Thursday, 16 August 2018

Kenny Heights, Wolfgang Suschitzky, Brendan of Kerry and the Doc on One

Border at the Tim Kennelly Roundabout in August 2018


An Old Sketch of Listowel Castle


Another Beautiful Corner of Listowel


Ducks on The Feale in August 2018


Photo; The Guardian

The photographer who took the photos from the publication Brendan of Ireland was a world famous Austrian photographer, Wolfgang  Suschitzky.  He passed away in 2016 at the age of 104 leaving a huge body of very highly regarded work behind him

The story is a simple one of a boy growing up in the west of Ireland. He is close to his grandparents who play a big part in his life. His grandfather tells Brendan the story of Niamh Chinn Óir, of Óisín and Tír na nÓg and Brendan sets out to find the sea and the land of eternal youth.

This is the opportunity to have Brendan encounter "tinkers' , a ploughman and fisherman on his way to the sea. He goes via Ballyduff and The Cashen.


A Book to Treasure

I found this marvellous book recently in Listowel's St. Vincent de Paul shop. It is full of interesting little titbits and valuable information about the countryside.

I'll share nuggets from it with you here from time to time.


Conor Keane's Doc on One

Conor writes;

IN 1946, in an act of defiance against the local clergy, a group of local men in Listowel, Co. Kerry force open the locked gates into the Parish Church.

This action by the townspeople of Listowel never makes it into the newspapers, nor is it recorded anywhere else at the time. In fact, the incident has mostly faded from the town’s memory yet has never been forgotten by some. What was it that drove a normally compliant congregation to challenge local Parish Priest, Canon Patrick Brennan's dominion?

Behind this act of defiance lies the story of a young woman named Peggy McCarthy, whose tragic death in childbirth resulted in the local clergy refusing to let her body lie in the church overnight before her burial. Subsequently, an alliance between Church and State has had a devastating impact on three generations of Peggy's family - including on the daughter she gave birth to, Breda - which persists right up to the present day.

Famed balladeer Séan McCarthy wrote a song, Shame, Love, In Shame, about the young woman at the centre of these events. Peggy was Séan's younger sister. Years later, Peggy's story also inspired local Listowel playwright Tony Guerin to write the play 'Solo Run'.

Documentary On One: In Shame, Love, In Shame looks at the events behind this story, of Peggy's life, of her daughter Breda's life, of how the people of Listowel rallied round and defended Peggy - and of what happened before and since those Church gates were rammed open in 1946.

Narrated by Conor Keane
Produced by Conor Keane and Liam O'Brien
First Broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 18th August 2018 @1pm, Repeated Sunday 19th August  2018 @7pm

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Cluain Doire, Brendan of Ireland and Knockanure Vintage Day 2018

Montbretia on the John B. Keane Rd.


A Beautifully Kept Corner of Listowel

Cluain Doire is in Cahirdown.

This is the absolutely perfect avenue leading in to the estate.

There is a little planting like this one around every tree.

This is how it looks as you face towards Cahirdown. It's a credit to whoever puts in the hard work to have it looking so marvellous.


More From Brendan Of Ireland

Frank Greaney, whose family modelled for the photographs in the book brought me his copy for a read and he told me the story of how the book came about and how the Greaney/Carey family got the gig.
Bryan MacMahon was a great friend of Eddie Sheehy of Charles Street. Bryan told Eddie about the project and how they were looking for a thatched house in the countryside, a photogenic family with three generations and a child who was willing to pose for lots of photographs. Eddie used to visit his cousins in the Carey house every second Sunday. He often brought Bryan with him so Bryan knew the family well. He realised that this house and this family would be perfect for the book.

This house which was Brendan's home was situated up from The Six Crosses in the Tournageeha/ Behins area. It is no longer standing. Frank reckons the year was 1958 or 59 because the photographer drove a Ford Anglia from that era.

The thatched house with the lean-to for the donkey cart was the home of Paddy Carey, known in the family as Paudín. He was Frank's granduncle. Paud lived with his niece, Pidge Trant. This lady had been twice widowed and now devoted herself to looking after her uncle.

Paud plays the role of the grandfather in the book. He and Brendan head to Listowel for a harness maker to repair the straddle. The way is long and they get a lift in a donkey and trap from a neighbour.

 They head to Listowel where they visit the shop of Moss Scanlon. They stop outside "the hotel"

This picture also made a reappearance in Vincent Carmody's Snapshops of a Market Town. In the picture Moss Scanlon is shaking the hand of Paud Carey. With him is his grand nephew, Michael Greaney. The man with his hand on the window is John Nolan. Frank remembers John Nolan as a fish seller.

