Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Cloth Hall, Flu Epidemic in Moyvane in 1898 and friends meeting in The Square

Photo; Eamon ÓMurchú


Kennelly Family of Cloth Hall

Photos and history from Vincent Carmody's Snapshots of a Market Town and his blog, Listowel Living History

A long family tradition of business on Upper William Street will soon draw to an end.

Kennelly's Cloth Hall, 10 Upper William Street.


J.J. Kennelly, from Knockanure, commenced his tailoring business, known as The Cloth Hall, at number 10 William Street in 1897. 


J.J. was married to seamstress, Kathleen Kerins from Main Street. They had 12 children, Michael, Kathleen (Sissy), twins Philomena and Maurice who both died young, Jim, Maura, Patrick (Stan), John, Matt, Una, Maurice and Marguerite. 


J.J. Kennelly was an early car enthusiast and he had one of Listowel's earliest motor cars, a Studebaker, 


The original 'Cloth Hall' lettering remains to this day, It remains the only town's example of what was a Victorian invention, the lettering was molded in porcelain and then veined to imitate white marble.


Should also say, that Kathleen Kerins had a sister, who was known as Sis Kerins, she married a Cahill man, they ran a bakery in Main Street, they had a very talented family, both musically and in the dramatic sense, Siobhan and John were long time members of the Listowel Drama Group and would have been very close personal friends with John B.  Siobhan played the part of the grandmother in Sive, John was the singing tinker, Carthalawn.


Moyvane was in Lockdown in 1898

Kerry Evening Post Wednesday, 15 June, 1898


A serious outbreak of fever has occurred at Newtownsandes, County Kerry, and I regret to say that

a couple of deaths from this cause have already taken place. The schools in the village, as also the large Co-operative Dairy Factory, have been closed with a view of preventing the spread of the disease. Dr Browne. Medical Inspector Local Government Board; Dr P T Dillon, Tarbert, and Dr J Dillon, Listowel, have been over the infected area, and have, no doubt, recommended the carrying out of the necessary safeguards. —Correspondent.


In Listowel Town Square

Frances Kennedy and Máire Logue were enjoying a chat when I met them on July 28 2020.


Statues Remind Us

We live in a world that has become hyper sensitive about pubic statuatery. Statues now are all about what they remind us of. Here in Listowel someone has taken this on board and put a face covering on the statue of our beloved playwright, John B. Keane. It reminds us that we are in the middle of a pandemic and we should all heed public health advice and wear our masks.


Monday, 3 August 2020

Listowel in 1875, some old advertising and Ballybunion's Saturday Market

Dunquin Pier, Photo; Eamon ÓMurchú


Things were Tough in 1875

Landlords, rack rents and grinding poverty in 19th century Moyvane

 Friday, 05 February, 1875


Newtownsandes, Listowel Co. Kerry, February 2.

 DEAR SIR,—On behalf of the semi-famished, comfortless, already over-rented tenants of the Rev. Richard Fitzgerald, Clerk, a middleman land owner in this parish, from whom a plausible letter was inserted in your journal on Friday last, I pray you to insert some remarks from me in an early issue of the Examiner. 

The question at issue between the Rev. Mr Fitzgerald and his tenantry is this: Did his reverence explicitly or implicitly pledge his word that, at the expiration of their leases, there would be no increase of rent imposed on his poor people ? 

Sixty tenants—men of acknowledged veracity loudly and bitterly declare, in private and in public, that he promised them, twenty-one years ago, that there should be no increase of rent put upon them during his lifetime. Again, they state that he repeatedly renewed this promise during the last twenty-one years. 

"No such promise was ever made by me," writes the reverend gentleman. 

However, as industrious, honest, peaceable, and well-disposed tenantry as are to be found in any corner of our island, do positively contradict, their landlord's assertion. For the information of the public, allow me to state that the public at large in this part of Kerry feel no hesitation in accepting as truth the statement of the Aughrim tenants. We all know that Mr. Fitzgerald has always been remarkable for a memory weak and irretentive. That he is subject to this affliction is known to every tenant on his estate and to the public in general. As, therefore, his reverence's memory has often been at fault, we may reasonably and legitimately conclude that on the point in dispute it is found wanting. 

