Friday, 19 July 2019

Horsefair, Peggy Sweeney, Some Shark Facts and three local people snapped on Bridge Road




Church Street, Listowel, July 2019 with Fitzpatrick's new bay window in place.

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Pictures from July Horse Fair 2019














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Peggy Sweeney  by Mattie Lennon

Continued from yesterday 


... Peggy  has also judged competitions. That is not her favorite exercise either but her advice to young singers is: "Enjoy what you're doing, I like to see a child - or an adult - enjoying their song".

She tells beginners to pick a simple song and work up from there. She believes that a child competitor should always be put at ease and not pressurized into competing, by anybody. 
Although she grew up among a lot of famous people (Bryan McMahon, et alia) from Listowel and the surrounding area, she says that she didn't see them as famous; she knew them all so well.

Talk of John B. Keane brings her to her other great love, amateur drama. She says,"I love being somebody else for a couple of hours".

I didn't have the neck to quote David Mamet for a second time. And anyway I can't vouch for the validity of his claim that " ... .the person onstage is YOU. It is not a construct you are free to amend or mold. It's you. It is YOUR character which you take onstage".

The great thespians of the world might not agree with Peggy's claim that to do one of John B's plays you have to be from Kerry. "The only accent that would lend itself to one of his plays would be the Kerry accent".

She sang for Presidents ... but her fondest memory is of the night she performed in the National Concert Hall with the late Eamon Kelly. She says; "I was nervous but Eamon was twice as nervous".

She made her first album " The Songs of Sean McCarthy" in January 1991, just two months after Sean McCarthy had called her to his deathbed and requested that she record his works. This was followed by "The Cliffs of Dooneen", "The Turning of the Tide" and "More songs of Sean McCarthy". "The Songs of Sean McCarthy" was released on video in August 1999. 

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(Of course any Kerryman will tell you that there are only two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry).
"One is not of this world and the other is out of this world"
Well, now there are three. "A Kingdom of Song" is the title of Peggy Sweeney's new album of Kerry songs. As. The sleeve of "A Kingdom of Song" appropriately shows a map of Kerry. The 15 songs take you on a musical trip from Duagh to Dingle and from Tarbert to Rathmore.

"The Valley of Knockanure" (that all too familiar story of young Irishmen shot by the Black-and-Tans) has been recorded by many artists. But when I heard this version I couldn't help thinking that the song was just waiting for Peggy Sweeney to sing it.

Mick McConnell's "The Tinkerman's Daughter" and "Brosna Town", two very moving songs have taken on a new lease of life.

"The Hills of Kerry", "Lovely Banna Shore" and the Jimmy McCarthy composition, "As I Leave Behind Neidin" are the stuff to moisten the eyes of an exile.

"Ballyseedy Cross" and "Lonely Banna Strand" tell further tales of men who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.

It features a refreshing rendition of a song that I hadn't heard for decades; "The Young Youth Who strayed From Milltown" as well as "The Wild Colonial Boy" and "Killarney and You".

That old favourite, the universal anthem of Kerry, "The Rose of Tralee", "Lovely Banna Shore" written by Peter Kelly and the Stack brothers, John and Pat and "The Wild Flower of Laune" written by Myles Coffey and Peter Joy are all given suitable treatment by the woman that this reviewer calls "The Voice of Kerry".

And there is of course that tribute to her own native town land, mentioned earlier, "Rathea in County Kerry"

I'm sure almost everyone in that close-knit community around Rathea would agree with the letter, which Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun sent to the Marquis of Montrose et al:

".......if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation".

Maybe you can't make the laws of a nation.....or even write a ballad but you can enjoy the best recording of 15 Kerry songs that you are likely to hear.

Kerry, A Kingdom Of Song is now available on Cassette and CD from www.kerrymusic.com. It will also be available early next year on Video with the breathtaking scenery of Kerry added to the singing of these wonderful songs.

The perfect diction and beautiful voice moistened many an exiles eyes during her several tours of Britain, as Bean-a-Ti, with The Irish Rambling House Concert group. She agrees with Charlie Landsborough that the ability to give a spititual message through songs is "a Blessing from above".

