Friday, 29 June 2018

Lartigue Theatre, Jim Dunn's Mural in The Square and an old play

Listowel Town Square, June 21 2018


Many Hands Make Light Work

Jim and Liz Dunn work well as a team. But I don't think Liz would really claim to be an artist. To illustrate that this was a project in which anyone can have a go Liz took up a brush and coloured in a bit.

From the wife of an artist to the mother of an artist, Helen Moylan chanced her arm at painting in a section. She did a good job too.

In between interruptions/assistance, Jim took the opportunity to advance his project a bit.

 Next up was Seán Comerford. Seán displayed an amazing (to me anyone) aptitude for this kind of thing. He is actually a quite good artist.


Listowel's Millennium Arch in 2018


Friends' Meeting

Summer in Kerry is a great time for meeting up with old friends


From the John Hannon Archive

The late Eleanor Moore and Mark Walsh

Seán Moriarty

The play was in The Lartigue. Seán told me that he remembers a matinee dress rehearsal for children to iron out any glitches in the production. At one stage Seán's character tells Getta Grogan's character that he would like a brandy. As she is pouring the drink, he overhears one child saying to another, "She is giving him whiskey and he asked for brandy."

Seán also remembers Mark Walsh's character is shot. In rehearsal they just made a gunshot noise but in this final dress rehearsal, they had a genuine sound effect and Sean says he saw the fear in Mark's eyes as he feared that the very real looking gun was an actual loaded firearm.

Happy days in the old Lartigue.


Opening Soon

At 53 Church Street


His Dream Job for a Genial Listowel Young Man

Story and picture from Mark Boylan of Racing Post

A familiar voice will greet racegoers in the post-Dessie Scahill commentary era with Jerry Hannon set to become Ireland’s primary racecourse commentator.
Scahill will depart from the commentary box on July 26 following an end to his contract with the Association of Irish Racecourses (Air).
Hannon said: “My dream has become a reality. I’m very grateful to the association for recognising the hard yards and sacrifices made over an 18-year period to get to this point.
“It’s on days like these that my late dad and the late Liam Healy are very much in my thoughts.”
The 37-year-old, who began his commentary career in pony racing in 1999, said of Scahill’s influence: “He’s been an inspiration of mine and I wish him all the best for his retirement.”
Paddy Walsh, chief executive of Air, said of the decision: “The model we have operated off in the past has been with one full-time worker for the association who looks after most of the commentaries and that has historically been Dessie. Jerry has been absorbing that role over the past number of years and he will now take over that function.”
Scahill’s retirement and Hannon’s increased role will lead to opportunities for new faces to join the commentary roster, according to Walsh, with Gary O’Brien expected to feature on the schedule, although plans have yet to be finalised.
Walsh added: “We have a panel of commentators to choose from when we have double meetings, holidays and other events. Peter O’Hehir and Richard Pugh have been members of the panel for a long number of years and they will continue to fulfil roles with us. We hope to be adding another couple of names to that group.

Saturday will mark Scahill’s final commentary of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and the 69-year-old said that although he felt he could have continued on a reduced schedule he had no complaints about the decision.
Walsh said: “I can’t get into the details of arrangements we have with Dessie or any of our other employees but all I can tell you is that arrangements for Dessie’s retirement were all done in full consultation – and agreement – with himself.
“I’d like to wish him all the best on his future as he’s been a great contributor to us for a long time, giving us great service.”

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Stack's Arcade, Writers Week 2018 and New Primary Healthcare Centre for Listowel

Swans at Beale

Photo; Ita Hannon


A Nun's View of Listowel Town Square


A Listowel Shop with a Long Tradition

My great great grandfather, James Stack, born in 1816, had a drapery business where McKenna's shop now stands, on the corner of Market Street and William Street. James died in October of 1873, and his son, my great grandfather Edward J. Stack, bought the shop known as The Arcade on this day, June 15 1898, having rented the premises for some years before buying it. 
The premises was originally a Ladies and Gentlemen's drapery and shoe shop and also had a household linens and lace department. The shop had a staff of about 17 people including Stack family members. 
E.J.Stack died in 1910 leaving his widow Bridget and 9 children. My grandfather, Joseph Stack ran the business with his mother. Bridget Stack died in 1938, and Joseph Stack died in 1946. 
My uncle Niall Stack and my father Stuart Stack took over the running of the business and started to sell furniture. Niall started a furniture manufacturing business and my father ran the shop until his sudden death in 1971 atthe age of 41. My mother Mary with the help of the late John Horgan from Finuge continued to run the business. 
I left St Michael's College in 1972 to start working full time in the shop. Myself, my wife, Joan and my mother, Mary still run the furniture shop. 
In a return to our roots, I opened a bedding and linen department offering quality bed linen to complement our range of fine furniture.
Ten years ago my daughter Jennifer moved in her successful business, Coco Ladies Boutique. We now have 2 businesses in the one premises - Furniture and Interiors and Ladies fashion. 
Jennifer is the 6th generation of a Stack to be in our business and we look forward to serving the people of North Kerry and beyond for many more years to come. "We pride ourselves on our tradition of great, personalized customer service, and in this modern era of internet-shopping, we truly appreciate the support shown to our family-run business. We look forward to the future of shopping in North Kerry"
 On behalf of the Stack Family, we thank you for your much valued support.

