Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tim Kennelly Dinner in 2002, Neodata Remembered and three humans

My Silver River Feale


Junior Griffin's Memories

This is Junior's father John Griffin. Many people will remember him as a great amateur engineer and the go to person to mend clocks, umbrellas etc.

Kay Caball who grew up as a neighbour of the Griffin family has a vivid memory of him on a fateful day when Bert Griffin got into one of his many childhood scrapes.

" We lived right across the road from the Griffins  in the Bridge Rd before we moved to Gurtinard in 1948 but I knew Bert better as he was the one older than me - Junior must have been a 'big boy' then.   Bert used often joke with me about the time I gave him a ride on my tricycle - a big black one as far as I can remember.   Young fellas didn't wear shoes then and he went off for a cycle round our back yard in his bare feet but got his (big) toe stuck in the chain.  Talk about an emergency - there was no A & E or no Ambulance then.   I can just remember crowds of people in the back yard all giving conflicting advice on how to extricate the toe without success.  Eventually Johnny Griffin (their father ) had to be called away from his job (was it McKennas?) and he had a hacksaw and had to saw the chain off to get Bert released.  Somehow or other then I was blamed - apparently I gave him a push at the wrong moment."


Tim Kennelly Dinner, October 25 2002

Junior let me photograph some of his memorabilia of this great night. In the above photo are Bert GriffinR.I.P., Mary and the late Eamon O'Connor, Vincent and Kathleen Carmody

Junior has kept his menu which was autographed by many of the football greats who attended.

At the front are Mike Nagle of Ballybunion, John Brosnan, Junior and Fr. Kieran O'Shea


Neodata Memories

Neodata is no more.....November 2016

Kathleen Nolan worked in Neodata in the 1970s and 80s. She very kindly agreed to tell us what she could of the history of the place:

"The Neodata office in Listowel operated as a processing centre for the Philip Morris cigarette company in the United States. Coupons were collected from cigarette packets and sent with order forms for different products.  The office in Listowel handled the coupons and processed the orders. The data was sent back to the U.S. and the goods supplied to the customers.

I am not sure when the office opened but I worked there as a typist in 1973 along with a lot of other women.

One room was assigned to typists and the other was the mail room.

I worked in Neodata again in the 1980s as a mail opener and I micro filmed the order forms. Typists were also employed at that time. The big change was that the typewriters had been replaced by computers.

Lorry loads of mail were collected at Shannon in the mornings and brought to Listowel for processing. Neodata also had offices  in Newcastlewest, Kilmallock, Abbeyfeale .

The office in Listowel may have become an eyesore in recent years but we should not forget the huge amount of employment it generated for the town and its environs during those years and as a consequence generated a lot of money for the many women, married and single who worked there. There were some men employed there but not many. This earned it the nickname “The Henhouse”.  Wags earned there were largely spent in town and it was a great loss to a lot of people, workers and shops. It was a very busy place and friendships were formed there that endure to this day."


Some Humans

Jimmy Deenihan, Daisy Foley and John Mulvihill in Listowel Community Centre for BOI Listowel's Enterprise event on Nov. 26 2016


Mystery Solved.....Violá! A beautiful new Seat

The sculptor is Darren Enright.

I photographed the beautiful piece of street furniture, which celebrates Listowel as Ireland's Best Small Town in the Tidy Towns' Competition, from all sides so that you could get a good idea of its size and location.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

1916 Commemorative Garden, Fr. Breen 1931 and some old crockery.

Listowel Bank of Ireland Enterprise Event

Some of the Bank of Ireland staff with a Garda at the community centre on Saturday November 26 2016


Planting the 1916 Commemorative Garden


Refurbishment Work Underway here


A Priest and Soldier in WW11

Kerry Reporter Saturday, June 20, 1931; 

OBITUARY Death and Funeral of Rev. Francis Breen, B.D., C.C., Killorglin.

Clergy and laity throughout the Diocese  of Kerry, and, in particular,
the people of Killarney,  his native town, have learned with very deep
regret of the death of the Rev. Fr. Francis Breen, B.D., C.C.,
Killorglin, following so closely on the death of his lamented brother,
Father Jos Breen, C.C., Kenmare.

