Friday, 22 January 2021

Listowel Canada, A New Shop, Doon Church and Biden Inauguration

Blessington; Early Morning

Sean Farrington rose early to take this photo. He posted it on the Men's Shed's Group page.


Listowel Fire Fighters 2008

Photo; John Kelliher


One of the Other Listowel's


A New Shop

While I was locked down this new shop appeared in Main 
Street. It appears to be a general clothes shop with garments for women and children, closed now obviously.


Doon Church, Ballybunion

Pictures and text from Kilcooly's  Country House

Doon Church, Ballybunion, was built by Father John Buckley around 1830-1834, shortly after Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Local people say it was the first post-Emancipation church built in Munster.
The ruins are halfway between the River Cashen to the south and Beal Point to the north, at a point where roads met from the north, south and east. Because of this key location, some people speculate that it may have been a Mass site in the Penal days.
The church was built of stone and mortar, without internal lighting or hearting, on a site owned by Mr William Gunn. But in its time it was a ‘state-of-the-art’ church building.
The church was a ‘barn-style’ church, cruciform in shape, with three galleries, one in each transept and a third gallery at the back of the church. The doorway was arch-shaped and the walls were pierced with two-light windows.
It is said a local landlord, George Hewson, built a gate at the Cliff Road side of the new Catholic church to screen it from the view of its local Protestant neighbours.
When Father Mortimer O’Connor was appointed parish priest of Ballybunion in 1866, one of his first actions was to remove the Cliff Road gate. His action made it easier for people in Ballybunion to get to the church, and Hewson never replaced the gate.


Amanda Gorman, Poet

This oh so stylish young lady was the big star of Joe Biden's inauguration. I hope I am not breaking any copyright laws by printing her moving poem. She delivered it beautifully  and her delivery is part of the package. It's good to read the words too.

The Hill We Climb

by Amanda Gorman.

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We've braved the belly of the beast

We've learned that quiet isn't always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we've weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine

but that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

history has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while we once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it


Meanwhile in Cahirciveen

In Devlin's Centra in Cahirciveen, they were supporting a more local hero.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

An Old Dance Photo, The Lourdes Photo and the Travelling Shop

Dawn in Beal, Co Kerry captured by Ita Hannon


Dancing Days

This is a photo of a photo in The Advertiser. Maybe someone will recognise themselves or someone else.


Kerry Ladies in Lourdes

I think I have consensus that the priest is Fr. Willie O'Brien C.C. Listowel and originally from Ballylongford. He seems to have been well liked and is remembered with fondness.

Beta O'Brien tells us that pilgrimages to Lourdes were organised by Michael Kennelly. He started them first in the Marian Year 1954 when the trip was made overland.  The pilgrimages went on for years after that.

Front Row:  Mrs OSullivan Bridge Road,  *        Sheila OConnell Stokes,  Fr OBrien. Doreen OConnor,         * 
Mid Row : Mrs Morgan Sheehy,  Mairead OConnell ,  *., * 
Back Row: Sheila Keane  Eileen Bunyan  *,*. Peggy Bunyan  *. *. 

* denotes no name yet

I have an unconfirmed sighting of Mrs Joy from Finuge in the black cardigan behind Mrs Stokes.

Thank you Éamon, Ned, Miriam, Liz, Helen, Maureen and Beta.


Thought for Today from Charlie Mackesy


The Travelling Shop

I saw this photo on the internet, I was seven again. I grew up in the country,  about a mile and a half from town. My mother was a widow with three small children and no car. She depended on neighbours to bring her to town for shopping and she made a weekly trip in her trusted donkey and cart for heavier stuff like animal feed, flour or a replacement implement.
Once a week a van with goods from a local shop used to call round to our yard and my mother could buy supplies for the week. It was a great service. A service worth reviving, I'd say.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Turf Power and Wind Power, Home Ec. and A Covid Death

Past and Future Power Generators

Caroline O'Sullivan posted this on the internet with the caption, "Near Listowel"

Bord na Mona has announced that it is ceasing peat extraction. From 2024 we'll have no more briquettes and peat for horticultural purposes will be sold until stocks run out. End of an Era.
For some great old photos and stories of Bord na Mona, visit the below website.


When There was Singing

Myself, Mary Moylan, Mike Moriarty and Mary Fagan. 

At Writers' Week 2019 we had a great time singing in The Square. 


