Thursday, 23 November 2017

Christmas Craft Fair, some photos, a poem and a sugar tax in 1901

May you have a happy, safe and thankful Thanksgiving all U.S. friends of Listowel


Christmas is coming
And the goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny
A ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny
God bless you.


Sive Revival

In a week that saw Mickey McConnell's Lidl and Aldi exceed 6 million views, John B's 'Sive' launched in John B's bar in the Gaiety Theatre. 
The Druid Production will run from the 26th Jan to the 3rd of March 2018


Today's November poem from Irish Stories of Love and Hope is from Rita Ann Higgins.

Our Mothers Die on Days Like This

Rita Anne Higgins  (Irish Stories of Loss and Hope)

Where there isn’t a puff
And the walk from the bus stop
To the front door
Isn’t worth the longed-for
Out-of-the-question cup of sweet tea
She can never have
Because doctor do-little-or-nothing
Told her face to face
It was the sugar or the clay
The choice was hers.

The choice was no choice
He knew it, she knew it.

When the heavy bill on the hall floor
With the final notice reminded her
Once and for all she must turn out the lights,

Her Angelus bell rang and rang.


Photos from a Craft fair

I was at a craft fair in The Seanchaí, Listowel on Sunday November 12 2017. I photographed some of the lovely fare on offer.

Stephen Pearce, Louis Mulcahy, Nicholas Mosse and a slew of others have made their fortune as potters with a distinctive style. In Listowel we have our very own local potter with a beautiful product and a distinctive style.

Pat Murphy's Woodford Pottery is based in Woodford, Listowel. His pieces are available in black,  dark blue and green. They make an ideal present for anyone who loves Listowel and likes to have a piece of home close by at all times.

AND by comparison with the big names mentioned above they are very reasonably priced. Pat is a one man operation so he obviously doesn't produce huge quantities. My advice is get to him before the world discovers him.

Beautiful hand knitter nativity by Ella O'Sullivan

Eileen O'Sullivan makes these and other ceramic pieces to order.

Listowel's best knitter and tea cosy designer is Frances O'Keeffe.  Her charming creations are still available at Craftshop na Méar and at local craft fairs.  


A Sugar 1901!

My friend, Nicholas wrote us the following;

" I came across this little piece in the British Parliamentary Papers. It concerns a sugar tax proposed in c1901. The fuller debate is fascinating as it goes into the ramifications of all types of sugar and associated products- honey  seems to have been exempt from the intended tax.

Extracted from The Debate on the proposed Sugar Tax in the House of Commons on 29th April 1901:

said that as an Irish Member he desired to enter his protest against this tax because it pressed severely upon the poorest classes of the population. He had listened with amazement to the doctrine laid down by the Hon. Baronet opposite, who said that he welcomed this tax because it would tend to discourage the unwholesome custom of using jam and marmalade and sugar, instead of porridge and milk.

‘In many parts of the country the poor people could not get milk. The working classes of Ireland were unable to give milk to their children because they could not afford it, and consequently they had to fall back upon jam and marmalade. There was no more necessary food than sugar for young children if they could not get plenty of milk and butter. Milk contained a good deal of sugar, and if they could not get the natural sugar contained in milk they were driven to buy sugar, and to supply it in that shape. 

A tax upon sugar was a tax upon one of the prime necessities of life, and that was a departure from the traditional policy of this country for the last fifty years, which was to remove all taxes from all the necessary articles of food. If they agreed to tax sugar he could not see why they should not tax corn…’ 

I think O tempora O mores! is appropriate in the light of the current sugar tax proposals, and the complete change in  Irish nutritional circumstances and health standards." 


New Windows for the Gardaí

Maybe they are getting the fancy new ones with the Garda logo in them

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Listowel's Santa Experience 2017, Heaney's Mid Term Break and Garden Centre at Christmas

First Run on Friday


A Poem for November

Today's poem from Irish Stories of Love and Hope is often named by students as their favourite poem. The awful life changing, everything changing reality of death is so poignantly and simply told by Heaney that it resonates even with young people who have not yet experienced a death wrench.

I lost my father when I was seven and my only sister when I was 14. This poem never fails to break my heart.

Mid Term Break  

By Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying-
He had always taken funerals in his stride-
And Big Jim Evans saying it was hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
by old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were sorry for my trouble.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning `I went up  into the room, Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.


A Trip to The Christmas Shop

My young visitors love to visit Listowel Garden Christmas shop.


More on Paddy Drury as remembered by Jerry Histon in the Shannonside Annual in the 1950s

Paddy was a great walker. I heard him say that he brought this from his mother who, he averred, once walked from Knockanure  to Limerick and returned with a stone of yellow meal balanced on her head. This was during “the bad times”.

As I have said, without hearing Paddy tell the story, a lot of its local humour is lost. For instance, one day Paddy was seated in the snug of the public house in Listowel. The snug country pubs is usually called the office. A crony of Paddy's passed in on the way to the bar. "Is it there you are, Paddy". It is so and if you had minded your books like me you’d be  in an office too.

Paddy and his friend Toss Aherna one-day making a grave for an old men from Knockanure who had all his long life been avaricious for land. Toss spaced out the site of the grave and said to Paddy "I suppose the usual 6' x 3, Paddy".  "Ah" was Paddy's retort "he was always very fond of the land. Suppose we give it another foot."

When working for a farmer who had killed a boar to which the workmen were treated day after day for dinner, Paddy at last got exasperated and one-day for Grace said
May the Lord on high who rules the sky
look down upon us four, 
 and give this mate that we can ate,
and take away this boar!


The Lidl cat

This feline seems to have found a new home at Lidl, Listowel

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Christmas Shop, another Paddy Drury Story and some Winter entertainment

Photo by Deirdre Lyons


It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

Listowel Garden Centre has its usual host of tempting fare to decorate your house for the holiday season. Here are a few things that caught my eye when I visited.


