2016 was probably known as the ‘year of celebrity deaths‘ for many people, mourning hero’s from Bowie to Zsa Zsa Gabor, or my own personal favourite Merle Haggard. For others it was dominated by one of the big stories of the year like the American election or the biggest historical reflection in Ireland’s recorded past as we commemorated 1916. Probably not so surprising then that when I went to look through the archives to add some ‘best of’ pictures to the 2016 gallery I realised I had forgotten so much of our own West Limerick year in the interim.
While TV and Twitter is so often dominated by the National and International story, our personal experiences, even the forgotten ones, have a weight that is often underestimated by their lack of record. Many people suffered their own private grief with deaths and tragedies that will never make the papers, they achieved goals that might not have been relayed to a single person, had reactions and thoughts that passed without echo or importance. A mirage of moments to collide with the modern world.
Yet when I looked back at the photographs, some taken on assignment with the Limerick Leader, more for private clients and a few personal, I was never so much reminded of the great, and so very Irish, poem – Epic by Patrick Kavanagh:
I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided; who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting ‘Damn your soul!’
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel –
‘Here is the march along these iron stones’
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.