Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hoarders, Mike Aylmer R.I.P. and a cigarette card

Congratulations Boys!

Moyvane brothers, Aaron and Sean Slemon who came 15th and 1st in The World Irish Dancing Championships in Boston.


We are not done with St. Patrick's Day yet!!

John McGrath
Johnny Cronin dancing school

Johnny Cronin

John Stack

Mary Moylan


People who hoard photos and old newspapers, magazines and programmes are to be treasured. These people are an invaluable help to me in compiling the blog.  My newest collaborator is Tom  O'Connor of the well known local Mike the Pie family.  Recently Tom brought me 2 old GAA commemorative programmes and a copy of The North Kerry Chronicle. 

The North Kerry Chronicle was a free newspaper before The Advertiser was heard of. Tom had kept the paper from June 1966 because in it there was a tribute to his old friend, Mike Aylmer. Customers of McGuire's will remember Mike as he was pharmacist  there for years and he was a valued member of Listowel Tennis Club.

 His friend, Gerard Leahy wrote this obituary. If you knew Mike, take a minute to read it and remember a "character" who is gone but not forgotten.

Tribute to a nice man
 from The North Kerry Chronicle 1996
(Gerard Leahy)

The death of Mike Alymer on May 12 1996 was an irreplaceable loss for the town of Listowel and an occasion of shattering sadness for his many friends and admirers.

Mike was born in Castledermot, Co, Kildare, a village nestling in lush Kildare pastureland, enriched by the River barrow. His father was editor of The Carlow Nationalist and his mother was headmistress of Castledermot National School, next door to the family home. He was the eldest of two sisters and four brothers, all of whom went on to achieve distinction in the medical and legal professions. Mike went to Rockwell College and although his initial passion was architecture, because of the cost and length of this course at the time he decided to study Pharmacy. He qualified with distinction and set up a successful in Carlow Town. The death of Mike’s wife, Frances prompted him to move on. He came to McGuire’s Pharmacy and stayed her until his death.

Mike was a man of tremendous intellect, combined with personal sensitivity and humility. He had a unique ability to size people and situations and to transform these observations into a witty analysis, which he would quietly confide with his friends over a pint. He was not opinionated or particularly well informed on current affairs but he had a view on most aspects and situations in life based on his own acute observations down through the years. Above all he loved to spice his observations with a quotation or a good yarn gleaned from his own experiences. He was a renowned wit and the nicknames he invented for local and national characters combined a roguish sense of fun with a penetrating sense of observation.

After forsaking his practice in Carlow he lived life on his own terms and discarded material goods. He lived humbly, his only prized possessions, his tennis racquet, his classical music tapes and his 2 budgies. He had little time for religion and nothing was guaranteed to irritate him more than the clickety clack of high heels going down Church Street to mass on a Sunday morning. He was amused at the changeover to Saturday night mass, describing it as “going to mass today for tomorrow.” He expressed is personal philosophy on life as “Life is like a blossoming flower which eventually withers and dies.’ He lived his own life accordingly.  He was mildly suspicious of women of whom he used to say, in a deliberate misquote from Macbeth, “She looketh like the innocent flower but she the serpent under it.” At the same time he had great admiration for many of those females he met through tennis and through his work. He would not tolerate the company of fools but he was incapable of insulting anyone, preferring to quietly avoid their company. He needed neither people nor distractions and h spent his life in Listowel at work, having a few pints in O’Connor’s Bar, walking in the park or playing tennis in the town courts and placing the odd cross double on a Saturday afternoon. To my knowledge he never progressed beyond McKenna’s Corner in either direction in his 17 years in Listowel.

Mike’s great passions and consolations were tennis and classical music. I first met him through an arranged tennis match in 1979 and we remained firm friends since. He loved tennis, particularly men’s doubles, and nothing would give him greater satisfaction than to send a winner past a beaten opponent. He would invariably turn and describe the shot as “one from the bottom drawer”. He helped to revitalize Listowel Tennis Clun in the 1980's and was its chairman for two years. During one of these years the club held a fancy dress social. Mike arrived, dressed impeccably in uniform as Adolf Hitler. After the meal he stood up to give the club chairman’s annual address. For 10 minutes he recited in strident and vociferous German a prepared Hitlerite speech and then he sat down without a word of English or any comment whatsoever on the previous tennis season.  He brought the house down and the affectionate applause was thunderous.

Mike’s friends transcended all class boundaries. He had friends from all walks of life who will miss him dearly. He loved good sunny weather and he always said that the best time of year was the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May when the effervescence of life was at its most potent.

He fell ill during this period in 1996, died on May 12 and was buried on a beautiful day in Castledermot on May 14th. On the way back to Listowel, I went through the nearby village of Moone. I pictured Mike on a tennis court receiving a weak second serve which his legs would not carry him in quickly enough to return properly after which he would describe the serve with sneering disgust to his opponent “like the women’s sodality up in Moone”. Passions may come and go, but friendships are forged through years of trust and can only die with death. Mike’s friends remembered him at his month’s mind mass in the convent chapel on June 12th followed by refreshments in O’Connor’s Bar.


Listowel Garden Centre decorated with flags and daffodils for the national holiday.

Digging up The Square again?


This artefact is a cigarette card with a very strange tale.


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