Friday, 29 January 2016

Cork City Library,North Kerry Camera launch

My girls love Books

This library in Bishopstown Cork is one of their favourite places.

When I accompanied them there last week I saw this beautiful display connecting books to their origins in the forest.

Bishopstown Library is a beautiful space…..and it's free.


At the Launch of North Kerry Camera

Four men who have added greatly to the canon of Listowel literature. Sadly, Vincent Carmody on the far right is the only one still with us.

Pictured with Vincent at the launch of his first book of historic Listowel photographs are Fr. Kieran O'Shea, Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane, ar dheis Dé go raibh a nanamnacha go léir.


My First Sighting of an Election Poster

Thursday, 28 January 2016

O'Connell's Ave. Neighbours revisited and a raffle in 1929

Kanturk's T.J. MacSweeney is out early in 2016 continuing  taking his great wildlife photos. Here he is up close and personal with a rabbit.


O'Connell's Ave Neighbours Remembered

Maria Sham has been having a think since she sent this photo and here are her memories of some of these lovely people and where they went after this photo was taken.

"A little added history to the O'Connell's Ave photos. 

Tadhg and Mary Murphy came from Brosna. They lived in the house next door to my home in Clieveragh when I was a teenager.(where the Grimes family lived after that). They had four girls: Bridie, Kitty, Mary (known as Babe) and Eileen. They moved to O'Connell's Ave in the late 50"s. Somewhere in the sixties, they moved to England. Mary spent some time in Alberta, Canada but I believe moved back to England. Bridie married a Mulvihill man from Tarbert and passed away a few years ago. Don't have an update on the others.

Molly Coppinger was married and living in England. After her husband died she moved to NY and was a housekeeper for a very prominent English movie producer/director called John Hayman (not sure of the spelling) for many years. I remember visiting there for dinner on 5th Ave in that luxurious apartment. She met all of Hollywood in that capacity. Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman,
Richard Harris etc.

Jackie Hurley was in some way related to my father. I believe it was through the Reidy family since my grandmother was a Mary Reidy.
Just a little additional background on those whom I remember."

Thank you Maria. Your old photos have brought back happy memories to so many people. 

Again can I make my appeal. If  anyone else has old photos or stories, will you please share them. They mean very much to a very scattered Listowel diaspora.


And now for something completely different

These "penguins' are, in fact, hot air balloons based in Trim. Co. Meath. You can read about their amorous flying adventures Here


Another Prize Wireless

Liam OHainnín's story of the radio his father won in a fundraising raffle reminded Vincent Carmody that he had this old raffle ticket.
The raffle in question was held as part of the annual garden fete that used to be held in the grounds of Gurtenard House. Canon Adderley would have been the vicar in 1929 and the fete was held in the garden of his residence.
First prize was a radio. These would have been common in well off houses at the time. 
The second prize is most intriguing. I was reminded of the people we often encounter at The Races raffling a goat or a calf for some cause. You'd be afraid to buy a ticket in case you won. Vincent assures me that lots of people had poultry in their backyards in those days and would have been delighted with a hen and chickens.
I suppose the box of chocolates were "handsome" in so far as they had a nice picture on the top. At home we often kept chocolate boxes for years. They were sturdy and pretty and were used for sewing notions etc.

"Winners will be notified by letter" Evidence of a much slower age.


Calling Tarbert People

A very exciting an important job is being undertaken by Tarbert Development association. They are compiling a cultural directory. Take a minute to read the following bulletin and  help if you can.

Tarbert Development Association would like to thank everyone who came to the public meeting about the Digital Marketing platform last Saturday evening and are pleased to announce that the initiative has taken great steps forward with the addition of volunteers in key areas of the project.
The project has many sections but the first to get underway is our local "Cultural Directory". We are an area steeped in culture, with local families having over the years produced an abundance of performers and indeed champions in traditional and contemporary music, dance, song, poetry and storytelling. We would very much like to gather any recordings that exist of these performances into an online directory of our cultural history that allows us to preserve it for future generations.
Already in the last few days we have had audio and video recordings submitted from poets and traditional musicians and we would like to build on this collection greatly.
We are asking families in the area to submit any recordings they have (as either audio or video) to this project so we can preserve them in this collection. We can accept any cassette tapes, cd's, Reel-to-reel tapes, VCR video tapes or dvd's. (Indeed, if anybody is interested in making a recording - playing an instrument, singing or spoken word - we have the capability to do so also.) We know that tucked away in the drawers and presses, sheds and attics of the community there is a treasure trove of valuable recordings from days gone by.
All items will be signed in, bagged, converted into a useable format by our team, and signed back to you again when returning them. The items will not leave the community as all the conversion of the material into digital formats is being done by our local volunteers, and we will endeavour to return these materials to you in a timely manner once we receive and process them. We will also accept any collections of old photographs pertaining to past events in the area to be included in the historical galleries of our site.

