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! 

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