When her old school friend, Kay Forristal, brought out her book of poems New Beginnings Peggy wrote the Foreword.

"Spirituality is free flowing and ever changing. This aptly describes the connecting relationship between Kathleen and I. We have known one another since childhood yet, neither time or distance has failed to quench this unseen dimension of our lives.

"Our spirits have been inextricably linked through the medium of verse and song. Through this thought-provoking book, we celebrate decades of true friendship and inherent spirituality".

What (more) could I say about Peggy?


© 2002 Mattie Lennon, printed with permission. 

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Today's Fun Fact


How does a shark track you?

Sharks have the most astonishing sense of smell. They can detect blood at a concentration of 1 part in 25 million, i.e. one single drop of blood in a 2,000 gallon tank of water. If you are bleeding, no matter how slightly, a shark will know. Sharks are brilliant swimmers and they swim at speeds of 25 mph  so a shark who smells your blood from 400 metres away can be on you in sixty seconds.

Sharks also have excellent hearing and sight.

In case I've frightened the bejesus out of you, the book also has this interesting fact. Research from all US coastal states, averaged over the last 50 years, show that you are 76 times more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightening then by a shark.

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Something to Look Forward to


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Snapped on Bridge Road



On an early morning walk with my canine house guest I met John Bunyan, Martin Chute and Carmel Moloney taking a coffee break.

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Fancy a Walk, this Weekend?



Thursday, 18 July 2019

Dandy Lodge, Peggy Sweeney, The Saltiest Water and a Corner Stone


The Dandy Lodge in Listowel Town Park. Beautiful window boxes in place for the upcoming Entente Florale judging.

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Harp and Lion


Restoration work has started on this great Listowel icon. I'm looking forward to seeing it restored to its former glory.

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Today's Pearl of Wisdom from my Charity Shop "Find"


Is the world's saltiest water in The Dead Sea?

No, it's not, according to this fascinating book. The saltiest water in the world is in Don Juan Pond in the Dry Valleys of  north eastern Antartica. It's also known as Lake Don Juan. It's a tiny lake whose depth is only 6 inches. It's water is so salty that it doesn't freeze even though the air around it is -50C.
The water is a whopping 40% salt, more than twice as salty as The Dead Sea. The water in Don Juan didn't come from the sky. It's too cold and dry there for rain or snow. The water seeped up through the ground and the upper layer of water evaporated leaving this salty residue behind. The lake was only discovered in 1961.


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A Reminder of Slower Times


Patrick O'Shea, who had a Listowel mother, was curious to know what this is. He saw if at a junction in Cork and he asked Facebook what it could be. He learned that stones like these were placed at the entrance to lanes and small roads to prevent horse drawn carriages from riding over the corner of the nearby building and wearing it away. The corner stone forced the horse to swing wide into the entrance and to take a straight path into the side road.

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Peggy Sweeney


When I posted this photo of Peggy and her family a while ago, Mattie Lennon saw it and remembered a lovely piece that he had written about Peggy and her relationship with the great Seán MacCarthy. Mattie sends us the piece here and I'm going to give it to you in two instalments.
Peggy will be singing the songs of Seán MacCarthy at the memorial weekend on the August bank holiday in Finuge...well worth a visit.

What could I say about Peggy?
Nothing but the truth.
I loved her songs and her singing
I heard away back in my youth.
Her songs were food to my Soul
Her voice was a thrill to my ear.
I loved her then as a child,
It was mutual and sincere.

I love her today as a friend
And the memories shared together.
Her songs still lift my soul
Like the lark warbling o'er the heather.
What can I say about Peggy?
Thanks for the joy she has given.
Blest be the dawn of our friendship
When Peggy was only seven. ----
Dan Keane

The above, written in perfect Copperplate, was handed to me by octogenarian Kerry poet Dan Keane when I told him I was writing a piece about Peggy Sweeney.

When I met and talked to the singer herself she spoke in equally glowing terms of Dan. But, then, she struck me as the kind of person who would have great difficulty speaking unkindly of anyone. Any mild criticism of a fellow human being seemed to be invariably followed by. "Ah ... he (or she) is alright".

