“This publication is, largely an experiment” wrote David Walsh in the editor’s section of the first publication of the ‘Clonakilty Sketch’ magazine on November 1975.
‘The Sketch’ was born out of a love of writing for the fun of it, rather than a commercial venture and this is very much the attitude Dave took to it. Though it was his publication, he welcomed articles, poetry and short stories from the general public and liked to think that it was an open forum for people to express their views. Many of the headlines were from controversial issues that would have arisen within the town and which may have been discussed at the monthly Urban District Council meetings. A lot of those headlines would land the author in court today for discrimination, but those were different times.
“The reports and descriptions of Clonakilty in the mid to late 70s correspond very much with my memory of the town as a child,” recalls David’s son Robert Walsh. “It also demonstrated how the town was beginning to evolve at a time when the town was beginning to form its own unique identity. Tourism was beginning to become a viable alternative to the traditional agricultural and manufacturing industries.”
‘The Sketch’, as it was fondly known, was produced and printed by Walsh Printers, the company founded by David and Nora Walsh in 1973. The husband and wife team worked tirelessly to grow their company in the town, at a time when print technology was not as advanced as it is today. There was a great amount of manual labour involved in producing a magazine such as ‘The Sketch’. “I can remember being part of a team who would finish and pack the magazine before they were delivered to John McCarthy’s and Paddy Meade’s newsagents, for sale. This didn’t feel like child labour; being part of a team was exciting for an eight year-old and there was a great feeling of satisfaction when they were finally delivered to the newsagents.,” says Robert.
As Walsh Printers grew, so did the workload, and Dave found his hobby was no longer that. The pressure of trying to write, type and produce a magazine, along with the deadlines of their commercial work, was not economically viable, so it was with a heavy heart that he had to put ‘The Sketch’ aside for another day, until he would find the time again.
Alas that never happened, as Dave passed away in 1982 and with him went many a witty story or controversial article.
The local Junior Chamber, of which David was a Senator, produced three annual issues of the Sketch between 1984 and 1986. This was the last time the Clonakilty Sketch produced.
“Since then and to this day I have been asked regularly if I have any copies of the Sketch’s lying around,” says Robert. “To my shame, my answer was always no. We had lost all records and copies of the sketch in a flood in 2009, which destroyed our printing works.
“Enter one Noreen Minihan, who one day in 2013 said to me that she had nearly all of the copies of the Sketch in her now infamous attic. She agreed to let us copy each one and from there the idea of a compilation was born.” Ironically 2013 was the town’s 400th birthday and Walsh Printers 40th year in business, so it presented the perfect opportunity to celebrate both occasions and to finally archive Robert’s father’s work.
Noreen Minihan went on launch the book and gave a very entertaining summary of the compilation, which was very well received by the large crowd who gathered at O’Donovan’s Hotel on December 4.
“I am delighted that my mother, Nora has witnessed the publication of this book, as she had such a large contribution to each issue. She has worked tirelessly to keep their company trading through good and difficult times and I know David Walsh would be happy to see how things have worked out.”
The proceeds of this book are going to St Vincent De Paul Clonakilty . There are still a few copies left in the local bookshops. Robert would like to thank all those who supported this worthy cause by purchasing the book.