The assertion of the tenants is that he pledged himself that if they drained the fen—his estate in this parish was at one time a vast quagmire, and that not very long since—purchased lime to fecundate the swamp, brought sand from Ballybunion—distant fifteen miles from their homes —to supply with nutritive matter that hitherto unproductive moor, he would surely allow them to profit by till their improvements in continuing them as his tenants without an increase of rent for the term of his life. 

When the destitute tenants implored for some little allowance in consideration of the improvement effected, his reverence's remarkable reply had been- 

"Why make such a demand when you know that everything you do will hereafter benefit and enrich yourself ? Your request is inconsiderate." 

There is not a tenant on Mr. Fitzgerald's Estate to whom this reply has not been given more than once. The tenants, in my presence, have called the God of Heaven to witness the voracity of the solemn declaration with regard to the oft-repented promise of never requiring any increase of the rent.

 Some twenty one years ago the Rev. Mr Fitzgerald importuned a respectable, honest shopkeeper of Newtownsandes, by name Michael Forhan, to become his tenant for a small farm quite adjacent to the village. The land was so wretchedly poor that Forhan refused more than once to accept the holding. At last upon the explicit promise of fixity of tenure at the rent then imposed, Forhan consented to become tenant to Mr Fitzgerald, in opposition to the entreaties of his relatives and well-wishers, and promised to pay at the rate of one pound eight shillings an acre. This rent was regarded as exorbitant by the public. The land could never pay it. By means of a small shop the industrious Forhan managed to meet the call on the rent-day; furthermore to buy lime and draw sand from Ballybunion to Newtownsandes for the cultivation and improvement of the quagmire lands When the land is now reclaimed, and worth no more than one pound eight shillings an acre, the Rev. Mr Fitzgerald required two guineas an acre from Michael Forhan.

Michael Hanrahan has been paying a rent of £30 annually. His land had been let at the highest figure. From him the demand in £50 annually. And the miserable tenant has had but six milch cows on the lands, which could not of themselves maintain that number. The poor man in compelled to purchase meadowing every year from Mr Foster Fitzgerald.  Paddy M'Evoy pays £13 yearly ; in future he will pay £30 or be evicted. Widow Moore's present lent £9 for three cows—cows in name only. For the cows she purchases meadowing from Mr Foster Fitzgerald; the rent fixed on her is £21, and the poor woman is at present on her deathbed. She made her will a few evening ago, and could afford to bequeath the large fortune of forty shillings to each of her four children. I know that her illness has been intensely aggravated by the fear of ejectment from her little holding, as she knows it would be impossible for her to pay the rent required by Mr Fitzgerald. Jerry Mulvihill has paid a rent of £21 yearly. Mr Fitzgerald expects from this happy man nothing less than £52 a year; I cannot refrain from mentioning the case of Pat Neville. Mr Fitzgerald considers that mans cultivated fen worth two guineas an acre. Every disinterested judge of pasterage say his land could afford to pay 17s an acre.

Now, there are cases as bad as those I have mentioned, and in no case can Mr. Fitzgerald justify an increase of rent. The lands as at present let, are in most instances, too dearly paid for. When we consider that the tenants have borne that injustice for twenty-one years, we must more and more commiserate those who are now threatened with eviction, if they refuse the penalty of their industry by not consenting to a monstrous increase of rent. The lands are much improved by Mr. Fitzgerald's tenantry, therefore they are to be punished by the confiscation of their property. 

