Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Stieg larrson and The Cows' lawn, Hurricane Sandy

The Cows' Lawn  (By Kay Caball) continued.....

While the Hares were not in the accepted sense ‘absentee landlords’, the purchase of this estate was an investment by a successful businessman, who mainly lived elsewhere. Richard Hare and his descendants intended collecting every last penny from the estate. They put in place land agents who would run the estate on their behalf, in a business like matter. The Hares, later Earls of Listowel, only used Gurtinard House and its demesne for very short periods. The Hare’s main residence was at Convamore in County Cork.

This was a magnificent residence designed by James Pain, ‘standing above the most beautiful stretch of the Blackwater'. Hare did not replicate this in Listowel, but built a handsome Georgian house in 1815 at Gurtinard with a pleasing demesne surrounding the house including woods and the ‘two 
fields’ known to the occupants of the ‘big 
house’ as the ‘front lawn’ and the ‘back 
lawn’. We can see in the 1763 map the
  suitable location later selected for, this
house and demesne, in its proximity to the 
town . As well as occupying the most imposing site available it was also a convenient location for the agent from which to conduct his estate business and collect his rents.
Over the years there is evidence that the current Lord and Lady Listowel would stay there only for short holiday periods. Bertha Beatty, who was a guest there in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century tells us that their stays there were during ‘the season’ when they entertained the local ‘county’ families. During this time the ‘two lawns’ were pleasure grounds, including a tennis court. The lawns, which were fenced in were divided in two by a grove of trees with a steam running though, giving an uninterrupted view from the house to the River Feale in the distance.

Joseph O’Connor tells us that in 1895 his Grandfather’s house in Church Street:
‘ended at the high wall of Lord Listowel’s demesne of Gurtinard. Beyond that wall lay forbidden territory. Woe, betide the commoner who dared climb the stone barrier to have a peep at the Great House, when the family was in residence during the off-season in London. Nothing less than a month in Tralee Gaol would purge his transgressions’.
This uncompromising attitude by the Hares and their agents towards the townspeople continued. During the harsh winter of 1916-1917 despite a plea from the Clerk of the Listowel Union for a contribution of timber towards a fundraising effort for the local poor, it was refused.
In February 1917, with shortages & rising food prices due to the war, Listowel Urban Council requested the Earl of Listowel to ‘make two large fields, known as the “‘the two lawns” available for cultivation for thpoor people of the town’. There was an unproductive series of letters exchanged between the Urban Council and Lord Listowel. Jack McKenna, Chairman of the Urban Council pointed out that all they were seeking was permission to use ‘vacant’ land as tillage. He stressed how important this would be in the context of food shortages being experienced at the time due to the Great War, that ‘even in London the Royal Parks are being ploughed for tillage’. His plea was in vain.

(more tomorrow)


Some of the magnificent trees in The Town Park

Gurtinard House today


Recently I revisited a website called Letters of note.
I liked this letter. Maybe you will too.

On November 9th of 2004, Stieg Larsson — journalist and author of the posthumously published Millennium series of novels, the first of which wasThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 50-years-old. The next month, Stieg's long-term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, found the following letter amongst his belongings, marked "To be opened only after my death," and written prior to a trip to Africa in 1977 when he was just 22.

Eva read extracts of the letter at Stieg's funeral, the day after its discovery.

(Source: "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me)

February 9, 1977

Eva, my love,

It's over. One way or another, everything comes to an end. It's all over some day. That's perhaps one of the most fascinating truths we know about the entire universe. The stars die, the galaxies die, the planets die. And people die too. I've never been a believer, but the day I became interested in astronomy, I think I put aside all that was left of my fear of death. I'd realized that in comparison to the universe, a human being, a single human being, infinitely small. Well, I'm not writing this letter to deliver a profound religious or philosophical lecture. I'm writing it to tell you "farewell." I was just talking to you on the phone. I can still hear the sound of your voice. I imagine you, before my eyes...a beautiful image, a lovely memory I will keep until the end. At this very moment, reading this letter, you know that I am dead.

There are things I want you to know. As I leave for Africa, I'm aware of what's waiting for me. I even have the feeling that this trip could bring about my death, but it's something that I have to experience, in spite of everything. I wasn't born to sit in an armchair. I'm not like that. Correction: I wasn't like that...I'm not going to Africa just as a journalist, I'm going above all on a political mission, and that's why I think this trip might lead to my death.

