VIVID snapshots of Ballon and its surrounds down through the years have been captured and preserved in a new book by local writer Michael Dawson.
Ballon-Rathoe chronicle photographs from the archives runs to 130 pages containing 160 historic photographs capturing life in Ballon and Rathoe, while also featuring the Fighting Cocks and Grangeford. The book, which will be launched next Monday, is divided into categories ranging from music, schools, sport, community and religious events, the big houses and odds and ends.
Michael, who is the long-standing Ballon correspondent for The Nationalist, has been collecting the photographs for the last 20 years. Some of the photos had appeared in the Chronicle, which last published in 2012, and this is book is part of that series. Michael had made appeals for photos in local newsletters and in The Nationalist but found the most effective course of action was calling to doors.
“Some have previously been published; some have never seen the light of day. There are photographs from three centuries here,” he said.
The photos cover a broad range of village life. Little moments in time, like the cutting down of the famous Bull Tree in Ballon in 1988, are captured. Photos of Tops of the Town competitions and dances show the vibrant community life of Ballon down through the decades.
The author’s favourite is an idyllic shot of harvesting in Connaberry from the 1950s, where Molly Kinsella has brought some tea and food to her husband Jack and others who have broken from work. “It really does show what life was like back then on the farmyard,” said Michael.
The reader can chart changes in the Ballon landscape with photos of the village dating from 1890 through to 1960. There are class pictures from local schools through the 1940s and 1950s.
Ballon’s most senior citizen, 101-year-old Kitty Reddy from Templepeter, is featured on her wedding day in 1959 with her late husband Johnny. There are photos of former shops and businesses like the Slaney Valley/Midlands Diary.
The Leckys of Ballykealy House are recorded, including what is thought to be the last photo of Colonel Rupert Lecky, who disappeared without trace in the 1950s.
The opening of Ballon Hall by President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh’s in 1976 is featured.
TDs from Ballon are also documented: Labour’s Ned Doyle, who served between 1923 and 1932 in the Carlow/Kilkenny constituency and James Hughes of Fine Gael, who represented the old Carlow/Kildare constituency in Dáil Éireann between 1938 and ’48.
Michael explained his motivation for the book.
“It saves these 160 photographs from disappearing. There are so many photos that have disappeared, so it’s important they are preserved,” he said.
Michael would like to thank The Chronicle for making funds available to produce this book. All monies raised from the sale of this photobook will be used at the discretion of The Chronicle committee.
The book’s launch will take place in Kavanagh’s Pub, Ballon on Monday 15 April at 8pm. It will be launched by Colette Daly (née Kinsella), retired assistant keeper at the National Library of Ireland and a native of Connaberry.
Everyone is invited to attend and light refreshments will be served. The book, priced at €10, will be on sale at the launch and will be available in all local shops on Tuesday 16 April.