I am pretty well acquainted with the condition of the small farmers of this county and, I regret to any, there are not in any part of Kerry so utterly destitute small farmers as the tenants of the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald. In the first place I find they cannot afford to send their children to school. The only unenlightened people in this parish, are Mr Fitzgerald’s tenantry. And this is the effect of their poverty. Ere they have learned the catechism they have been taught to handle the spade and make the drain for the enrichment of the landlords. In the second place, all Mr Fitzgerald's tenants, three excepted, are deeply indebted to meal merchants, money-lenders, and shopkeepers. If this be their condition at present, how sadly embarrassed must they not be should they venture to consent to a further increase of rent.

Since Mr Fitzgerald acquired property in this parish he holds the land at a very low rent from Trinity College He has lost no opportunity of increasing his rent-roll. Twenty one years since all his tenantry in this parish were asked to pay a heavy fine in consideration of leases for twenty one years. The fines were paid. I have mentioned that the rents were excessive. The leases were given to nine tenants only, because they alone could pay the cost of the leases. The others were so poor that they could not  afford to take out the leases. But as there was a promise of leases his reverence was precluded till now from demanding an increase of rent. Whenever any of his landlord patrons determine to increase his rent roll, he says to the tenantry,

 " Mr So and So will value your lands. Should any man's land be too dear, I will rectify the injustice." 

But the result of the valuation has always been an enormous increase of rent on the tenant. What I state occurred in this very parish a short time ago. The medium employed by the landlord was the party chosen by Mr Fitzgerald for a like purpose. M Fitzgerald has written to the tenantry, that if they refuse to accept his terms he will sell his interest to English capitalists. Such a threat requires no comment. It bespeaks its own condemnation—

I am, faithfully yours, QUADRATUS.


1920 Advertising


Kilcooley's Saturday Market

A Lovely way to spend a Saturday morning is at Kilcooley's Saturday Market. It has lots of lovely food stalls, candles, photographic gifts, jewellery and ceramics.



Friday, 31 July 2020

4 Market St., Listowel Pitch and Putt Course, 1897 Letter re Glin Industrial School and an old Camera

Castlegregory,  photo; Eamon ÓMurchú


4 Market Street, Then and Now


Listowel Pitch and Putt Course, a Credit to its Members, Past and Present

Listowel Pitch and Putt course is a beautifully kept local amenity. Every time I pass it I marvel at the foresight of so many amateur course designers who laid out and maintained this beautiful green space for many many years now.

I once saw John Joe Kenny clipping the grass round a hole with a scissors. Bill Hartnett, Denis Kelly, Tom OHalloran, Junior Griffin and Pat Walsh were a regular sight looking after this great local amenity. It was heartwarming to see a new generation of the McCarron family looking after  a course on which he has had so much success as a player.

To those I have mentioned and many more who I haven't the town owes a huge debt. Thank you.


High Praise for Glin Industrial School

Irish Examiner Saturday, 17 April, 1897

Moyvane House, Newtownsandes,

Co. Kerry,

 April 15th, 1897.


In the leading article in your paper of yesterday—Wednesday—on the proposed " Irish Poor Relief Bill," the following occurs—"The Glin Industrial School has not been, from causes which we may expect to disappear, a very pronounced success up to the present." 

How you arrive at this conclusion I fail to see.  I am, and have been, a member of this School Board since its formation, and lent my humble assistance to its establishment, and I venture to say that a more successful institution is not in the United Kingdom.

In support of this assertion, I can with confidence appeal to the highly respected Bishop of Limerick, Dr O'Dwyer; to Lady Monteagle, who takes a particular interest in it; to Lady Emly, to Miss Balfour, to Miss Greaves, and a host of other distinguished and disinterested personages who have visited the institution.

One or two persons, through pique or jealousy at not being put on the school Board, have done their utmost to throw ridicule on the school and its management, but their efforts are utterly futile.

I defy the most prejudiced or sceptical to visit it without at once admitting the manifest improvement morally, physically and intellectually of the children since its formation two years ago. 

The boys are now able to turn out a suit of clothes fit for the most fastidious, and a pair of boots fit for a ballroom. The carpentry work of the house for some time past has been done by the boys, and the bread baked there would suit the most delicate palate. So you see the Christian Brothers and the officials have left nothing undone on their part. 

