Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ned Kelly, Fr. Scanlon and the demise of phone boxes

Ta Dah! This is it...the winning design at Showcase Ireland 2013. It has everything, classic style, simplicity and wearability. It appeals to both men and women, young and all. 
And it has a great back story, symbolizing love, loyalty and generosity.

Here it is in the winners enclosure in the RDS.


Here she is, Eileen Moylan, the winner, the Listowel born designer and maker, receiving her award from the minister.

Read the story in her own words here


Ned Kelly;  the Kerry connection

The notorious Australian/ Irish criminal, Ned Kelly was in the news recently as his remains were finally interred in his family grave.
Jer looked up and found a contemporary newspaper account of this highway man's antics.

"NED Kelly and his gang killed Constable Michael Kennedy and Constable Michael Scanlon in October 1878
Newspaper reports,
Writing about the police.

The breeches of some of them were so much injured with wet and wear that they tore into rags as they were pulled off. It is to be hoped that the Government will deal somewhat liberally with the police employed in searching for the Kellys, and not cut them down to the new regulation allowance of 1s. 6d. a day. Should a constable be out for more than eight hours during the day he is allowed, as above, 1s. 6d.―the price of three-quarters of one meal; and if out for a night also, he is allowed 3s. 6d. more, of which 2s. go to pay for a bed, and 1s. 6d. for tea or breakfast. This is very chilling encouragement for the police under ordinary circumstances; on special occasions, doubtless, some special provision will be made. The allowance granted to an officer is 7s. a day―a sum which compels him to exercise the strictest economy on the roadside, and carefully abstain from extra refreshments. Small as his allowance is―a commercial traveller would raise his eyebrows at the amount―yet it would nearly cover the authorised expenses of five constables.

No details have yet reached Benalla to enable us to determine whether the Kellys are still near the Murray, or have turned back to Greta. The ranges haunted by the Kellys are prolonged beyond the North-Eastern line. One obstacle they would meet with if they turned back immediately is the flooded state of the Ovens, which they would hardly be able to cross on horseback with safety between Bright and Wangaratta, or even lower down.
On Sunday Father Scanlan, at the Roman Catholic Church, called upon all right-minded people to help the police and maintain the authority of the law. He said that numerous friends had condoled with him on account of the death of Constable Scanlan, whom they had heard was his cousin. There was no relationship between them, but the manner in which the deceased trooper had conducted himself in the district would have made him (Father Scanlan) proud to call him a kinsman. The reverend gentleman is bestirring himself about the erection of a monument in the Mansfield Cemetery.

Born, John L Scanlon at Ballylongford, Lisselton in Jan. 1847, Ordained at All Hallows  1871, died 8th January 1880

Until 1874 the entire colony of Victoria was under the care of the arch diocese of Melbourne.   The suffragen Dioceses of Ballarat and Sandhurst came into being. Sandhurst was then served by seven priests and the four parishes forming the new diocese were Bendigo, Echuca, Wangaratta and Beechworth. In 1876, two years later, the parishes of Chiltern, Benalla and Nagambie were established.

1855 - From Beechworth, a potential Federal Capital, Fr Patrick Smyth came to Benalla to build its first Church/School in 1855. The 1st mass offered in Benalla was on the site of what was later to become the “Liverpool Arms” hotel

1858 – St Joseph’s School established.

1866 – First St Joseph’s church built.

1876 - Benalla remained under the guidance of Wangaratta until 1876 when Fr John Scanlon, the assistant priest of Beechworth, became the 1st pastor with headquarters in Benalla. His health deteriorated and at an early age of 33, he died in January 1880. Our Lady’s altar in St Joseph’s was erected in his memory."

Scanlon is a name we often meet in North Kerry.  Maybe Fr. Scanlon still has relatives living here.


Both of these photos were taken in the same location, Limerick Railway Station. It looks very much the same today, except of course for the soldiers and horse drawn carriages.


Bye, Bye Now

This is one of the loveliest (and saddest) films I have seen in a long time.

This is a little gem of a  film about the demise of the public phone box, with poignant footage of some older people talking about the role of the phone box in their lives.