Enjoying rugged health from his boyhood, Father Frank Breen excelled
in every form of Gaelic sport. But handball and Gaelic football were
the games he loved best, his prowess in each earning him the respect
of doughty rivals among his Maynooth contemporaries. Even malaria of
the malign type, contracted during his service as Army Chaplain in
Mesopotamia, and beaten off almost miraculously by the prompt action
of an Irish army doctor, seemed to have made little impression on a
wonderfully healthy constitution. Yet it may well be that this fell
disease left some weakness which made him, in spite of his
characteristic grit and determination, an easy prey to the sharp
attack of pneumonia which look him off.

he was born in 1884 at 15, High Street (now O Rahilly Street),
Killarney. Passing through the Presentation Convent and Presentation
Monastery Schools, he entered St. Brendan's Seminary, Killarney, where
he achieved distinction in the Intermediate examinations.

He entered Maynooth College in 1901. for the Diocese of Kerry, and in
1907 was ordained priest in that famous College, at the same time
securing the degree of Bachelor of Divinity. He passed into the
Dunboyne establishment of the College, where, with some other
distinguished Kerry priests, he took part in the fight for "essential
Irish ' in the University. Having finished his Maynooth course, he
offered his services temporarily to Cardinal Bourne. Archbishop of
Westminster, and soon after the Great War began, he was requested to
act as chaplain to a vessel which was engaged to carry five hundred
wounded Australian officers through waters infested with mines and
submarines back to their native, land. This was in 1916 and about the
time he reached Australia, the rebellion of Easter Week had taken
place, and he found himself regarded as an oracle by the Irish in
Australia, who were eager to learn the history and the explanation of
the rising. He was received with special warmth by Archbishop Mannix
of Melbourne, his old President in Maynooth College, and later was
invited to accept a Mission under the Southern Cross. But his recent
experience with the wounded soldiers made him long to serve the Irish
Catholic soldiers in the Great War, and he decided to return and
volunteer for duty as Army Chaplain. His experiences as chaplain
served merely to make him a more rabid Irishman and Catholic. He was
sent Mesopotamia, making the acquaintance of Basra, Bagdad, and the
one time Garden of Eden, now a desert and a swamp. He reached the very
farthest limits of the army's advance, at Samara and Tekrit enduring
many hardships the dreadful temperature being chief and most
intolerable—having many interesting adventures, and not a few
hair-breadth escapes. From Mesopotamia, he passed to the Holy Land,
Syria and Egypt.

When the Armistice came, he gladly returned to Kerry, and gladly
resumed the ecclesiastical garb, laying aside the khaki at the
earliest opportunity. Under Bishops O'Sullivan and O'Brien he served
as Curate in Prior. Beaufort, Glenflesk, Glenbeigh. and Killorglin.
Before going to Westminster he had had a short experience ofmissionary life in Glengarriff and Lixnaw. In 1920, under the British
regime, he took a very active part in setting up the Sinn Fein Courts,
and so as far as in him lay in those troubled times, he helped to put
an end to the use of the revolver for settling private disputes. He
was appointed one of the local magistrates in Beaufort,

( This eminent man seems to have lead a very interesting and well travelled life. In case you missed it I highlighted the reference to Lixnaw as a missionary parish.)


Memories, Memories

These marble eggs resting on an old weighing scales in the window of an antique shop in Church Street reminded me of my mother's nest eggs. These were cheap china egg shaped things that my mother used to put in the nest boxes of the hens to show them where to lay. It was always a great nuisance if hens were 'laying out" in a hedge or a ditch. Hens are a bit thick and they sometimes did not realise that they were in much more danger from the fox or the weasel in the great outdoors than indoors in the hen house. So, to coax them inside these old dirty nest eggs were put in the box. I recently heard of someone using golf balls for this purpose. As I say, hens are a bit thick.

When I was young, every house had this ware. I think we had a willow patterned meat plate just like this one.

We had these too but I dont remember jam coming in them. They had been kept and reused from former times.

We had one of these in green. These enamel bread bins are making a bit of a comeback lately, even though they are not really very practical. No one has that much bread in stock in these days of smaller families.


Humans of Listowel

Anne Dillon, Mary O'Connor and Bridget Maguire at the recent reunion of retired teachers at Presentation Secondary School. Listowel


R.I.P. Sr. Mary Perpetua Hickey

To paraphrase Wordsworth

 She lived unknown and few could know
When Kathy ceased to be.

Kathy was Sr. Mary Perpetua for all of her adult life. She passed away on Saturday morning November 26 2016, aged 97 and with her went the last link with the adults in my childhood. She is the last of the old stock, a  link to a different era.