 Home Cooking and Home Ec Cooking

Jenny Carey wrote this last week;

All About Home Economics brought up a lot of memories for me and many expats in one of my Facebook groups called Irish Mammies of New York. There were many pictures shared of pages with recipes such as Spaghetti Bolognese & Lemon Cheesecake. Apparently the best Spaghetti Bolognese is made with rashers. Do you remember this book? According to my cousin, Sinéad Stack, it was a popular Christmas gift at home this year. I ordered my copy after reading the post and look forward to making its recipe for Lemon Cheesecake. 

Lots of you of Jenny's vintage will remember this. I've always felt that that all- in -one cake mix on the cover looks like it would take some hard mixing with a wooden spoon to make it into a cake.

I've written before about people's attachment to their old Home Ec. books.

My granddaughter, Róisín, making meatballs for the family dinner.

Killian is making Shepherd's Pie from Laura Healy's @ Home with The Practical

Bobby made the marble cake from @ Home with The Practical.

I did Home Economics, or more correctly Cookery, as a subject in primary school. On the left is our cookery book, simple, practical with no colour , no photographs and no frills. I was in national school  in a time when many girls left school after the Primary Cert. (there was no free education and no school transport) so it made sense to teach us all the rudiments of cooking early.  In 5th and 6th classes we has Cookery once a week and we had an exam at the end, a practical exam that is, where setting a tray, and serving the inspector tea and toast was one girls project. AND there were no toasters in those days either.

This is a well used page with about a dozen variations on one basic recipe. See what I meant when I said, no frills.


A Good Life Lost

The Irish Times is running a series called Lost Lives in tribute to people who have died with Covid 19. Here is what it has about Listowel man, Joe O'Carroll R.I.P.

Joe O’Carroll


Joe O’Carroll was a happy-go-lucky, gentle soul who was deeply connected to his hometown of Listowel and Kerry roots despite living abroad for nearly four decades.

Born on October 1st, 1962, Joe was one of 10 children who grew up on a farm in the townland of Tullamore. His sister Mairéad, who was one year older, recalls the happy years her brother and siblings spent growing up in rural Kerry.

“Life on the farm was mad but they were the happiest times of our lives. Joe was a very happy-go-lucky chap who loved the outdoors and machinery. But like so many others, he went abroad to look for work in construction.”

Joe moved to London aged 19 where he started working on a cousin’s construction site. He would continue to drive machinery on sites for the rest of his life and returned home to visit family in Listowel twice a year.


“He loved to go to the Listowel races and always came back at Christmas. It was such a joy for my mother to see him coming through the door, she loved him coming back.”

Joe loved Irish music, particularly traditional Irish songs, and never lost his Kerry accent. “It was kind of like he never left home. He spent all those years in London but his Kerry roots were very important to him.”

Joe worked long hours in construction and never missed a day’s work. “He was happy to get up early in the morning and work hard all day and then meet friends at the weekend,” remembers Mairéad. “He had a huge number of friends and was very sociable. He loved hanging out with all nationalities, he got on with everyone.

“He had total generosity of spirit with his time and money and he’d light up a room. He was always smiling.”

On March 27th, Mairéad called her brother and discovered he was feeling unwell with a suspected tummy bug. She could hear his laboured breathing on the phone and urged her brother to call the emergency services. Joe was brought by ambulance to the Royal Free Hospital and spoke to his sister by phone on the 28th to reassure her that he was feeling okay.

However, early on March 29th he was transferred to ICU. His family was contacted on April 11th and told his condition had deteriorated and the priest had been called. Joe died on Monday, April 13th aged 57.

“It was devastating, right up until the day he died we never gave up hope. He hadn’t been ill before that, he was a very healthy man all his life.”

On May 6th, Joe was cremated at Kensal Green in West London. The hearse carrying his body to the crematorium was followed by a JCB draped with the Kerry colours. “All his friends lined the route and the JCB drove behind all the way through the streets of London. It was such a beautiful tribute. He had so many friends, that’s the measure of the person he was.”

Joe’s ashes were sent back to Ireland and he was buried with his father and sister on June 13th in Listowel. “It was deeply upsetting but it gave us some comfort that he was going to join his father. Joe was a beautiful, gentle soul who was dearly loved by family and friends alike.”