The film prompted me to go out and photograph what was left in the way of public phone booths in Listowel. I'd welcome anyone's reminiscences of using public phones in these parts. I know some people have interesting stories to  tell.

2 phone booth in The Square

William St.


There used to be one in O'Connell's Ave., in Ballygologue Park, in Main Street and one inside and one outside the post office. All of these are gone now.

Do you know that the minimum charge for a call from a public phone box is now €2. It increased 100% this month. The rate per minute has also doubled so a five minute chat on a public phone in Ireland will cost you €5.

Since Ireland has one of the highest instances of mobile phone ownership, this new price hike ensures that public phones will be used even less than at present.

"But the 1,051,947 calls made in 2012 is small compared to 5,929,791 calls in 2007. There were 2,287 pay phones at the end of 2012 compared to 5,523 payphones six years ago."

These are Eircom figures. I think there might be a few phone boxes from other providers in large areas of population.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Charity shopping, Abbeyfeale walk and hacking

On this day Jan 30

in 1972 British paratroopers killed 13 people on a civil rights march in Derry.


Great pictures if windsurfers on the internet these days as an Atlantic storm hits the west coast.


I Love Charity Shops

Here are Listowel's charity shops

You never know what treasures you might find in one of these. The secret is to be patient and call often. Since most things cost only a few euros, there is nearly always something worthwhile to bring home.

The people who work in charity shops are invariably the nicest shop assistants you will encounter anywhere. I have witnessed them putting up with verbal abuse, haggling and downright rudeness and they still smile through and forgive. Don't get me wrong. This is not the norm and charity shop customers are usually a friendly lot who like to chat and reminisce as they rummage for a bargain.

My favourite of these local treasure chests is "Second Time Round".

On Thursday last it did not disappoint. There among the books from a house clearance I found this.

Who do you think was volunteering in the shop only Sr. Consolata?

Sr. Consolata was the principal of Pres. Secondary School in 1988 and she kindly posed for me with the precious souvenir.

All her friends in the St. Vincent de Paul shop gathered round her for the trip down memory lane.

When I got home I spent a happy couple of hours reading my treasure. I will bring you a few snippets over the next few days.

This is the back cover with a clever drawing by Kathy O'Rourke.  I wonder where she is now?



On a frosty evening fifty years ago the last regular passenger train wended its way through West Limerick and North Kerry as it made its final journey from Limerick to Tralee. All along the route people came out to bid farewell. It was Saturday 2nd February 1963.

Coincidentally in 2013 the 2nd of February also falls on a Saturday and to commemorate the last train a walk will set out from Abbeyfeale Station along the Great Southern Trail(GST) at 2.15pm this Saturday. The route to Duagh Village is approximately four miles long and as portion of the route is on the public road all participants are advised to wear visibility vests.

Refreshments will be provided at Jim's Bar, Duagh and return transport to Abbeyfeale will be provided. Those travelling from the Tralee/Listowel direction may consider the 1pm CIÉ bus from Tralee(1.30pm from Listowel) to Abbeyfeale; there is a return CIÉ service to Listowel/Tralee at 4.45pm directly from Duagh.

Beidh fáilte romhat ar an lá! With Lá Fhéile Bríde welcoming springtime on the previous day it's a good opportunity to take advantage of the lengthening days by getting out and about.

The old railway from Abbeyfeale to the Co. Kerry border is now a magnificent cycleway thanks to the recent works by Limerick Co Co and their contractors and funded by the Department of Transport. A preliminary inspection of the first 2km in Co. Kerry by GST and CIÉ personnel took place last week. Due to the difficult overgrown terrain which was encountered this portion of Saturday's route is only suited to those with Wellingtons, gloves, eye protection and working clothing. All other participants should exit onto the public road at the County Boundary.   


Kian Egan and his mother in the green room at RTE before his appearance on The Late Late Show and his fake fight with Bressie.


If you want to make your own St. Bridget's cross for Feb Jer has made a helpful video to show you how


The ruined Cloth Hall in Ypres January 1916.....Let us never forget these killing fields.


