Monday, 27 February 2017

The Gallant Greenville team, Namir Karim and Blackbirds

Zebra in Fota

Photo by Chris Grayson


There is nothing like a bit of local rivalry to inspire a poet.

The Gallant Greenville Team 

by John B. Keane

Come all ye true born Irishmen
From here to Healy’s Gate
And I’ll sing for you a verse or two
As I my tale relate.
You may speak about Cuchulainn bold
Or the mighty men from Sneem,
But they wouldn’t hold a candle
To that Greenville team.

“Ha-ha!’ says Billeen Sweeney,
“Sure I’ll tackle up my ass
And I’ll put on my brown suit
That I wear goin’ to mass.
I’ll hit the road to Listowel town
By the morning’s airy beam,
And I’ll bring home Berkie’s mutton
For the gallant Greenville team!

“The dry ball won’t suit ’em”,
Said the pundits from the town,
But they pulverized the Ashes
and they mesmerised the Gleann.
Next came the famous Boro,
Their fortunes to redeem,
But they shriveled up like autumn leaves
Before the Greenville team.

“’Twas the white trout that done the trick,”
John L was heard to say.
“We ate them morning, noon and night
In the run-up to the fray.
They hardened up the muscles
And they built up the steam
Until no power on earth could beat
The gallant Greenville team.”


Dear Old Athea

From; Born in West Limerick on Facebook


This is Namir Karim with his friend and work colleague, Brigitta pictured in Scribes of Church St. Listowel

From Iraq to Listowel

(a love story)

There is nothing ordinary about Namir. Just one of the extraordinary things about him, is that he is an Iraqi Christian. Above and beyond that he is a Christian, a living example of Faith Hope and Charity. His latest Christian act is to start a Friendship Club in his restaurant in Ballybunion. Twice a week he  hosts a kind of men’s shed for everyone. He  provides the venue and people can come and sit and talk and just enjoy a bit of company. Everyone is welcome and if people would love to come but have no way of getting there , Namir will do what he can to solve that problem too.

So who is Namir Karim and how did he find his way to North Kerry?

Namir met his wife who was then his girlfriend in Iraq. Namir’s mother was very seriously ill and she was being cared for in a hospital which was run by an Irish organization on behalf of the Iraqi government. Kay Carr was nursing in this hospital and she grew fond of her very ill patient and maybe a little fond of her son as well. Kay advised the Karim family to take their mother home to die. She told Namir that his mother would go straight to heaven. She had done her suffering on earth. Namir remembers that as his mother left the hospital, Kay had tears in her eyes. “ I wondered if the tears were for my mother or for me. Either way it made me feel good.”

Namir contrived an excuse to return to the hospital to see Kay. He said that he was having trouble with some of his mother’s equipment. Kay offered to come to help the family sort it out. Kay took a big risk in visiting an Iraqi home. Fraternising with the local people was forbidden for the staff at the hospital. Kay stayed for dinner at the Karim home that evening . Both she and Namir knew that this was more than good friendship.

When Kay returned from a short visit home to Ireland, Namir asked her out. They began seeing each other in secret and they pledged their love to one another. All students in Iraq at the time had to spend at least two years in the army. Namir was doing his compulsort service in the army. He was in his final years of training to be a civil engineer. A fellow soldier told a superior officer that he had seen Namir with a ‘foreign’ girl.  He got five days in jail for the offence.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait Namir’s national service was extended by a year. Initially Kay and the other Irish citizens were not allowed to leave. Saddam Hussein’s regime was at its height and it was very dangerous to flout any of his laws. Eventually Kay and the others were allowed to leave. She bad a tearful farewell to Namir and they promised they would find a way to be together once the war was over.

When the Gulf war started in January 1990 all communication with Baghdad was stopped. Namir wanted no part of the war and he devised a plan to escape active service. There was a rule that if a soldier donated blood, he was given a week off. During this week, Namir escaped with his family to a Christian area in northern Iraq. Due to a very happy coincidence, his disappearance went unnoticed as the office building based in Baghdad was bombed and destroyed and all records of who should or should not have been present were destroyed.

When the war ended, Namir returned to the city and gave a Red Cross worker he met a letter to get to Kay, who he knew would be worried sick about him. Namir began to plot his escape. He planned to get over the border into Jordan and if Kay still wanted him he would sell up what he had in Iraq and fly to her.

Easier said than done. Iraq did not want skilled engineers leaving at a time when it was trying to rebuild the country after the devastations of war. Kay still loved him but getting to her proved very tricky and involved a lot of lying. Love found a way and Namir and Kay were reunited at Dublin airport on November 5 1992, a day before Kay’s birthday. They married in a registry office when Namir’s visitor’s visa ran out. They had their proper church wedding in Kerry in June 1992 with lots of music, dancing and celebration.

Namir lost no time in assimilating into the Kerry community in which he now lived. He built on the skills he had learned from his mother who was a great cook and crafter. Namir started work in his brother’s restaurant, The Captain’s Table. Since leaving there he has gone on to own his own restaurants and  shops. Nowadays in 2017 Namir has two restaurants, Scribes in Listowel and Namirs in Ballybunion. He also has Craftshop na Méar in Listowel.  Namir has played badminton with the Listowel club and soccer with Lisselton Rovers.

Namir and Kay have two lovely adult children, Roza and Peter. Roza is named after Namir’s beloved mother who was the Cupid who brought Namir and Kay together.

Namir and Roza

More tomorrow


 Blackbirds singing in the Garden of Europe


Mea Culpa

Totally my fault that the link to this great video didn't work previously.  I have now made the video public. I am grateful to  Charlie Nolan for alerting me to the problem.

This short video was shot by Jimmy Hickey and digitised by Charlie Nolan. It shows some local people walking and skating on the frozen river. Charlie has accompanied the track with the heavenly voice of Joan Mulvihill, who is far too young to remember the frozen river, singing My Silver River Feale.  It's well worth a watch. Sorry again for messing it up the first time.

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