Latest Laois Event: Special buzz as ‘The Last Beekeeper’ comes to Roundwood House

Latest Laois Event: Special buzz as ‘The Last Beekeeper’ comes to Roundwood House

The Last Beekeeper at Roundwood House was a special event

Beauty is in the eye of the bee holder it seems as the eye-catching and catchy title, The Last Beekeeper has proved a big hit with all age groups this Christmas. 

“The book is flying off the shelves in the shops, at the Christmas markets and online. I’m so delighted with the response and the feedback, especially the cross-over appeal the book is having with all generations, young and old,” says the author, John Whelan who wrote the book under his pseudonym Johnny Renko, “my hippie handle”, as he describes his pen name.

The Last Beekeeper had its latest outing at a special pre-Christmas programme in the idyllic setting of the library at Roundwood House, Mountrath last Sunday. A spoken word event was part of a broader arts afternoon scheduled with the support of the Laois Arts Office with the backing of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts for this Music Generation Laois Local Performance Scheme, commissioned and produced by Vincent O’Shea.

Other performers over the weekend included Paddy Fitzpatrick the ballad singer-songwriter from Slieve Bloom Sean Nós, David Day of Jabba Jabba Jembe, The Lost Messiahs, Cua, The Age of Reason Ensemble and the talented Roundwood House Kitchen Staff Band, which proved a big hit.

The Laois Collection © Kevin Byrne Photography

“The book is written is such a fashion as to be read aloud in a traditional story-telling style so the opportunity to read to an audience in the library of Roundwood House was really ideal. It is a great initiative by Muireann Ní Chonaill and the Laois Arts Office and it was a lovely opportunity to work with Paddy Fitzpatrick who has written some great new songs, including a ballad about Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his legendary associations with Ballyfin, and everyone just loves the vibe and fun of the drum circle workshops by David Day, so it made for an engaging and fun afternoon in Roundwood,” explains the author.

The Laois Collection © Kevin Byrne Photography

The Last Beekeeper is continuing to prove popular in the run up to Christmas and John Whelan will be in Portarlington this Sunday from 11am to 4pm at the final Solas Christmas Markets.

“Books are a great gift anytime of year but especially at Christmas and I’m delighted that The Last Beekeeper is getting such a response from both adults and children who are enjoying the story, the style of the language used and the easy-reading format, which was designed by the graphic artist, Gavin Cowley from Monasterevin. Of course, everyone loves the painting on the book cover which is a piece entitled ‘Resilience’ by the Canadian artist, Autumn Skye Morrison. Beauty really is in the eye of the bee holder,” explains Whelan of the book which has its inspiration in the Rainbow Gathering in Rosenallis at Ballyhuppahaun in the Slieve Bloom Mountains back in 1993.

The Laois Collection © Kevin Byrne Photography

To read the first chapter of The Last Beekeeper, to check out local stockists or to order the book online for €15 go to 

Monday next, December 20th is the final date for posting the book in time for Christmas in Ireland while the book is available from local outlets in Portlaoise, Abbeyleix, Durrow, Monasterevin, Tullamore, Carlow, Athy, Naas and Kilkenny, as well as the Winding Stair Bookshop in Dublin.