She grew up, one of twelve children of a very devout hard working family in Millstreet, Co Cork. She entered the Mercy order in the days when a vocation was an honour to receive. She was blindly obedient to the vows she took at her profession and never questioned the wisdom of cruel rules that  kept her apart from her family for years, missing the funerals of both her parents.

Thank God she lived through Vatican 2 and a relaxation of the tough regime. She loved music and dancing and one of the biggest nights of her life was when my brother and his family took her to a Daniel O'Donnell concert in Millstreet. She couldn't steel herself to approach the stage to meet him at the end as she was afraid that she would faint from the excitement. On her Golden Jubilee her friends in the convent organised for Daniel to send her a card. Daniel went one better. He sent the card and he rang her at the convent. She was dumbfounded...literally. She couldn't utter a word.

Kathy Hickey, Sr. Perpetua, was a charismatic character, a humble, innocent soul. She never uttered a bad word about anyone and no-one had a bad word to say about her.
 She was my "Aunty Nun". I'm honoured to have known her.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Trees, Little Lilac Studio and Listowel ESB 1958

Santa Claus is Coming to Town... and I met himself and the Missus

Saturday November 26 in Listowel Community Centre with the Clauses of The Seanchaí


Refurbishment Underway at Listowel Community Centre

The diggers moving in

 The work is going on at the pitches side of the centre. It will include accessible changing rooms and storage space for all the equipment which is currently in unsightly containers. The long term plans include a café and enhanced gym.


Beautiful Trees in Listowel Town Park


Rugby Training

It is heartening to see so many young boys and girls out training on a Saturday Morning.


Little Lilac Studio

If you have children to entertain, be it a birthday party or just children at a loose end, this is the place to take them. The Little Lilac Studio in Listowel's Main Street was where I took my grandchildren during Halloween. They all loved the experience and they created a personalised bowl and plate each. These items of tableware are now in daily use at home in Cork.

We ran into Gabrielle McGrath and friends who were doing a special project. They were making and decorating bowls. Like us they were all loving the studio .


Humans of Listowel

I met Nancy, Mary and Maura in one of my favourite haunts. These ladies are three of the lovely volunteers in the St. Vincent de Paul Second Time Around Shop. It opens on Thursdays and Fridays from 11.00 until 5.00 at Upper William Street.


Listowel ESB staff 1958

This is a combined effort. Jer Kennelly found the Kerryman photo. Vincent Carmody provided the names and the context.

from left, George Brooks, ( Contracts man, afterwards transferred to Dublin) Jerry O O'Keeffe, (Charles Street), Walter Doyle,Greenville and now Meadowlands, Tralee, Clare O Connor, 108 Church Street, Brendan Stack, Ballybunion, Jackie Buckley, 22 Upper William Street

on left, man down from Dublin, on the right, Tony Walsh, Tralee.

The new E.S. B. offices were located at the corner of Church Street and Colbert Street. The refurbished building was originally the home of the Cain family, locally known as,  'Cains of the Bridewell', due to the fact that the house was built on the ground where an earlier Bridewell had stood. One of those Cain's had also been employed as 'a Jail-keeper' .

The window reflection shows the houses across the road, above the archway, Nurse O Donavans, where she had a little private nursing home. Many of the town's children first saw the light of day here. Sadness also darkened the door. when on a summer day in the early nineteen fifties, a young Dublin boy, Gabriel Cummins, nephew of Nurse Donavans, who was spending his summer holidays in Listowel,  was drowned accidentally while swimming with friends in the Corporal's, one of the favoured swimming locations on the river, which was located at the back of where the present Kerry Co-Op is built.

Below the Archway, was the public house, known as the Bon-Ton, home of Eamon Tarrant, This house was once the meeting place of the Young Irelanders.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Talk at the Turnstiles, Part 2, a few emails and some Humans of Writers' Week

Gurtinard Wood, A Perfect place to Run


Old National Bank in Listowel Square

In answer to your question, a language school, I'm told.


The Talk at the Turnstiles...Junior Griffin of Listowel writing about his experience of collecting the admission charge at GAA matches in the70's, 80s and 90's.

This is the concluding part of this article that was published over two weeks in The Irish World in 1999.

For the big matches it always means an early start and the general procedure in Munster is for all the stilesman to meet at designated hotel where mass is celebrated by Munster PRO Fr Seamus Gardiner. This is followed by breakfast. Then it is on to the pitch as soon as possible to wait the call for your assignment.

