Thursday, 31 May 2012

Nunday and Writers' Week

Michael D. Higgins with Sean Lyons approaching Listowel Arms  where he officially opened Writers' Week last night.


From  (the writer is not credited on the website)

Wednesday May 30 2012
HOW TIME flies. I cannot believe that it's 10 years today since the death of the Bard of Listowel, John B Keane.
It's hard to believe the voice of this brilliant man, playwright and author, has been silent for a decade.
From a room above his pub on Market Street in my Co Kerry hometown, John B surveyed his kingdom, giving us world-renowned plays, and even a weekly column in the Herald.
From his little eyrie he crafted the flow of humanity into unforgettable prose.
John B was a classmate of my elder brothers. He was a private man and he could be caustic in his way, not suffering fools gladly.
I remember an American visiting his bar once. Before he left he told the writer that he really enjoyed meeting him, but he had a complaint: "There is no lock in your men's room."
The playwright replied: "Musha, you needn't worry your head about that. I'm here for 30 years and there was nothing ever stolen from that place."
Listowel Writers' Week starts today. It's a fitting tribute to the great man.

One of the first events of Writers' Week was our schools' programme. Áine Ní Ghlinn, writer, poet, lecturer and journalist visited 5 schools in North Kerry on Tuesday and Wednesday. My picture was taken in Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail.


Looking good! This is how this corner of William St. will look. Renovations continue in The Keg, now rebranded as Behans.


Now to something far more serious:

photo by Dominick Walsh
'Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.' ~Jane Addams

Cora O'Brien could have given up but she didn't. Out of her immeasurable grief and desolation at the loss of her lovely son, she has found the strength to reach a hand of help to other people struggling with thoughts of suicide and self harm. I am printing here Majella O'Sullivan's article from Friday's Irish Independent.

"CORA O'Brien has no idea what caused her teenage son David to take his own life five years ago.
She and her husband Martin and their two younger children have understandably struggled to come to terms with it since.
However, she feels strongly that parents need to talk to their children about suicide the same way they would about other topics like drugs or alcohol.
"We just have no clue what happened," she told the Irish Independent. "There was no one thing that you could say was big enough by any means for him to do that."
David was in his Leaving Cert year at St Michael's College in Listowel, Co Kerry.
The popular student had filled in his driving licence application, hoped to study in the University of Limerick the following year, coached his school's basketball team and worked two jobs at weekends for pocket money.
"There was just no possible way you could think he was depressed, if anything he was the opposite," his mother added.
Mrs O'Brien is hoping to break the Guinness world record of getting as many people as possible in the one place dressed as nuns to raise buckets of money for Pieta House -- the self-harm and suicide prevention organisation.
"I think a lot of people don't even know Pieta House is there or about what it does, so this is about raising awareness that there is help out there," she said.
'Nunday' in Listowel will be on June 30, and Mrs O'Brien is hoping the idea will inspire people to turn up to help break the record of 250, which she hopes they'll easily achieve.
"Well, I have 500 habits so hopefully we'll get enough heads to put them on," Mrs O'Brien said."
- Majella O'Sullivan

I urge everyone who can to make it to Listowel on Saturday June 30th 2012  at 5.30. If you can call to Finesse, Christy's, John B's or Easons in the next few weeks, you can pay your €20 there, collect your habit and get all the paperwork out of the way before the event. You can register online at

 If you can't make it to Listowel or if dressing up as a nun is a step too far for you, you can also donate to the charity in the above shops or through the website.


I got lots of great pictures at opening night of Writers' Week. I'll post them next week,D.V.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Fine Gael, JK Sports, mass goers and Jowika

This is John A. Murphy in St./ John's prior to his lecture on Alfred O'Rahilly on Monday night. The night was a triumph for UCC. John A.'s lecture was excellent, informative, entertaining and humorous. A great crowd turned out to listen  and everyone left the better for the night out.


The town is getting a face lift for Writers Week.

Roly is painting John R.'s

The pop-up craft shop has popped up in Scully's.

Art work is appearing in shop windows all over town.


Tomorrow is referendum day. I met these Fine Gaelers out canvassing  a yes vote on Saturday.

This shop is soon to relocate to where Hyper Fi IT used to be. Best of luck to Aiden in his new venture.

On route to the parish office on Friday last, I ran into my neighbor, Phil Deevey on her way to daily mass with her friend, Nan Brady.

Ger and I visited the parish archive. All our records are safely stored in a safe in the presbytery.

One day they will all be digitized but until then any researcher will have to painstakingly trawl through handwritten records.


An old one for you.

and another

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Annual M.S. Busking Day.

I know first hand the good work that is done by the North Kerry branch of MSIreland.
Every year, Jimmy Hannon rounds up some musician friends and they give a day busking in the Small Square to raise much needed funds. The hard working volunteers coax as much money as they can from passing motorists and pedestrians.
On Friday, the sun shone and the warm weather brought a crowd to town so the streets were busy and there was much passing traffic. Everyone of the MS people felt a shiver of loneliness. The day was just not the same without Mary Doyle. This time last year she was fussing about, organizing and making sure that everyone was looked after. I hope you have a bed in Heaven, Mary. Thank you for arranging the fine day for us.
Here are some snapshots of the day:

Bridie O'Rourke and Batt O'Keeffe on the island in The Small Square.