This essay was published in Irish Stories of Love and Hope, a book published to raise funds for The Irish Hospice

Loss in the Traveller Community

Dictated by Missy Collins

I lost my eldest son 25 years ago. He was killed in England. He was called Kieran, Kieran  Collins. He was 13 at the time. My brother’s son was killed at the same time. He was 15, Michael. It was a month before my eight child was born. I’ll never forget the day; it was the 20th of June; it was a Sunday. He went out the door that morning along with a whole lot of his friends and Michael, his cousin, with him. About thre o’clock that day (It was a lovely warm day) I seen the policeman approaching our house. Me and my husband,we asked him what’s wrong and he said, “Have ye got a son called Kieran?”. I says,’yeah”. He says;” Will you come inside?” We were ot the front of the house. He told us, he says, ”He’s dead.”

I didn’t know what happened. I remember my husband roarin, but I passed out and ended up in the neighbours house next door. I remember comin’ round after someone giving me brandy on a spoon. My husband was going over to my brother’s house who lived a few streets away and they were roarin after their son being killed. Their youngest, my eldest. We brought them home to Ireland to bury them., the two were buried together. I suppose at that time and I suppose up to this present day, I never really got over it and I never will because, put it this way, it hits me every day of the week but especially at Christmas and birthdays. I still have to go and visit his grave regular. I even came home from England. I have to chat with him. I love to look after the grave.

How did I cope? I was a stronger woman at the time and had other children. I knew I had to keep goin for them. Me faith helped me a lot. I went to healing places and shrines and prayed to God to give me strength to look after my family. I could not look at his picture. I loved to, but couldn’t for at least 14 years. Then I eventually started looking at his picture. Doctors wanted to give me sleeping tablets for my nerves, but my mother said,”Don’t start taking them, Missy because you’ll have to come to terms.” I don’t think I ever came to terms but that my own family and extended family kept me going. My husband never came to terms with it. He couldn’t visit the grave and walked away from it crying. I lost him five years ago. We were very close and the reat of me family were very close to their Daddy. We are not the same since that happened either, the support is gone, the boys were very attached to him and the girls as well. I think all that keeps us going is the graves, both of them are buried together. We go and fix the graves. We’re a very lonely family.

Just to say anyone that loses a family member is never the same again. There’s a part of the family missing. Time heals a bit but you never forget.


New Kid on the Block

In Listowel Town Square, November 2017


Another Paddy Drury story as remembered by Jerry Histon in The Shannon Annual in the 1950s

Sometime before Christmas, Paddy dropped into Moyvane church and dropping on one knee ("rabbit shooting" as they call it) started his prayers. The local P.P. saw him, tapped him on the shoulder and said: "Get up, you fool and go and kneel properly." Paddy did so. Later, Paddy came to visit the Christmas crib. He suddenly jumped up, rushed out, found the parish priest and brought him to the crib. "Look! " Paddy cried, "you called me a fool for praying on one knee. Here's three more of them!" (Pointing to the three wise men, who are generally depicted in Cribs as kneeling on one knee).

At the election for county councillors, Paddy went into a Knockanure booth. There were five candidates. Paddy used to vote illiterate. When asked by the presiding officer for whom he wished to cast his number 1, 2 and so on, Paddy’s versified reply was:
A penny for Langan,
tuppence  for Quade,
a three penny bit from a old friend Thade;
Fourpence for Shaughnessy, as you plainly see,
 and fivepence for Woulfe, will make one and three.

During the 1914 1918 war, it was generally held that both Kaiser and King of England were relations (as they were). A local recruiting sergeant stopped Paddy and asked him to join the British Army and "do his bit". Paddy buttonholed the colour sergeant. "Listen," he said "my mother always told me that I should never interfere in family rows."

The parish priest and curate of Moyvane met Paddy one day as he was going to Moyvane, while they were walking along the road. The PP asked Paddy if he was going for "a small one". Paddy says he had hardly the price of it. The PP gave him half a crown. Paddy took it and said "God and Mary bless your reverence." The curate then handed Paddy a shilling. Pocketing it, Paddy said: "God bless your reverence." The PP was intrigued at the difference in the two salutations and asked him what was the difference. "One and six.” was Paddy's prompt reply.

Paddy died about 12 years ago, God rest him. He had a large and representative funeral. He was buried in the ruined church at Knockanure. So, though he did not "travel the nation" he found "the burying plantation that is the pride of them all" as he had himself written.

It is a sad commentary on the fickleness of human esteem to reflect that neither stick nor stone mark poor Paddy's last resting place.

(That last omission has been corrected since this was written)


Lip Sync is the New Panto

Since time immemorial Irish people have made their one fun to while away the dreary Winter nights. It used to be the pantomine, then it was Tops of the Town, last year it was Strictly Come Dancing and this year it's Lip Sync and Stars in Their Eyes. The key ingredient in all of these shows is local people entertaining local people.

On Saturday November 18 2017 Listowel Community Centre was the venue for the local Lip Sync event. I wasn't there but I've seen the videos and heard the reports and it was a night to remember. Here are a few of John Kelliher's photos. They were all winners but the top accolade on the night went to a group of nuns worshipping at the altar of The Gooch. Kick the Habit were sponsored by Spar and the whole event was in aid of Kerry Parents and Friends.

Meanwhile in Asdee Sonny Egan was wowing them at Stars in Their Eyes. Sonny was no match for our own "Beach Boys" who were one of the winners on the night.

Listowel Folk Group members, Jim Hannon, Denis O'Rourke, Mike Moriarty, Paddy McElligott and John Kinsella aka The Beachboys.