Thursday, 26 April 2018

Kerry Idiom, Cheryl's Closure and Women in Media 2018

Brown Hare by Tracy Marsden...Irish Wildlife photography competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned  Part 4

Redmond O'Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

Once I had occasion to call on a strong farmer near Finuge. I knew him  but slightly then but well enough to have noted the practical streak that made him a successful farmer. He was away from home when I called and it was with some surprise I learned that he was in the garden. His farm lay between the road and the river and as I ambled towards The Feale, I pictured my farmer working in his glasshouses tending tomatoes or early vegetables or flowers for market. Or I thought thast maybe he goes in for blackcurrants or strawberries or other small fruits in a big way. Possibly he might be pruning or spraying serried lines of Cox’s Orange, Allingham Pippin, or Lane’s Prince Albert or Worcester Pearmain or Bramley Seedling. Why, we might even get to discussing fruit trees in general, I imagined as I hurried along. But it was not to be. I found my farmer merely “rising to” his potatoes and a further stage in my education on Kerry idiom had been reached. For in Kerry the garden is a tillage field and poattoes, root crops and grain are all equally likely to be found there.

Here, I admit, I felt a bit resentful at what was to be an abuse of language. “If this field is a garden,” I countered, “ What do you call the space in front of the house where you grow flowers?” “Flowers,” echoed my Kerry man, “Where do you come from, boy bawn? 'Tis aisy we are in Kerry about flowers.”

Before the farmer’s house one will often find a dry wall. The expression always sets me thinking. Here I was baffled again, for I thought there must be some distinction implied. But so far I have not come across a wet wall. Walls, of course, whether in Kerry or Limerick are a subject in themselves. But here it seemed I was ignorant of even the most elementary principles of wall construction. Built without mortar or cement, as in Galway, one might concede the point, but any examples I have seen were solid examples of the builder’s skill with plumb and trowel.


Another One Bites the Dust

Cheryl's vintage shop has closed its doors.

Across the road is the empty Craftshop na Méar


Remember Pat Slemon's Shoe Shop?

Photo: John Hannon


Women in Media 2018

Katie Hannon of Duagh and RTE was one of the stars of the show. Here she is catching up with her old school pal, Máire Logue who was on a kind of busman's holiday, enjoying our neighbour's festival.

This was the really prestigious panel for the first symposium I attended. These formidable women of the media world are  our own Katie Hannon, prize winning investigate journalist, widely acknowledged as one of the best in the business, Caitríona Perry, news anchor, author and rising star in Irish journalism, the very impressive Susan Daly, editor of the best online journal bar none, The, Deirdre O'Shaughnessey of Cork 96FM fame  and Miriam O'Callaghan. probably Ireland's best known woman in media.

Máire, Lucy and Rose basked in the summer sunshine.

Mary O'Rourke and Nell MacCafferty were representing us, the retired generation.
The years have been kinder to some rather than others.

I knew Chloe Walsh when she was in a brown uniform in Pres. Listowel. She is still the same lovely girl and I was delighted when she approached me after I had failed to recognise her.

John Kelliher took this great photo of a group of Listowel Ladies who attended the grand opening of Women in Media 2018. Katherine Lynch and Miriam O'Callaghan have only a tenuous Listowel connection but Katie Hannon is one of our own, a neighbour's child and we are all dead proud of her.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Kerryman Unbuttoned, Healy Father and son, Listowel Community Centre revamp

Photo: Paul Tips, Mallow Camera Club


The Kerryman Unbuttoned, (Part 3) by Redmond O'Hanlon

The strange idioms of North Kerry speech

Nettles do no stink in Kerry. They burn or scorch. A prick is a pinch and soup is called broth. Leggings to the Kerryman are gaiters and it is only with difficulty he conveys the distinction between boots and shoes. Shoes and low shoes mark weekdays from Sundays. Mud is puddle and puddles are locks. The Kerryman wears his short coat, indifferent to the stranger’s perplexity as to the whereabouts of the counterpart. Surely, I reasoned, when I first heard the expression, there must be a long coat in his wardrobe. This does not follow at all. With a characteristic disregard for logic, your Kerry man, and still more your Kerry woman and most of all your Kerry girl will speak of a half twin when they mean a whole one, and a square of crackers hot from the oven when they mean a triangle.

Let us take a walk through the fields. See the bullock “itching” himself against the gatepost, when in actual fact he is scratching his hide. That horse standing at the fence may be false and one has to learn that this trait has reference not to a vicious disposition but to the animal’s uncertainty of foot while under a cart. Admire the riot of saffron buchalawns proclaiming at once the fertility of the soil and careless husbandry.  In early spring one may get a malicious satisfaction  from the Kerry farmers attempts to convey in words the distinction between freshly springing oats, barley and wheat. He lables the lot grasscorn and thinks you a purist if you insist that barley and wheat are neither grass nor corn.