The good, kind Sisters are not forgetful of those under their charge. I saw dishes turned out solely by the girls that would do credit to a Parisian cook, and that would tempt, the appetite of the greatest epicure, and the needlework and knitting, etc, which is done by them, would bear comparison with establishments of a quarter of a century's standing.

This very useful institution was most unreasonably criticised—when only half a year established—by persons from whom encouragement and support should have been expected, and who, I believe, would never have given utterance to these remarks had they visited the school before they made use of them.

It is a decided loss, and a great pity that a leading paper, such as yours, should become the channel, unwittingly I have no doubt, of casting any aspirations, no matter in how small a way, on the management of this school, for to my own personal knowledge everything is done to make it a success.

There would be no dearer wish of my heart than to see two or three such institutions in each county in Ireland, and there would be no surer means of doing away with workhouses, as the children who are obliged to avail of their shelter would, if placed in such schools, become honourable, upright, and self-supporting members of society.

There is nothing causes me greater pain than the marked difference between the few children left in Listowel Workhouse for want of room at Glin school—outwardly, timid and squattest—and the manly, upright demeanour of their former comrades, who have been at Glin for some time.

My reason for referring to your editorial is, I fear, it may be the means of deterring other unions of establishing similar schools, and I would beg of you before you again refer in any away disparagingly to it to send one of your staff to visit it, and from the very satisfactory report which he must send you, you will I know with pleasure, quite agree with the statements contained in this letter. 

I remain, dear sir, yours very faithfully,


M J NOLAN , Chairman, Listowel Board of Guardians, and Member of the Glin School Board.


My First Camera

For purely sentimental reasons, I've held on to this. It was unearthed recently in a Covid clearcut of the attic.

Photography has come a long way in 50 years. I showed my grandchildren how I had to load the film (in the dark) and roll it on until the little number 1 appeared in the window. No zoom, of course. I lined up my subjects, looked through the viewfinder and, holding the camera as steady as humanly possible, depressed the button that closed the shutter. Then I rolled the film on to number 2 and took another snap. Very often the film would be in the camera for weeks because I usually only took one photo of any event at at a time. None of this snapping hundreds and discarding most of them.

When the little window displayed 24 I rolled the film to the end and extracted it carefully from the camera. I had a special envelope to put it in to send to Spectra or else I dropped it in to the pharmacy.

I remember the huge leap forward that was one hour developing. Before that it could take up to a week before I saw my photos. Then, almost inevitably, one or two was blurred or had some part of the shot cropped off.

Those were the days!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

My Boyeens, A Hawk and Tullamore School

Photo: Eamon ÓMurchú

My Boyeens are all grown up

It seems only yesterday when Seán and Killian, my twin grandsons, were happy to come to Kennedy's pet farm, crazy golf, donkey sanctuary etc with their Nana. Now it's all screens and video games, but still lovely to see them in Listowel.


We have a hawk

2020 is a great year for fruit. My apple tree is weighed down with growing bounty. Unfortunately the crows sent the message via their bush telegraph and, as well as eating the apples, they were knocking them in dozens  to the ground.
I am blessed with a neighbour who always has a solution to my every problem. Eddie bought a hawk. That's it in the first picture. So far it's done the trick. The Listowel crows, for all their renowned intelligence, haven't copped that it's just a plastic kite. Long may they continue in their ignorance.


Tullamore School

John Anthony Hegarty did the research on this one.

