Diarmuid Ó Catháin
Ceolann Centre Est.1985
Seldom if ever, since time began, has the vision and foresight of one individual been fulfilled and rewarded as that of Diarmuid Ó Catháin, when back in the late 1970’s, he purchased the ruin of an old two storey family house, a teachers residence, property of the then Bishop of Kerry, Diarmuid Ó Súilleabhain for £5000. Situated in the middle of Lixnaw village, the location was ideal and his ideals and hopes were that bit closer to becoming a reality. The job of creating a cultural centre from a ruin was immense for a man who had no money but what he lacked in money he had tonnes of in goodwill and so the challenge began. Today that building stands as a shining monument to his memory and to all those tradesmen who turned what was once a ruin into a bright star.
The centre is now catering for all types of cultural activities from singing, dancing, music and comhrá gaeilge and it has an Irish language library available to young and old. Drama is also very much to the fore during the winter months, with our local players producing and presenting all the great plays by John B. Keane, Bryan McMahon and other well known writers.
The weekly footfall through the doors of Ceolann is in the region of 400 children, with adults also availing of classes from time to time. What was once a small local venture is now catering for the greater North Kerry area and beyond. Ceolann consists of two dance floors, two performance stages, meeting room, kitchen, shop, library, archive room, historical photo room, office and six toilets. All the ground floor facilities are wheelchair friendly as are the committee members.
Since Ceolann first opened its doors in 1985, it can boast of 26 All Ireland medals along with numerous silver and bronze won in every age group competitions at Fleadhanna Cheoil for music, dancing and singing. The legacy gets better and better as time goes on. Other things may be dying in rural Ireland but certainly not culture.
Gura fada búan an scéal sin
While Diarmuid Ó Catháin gets all the credit for his vision and foresight, and rightly so, Martin Browne must also get credit for producing Ceolann. Diarmuids greatest asset was his ability to get things done but Martin was the contractor who delivered the finished product in 1985. It has been added to since by subsequent committees . During those early days of Ceolann, Martin, an accomplished Box player also had the pleasure of accompanying his daughter, Marianne, to several All Ireland Fleadhs and always came home with medals to keep the Lixnaw flag flying high, when talent was not as plentiful as it is today.
The legacy of Diarmuid and Martin is beyond monetary value and cannot be measured in money terms . But like good whiskey, it will get better with age in the capable hands of our present committee.