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Changes, a Poem and a Very Welcome Email and a Link to Last Week's "Thoughts"

Fota Wildlife Park in Winter 2021

Picture from Fota website


Changes on Upper William Street

John Kelliher posted this photo on Facebook. In it Tom and John O'Connell are blocking up the 2 phone boxes. The reaction online to this picture was happy sad. Many people had fond memories of using those phoneboxes. Geraldine Dowling even remembered the phone numbers: 21104 and 21098. There used to be a phone box inside the post office as well. 
God be with the days before mobile phones.


Sweet Eva, The Flower of Listowel

A love-sick lament From The Advocate, N.Y., USA, 25 Sept., 1937. 

(Most likely composed by an exile from Listowel – N. Leonard).

In the Kingdom of Kerry, by the banks of the Feale,

Lived the maiden I loved heart and soul:

That was years, years ago, but I still love her so,

Sweet Eva, the Flower of Listowel

And the moon, on the river was shining

As long by the Feale we did stroll

And Love, my young heart was entwining

Around Eva, the Flower of Listowel

Though now far away from dear Kerry,

And the wide ocean between us does roll,

Yet my love, as of old, has never grown cold

For my sweetheart, the Flower of Listowel.

As the moon, on the Feale, is still shining

Like it shone on that night we did stroll,

So my heart, for my lost love, is pining,

Sweet Eva, the Flower of Listowel.

By S.F. Quinlivan

685 E. 140 St., Bronx

Sept. 10, 1937



A Letter from a Troubled Kerry

Mark Holan  writes a great Irish- American blog. He recently wrote of happenings in Kerry in 1921

On Jan. 24, 1921, widowed farmer John Ware of Killelton townland, Ballylongford, mailed a hand-written letter from the rural County Kerry community on the south shore where the wide mouth of the River Shannon empties into the sea. It was addressed to his same-name, bachelor son, a streetcar motorman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a noisy, smokey manufacturing city of more than a half million people, a hub of Irish immigrants, including two of his sisters, with a brother on the way.1

The 87-year-old father2 began the letter by thanking his 35-year-old son for an earlier postal order for £3, equivalent to about $200 today.3 Such remittances from immigrants were vital to the Irish economy and perpetuated still more departures.

Your prosperity in America is a great consolation to me. Your generosity and kindness since you left home.....

Read the rest of the article here;

Mark Holan's Irish-American Blog


Home  Thoughts from Abroad

Remember last week when I shared with you Brendan O'Connor's article about the Cahirciveen journalist, Donie O'Sullivan. One of the people who enjoyed it immensely was Jenny Carey who now lives in the U.S. She enjoyed it so much that she wrote to say thanks. Jenny is a past pupil of mine .

I asked her to tell us a bit about her life now and she did just that.

Hi Mrs. Cogan,

Like so many of your followers Listowel Connection is part of my daily reading and has truly provided an invaluable connection during COVID. I reached out to you last week after laughing out loud as I read the article, "WWDD" by Brendan O' Connor. Along with so many people across the world I watched in horror at what occurred at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Watching and listening to Donie reminded me that not all is mad in the world and it did my heart good to hear his Kerry accent. The kids and I were in DC the week before the insurrection occured. The 'selfie' taken by one of my kids captures us with the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool  behind us and it's just a stones throw from there to the Capitol Building.
I emigrated to Virginia, USA in 2004 and I currently live in Falls Church which is just a few miles from Washington. We have been working and virtually learning from home since March thanks to COVID. I teach STEM at a local elementary school and my kids are in Middle and High School. We log on at about 7:30am to our respective classes and log off around 3pm. Just like everybody else we have adapted to this way of life. We get out for walks on a daily basis and have a group of friends we meet up with outdoors at least once a week. Sudoku, baking, reading, & Zoom calls have kept me sane through this and being able to see and chat with family and friends in Listowel has been a lifesaver. There are many challenging pieces to living through a pandemic but I have to say the isolation is the most challenging for me. 
The beautiful sunrise I saw on my walk this morning gave me hope and I am hopeful that 2021 will be alot brighter. I will get my first dose of one of the Corona vaccines next week and an inauguration of a new president takes place on Wednesday. Our flights to Ireland are booked for June and I can't wait to hug my family and friends in person. 
Until then I will continue to enjoy reading your blog with my morning coffee. 

Go Raibh Mile Maith Agat,



Thought for the Day

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer if they are happy."  

Anton Chekov


Just a Thought

My last week's Thoughts, as broadcast on Radio Kerry are here;

Just a Thought