Thursday, 28 February 2013

Billy Keane on sports fans, Knitwits and Quilter reunion

Billy Keane occasionally writes an article that I think everyone should read. His piece on February 18 was one such. He was writing about the behavior of rugby fans at the match when we lost to England. I waited patiently for the Independent to put it on their website but no joy.

I got my little typist elf to type some of it for you;

"The back hurt. The laptop picked up some sort of viral disease from a hacker in Honduras.   May his bananas never ripen. The front wasn’t great either: acid reflux, ulcerative colitis and ordinary pre-match nerve indigestion, ad nauseum.  As if I wasn’t suffering enough, Clive, the pirouetting drunk from Barnstaple, peed on me. In short I was like a weasel with PMT.
      I would estimate about one-in-eight of those present behaved as fans should. The good cheered even when their team was playing badly and they had their dinner before they came out.  Let me tell you about the covenant.  You get a ticket for a big game. The deal is you are representing the thousands who would love to be there at the match.

     You are cheering for your friends in Oz and the undocumented Irish in early-morning-pay-per-view bars in New York. You are cheering for the lad who lines the pitch on wet cold mornings and trains the U-14s but cannot afford to go to the game because he is unemployed or on small wages.  You are cheering for the lady in the hospital who never misses a match.

     On game day, love of team must be unconditional. This is not a play, where you clap when there’s a particularly stirring passage acted out brilliantly. In sport you clap even when the players fluff their lines and miss their cue.  It isn’t a supermarket either. When I hear goms of men going on about value for money on whingefest radio, I despair. Say what you will after, but during the game you cheer for your team.

    One man was up and down the steep steps all through the game.  In the middle of the biggest match of the year, he was a lounge boy.  There were many more like him.

    I think back to the days of the singing and cheering. There was an Irish soldier who led his team to glory in a time when our main exports were my friends.  Every one of us left here needed a win so badly.  To affirm we were still a worthwhile people, living in a land worth fighting for.

   “Where’s your f***king pride?” the brave young soldier cried.  From his pounding Galway heart it came.  Raw and honest it was.  And his rallying call showed us what it meant to be Irish, as it was back then and should always be.  We won the Triple Crown that day. “We” being Fitzy’s team and us cracked young lads on the packed terraces.  All of us signatories to the covenant.

    So tell us then, where is your pride?"


The lady standing in this photo with myself and the Knitwits gang is Dee Keogh. She loves us and she thinks we are great. Dee has invited us to be part of the celebration she is planning to mark International Women's Day. It will take place in st. John's Listowel on Masrch 7 and it will feature local women's groups and the work they do.


Calling all Quilters

The Quilter clan are planning a 2013 gathering. Read all about it here;


Beale Landing

From: Tue. 20 Sept. 1927 Northern Territory Times, Darwin
Capt. McIntosh  accompanied by Commandant Fitzmaurice, started from Baldonnal for America at 1.34 p.m. on Friday was forced to land near Ballybunion (Ireland) the same night


Fealegood's video of Listowel's lovely town park is here

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Vincent's book,Knitwits, FCA and roadworks

Remember last week I told you that Vincent Carmody of this parish was related to the two White brothers whose writing is well known on both sides of the Atlantic. Now I bring you Richard White's review. 

"When my mother was a young girl, Listowel was at the far edge of her world. She lived outside the small village of Ballylongford in County Kerry in the west of Ireland. Listowel was only seven miles away, and only in rural Kerry would it seem a grand place, with its cattle fairs, its square and shops. A trip to Listowel meant a journey by donkey and cart, and she went only rarely until her early teens, when she became a servant there. Then she lived for a while in Listowel -- before sailing from Cobh, the port adjacent to Cork, and migrating to the United States in 1936. She was 16. All of that was long ago and far away. My mother now lives in Redwood City, as I do. She has dementia, and she rarely remembers Ireland or much of anything else.
I would like to think that, if she could remember, she would recognize the place Vincent Carmody captures in his wonderful and evocative book "Listowel: Snapshots of an Irish Market Town, 1850-1950."
From my family's perspective, it is ironic that Listowel is the sister city of Los Gatos, adjacent to San Jose. In the earlier 20th century, these places would have seemed distant cousins: both market towns and magnets for people on the farms around them. But now they are far different. The farms are gone from what was once the Valley of Heart's Delight around San Jose, even as they persist around Listowel. San Jose has become the third most populous city in California; Listowel has less than 5,000 people and is still physically much the same place my mother knew.

For me, at least, all that connects the modest Irish town (known for its literary festival) with the sprawl of Silicon Valley is my mother. She was a girl near Listowel when the place filled her with stories, and now she is an old woman living near San Jose bereft of memories and stories.

