Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Hay and Tae in Bromore, NewcastleWest and Halloween comes early

Met at the match

My friends, Breda and Bridget met this legendary Kerryman, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh on their way to Croke Park on Sunday.


Annual Hay and Tae at Bromore

Bagpipers and other musicians were never part of the work in the meadow in my day. Mike Flahive's annual hay saving festival is something to behold.

Its Hannon's pictures tell the story.

A fine meitheal did a great job indeed.


Newcastlewest 1976


And now NCW today


And Boo to You Too

It's only August. The children are only just back from  their SUMMER holidays.


Gene Wilder R.I.P.

The Legendary Gene Wilder who has died this week, seen at the Grave Diggers pub, Glasnevin in 1970. R.I.P (Photos of Dublin on Twitter)


Then and Now

Monday, 29 August 2016

Listowel Connections

This Made my Day

I receive a good few messages from grateful blog followers. I do love a word of thanks every now and again. In terms of words of thanks, Eileen Herman, formerly of Brosna, went the extra mile and An Post deserves thanks as well. Who needs eircodes?


One I missed while I was ill

John Carpenter came and went while I was indisposed but he sent me a few photos of his visit. John's Listowel ancestral home is in Upper William Street where his cousin still lives.

John's late mother, Mary Elizabeth was born a Moore in New York City to William Moore of Port Henry, NY and Johanna Buckley of Listowel.  Johanna was the daughter of Laurence "Lar" Buckley and Ellen Kearney.  Johanna and William Moore had 4 children, William, Mary, George and Regina.  Only George and Regina remain.  Both Johanna and William died relatively young and both had passed by the end of 1940.  Mary Elizabeth was predeceased in 2001 by her beloved daughter Mary.

John with his Irish relatives at The Horseshoe

Taking a dip with his family in the icy waters at Ballybunion

Bill Keane gave him a lesson on how to pull a pint.


Some things change, some stay the same


Back Lane opposite the offices of the Revenue Commissioners

Now Tan.N.Go


Ballyduff felt a bit neglected in 1899

Kerry Evening Post , Wednesday, June 21, 1899
Mr Flavin asked the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether he was aware that a petition largely signed by residents in the Ballyduff postal district of the County of Kerry was presented to the Postmaster-General praying for a Sunday delivery of letters, a money order office, and either telegraphic or telephone facilities; and would he explain why, seeing that all the surrounding villages are in the enjoyment of those benefits, the application of the memorialists of the Ballyduff district had been so long delayed from getting equal facilities in post office affairs?
Mr Hanbury—A petition we have received early last year asking for a Sunday delivery of letters and a money order office, but there is no trace of any application for the establishment of telegraphic or telephonic facilities. A money order office was established at Ballyduff under guarantee a year ago, but a Sunday post could not be sanctioned, because the existing service on week days was found to be remunerative, and additional expense for affording a Sunday service is therefore not warranted.

Friday, 26 August 2016

TV Licences, Console

He's Come a Long Way

 Pat Shortt is in the centre of this RTE photo. That was back in the day when he was part of the hugely successful D'Unbelievables. Now Shortt has  become known as a serious actor. His latest venture is Gerard Barrett's Smalltown. Apropos of that, a little birdie tells me that Miriam O'Callaghan might have a few guests we will all know on Saturday night.

This contraption was supposed to detect if you had a TV so that the TV licence inspector could call and frighten the life out of you if you didn't have a licence


They Haven't Gone Away, You Know

 Spotted this week in Ballincollig


Question in Parliament 1899

From this exchange in parliament in June 1899 it would appear that the idea of Muckross as a National Park was mooted well before the Bourne Vincent bequest 

Mr Lough asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether £90,600 had been realised by the sale of Quit and Crown rents in Ireland between the years 1891 and 1897, and since 1864 nearly a quarter of a million had been obtained from this source; and whether these monies were being used for the purchase of estates in Great Britain; if so whether the Government would be prepared to appropriate a portion of this Irish fund, which is being withdraw from Ireland at the rate of about £2,000 a year for the purchase of the Muckross demesne at Killarney as a national park ?
Mr A J Balfour—The statement of figures is, I believe, quite accurate, but I do not think this can be made a question a between the expenditure of Imperial money in Ireland and expenditure of Imperial money in England. None of the money which has come from the sources referred to has been expended in England upon parks outside the metropolitan area. The policy of purchasing public parks so far from great centres of population, and which would not be of great value to the public during many winter months, seems very doubtful, indeed.
Mr MacNeill-Is the right hon gentleman aware  that a good deal of this money has been expended in connection with the Royal palaces ?
Mr Balfour—I was not aware of that. It may be so, but I have made no inquiries on that point.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

