Friday, 10 March 2017

Listowel Boy Scouts, Happy Visits to Athea Remembered and Kissane Candles

Scouts at the Convent

photo: Mike Hannon

I posted this photo last week with the thought that it might have been taken during the big scout jamboree in the 1940s.
Vincent Carmody tells me that it was more likely taken to celebrate the centenary of the the convent in 1944. The bunting would seen to support that.
Anyone know any of the scouts or remember the occasion?


My First Visit to Ireland Winning essay

Irish Central is a website very popular with Irish American people. Recently the site ran a writing competition. The task was to write an account of your first visit to Ireland. The competition was won by Rosemary Griffin and her visit was to her father's family in Athea, Co. Limerick.

Here are the photographs Rosemary sent to Irish Central to accompany her story and below is the winning essay.

My First Trip to Ireland by Rosemary Griffin

These are some of my earliest memories.  The smell of the turf fire, the sound of the stream, the overwhelming warmth and familiarity of people I had never met…  
It was the summer of 1968 and my Irish-born father and Irish-American mother packed up my 6 year-old brother, my two-year old sister and my three-year old self to spend the summer with my Dad’s family in Athea, County Limerick.  He hadn’t been home in seven years, and this was the first time his family would meet us.  My mom changed us into pajamas as we crossed the Atlantic, and I woke up to the most glorious view of Galway Bay.
It is hard now to wrap my head around what a different place the Ireland of 1968 was.  We took our baths in a steel tub by the fire.  We watched my uncle herd cows and milk them by hand.  We took turns riding the donkey in the front yard.  And we ate chicken for the dinner that had laid the eggs we ate for breakfast!
The very first day we arrived my sister bolted out of the car and, as she ran excitedly, fell into the well at the bottom of the stream that ran alongside my father’s home house.  Later we learned that the milk (and other adult beverages!) would be floated in the stream to keep them cold with the lack of indoor electricity.  The day my sister fell into the “refrigerator” is a highlight of family lore to this day.
 Later that first week we went into town to buy the Wellingtons that everyone told us would be necessary to truly enjoy the fields for the summer.  I had seen the big, black rubber boots and was not impressed.  But the moment I laid eyes on that bright blue pair in just my size I was hooked!  My brother and sister and I ran and splashed and jumped and climbed with our cousins for six weeks.  They had to pry those blue wellies off my feet to get me back on the plane to New York.  
But what I remember most is the constant flow of family, friends and neighbors.  I remember the sound of the music and the taste of the Taytos as we all went to the pub on a Sunday afternoon.  I remember my grandmother making fresh bread each and every day.  I remember the burlap bag that my grandfather filled with turf and let me pretend to carry.  And I remember the joy of seeing my father with those he had left.
Sometimes I wonder whether my memories are real or sparked by the small, square, date-stamped photos that were taken to describe our summer to friends and family back home.  I’ve been back 18 times and Ireland today is, of course, a very different place.  I am not one who idealizes the past.  The Irish cousins who taught me to run through the fields are grown-up friends who have all not only been to visit us in New York but also have traveled the globe.  I don’t need the wellies or the turf fire or the cows to remind me.  Although I no longer change into pajamas, I know when I see Galway Bay that the memories are real.  I think I knew then that Ireland was not just a place.  It was – and is - a part of me.


Kissane Candles

We're planning a wedding in our house and let me tell you that Listowel is one of the very best places to do this job. Absolutely everything can be sourced locally, everyone in the business is really professional and helpful and makes the whole experience a joy. I'm absolutely banned from revealing any details before the big day but I can give a sneak peak today at one little trip we took in the pre wedding trail.

We met Joe Kissane in his candle shop in Tarbert. He has met every kind of bride and bridezilla and he is infinitely patient. You can ask him to pull out every candle in the shop and he wouldn't complain. Drawing on  his vast experience in the business,  he was full of helpful suggestions and advice.
I am documenting the whole process in photographs so look out for our experience of Finesse Bridal, Listowel Arms Hotel, St. Mary's, Bailey and Co., MK Beauty, McAuliffe Flowers, Listowel Printing Works and more local people in due course.

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