Local Faces: Ken Larkin

By Hayden Moore

KEN Larkin’s earliest memory is of living in a tenement house in North Great George’s Street, but Ballyfermot is where he was moulded into the man he is today.

Phyllis Larkin raised two children, Ken and Gilda, on her own following the death of her husband Patrick in 1953 - when Ken was only a one-year-old.

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Ken Larkin

When they moved to Ballyfermot in 1958, it seemed like it was a million miles away from the city centre and the community had to work for everything they needed.

“I grew up in a time when they called Ballyfermot ‘Little Korea’, it had all of these nicknames and we would be listening to people knocking the area all of the time,” Ken tells The Echo.

“The houses were lovely, so you were put in a lovely house and that was it.

“The corporation had almost forgotten about the kids, there was no real amenities aside from a single playground. All of the men and women had to come together to create clubs and other activities for the kids.

“These aren’t TDs or politicians or anything like that. These are mothers and fathers, who had no education.

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Ken Larkin

“Ordinary people coming together and meeting with the corporation to try establish something for the area, and most of the time they were coming out with win-win situations.

“They ended up cultivating these parks, getting the swimming pool and loads more. Seeing that would of had a profound impact on me.”

Phyllis was heavily involved in the budding community, raising funds for different amenities.

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Ken Larkin

Ken joined the Legion of Mary, which he used more as a youth club than anything religious and helped in founding Mount Olivet Athletic, which later became Villa United FC.

He went to school in De La Salle College, Dominican College and St John’s College before completing his intercert in 1969.

After they got married Ken and his wife Theresa moved to Springfield.

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Ken Larkin from Ballyfermot and Springfield in Tallaght has spent a lifetime documenting Ballyfermot and St Mark’s

“We moved to Springfield in 1978. We were looking around for a house and one day we just came up this way for a spin,” he recalls.

“They say ‘when you know, you know’, that you get a feeling when you know you’ve found the right place.

“And that was exactly it, we just felt like this place was going to be our home when we saw it.”

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Ken Larkin says he was never one to worry and his advice is ‘tomorrow there will be something else, so there is no point in worrying about yesterday’

The 68-year-old has a drive to preserve the collective memories of both Ballyfermot and Springfield.

In 2007, Ken created an account with the image-hosting website, Flickr, where he has uploaded over 30,000 items since.

It’s called ‘Ballyfermot and St Mark’s Heritage’, with the father-of-five documenting both areas through the uploading of old photographs and videos every single day.

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Ken Larkin’

Impressively, the Ballyfermot and St Mark’s Heritage page has amassed a whopping 29 million visits to date and is growing by almost 4,000 per day.

Ken said: “I found that getting to people at home is alright, but I wanted to be able to reach the diaspora as well.

“I wanted to create a place where the diaspora can visit too.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without all of the people who send me their old photographs and videos.

“I upload to it daily because they would send in an old photograph say, and then I would put a bit of the history to it.”

Ken has always had a keen interest in social history, even as much as going to university to study the subject from 2004 to 2006 - graduating from Maynooth University with an honours degree at the age of 53.

Along with a group of other people, Ken created the Ballyfermot Heritage Group in 2003 and it has served as a hive for people to come in and share their old stories.

“I love the research aspect of writing a book,” says Ken, who has written three books to date.

“We know the general history of an event or of a time period because people gathered that information locally.

“I feel it is very important for every village in Ireland to know their local history, and it’s only by people sharing their knowledge and memories that we get to see the bigger picture.

“Photographs are very important as well because they start a conversation, it starts people off recalling their history.”

Our conversation drifted towards one book in particular that he has written, Ballyfermot Precious Memories 1948-2014.

“That particular book was written because down through the years I had been recording people telling me their memories of Ballyfermot.

“Older people wouldn’t necessarily be very good with the internet so the book was written to make their history more accessible to them and their families for generations to come.”

Aside from history, Ken was heavily involved with the local Foróige youth club as a Youth Leader.

Ken established a business called Edina Limited during an economic downturn in 1985, and saw it blossom into a successful business before retiring in 2017.

During the 1980s, while juggling a family and a new business, Ken ran eight marathons - but the pressure never got to him.

“I was never one to worry. I’m really an easy-going sort of guy,” he says over the phone.

“I always feel that tomorrow there will be something else, so there is no point in worrying about yesterday.”

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