Friday, 27 February 2015

Some recent local photos

Signs of Spring spotted on Market St.

 Seed potatoes

Lawn mowers lined up outside McKenna's


Three local Historians

Snapped on the street on Ash Wednesday 2015, Jer. Kennelly, Denis Carroll and Damien Stack, my fellow keepers of the flame of Listowel memories.


Then and Now

Below are the three most recent locations of Listowel post office in chronological order

Upper William Street is very quiet these days. Getting a parking space to visit the shops here is no bother at all these days.


At Craftshop na Méar

If you would like a novelty tea cosy, these beautiful creations, all hand made, including the rosary beads are available in the craftshop in Church St. Lots of other beautiful things on offer as well.


Parking in Super Valu

These signs have appeared recently. I don't know what the punishment is for exceeding the 2 hours.

There car park was very busy on the day I visited, with big lorries delivering and cars everywhere.

This is a new one on me. Again I don't know what the penalty is for exceeding the time.


Emigrant Girls From Killarney

Thirty five Killarney girls were meant to sail on the Elgin from Plymouth to Adelaide, (Southern Australia) on 31 May 1849.   Finding the identity of these thirty five girls has been a major problem for me, since starting the research on the book The Kerry Girls:  Emigration & the Earl Grey Scheme. 

Thus begins another great essay on the fate of some Kerry girls during The Great Hunger. 
Read Kay Caball's blog post here;

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Clounmacon, a brush dance and times of last mail collection in Listowel

The following is from an old commemorative journal published to celebrate the opening of the GAA sports field in Clounmacon, near Listowel

By Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Arguably the first time I heard of Clounmacon was when they won the North Kerry Senior Football Championship in Tarbert in 1954. Footballers to me in my youth were gods and duly took their place in my youthful pantheon when they were celebrated in Dan Keane’s famous ballad, “Ball, Battle and Bucket”. Football and poetry ..the poetry of football  ..the football of poetry   .. Clounmacon.

The years went by and I qualified as a National Teacher in 1972. I took my first teaching  post in Avoca. Co. Wicklow. Another poetic (and local) connection: Thomas Moore’s famous “meeting of the waters” is in Avoca where the Avonmore and Avenbeg  rivers meet to flow together to the Irish Sea at Arklow, a few miles distant. Thomas Moore’s father, John Moore, is reputed to have hailed from the banks of the Annamoy in Clounbrane, Moyvane, and to have been educated at John Lynn’s hedge school at Trien, Knockanure about 1750. From Avoca I came south to Limerick City in 1974 where I taught for a year in Caherdavin. And, in 1975, the year Dwyer’s Babes won their first All-Ireland, I was appointed assistant teacher in Moyvane N.S.

I duly began to involve myself in the community - training under-age football teams, being a selector for the senior team, becoming chairman of Knockanure Comhaltas, involving myself in local development etc. All that was in the Moyvane/Knockanure parish.

Then one day an invitation came to attend a rehearsal for a John B. Keane one act play(its title now eludes me) to be performed in Clounmacon. We were to meet at Toddy and Maureen O’Sullivan’s and to proceed from there to Clounmacon N.S., the Community Centre for rehearsal. Margery Long was to produce. Having assembled and having been assigned our various roles, we met regularly thereafter for rehearsal.
Jackie Carmody of Listowel had the major role of the tramp in the play - and a very good tramp he made! However, on the eve of the first performance, he fell ill. Consternation. What were we to do? Who would (and could) fill in at such short notice? Liam Hanrahan of Kilbaha, of course. The redoubtable Liam, a seasoned Thespian, agreed at once and, in a Herculean feat of  memorization, had the part off on the night.

One incident from that play sticks in my memory. Liam Hanrahan’s character dies on stage and had to be borne off in great solemnity by my character and another – played by Liam Keane of Gale Bridge, Clounprohus (I’m almost certain). Liam Hanrahan, a fine sturdy specimen, duly ‘died’. The solemn moment of his removal arrived. Tragedy turned to comedy as Liam Keane and I, two scrawny striplings, caught him by the arms and legs and staggered gingerly across the stage barely able to make the wings! Still, the play went down well and I had acquitted myself competently in my first adult stage role.

After that we had many concerts and Irish nights in Clounmacon. I remember them with affection, driving to Clounmacon School, meeting old friends, singing and playing till morning. Those were the days! I cut my teeth as a performer in places like Clounmacon Community Centre. For which I am truly grateful.


Happy Days!

The Brush Dance at a Parents' Dance in Pres. Secondary School, Listowel in the seventies. Innocent fun!


Books Now, Pints then


Our new postal arrangements

You can still post a letter at the old post box outside the old post office.

The collection time for mail posted at the old post office is 4.15p.m.