Cyber Crime ___Be Warned

Earlier this week I fell victim to a hacker. I'm going to share what I have learned with you in the hope of stopping this kind of sneaky crime.

It began for me with  a direct message on Twitter but it can be an email. The message said "I have a lovely photo of you. Click on the link below to view it." Like a fool, I clicked.
The next message said " You have been timed out of Twitter, log in again to see this page.."
Like a fool, I logged in again.  And, just like that, I gave my username and password to the hacker.

To cut a long story short, people in my contacts folder started getting messages from my account asking them to click on links to lose weight, win iPads or view what nasty things people were saying about them on line.

Worse was to come. I got an email from Paypal saying 3 unsuccessful login attempts had been made to my account. By now I had already changed my Twitter and my gmail password. The email invited me to follow certain "security" steps to protect my account or Paypal would deactivate my account within 24 hours.

Luckily, I had a different password on my Paypal account from day one. I now had my sensible head on and I recognized the Paypal email as the work of the hacker even though it looked very genuine. Had I followed the link in the email I would have given the hacker access to my Paypal account as well.

Despite my changing my password twice more during  the day the rogue tweets kept coming from my account until, eventually, Jimmy Moloney saved the day.

Confession time: I have too much technology. I had an app on my iPhone and my iPad for Twitter and these were still logged in. I had given the hacker permission through these apps to log into to my account and post as me. Jimmy told me how to revoke this permission and the tweets stopped.

Lessons learned

Never ever click on a link in a message , even if the writer is using flattery, curiosity, threats or any kind of emotional blackmail to lure you to click.

Never use the same password in more than one place, particularly Paypal

Be suspicious of every message even if it appears to come from your best friend.

Treat Twitter and Facebook with great caution.

(Footnote; Apologies to everyone who was insulted, annoyed or discommoded in any way during my day in hacking hell. Thanks to Jimmy Moloney, Chloe Walshe, Bobby Cogan and Máire Logue who kept me sane during the crisis.)

Good news from Listowel Cycling

An Post Rás stage 3 starting in NENAGH to finish in LISTOWEL on Tuesday 21st May , leaving Weds. 22nd heading for GLENGARRIFF

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

McKenna's social and Parker's Pub

Ger Greaney came into possession of this great photo from McKenna's social in 1968. Junior Griffin can name everyone and he will in time.

In the meantime I bring you a short history of the social as told to me by Junior. The Kerryman photos and ads were kindly sought out for me by the County Archivist, Michael Lynch.

Back in the 1960s very few young people had cars and an excursion in a bus was a real treat. Junior organized just such a treat for McKenna's staff. They went on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry in August 1961. Unfortunately no photos remain of that great day out.

As Michael O'Neill was thanking Junior for organizing the trip he put it to him that they should have another treat in Winter and he proposed that they organize a Social. For the benefit of my younger followers, a Social was a dinner dance, organized for a group who worked together or who belonged to the same club. They were very popular in the 60s and 70s.

Junior ran with the idea and, beginning in 1962, McKenna's Social became the most sought after ticket in town. You did not have to work in McKenna's to attend and sometimes between 260 and 300 people were there.

The organizing committee brought bands from as far away as Tipperary and spot prizes were sourced from far and near. In fact the spot prizes were often the talk of the town for long after.

Word of this glittering social event reached the national media and Patsy Dyke, social columnist with The Sunday Press was dispatched to cover it one year. I wonder if anyone kept the cutting!

Many a Listowel romance started on the first or second Monday in January at McKenna's Social.

Mrs. McKenna presenting the door prize to Jim Sheahan in 1962. A young Jack McKenna is also in the photo

John Griffin, Richard Kiely, Michael O'Neill, Brendan Daly and J.J. Daly who organised McKenna's Social in 1962


Dame St. Dublin on Saturday last Jan 26 2013. What an ass!


Rathkeale in the 1950s. Gone for a quick one on the way home from the creamery, perhaps.


Danny Healy-Rae's daft and totally unenforceable cure for the loneliness of isolated rural people, which he managed to get through Kerry County Council with the help of three publicans and the son of a publican got way too much publicity for my liking.

