Friday, 20 April 2012

Caged birds

This photo from the National Archives is described as a Kerry Peasant. We don't know where it was taken but he looks like a man who is setting out for a day in the bog. One thing that fascinates me is the birdcage on the wall to his right.

When I came to Listowel first in the 1970's practically every second house on Charles St. had a birdcage outside the door.

I looked up the history of caged birds as pets. It seems that as early as 4000 years ago people kept birds as pets for their beauty. Parrots were a favourite of the Greeks. In the Roman household one slave was totally employed looking after the family pet. Watching the parrot talking was the equivalent of today's television!
In Renaissance and medieval Europe birds were kept only by royalty and the wealthy. Bird cages were ornamental and often a focal feature in the family drawing room.
In the 15th century the humble canary became popular. Miners used this poor bird to detect poisonous gasses in the mines.
Nowadays some breeds of bird are bred only in captivity and do not exist in the wild. Keeping birds is still a popular hobby but not in Listowel I think.


On a completely different topic; take a look at these photos. These are mugshots of Irish Australian criminals in the 1920s. You were obviously encouraged to "pose" for the camera. Any of these look familiar?

The photos were released by the Australian police Dept.



A Kerryman in the news today is Mick Murphy. I looked him up and this is who I found, a living legend. He is in the news because he was robbed of a substantial sum of money by a conman. The following is from the Waterville GAA website.

Banteer is a small village, west of Mallow in County Cork, where the rich farmland
of the Blackwater Valley meets the Boggeragh Mountains. Two miles from the village,
where the road to Cork city begins to rise for Nadd mountain, lies the crumbling
and ivy-covered remains of a ball-alley at the side of the road. Here, in the
rural and parochial Ireland of the 1950s, the local men gathered in the summer
evenings when the day’s farm-work was done. Life didn’t change much in rural Ireland
in those times and anything out of the ordinary was a source of local interest
and speculation. In the spring of 1958, the curiosity of this gathering was aroused
by the regular appearance of an unknown cyclist, head down, and heading south
towards Nadd mountain. While his unfamiliarity was of interest in itself, the fact
that he didn’t return intensified the curiosity. Some, it is said, remained later and
later, until well into the dark of the night, but still, he was never seen returning.
The mystery rider was Mick Murphy, a 24 year-old migrant farm labourer from an
impoverished farming community near Cahirciveen in south Kerry. He was unknown
to the locals as he had come to Banteer to prepare for the 1958 Rás Tailteann,
and his regular evening spin past the ball-alley took him over the mountain
and back to Banteer, via Mallow, on a 50-mile (80 Km) circular route. However,
within a few weeks, local curiosity was to be satisfied when Murphy become a
national sporting sensation by emerging from nowhere to win the 1958 Rás in
such spectacular fashion that it created one of the most enigmatic legends in Irish
sporting history.

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