There is usually good banter between the stilesmen from different counties as they await their call. One of the usual topics would be the comparison of the breakfasts served at the various venues.  Killarneys Park Place has always been one of the favourite locations of Munster stilesmen. On behalf of all the gatemen, may I take the opportunity to thank the O’donoghue family for their hospitality over the years and wish them well in their retirement.

As already mentioned the new type of stile and the all ticket matches have made life easier for the stilesmen but a Cork collegue did have a problem on one of the first nights at Pairc Ui Rinn. All stiles are geared to go one way, but at some sides of the ground you will find a combined enterance/ exit stile.

My friend was at such a stile on the night in question. At the top of the stile there is a leaver to change gear. On pressing that, without realizing it, he moved forward and was caught in the middle. He could go no further and was unable to reach the leaver to change the gear. Panic set in. His companion suddenly realized something was wrong when they heard shouts for help. He was eventually realized but he was in such a state had to spend the night in the South Infirmary hospital. Such are the trials and tribulations of a gateman.

Whilst nobody looks to be thanked or praised for doing a labour of love, it is nice to hear words of appreciation being spoken, and in my time in Munster, I can recall 3 chairmen calling the stilesmen together to thank them for their service. I am glad to report, 2 of these were Kerrymen, the great late Michael O’Connor and the present chairman Sean Kelly. The third man was that genial Tipperary man Michael Frawley. I am served under 2 Munster secretaries, the late Sean McCarthy and the current secretary Donny Nealon.  May I say 2 wonderful gentlemen for whom it has been an honour to work.

Finally, back to the 1977 Munster hurling final and a story about myself.  The late Paddy Horgan and myself had our money handed in and we were told there was a cup of tea available we entered the room and sat at a table that had 5 empty chairs around it. Three gentlemen entered the room and asked could they join us. I said by all means, pointing to the three empty chairs.

The three men in question were Dr Patrick Hillary, they President of Ireland, Mr Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach and Liam O Morchu who was then at the height of his TV fame. Give them their due, they exchanged pleasantries but at the time, I think Paddy and myself were more interested in the goodies being served at the table. But there we were the famous 5!

I was downing the second slice of apple tart when the door opened and a Tipperary official entered. Looking over, he had for our table. I could see the veins bulging in his neck.  “OUT”, “ye have no business in here!”

Wiping the juice of the tart from my lips, I whispered to my friend,  “Paddy” I said “he must mean us. It is hardly the other 3 he was talking to!”

Like the fallen angel cast from paradise,  those the seven steps to the door were like an eternity as I walked them the words of the gospel flashed through my mind : “ he that exalted himself shall be humbled.”

Later we found out there was tea for us but Paddy and myself were directed to the wrong room.

Oh yes! Have you solved who played in Tralee on the day of the Cork v Dublin All-Ireland semi final?

If you remember that was the festival of Kerry Sunday and who played in Tralee- none other than James Last and his world famous orchestra.

So, dear readers, the next time you attend a match spare a thought and a kind word for the man you part your money to- THE MAN BEHIND THE WIRE.


From my Mailbag

All sorts of lovely people email me. Here are just a few examples  I would like to share with our little Listowel Connection community today;

Hello Mary,

I'd like you to know that with your reports, photos, videos, etc. of Listowel, I'm beginning to feel as if I live there, too.  So, I am, now, a resident of Listowel and of Santa Cruz, at the same time.




Ms. Cogan
I am a student of the History of Art and Architecture in Dublin's Trinity College. The subject for my final year dissertation is Irish industrial architecture in the Lemass Era. I was delighted to come across your blog through my online research. I believe that the Jowika (Imperial Stag) factory has now been demolished. Am I right in this regard? It appeared to have been a beautifully designed building and one deserving of appreciation and study.
Is it possible that you might be able to put me in contact with a previous employee of the company who could tell me more about the factory building itself?

Best regards,



Dear Mary,
Just a note to tell you that Billy Keanes new book is available on Amazon USA for all your US readers.I just bought it.

Hope you're keeping well and thanks so much for such an interesting and thoughtful blog. I really enjoy it and it makes a huge and uplifting  difference in my life in NY !
Thank you Mary and you  be well!
Mary (ORourke)NY 
Formerly of 91 Church Street, Listowel.