Very little publicity is being given to a North Kerry publican who has a way better solution to the problem.
Parker's pub in Kilflynn provide a taxi service to get their customers home safely. All the fun of the school bus and no ridiculous "permits" necessary.

Parker's also have a great website to keep Kilflynn people up to date with what's happening in their area, all from the comfort of your own home.

Now that's a sensible method of combatting the problem of rural isolation. Why is the media giving this no publicity?


R.I.P. Eamon de Buitléar


Jer brings us this piece of football news;

Stephen Stack winner of All-Ireland SFC medals in 1986 and 1997,  will take charge of Austin Stacks in 2013. Stephen  played with and managed Listowel Emmets. Then last year he  managed Bray Emmets. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bryan MacMahon's Clounmacon memories and KnitWits


R.I.P. Garda Adrian Donohoe killed in the line of duty. Unspeakable tragedy: the loss of a lovely young man while guarding Credit Union workers.

Sadly he joins The Garda Roll of Honour


Looks like victory in The Australian Open meant a lot to Victoria Azarenka.


KnitWits News

Our first consignment of caps is on its way to the U.S. to
for distribution to children undergoing chemotherapy.

Visit our KnitWits page to see our knitters at work

This lovely tribute to Clounmacon was written by the late Bryan MacMahon for inclusion in the journal published to celebrate the opening of Clounmacon's new football field.

The Clounmacon of my Mind by Bryan McMahon
I have nothing but the loveliest and liveliest memories of Clounmacon as a community, a fact significantly underlined by the opening of a new Gaelic pitch today.
As a matter of fact, Clounmacon School was the first school I ever attended. I was no more that three years of age when I first entered its classrooms. My mother, God rest her, who had been teaching in Lancashire for almost ten years returned home to marry and take up an appointment as an assistant teacher in Clounmacon-then the only outlying school in Listowel parish.
The school was a new one and spic and span in every particular. The paint on the partitions was bright and shining and the atmosphere was excellent. Even as a child could appreciate that.In the winter of 1912 (that’s how far back my first contact with Clounmacon goes and I have verified the date in an old family diary), a small pony, a trap and harness was bought for my mother. Off she went up Dromin Hill, the pony trotting, the brass glittering and the little silver bells on the harness gaily ringing.I was in the vehicle. I was dressed in a dark blue velvet suit with a lace collar as befitted the son of a schoolmistress!

After we passed Charlie Nolan’s of the Pound-that’s the name of the house opposite the gate of the Sportsfield-and waved to Paddy Evans at the fountain and to Kiely’s just beyond it-I spied something that attracted my full attention. It was a tall woman with a galvanised bucket of water balanced on her head. With a slight inclination of her face she saluted me with dignity.
Our next stop was at the closed railway gates where the thunder of the passage of a passenger train made the pony restive. After a greeting from Hannie Jones (mother of all the O’Connell’s) and a chat with the neighbours, we faced the hill. A stop was made at O’Sulllivan’s to see if berries were appearing on the tall holly tree beside a house. Then there was a word to Old Jack Leahy, a mine of folklore, who witnessed the last duel fought in Listowel square and who, I believe, worked as a clerk in Michael Davitt’s office in Dublin, and a God speed from Margaret O’Riordan (Conway to you) we were now passing Raymond’s. There was a beautiful little well just across the low demesne wall where on our journey home the housekeeper would have a bucket of apples for us.
On the crest of the hill and in a little distance from the road was Kennelly’s. Later I entered the kitchen to find an elderly pair conversing in fluent Irish as capably as one would find in Ballyferriter today.  With Jer, a brother in Bedford, this family comprised the last natural Gaelic speaking family in North Kerry.On the brow of the hill there was a pause to chat with several neighbours. Here it was at a later date that our pride came to grief as I shall explain presently.

Downhill then the pony trotted merrily to reveal houses in Knockane and Clounmacon I came to know as well as my own. After a chat with Son O’Donnell we came to a halt at Murphy’s. There we were royally received, the pony untackled and left there until the afternoon.