This is the first time I've written to you knowing exactly what to say: I love you, I love you, love you, love you. I want you to know that. I want you to know that I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. I want you to know I mean that seriously. I want you to remember me but not grieve for me. If I truly mean something to you, and I know that I do, you will probably suffer when you learn I am dead. But if I really mean something to you, don't suffer, I don't want that. Don't forget me, but go on living. Live your life. Pain will fade with time, even if that's hard to imagine right now. Live in peace, my dearest love; live, love, hate, and keep fighting...

I had a lot of faults, I know, but some good qualities as well, I hope. But you, Eva, you inspired such love in me that I was never able to express it to you...

Straighten up, square your shoulders, hold your head high. Okay? Take care of yourself, Eva. Go have a cup of coffee. It's over. Thank you for the beautiful times we had. You made me very happy. Adieu.

I kiss you goodbye, Eva.

From Stieg, with love.


Unfortunate name

from Google street view  in Norwich

Letter from New York

Hi, everyone –

Well, we survived the storm here in Brooklyn Heights with minimal disruption. Seems most of us lost cable TV and internet service and had some minor impact on electric lights last night. Lots of trees down as the video in this link will show – our beautiful old neighborhood has trees that are a hundred years old or more and we lost quite a few last night.

This morning, people were out and about on our Promenade looking down on the harbor as this post from the Brooklyn Heights blog shows. It has been raining here still today and, while the wind has died down, there’s still a brisk breeze.

The big challenge will be getting to work as the subway tunnels under the East River all flooded. Never before has this happened. Not sure what to do about that…..Can’t imagine I’ll find too many taxis around here tomorrow morning.  And the mayor is not optimistic about when the repairs will be made and the subways functioning again.

The damage elsewhere in the city has been devastating - especially in the Rockaway Beach/Breezy Point section of Queens (a big Irish/Irish-American neighborhood), where a fire started last night and with the high winds quickly spread completely destroying more than 80, possibly as many as 100, homes. For those of you not familiar with that neighborhood, it’s a narrow band of land with the Atlantic on one side and JamaicaBay on the other. You fly right over it on a descent into JFK airport.

New Jersey, parts of Long Island—badly damaged. In NJ, Spring LakePoint Pleasant, Bay Head, Manasquan and other towns along the ocean in that part of the state – all towns surrounded by the ocean on one side and the bay on the other—hit very, very hard. The storm surge pushed the water in at an incredibly high rate and today, if a house is still standing, it is no doubt flooded and covered with sand or has a boat parked in the living room.

The surge was unbelievable here in the city. A huge tanker moored in the harbor washed up on a residential street on Staten Island. And a 35 foot wave was recorded in the harbor (wonder how they measure that?).

The wind last night was unreal. My apartment building, a solid brick building, has been standing for 110 years and you could feel it shaking as 80 mph or higher sustained winds battered it from about 7 pm on through the night.

But we’re here to tell the tale and that’s what’s important.

Thanks to all for your e-mails. It was great to hear from everyone.  Amazing isn’t it….to be able to connect so quickly around the globe.

Best regards,


(From Joanne Dillon in Brooklyn)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Amy Huberman , P.J Dillon's Rewind

Breaking News

Listowel's own P.J. Dillon's  Rewind with Amy Huberman on TV 3 tonight at 9.00 p.m.

The Cows' Lawn and Trick or Treating

Kay Caball did very thorough research on the history of our beloved town park. She has included in her work all her references and a comprehensive bibliography. I have left these out for the purposes of the blog. Believe me though, everything she says, she can back up.