Peggy was born in Rathea, Co. Kerry, the second youngest of seven children.

My hinted request for a D.O.B. [Date Of Birth] was met with Kerry specificness; "In the second half of the last century".

When I point out that David Mamet, in his book True and False, claims that nobody with a happy childhood ever went into show business the tumultuous reply is like the Smearla river in flood. I am left in no doubt about her happy childhood, despite the fact that her father died when she was only six. Her grandfather was a very good fiddle player and by the time Peggy was a year-and-a-half old she was able to hum the tunes that he played for her. Her father was a dancing teacher and her mother, a beautiful singer, (who was very much a woman before her time), taught her all her songs.

She emphasizes that she grew up in a house of laughter, song and dance "which brought us all a long way, the day wasn't half long enough for us and if I had to do it all over again I'd do the very same thing".

Peggy can, in the words of Thomas Prior, " ... answer to the truth of a song". When she sings "Rathea In County Kerry" written for her by cousin, Brian Burke, you get an example of that.

When I think of the days that once I spent
In the hills of County Kerry
Those happy days before I went
And took the Holyhead ferry.
Well we danced and we sang
'Til the morning shone shone,
Though my grief I try to bury
For our lives were free in good company
In Rathea in County Kerry.

A story emanating from the Presentation Convent in Listowel has a two-pronged connection with W.B. Yeats (first it brings to mind his line:" I made my song a coat"). When Sister Austin asked Peggy to recite "The Sally Gardens" the quietly confident child recited a line or two and got stuck; only to then volunteer, " I can't recite it Sister ... .but I will sing it".

From an early age she competed. But competition is not her forte and she says: "I had to compete." Adding modestly, "I won a couple of All-Irelands with the Lixnaw branch of Comltas".

She competed, as a member of Scor, and left unbeaten in Kerry or Munster and believing that competition destroys the love of singing. "When I reached the age where I didn't have to compete any more that's when I really enjoyed singing". 

More tomorrow.

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A Poignant Tarbert Story

from Tarbert.ie on Facebook


Tarbert.ie posted this photo with the following caption;

In 1985 a man was waiting for the Ferry in Tarbert when a group of children spotted he had a camera and asked him to take a picture of them.... the result was the below picture! 

He kept it safe over the next almost 35 years and now wants to reunite it with its subjects! 

Jennifer Scanlan saw the photo, recognised her brothers and their friends and solved the mystery;

The children are Derek R.I.P and Thomas OGorman with their friends, brother and sister, Josephine and Thomas.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Flowers in Listowel, a Trip to Teampall Bán, Radio Kerry's Opening Day and John Lynch's Funeral

Listowel Parish Presbytery, July 2019

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More from A Book of Ignorance


My book (above) is English but this following applies equally to Ireland.

People asked to name three species of mouse will probably get House Mouse, Harvest Mouse, Field Mouse and maybe Wood Mouse. No marks for Dormouse though. The dormouse is more a squirrel than a mouse.
The dormouse is much furrier than a mouse. This is because it hibernates, the only British rodent that does. The "dorm' part of its name refers to this. The dormouse has been known to sleep for seven months of the year.

You'll thank me if it ever comes up in a quiz.

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Halo Health



Elaine Dee Worth's great health food shop and café in Upper William Street.

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Listowel Awash with Flowers in July 2019










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Teampall Bán








I took my visitors to Teampall Bán. They were moved and impressed. This is one of Listowel's treasures. Everyone should visit and pray.

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Radio Kerry Opening

Photo and text from MacMonagle Photography on Facebook



Happy 29th birthday 📷🎼🍾🎂to Radio Kerry on Sunday. Our historic photograph looks back to the opening day on July 14th 1990 when Dan Collins was presenting the programme with Liam Higgins on sport, dj Paul Sheahan and the one and only Sean Hurley from Killarney, who still presents his ever popular programme on the station. How many original staff are still with the station?
Photo: Don MacMonagle 

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Don't Forget!



