Thursday, 17 August 2017

Visitors, Locals and Dunkirk, a Listowel Connection to the Florida Rose

Ita Hannon took this super shot of Tarbert Lighthouse.


Enduring Love

Couples coming and going in Listowel last week


Aileen Returns as a Visitor

Thirty years ago a recently qualified young teacher made her way to Listowel to take up her new teaching post in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel.

Aileen Hayes did not arrive in town on a bike but when she returned recently and we visited the Lartigue she posed with their bike.

 These volunteers were on duty on the day we visited.

During the four years she lived in Listowel, Aileen took part in several Lartigue Theatre productions. Martin Griffin was a star of these shows. She met him on her return visit in his new role as stationmaster of the Lartigue.

When Aileen arrived in town for the first time in 1987 she was dismayed to find that there was no accommodation to be found. The fleadh cheoil was in full swing and every bed in town was occupied. Aileen and her dad were wandering the streets in despair when they ran into Bryan MacMahon. They told him of their plight. Bryan invited them into his home and he made a few phone calls on their behalf. Bryan found Aileen a bed for the 2 nights until things had quietened down and the fleadh crowds had departed. Aileen never forgot the great man's kindness to her in her hour of need. She got to know The Master better when she came to work and live in town and whenever she ran into him in the street he always stopped for a chat and a catch up. So, on her recent return visit, Aileen was happy to pose for a photo with her first Listowel friend.

We took the tour of the castle with Dianne Nolan.

Aileen was fascinated by the reworked confession boxes in St. Mary's. She hadn't seen anything like this before.

We visited the Garden of Europe.

When she lived in Listowel, Aileen lived in Church St. in a house owned by Pierse Walsh. Pierse invited myself and Aileen for a coffee and a scone in his lovely welcoming Café Hanna and they reminisced about times past and the changes in both their lives in thirty years.


When a whole generation was wiped out...

Dunkirk  .........Despite staggering losses, the airmen clambered aboard their woefully outclassed Fairey Battles and Bristol Blenheims again and again to embark on doomed missions to stem the German advance.
This culminated on May 14 when the RAF launched a series of desperate raids around Sedan to aid their French allies and attempt to destroy key bridges being used by the Germans.
The results were catastrophic.
Of 71 aircraft, 39 were shot down, the worst reversal of its type in the history of the RAF.
Wireless operators Michael Millar, from Dublin, and William Nolan, from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, both died that day in Fairey Battles; wireless operator Patrick Aherne, from Youghal, Co Cork, went down in a Blenheim.
The RAF continued to go out.
Five days after Sedan, pilot officer Jimmy McElligot, from Listowel, Co Kerry, took his Fairey Battle out to bomb targets in the Ardennes.
As he carried out the mission his aircraft was swarmed by no less than six Me109 fighters.
Despite putting up stiff resistance, the result was inevitable.
The battle came down in a wood, and Jimmy died from his injuries.


Sr. Roch Kissane

The Kissanes are gathered this weekend to celebrate their family. This illustrious clan are to the forefront in business and education today. Their ancestors were farmers who, from a farm in North Kerry,  send its offspring far and wide to be leaders of their communities in the U.S. and Australia.

One of these famous offspring was Sr. Roch Kissane.

It was my great privilege to meet Sr. Roch in her later years..a truly extraordinary woman.

This is Sr. Roch with her sister in religious and real life,  Sr. Chrysostom. A huge tragedy that befell Sr. Roch early in her life in her new home, Australia, was the tragic death of her sister. Hannah Kissane was drowned while swimming at a beach near their convent. A local man and his son who were in the water nearby made valient but vain attempts to save her. That man was also drowned. His son kept in touch with the Kissane family and came to visit them years later when on a trip to Ireland.


It was Roses Roses All the Way

On Tuesday last, Aug 15 2017,  I was planning on taking my young visitors to their favourite Kerry visitor attraction, The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

This was no ordinary night at the track as the Roses were to attend. We got to town early and learned, by chance, that the Roses were due at the Rose Hotel at 4.00 p.m. We took a stroll through the park, which was looking resplendent in preparation for the festival, and we called to look at the new mural.

Along the way I told the boys something of the history behind the festival. I told them the two sad stories, of Mary the inspiration for the song and of Dorothy, the 2011 Washington Rose who died so young.

 We headed back to the hotel in good time to get a good viewing point for the entrance of the lovely girls. The Texas delegation had a huge charm offensive going on. They plied us with flags, badges and keyrings. My two young charges were sorely tempted to change allegiance. I had to remind that the Florida Rose was the Rose with the Listowel connection.


The Texas Rose's dad, Mr. O'Lopez himself gave every child a token  and soon he had a crew of local children holding his big banner and waving Texas flags. In the battle of the fans, Texas won hands down.

The Carlow Rose wiped away a tear as she spotted her crew with their massive banner.

There was something unsettlingly military about the uniformed ranks of young men forming a guard of honour as the Roses entered.

The Roses also wore a uniform of red dress and black shoes.

Family and friend cheered and applauded.