Damian Stack.

(Source for photos and text; Stack's, The Arcade )


A Memory of Writers' Week 2018

The lady who writes this blog Kate Katharina came to Writers' Week and this is what she wrote about her experience.

There is something in the air in Listowel. For me, it was the smell of wild garlic and the way the leaves hanging over the River Feale caught the light.
The tiny town located in Ireland’s South-West has a population of under 5000. But it has produced John B Keane, Brendan Kennelly, Bryan MacMahon and a host of other women and men of literary as well as musical note. The writers’ festival was a glorious excuse for a reunion with two schoolfriends.
On the first morning, we took a walking tour. Our guide – a spirited and brilliant man of advanced age (the son, incidentally of the late Bryan MacMahon) – brought us to the Garden of Europe. The grounds, dating back to 1995, feature a monument to John B Keane, as well as Ireland’s only Holocaust memorial.
Gesturing to the impeccably-kept lawns behind him, the guide said: “This used to be a dump. A place you’d come to shoot rats.”
It didn’t matter if it was true or not. It was about the twinkle in his eye and the implication that the town had stayed humble.

The line between fact and fiction is appropriately slippery in Listowel, where the truth lies between the lines. Perhaps this is the reason that so many of the writers who came said it was their favorite literary festival, by far.
Or perhaps they like it so much because it is a place where they are allowed to exalt the ordinary. During a tea party hosted by none other than Colm Tóibín, he described a conversation he had recently overheard between an older person and a staff member in a Vodafone store.
“Now, I don’t want to send texts. But I want to receive them. Now, if I just turn it off, it can’t do anything, can it?  It won’t ring, will it?”  The utter terror of technology, Tóibín said. He wants to put it in a story.
For me, the days in Listowel were characterized not by terror but by awe. There was the surreal moment at a panel discussion when I recognized the shape of Margaret Drabble’s head in front of me. Later she turned around, and the man beside her (my former English teacher, who would be interviewing her later) introduced us. “I taught them very little,” he said, typically self-effacing. “Well you instilled a love of reading if they’re here,” she said, not missing a beat.
I sat beside the extraordinary artist Pauline Bewick during another event. She had a notebook open on her lap, full of striking, colorful sketches. Beside her was her daughter Poppy, herself an artist who, unlike her mother, works slowly and produces work that is startlingly life-like. They were a beautiful pair, gazelle-like, other-worldly and unassuming despite their huge success. I told Pauline about how our English teacher had inspired us to love literature. “You know that leaves me with a lump in my throat,” she said. “It really does.”
Another highlight was the poet Colette Bryce, who – to my shame – I’d never heard of. A Derry-born wordsmith, there was something about the gentle strength with which she read that lured me in. I bought her selected poems and was giddily excited when she looked up after signing it and said in a Northern lilt: “Thanks for coming, Kate.”
Edna O’Brien, of course packed the room out. I couldn’t even see her from where I was sitting. But I could hear her distinctive voice, and felt its warmth. “Enchantment is the novel’s most important quality,” she said. “It’s what matters most.” A literary titan whose work Ireland once banned, she would know.
On our last night, we went to see Forgotten, a one-man show written and sublimely performed by Pat Kinevane. It took place in St Johns, a church on the town’s main square converted into a theatre.
My friend, himself a playwright, was seeing it for the second time. It was an intense, exhausting, brilliant performance. When it was over and we filed out of the church, the sun had gone down and the last of the light stretched across the sky.
I noticed my friend had a certain glow about him; a kind of exaltation was written across his face. “This is what good theatre can do,” he said as we waited for the 11 o’clock bus back to Killarney. “It’s what Edna O’Brien was taking about,” he said. “A piece of art can enchant.”


