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 email@example.com
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.
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)
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.
Listening to the Radio
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.
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.
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.
Remember Liz Chute’s story that inspired a Bryan MacMahon short story?
It also inspired a poem by Listowel born poet, Noel Roche.
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.
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?
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
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!
Believe it or Believe it Not
Once Gillette recalled 87,000 disposable razors because, thanks to a manufacturing error, they posed a cutting hazard.
Elizabeth Carroll (Liz Chute) remembers Bryan MacMahon and his influence. The story is told in Liz’s screenshots from her Instagram feed.
That Naas Sculpture
Helen O’Connor and Dave O’Sullivan filled me in on this one.
Artist: By Alex Pentek
Location: Siren is located on the green adjacent to Naas Fire Station on the Newbridge Road.
History of the project: Over the last number of years, Athy and Naas have both opened purpose built fire stations. A refurbishment of the fire station in Monasterevin has also taken place. As part of the building programme, Kildare County Council engaged three Irish artists to further enhance each building by means of commissioning art works, through the Per Cent for Art Scheme. The Fire Officer, Michael Fitzsimons and County Arts Officer Lucina Russell considered the physical building and their particular location when designing a brief for the commissions.
Artist statement: The sculpture shows how I think the sound of the fire alarm would look if it were not a sound but an object. As the sound of a fire alarm broadcasts the message that the help of the Naas Fire Service is required, it is not a soothing sound, but a loud and shrill noise that forces anyone who hears it to consider their own personal safety for a moment. As the traditional fire-bell has been replaced with the wailing cry of the air horn, the form of the proposed sculpture comprises of a series of fluted horns, pointing outwards in all directions as if to make sure that everyone gets the message.
About the artist: Alex Pentek is a graduate of the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork and currently works from a studio at Monard, Rathpeacon, Co. Cork.
With the style of the work ranging from abstract to figurative, he have worked predominantly on large-scale public art sculpture commissions for outdoor locations using durable materials. Some of this work includes two life-size female figures from cast marble sand in Tralee, Co. Kerry; three giant leaves in cast bronze in Clonakilty, Co. Cork; and four giant seeds from carved oak in Tower, Co. Cork, to name but a few. During this time he has also carried out several smaller scale, private commissions for both indoor and outdoor settings.
While continuously exploring aspects of Nature in a variety of materials ranging from sheet metals, cast bronze, ceramic, carved wood and cement, he also enjoys the challenge of new materials.