Mike’s a cover star!
BY OWEN O’SHEA
The body may have aged a bit, but the same roguish smile is still there on the face of Mike O’Shea from Cahirdown, Listowel, the previously unidentified cover star of EyeWitness, a collection of photographs from the late Padraig and Joan Kennelly.
Mike discovered to his amazement that a picture he had never seen before had been selected for the front cover of the book, officially launched by the Kennelly Archive in October 2009.
The photograph was taken in the mid-1950s, and the subject remained unidentified since then. The cover image of the happy-looking young boy prompted much speculation as to his identity.
A selection of images from EyeWitness appeared in Kerry’s Eye, along with the cover of the book, and it didn’t take long before the trail led to Mike.
“I went down town – and they said I was in the Kerry’s Eye and then I was in a couple of more papers,” Mike said.
“It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the photo and it brought back a lot of memories.”
Now 61 and retired, Mr O’Shea says he was about six or seven when the picture was taken.
“I remember well the day Mr Kennelly came to take the pictures and it was a big novelty that time to see a camera. We were all out looking at the man with the camera, the whole lot of us.”
“It was taken just outside the school, a big stone building – Scoil Réalt na Mara.”
“I never before saw the picture. My brother Jimmy brought me the book and I got a shock when I saw it.”
Mike, from Cahirdown and one of a family of four, left national school at 14. Listowel writer Bryan MacMahon taught him in 4th class.
He played a bit of football over the years and also enjoyed hunting. He then went on to work for 39 years in Imperial Stag, a local factory.
Mike’s sister, Joan, said the reaction to the picture has been fantastic.
“Somebody phoned and they said it was him. We thought it was in a school group photo or something.
“And then I spotted it and said ‘it’s him alright’. He’s like a celebrity!” she said.
“He has also identified other people he knows in the book, so it’s great.”
Mike’s other siblings also live locally – James O’Shea in Ballygologue Park and Catherine O’Connell in Woodford.