William St., Olive Stack's visiting artists and a visitor from Chicago

Artists at the Olive Stack Gallery

Here are the two artists, Jen and Diane who are currently in residence in Olive Stack's. They look a bit frozen in their own photo taken on one of their many tours of Kerry. Damien Stack has given them the lowdown on the history of Listowel and North Kerry.

They are giving classes and doing some painting as well. ~You can read all about their adventures in Jen's blog or  Here on the blog of the residents. 
Here is a sample from Leaving Cert results night last week which they spent in John B.'s

"We ended a very productive day with our favorite pub theater at John B Keane's.  It is the anniversary of Mary Keane's passing, but the show went on, "shop face" for everyone.  Mickey MacConnell played a song new to us, "The Leaving."  Here in Listowel, young men and women receive results of exams today which will determine their futures, many of them leaving to pursue higher education or apprenticeships. Today, my son moves into his dormitory at the University of Florida, and Mickey's song had me in tears from the first line.

But there were many lighthearted moments as well, including a gregarious Australian whose accent was lovely but a bit confusing amidst all the brogue, a muralist from New York who was enjoying her first taste of Guinness, and a fantastic performance from "The Field" in which the actor, playing the bishop, had Diane and I nearly confessing to a fictional murder.

I've rambled on a bit in this blog today.  But let me leave you with this:  we've been to pub theater time and again, sometimes to hear the same bits and songs.  And with each telling, the stories get better, the jokes are funnier and the songs more moving.  Because we are changing - becoming a part of the landscape, a part of the story, and because we now know (almost) all the words.  This place has changed me, and I am so grateful."


Then and Now


Reproofing underway here

L and M Dry Cleaners on William St.

What was Elegance on Lower William Street.


Brigid fell in love with the place of her Kerry ancestors

Before I fell ill, I had had a lovely communication from Brigid Braden from Chicago. Brigid was coming to Kerry to connect with her Irish roots and she was spending a half day in Listowel, researching her Maher line.
Because she is a lovely lady and she appreciates what I do, she invited me to lunch with herself and her family in Allos. I was delighted to accept her invitation and I was looking forward to my treat.

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley". Burns never said a truer word. On the day of the proposed meeting and lunch I was laid low in a Cork hospital......BUT.......Brigid didn't forget me. Here is an extract from her recent email;

"I wanted to share with you what a tremendous trip we had to Ireland.  I have fallen head over heals in love with Listowel.  I am without a doubt that this is where my ancestors are from when I arrived we all found such love for the town and its people.  We were welcomed with open arms to the farm where the Mahers from 1825 were found farming in the Tithe Applotment books.  The most wonderful lunch at Allos and attended beautiful mass at St. Mary's. The kids just loved the Seanchai museum and Castle.  Our only sadness was missing you that day and I did think of you often while I was there.  It was thanks to you that I felt familiar and comfortable in Listowel. It is such a blessing to be able to get that from you. Listowel Connection really works!  Before I left the town, I was planning my return.  It was just a few short hours.  And I can't wait to come spend days and truly soak the town into my soul. 

I've attached a picture of my little family, Mike my Husband, Myself Brigid and two of our children, Michael James and Mary.  We are missing my 3yr old JJ. But I promise he will be back with us soon.  And I promise we will be taking you to lunch, celebrating your good health and Listowel!   All my best wishes and thanks to you.  Cheers, Brigid


"Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand
Or the sound of a voice that is still."

