Ellen’s Walk

Olivia O’Leary and poet Paddy Bushe follow the route of a long-forgotten walk in Kerry, as described in her poem ‘Darrynane in 1832’ by Ellen Fitz-Simon, daughter of Daniel O’Connell.

First broadcast: 26 February 2023, RTÉ lyric fm. Re-broadcast: Sunday 26 November 2023.

Listen back: https://www.rte.ie/radio/lyricfm/clips/22217677/

Presenter Olivia O’Leary and poet Paddy Bushe outside Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell, as they head out to retrace a route described by Ellen O’Connell-Fitz-Simon in her poem ‘Darrynane in 1832’.

Some years ago, Kerry-based poet Paddy Bushe was visiting Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell, when he spotted in the information beside a portrait of Ellen O’Connell, Daniel’s daughter, that she had been a poet.

He subsequently managed to track down a copy of her one published collection, Darrynane in 1832 and other poems, and realized that the long title poem described the route of a walk in the local area.

In this programme, Olivia O’Leary and poet Paddy Bushe follow the route of that lost walk and, using the words of the poem as their roadmap, explore the rich landscape and history of the local area, and assess the warm, soft-focus image that the poem presents of Ellen’s famous father, better known as the sharp-tongued lawyer and wily politician Daniel O’Connell.

They meet Head Gardener at Derrynane House James O’Shea, who is working to uncover an overgrown pathway behind the house, which has only been rediscovered because of the poem.

Olivia also visits Christopher Fitz-Simon, a descendant of Ellen O’Connell, whose husband was also a Christopher Fitz-Simon, at his home in Dun Laoghaire.

Throughout the programme we hear extracts from the poem read by actor Cathy Belton.

Ellen’s Walk is produced by Claire Cunningham (Rockfinch Ltd) and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from the Television Licence Fee. Producer for RTÉ lyric fm: Eoin O’Kelly.