Friday, 24 February 2017

Ballybunion, Cameras, a Lenten Story and Listowel's Plaza Cinema

Rough Seas at Ballybunion 

Photo: Mike Enright


An Old Ciné Camera

Did you watch the old video footage of the frozen river Feale in 1963
This little film was made by a young Jimmy Hickey on the below Kodak Brownie.

The 8 minute film strip ran reel to reel and when you reached the end you rewound it with the winder shown below.

I think you'll agree that camera technology has come a long way since 1963.


Some Spring Colour in The Garden of Europe


Reminiscences  from Delia O'Sullivan

Lent and Laughing Gas

By Delia O’Sullivan (published in Lifelines, an anthology of Writing by the Nine Daughters Creative Writing Group)

In 1950s Ireland Lent was a time of penance, prayer and self restraint. For forty days and forty nights we were encouraged by the nuns to give up sweets – a scarce resource anyway.  We were to give our pennies to the missions instead. The mission box was adorned with pictures of little naked, smiling shy black children. It was brought out after morning prayers. Each offering was carefully recorded. The nun said that this was important, as, on reaching the half crown mark we would then have bought our own black baby. Michael’s mother was the local maternity nurse and he did well from all her clients, so he was a clear winner and the only person to reach the target. Michael was told that he could now name the baby but we were all very disappointed to learn that the baby would not be travelling. He would stay in Africa. The nun said that maybe someday Michael would visit him.

When we reached our teens, we found the dancehalls closed for Lent. The showbands headed for the major English cities. But every rural village in Ireland had its own dramatic group. The plays and concerts were not frowned on by the clergy as they brought in much needed funds for churches and schools. This was a wonderful time for us. As part of the Irish dancing troupe we travelled on Sunday nights with the players. We sold raffle tickets, met “fellas” and experienced a freedom that our parents didn’t even dream of.  We got bolder, inventing concerts in far-flung area, returning later, saying there was a cancellation.

In 1959 we were student nurses in London. During Lent we could enjoy the dances and the showband scene denied in Ireland. But, with only two late passes a week we were restricted. However we found ways around it – mainly by signing for a late pass in the name of a fellow student who never went out. One of these was Mrs. Okeke.

As young country girls in Ireland most of us had never been beyond the nearest small town. In our small rural Catholic environment, foreigners were the occasional English or American husband or wife, brought on holidays by an emigrant. They spoke with strange accents and didn’t seem to understand the rituals of standing and kneeling at mass. In Ireland I had only ever seen one black person, Prince Monolulu, adorned with a headdress of feathers and very colorful robes, performing the three card trick at Listowel Races. We were now part of a multi national society in a huge teaching hospital. It overlooked Highgate Park where we watched the squirrels climb trees and nibble at shoots. We also saw a steady flow of visitors to the grave of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery. We integrated well, most of us being of the same age group.

The exception was four Nigerian ladies who were older and dour. They never smile. One of them, Mrs Okeke asked us why we stared and , if we laughed, she called us silly girls. Off duty, they dress in bright robes and huge turbans. They chewed on sticks to whiten and strengthen their teeth. They cooked spicy foods on the gas rings which was supposed to be used only for boiling kettles. When reprimanded by the Home Sister, they pretended not to understand.

It all came to a head on the day  the anaethestist was giving us a demonstration of the different types of anaesthetic. We were encouraged to participate. As Mrs. Okeke’s hand went up for a demonstration of laughing gas, we all kept our heads down. A small whiff and she was laughing hysterically, displaying a number of gold teeth. We laughed until our sides were sore. Suddenly her face took on its usual dour look but by then we were unable to stop laughing. She couldn’t retaliate with the anaesthetist present.

Some days later we met her on her way back from the Matron's office.  She had been asked to explain why her name had been signed for seven late passes in a row, even though she was convinced that she had never had a late pass. Her perplexity deepened when one of us suggested that she was suffering from the after effects of laughing gas.


Help for a Family who have suffered an appalling tragedy


Remembering The Plaza

During the week I posted an old picture of Listowel's Plaza/Ozanam Centre. Here is the story behind its construction from Vincent Carmody's Snapshots of an Irish Market Town


Michael Martin met some local people on his walkabout in town yesterday

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Love, The Plaza, Ballydonoghue Couple and some Listowel photos old and new

The Eye of the Ostrich

Photo; Chris Grayson


Two of the Old Stock

Long ago in Dromerin! Eddie and Bridget Kennelly, Dromerin and Kilktean out for a cycle. Have you any precious old photos like this (published in the 2015 BPM)? If you have, why not share them here on Facebook or send to


The Plaza

This photo surfaced recently on the internet. It shows the recently built Plaza.  No. 90 Church Street is not in the photo. This house was  built in 1939, so I guess the photo was taken sometime in the mid to late 1930's.


Enduring Love

Source; Purple Clover

On a similar note here is poem to ponder
There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;
Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists
And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds
The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.
And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.
UA Fanthorpe, from Safe as Houses (Peterloo Poets, 1995)

Progress at Community Centre


Tyre Stop, Bridge Road, Listowel


Casa Mia


New CEO is a Local Man

Photo from shows new CEO of Kerry Group, Edmond Scanlon with the outgoing chief executive, Stan McCarthy

Here's the story from

A 43-year-old farmer's son from the small mountain village of Brosna, Co Kerry, has been named as the next head of Kerry Group, one of the country's biggest corporations.