The beauty of Carmody's book (available at is that he captures both the kind of stories my mother gleaned from Listowel and a far more subtle set of transformations that changed the town. He tells his story through what the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss called bricolage, the art of creating something new out of surviving scraps of the past. This is a book of photographs, notes, bills, invoices, contracts and advertisements knitted together -- street by street, house by house -- so artfully and unobtrusively that you do not so much think the clean Irish prose is giving you an account of the past as that you are actually rummaging through that past and walking down the town's streets. A place that might seem initially foreign to you grows familiar.
On one level, Carmody's account of this Irish market town could be the biography of a dozen Irish towns. The years he covers were tumultuous everywhere in Ireland, and even more so in Kerry. There was revolution, independence, civil war, depression and migration, always migration. But he captures the more constant fabric of the place that endured beneath the tumult.
Anyone interested in Ireland can enjoy this book, but if you actually knew the place, as my mother did, it becomes something more. My cousin Anne met Carmody on the street in Listowel, and she identified her father-in-law in a picture from long ago. And even for me, as much a Yank as my cousins are Irish, this book seems to illustrate stories my mother told: the cattle fairs, the donkeys and carts, the days that once loomed so large in that distant world and here surface again, at once exotic and familiar.
Richard White is the author of "Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories."


Vincent held his second launch of the book in the National Library on Thursday last.

I got this next from John Fitzgerald  who was present on the night:

"The launch last Thursday in the National Library of Vincent Carmody's magnificent book Snapshots of an Irish Market Town will forever be treasured.
 Six old classmates pictured in the photograph of Mrs. Scanlon's class exchanged stories late into that night in Buswells. Vincent had travelled all the way from the Boro; whilst Johnny Guerin tripped in from the Rebel county. The City of the Tribes delivered Tony Barrett (up to then in one piece). The two Sullivans, Sean and Teddy flew in from the land of the Gall and by the end of the night I'd say were glad to get back, whilst Cyril Kelly walked over the Liffey appeared from the North Side. In that mix,Tae Lane was always going to be difficult to position geograpically but in sporting parlance, that night I played fairly for the Gleann. 
Attached is my take on what some of those stories evoked.

Tae Lane

I leave the street and wander down the lane.
Rusting sheds recede
and grey stone pierces whitewash.
Memory stirs and like a faint crack
of a ringmaster’s whip
the lane begins to breathe again.
 Atop my father’s shed I see Tommy Sib Sib
coil and uncoil from the ridge rope.
He sweeps swathes of hot tar
over a bubbling roof.
The black liquid tauts and glints of silver show
like a wave set on a sunlit shore.
Under Potter’s shed the nettles sting.
Beneath an elder tree stray stones
crush the red haw and an ancient  
trail of Navaho and Comanche appears.
Above the sycamore a crow calks
and distant sounds from the market
trumpet children wild at play.
Suddenly the lane twists and the river peeps.
Some say it was the greatest show on earth.
Dock leaves mark the fair day
Where farmers full squat on stone slabs,
lording over a gurgling sewer.
On the waterfront a fresh flood bustles.
Spillers vie for space on the narrowing banks.
A young boy wrestles with a twisting hook.
He cuts the curling conger from its clasp.
Above the bridge an old man waits.
After the flood fresh salmon run.
Flotsam gathers beneath my feet
 And now I go back to the street.


If you have a minute to spare read this.


Knitwits crosses the generations. On Saturday in Scribes we had

A grandmother and granddaughter; Patricia and Katie

A grandmother and grandson; Mary and Kiernan


A mother and daughter: Mary and Clíona

Studies have proven that knitting is therapeutic. People suffering from dementia, if they have learned to knit when they were younger, when given needles and a ball of wool will settle to knitting. In Denmark some day care centers feature a knitting circle as part of their therapy. So, do your children a favour. Teach them to knit.


Listowel FCA 1955


The Square last Friday. I'm told the digging up was to lay a broadband cable.


St. Malachy

An interesting read for any superstitious Catholic.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

old photos, Stack clan adoption cert and Social Scientists

 William Street people

 Jer took this great picture of Jack McKenna in 2007

Old Tralee

This cert is available for a €5 donation to 2 local charities. It gives you the right to call yourself a Stack for the duration of the festival.


Jer found this lovely tribute to a nurse and a mother in the Knockdown Notes. Knockdown is a neighboring town in Co. Limerick.


My neighbour, Eileen O’Grady Kilmartin has retired after 44 years nursing in London. Eileen, after doing her Junior Cert in Dore’s School in Glin, started her career doing Nursery Nursing in Temple Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. This was run by the Sisters of Charity but they did not always live up to their name, Eileen laughs. My own memory of this time is that Eileen and her mother Peg wrote to each other by return of post all the time she was there. I used to post the letters when I was going to school. She then went to Hackney Hospital in London – where she had been born! She was the youngest nurse there who ever received Sister status. In Whip’s Cross Hospital she did her midwifery and received her S.C.M. degree in 1976. She then nursed in Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield til last Thursday 14th February. Though she did midwifery for many of her years she also did District Nursing during her career. But though now retired Eileen is not intending to be idle. She is presently at home in Glenbawn to see her parents and intends doing voluntary work when she returns to London.  The following is a tribute to her written by her daughter Orla on the day she retired. “So my Mama retired today; and although I’m so happy for her, I’m also feeling acutely ashamed….. I remember moaning about the indignity of being the last girl collected from school and miserably wandering through Hadley Wood, never understanding when she’d reply “but I don’t have the kind of job I can just leave at a certain time”. I never considered how tired she must have been while working dreaded ‘nights’ and long days on labour ward, just to give me the kind of education I took for granted, for an expensive education means so little when one is an acne-ridden-hormonal-teenage monster. Today, FINALLY, I understand. I know from the student who cried telling me how great my Mum was as a mentor; the Muslim lady, with little knowledge of English, who took FOUR buses just to see my Mum and give her a card and present; the young couple I’d probably have dismissed as being ‘chavs’, who told me that Mum never made them feel like they were ‘wasters’ but would encourage them, telling them they were capable of anything; and the young girl who told me that my Mum sat with her on her bed for hours on her day off, just holding her hand when she was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. So, yes, I finally ‘get it’, I truly do; I understand that my Mum was a credit to her profession, and that I am so undeserving to have her as my Mother. One of her former patients, now a current midwifery student, said that she’d like to be half the midwife my Mum is. Well I’d like to be a quarter of the lady she is. Genuinely, I’m the most blessed girl in the world.” What a lovely tribute by Orla. We wish Eileen many years of happy retirement and many more visits to Glenbawn.