(more tomorrow)


Father and Son from the John Hannon Archive

 This is yesterday's picture of Jimmy Browne with Paddy Healy on left.

On the right of this photo is a young Liam Healy, son of Paddy. Any ideas who the lady and child are?


Forget Clouseau, Poirot, Miss Marple and the No. 1 Ladies detective agency. When the Listowel Connection network gets working on the case they leave no stone unturned. Many people identified A.T. Chute and Violet McCarthy but the second man and the two ladies were a mystery. The grapevine has gone into overdrive and through the intervention of Beta Whelan, Junior Griffin, and the super sleuth when it comes to identifying Listowel people, Margaret Dillon, we can now say with certainty that the man behind on the right is Charlie McCarthy. His son, Danny, confirmed his father's identity. The fact that he wasn't wearing his glasses threw most people but not Margaret.


Listowel Community Centre Revamp

When I visited last week the front of the Community Centre was painted and there was scaffolding all round the side.

The reception area was gutted and the shop is relocated. I was delighted to see the same smiling face, Mike Molyneaux,  behind the counter .

Hard Working Tidy Town Volunteers

I was in The Square at around 7.00 p. m. last evening and I met this happy crew setting out on their weekly tidy up. Years of relentless hard work and dedication is what it takes to win a gold medal.

Nearing Completion

This corner of town is completely transformed. Listowel's newest pharmacy is looking well.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Kerry Idioms explained, Two of Listowel's old stock and Many Young Men of Twenty

Photo: Breda O'Mullane, Malow Camera Club


Was That Summer 2018?

Beautiful sunshine in Ballybunion on April 19 2018


The Kerryman Unbuttoned  Part 2

by Redmond O'Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

.....In those days rural Kerry was strange to me. I knew even less of the county, if that were possible, than the Customs man at the six county border post who inspected my pass on one occasion. "Ah, Listowel! I see” he remarked knowledgeably as he examined my right to pass from one part of my own country to another, “I hear they’re all six footers and Irish speakers down there.” Whatever about the physique, I was soon to find that Irish was a sub stratum of the talk of field and fair in Kerry.

Of words lifted bodily from the Irish and first heard in Kerry I like to hear talk of collops. This is a jewel in its English, a warm mouth- filling word, rounded in its saying as the calves of which it tells. A satisfying word! Plucks too is simple and expressive. Here I see a cherubic good humoured face., evidence of years of lush feeding and rosy with content. Incidentally I can recall a townland called Collops near The Tory Bush in Co. Cavan. But neither the land nor the people were satisfying.

When I was first told that the milk in the muller had cracked, I talked cautiously around the subject until I learned that the milk that was heating in the saucepan had curdled. Bread baked on a losset I found to be just as flavoursome as the farls from the bakeboard of my youth, but only just. Bacon and cabbage from the skillet came no different from the pot or oven. And the brand, I was to find out, had nothing to do with the stock round up, but was only a substitute for the bucket hoop that with us kept the griddle from getting too hot. A gruel stick has a personality of its own, I always thought, with a higher kitchen status in Kerry than the potstick came south from stirring the stirabout. Crocks refer not to ancient motor cars or old wheezy men but merely to jam jars. The woman of the house darns “broken” socks and in the interval puts down a couple of eggs for John’s tea. When John comes in he pulls the door in after him. Some feat this for a tired farmer, and costly in repairs........


From John Hannon Archive

These men have been identified as Paddy Healy and Jimmy Browne


Another smiling ESB Girl

Her brother, John Antony Hegarty, sent us this photo of his sister, Josephine Hegarty at work in the ESB shop in Church Street in the 1990s.


Many Young Men of Twenty

There is nowhere better to see a John B. Keane play than in Listowel and there are no better interpreters of the great playwright's work than his own North Kerry folk and you will find nowhere a more appreciative audience than in Listowel.

If one were  to single out one actor in a really strong cast in the latest production in St. John's,  Batt O'Keeffe put in an outstanding performance as Danger Mulally on Friday's opening night. I have seen Batt  play many parts over the years. His Michael James O'Flaherty in Synge's Playboy of the Western World was top class. But it would be hard to find a more professional performance than the one Batt put in on April 20 2018. I am delighted I was there to enjoy it.

Jack McKenna, Jamie Mazzelle, Annette O'Donnell, Sonny Egan, Rebecca Stapleton, Margaret Flavin
Oliver McGrath, Batt O'Keeffe, Barry Francis, Frances Kennedy, Tommy Denihan, Conor Foley and Gearóid O'Connor
Caitríona Dillon is missing from the photograph.

In the interval I met up with three lovely ladies who were remembering John B. with great fondness and I'm sure he was smiling down  on them....Anne Keane, John B.'s grandaughter was with a great Keane family friend, Sally O'Neill and Anne's aunt, John B.'s daughter, Joanna O'Flynn.

