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Dan Paddy Andy
The Hooley in the Hills
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Who was Dan?
The Dan Paddy Andy four day Festival is Ireland's Real Rural Festival and takes place every August Bank Holiday Weekend in Lyreacrompane, Co Kerry. Lyreacrompane is on the main road about halfway between Listowel and Castleisland.
Who was Dan Paddy Andy ?
In the days before Tinder or match.com, legendary matchmaker Dan Paddy Andy of Renagown had perfected the job of bringing people together in rural areas. The late and great Listowel writer, John B Keane, whose book, Man of the Triple Name is a tribute to Dan Paddy Andy, suggested that Dan did more for his own people during the 1930s and 1940s than any other man of his time.
Keane described how there was more to the gentle art of matchmaking than land and stock and condition of the dwelling house. Dan Paddy Andy wanted to know the parties involved like the back of his hand, to have intimate knowledge of them down to the number of teeth or sets of false teeth (upper and lower); their ancestors, history of sickness, life spans.
It was at a turkey market in Castleisland, the town which would remain Dan’s favourite haunt to the end of his days and the one in which he chose to be buried, that Dan Paddy Andy made his first professional ‘match’ in 1935.
The lady was from Cordal and the man was a fishmonger, agent of the Listowel fishmonger, James Jumpin’ Alive O’Hanlon. O’Hanlon had earned his soubriquet by his response when asked if his mackerel were fresh, ‘They’re jumpin’ alive’, he’d cry, and would demonstrate by holding a fish in such a way it’d jump from his grasp, ‘Stop that fish! … Don’t let it go home to Cahirciveen’.
The lady from Cordal was very happy with Dan’s choice of match, and remarked of the fishmonger, ‘I always find his mackerel fresh and his herrings wholesome’.
Dan’s Success as Matchmaker
The lady from Cordal and the fishmonger numbered among Dan’s 400 match-made marriages, 350 of which produced at least six children which demonstrated that on the whole, Dan had a very satisfied client base.
However, on one occasion, a disgruntled individual sent a solicitor’s letter to Dan that he’d been duped in the age of his wife for no children had been born of the marriage. Dan, disregarding the legal threat, counselled the man, ‘Don’t leave the bed until you haven’t the strength to lace your shoes’ and sure enough, soon after a child was born.
The 2022 Festival.
Lyreacrompane’s own Dan Paddy Andy Festival bounced back after the two-year break - bigger and better than ever. Six bands provided eighteen hours of music for the eager dancers who packed the marquee from start to finish. Once again, Pat McKenna and his three-piece band, Glenshane Country, made the trip from Derry to play for his legion of fans down here. Music was also supplied by Mike Condon, Stevie Donegan, Paudie McAuliffe and Eddie Lee from Kerry and by the evergreen Mike Fitzgerald and his band from County Cork who has played at all our festivals.
The Waltzing competition on Sunday was very competitive and the judge, once again, was Michael Murphy. In third place were Patrick McAuliffe and Chriss Brown. Second place went to Breda Murphy and John Collins and the winners of the Dan Paddy Andy Festival Waltzing Competition for 2022 were Phil Williams and Denis Curtin. The set dancers were also to the fore and exhibitions of step dancing came from Lyre’s Shauna Enright aged eight and from eighty-year-old Mossy Walsh from Lisselton. Kerry Rose, local woman, Édaein O’Connell dropped in and sang a song.
In the teeth of a lot of competition the 5K/10K Run/Walk attracted a fine crowd on Sunday morning. The big talking point again this year was the challenge posed by ‘Collins Hill’. It is easily the biggest challenge in such events in Kerry. The results of the 5k for Men – The winner was Daniel Breen, Lyreacrompane. Second place went to Adrian O’Connor Millstreet and Robbie Larkin Goracloghane, came in third. The results of the Women’s 5K – Fiona Enright was first. Mary O’Callaghan came in second and Mary Buckley, Castlegregory filled third place. John Gleeson took the trophy and €50 for first place in the Men’s 10K. Mike Reidy, Limerick came in second and Garrett Scollard was third. The results of the Women’s 10K shows Greta Maher Collins taking the first-place trophy and €50. Graine Duffy, Limerick was second and in third place was Loretta Maher. The Dan Paddy Andy special trophy went to visually impaired, Ross Gallagher.
The Festival began on Friday night with storytelling led off by Daisy Kearney, Tom Moore, Sonny Egan and plenty of audience participation. Humour was the order of the night as was the cupan tae. The large attendance showed their appreciation. The Festival was off to a great start. The next morning it was a case of off to the bog. About seventy people took part this year and availed of the opportunity of savouring ‘tae in the bog’ and how to use the sleán to cut turf in the old-fashioned way. It was particularly great to see so many children there. Along the old bog road songs were sung by Noel Heislip and Timmy Nash and all questions about things peat were answered. Thanks, once again, to Pat and Chriss Quinn for the use of their bog for this event.
Apart from the large attendances at all the events, which augers well for the future of our Festival, the involvement of so many people who helped out in various ways is heartening as always. We would like to thank the following people for giving of their time to make sure our local festival ran smoothly…
In no particular order… Mary Brosnan, Patricia Quinn, Eirn Lyons, Marie Murray, Kayrena Hanrahan, Caoimhe Lyons, Bridget Long, Mary Turner, Billy Connell, Chris Kelly, Sean Enright, Tim Nash, Pat Quinn, Christy O’Donoghue, Michael Carmody, Michael Morrisey, Monty Nolan, Michael Lyons, Mick Naughton, Noel Murray, Odhran Lyons, and Mike McKenna. A special thanks to Lyreacrompane Community Development for the use of their lovely new stage for the weekend in the marquee supplied by Colm O’Halloran of Irish Marquees. The entertainers loved it.
Thanks to our sponsors for the support they give us… Sean Enright, Tom O’Connor, Martin Leane, Christy Carmody, Johnny Nolan, O’Connell family Carrig and Roches Bar. O’Connor’s Farm Supplies Duagh, sponsored the Waltzing trophies and Lee Strand, Tralee, sponsored the milk for the bog Walk, the 5K/10K and storytelling night and Donal O’Connor, Total Produce, Tralee, sponsored fruit for the run. Finally, our thanks to the Community Fund of Kerry County Council for its support and to the media for letting the public know about our festival and for reporting on the events afterwards.
For photos of our festival please visit our Facebook page here. https://tinyurl.com/danpaddyandy
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