If you know of anyone that might be interested in contributing and would likely not see this facebook post then please do tell them of what is happening and ask them to be involved.
There are four methods by which you can contribute materials.
  1. There is a meeting at 3pm (not 6pm as previously indicated) this Sunday 31st January in the Bridewell where we can accept materials or schedule a recording session for sometime in the next couple of weeks.
  2. If you can't make it to the meeting then Michelle Woods has established a drop-off point for the collection and return of materials at Tarbert Post Office, where they will also be bagged and signed in.
  3.  If you are competent with computers and have files in a digital format we will send you a dropbox link to upload them to. Please email for details.
  4.  Alternatively ring Niall Fitzgerald 087 7847181 and he will be glad to arrange a pickup of the materials or answer any questions as to the process.
This will end up being a significant resource for both ourselves and future generations of people in the area.
We would like to thank you for your help in advance.
Tarbert Development Association.

Awesome talent

Kelly St. John has just finished her latest crochet project, a really amazing throw.

After she had sewn in all the ends, Kelly had lots of colorful little scraps of yarn left. She will put them outdoors in a container for the birds to pick up for their nests.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ballybunion, Malones of Church St., Ivy Soap and Listowel Drama Group's latest venture

photo: Ballybunion Prints


All Washed Out

I never thought when I raised this subject that it would enthuse so many of my blog friends. Nicky Leonard found this old Sunlight advertisement;

Don't you love the "bachelor" hand washing his smalls, with his pipe in his mouth and wearing his good clothes. I think the implied message is that men only wash their own clothes when there is no woman to do it. They roll up the sleeves and tackle the washing while all the time maintaining their manly image by smoking and wearing a collar and tie.

More recent advertising maintained this image of women as the experts in the laundry field. These ads often featured a clipboard wielding man begging women to let him in on their laundry secret

Look what I found in my attic!

My name is Mary and I am a hoarder.


Malone's Car Hire

Maria Sham send me this photo of a family outing to Killarney. She remembered that the driver was a man employed by Malone's of Church St.

Jim MacMahon, who is holidaying in Australia, spotted the photo and it brought back memories of Malone's hackney business and the drivers he remembers from his time living next door to Malones in Church St.

Jim writes, "The driver in the picture is either Micky Barry or Jimmy Lyons but unless my memory fails me its Micky….'


Charles St., Listowel January 20 2016

The calm before the storm. In a few weeks you won't be able to see these poles for election posters. I'll keep you posted.


Listowel Drama Group are off to the Drama Competitions

I received  the following from Cora O'Brien


After an interval of 36 years Listowel Drama Group returns to the festival circuit with their acclaim production of “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward.

Listowel Drama Group now in its 72nd year has a proud tradition of participating at festivals since it was founded.  In the late 1940’s it was a regular visitor to the Kerry and Lord Cork Drama festivals despite a less then auspicious start in which one adjudicator advised the ladies and gentlemen of Listowel Dramatic Movement would be better advised if they would engage in a more productive way of passing the long Winter evening and suggested that they take up the art of “knitting”.  Fortunately this advice went unheeded and the Drama Group went on to achieve all Ireland success in both one act and three act competitions with such plays as “The Magic Glasses” and “Sive”.

However the group has not been seen at a festival since 1976 when they presented “The Couple Beggar” by Frank Moriarty produced by the late great Bill Kearney. 

The group are eagerly looking forward to the new challenge and both cast and stage crew are confident that they will acquit themselves with distinction and do Listowel proud.

Blithe Spirit is directed by Owen Mc Mahon and  Imelda Dowling. Imelda also takes a leading role.  She has been the driving force behind this bold move and states “we are anxious to find out where we are in terms of standards of acting and production and we are prepared for any praise or criticism from the various adjudicators as we feel it can only be for the good of the group and the development and raising of theatrical standards”.

The play will have a pre-festival run at St. Johns Theatre from Thursday the 11th of February to Saturday the 14th of February and this is an opportunity not to be missed by the Theatre going patrons of Kerry. 

Thereafter Listowel Drama Group festival dates are as follows :

1.     Knockaderry, County Limerick Friday 4th March 2016.
2.     Scarrif, County Clare Saturday 5th March 2016.
3.     Castleisland, County Kerry 12th March 2016.
4.     Charleville, County Cork 13th March 2016.
5.     Ending in Holy Cross, County Tipperary on Monday 14th of March 2016.