Then we spotted her. Our very own Listowel connection, Elizabeth Marince, proud granddaughter of Tom O'Donoghue of Tannavalla, delighted to be back in Kerry doing her Listowel family proud.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Blasket Donkeys and the Current State of Presentation Convent, Listowel and Kissane Clan Gathering

Gymnasts in The Square


Athea Mural Update

Do you remember I told you that the figure that the artist, Jim Dunn had added to his mural was a well known local man. The stethoscope protruding from his pocket now gives the game away, it's Athea's very popular  G.P.


Blasket Donkeys

Chris Grayson took these interesting photos of Blasket Island Donkeys.

The very hairy one looks like a different breed. Or is he just very old and no longer losing his winter coat?
I read somewhere that the island people used to only keep female donkeys. If they had both sexes the males would get frisky and might fall off the cliffs and into the sea so they had to bring the mares to the mainland for the mating pourposes.


Snapped in Listowel

I ran into Tralee people, Seán Lyons and his lovely daughter. Maeve, recently.


Update on the Convent

Whenever I'm in the vicinity, I take the opportunity to document the slow decline into ruin of Presentation Convent, Listowel.

I took these photos on August 1 2017. They speak for themselves.


Kissane Clan Gathering

You've seen the photos, now help them celebrate family.

The planned gathering will open with a gala banquet on Friday evening August 18 2017.
Tickets (€50) are available at Listowel Arms Hotel reception. All Kissane of Kilcox descendants won't want to miss this one. Anyone with an interest in this family is welcome to the banquet.

On Saturday August 19th, proceedings move to The Thatch in Lisselton for the launch of "Descendants of John the Elder", a hard back book including over 90 photographs. This promises to be a great night of family history and reminiscence. The launch will be followed by a night of music and craic with family, friends and neighbours.

A highlight of the weekend will be the Walk and Talk with Eily Walsh. I'm reproducing here Eily's guidelines for those Kissanes planning to attend the walk. This is one for the descendants.

On Saturday Afternoon 19th at 3.p.m. and, again on Sunday Morning 20th August  at 12.30 p.m. The Thatch will also be the Gathering Point for the “Walk and Talk” to be held in Kilcox throughout the weekend. (Weather permitting) We expect tickets for these walks to sell very quickly. There are only 25 places MAX for each walk.  Your name will be held on a Booking list and your ticket may be collected at the Thatch Bar a half hour before the walk starts. The Thatch will be the Gathering Point for the Walk, and we will drive in convoy to the two adjoining Kilcox Farms (Scralom Entrance) where the “Walk and Talk” will start. There will be ample parking for up to 20 cars. Tickets are 10 euro each. The walk is very easy and will last approx. 75 minutes. Suitable footwear or flat shoes are advisable. Please bring a jacket as you will be on exposed ground  - whether the sun shines or not. The walk itself is flat and easy, and suitable for all ages with only a slight incline at the end. There are wonderful panoramic views so be sure and bring the camera! 

Sunday August 20th will see the gathered Kissane clan in Coolahan's of Tarbert at 2.30p.m. for an afternoon of music and "sheer joy".

Family gathered for the gathering weekend will be anxious to visit the Kissane tombs in Killeheny. The two tombs will be marked with an identifying marker for the weekend. Ballybunion church will also be open to visitors.


We are Family

The Kissane family of Kilcox in North Kerry has spread far and wide. There are branches of the family in the U.S. and Australia and representatives of all of this scattered clan are coming home to Kerry this weekend for this great celebration of family.

I was privileged to be in St. John's on Saturday Aug 11 2017 as the exhibition of family photographs to accompany the Kissane Gathering was launched by Eamon OMurchú. Eamon is justly proud of his Kissane ancestors. As a photographer, he knows the importance of family photographs and their role in family history. If you are in Listowel, call in to St. John's to see this important collection of Kissane family history and memorabilia.

The collection was curated by Eily Walsh (here on left of Eamon ÓMurchú). Eily has invested hours and hours of time and effort into collecting the photographs and researching the family history. This weekend gathering and book are all due to her tireless work.

Keelin Kissane of Kerry and Dublin with Barbara Kissane of New York. The ladies are standing in front of a photograph of Barbara's parents on their wedding day.
Barbara's dad, Pats Kissane, was the first president of the New York Kerryman's Association. Keelin is the current chairperson of the Dublin Kerryman's Association.


Our Very Own Disney Princess

I met this lovely Rose in The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium last night. She is Elizabeth Marine, the Florida Rose.

She is mighty proud of her Listowel connection. She feels that her presence here is in honour of her grandfather, Tom O'Donoghue of Tannavalla who left Listowel for Pittsburg with a heart full of hope and a head full of dreams. He made a success of his life in the land of the brave and the home of the free. He never forgot his Kerry roots and he steeped his family in Irish traditions and Irish culture. He loved Irish music, song and dance and above all he was passionate about Gaelic football. He, himself was a handy footballer with the Six Crosses team.

Elizabeth, his granddaughter, is a singer and dancer. I don't know about the Gaelic football. Her cousins look after that tradition. She is in Tralee with her mother and her sister. Her dad had to stay behind in Florida to look after her severely disabled brother.
If you run into The Roses this week, be sure to single out the Florida Rose. Tell her you are from Listowel and she will be delighted to meet you.