Primary Health Care Centre planned for Listowel

Valley Healthcare, which is owned by the State-backed Irish Infrastructure Fund (IIF), has acquired two primary healthcare centre sites, in Cork and Kerry, for an undisclosed sum.
The centres in Clonakilty and Listowel brings its portfolio of centres to six. The IIF, which is jointly managed by AMP Capital and Irish Life Investment Managers, established Valley Healthcare last year to invest in primary care centres across Ireland
Clonakilty and Listowel are the first greenfield sites for the fund. Both sites have planning permission and are ready for construction to begin. The sites will be occupied by the Health Service Executive (HSE), GP practices and other health-related services, when operational.
Source: Irish Times

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Moloney's. A Letter from Listowel in 1897, Gurtinard Wood and Art in The Square for Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Baby deer photo by Chris Grayson


Moloney's Garage, Market Street

Moloney's of Listowel had the Ford dealership when many Irish people and particularly Munster people drove a Ford. Ford had an assembly plant in Cork.

Same building today


A Letter from Kerry

This story is brought to us by Deborah Cronin. This is what she wrote;

My great grandfather, John J. Fitzmaurice, was from Listowel.  He was born in 1861 to James Fitzmaurice and Mary Dee.  John J. went to Chicago where he became a police officer and Detective. Eventually John married Deborah McAuliffe of Croughcroneen.   I am attaching a letter from James to son John written in 1897 that I thought you might find interesting.  Also attached are photos of John J. & Deborah.

It tells of a reliance on tillage farming, oats and potato harvest are of concern and there is also that blind faith in God to provide despite the evidence that there are hard times ahead. There seems to be a bit of trouble with a Mrs. Stack but it's not too clear what that is.


Gurtinard Wood

The walk through the woods is leafy and inviting these days.


Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Listowel Visual Arts Week is a great addition to the plethora of festivals now taking place in Listowel. For one week, everywhere we looked there was Art on display. The festival was blessed with glorious sunshine and doubly blessed with generous artists and art collectors who shared their talents and treasures with us.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of Athea based artist, Jim Dunn. He is responsible for the two enviable murals depicting Athea people and Athea life that adorn the village.

During Listowel Visual Arts Week, not only did we get to see Jim's work, we also saw Jim at work. We saw how he does it and we even got an opportunity to "help" him create a masterpiece.

Jim paints with his right hand and in his left he holds a maul stick as an aid to keeping his hand steady.

You may recognise the local amateur artist painting a piece of the artwork.

I took these photos on day one. The painting went on for three days. So I'll bring you more tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

All Night Dance Poster, Pat MacAuliffe, John Lynch and Kathy Greaney

Turf on Stack's Mountain

Photo: Máire Logue


An Old Poster

Violet Dalton posted this poster for an "All Night Dance" on Facebook


Pat MacAulliffe's shop fronts

During Writers' Week and again during Visual Arts Week our attention was drawn to the unique and eccentric legacy of street art that is left behind by our very own Banksy, Pat McAuliffe.

Pat Mac Auliffe was a man with a wide range of knowledge, a smattering of several languages and a bravery  and flamboyance that is unmatched anywhere in Ireland's streets.

Apparently a condition of employing him was that you gave him free rein and you accepted whatever he came up with. This appealed to his mischievous nature and he was not above the odd joke at his employer's expense.

Seán Lynch is an artist whose work is influenced by the shopfronts of Listowel. He led our walking tour on the Friday of Listowel Writers' Week 2018. He has made a detailed study of the work of Pat McAuliffe and he is knowledgeable and entertaining in his account of the streetscapes of our native town.

This detail over a door in The Square is modelled on worm casts.

 McAuliffe sisters learning more about their famous relative.

Listowel Travel is a good example of his craftwork, beautifully painted by the Chutes who are, in my opinion, the very best interpreters of his work.

Marvellous detail, beautifully painted at Listowel Travel.

 Lion's were frequently depicted. This black animal might be a dog.

McAuliffe was wonderfully inventive. The nails in this horseshoe are actually bicycle tail lights. This detail is at Behan's The Horseshoe.

Notice how the cctv camera is cleverly incorporated into the shopfront without taking from the artwork. This is a great example of how the work this local artist is respected and integrated.


A Listowel Film maker and family

I met the Lynch family out and about during Writers' Week. John is a man who has covered years and years of historic events in Listowel. He is a great social historian and his films will be valued and treasured for generations.


From the John Hannon Archive

Kathy Greaney in Main Street, Listowel


Another  Evening, Another Sunset, Another Photographer

June 23 2018, Nuns' Beach, Ballybunion, Bridget O'Connor