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Good News from Talkabout on Radio Kerry



Yesterday's Story



Today's Story
"On today's show, we hear how the Kerry community in London turned out in force yesterday, for the funeral of John Lynch, originally from Ballylongford, who died with no living relatives. Pictured: left to right: Tommy Flaherty, Martina O'Gorman, Gary Noone, Amy Canavan, Trish Madden, Noreen Buckley, Dermot O'Grady, Vince Harty and Gerry Rochford." Deirdre Walshe on Talkabout

Update

Since I posted this I have had an email from Martina OGorman which I am posting below. The North Kerry contingent did themselves us all proud.

Morning

I notice that you posted the death notice for John Lynch.

We attended the funeral yesterday and it was a great turnout.   Attached is the photo I sent to Radio Kerry, which they published.  Names as follows :

Left to right

  • Tommy Flaherty – Listowel
  • Martina O Gorman – Listowel
  • Gary Noone – Ballycastle, Mayo
  • Amy Canavan – Listowel
  • Trish Madden – Ballydonoghue/Ballylongford
  • Noreen Buckley – Keel, Castlemaine
  • Dermot O Grady – Tralee/Ballybunion
  • Vince Harty – Ballinskelligs
  • Gerry Rochford – Ballyduff

I was made aware of the call out by Radio Kerry at lunchtime Tuesday and by the power of facebook and emails I was able to get the message out to a lot of local Kerry people to see if they could attend the funeral.    It was magnificent because almost 100 people turned up and gave John a great send off.   I took a spare Kerry Flag that I had and draped it over his coffin as he was an avid Kerry supporter.   Also a few of us wore our Kerry Jerseys as a mark of respect for John.
Unfortunately a lot of the younger kerry people here in london could not attend due to work commitments.

Thought I would share this with you as you have a lot of followers all over the world.

All the best for now



Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course, Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill and Rewilding


St. Mary's, Listowel in July 2019

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Listowel Pitch and Putt Course in Summer 2019








The course is in tip top condition and a credit to all the people who look after it.

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Book of Ignorance





Another pearl of wisdom for you....

Over a fifteen year period an ecologist called Jennifer Owen discovered 422 species of plant and 1,757 species of animal including 533 species never before recorded in Britain and four were completely new to science. All this in her suburban garden in Humberscome. So if you have enough time, patience and, of course, expertise, it is quite possible to discover a new species without ever leaving home. AND if you get to discover a new species, you get to name it.


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'Sé mo Laoch......

Text and photo is a Facebook post from Raymond O'Sullivan.

While waiting and praying(?) that my old car would pass the NCT test in Charleville this morning, I jumped the wall into the adjacent Holy Cross cemetery to pay my respects to the 18th century Gaelic poet, Seán "Clárach" Mac Domhnaill. He was born in Churchtown in 1691 but lived most of his life in Charleville, and is buried there in the ruins of the mediaeval church in the centre of the graveyard. Although a labourer by trade he was regarded by his peers as Príomh-Éigeas na Mumhan or Chief Poet of Munster. He is best remembered for Mo Ghile Mear, a Jacobite ballad composed after the defeat and exile of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1746. One of our most popular Gaelic songs, it has become the ‘anthem’ of our southern neighbours in Cúil Aodha i nGaeltacht Mhúscraí.
BTW, she passed the test. Never underestimate an old man with an old Nissan Micra.




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Rewilding


That's the new name for it. So if your lawn is going to seed and your garden looks a bit neglected, you can say you are "rewilding". It's the latest trend in gardening.

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So Sad



This story was all over main stream and social media yesterday so I'm sure by now people will have made out who John was. I hope he had a good turn out at his funeral.

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Good News from Ballybunion

Beach Wheelchairs
Kerry County Council have announced that there will be a beach wheelchair available on the ladies beach for the summer. The wheelchairs will be available for booking until 15th of September.
This service is free but the wheelchairs must be booked in advance and are available for up to 3-hour slots. They are available at Collin’s Seaweed bath’s phone 068-27469, Times available during weekdays are 12pm to 5.30pm and at the weekends 11am to 6pm. For further information phone 066-7162000 or email: environ@kerrycoco.ie