Kay Caball 
The ‘Two Fields’
This is a study of land transactions and the people associated with them which saw the ‘Lawns’ of Gurtinard, Listowel evolve from the preserve of the ‘big house’ to the people of the town as their Town Park.
The history of North Kerry is echoed in a small way in the story of these two fields. From earliest times, to the present day, land and ‘fields’ have been important in North Kerry. John B. Keane in his most famous play ‘The Field’  first performed in 1965, outlined the lengths that a North Kerry farmer was willing to go to, because of his attachment to his rented land ‘nurturing it from barren rock into a fertile field’. While the townspeople of Listowel did not go to the lengths that the Bull McCabe did to obtain the object he desired, they were steadfast in their wish to retrieve these fields from landlord and transfer into public ownership.
The history of the fields or the ‘Cows Lawn’ as they are colloquially known, began when Richard Hare purchased the lands of the 3rd Earl of Kerry. In 1783 the 3rd Earl of Kerry, Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice sold his entire estate of 30,000 acres in North Kerry, most of which came into the possession of Richard Hare, ‘then of the city of Cork, Esquire’.
The 3rd Earl had gone to live in Paris after accumulating gambling debts. His stay was cut short by the French Revolution, and in 1792 he and his wife were forced to flee back to England. The Kerry Evening Post of July 19 1911 tells us that ‘the Earl got out of Paris with great difficulty, leaving all his plate, pictures, furniture and papers behind him in charge of two faithful servants. The Government of the Terror guillotined the servants and seized all the property’.  He had the forethought to arrange that his papers would not fall into the same hands and they are currently stored in the National Archives in Paris. We learn from these documents the protracted dealing between Fitzmaurice and Hare, until the lands in question were legally transferred into the name of Hare.
The Earl had been the first Fitzmaurice for six hundred years to be an absentee landlord, appearing to be only interested in the money the estate brought in, to support his lavish lifestyle initially in Bath & London. According to the papers stored in Paris, there was continuous difficulty in getting rents paid regularly, for example in 1774 out of a rent roll of £5.124 only £1.034 was paid . In 1776  Arthur Young was shocked at the condition of the place: ‘Everything around lies in ruin and the house itself is going fast off by the thieving depredations of the neighborhood’.

( more tomorrow)


I cannot say for certain when this old drinking trough was demolished. It was certainly there in 2007 when I took the photo. It is a pity that it had to go as it served to remind us of  why the park was called The Cows' Lawn.


The origins of trick or treating

There is s great website called  "today I found out about....", with all kinds of interesting and colourful information. This is where I found this account of the origins of a popular Halloween custom.

"As for the trick or treating, or “guising” (from “disguising”), traditions, beginning in the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called “souling” and the children were called “soulless”.

An example of a relatively recent (19th century) souling song is as follows:
A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

As you might have guessed from the song, a common food given while souling was a Soul Cake (also sometimes known as a Harcake).  Soul cakes were small round cakes, often with a cross marked on top, that represented a soul being freed from Purgatory when the cake was eaten.  Soul cakes were generally sweet cakes, including such ingredients as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and raisins.
Souling ultimately gave rise to guising in the U.K. starting in the 19th century, with children dressing up and begging for things like fruit and money.  In order to earn this token, they’d often tell jokes, sing songs, play an instrument, recite a poem, or perform in some other way for the amusement, not unlike the old tradition of souling but instead of prayers, a performance was offered.
The practice of guising made its way to North America, probably brought over by the Scottish and Irish in the late 19th or early 20th century (first documented reference in 1911).

Read more at 


The new interiors' shop in The Square


Don't forget this coming weekend is The Food fair


Super picture of Fungi


Healyracing's fab. action photo from Kinsale Point to Point on Sunday.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Halloween, Bog bodies and the Dandy Lodge


Our Celtic ancestors called this feast Samhain. It was a time of transition from light to darkness. They believed that the boundaries between the living world and the world of the dead were very thin at this time. They believed that the spirits of the troubled dead sometimes returned  to avenge old wrongs or to settle a score.
 In Christian times we subsumed some of these old beliefs and this time of year became a time of remembrance for our dead loved ones and a time of prayer  and respect for the departed.

These grisly pictures are suited to the day that's in it.

 Bogs are great places for preserving bodies.

On Saturday, 26th April 1952, peat cutters from Grauballe, Denmark came across a well preserved body. He was called Grauballe Man after the location he was found in. He was estimated to have died between A.D. 210 and 410. This is his exceptionally well preserved hand. He was so well preserved that the body was first studied in the police laboratory at Aarhus, as they assumed that the man had died in the recent past. His body now resides in the Museum of Prehistory at Aarhus, where he lies in exactly the posture in which he was found in the peat bog.

