Photo: Chris Grayson
RTE Mass from St. Mary's Listowel on March 17 2018
The church was filling up nicely as parishioners made their way to St. Mary's.
Continuing Vincent Carmody's tale of Lars Larsson and Dotie Cronin
...........So began my friendship with Dotie, baptised Mary Ellen Cronin in 1901, which lasted until her death in 1992. As I grew older and became more aware of local history, I realised what a font of knowledge she had. Sadly, I realise now how much more valuable our question and answers would have been if they had been recorded or written down. Even though she once told me that she had never travelled outside Kerry, she did however see most of the county, many of these excursions, in the company of her father, following and supporting the Listowel Brass and Reed band and the town’s football team of the day, the Listowel Independents. Dotie also was an avid daily newspaper reader, often recalling national news, the Rising, Civil War, Truce, Treaty, and world events that shaped the world that we know today.
One evening as we sat there, having spoken for some time, she tired and said, ‘off you go now, you know enough’, Just as I was going out the door, she said, ‘Did I tell you about the man from Sweden?’
“Who’s that?’ I said,
I sat down again and she started telling me. ‘My mother died in 1926, afterwards I looked after the house. Some years later, on one Sunday, when my father had gone to a football match, a stranger came to our front door. He was a foreigner, he explained that he had previously contacted my father and arranged for him to put up a memorial gravestone over the resting place of a Swedish man, Lars Larsson, who had died in Listowel in 1929’.
The man had visited the cemetery and was happy with the work that had been carried out, so he wanted to pay the remainder of the bill. He then paid Dotie, also giving her two half crowns for herself. Before leaving, he left an address of a family in Sweden, where he requested Dotie to ask her father to formally write to confirm completion of the job and receipt of the cash. As I was unaware of the grave, Dotie then told me where the stone was to be found, which I visited, out of curiosity.
One fine evening in the mid 1990’s, I had been up at the Sportsfield to see a game, on coming down past the cemetery I went in to visit our family grave. Inside the gate were two heavily laden sport bikes. As I went down the central pathway I was approached by two people, by their style of dress, I guessed that they owned the bikes. They had been looking at the graves. On introducing themselves, they enquired if I was a local, was I familiar with the various graves, or if not, would the local authority have a record of the graves.’ I would have a fairly good knowledge of the place, so out of curiosity, I asked. ‘What particular grave or stone are you looking for?
They were brother and sister, in their early twenties, from Sweden. They explained that when they were young, they had been on vacation at a relatives home in rural Sweden. One wet day, they had taken refuge in the attic of the house. While up there, they came upon an old trunk, opening it, they found old clothes and some old letters. Looking through these they found one which was not in Swedish. Taking it downstairs and showing it, it was explained that it came from Ireland and concerned the burial of a relative who had lived in that house and that had died in that far distant land.
So after all these years, the brother and sister, who had found James Cronin’s letter in the attic trunk, now found themselves back in the town where Cronin, the stonemason, lived, and where their relative, Lars Larsson had died in 1929. I found their story amazing. I said, ‘you are lucky, you have just met the only person that knows the whereabouts of the grave and the history behind it’.