A story of family, pride of place, people and football

November 29th, 2011
by Weeshie Fogarty

Through my column in this paper I have befriended through the internet a remarkable lady who is a life time avid reader of The Kerryman;  she joined the nuns in 1944. Some time ago she gave me a letter her father had written to her in 1946. It a remarkable story and a historic letter. Judge for yourself; the life and times of Sr Vianney Buckley.

"I will be brief in recounting some aspects of my life's story that began on December 6, 1925, as I  reach my eighty - sixth year in 2011.  I owe a deep debt of gratitude to God, my parents, my teachers, and to all whom I encountered on the journey of life, for it is true, as the poet wrote: "I am a part of all that I have met."

I had a very happy childhood in spite of the many deprivations Ireland underwent in those years of the Great Depression, the Second World  War, and Ireland's struggle for Freedom and Independence.  I was the sixth child in our family of six girls and one boy ("Deemie"), all born at home in Clounmacon,  a townland, three miles outside Listowel, Co. Kerry.  I am certain that from the day I came into this world I shared in the passionate love for God and for Ireland which we inherited from Mom and Dad, a love and passion for God and Ireland that filled my Soul.  My love for God led me to answer God's call to dedicate myself to Him in the Religious life.  I Entered  South Presentation Convent in Cork City,  (First Convent of the Presentation Congregation) in September 1944.  It was a sacrifice for my Parents, made willingly by them in spite of the heart break it must have been. I remember seeing the tears,  but I confess I did not understand till later that it must have been a deep heart break for them as they saw four of the girls leave home and Enter Presentation Convents in Kerry, Cork, and Tipperary.  Letters from Mom and Dad in those early years to me revealed by degrees what they sacrificed in Faith.  However, I often recall a line Dad wrote to reveal the mingling of sorrow and joy:   "… if I were any happier, I could not stand it."

I shared in my father's love for music, dancing, singing, and partying and especially in his love for Gaelic Football and the Kerry Team.  I kept his letter to me in 1946 when I believe, we played and defeated Roscommon.  At the time I was in the Convent and we were not allowed to listen to the Radio (Wet and Dry Battery Days!) so I read and reread my Dad's report of the game:  the players who played well,  Paul Russell, Paddy Kennedy, Paddy Bawn Brosnan etc., the neighbors who crowded our kitchen, while the younger generation had to listen outside the window.  If my diminishing and ageing memory leads me astray here, ask Weeshie Fogarty who can give you every detail and prove me wrong  or right. From a very young age we walked to Moyvane, to Ballylongford etc to cheer on Clounmacon, or North Kerry in their local games against their foes!!  I remember once going to see Kerry play Offaly in Listowel , relived when I traveled from Sacramento to the  Irish Culture Center in San Francisco when Kerry sadly lost the battle for "Five–in-a-Row"  to Offaly!

I volunteered to go to open a Catholic School in Sacramento with three other Presentation Sisters from South Pres. in August 1961 and have lived in USA for 50 years.  And when the All-Ireland is played on the third Sunday of September every year, I am at Fiddlers Green in San Bruno, California, if I am not at Croke Park.  That All-Ireland Football Game is played with as much passion as it is in Ireland and I have never since missed an All-Ireland if Kerry is in the "Battle!",  but I do not cry anymore if Kerry loses, because I know the Kingdom cannot be conquered for too long!

The vocation to become a Nun and join Presentation Order came from my early days in my home in Clounmacon, a home that was as Religious as any Convent – Family Rosary every night, morning and night prayers, shared prayer as we discussed what the Church said in English etc. and strict observance of the Ten Commandments as we interpreted them.

