By Áilín Quinlan
IN the West Cork village of Innishannon, it’s all about family – and these three little children are honouring the tradition by following in their parents’ footprints.
Fionn Deane (4), Ellie Angland (4) and Darragh McKeon (4) are this year’s Candlelight children, the child models who posed for the 33rd edition of the village’s popular Christmas magazine, Candlelight.
‘Each of this year’s Candlelight children has a parent who was also a Candlelight child,’ says local resident and author Alice Taylor.
‘Ellie’s and Darragh’s Mums were Candlelight children in their day, and so was Fionn’s father,’ she said, adding that already copies of the 33rd edition of Candlelight magazine are going like hot cakes from shops in Innishannon, Bandon and Crossbarry.
‘They are bought in this area and posted to friends and relatives all over the world – Australia, America, the UK and elsewhere,’ said Ms Taylor. ‘I meet people home on holidays every summer and they’d be very up to date on what’s happening around here. When I ask them how they’re so knowledgeable, they tell me they’ve been reading Candlelight!’
This year more than 30 contributors submitted pieces to the 48-page magazine – stories, reminiscences, poems and observations, as well as a wide range of photographs.
‘The range this year is very wide and this makes the context very versatile,’ said Ms Taylor. ‘Every year you are literally waiting for the tide to come in and you don’t know what will come with it.
‘We’re often very surprised by how interesting the submissions are. We also get a lot of old photographs which people love because they can find themselves in there – for example in old school photographs!’
This year one of the magazine’s main features is The Rectory Child – memories of living in the former Innishannon rectory.
‘The submission came out of the blue from a man in Belfast who had grown up in the rectory in Innishannon in the forties and fifties. He had been adopted by the rector and the rector’s wife (his aunt) after his own mother died,’ Ms Taylor explained.
‘We no longer have a rectory in Innishannon,’ she adds, saying that the author revealed that he had been getting copies of Candlelight every year since the magazine was established over three decades ago.
‘It was sent to him annually by the daughter of Mary (Baby) Allen, who had worked in the rectory and looked after the children.’
This year’s edition also contains a report on last summer’s successful Gardens & Galleries initiative by Charlie Wilkins, along with memories of the very first car in the neighbourhood, a memory of the local Ritz band, members of whom went on to set up The Old Town Hall Band in Bandon, as well as photos, a poem about Santa Claus and memories of Kilmacsimon Quay.
Proceeds from sales of the magazine, which costs €10, are traditionally used to underpin long-term local initiatives such as the well-known sculptures of the horse and rider, and the blacksmith, at either end of the village.
This year the proceeds will go towards erecting a memorial to the Children of the Charter Schools.
Innishannon was the location of one of 50 or so Charter Schools set up by the British government in Ireland in the 1700s – they lasted until about the 1830s when the national school system was established.
‘The Innishannon commemoration will be the first commemoration of a Charter School,’ said Ms Taylor, who says the memorial is expected to take the form of a sculpture.