At the new post office, mail will be collected at 5.30


Thought for the Day

If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care;
Of whom you speak, to whom you speak and how and when and where.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

San Sebastian remembered and snow in Listowel in 2010

Back to Basque

Well, it seems that the world and his mother has been to San Sebastian. Since I wrote about my encounter with the fur clad inhabitants of this fair town, many of my blog followers have contacted me to tell me of their visit to this most beautiful of ancient towns.

I think that many people seem to have combined a trip here with a visit to Lourdes. This  would account for many people with a Listowel connection being familiar with this part of Pays Basque.

I heard a story of a nun and her sister who were propositioned on the beach by two lovely Spanish heart throbs. Explanations in poor French and even poorer Spanish were met with the equivalent of "All the Irish girls pretend they are nuns."

Cathy Dunne set me straight about the housing situation in the region. Apparently, young Spanish people are no longer happy to live in high rise apartments and there is much new building of houses. These houses are very expensive.

The best story of all comes from Kay Caball (Moloney, when she visited San Sebastian).

"It was the first foreign holiday I was ever on - when I was 21 and Anne Crowley came with me.  We were the two biggest country eejits you ever came across.  

We took the plane to Lourdes as there were no package or other hols then.  I suppose Michael Kennelly must have arranged the flight.  We never went next or near the Grotto!  We just stayed the night and took off on a rattly train to San Sebastian.   

We had 'full board' in the hotel and after our evening dinner we were served with a plate of cherries and a bowl of water.  We hadn't a clue what the bowl of water was for but after some discussion we decided it was for spitting the cherry stones into.   So in the most ladylike fashion that we could muster, we took to aiming our cherries from our mouths to the bowl.  There would be a big splash.  The funny thing was that each night more and more waiters seemed to be forming up at the service door to watch the performance.  

I think we must have been back home when we copped on that it was a finger bowl."


Lunchtime in San Sebastian

It was January 25th 2015 when I visited and the weather was what the weather folk call "bracing" but everyone was eating and drinking outdoors.  We patronized the Irish bar. The only thing Irish about it was the name and the fact that they served Guinness and Murphy. Our waiter had never been to Ireland and the owner wasn't Irish either. The prices were a bit Irish though. We had to pay extra to drink outdoors!

When we went into the old town for our grub I was shocked at the sight of so many people happily eating tapas standing at outdoor tables. These really are hardy people. I can understand the need for fur coats.

Because they had an ancient with them, my family sought out an indoor restaurant, (pictured below). Those things hanging from the ceiling are hams. (Does anyone remember yella bacon?)
It was a lovely restaurant with the owners'  three generations of one family conversing with their customers in French, Spanish, Basque and English.


Le chapeau Basque

Most men, especially older men in this region wear a form of beret called le chapeau Basque. They usually wear black for everyday wear and red for festivals.

Basque music involves much drumming and their flute is always played with one hand.


Warehouse to Risin Sun


Snow in town in 2010

Snow in 2010

Sisters at the unveiling of the statue in 2010


Fr. Pat Moore

Fr Pat Moore and Mary Fagan of Horizons.

The whole diocese of Kerry but particularly the parish of Duagh is in shock following the news that their popular parish priest is suffering from a serious illness. Below is a post from Maine Valley blog

Masses will be offered at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Lyreacrompane and at St. Brigid’s Parish Church in Duagh this Tuesday evening, February 24 at 7-30pm for the return to full health of the hugely popular PP Fr. Pat Moore.
Fr. Jack O’Donnell will be the celebrant in Lyre and Fr. Tom McMahon and Fr. Paul Dillon will be the concelebrants in Duagh. The masses are expected to attract huge crowds from all corners of the joint parishes of Duagh and Lyre and well beyond.
The announcement of Fr. Moore’s recent illness has shocked his parishioners and messages of support have been pouring in from all directions for the Asdee native.
In a blog on the site, Fr. Moore wrote the following on Saturday.
“Today I got word of my PET scan appointment in Cork University Hospital next week. I am very aware and held by the Great Wall of support, prayer, good wishes and practical help around me that leaves me wanting for nothing.
The shock of getting the news on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes isn’t stuck into me, thankfully. The place I need to move to is Trust – trust in doctors and their care, and trust in he God who is making his presence felt in a very real way around me.
Aine Ford prayed with me that I may experience Christ’s compassionate gaze in an even more intimate way during these days of uncertainty.”

A small sample of the messages to Fr. Moore from friends and parishioners: 
“Fr. Pat, as we both travel on a journey, a journey full of love compassion and caring, the people we meet on our journey they are angels without wings. They are all interested in us as individuals not as a patient, but the greatest challenge in front of us as our journey moves along is to trust in our Lord. For us to realise that this journey has been planed by him and he alone knows the destination, let our faith in him be our companion on our journey, we need no more,” – Bernard Collins.

