Divane’s Calendar – An Inspired Collaboration

In the Michael O’Donohoe research papers, many references are made to Divane’s Calendar, a series of historical calendars produced by S Divane & Sons Ltd, Castleisland from 1994 to 2012.1


The first of the limited edition illustrated calendars was created to mark the company’s 40th anniversary in business.2  Its reception led to further productions, all containing items of local history.3


Fourteen of the 19 calendars issued were illustrated by artist Peter Robin Hill.4  Hill, who is credited with opening Castleisland’s first art gallery at the Island Centre, Main Street, in December 1994, rapidly gained popularity for his eye-catching depictions of the town’s architecture and historical events such as ‘Dick Johnny’s Eviction’ and ‘The Night of the Big Wind’.5


The Desmond Castle by Peter Robin Hill appeared in the first calendar, 1994


The departure of Peter Robin Hill from Ireland in 2006 signalled the demise of the calendars.6


Historical Calendar now historic


Hill, who was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1948 and now lives in the UK, spent 15 years – 1991-2006 – in Kerry.7


He recalled the popularity of the calendars and seeing his illustrations framed on the walls of various places.


From an artistic point of view, the illustration with an integrated two or three lines to it was a very presentable ‘single piece’ of artwork.  Each one on a nice piece of paper of equal size to the ones before.  Eventually, the notes became more extensive and thus the pictures smaller … perhaps you can gather from that how calligraphers go mad!  It’s very intensive and of course, impossible to have a blot or a spelling mistake.


Today, the calendars are collector’s items.8


Artist Peter Robin Hill photographed in 2001 by John Reidy, editor of the Maine Valley Post


However, the O’Donohoe Collection has now acquired a near complete set of the calendars from Peter Robin Hill, who wrote, ‘Rather than them stay here in a cupboard I’d rather the full set came to you’.9


It is a generous act, and will ensure that, under the custodianship of the O’Donohoe Collection, the people of Castleisland and beyond can consult the historical content of the annual gems and engage with the artistry of Peter Robin Hill in the years to come.10



1 The company, the main Volkswagen dealer in Kerry, was established in 1954 by Stanley Divane who entered the motor trade in 1935.  Stanley Divane passed away in 1991 leaving the business, which is located on the Killarney Road, Castleisland, in the hands of his sons, Denis and John, and daughter Philomena.  The 2004 calendar contained a tribute to Stanley Divane.

2 The first issue of the calendars, A3 in size, had a print run of 500. 

3 The historical articles were researched by Joan Kelliher, Tommy Martin and Mary O’Sullivan from Castleisland and Sheila Reidy, Dublin.  Hannah Sugrue, Castleisland, also contributed.

4 Denis Divane approached Peter Robin Hill with the idea in 1993.

5 The gallery was a working studio with art photographer Bruce Ward, and an expansion of The Woodland Gallery, Mount Eagle, near Brosna (later the Jazz Whistler Studio).  An exhibition of Hill’s mythological and legendary art took place at Siamsa Tire in 2002. 

‘Dick Johnny’s Eviction’ of 1908-9 (The Last Eviction) was illustrated in the 1998 calendar.  The Big Wind of 6 January 1839 was illustrated in the 2007 calendar.

6 ‘I’d suggested an artist to carry on, but he [Denis Divane] decided to call it a day on them’ (email exchanges Janet Murphy/Peter Hill 17 July 2018 and 6 August 2018).  In 2008, a pictorial calendar was issued which continued until 2012 when production ceased.

7 A short biography can be read on the artist’s website, http://www.jazz-whistler.co.uk/.   

8 ‘I don’t think Denis Divane or anyone really, realised they would become collector’s items’ (email exchanges Janet Murphy/Peter Hill 17 July 2018 and 6 August 2018).

9 ‘My sincere wish is that they all stay together as the property of The Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project’ (email exchanges Janet Murphy/Peter Hill 17 July 2018 and 6 August 2018).  Eleven calendars have been donated, 1994-2004 inclusive.

10 Collection Code IE MOD/C19.  The calendars contain, in the main, five pages, consisting of cover and sub divisions of the year (three months to a page).  Each page is designed with ink drawing accompanied by an historical sketch of varying size in calligraphic lettering.  The subjects treated are as follows:  1994 Castleisland Passenger Railway Terminal/The Desmond Castle/St Stephen’s Church of Ireland/Old Kilbannivan Cemetery/The Fountain 1995 Presentation Convent/St Finian’s Church, Cahernard/Herbert Bridge, Killarney Road/Kilmurry Castle, Cordal/The Forge, Market Cross 1996 Pound Road/Glounageentha, The Last Earl/Reaglass National School/Church of Ireland, Ballincuslane/The Workhouse, Castleisland 1997 Dicksgrove House/The Bridewell/The Fever Hospital/The Mass Rock, Gortgloss/Sandville House 1998 The Market House/Mount Eagle Lodge/Kilsarcon Graveyard/The Last Eviction/The Charter School 1999 Hartnett’s Hotel/Woodville House/The Male National School/Glebe House/The Carnegie Library 2000 (This calendar divided bi-monthly with full colour photographic montage of Divane’s staff.  Inside back page contains eight depictions of bell towers from local church and other buildings) SS Stephen and John Church/Rhyno Mills/Scannell’s Lane/Megalithic Tomb, Direen/Annaghmore House/Parknageragh House/Ballyplymouth Castle 2001 (Inside back page contains 12 depictions of gateways to historic buildings in the locality) The Moonlighters/The House of Progress/Cill Cois na hAbhainn/Ballymacadam House/Creamery Lane 2002 (A lengthy historical sketch is continued on the reverse of all the illustrations. Inside back page contains nine depictions of bridges in the locality) Old Main Street/Imperial Hotel/The Small Mansion (Tullig House)/John Twiss/Roches 2003 (A lengthy historical sketch is continued on the reverse of all the illustrations in type. Inside back page contains four depictions of rooftops and chimneys) The National Bank Limited/Katie Ha’penny/The Barracks/Spout Lane/Cragg House 2004 (Commemorating 50 years 1954-2004. This calendar divided bi-monthly with full colour photographic cover of Stanley and Rita Divane and Divane’s showroom.  Four additional pages contain a tribute to Stanley Divane set in calligraphy and type) Kilmurry School/Molly’s Corner/Cordal Church/Haig’s Terrace/Clashgannive House/Chute Arms Hotel/The Provincial Bank of Ireland.

Calendars not held in the collection but in which Peter Robin Hill was illustrator continued until 2007.  The subjects treated in the calendars for this period were as follows: 2005 The Butter Road/Kilmurry House/The Poet’s (Inn)/Nano’s/The Whiteboys 2006 Arthur Herbert, assassinated 1882 (horse-drawn hearse)/J R Hogan & Sons Ltd, Castleisland/Riverstown House, 1808/Wrens, Castleisland, est 1835/The Astor, Castleisland 2007 The Night of the Big Wind Christmas 1839/Town Crier/T S Prendiville Ltd, Castleisland/Poff & Barrett/Tobermaing House/Jer Andy’s (Jer A O’Sullivan)/The Conscription Crisis, 1918.