Aileen Hayes/ Scanlon was making a return to Listowel for the weekend. Aileen was a teacher in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel before her marriage. Joanna Keane was one of her star pupils.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Glashas, The Building of O'Connell's Avenue and Women in Media in Ballybunion 2018

Photo; Pat O'Meara, Mallow Camera Club


The Kerryman Unbuttoned

From a Shannonside Annual, Redmond O'Hanlon writes of his experience of the distinct idiom and expression of Kerry speech

The woman of the house where I stopped to enquire told me that the people I was looking for lived only the pelt of a stone from the road. “Mary here will carry you up to the headland, sir, ”  she added, “but you will have to jump the glasha.” My proferred escort was a minute barefooted maiden of about ten summers. Looking at the wisp of femininity and remembering my eleven and a half stone, I thought of Sinbad, the Sailor and The Old Man of the Sea. But the glasha was still a problem. What was it at all and how did one go about jumping glashas? I wondered as we walked on. And did the daily jumping of such obstacles in Kerry account in any way for the ease with which the county’s ball players rose for the high ones in Croke Park?  And then light dawned. “Glasha,” I repeated as I walked along with the wee one, that must be the Irish glaise, a stream. And so we came to it. I said goodbye to my guide at the headland and duly jumped the glasha. No bother this to me in those days. A rangy leggy lad I was then and the jumping of glashas for years to come was to be one of the privileges of a job that brought me all over North Kerry and West Limerick.

(more tomorrow)


Communion Class in Scoil Realt na Maidine

Photo credit; Ned O'Sullivan on Facebook


Building O'Connell's Avenue

(Photos and Story from Vincent Carmody's Living History on Facebook 2016)

In the 10 years after our Civil War, very little was achieved, nationally, in the building of local authority housing. Around 1930, the members of, the Listowel U.D.C. were concerned with severe overcrowding in many properties and the use of many more with very poor sanitary conditions. Following a survey of the town's housing stock, they presented their findings and sent a plan to the Department Of Local Government. In response they were informed that the Listowel Council had been granted funds for the building of 104 houses. At this time, it was to be one of the largest local authority building contracts in the country.

The contracting tender, in 1932, was won by a local building contractor, M.J. Hannon. This in itself was a great bonus to the town, as it guaranteed a substantial number of years' work for the town's tradesmen and laborers, with, of course, a great spin off for the town's businesses.

Some years ago, I spoke at length, and took notes, from Mr Jim (Red) O'Sullivan of Charles Street. Jim, who had worked with the Hannon Builders since he left school, was officer manager at the time of the construction, (he is pictured in the second last row), unfortunately, with the passage of time, the notes were misplaced.  However, I can recall a number of the things which he told me. The council took soundings on a possible name. One of the early contenders, before they decided on O'Connell's Avenue, was Eucharistic Avenue, this was on account of the Eucharistic Congress which was been held in Dublin, in the summer of that year. He also explained, that the wage bill per week was, if I remember correctly, in the region of £400. At the time, this would have been an enormous sum of money, Jim would collect the money from the bank first thing each Saturday morning, after which, he would be escorted by an armed detective back to the office. There he would make out the pay packets in readiness for paying each man, at the conclusion of the half-days work on Saturday. All the blocks for the building work were manufactured on site.

The land on which the houses were built had been purchased from Lord Listowel, prior to it being built on, it had been used as meadowing by the O'Donnell family, family butchers in Listowel. The main entrance to the houses was from Convent Street, Later a roadway was built to connect up with Upper William Street. The building of this later facilitated the erection of St Brendan's Terrace. 

The official opening was on Monday, June 17th 1935. It was presided over, by then Government Minister, Sean T. O Kelly. ( He, ten years later, in June 1945, became Ireland's second President, replacing the outgoing Douglas Hyde).

The first residents had taken over their houses, prior to the official ceremony. In the main these were couples with young families. Today, a third generation of these families own many of these houses. Over the years there has been mass emigration from the area. However, those who remained, have contributed greatly, to the, social, cultural and sporting history of the town. 

The pink photograph is of a  pamphlet which was distributed to the local businesses, asking them that they allow their employees 
time off, to participate in the ceremony.

Local men who were part of the official party are seen here in conversation withe the minister. They are Eamon Kissane, T.D., Eddie Leahy and John McAuliffe in conversation with Minister Seán T. OCeallaigh.


Women in Media 2018

I was in Ballybunion at the weekend for this super event. John Kelliher photographed me with some of the Writers' Week gang who were there enjoying a festival at which they didn't have to work.
Of course I was working away on your behalf. John snapped me as I snapped another photo for Listowel Connection. I'll bring you my report during the week as well as an account of my trip to St. John's for Many Young men of Twenty and to the Seanchaí for the history lecture.

John Kelliher's photo of me taking a photo of some Limerick ladies with Rachel English

Elizabeth Dunn, Annette Fitzgerald, Rachael English, RTE journalist and author, Mary Cogan and Elish Wren
Photos; John Kelliher