Humans of Listowel

Catherine Moylan, recently elected vice chairperson of Listowel Writers' Week and Máire Logue, Festival Administrator.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What I'm Reading, Junior Griffin's Reminiscences continued and more Irish dancing photos

 May all our U.S. Friends Have a Great Thanksgiving


Listowel Castle


Humans of Listowel

Bobby Cogan met his old badminton coach, Roly Chute, on the street when he was home for the weekend. He was delighted to hear that Roly is still going strong and still teaching the skills of badminton to North Kerry's youngsters.  Over the years Roly has given thousands of hours coaching tennis and badminton. Listowel owes hm a big debt of gratitude.


What I'm Reading

Hazel Gaynor is an Englishwoman living in Kildare. She writes a great story.  In The Girl from The Savoy she opens our eyes to a world we will never experience, post war London. Her style is easy to read, carefully researched and accessible. I'm enjoying this one.


Junior Griffin's Reminiscences continued

........We didn’t realize then but we ere back in Páirc Uí Caoimh before the year was out. That was for the Cork V. Dublin All Ireland semi final replay.

The days before the match the Dublin press continually queried the wisdom of staging this match in Cork.

That morning Munster officials, the late Tadhgh Crowley and Donny Nealon called the strilesmen together. They requested us to be extra vigilant and to remain on duty until we were officially closed. Munster proved that they could stage the fixture. Everything  went off without a hitch and there were no problems.

Incidently, dear reader, can you rememebee who p;layed in the Austin Stack Park on the same day that Cork and Dublin played that semi final in Páirc Uí Caoimh. Answer anon.

The centenary year of 1984 saw the hurling final played in Thurles, the birthplace of the GAA. I remember getting a bit of a telling off because of that final. I was on duty on the terrace stiles on the town end. The senior final was well on when I was approached by three North Kerry men seeking admission with one ticker. I let them in. That was close to 4.00 p.m. on Sunday, Tadhgh Crowley heard it being conversed on a pub in Tralee on the following Tuesday night. So much for people keeping their mouths shut.

The old type low stiles were much more difficult to manage than the modern ones.The stilesman did have the same control. At rimes in the old low stile you would be startled by a fleeting shadow soaring over the bar of the stile showing Carl Lewis type agility. All you’d hear would be a loud guffaw as the intruder made his way to the safety of being lost in the crowd. The rouses used by people to sek free admissions were many. The common ones would be for a lady possibly with a few children to come in first and pointing back would exclain,”Himself is paying,” “Himself” comes in and you’ve guessed it. He is on his own. He never before saw that woman! I can assure you that, more often than not, if you searched around later you would see the big happy family together.

Also a group of 5 or 6 men would queue up together. The one the rear would be gesticulating wildly and calling “right-right-right”; giving the impression he was paying for the lot. His turn comes- and “I am only paying for myself; I was calling to my friend who went in on the other stile”.

The experienced stilesman will always ask the first person to pay where there is a group. The chancer will generally retort " is it so you don’t trust me boy?”

Some years ago one of my collegues, John, was approached in Limerick by a gentleman who was in a very agitated state. Almost in tears, the poor man told John his pocket had been picked and he had been cleaned out. Being a soft hearted Kerryman, John had pity on the man and let him through.

The following Sunday, John was on duty in Cork, and, low and behold- who came to his stile but the same gentlemen in the same agitated state, John knew he was caught once but not again. Your man was told, not too politely, where to go. I wonder what are the odds of him picking the same stilesman on successive Sundays? No doubt our friend is still performing his Oscar like performance to this day at stiles somewhere throughout the province to this day.

The dreaded stile, is, of course, the student and OAP stile. Look at the queue outside the student stile at any major match and one could only surmise that the students of every university in Ireland must be in attendance. To the genuine student, the student card is like his right hand and he will always have it in his possession. But so often we hear, “ I left it at home”; “I left it in the car” and so forth.

The variation of cards produced would make the mind boggle. The stilesman has seen them all, from meal vochers to petrol vouchers to playing cards. The cards are flashed in front of the stilesman eyes and disappear so fast with a slight of hand dexiterity that would make the great Houdini gasp with amazement.


More Photos from the Eisteddfod

Eileen O'Sullivan has shared a few new photos of Jimmy Hickey's dancers trips to Wales.

These photos were taken in 1999 as the Irish dancers entertained local people in the town square. Here they are dancing a polka set.

 Eileen O'Sullivan did the intricate Celtic design embroidery on her daughter, Michelle's costume. Traditionally the costumes featured  embroidery and crochet lace collars.

Michelle O'Sullivan with  Noreen OConnor

Michelle O'Sullivan and Sarah O'Sullivan in Wales