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Joe’s memory “It was like a re- naissance for the village, a huge success, with large groups of visitors arriving regularly from the UK.” While fishing has since declined, in those days Lough Allua was a popular spot with anglers from abroad. The centre of the village was trans- formed into a holiday resort with amenities like tennis and basketball courts and entertain- ment every evening. “Open air dancing, concerts, we even had Cork Ballet Company perform,” says Joe, who recalls how his father would often take visitors off for day trips to the beach or up the mountain in the back of his lorry. Born and bred in the hotel trade, after completing his train- ing, which included a chef’s course, Joe returned in 1972 to join his parents at the hotel in Inchigeelagh. He’s been running the show ever since, for many years continuing on the great tradition of weddings at Creedon’s, a trade his mother started off in what would have originally been the stables at the back of the hotel: In the heyday of its wedding trade, Creedon’s was known to host three in a day with great aplomb. “We handled everything,” recalls Joe “from the pipers at Gougane Barra down to the wedding cake. Today the village is sleepier, with just one shop and Cree- don’s at its heartbeat. But it’s a throbbing heartbeat, particu- larly come evening time, with Creedon’s renowned for the part it plays in promoting music and the arts in a rural setting. If you’ve met Joe, you’ve more than likely been treated to his rendition of ‘Inchigeelagh Lass’ or ‘Caith Keimaneigh’. Music was an important part of the Creedon household when he was growing up. “All 14 of us sang and entertained,” he shares. Today Creedon’s Hotel is home to an annual festival celebrating the arts, The Daniel Corkery Summer School, which runs for almost a week in

the summer. The Inchigeelagh Folk Club is also based here, holding its monthly session on the second Wednesday of each month from 9pm, and attracting a variety of local ballad singers, songwriters, trad players, in- strumentalists, storytellers and poets from all over West Cork. Joe’s son Eamonn regularly hosts live music concerts, with Irish folk singer-songwriter Ger Wolfe next on stage at Creedon’s on May 17. Inchigeelagh is known as the homeplace of the O’Leary’s, their ancient clan driven North from Rosscarbery around 1300 AD by the Anglo- Normans to a district that became known as Uíbh Laoghaire. Joe’s true passion in life however is history. He delves in to Inchigeelagh’s past start- ing with the O’Leary’s, who travel from the four corners each year to celebrate their heritage at the clan gather- ing held at Creedon’s hotel. Inchigeelagh is known as the homeplace of the O’Leary’s, their ancient clan driven North from Rosscarbery around 1300 AD by the Anglo-Normans to a district that became known as Uíbh Laoghaire. One of the settlements in this district is Inchigeelagh, its name said to have come from the Irish ‘Inse Geimhleach’, which translates to ’The Island of the Hostag- es’, where legend has it the O’Leary’s held some Danes captive. The descendants of these Danes today are the Cot- ters, Joe’s ancestors. His grand- mother Nora Cotter was the postmistress of Inchigeelagh in the early 1900s. In Nora Cotter’s day, Inchigeelagh would have been a busy trading village with up-

wards of 14 shops and all roads leading to the village’s busy butter markets. Joe can trace his ancestors, transporters for these same markets, as far back as 1835. Transport is still part of the Creedon family business today. “We had a weekly market here up until the 1960s,” shares Joe. “It would have sold mainly rabbits during the war years, later on fowl.” The Inchigeelagh Dairy in Cork City, an outlet for cream, eggs, butter and other fresh produce from the farms of Muskerry was run by Joe’s grandfather, Con Creedon, a native of Ballingeary who made his money mining copper and silver in Butte Montana in the late 1800s. He bought the hotel in Inchigeelagh on his retire- ment from the dairy business in 1941 and it’s been in the Creedon family ever since. Jump back to the 1800s and the village boasted three annual fairs at one time selling horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs. In those days Inchigeelagh and Cree- don’s, then a coaching inn, was a stop on the busy coaching route to Kenmare and Killar- ney. Another hotel, now closed, was built in 1810 across the street from it to serve the horse- drawn coaches of tourists. You can’t talk about In- chigeelagh of course without remembering the fugitive Art O’Leary, whose relatives lie buried in the old graveyard to the east of the village. Art was immortalised by his wife Eibhlín Dubh in the master- piece of a poem ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’, described as the greatest poem composed in either Ireland or Britain during the eighteenth century. “In those days we weren’t allowed access to books or education and it shows how the Irish spirit could not be crushed by penal laws,” shares Joe “Eibhlín Dubh’s mother lost ten children and composed

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