Local Man Returning From Kenya With New Family And An Exhibition

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Jack O’Regan (right) showing The Kenyan President’s wife, Margaret Wanjiru Gakuo, the ‘100 Years of the Irish in Kenya’ exhibition in Nairobi.

A BALLYHEIGUE man will be coming home this September to celebrate his 40th birthday and he’s bringing an exhibition and some friends with him.

Jack O’Regan, son of well-known community activist Joan O’Regan, who lives in the Castlemorris area of Tralee, is the Chairperson of the Irish Kenyan Society in Nairobi.

He will be travelling to Tralee with his Kenyan wife Yolanda and new baby daughter Caela and 25 other Kenyans to help launch ‘100 Years of the Irish in Kenya’, an initiative of the newly reopened Embassy of Ireland in Kenya to commemorate, in a positive manner, the 1916 Rising.

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It will be launched in The Meadowlands Hotel on Friday night, September 22 at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome, particularly anyone with a Kenyan connection.  The exhibit will then move to Kerry County Museum from the 5th-29th from 11am-4pm daily.

His Excellency the Kenyan Ambassador, Richard Opemble, will be launching exhibit.

Through interviews, family documents and religious archives it attempts to capture the stories of the Irish in Kenya over the 100 years, and more, since 1916.

There are approximately 1,500 Irish people living in Kenya today with the younger generation working for the UN, NGOs, in business and trade.

The older Irish, many of whom are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, are missionaries who went to Kenya in the late 1940s. Others are Irish who served in the British Armed Forces and who settled into civilian life after World War Two.

Yet others are 2nd generation Irish whose parents went to Kenya in the early 20th century either to work directly for the Colonial Office (Ireland still being under British rule) or to avail of the opportunities that a fast developing East Africa provided for the young, the adventurous and for professional and business people whose scope was limited by a small island community.

So, from agriculturalists to aviators, medics to missionaries – this exhibition tells some of their stories.

The tourism group, Go Kerry is delighted to be involved in promoting the exhibition. “Go Kerry is delighted to be involved in such an event and to be able welcome the Kenyans to Kerry,” said Grace O’Donnell of Go Kerry.

“This is a very worthwhile project and allows us to keep in contact with the dispora in Kenya and build connections to hopefully welcome more Kenyans to Kerry in the future.”

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