No one was left out.


On Friday also a crowd had gathered in the boys' national school for the official opening of the new special unit there.


Betty McGrath had just taken delivery of her new chapeau. Her sister made this hat especially for Betty to wear on Ladies' Day. Would we not all love a sister like that.

Jerry Sheehy was passing so I asked him to pose with Betty, since I know his brothers will be checking in here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Memorial Day and Writers' Week

Today is the last Monday in May, Memorial Day in the U.S. Memorial Day pays tribute to all the servicemen who fought in all the conflicts in which the U.S. has taken part. It is usually celebrated with flags at half mast, veterans' parades and the laying of wreaths.


They did their best. They took their beating, congratulated Sweden and have now moved on. They are praising their fans and planning their world tour on Twitter. Not a word of regret, no looking back. We could all learn from Jedward.


posters spotted in town.

Wednesday is Writers' Week opening night, a highlight of the year in this literary town.

This is the first committee. As usual not everyone was present for the photo. Mrs Corridan gave me the picture. Someone else might name them all for us.

This is the 2012 committee.  Here I am taking a really lazy option. I have copied the names of the committee from the Writers' Week website. Not everyone was present on Tuesday night for Ann MacNamee's photo.

President Vice-President
Vice Chairperson Treasurers Directors

Literary Advisors
Administrators Secretary Festival Team
Colm Tóibín
Very Rev Dr J Anthony Gaughan, Michael Barry
Seán Lyons
Lisa Fingleton
Rose Wall, Anne O’Sullivan

David Browne, Madeleine O’Sullivan, Joanna Keane O’Flynn, Michael Lynch Sean Lyons
Lawrence Block, Seamus Hosey, Brendan Kennelly, Colm Tóibín, Michael Collins
Eilish Wren, Máire Logue
Lisa Dennehy
Margaret Broderick, Bríd Leonard, Bernie Carmody, Veronica Cotter, Jackie Goodall, Kieran Gleeson, Noel Keenan, John McGrath,
Jean Allen-Goggin, Joe Murphy, Deirdre O’ Brien, Máire O’ Connor, Anne O’Neill, Marian Relihan,

Cara Trant, Brenda Woulfe,
Norella Moriarty, Maria Doyle,
Gerry McDaniel, Mary Cogan, Vincent Carmody, Eamon Dillon,
Ann McNamee, Aisling Wren,
Bridget Curtin, Noel Twomey, Mairead Costelloe, Annette Fitzgerald, Orla Mulvihill. 


I forgot my roundup of posters on Friday so some of these are a bit late. Others are extremely early.

And finally in poster parade, a Monday laugh from a restaurant in Carlingford.


Tonight I intend going to St. John's to celebrate the life of one of the greatest Listowel academics, Alfred O'Rahilly.

The extraordinarily talented O'Rahilly family were born in this house in The Square, Listowel. The above plaque commemorates them. Tonight we will have a lecture from John A. Murphy of UCC and a bit of a hooley to celebrate the great man.


Who'd have thought it?  BAFTA for best sit-com.

Friday, 25 May 2012

A Friday Miscellaney

I was in the cinema last night. I saw Thaddeus O'Sullivan's brilliant Stella Days with Martin Sheen in the main role. I was back in the 1950's of my childhood. It was a moving, beautifully executed film. A must see.
Before the main film, Kieran showed a short film of The Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum, beautifully captured and edited by Rory Kirby. It was difficult to go indoors on such a balmy night but it was an effort that was well rewarded.

Kieran Gleeson of Listowel Classic Cinema with Rory Kirby, filmmaker and Eddie, Mary and Catherine Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum.


New Spotlight May 25 1967. The Irish model with him is Liz Stack. Any Listowel connection, I wonder?


In the interests of clearing my backlog of random pictures from the internet, here is that photo of the "art" installation at Brown Thomas, Dublin last week.



Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets is 22 years dead.


Now to some more relevant photos.

1961 in Solengen, Germany; Michael McElligott, P.J. Shaughnessey, John O'Connell
 John Enright R.I.P. at the back


Today I spoke to Weeshie Fogarty on behalf of NKRO. He is going to do his "In conversation with...." programme with us on July 11. Note that in your diaries although I will remind you again.

Weeshie gave me an early preview of his forthcoming autobiography. Remember you heard about it first on listowelconnection!


The book is gone to press, Collins Presss and hopefully will be ready for a September launch.

It includes an account of : 38 years working in a hospital starting in 1962


Growing up on the side of a street in Killarney, New St

Round the world with Kerry in 1970

A new life in the media and winning an All Ireland PPI award as Sports Broadcasterof the Year

and 70 photographs of Weeshie's life experiences. 

I predict it will be a bestseller.


Ah! the good old days


The fine weather had me out and about in town yesterday. Here are some photos I took.

Jim Beasley was off to Cork to welcome home a new granddaughter.

Ever friendly, Nicky and Peter O'Loughlin recognized their old teacher, Jim Cogan and posed for a photo. The reason for their trip home from Australia, where they now live,  was not a happy one. They came home to visit their dad who is ill in hospital. We wish him well.

End of an era as The Man's Shop is being rebranded. It will soon open as the Sue Ryder Thrift shop.


Finally a big apology to two friends of Listowel.

Theresa and Kate are not mother and daughter. They are sisters. Sorry girls!