This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Mary Cogan, retired from teaching in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am a native of Kanturk, Co. Cork.
I have published two books; Listowel Through a Lens and A minute of your Time

Donkeys, Horses and Scouts in Rome

Photo;; Clochar, Corcha Dhuibhne by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Donkey Sanctuary

I have a soft spot for donkeys.

My mother never learned to drive. After my father died, she bought a donkey and from then until I was old enough to drive a car, a donkey was her means of transport when anything that could not be brought from town on her bicycle needed to be bought.

I always used to pay a visit to the donkey sanctuary when my grandchildren came for holidays. Now, like all other visitor attractions the sanctuary suffered a loss of income during Covid. So, if you have children to entertain during mid term, consider a trip to the donkey sanctuary.

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Ball Alley Art

Recent work in the ball alley celebrates Irish culture. In these two pictures our love affair with the horse and with horse racing in particular is honoured.

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A Bun Fight

There is a restaurant chain in the U.S. called Five Guys. Police were once called to the Florida branch of the chain because a fist fight had broken out there. They arrested five guys.

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I spotted this on a recent stroll through Ballybunion. It looks like an ATM that is not associated with any bank. Anyone know the story?

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From Shannonside Annual 1956

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Radio Eireann, Ballybunion, Ball Alley Art and Brendan Kennelly R.I.P.

In Listowel Town Park, October 2021

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“Le Coinnle na nAingeal”

Last weekend two of Ireland’s literary giants passed away.

Máire Mhac an tSaoi had a very small poetic output compared to Brendan Kennelly. She also wrote exclusively in Irish which meant that her poems were accessible to a limited audience.

Her work is well known by school children who identify with the teenage angst of her poem of first love with a local boy “Mac feirmeora ó iarthar tíre”, she had a crush on during a summer in the Gaeltacht of West Kerry.

She wrote a lovely sad little poem, a picture of a parent putting on the first shoe, “seoidín den leathar” , a step to freedom or the first shackles.

Probably her best known poem, Cuireadh do Mhuire, is a Christmas classic.

Guím leaba i measc na naomh di.

……………………………………

Brendan Kennelly R.I.P. was a prolific, popular, well known and loved poet and academic.

Throughout his long life he “walked with kings but kept the common touch”.

He never forgot his Kerry roots. He loved his large Kerry family, his Kerry friends and Kerry landscapes and values.

This prince of the Kingdom was a very proud Ballylongford man but he had many many Listowel connections and it was in this little corner of the world he saw out his days surrounded by his loving, caring and very proud family. It is they who will most feel his loss. His brothers, his sister and all his family will miss him greatly.

I took these photos in 2015 at the unveiling of the bust to Brendan Kennelly in Ballylongford.

Colm Tóibín, Liz Dunn, Chair of Listowel Writers’ Week, Brendan Kennelly, and Richard Ford

This is 2017 when Brendan was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Listowel Writers’ Week.

These photos were also taken in 2017 at Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week. In it Brendan is chatting to Eileen Moylan of Claddagh Design who designed and crafted the beautiful award piece depicting scenes from his two home towns, Ballylongford and Dublin.

Éamon Ó Murchú & Brendan Kennelly (Photo taken many years ago)

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Today’s Incredible Fact

A Disney themed café in Birmingham was once closed down temporarily because a customer spotted a mouse.

The café is inside the world’s biggest Primark. It is famous for serving mouse shaped pancakes and there are posters of Mickey and Minnie all over the shop.

But when a real living mouse was spotted, it brought business to a sharp halt for a while.

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Listening to the Radio

Photo from Vanishing Ireland website

In Ireland in the 1950s the main source of inanimate entertainment was the radio. Many houses had a set like this. This is a PYE. Our one was a Phillips. I remember waking up to the sounds of O’Donnell Abú. This was the signature tune of Radio Eireann. We never listened to any other channel.

After The News we had sponsored programmes. These were short music or magazine programmes sponsored by big business e’g. ODearest Mattresses, Batchelors or The Irish Hospitals Sweepstake.

The Waltons programme on Saturdays ….”If you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song” and Dear Frankie’s “This problem may not be yours today but it could be someday” became phrases familiar to every Irishman.

Memories, memories!

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Making Turf

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Public Art in Ballybunion

Have you noticed that, as you walk around any town nowadays there is so much to delight the eye. I took these photos on a recent stroll around Ballybunion.

