Every picture tells the new story of Fionn's Bonane


Fionn Mac Cumhail, the leader of the Fiánna, had a holiday home in the form of a hunting lodge on the southernmost edge of Kerry, and this is how the village of Bonane (Both-Fhionnain), 10 miles west of Kenmare, got its name. Anne Lucey reports.

Afterwards, the river The Sheen was called after Fionn's son, Oisín.

Now, however, the women of Bonane have set out to make their mark on the valley, and have made heroic efforts to develop a detailed, photographic record of their community in the form of a book.

Some 40 women, representing the 70 homes in the mountainous area that sweeps down to Kenmare Bay, captured life in Bonane in the spring of 2003 under the direction of documentary photographer Ms Eileen O'Leary.

Pagan stones, a sculpture of a druid out of an old Scots pine tree, farm animals, hay-making, the church, the shop and children at play make up some of the images which led to the first art exhibition in Bonane.

"On an ordinary working day in my shop and post office in Bonane, I looked through an old ledger with so many names of people long since gone to their eternal reward: I tried to remember how they looked and realised that I had forgotten.

"Thus began an extraordinary adventure with our local women's group and our dynamic director of photography," Ms Anne Browne, the post mistress, writes in the foreword.

The book, Bonane, Its people and the places we call Home, is dedicated to the women of Bonane, past and present, and is available in limited edition from the post office there.

One of the contributors, Ms Anne O'Sullivan, whose mother was from Bonane, now lives in the valley. She said most of the community have lived there for generations. "I have always been struck with how organised things are in Bonane. Even on holidays from London as a child, the organisation was remarkable, I felt."