“Across the Fields to school” is a fitting title for what I recall as a first impression of the school area. I realise later that girls and boys were making their way cross-country to the school from the Mail Road area. Sometimes they had to walk along the tops of the fences as the dykes, as we call them, were flooded.

The schoolmaster greets me- a fine old timer called Thade O’Flaherty. There are assistant teachers also: memory betrays me at this point as I am not sure whether the assistants were Tom O’Connell, Michael Griffin or Patrick O’ Farrell. But all of those were there in the early days of Clounmacon School.

As I enter the building, and my mother’s hand leaves mine. I am engulfed by the senior girls. They crush me to their bosoms and admire my velvet suit, my lace collar and my little Duke shoes with the buckles. It was my first major encounter with the opposite sex. I wasn’t aware of the full ramifications of their embraces but, young as I was, I knew that something pleasurable was going on. They even fought one another for possession of me. Later, when the cookery classes were over, they bribed me with tarts and queen cakes.

Given into the custody of one of the older boys who was seated beside me, I too demanded a pen and a sheet of paper. I then peeped over his shoulder and cogged from him- this though I had never been taught to write. The teacher was amused when he took up my handiwork. What I had done was to cog faithfully the name and address of the senior boy beside whom I was seated.

Lunchtime came and again the senior boys took charge of me in the playground. The school master stayed inside in the school with the door locked while he ate his luncheon. When he emerged he wiped his face with his handkerchief and seemed in good humour. A trio of my custodians, the bigger lads, hustled me into the open door and right into the empty classroom. One of them knelt on the floor and putting his nose to a tiny pool of dark liquid on the boards looked up and said “Tis porter all right lads”.

Some time later, on spying a similar pool of spilled liquid on the kitchen floor in my own home. I knelt and sniffed it deeply then looked up and said  'Tis porter all right mother”. When I was cross examined on this antic the whole story came out. “ Well, could you beat the Cloubmacon lads?” was my mother’s comment of the affair.

What else do I recall? The girls gathering ceannabhán or bog cotton to stuff pillows, also collecting wild flowers to win a competition in the old Gymnasium Hall at the North Kerry Show in Listowel. I recall too many of the girls coming to my house to seek advice from my mother before they set out for the United States of America.

But most of all I recall the pony under our trap who, taking fright on the crest of Dromin Hill, drove one of the wheels onto the fence and capsized the vechicle. I was dragged out bespattered with mud and blood. My velvet suit was in tatters, I recall being comforted in a neighbours house (Shanahans?) and later sitting shivering with shock in front of Murphy’s big fire where a cup of tea steadied my shaken nerves and the fire dried my sodden clothes

These memories of a school and a gracious community are renewed and reinforced by the opening of a new Gaelic football ground today where thrilling contests will adorn the Ireland of the future.

Above all, my memories focus on a very lovely community, which although the school as a school is gone, the building lives on in sterling service to the people. This pitch and the splendid players Clounmacon of the future will produce, as it has done in the past, will also forge a fine link in the chain of tradition.

DEATH has occurred of Joseph Vincent Buckley age 72, of Massapequa Park, NY and Main Street Moyvane, on January 21st  2013, father of Kelly O'Boyle (Carl), Michael, Sean and Ryan. Also survived by his brother  Fr. Michael and sister Marie.  Joe was a restaurant owner on Long Island for the past 40 years of The Jolly Tinker (Rockville Centre); Katie Daly's (Massapequa) and Molly Malone's (Bay Shore).  Mass for Joe on Friday 25th 2013 at St. Rose of Lima  Church, Massapequa, NY. Interment to follow at Grace Cemetery Massapequa. Joe Buckley was son of Michael Buckley and Nora Shine both of Moyvane Parish, he was predeceased by his parents and siblings, Liam who died in 2009, Fr Denis, Con, John, Donie, Paddy, Ned and Kit.


This atmospheric photo was taken in Serre in 1917, during WW1. It shows troops of The Manchester Brigade heading out to dig trenches.


Our Special Olympics winter games team head off to South Korea. Hope they have a ball!


Au Revoir

Billy Keane's article in Saturday's Irish Independent about his godson, Jonathan Sexton's move to Racing Metro is here.