Listowel Drama Group which has thrilled and entertained the audiences in Listowel for over seventy years deserves all the support it gets in its artistic endeavours and to ensure that THE STAGE SHALL NEVER DIE!.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Tidiest Small Town, Convent girls and David Bowie with The Johnstons

Listowel Tidy Towns

At a ceremony in The Listowel Arms on Saturday evening January 17 2016 the regional winners in the Tidy Towns Competition 2015 were presented with their prizes. Listowel was proud to accept the accolade for the regions tidiest small town.


Words of Wisdom from Vincent Carmody

The holy well photograph, sometimes I think for the benefit of good photographs, many of the old tourist board, John Hinde ? etc, photographs were staged. As regards the colourful shawls, my view is that travelers sisterhood, due,  to the nature of their travels around the four corners, would have possessed some of these exotic technicolor dream coats!!, a more upmarket name for a shawl.

 I barely remember my mother, I think, on one occasion wearing a black shawl, It may have been around the time of her mother's death, 1950, It might have been something to do at her funeral. A neighbour across the street, Tessie Buckley, a sister of the cook's, I remember wearing a black shawl going back to early Convent Mass.  Then it was 7.00 am on Sunday7.30 am on weekdays.

 I served inside the altar at the convent, around '56/57.   Following family tradition, my dad and his two brothers in the early 1900s and my brother Moss in the 1940s, .served as altar boys there as well. When I was there, a man from down the street, where Jumbo's is now, Ned Gleeson ( he was a stepbrother of Lar Buckley, father of the cook ) and his wife Annie, who was blind, used attend Mass every morning, come hail or shine. 

Years later, when I started to become interested in local history, I found out that this man, Ned Gleeson, gave the address of welcome on behalf of the Town Commissioners to Charles Parnell before he spoke in the Square. That was on Sunday 13th September 1891. So in a way, as someone who held a paten under Ned Gleeson's chin, I was in a way attached to Parnell's spirit !!!.

 I have often thought that people don't open their mouths often enough and ask questions. Imagine me at that time having an interest in history and being in a position to ask questions, "Now tell me, Ned, what did you say to him?
 Did you ask him how he thought he would do in the next election?  
Do you think marrying a divorced woman will effect you reelection chances? 
How do you see Ireland 100 years down the road?

Some years ago, I was fortunate to have been able to do an adult education course at the Community College. During this, as part of the local history module we were invited to write about something of historical importance which happened locally. 

I choose Parnell and his visit.   For that I was able to use Fr. Gaughan's book as reference, also there is an eyewitness account of his visit given by Maurice Browne. This is in one of The Shannonside Annuals. I also have an unpublished diary (written on the day)  which gives an eyewitness account of his visit, the size of the crowd, reception, welcome and hostile. 

The two accounts are totally different, an account of something written 70 years after it happened is, I think, often written from the personal viewpoint of the writer. This is why I also am sceptical of some (not all)  of the War of Independence witness statements which were written 35 years after it happened. I have read one in particular and you would swear that you were reading about Robin Hood. Not alone did the man write about facts, figures, time and place, but mentions specific times of day and night, I think he may have mentioned the make of one of his brother's bikes.

I sometimes have trouble in trying to recall what I watched on the TV the night before. 


Back in the Schoolyard

This is Maria Sham's old photo. These are the names she remembers;
 Doreen Stack, Joan Slemon, Siobhan Loughnane, Bernie Hurley, Joan Dillon, Zeta Hickey. Beta Mahoney, Frances Horgan, Greta Walsh

Does anyone else recognize themselves or someone they know?


Paul Brady shared this

1970. Nobody believes me but it's true. He was solo on a 12 string and sang Space Oddity to muted disinterested applause. We followed and sang The Curragh Of Kildare and The Traveling People.


John B. Keane and Listowel Emmetts

John B, besides being a great Listowel man was an ultimate Emmetts man. Whenever called on, without question would put his shoulder to the wheel and a lot more as some could testify. Here is a copy of a letter which he drafted in response to a request from Stephen Stack, (Chairman of the Frank Sheehy Park Development Committee) in support of the fundraising.


