Following the Inny, the latest Lyric Feature on RTÉ lyric fm, paints a vivid picture of the rich diversity of life along the River Inny, and the surrounding Inny Valley, in South Kerry - listen above.

Producer J.J. O`Shea journeys along the river from its sources in small tinkling streams in the remote uplands of the Iveragh Peninsula down to where it meets the wide Atlantic Ocean close to Waterville - he introduces Following the Inny below...


The Iveragh Peninsula in South Kerry, with its mountain ranges, rivers, lakes and coastline, offers a magnificently dramatic landscape. It's a region rich in history, legend and lore, in diverse plant and animal life, and in archaeological sites that reach back into pre-history. Neolithic rock art, stone circles and stone rows aligned with the stars or with times of the year, together with later monuments such as the magnificent Staigue Fort and the relatively recent, in archaeological terms, remains of early Christian settlements, proliferate the peninsula.

It’s a region I love to hike and explore and I devised a plan to follow a river from its beginnings in the uplands of Iveragh, down through its twisting, turning, and ever-widening passage to the sea. I settled on the River Inny which has its beginnings in the small tinkling streams on the slopes of Knockmoyle and winds its way down through the Inny Valley before it pours itself out into the Atlantic Ocean close to Waterville. I was curious to see how the flora and fauna would change as the river descends from the uplands through different conditions on its journey to the coast. I was curious too to see what evidence remains of life as it was once lived along the river`s banks.

JJ O Shea Following the Inny Standing Stone

I made the trip in the company of expert botanist Dr. Therese Higgins and archaeologist Aoibheann Lambe who were wonderful companions and opened up the different regions to me. Therese has a huge knowledge of the flora and fauna of Kerry which she wears with an easy grace and Aoibheann`s work in the region has led to the discovery of several examples of ancient rock art. I am also grateful to local folklorist Maire Murphy who is featured, and who has made a study of the names given to the numerous pools along the river such as "The Doctor`s Pool", so named because a group of Harley Street doctors came to fish there every year, and "The Chalk Pool" so called after the white clay that it yielded, and which was used locally as a plastering material. Maire was also able to tell me about the old systems employed by night-time poachers on the river when food was in short supply and the lands formed part of the Lansdowne Estate.

The programme features some original music. Marc Eagleton composed The River Theme, which weaves in and out of the programme as a thread, like the river itself. It is played by Marc on acoustic guitar, together with Reidun Schlesinger on harp. The programme also features two compositions by myself: a setting of the Kyrie Eleison sung by the all-female ensemble Siona and the piece that concludes the programme titled Kitty`s Tune played by Paul de Grae and Reidun Schlesinger, which is given a new arrangement by them.

In addition the programme features music from the Royal Courts of Uganda and the Lebanese singer Fairuz with her wonderful reading of the hymn Wa Habibi.

The Lyric Feature: Following the Inny, RTÉ lyric fm, Sunday March 7th at 6 pm - listen to more from The Lyric Feature here.