The Tralee-based global food ingredients group yesterday said Kerryman Edmond Scanlon will take over as the group's third chief executive in September.
Mr Scanlon will succeed Stan McCarthy in what has been a €4m a year role.
Mr McCarthy has been chief executive since 2008, and is retiring this year as he turns 60. He'll be succeeded by another Kerry Group lifer, with deep roots in the original Kerry Co-op heartland of North Kerry.
Mr Scanlon grew up on a dairy farm in Brosna and studied commerce and accounting at University College, Cork, before joining Kerry Group's graduate programme in 1996.
His parents are understood to have been suppliers to the Kerry creamery themselves.
Brosna is located in the north-east corner of Kerry and borders both Limerick and Cork. It is part of the Sliabh Luachra district, which is better known as a mecca for traditional music and as the birthplace of Irish language poets like Aogán Ó Rathaille and Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, than for producing corporate executives.
Since joining the group, Edmond Scanlon has risen through the company ranks and worked in a string of globe-trotting roles.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A Big Freeze in 1963, Kilrush and Listowel Garden of Europe

Rough out There

photo; Mike Enright


In the Garden of Europe

This is how it looks now that the old tree stump has ben removed.


 Two Stories of Climate Change

A blog follower found online an account of the big snow in Ireland in 1947 and Jimmy Hickey told me how he recorded on his cine camera the harsh winter of 1963 when the river Feale froze solid and local people walked, danced and skated on it.

This is the River Feale in February 2017. Now look at it on Jimmy Hickey's 1963 video

Frozen River Feale 1963


THE BIG SNOWS OF 1947  (from the Internet)

Glancing out his bedroom window in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, on the
evening of Monday 24 February 1947, seventeen-year-old Francie
McFadden shivered. The penetrating Arctic winds had been blowing for
several weeks. Munster and Leinster had been battling the snows since
the middle of January. It was only a matter of time before the
treacherous white powder began to tumble upon Ulster and Connaught.

That night, a major Arctic depression approached the coast of Cork and
Kerry and advanced north-east across Ireland. As the black winds began
howling down the chimneys, so the new barrage began. When Francie
awoke on Tuesday morning, the outside world was being pounded by the
most powerful blizzard of the 20th century.

1947 was the year of the Big Snow, the coldest and harshest winter in
living memory. Long may it stay that way.[ii] Because the temperatures
rarely rose above freezing point, the snows that had fallen across
Ireland in January remained until the middle of March. Worse still,
all subsequent snowfall in February and March simply piled on top. And
there was no shortage of snow that bitter winter. Of the fifty days
between January 24th and March 17th, it snowed on thirty of them.

‘The Blizzard’ of February 25th was the greatest single snowfall on
record and lasted for close on fifty consecutive hours. It smothered
the entire island in a blanket of snow. Driven by persistent easterly
gales, the snow drifted until every hollow, depression, arch and
alleyway was filled and the Irish countryside became a vast ashen
wasteland. Nothing was familiar anymore. Everything on the frozen
landscape was a sea of white. The freezing temperatures solidified the
surface and it was to be an astonishing three weeks before the snows
began to melt.


It's Not Just in Kerry

Prompted by my many photos of the decline of the once splendid Presentation Convent, Listowel a kind blog follower has sent me these photos of this convent in Kilrush, Co. Clare. The top picture was taken in January 2017 and below is a postcard of the same edifice in its heyday.

We are at a time of great change in the history of our country and the religious landscape of our country is at a critical juncture. Our beautiful convents are falling into dereliction, next will be our churches if we don't move now to save them.

I have an idea for the preservation of some convents. The convent is not only a building, it is a way of life. Could someone preserve a convent as a museum of convent life?  Could we keep a model of the daily life of the sisters and how they lived? 

In primary school I was taught exclusively by nuns and many of my secondary school teachers were nuns too. I have learned from them and I have worked beside them and I am filled with admiration and gratitude for what they have contributed to Irish life, particularly in the fields of education and healthcare.

I look at my grandchildren and I see a generation who dont know what a nun is and have never encountered one. We owe it to them to pass on our first hand knowledge of this era in the history of our country.


Limerick  Transit Lounge

Recently a friend had necessity to spend some time in Limerick University Hospital and she sent me this photo taken on the day of her discharge.

  Once you get the nod to go home you must wait for an important letter and prescription.  This can usually take hours and used to cause great stess and dissatisfacion.   Not any more. 

There is now a 'Transit Lounge'.   You are wheeled to a very large room, a copy of the departure lounge at Shannon (without the Duty Free!).  But there is everything else - a nurse, two helpers offering copious amounts of tea/coffee/scones, magazines etc.  

Here you wait for your driver to come and collect you. This lounge unfortunately does not have much internet connectivity or even mobile phone signal which can prove a bit of a problem when one is trying to get in touch with one's collector.