Friday, 28 September 2018

McKenna's of Listowel, Culture Night 2018 and a Statue to Big Tom McBride

I don't know the name of this bush but the butterflies absolutely love it.


Lovely Listowel, Ireland's Tidiest Town 2018

Photos taken in Listowel's Garden of Europe and Gurtinard area on September 25 2018

These men truly loved their native town. This win would have meant so much to them. No one was ever prouder of Listowel than Martin, Michael and John Sheehy.

The MacMahon Bay tree has grown really tall.


Dick Kiely's Retirement

At the Seanchaí for the launch of Jack McKenna's memoir, Spoilt Rotten, Junior Griffin met Miriam O'Grady. Miriam's dad, Dick Kiely, spent many happy years working in McKenna's, many of those years beside Junior Griffin, one of his younger colleagues.

Miriam brought along a few old photos taken on the occasion of her dad's retirement. Miriam told me that McKenna's employees were very loyal and very versatile, equally happy whether selling or delivering. Speaking of delivering, she remembered Seán Walsh, later of Ballybunion Golf Club making the deliveries when he worked for McKenna's.

Dick Kiely retired at the same time as his brother in law, Tim Shanahan.


A Tree Read me a Poem on Culture Night in Listowel Town Square, September 21 2018

For the past few years Culture Night coincided with the Friday night of Raceweek. Traditionally that was Wrenboys night and since this involved a huge part of Irish culture, that was Culture Night in Listowel sorted. This year we got to enjoy the wren boys earlier in September and we got a whole packed programme for Culture Night.

It started with an insight into the life of a working artist in the Olive Stack Gallery. I missed that.

In the Kerry Writers' Museum I met the Writers' Week crew doing a great "me to you" event. Everyone who called by got a present of a book.

Eilish was down on her knees busily wrapping books.

There was even a bit of child labour going on. They were loving it.

Maire gave me my book.

Well, it certainly sounds different to my usual fare. I'll let you know how I enjoy it.

As well as the book we got a bookmark with very important dates for the diary

On that very evening, children's programme co ordinators, Miriam and Maria were on their way to  Dublin to the  Children's Books Ireland book fest seeking out authors and performers to bring to next year's festival.


"Four Country Byeways to my Heart"

Photo: Julie Healy

On September 23 they unveiled this statue of the country singer,  Big Tom McBride in Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan. The likeness is striking.

Big Tom was an Irish phenomenon. The timbre of his big voice had the ability to move so many of his listeners to tears. He was so ordinary, equally at home at the wheel of his tractor as behind a dancehall microphone, so unstarlike that everyone knew someone like him. When he sang of the Four Roads or Gentle Mother, we were all at our own crossroads or in a lonely churchyard with him. His songs had a particular appeal to emigrants, among whom he had thousands of fans.  I think there will never be such a star again.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

McKenna's former staff at the book launch and Wrenboys' Night in Listowel in September 2018


To Celebrate Listowel's win in the Tidy Town Competition 2018

Here are some more photos from our lovely town.
These were  taken last Tuesday by the Feale.

" My heart, tonight, is lonely for my sire land
Though many miles of ocean lie between
My heart tonight is home again Ireland
Upon thy banks, my silver river Feale'

These lines from Bryan MacMahon's Silver River Feale are a thank you mention to all the emigrants who have contacted me to tell me how they long to be in Listowel to celebrate the town's victory in the Tidy Town competition.
Listowel has a very proud diaspora.


At the Launch of Spoilt Rotten

Former staff, former customers, family and friends were on hand to congratulate Jack McKenna on reaching the 100 and on starring in this book about his life, Spoilt Rotten


Wrenboys Competition, Listowel, Sept 14 2018

As I came out of Allos after a delicious meal in great company following an enjoyable day at the Races, what is making its way down Church Street but a procession of wren boys  on their way to the Square for the annual Harvest Festival Wrenboy competition?

I learned later that this was the Ballybunion troupe who were first up on stage.The spectacle was amazing with the procession being led by 2 men with lighted sods of turf on pitchforks leading the way. The colour, the music and the sheer joy of it all was magical to behold.

A good crowd had gathered on the streets to cheer them on.

The "king' was resplendent in crown and cape.

Bean an Tí for the night was Frances Kennedy. She played her part to perfection and she and the fear an Tí told stories to beat the band.

It was a joy to see so many talented young people among the dancers, singers and musicians. The future of Irish culture is in safe hands.

Frances won the overall prize for the best individual performance.

Owen MacMahon was an inspired choice as M.C. He did a super job.

The night was wet and cold so I didn't stay to see the others groups. Kileedy won and they were excellent as were all the performers on a great night in town.


An Invitation

 In St. John's on Monday evening next at 7.00p.m. Dillon Boyer is planning an information evening about Palliative Care and the work of the Palliative Care Unit in KUH.

The evening will also feature an exhibition of Dillon's photographs.