The second wonderful influence in my life as I began my High School Education in Listowel came from two Sisters entirely different in their in teaching methods.  Sister Louis who taught Religion as well as Irish Literature and other subjects was so gentle, trusting, and guileless revealed the God of love to us as she shared read for us The  Lives of the Saints.  I recall a book she read called Fabiola? that gave me my love and understanding of the Eucharist.  I remember the life of St. Pancratius.  Sister Dympna on the other hand gave me a passion for life and living through the Literature classes as well as her own sense of freedom and joy.  I learned so much from her, and loved Shakespeare, and the Romantic Poets etc.  We learn more from every person we encounter in life than from books and structured classes.  But I am not to go any further in this "brief " account of my life and living these past 86 years.  From Mom and Dad and family and friends I developed a passion for my God, my Country, and my Beautiful Kingdom of Kerry!  As I near the end of my journey of life I want to thank also every person whom I encountered.  God bless you all."
Sister Vianney Buckley
November 26, 2011  

And so the letter that Sr. Vianney's father wrote to her in America sixty five long years ago is reproduced here exactly word for word. Study it, and I expect each reader will take their own message from what it contains. It's a fascinating look into the rural thinking of Kerry in 1946. It sad, it's poignant; it's a beautiful loving message from a father to his daughter. It also captures for me yet again just another one of The Secrets of Kerry football and the passion it aroused back then just as it does to day. I thank Sr Vianney for giving permission to publish what is a very personal and historic letter. It's doubtful if another such as this even exists. 
Nov 27th,1946

My Dearest Hanna, Sr Vianney

Hoping you are very well as this letter leaves me at present, if I was any better I could not stand it. You seem very anxious about Kerry's victory and the long letter from all. I was over at Leahys last night and Peggy told me she would be writing to you for Christmas. We were playing two fiddles and she also sang a song, last winter I used join in on the song. Kitty and her boy is out. Kitty and Lizzy are at variance. I will try and answer all your questions, I would like to make you happy.

Now about Kerry's victory. The Kerry halfbacks broke up the Roscommon half forwards especially Bill Casey against Murray this great Roscommon forward. Joe Keohane Kerrys fullback was in great form also Danno Keeffe in goal; he brought off some wonderful saves. He is now the possessor of six All Ireland medals. They are now top dogs in 16 All Ireland wins beating Dublin by one. Gus Cremins, sub came on near the finish and turned the scales with a long point, then came the goal, they drove man and ball back to the net. The closing minute of the game was most exciting it was a case of blocking the ball at each side. Kerry had the better of staying power; they are noted to be great in the closing minutes. You can imagine the excitement of the lookers, it was a record crowd and listeners.

Now about the crowd at our radio, Margret Mullane and little girl and Bridgie. The Mullanes brought this cap with up Kerry printed on it. I put it on Paddy Ahern and every time Kerry would score I would lift the cap off Paddy's head. There was Mary Healy, Margaret Babe Ann Doyle, John Joe Doyle he played the sets for myself and Paddy Ahern Monty Leahy, Stephen Enright, Danny o Donnell, Pat Doyle and John Griffin. We gave tea to all. Glad to hear Peggy is in good form. The Leahys were at Galvins radio.

The weather here is the same as in Cork. The Listowel races were put back owing to the harvest, all our crops are O. K. we sold a share of turf by the rail, we build a new poultry house, also wall to stall, I think I told you that news before. We had no letter from Mary for a while and we are feeling anxious about her, not so bad now since we got your letter. We had five sudden deaths in the parish last week, the Gospel last Sunday as you know was be prepared. Our Cannon Brennan is every Sunday talking about the state of the parish especially the new houses o Connells Ave. and Ballygolague, he is shocked.  We put the clock on the kitchen wall to-day. I think I have told you all the news except we have two cats and other simple things and that you have no cause for grumbling as far as my letter is concerned.

The presentation letter was in the short side, Kitty was in a hurry with the pen. The same word did for the three nuns. My taste for music, song and dance is only increasing, I suppose I must be only doting. Christmas is not far away now and we are hoping to meet you in the near future and have a very pleasant day. I think I am imitation you with writing the four pages. You must excuse us for not writing more in the long days, we were too busy for the short days and you will be only plagued from reading them.

Cheerio Keep smiling sure I need not tell you.

I remain ever
Your loving Father

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