( to be continued)


Knockanure Vintage Day and Tractor Run 2018

All photos taken by Elizabeth Brosnan. She has shared these and many more on Facebook

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Philomena Kuhn remembers,

Roses by the Bridge, Summer 2018


Listowel Physiotherapy Clinic


Pat Spillane, Iron man

This old photo from Rte shows Pat Spillane in his heyday, winning RTE's Iron man competition.


Philomena, The Dancing Queen

This is me with Philomena Moriarty Kuhn on her recent visit home to Listowel.

This is Philomena as people in Listowel who knew her in her teens remember her.

Let me quickly revise Philomena's story for you. She was born in Listowel, when her family lived in an apartment over Pat Nolan's shop. They relocated to O'Connell's Avenue where Philomena spent a very happy childhood. Her dad was a tailor and Charlie Nolan tells me he was a whizz at converting trousers into "drainpipes", which were hugely fashionable at the time. They were usually worn with winkle pickers.

 ( Translation for the young: Winklepickers, or winkle pickers, are a style of shoe or boot worn from the 1950s onward by British rock and roll fans. The feature that gives both the boot and shoe their name is the very sharp and long pointed toe, reminiscent of medieval footwear and approximately the same as the long pointed toes on some women's high-fashion shoes and boots in the late 2000s.
The extremely pointed toe was called the winkle picker because in England periwinkle snails, or winkles, are a popular seaside snack which is eaten using a pin or other pointed object to extract the soft parts out of the coiled shell carefully, hence the phrase: "to winkle something out". 
Source: Wikipedia)

When the Jowika factory opened in Listowel, Philomena got a job there. The new employees were all sent to Germany to learn the ropes. This was a new development for Listowel.. young people going abroad  for training to prepare them for work at home. Jowika offered hope to a whole generation of young people who otherwise would have had to emigrate.

Philomena and the other girls stayed in a hostel and the men were housed elsewhere.
Before she went to Germany, Philomena loved dancing. From her early days learning Irish dancing from Liam Dineen to her teenage years jiving in The Las Vegas, Philomena was happiest when she was dancing.
It is no wonder then that when she chose a boyfriend it was someone who was into music. The lucky man she chose was Peter Kuhn. Their's was to be a long distance romance conducted by letters after Philomena returned to Ireland and plans were for Peter to come and visit her here when he got a holiday.
Fate intervened and Philomena contracted T.B. She did not recognise the early signs and when she eventually got the diagnosis, the disease had taken a grip and necessitated a long period of hospitalisation in Edenburn sanitarium.

Philomena is a lovely affable person with a likeable personality so she made friends easily in the hospital. She also has the happy knack of making the best of whatever situation she finds herself in. She looked on the bright side of life in the sanitorium. She had friends, one nun she was particularly fond of,  and she looked forward to the weekly concerts put on for the patients by a Tralee group.

This friend was from Ardfert and one Sunday when her father came to take her out, he took Philomena too. These and other kindnesses, such as a visit from John B. Keane and Bunny Dalton are all fondly remembered by Philomena.

Anyway, Peter was true to his word and he came for a visit as soon as he got holidays. I've told you the story before of how  he cycled from Tralee to Edenburn every day for a fortnight, eating his lunch with the nuns and spending all day with Philomena. If that isn't true love I don't know what is.

As soon as she was well enough, Philomena returned home and eventually went back to work . She then transferred to Jowika in Germany and eventually married Peter and settled in Wuppertal.

Incidentally she left Listowel, a town famous for its unusual railway and settled in a German town also famous for its unusual railway.

In Germany Philomena took up a whole new dance form, Baroque dancing. She persuaded Peter to take it up as well and they both enjoyed performing at events and concerts. Philomena made her own costume in these photographs.

Philomena is very happy in Germany and she has children and grandchildren around her there but she loves to come "home" to Listowel and to spend some time in a place which holds many fond memories for her.

Philomena and Peter Kuhn at Listowel Castle in July 2018.


Doc on One

On Saturday next , August 18 2018 the documentary at lunchtime on RTE  radio 1 will be Shame, Love in Shame. This is the story of the ill treatment and death of Listowel lady, Peggy McCarthy. This story is also told by Seán McCarthy in his ballad, Love in Shame. 

The song is sung here by Peggy Sweeney and the video to accompany it was filmed in Listowel's Garden of Europe

Shame, Love in Shame

(More about this important documentary tomorrow)