Michael Guerin Listowel Races 1991

The link above will take you to Michael Guerin's lovely memories of Races 1991 captured on film and remastered by Michael himself. You will want to watch it a few times to identify all the well known local faces, so many of them gone from our streets. R.I.P.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Church St., Poverty in Kerry in 1898 and The Manly Barber on Charles Street

Church St. Listowel Sunday August 14 2016


Now and Then



When Times were Hard

Kerry Sentinel  Wednesday, February 16, 1898
Speaking on the distress in Kerry on Friday night, Mr. Flavin said he did not desire to needlessly prolong the debate, but at the same time he might say that he had little hope of obtaining anything like generous treatment or anything in the nature of a remedy from the Chief Secretary (hear, hear). 
He had made complaints before about the condition of the poor people, and he received no response from the Chief Secretary. He appealed to the right hon. gentleman last year at a time when most of the labouring population in the Listowel Union were in want of work, but nothing came of it. They were told to fall back upon the union for relief. But the fact was that the poor rates now in the Listowel Union were as much as 15s. in the pound, and the ratepayers could not bear any additional burden. 
Unless the Government stepped in to prevent it, there would be great distress in Kerry. There were no seed potatoes and no seed oats, and what seed there was in Kerry and Munster had come from the North of Ireland and from Scotland. So long as the Chief Secretary preferred the statements of his own inspectors to even those of the landlords in Kerry, and the representatives of the people, there was little hope of anything of a beneficial character being done for the people of the poorer districts (hear, hear)

I Met him on William St.

Pat Walsh favours pedal power. Pat was cycling before it became a fashionable means of transport.


Manctuary is now The Manly Barber

This shop has pinned its colours to the mast. In case there was any doubt; It is now clearly men only.


Strange Things in the Sea off Kerry this year

First it was jellyfish, now this is reported in Afloat Magazine

A miniature unmanned sailing boat has been reported off the Kerry coast after nearly three years in the North Atlantic.
The boat, named West, is part of the Educational Passages project by the Middle School of Westbrook in Maine, USA and is one of five boats the Sebago School Alliance sent out in the autumn and winter of 2013-14.

West was launched off Georges Bank along with one other boat by Bro Cote, a lobsterman out of Hyannis, Massachusetts. Several others were launched about the same time off the Mid-East coast of the United States and off the Canary Islands for the marine science project.

“We had hoped the boat would make the complete circle of the Atlantic Ocean. It has and then some,” say the project organsiers about West, which has been spotted 32 nautical miles from the Kerry coastline.

West could arrive in the Kerry area over the next few days or, depending upon weather conditions, may go further northwards towards the Galway coast.

Previously West made landfall in November 2014 when it crashed on rocks in rough seas off Portugal, where it was recovered by local authorities and repaired with the help of local companies and relaunched from Lisbon in June last year.
Four months later, it was recovered entering the Mediterranean, refurbished again and put on a cargo ship to Madeira and relaunched from there on 28 January this year.

The project co-ordinators have asked for assistance to help rescue the boat when it arrives in the coming days
“It would be great if the boat could be recovered at sea or shortly after landing to avoid damage."


Coming Soon to a small screen in your living room

Gerard Barrett's Smalltown promises to be one of those close to the bone series. It will be the rural equivalent of Love Hate, holding the mirror up to  aspects of today's Ireland we may all recognise.

I heard about Smalltown first from Fr. Pat Moore who wrote about it in his very thought provoking blog. Read it here:  Strength within, Support without


Knockanure Vintage Day 2016

Knockanure Local went to the vintage day and here are his photos

Monday, 22 August 2016

Charles St., gymnastics and a few changes in town

Picture Perfect on Charles Street

Winter or summer, always one of the most picturesque houses in Listowel.


You'd Miss the Olympics

The Olympics is that time every four years when we all become experts on sports we know little or nothing about. My granddaughters are gymnastics mad and Aisling (above) has it as her ambition to represent Ireland in the future. After all, the Olympic dream came true for Gary and Paul O'Donovan.

Just remember, you heard it here first.


Then and Now



This premises has undergone many changes of ownership. Today it is Lizzy's little Kitchen.


Still Going Strong

This is the United Beach Mission. They are a feature of summers in Ballybunion for years. There cheerful, happy clappy presence has brightened up many a dull day on the beach.


Heritage Week 2016...A Highlight

The role of Kerry women in the 1916 Rising
Lecture by Dr. Mary McAuliffe on the role of Kerry Women in the Rising 100 years ago.
Venue: Seanchai Centre, Seanchai Listowel
Cost: Free
Organiser: OPW & Seanchai Centre
Telephone: 0863857201
Booking Required: No
Dates: 23rd August 19:30 PM to 21:00 PM

All Welcome


New stamps to feature some Beautiful Irish Shopfronts

Photo: an Post

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sonny Bill - An update from his new home; August 20 2016

The Road to the Horse of the Year Show

My birth surname is Ahern. In Irish it is Eachtigheirn, from each + tiarna which translates literally as "Lord of the Horse". This family association with horses is definitely manifest in my brother, Pat, and his daughter, my niece, Elizabeth. They are at their happiest in the company of horses.