This is a photo of Borre Fen man as he was found, with the halter around his neck. He was found at Borre Fen, Denmark in 1946. The dead Iron Age man was exceptionally well preserved. He had been brought to the bog naked except for the rope around his neck. He had a reddish stubble on his face which showed that he had not shaved on his last day alive. Two more bog bodies were found in this area in 1947 and 1948.

Probably the most famous bog body is this fellow below; the Tollund Man.

More on him here


Calling all Mulvihills

Did you know that you have your very own newsletter?
 I did not know this piece of information until Jer emailed me a copy.  It looks to me like it is a print publication but you can also have it sent to you by email. It does not appear to be available on line.

This is the voice of your clan chief

"Our e-mailing list now stands at 652 individuals. Most of these folks receive The Mulvihill Voice newsletter on a quarterly basis. In addition, we snail-mail a number of copies to folks who prefer that format. I think that it is reasonable to believe that, with sharing of the newsletter, we are reaching the majority of Mulvihill families, particularly in the U.S.
The Clan‟s private website currently hosts 260 members. It provides a repository for pictures, stories, and files of general interest. The site also contains a popular blog that allows members to interact and share. It‟s fascinating to see all those old pictures, and read those stories that are so much a part of our heritage. Over a dozen folks have now contributed their complete family trees to the site, which becomes a resource for others looking to explore their own ancestry. I would encourage anyone who has not yet done so, to contact me with your e-mail address so that I can send you an invitation to join. It‟s free!
Not everything is free, however. Last year we initiated a Contributions program to cover continuing Clan expenses, and it was pretty well received (considering the state of the economy). As you can see from the „Thermometer‟on page 2, we are over halfway to our goal. Our most grateful THANKS! to those folks who have responded most generously. Besides offsetting general Clan expenses, including the newsletter, we hope to reach a point where we can endow some specific projects to explore and preserve exceptional Clan sites or records, particularly in Ireland. Please contact our Treasurer if you would like to make a contribution. Every little bit counts! "

For those of you interested in receiving the Mulvihill Voice here are the contact details

 The Mulvihill Voice
Box 2772

Sag Harbor, NY 11963 USA

Please send your contact info to: Thomas C. Mulvihill, Membership 8821 Misty Creek Drive Sarasota, Florida 34141 941-929-9093 

It is mid term break and I am on Nana duties. For the next few days I have scheduled some posts "I made earlier".

Kay Caball who grew up within a stone's throw of The Cows' Lawn has written its history and she has very kindly shared her work with us. I will start serializing the account tomorrow but first a few photos from Childer's Park, aka The Cows' Lawn as it looks today.

Sign at the entrance

This is a very old gate now going nowhere. This type of gate did not close with a latch, nor could it be locked with a key. It was ingeniously designed to allow humans easy access but to keep animals out. I searched on the internet and, while I found lots of examples of this type of gate from all over the world, I could not find a name for it.

This was reconstructed from the stones taken from an old house on Bridge Road, allegedly the oldest house in Listowel. I could find no one to tell me when it first came to be called The Dandy Lodge.  I suspect it may have been in fairly recent times.
Today it is located facing the entrance to the park, hiding the rather unsightly Pitch and Putt clubhouse


I went to the bank on Friday and there it was, gone! At least, Bank of Ireland, Listowel as I knew it was gone and in its place the beginnings of a DIY bank. YUCK! Gone is the personal touch and in its place machines.  Progress?


John Summers writes from Sydney apropos Fr. Sneider, the world's oldest full time teacher;

"So lovely to see the tribute to Fr Schneider in Listowel Connection. He is truly one of those men of real gentle Christian wisdom and a model for we lesser mortals who try to teach those pupils the Good Lord has placed before us in our classrooms.
I had the privilege very early in my career of working at Alos here in Sydney ( remember we Aussies have to shorten everything St Joseph's College becomes Joeys, St Ignatius becomes Iggies and so on) I the 1980s and Fr Schneider was then a bit of a legend.
Isn’t good to come across a good news story about so many priests, sisters and brothers who tried their best, were good and kind people to their students and who left an impact on their communities. May be the terrible darkness of abuse in the churches may allow the light of good people like Fr Schneider glow even brighter like a candle in a darkened room."