SIX years ago, tragedy struck Feakle man Dun Purcell. His wife of almost 42 years died and although he had family around him, he found himself in a lonely situation.
Rather than letting it get him down, he decided he would do something about it and give himself something to look forward to. He set the wheels in motion for the first-ever Looking Forward gathering.
Now five years on with gatherings held four times a year, Dun and friends have compiled a special DVD of their last outing and the Looking Forward group will launch it on Friday, December 4 from 9pm in Bohan’s Bar in Feakle.
“We’re getting together for the last five years where we have four nights in the year. The whole aim of this was to help people that would be lonely. When my wife died, I was lonely. I wanted to meet people and make friends. I’d a life of 42 years with my wife and we never went out much and then I found I had to face the world again and I didn’t know how to do it. I decided to have a night or two, where all those who were bereaved would come together and have fun. Since it started, it has been very successful and it’s still going and gets better every night,” Dun explains.
The gatherings, he added, are about meeting people, listening to music, having something to eat and are really a social outing for those in the locality. However, he said that people have come from all over the county to attend the gathering. They have had people from as far away as Miltown Malbay and Inagh to the gatherings at different times. Some gatherings have seen as many as 80 people turning up.
Asked what it is people get out of the evenings, Dun says, “Well now, if everybody gets the same kick out of it that I do, then it’d do them every bit of good”.
“We have one strict rule, no money is paid going in. I know people who have met second wives at the gatherings. Those that go are friends and that’s what it’s all about and meeting people you haven’t met for years,” he added.
A large variety of entertainment, music, song, recitations, jokes and stories are all shared at the gatherings and coupled with the enthusiasm of the participants, it prompted the recording of a CD two years ago.
Now the group will feature in the newly compiled DVD, which has been produced by Dun’s son Matt Purcell. Dun’s enthusiasm, energy and tenacity brought together all the elements needed to turn the concept into reality and the resulting DVD of the October gathering is a little bit of social history encapsulated for the future.
“I thought it would be a good thing for all of us to be on a DVD enjoying ourselves, for our families and their families to enjoy in years to come and just to have it there for prosperity,” Dun acknowledged.
DVD captures the magic at last month’s Looking Forward Gathering and features a number of local Clare musicians including Dun’s daughter Kate Purcell, Larry Gavin, Joan McNamara, Ned Duggan, Chris Droney and Paddy Hynes.
All are welcome to attend the launch gathering on December 4 in Bohan’s Bar and Ciana Campbell will be MC on the night.