Good job!

The boys school yard is finished and looking very swish now.


Remember last week we had a conferring of diplomas from the 1950s. Below are the 1970s bunch

Social Science Class  Listowel c1970, some of class At UCC for day out. Study was held in The Technical School under Fr Galvin and visiting lecturers. Many of the participants are still active in the community.


Interesting article here about George Sandes of Newtownsandes/Moyvane fame

Monday, 25 February 2013

McCarthy's Cuckoo Clock, O'Connells Avenue and wheelchairs

When Duagh last won the North Kerry Football Championship the captain of the team was one Bill MacCarthy R.I.P.

Bill Murphy

Bill Murphy of Lyreacrompane and New York remembers him and all the McCarthys with great fondness.
Bill writes ;
"I got the words of the song composed by the late John Joe Sheehy about the excitement of the Cuckoo clock that was acquired by Johnny and Agnes McCarthy and hung in the  sitting room off their shop at Glashnacree. People came from near and far to see and hear this rare clock. The shop/home was located half way between our home and Lyreacrompane N.S. on the banks of the Smerla river.

McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock

John Joe Sheehy

If ever you travel along the road from Lyre to Glashnacree
There Johnny McCarthy’s neat abode you cannot fail to see
And if you’ve got some time to spare I advise you to take stock
Of that elegant contraption McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock.

Tis on the wall with weights and chains a swinging cheek to cheek
Tis fashioned of mahogany, oak, sandlewood and teak
The hands are bright with Chinese white, the brass wheels go tick-tock
And a bluebird calls the passing hours in McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock

I invited Patrick Edgeworth up to Roches for a pint
And sure enough I thought at first that he was well inclined
But when we came to Dorans Cross he gave me quite a shock
For he said so long I must go to see McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock

I met with Patrick Buckley in the middle of my rhymes
Says I to Patrick Buckley we’ll talk about old times
The Volunteers the Black and Tans the old Master and his flock
I’m sorry says Pat, I must proceed to view the Cuckoo Clock

You all know Robert Sullivan at the plough he can’t be beat
He was invited up to Dublin with the champions to compete
But Dublin saw no trace of Bob his ploughshare or his sock
He was taken up with staring at McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock

I met with Martin Curran and I said we both aspire
To start a Labour Union in Glanderry or in Lyre
He stood stock still and stared at me I got another shock
When he said I’ve no time for unions now I must see the Cuckoo Clock

Flor Healy said to Jerry Long I’ve a bull to suit you now
Got by a double dairy Charley and a half bred Jersey cow
Come and view this taurine wonder from his horns to his hock
Not me says Jer I must go to view McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock

Oh the Pyramids of Egypt are of great antiquity
And the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a wonderous sight to see
Fair is Manhattans skyline when viewed from Brooklyn dock
But I’d give them all to get one peep at McCarthy’s Cuckoo Clock


A teacher friend asked me to look at this.

I think it is great. Check this out for yourself and click 'like" it if you think it is a good invention. These kids are just 16 and they have worked very hard on their Young Entrepreneur project.
Mol an óige......  ( an old saying ;  Praise youth and it will blossom)


James Scanlon recommends this site to us:


If you grew up in Listowel and would love to have a picture of your birthplace hanging on your wall, John Kelliher is your man. He is mounting his beautiful photographs of town in all different formats.

Why not contact him here
to see what he can do for you. He does weddings, birthdays and occasions as well.


This an early self propelled wheelchair in 1955

Last week we had a bit of a wheelchair problem in this house  and it necessitated a trip to our friends in the CRC seating clinic in Limerick. Wheelchairs have come a long way since 1955. They are now  sophisticated pieces of machinery. People are no longer "confined" to  wheelchairs. They are liberated by them.
My photo shows my heroes, my husband Jim with Eoin and Daniel, occupational therapists at CRC Limerick who, yet again saved the day and restored everything to working order.


Leo Varadkar officially opened the Great Southern Trail on Saturday

Our intrepid reporter, Jer Kennelly was there and he sent us these photos

Liz. Brosnan was there with her camera and she snapped a Kerry contingent