Elizabeth breakfasting with her beloved horses

They love all animals and there are always some cats and dogs about the place.

Everyone's favourite....Freddy Ahern


The late Rosie

Screech's kitten

But it is horses who are their first and last love.

Elizabeth hunting with the Duhallows.

Whenever I visit home there is often a horse peering over some door, or a farrier, vet or horse physio visiting.

The farrier is a regular visitor. Above he is shoeing Sonny Bill in summer 2014.

 Pat leading a horse to pasture

Another fellow peeps out, curious to see what is going on.

An early picture of Pat, on the left, on horseback

Pat and Elizabeth, under their brand EPA have had some moderate success buying and selling horses. They are a good partnership at training horses in the early stages of their careers in the ring.
Far and away their greatest success so far has come with their show horse, Sonny Bill.

Sonny Bill learning to follow without a lead rein

Getting him used to traffic noise he will encounter on the road

From day one Sonny Bill loved to work and learn new skills.

Elizabeth and Pat bought this horse as a foal from Breda Stud where both his mother and father live. Pat and Elizabeth spotted his potential from an early age and put  a lot of work into him to bring him to a certain stage. He now needed  expert help to get him ready for showing.
Enter Matt and Joanna Jones. 

On one of the wettest days of summer 2015 Sonny Bill, ridden by Joanna Jones, began his showing career at The Kingdom County Fair in Tralee. He didn't win on his first day out but it was to be the only day showing in 2015 when he didn't come home with a rosette.

Due to ill health, Joanna couldn't ride him for the rest of 2015.

He formed a new partnership with Felicity Ward.

 Winning in New Castle West

Felicity and Sonny Bill at the RDS

Second in the RDS, Summer 2015

It's 2016 and Joanna is well again. She and Sonny Bill win all round them.

The only stop to his gallop was the Dublin Horse Show, where he had a Michael Conlon moment when the judges overlooked his obvious merits  for a prize.
 By then he was already sold to his new forever home in the U.K.

Now comes the 21st century fairytale part. This is a story of social media and internet dating as Sonny Bill finds a new lady who loves him as much as (or maybe a teensy bit more than) Elizabeth does.
Before Sonny Bill,  EPA had a successful horse, Mr. Riordan, whom they sold to a U.K buyer. He was sold again, this time to Sue Walker. Another avid horse woman, Jane Collins, who has her horses in Walker's yard,  was looking for a horse and Sue put her touch with Elizabeth.  Sue had seen Sonny Bill on the internet and she thought he would be just the one for Jane. .Jane Collins and Elizabeth Ahern became cyber friends on Facebook and there she followed the exploits of Sonny Bill  and all his winning ways. She fell in  love with Sonny Bill and determined to buy him. Nigel, Sue Walker's husband came to Ireland to make sure Sonny was everything he appeared to be on line. The deal was done.

In true internet dating fashion, Jane never met Sonny Bill in the flesh until he was bought and in the U.K. Then it was love at first sight.

Long story short;  Sonny Bill travelled to his new home in the U.K. immediately after the RDS.

On Saturday last, August 20 2016, at Ashbourne Show in Derbyshire, on only his second outing since settling in Britain, Sonny Bill won his class and was declared Standing Hunter Champion of the show. This qualifies him for The Horse of the Year Show in October of this year.

In this competition Sonny Bill will be ridden by Katie Jerram. She is one of Britain's top riders. The picture of her above is from the June issue of Woman and Home illustrating an article about the three riders who ride the queen's horses.

Katie Jerram on Sonny Bill at Ashbourne Show

Everyone in the family is delighted for everyone involved in this success story.
We're all on our way to Birmingham for The Horse of the Year Show 2016 and who knows...........?

My grandniece, Jessica, on Sonny Bill

Horseshoes are thought to bring good luck, aren't they?

(photo credits: Jim MacSweeney, Willie Nunan, Tony Quinlivan, Rebecca Collins, Elizabeth Ahern and myself)