“Father Moore to let you know your in our thoughts and prayers. Wishing you all the best and hoping you’ll be back soon. The parish isn’t the same without you.”

“We are in a daze since we learned the news. This has put everything into perspective for us. Please God with all our prayers you will be back to full health in a short time. miss the fun, the jokes, the support and the company, so don’t stay away too long. Thinking of you and talk to you soon please God.”


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

St. John's, Fleadh 1972 and TaeLane Store

St. John’s Listowel   by Nora Relihan

from a book published in 2001 by Radio Kerry.

Signposts to Kerry was a little slot that Nora used to present on Radio Kerry. Here you have only the text. Nora’s eloquent delivery was an integral part of the package.

“St. John’s is a dynamic Theatre and Arts Centre which presides over the old Norman Square of the busy market town of Listowel and its largely agricultural hinterland.

Built in 1819 to a design by Cork architect, James Payne, the gothic style stone building served the local Church of Ireland congregation for many generations. Bryan MacMahon would tell the story of how, on Sunday mornings, before Independence, a platoon of British soldiers billeted on the banks of the River Feale would march up the hill to attend service in St. John’s with a few breaking away to go to mass in St. Mary’s.

While growing up in Duagh, famous playwright, George Fitzmaurice attended service in St. John’s conducted by his father.  And more recently, during its restoration period, Ted Hughes, who was later to become Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth of England read his poetry there.

Now St. John’s is the Mecca for a wide variety of cultural activities in an area already renowned for its writers. New life was breathed into the old grey stone when it was officially opened in 1990, having been restored and refurbished by a voluntary committee. Stained glass windows are complemented by the restful blue furnishings in the auditorium where adaptable seating and lighting provide a flexible space to suit a variety of artistic activities. Local, national and visiting companies from abroad provide theatre in its many forms. Such is their appreciation of the venue that return visits have become almost the norm.

Ever since Listowel recorded and forwarded its condolences to Warrington in Britain after the IRA’s tragic bombing of that city, a Warrington company makes frequent return visits.

St. John’s Youth Theatre has developed along the way and approximately one hundred children benefit from regular teaching in different art forms. The annual summer school is a highlight.

The visual arts find a warm welcome, while music in all its variety can be heard – in fact St. John’s is fast developing a high profile for World Music.

Bíonn ranganna Ghaeilge and dramaí mar ghnathchuid den chlár.

A tourist information outlet is accommodated in the foyer during the summer months.”


Fleadh in Listowel ….the good old days

The below article is from  The Kerrymen, August 28 1972

ALL THE FUN OF THE FLEADH as All-Ireland Fleadh comes of age;

THE TROUBLE-FREE coming of age All-Ireland Fleadh Ceoil ended in Listowel last night with and attack on  the "little cliques of Irish intelligentsia" for always casting aspersions on things native.
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann National Director Labhras O Murchu told crowds packing the north Kerry town for the final sunlit day of the Fleadh which was celebrating 21 years of Comhaltas activity: "The Fleadh is an opportunity for being ourselves "
But he declared: "There are people in Ireland, little cliques who all the time are casting aspersions on things Irish. There always are people—the influential and so called intelligentsia among them—who are forever casting their eyes and thoughts away from the shores of Ireland.
"These are the people who would forget that we had a great culture and tradition of our own which should always be promoted."
Comhaltas president Seamus de Brun said this was a time when the national revival was being more openly and insidiously attacked than ever before. The latest attack on the revival of Irish was the "stupidly outrageous allegation that our children were being retarded by  Above: The Bishop of Kerry, Most Rev. Dr. Casey was an interested spectator as a piper led the parade during the Fleadh Ceoil in  Listowel.

As an organisation Comhaltas did not participate in the debate on the proposal to enter the Common Market. The organisation, however, did take a more practical step to ensure that due prominence would be given to the  importance of safeguarding the national identity in the context of that debate.
Undertakings had been given by the Department that views would be further considered, but regrettably nothing further had been heard  from the Government Department concerned. A great opportunity had been lost to lead a nation-wide crusade to stimulate a renewed interest in the national revival.
Mr. de Brun declared that entry to the Common Market would not necessarily mean that our national identity would be submerged. Its advent, indeed, might well be the stimulant required to allow our people to become truly conscious of this challenge.
Urban Council chairman Mr. John Pierse said the old-time image of the Fleadhanna should be gone forever and he asked other  towns in Ireland to stand up and be counted—because it was the duty of every Irish person to carry the torch into the next generation.


Remember this?

Today it is the very stylish TaeLane Store.