Finally the UDC and a number of other prominent citizens formed the Sinn Fein Food Committee with a view to acquiring this land as tillage. There was a general feeling of frustration building up with the petty restrictions and the number of permissions which had to be sought from Lord Listowel.. ‘Negotiations’ were opened by Sinn Fein with two local men who had permission to graze the Lawn at the time, in order that the Food Committee might proceed with their aims of turning the ground into tillage. It would appear that ‘negotiations’ might be a misnomer, something that rankled with the families concerned in the following years.
Getting tired of waiting for permission, the Food Committee with the help of Volunteers from Moyvane, Knockanure, Finuge, Rathea, Ballyconry and Ballylongford, ploughed up the ‘front and back lawns’ concerned on 25 February 1918. The members of the Committee were jailed for a month on May 23rd, while the Chairman of the County Council, Jack McKenna spent almost a year in Belfast Jail on this and other alleged charges.
While they were still in jail, Lord Listowel instructed the agent to sell the disputed land to Thomas Armstrong proprietor of the NKM Sweet Factory for £1,400.which was then five times the market value of such land. Armstrong then offered the land at the same price to the Food Committee and they had no option but to pay this sum.. The deed drawn up was between Thomas Armstrong and ‘The Listowel Food Committee/The Listowel Cow Keepers/The Trustees, which was later to cause legal problems. ‘The conveyance of 1920 was made to Dr. O’Connor, Mr. Launders, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Flavin. ‘The front lawn was divided amongst twenty people, each of whom have the right to graze one cow in perpetuity; and the back lawn was divided amongst twenty eight poor people for tillage purposes’
The ‘two fields’ of thirty acres in total, were mainly in grass, bounded on all sides by woods with the river flowing alongside. The former tennis court was left in place with a right of way into it and it continued be used as a Tennis Club . However it was 1935 before the first Catholic was admitted to the Club.
Listowel Urban Council continued the quest to attain ownership of the public areas surrounding the town and in 1946 Lord Listowel granted Gurtinard Wood and a beautiful walk to the people of Listowel for a nominal sum of £5.00.
The tillage so fiercely fought for, did not stay in use after a few years but the twenty cow keepers continued their right to graze their cows, on what was now known as The Cows Lawn until 1966. The author remembers some of these ‘Cow Keepers’ exercising this right and in fact milking cows on the Lawn and bringing the milk up the Bridge Road in galvanised buckets, swinging off the handlebars of their bikes.
This photo from the archives of The Kerryman is from the Munster Final of 1962 in Cork. Kerry's Donie O'Sullivan is in the centre of the shot.
Jim MacSweeney took some great photos of deer and stags in The National Park during the rutting season.
This fellow has been in a fair few fights, I'd say