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In the Ball Alley

This is just one of the many lovely pictures in the ball alley now. It says home; doesn’t it?

Winter, summer, old, new, commercial and residential, Listowel in all its loveliness.

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A Poem, School Milk and a Night in St. John’s

The Big Bridge, Listowel in October 2021

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The Pebble

Remember Liz Chute’s story that inspired a Bryan MacMahon short story?

It also inspired a poem by Listowel born poet, Noel Roche.

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Halloween 2021

This year Halloween seems to be a bit low key. We seem to be skipping straight to Christmas. Maybe it’s time to abandon the Trick or Treating and fireworks and return to remembering instead our dead loved ones and visiting family graves instead.

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School Lunches!

Photo from Vanishing Ireland website

Did you bring milk to school in a Chef Sauce or YR bottle? If you did you’ll probably be about my age and you’ll be cringing in horror at this sight. No matter how much you washed and scoured, getting the smell of sauce or salad cream out of one of these bottles was impossible.

Don’t even mention breakages! These bottles were glass and broke easily. I remember the first Thermos flasks and their innards broke easily too.

Schooldays were the best days of our lives?

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Ballylongford in 1910

1910 Main Street, Ballylongford, Co.Kerry.

L to R John Thomas Carrig Sr. John Thomas Carrig Jr. M Mahoney, ? Dalton, The Kelly sisters.

Thanks to Geraldine Brassil for photo and information.

Ballylongford Snaps on Facebook shared this image and caption

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A Very Different theatrical Experience

There was something for everyone in the audience in St. John’s on Saturday night. We all got a taste of ” one he made earlier”.

Manchán Magan was our entertainer for the evening. Dressed in a tailored tweed trousers, grandfather style shirt and what looked to me like homemade pampooties, he told us in Irish and English about the connectedness of everything, about history, etymology and our close connection with the fairy world, all while baking a sourdough loaf and churning some butter.

It was an extraordinary evening’s entertainment brought to us by an extraordinary man. Manchán’s depth of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for his subjects are a sight to witness.

After the show, he chatted, signed books and shared his sourdough starter and his delicious bread and butter.

It was my first night back in St. John’s since Covid.

What a show to return to!

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Believe it or Believe it Not

Once Gillette recalled 87,000 disposable razors because, thanks to a manufacturing error, they posed a cutting hazard.

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Basketballers Named, the Ball Alley and a love poem

Listowel Town Square

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Ball Alley Art Gallery

The St. John’s and Listowel Tidy Towns Art project is finished. It’s really really good so if you are in town do drop in.

The walls are now adorned with picture bubbles depicting Irish culture with an emphasis on Listowel.

I was delighted to see that the alley was still serving its original purpose with a young man practicing badminton.

Junior Griffin’s poem remembers the ball alley as it was in its heyday.

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With a Little Help from my friends

Denis Carroll named most of them and I got a little help to jog his memory on only 2.

Back; Gerard Tarrant, Yvonne Croghan, Kay OShaughnessey, Martina Fealy, Katie O Sullivan, Miriam Beasley, Karen Carmody, Denis Carroll.

Front: Jacinta Hartnett, Beatrice Kelly, Marie Carmody and Deirdre Diggins

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Daddy’s Girl

I’m unashamedly awarding myself the award for most heart melting moment captured on camera.

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Back to Nearly Normal

Cork Opera House for my first trip back to the theatre, 60% capacity, face masks and covid certs.

The play was a classic and performed with all the respect that such a classic deserves.

Alex Murphy in the role of Gar Private stole the show. You may know him from his role in Young Offenders

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Love in a Coffee Shop, a Shark and Some Window Displays

Ballylongford by Breda Ferris

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Virtue Signalling

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Fact Sometime stranger than fiction

Regular readers of this blog will know that this is my kind of book. I picked this one up in Listowel’s Vincent de Paul shop and I’m loving it.

Here is a gem for you.

Greg Norman, the golfer is known as The Shark (He comes from Queensland, home of the great white and he plays very aggressively)

Once while fishing in Florida he caught an 80 pound blacktop shark. It was immediately eaten by a hammerhead, ten times as big.

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Ballylongford Windows

During the blacksmithing festival a local shop in Ballylongford displayed some old implements. Breda Ferris took the photos.

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New Shop in Town

In Mill Lane

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Update re spam comments

A big thank you to the people who helped me solve my spam problem. Peace has been restored. Comment away, if you like, but you must do it within 5 days of my posting.

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