A lovely read!


Another  Irish short film has won an award at The Sundance Festival

The Summit tells the story of Ger McDonnell

On August 2008, twenty-four climbers from several international expeditions converged on High Camp of K2, the last stop before the summit of the most dangerous mountain on earth. Forty-eight hours later, eleven had been killed or had vanished, making it the worst K2 climbing disaster in history.
At the heart of The Summit lies a mystery about one extraordinary man, Ger McDonnell. By all accounts, he was faced with a heart-breaking dilemma-- at the very limit of his mortal resources, he encountered a disastrous scene and a moral dilemma: three climbers tangled up in ropes and running out of time. In the death zone, above 8,000 metres, the body is literally dying with each passing second. Morality is skewed 180 degrees from the rest of life. When a climber falls or wanders off the trail, the unwritten code of the mountain is to leave them for dead. Had Ger 
McDonnell stuck to the climbers' code, he might still be alive. 


Shoes in Auschwitz

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. 
Every single one of these shoes belonged to someone like you or me.


Some great photographs here of the storm in Ballybunion yesterday. It's dangerous out there! 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Burns Night, Ned Broy and Family Centre Courses

Tonight is Burns Night. If you fancy making your own Haggis, click on the below link


Stephen Stack contacted me about this course. It is just the ticket for all PROs and for anyone who works on a parish magazine or has any reason to deal with the media. The Listowel Family Centre have secured Audrey Galvin, a very experienced journalist to lead the course.


Irish film wins award at U. S. Festival

This is a lovely film about Irish folk furniture. I love the accents of the old people and their natural witty conversational style. This takes me back....!
The film won an award at the Sundance Festival held recently in Utah.


Weeshie Fogarty put up this photo on his Terrace Talk Facebook page. For Weeshie and and all those who loved Paudie O'Sé his death is still an incomprehensible tragedy. I read in one of last weekends' papers that Mick O'Dwyer compared Pudie's loss to the toppling of Mount Brandon... something elemental has gone from the Kerry landscape. May he rest in peace.

Ní imithe uainn atá sé, ach imithe romhainn
(He is not gone from us but gone before us)


I put in this photo of the late Ned Broy on the anniversary of his death. He is a man who has been written out of Irish history and very few have ever even heard of him.

James Scanlon, a keen historian looked him up for us and provided these links which fill in the whole story. Thanks, James.


Bridie Mulvihill of the Listowel Family Resource Centre asked me to bring your attention to the great range of courses the centre is running this term.

January 2013

Courses this term at Listowel Family Resource Centre, Ballygologue, John B. Keane Rd. Listowel.

All the courses on offer are part time courses and therefore will not affect your social welfare payments. With the support of Kerry Education Service this term the centre will offer the following courses......

General Classes
·      Community & Media
·      Personal Development
·      Cookery For Men
·      Cookery Classes (Cooking on a Budget)
·      Parenting Plus 0-6 Years
·      Beginners Computers
·      Beginners Computers Course (Refresher)
·      Stained Glass
·      Basic Digital Media
·      Intermediate Computers

These courses are free to any person in receipt of a social welfare payment or for those who have not completed the leaving cert. There are no age limits. A small number of people who do not meet this criteria can join the course and a fee will apply.

·      Occupational First Aid / Fetac Certified
·      Horticulture
·      Digital Media Fetac Level 3
·      Material Craft Textiles Fetac Level 3

Also Ongoing At The Centre:
·                    Knitting & Crochet Club
·                    Art Club
·                    Learn how to dance – social dancing
·                    Women’s Group – a variety of activities Tuesday Evenings

Listowel Family Resource Centre: 068-23584 or
Bridie Mulvihill, Community Development Co-Ordinator.
Tel: 068-23584/086-8556431
Email:           Web Site:


The snow is all gone now but this fabulous picture of snow on Carrantouhill was tweeted by Newstalk earlier this week.


Another great picture from Healyracing.  Ruby Walsh parts company with his mount yesterday.


Listowel's very own prizewinning jewelry designer and master silversmith made the cover of her local paper.