Billy Keane's Tribute to Kieran Gleeson Irish Independent Jan 25 2016

Kieran Gleeson's eyes lit up as he explained the background to the film he was showing, and you could see he was excited - excited about sharing all he knew with his audience there in his three-screen cinema in a small country town.
There was always an introduction before his cinema club films on a Thursday night. This was his night, the night when he got to choose the films he loved. Kieran spoke as all the knowledgeable do - in simple, easy-to-understand language.
Kieran has been in love with the cinema ever since he stood up on the piled-high metal boxes that were used for storing magic reels. There, he was the spellbound kid looking out through the porthole in the projectionist's room with his dad and grandad in their country cinema in Cappamore, County Limerick. Afterwards, he would be full of excitement and full of talk.
Kieran 'the man' is still 'the boy' in the projection room. Often, we would be kept on after the crowd had gone home for a discussion about the movie he was showing. He knew his stuff, did Kieran. There was no showing off, just teaching and sharing. The soft, gentle but passionate voice, hoarse from too much talk, is gone for good now.
Kieran's life is a silent movie. He breathes with the help of a machine. Our small town hero's chest rises and falls with every breath. It's as if he's a marathon runner at the end of a gruelling race. Kieran Gleeson - who rescued, owns and loves our local cinema here in Listowel - has advanced Motor Neurone Disease.
But he's still communicating. Kieran writes a little, but only with great effort. He sends text messages, nods in agreement or moves his eyes towards something he wants you to read.
Kieran writes '29' on a sheet of paper and hands it to his wife, Teresa. Did you ever notice it when two people feel and read each other's thoughts? They seem to instinctively know what the other person is thinking. The bond has to be strong, but there's more than just tuning in. The two must share the dream.
The 29 refers to January 29, 1987 - the day the cinema in Listowel reopened under Kieran's management.
The cinema had been closed for two years. Kieran was driving by one day with his mother and he noticed a 'For Sale' sign up over The Astor Cinema. There and then, he made up his mind to buy the rat-infested wreck. A local businessman told Kieran he was "absolutely mad" - and maybe he was. Small town cinemas were going the way of small shops. There are only a few independent cinemas left in Ireland. The prophesy of failure made Kieran all the more determined to succeed. He worked day and night and, bit by bit, the cinema began to pay for itself. His mother helped out every Sunday when the cinema was at it's busiest.
Kieran opened three screens and he had the best of films showing at the same time as the big cities. He was one of the first to embrace digitalisation and encouraged Jimmy Deenihan, the then Arts Minister, to provide grant assistance to a number of cinemas.
Hard-up parents were given deals. Kids who didn't have enough money were never refused. Kieran often declined the big money-making movies if he felt they were bad. He never overcharged for tickets, sweets or popcorn. Director Ger Barrett - who is now about to release his third movie, 'Brain on Fire', later this year - was allowed in for free. Ger premiered his last movie, 'Glassland', in Listowel - and the night was turned into a tribute to his mentor and friend. Actor Jack Reynor came along and Kieran was so buzzed up that the illness was put into remission for a night. It was like the football coach who sees the player he trained as a kid step o collect an All-Ireland medal.
I was only three, but I remember being brought to The Astor for 'Summer Holiday' by Bernie Buckley - who was babysitting me then, and still does. Dad and I cried when Davy Crockett died at the Alamo. It was here I had the first lip-kiss in the back seat.
Sometimes, when our kids were young, we'd be there at the pictures and, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kieran standing in the aisle at the back, taking it all in. He was enjoying the kids enjoying the picture show. The light flickered over his smiling face and, if ever there was man who was happy at work, well, it was him. There and then, and always. After all, he gave up his studies in accountancy to help run the family cinema in Cappaghmore when his dad died suddenly from a heart attack.
There have been tough times and, last year, thousands of euro were stolen from the safe by heartless thieves. Teresa is trying to get to grips with the details of running a cinema, but she's learning fast. Best of all, she and Kieran are determined to keep the cinema going. "Our staff have been so good to us," she says.
Kieran had been checking out the possibility of live streaming concerts and sporting events. He had big plans.
The kids come in from school and Kieran gets a smile out. Teresa, I know, struggles to come to terms with how it is that such a decent man suffers so much. She is loyal to him as a full-time carer on a break from her job in the civil service, and loyal to his vision for the family-run cinema. Such is the practicality of true love and mutual respect.
Teresa sent me a link to a Radio Kerry interview with John Herlihy, where Kieran speaks of his love of the sounds of the old cinema projection room with the 35mm reels. "We treasure that now," she says. "It's all we have of his voice."
He shuffles in his wheelchair to attract my attention. He shows me the screen on his phone. This week, Kieran is showing 'The Revenant' and 'Creed', as well as kids' movies. Still promoting his cinema as he fights for every movement. There is such a powerful, undefeated will within him. As I leave, I kiss my friend gently on the head and thank him for all he has done for all of us.

Irish Independent

Kieran is a lovely kind man. His screen 3 is the only one which is wheelchair accessible. Kieran offered to show any film which normally was showing in One or Two  in Screen 3 on a Monday night, just to suit Jim Cogan. All we had to do was ask.

It was an offer we never took him up on but we greatly appreciated the kind gesture.