The Sliabh Luachra gospel according to John

Making music: The legendary Timmy O’Connor (86) hits the right note with broadcaster John Creedon

BRILLIANT broadcaster John Creedon will put the music, the culture and the characters of Sliabh Luachra in the national spotlight when he visits the history-steeped area as part of a new three-part series due to commence on RTÉ this weekend.

Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland will see him visiting Scartaglin as he helps tell the Sliabh Luachra story and he will meet a number of enthusiastic and talented locals to help unravel the mysteries.

John meets musical elder statesman, 86-year-old Timmy O’Connor, as well as the new breed of musicians Eoghan Stan O’Sullivan, Bryan O’Leary, Maura O’Connell and Emma O’Leary, who are keeping the Sliabh Luachra style of traditional music alive in the modern era.

Making hay: John Creedon enjoyed his visit to culture-rich Sliabh Luachra


The programme discovers that Sliabh Luachra is a place that isn’t exactly on a map but it is in the hearts and the minds of the people who live in parts of East Kerry, North Cork and West Limerick. Music binds the people together even when county lines and GAA ties beg to differ.

“Sliabh Luachra is a bit like Tir na nÓg. It’s not a parish or county, it doesn’t really exist but it’s there. It’s the music that has traditionally brought the people together,” said Creedon who is one of the country’s most gifted and popular broadcasters with his relaxed, conversational style sand great wit setting him apart

On Scartaglin – which John noted means the Thicket of the Glen – he met gifted young musician Bryan O’Leary, grandson of the legendary Johnny O’Leary who told him: “Our job now in the area is to lay down the key characteristics of the style and the history of the music. I suppose to let people of the area know the great culture that they’re living in”.

John Creedon: “Sliabh Luachra is a bit like Tir na nÓg. It doesn’t really exist but it’s there”

Musicians Maura O’Connell and Emma O’Leary inform the broadcaster of how many of the Sliabh Luachra polkas and slides are named after the local towns and villages, including the Brosna Slide and the Scartaglin Slide.

Leaving the area John reflected: “Music has the carefree, flowing feel to it, it crosses county borders as if they don’t exist. And that’s true of the people as well, whether they’re from Kerry, Cork or Limerick.”

The first of three episodes of Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland will be aired on RTÉ One at 6.30pm this Sunday night.