He wrote
Hi, Mary , in these Covid-19 times , I came across a very poor quality photo of Tullamore School.  However special thanks to Michael Lynch Archivist, Co.Kerry,who was able to locate a perfect  copy of this photo and with other information from my brother Denis Hegarty in Glin, Co.Limerick, here it is. 
I am sure some of the older neighbors in Tullamore would appreciate seeing theses people alas many have now passed on. Mike Kennelly was a good friend of my father and I feel there was a lot more community spirit back then, they all helped each other.
Some Additional background information on that photo, is looks like planning permission was sought for septic in 1971, though when I left there around 1972 we still had the original set up of the dry toilets that were cleaned out twice a year, anyone who went to one these rural school will remember the nauseating smell from these toilets and with regard to the photo no name of the photographer with this photo  .
The Michael Kennelly mentioned in the photo was the father of Kerry football captain Tim Kennelly , grandfather Tadgh Kennelly, while Denis Buckley went on to be the chairman of the Kerry Group of companies .



While we're on the subject of Tullamore school. here are another few more old photos.

Vincent Carmody named some of the boys.

My uncle Patrick ( b.1900) is in the boys photo, somewhere. 
Apart from Master Roger O Shea. who is standing on the extreme right. He ( he came from the Rathmore area) and his wife Julia ( nee Scanlon) were outstanding teachers, they also had a daughter who also taught there at this time (1910) 
There are 3 O'Connor brothers from Shrone ( Gale Bridge)
Thomas (Tom), is second from right extreme back row.
Edward (Ned) , is third from right, second row (back)
James (Jimmy), is fourth from right, front.

From Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Our Town during Covid 19, Interesting Signs and The Ballymacasey Cross

Photo; Eamon ÓMurchú


The Changed face of our Town

Notices like this are appearing all over town. 
One in my local newsagents warned that if you dont like wearing a mask you will find a ventilator brutal.
Another sign I spotted in the Irish Wheelchair shop stated that they will not accept payment in cash extracted from your underwear. 

Contactless payment is the preferred option in most shops.

Lizzy's is open for sit down and take away. Kevin's is still closed and Broderick's never closed.

The Gentleman's Barber on William Street strikes a good mix of welcome and caution.

This flowerpot man in his PPE is in Listowel Garden Centre.


Broderick's Pharmacy Makeover

I love the new colour scheme. It livens up this corner of town.

Ballymacasey Cross

A while ago I wrote here about Lislaughtin Abbey and the story of the sacking of the monastery and the slaughter of the holy friars. 

In response, Michael O'Sullivan wrote the following;

Hi Mary,
The monks while running for their lives from the soldiers dropped a silver cross which is known as the Lislaughtin or Ballymacessy cross and can be seen in the national museum.It was found some time in the 1800's by a man ploughing a field and suffered some damage.

Michael did the search for us and he found the story of the cross in the blog of none other than my friend, Eileen Moylan of Claddagh Design

It was easy enough to trace the origins of the cross as it had been engraved with the details of the maker and the recipients. It turns out the cross was commissioned by Cornelius O’ Connor and his wife Avlina (or Eileen!) as a gift to the Lislaughtin Friary, Ballylongford in 1479.  It might be slight vanity but the search was completely justified when I discovered my name was engraved on the cross.

The cross which is silver gilt is 67cm in height and considered one of the finest crosses from medieval Ireland. It has the figure of Christ in the centre surrounded by the symbols of the  four Evangelists. The symbol at the centre of the cross is missing, leaving just a winged lion, a winged bull and an eagle. The entire cross is decorated with an open work border (the leaf -like trim). It has an amazing amount of intricate detail and it’s hard to believe it has survived so well. The engraving is entwined with images of birds, animals and flowers which would not be typically Irish.

The funny thing about this cross is that it remained in the home of Mr Jefcott in Ballylongford rather than being handed over to be put on public display. I love the idea of a 2 foot gold ornate cross lying around his house. Where would you put something like that?!  In Hewson’s article he writes that “the finder does not appear disposed to consent to part with it to anyone on any terms” It seems Hewson argued the case that although it was well looked after it would be much more secure in the national collection. He believed it would be worthy of a place alongside the Cross of Cong, which, coincidently, was also commissioned by an O’Connor.

I couldn’t find out when the cross finally left Ballylongford and went on public display in Dublin. If anyone has any more information, please do let me know.

Ballymacasey cross, Journal Royal Historical & Archaeological Association