Friday, 22 June 2018

Listowel Town Square, Tim Danaher, Open Air theatre and Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Photo; Graham Davies


In Listowel Town Square

This piece of street furniture which we Listowel people use as a seat is actually an important piece of sculpture.

In 1998 when the reconfiguration of Listowel Town Square was completed this area was dedicated to Listowel and North Kerry's writers. It is located outside the house where a local man, Tim Danaher, grew up.

RTÉ Radio producer Tim Danaher, in the control room at the station's Henry Street studios, in August 1973. He was present for the recording of the RTÉ Radio serial 'Glenmalin Park', which he was producing at the time. 
Tim Danaher joined RTÉ's sound effects department in the 1950s, becoming a radio producer in the mid-1960s. He was the founder of Listowel Writers' Week. He died in 1995 at the age of 71.  (From the RTE Library)

Tim Danaher's vinyl recording of The Gift of Ink along with his early contributions to Listowel Writers' Week are part of his legacy to his native town. The Gift of Ink takes it's title from Bryan MacMahon. The recording itself features contributions from all the great literary characters of Listowel in the early part of the twentieth century.

The piece of street furniture is designed to look like a quill pen and an inkwell, the seat part being the quill and the circle the inkwell. Around the rim of the "inkwell" are quotations from some of the local literary greats.


A Doctor in Spite of Himself

Photo; John Hannon Archive

There is an extraordinary story behind this scene in Listowel Town Square. We are not sure of the date but probably early 70s.

Danny Hannon of The Listowel Players was the first artistic director of Writers' Week. He was forever thinking up challenging, innovative or plain daft ways of presenting drama to the people. This is one of his most daring dramatic presentations.

Danny told me the story when I met him with his friends, Jed and Joe in The Listowel Arms.

Danny loves this Moliére play. He was only the the second in Ireland to produce it. The first was the Trinity Players.

Danny planned to put it on en plein air during Writers' Week. Damien Stack went to Kerry Co Op and borrowed 100 palettes. They purchased a few planks of plywood in a nearby hardware shop and thus the stage was constructed. The hotel lent 100 chairs for the audience and Danny was ready to go. Because it was outdoors, there were a few innovations Danny was willing to try. One character rode up on a bicycle and another arrived by ass and cart.

The prompter had a tough time. Even though she was sitting in the front row there were times she had to shout to be heard above the noise of the traffic. Some of the thespians remember it with great fondness. Cliff Gore and Mike Moriarty were in it. Jackie McGillicuddy was there too as were the late Maurice Geale and Jetta Grogan

If any of you remembers it I'd love to hear from you.


Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

One of the highlights of the festival is the event that took place on June 2018 in Allos.

The task that was set for the artists was to paint a portrait of our great singer songwriter journalist Mickey McConnell.

They were doing marvellous work while enjoying a serenade from the model.

These are the works in progress.

When I called in the artists were taking a refreshment break.

The model and his wife were relaxing between sittings.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Morning Walk in Writers' Week 2018, Craftshop na Méar and Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Feeding Time photo by Graham Davies


My Walking Tour of the Square during Writers' Week 2018

Ger Holland's photo tells its own tale. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up at 9.30 a.m. on Saturday June 2 2018 to take the walking tour of Listowel Town Square with me.

At the door of The Listowel Arms I met Dave O'Sullivan, Paddy McElligott, Cliona McKenna and Mary Fagan, four of my able assistants.

 Mary was getting into character as Mena in Sive as she met Thomasheen  Seán Rua, the matchmaker, played by David O'Sullivan.
"Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch...."

Local historians, Michael Moore, Liam Grimes and Vincent Carmody were taking the tour.

Clíona's parents in law, Mary and Tony McKenna, great supporters of Writers' Week, were looking forward to a leisurely walk in the early morning sunshine and to maybe learning a thing or two about Listowel and Listowel people.

Musician and singer, Mary Moylan and Mike Moriarty, singer and historian, two more of my able assistants, were ready for the off.

I mounted the podium, aka the Tidy Town's seat, and the tour began.

Paddy and Mike Lynch did a great job on Goodbye to the White Horse Inn.

On the steps of Listowel Castle we had history, songs and drama.

At Gurtenard House we had more history, more songs, an anecdote or three. Eamon ÓMurchu was hastily press ganged into being an able assistant but acquitted himself like the trouper he is.

We stopped at the beautifully restored Butler Centre, where Antoinette Butler told us what happens nowadays in this historic edifice.

We finished up our walk on another stage in the Town Square where we all sang a few verses of Lovely Listowel by Bryan MacMahon.
The morning walk was a great success, thanks to all the hard work put in by everyone involved.

Most of these photos were taken by able assistants, Tony McKenna, Breda Ferris and  Elizabeth Brosnan.

Follow the link below for some of the highlights of the walk recorded by Charlie Nolan;


O'Connor's Pharmacy with weighing Scales

Photo: John Hannon


My Time in 53 Church Street Remembered

As 53 Church St. prepares to reopen as a barbers' I'm looking back at the early days of Craftshop na Méar.

Namir Karim opens the door to Craftshop na Méar

Namir gets a weaving lesson

Some of the early crafters

Crafters with the late Dan Green who was
 a great supporter of the shop in its early days. At the far right in the picture is Miriam Kiely who knew 53 Church Street as her family home.


First Ever Listowel Visual Arts Week

It's Visual Arts Week and the shopkeepers of Listowel are getting behind Olive Stack in her new venture.

Then in the Square, local artist, Jim Dunn is showing us how. He is crafting a beautiful celtic style mural before our very eyes. He worked on it for hours and hours today and he'll be back tomorrow.

He has to work through all the distractions, people chatting to him, photographing him and having a go at helping him.

Will you look at the state of his hands? And let me tell you he is an exceptionally neat worker.