then we started to sing.
“Seal dá rabhas im mhaighdean shéimh...”\[Once I was a maiden meek\] Tradition. Continuity. Community.
Earlier that year, the hostelry, famous for Ireland’s highest pint, had been gutted in a fire. Thankfully nobody had been injured in the inferno but the Creedon family
and conductor, Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Great Escape).
Before a series of events in the National Concert Hall where he was due to conduct a performance of Mise Éire, Elmer visited the pub. Despite his experience scoring The Magnificent Seven Elmer had yet to experience the real Wild West until he visited the Top of Coom and took part in one of the pub’s famous sessions.
who have owned the pub since it opened as a shebeen back in 1896 had lost their family home and business. It’s been in the Creedon family all that time and its current proprietor Tim, along with his wife Eileen, is the fifth generation of the clan to run the pub.
On top of that, the communities on the Cork and Kerry sides of the Coom had
been left without their meeting point. It’s just on the Kerry side of the border on the road from Cúil Aodha to Kilgarvan and,
as can be understood, the pub can be an interesting place to be during June and July as football teams renew their rivalry. While the Creedons are proud Kerry supporters, there’s no shortage of welcome for the Cork gang on those heady Sundays!
That visit featured in songs and stories but one of the most famous songs inspired by the Top is by Kilgarvan’s Patsy Cronin. ‘Glanlea’ recounts in incredible detail the adventures of an exile ‘who went to see the world’s rage, being scarcely sixteen years of age’ and encountered many thrills and spills in a voyage which took him from
Its cultural importance is beyond value as the hostelry has welcomed world famous storytellers and musicians through its doors. An extension was opened back before the turn of the Millennium by Sliabh Luachra seanachaí Eamon Kelly. In more recent years it has featured in a viral video which showed three locals, Dan Joe Kelleher,
the Transvaal to Palestine and on to San Francisco where he ‘lost his situation’ in the famous 1906 earthquake. He wrote home to tell of his misfortune and his friends and neighbours clubbed together to pay for his passage back to Ireland from California. The warmth of the welcome he received when he arrived by train from Queenstown where he had docked earlier took him aback to the extent that he thought it was for someone more important than he.
Joe Kelly and Joe McCarthy enjoying their first pints in the pub after it was officially reopened in 2014 by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh following the above mentioned fire.
We find him in the final verse:
“At Sunday’s noon, in that cozy spot the Top of Coom
Where songs and stories would illume the hearts of you and me
Among that grand old company of lovely friends and neighbours
We’re never tired of praising that beauty spot Glenlea.”
The wondrous thing about the song, replete as it is with tales from all over the world, is the writer never left his native Kilgarvan - except, perhaps, to go to the Top of Coom. But there’s nothing imagined about the pub’s coziness or its welcome for songs, singers and musicians and a respectful audience. If you call in to the pub on Sunday afteroon, 3rd of December, you
What caught Ed Sheeran’s attention was one of the three, Joe Kelly, feeding a lamb with a pint of porter! After he mentioned the video on the Late Late Show before his sell out tour in venues around Ireland last year, there was talk he might call in to the Top for a pint. He has yet to do so but he can be guaranteed a welcome when he does. There was at least one evening when local fans spent a few hours waiting for him in the pub following a rumoured flying visit after one of his Cork concerts.
He wouldn’t be the first world famous

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