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

Category: History Page 1 of 9

Music, Ball Alley Art, a Ballybunion Sculpture and Brendan Kennelly Essay

Clochar strand by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Irish Music at the Ball Alley

These three pictures celebrate a very important part of Irish Culture; traditional music.

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Unseasonal Poem

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A Rare Brendan Kennelly Essay

The late Brendan Kennelly wrote an introductory essay on North Kerry parishes for Vincent Carmody’s North Kerry Camera. Vincent has shared it with us.

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A Fact

In Kentucky there is a fundamentalist Catholic theme park. The centrepiece is a replica of Noah’s Ark. It is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. In 2017 and 2018 there was really really heavy rain in Kentucky.

Landslides at the theme park damaged the ark and the company who ran the park sued for rain damage.

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Mary Young

I took my recent visitors to see the incongruous sculpture of a lady dressed for a ball sitting in front of one of the most magnificent churches in the diocese.

Here is the answer;

A mark of respect for Mary Young

kerryman

December 09 2017 12:00 AM


The Killahenny Heritage, Historical, and Arts Society commissioned and recently unveiled a statue of Mary Young (née O’Malley), in honour of her significant contribution to life in Ballybunion.

Born in Kilconly, Ballybunion, she was unable to find work near home, and after finding employment in Clare, she met her husband John Young, an English tea-planter.

After John’s death, she returned to Ballybunion, living at her home on Doon Road for some 12 years. Upon a return to Dublin in the early 1880s, she wished her home to be used as a school; there, the Sisters of Mercy established a convent on the back of her generosity, and they would continue their involvement with St Joseph’s School for over 100 years.

“On her return from Dublin, Mary built a house on Church Road, which later became Dr. Hannan’s house,” Catherine Hayes told The Kerryman in the days following the momentous events.

“Returning from Dublin, she had another house built on Church Road which would become Dr Hannan’s house. After meeting with Fr O’Connor, she proposed the building of a new church to be named St John’s in memory of her husband. 

“She died on August 19 1894 and is buried  in Kilahenny Cemetry.  We the Killahenny Heritage, Historical and Arts Society wished to publicly honour Mary Young and acknowledge her immense contribution to Ballybunion,” Catherine added.

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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.

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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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Listowel Defibrillators, a Poem and Jesse James

Entrance to Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail from Dowd’s Road

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The Square is Changing

Listowel Town Square in 2016

Before that, this old phone box used to sit in the corner of the Square.

Listowel Town Square in October 2021

The new defibrillator box occupies the site of the old phone box.

Here are the locations and times of availability of other public defrillators in town

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A Poem recalling the Children of Lir

Fionnuala was the eldest of Lir’s children and the mother substitute who looked after her brothers as they wintered on frozen waters. The poet invokes her as she leaves her loved one in the charge of another Fionnuala.

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The story of famous local raparee from Shannonside Annual 1956

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Defibrilator, Mallards, Sive and a Horse Fair

Defibrilator installed in the Square in October 2021

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You have to Laugh

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A Poem about ducks by a poet called Catherine Gander

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A Literary Treasure returns to Listowel

From left: Cara Trant, director of Kerry Writers’ Museum; Joanna Keane-O’Flynn; Karl Harding; John Keane; Billy Keane; Mar Harding. Picture: Tom Fitzgerald.

The above picture by Tom Fitzgerald illustrates a great story in the Irish Examiner, October 4 2021

The man in the front in blue was clearing out an old house in Cork when he came upon the original script of John B’s Sive signed by the author.

Karl Harding is a keen John B. Keane aficionado. He and his wife Mar determined that Kerry Writers Museum was the proper place for this treasure. They are pictured above with Cara Trant and members of the Keane family at the hand over.

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October Horse Fair 2021

Smaller than usual but a welcome return to near normal, the horse fair returned to Market Street yesterday. There were goats, donkeys, ponies and miniature horse breeds but very few horses.

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