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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Healy of Healyracing working on The Island on Monday.
Gordon Elliot, trainer, back in Listowel for another year.
Welcome Baby Aoife
What a blessing! I get to hold the hand of my newest granddaughter.
(The painted nails are the remains of the wedding.)
Aoife with her Mammy, Clíona Cogan McKenna. Aoife is 2 months old.
Aoife has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger already.
Ball Alley Transformation
Listowel Ballalley has had many makeovers. The latest is a series of lovely murals by local artists. Paul (not so local), Erin and Eimear were hard at work when I visited at the weekend. The murals are a work in progress and we should have the grand launch soon.
Old Post Box
At Kelly’s, The Six Crosses
We all grow into our mothers eventually
Last few from the Blacksmithing Festival
There was lots more than smithing going on in Ballylongford on Saturday September 25 2021. There were pony rides for the children, a wandering musician, stalls with vintage stuff for sale and other side shows.
This “lord and lady’ were dressed in period costume, sword and all.
Indoors I met my friend, Dan Hartnett, with lots of vintage tools, cutlery and miscellaneous stuff.
The festival was part of the fundraising effort to revive and restore the old mill.
I parked in the church carpark and walked to the venue for the festival. At the bridge I came upon this group being given a guided tour of the architecture of Ballylongford by Dr. Declan Downey. Had I known that was on I’d have taken part in that too.
Declan Downey is a thorough researcher and an excellent guide.
At the corner I met these three heroes. I think they may be from Asdee. After a bit of good natured caffling they pointed me in the right direction.
I obeyed the sign and found my way to the displays.
There was a nice little crowd gathered around the exhibitions.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what I saw of the fun of the fair.
The Public Library is Changing
I hadn’t visited the library in person in ages until a few weeks ago. I have been listening to audio books on Borrowbox and I have been reducing my “to be read” pile slowly.
I made my return with my granddaughter in Ballincollig.
Cora showed me how the system operates now.
It’s a DIY job now. You put your library card and then your book, whether you’re returning or borrowing, under a barcode scanner and all the information is digitised and recorded on a computer. No need for any interaction with a librarian any more.
A full page ad in Irish Examiner, Monday September 27 2021
Just a Thought
My reflections, broadcast last week on Radio Kerry are at the link below;
Fís na hÓige Productions is a film and drama group based in St. John’s. During July they held a film making course.
Kiana Breatnach sent us these photos.
This could be the start of Something Big
This is No.24 The Square, Listowel.
Today it is home to Kerry Writers Museum.
Here is the same house in the 1950s when Dr. Michael O’Connor and his family lived there. The Morris Minor in front is the family car.
This is Fr. Brendan O’Connor pictured at the door.
He made a return visit to his father’s family home on September 19 2021.
In this photo sent to me by her grandson, Eitan Elazar, is Fr. Brendan’s grandmother at the same door in the 1950s.
This was the reason for Fr. Brendan’s visit and the “something big’ referred to in my heading.
It is St. Patrick’s breastplate, illuminated by the late Michael O’Connor, son of Dr. Michael O’Connor and father of Fr. Brendan.
Michael O’Connor had an enormous talent for illumination.
Illumination is calligraphy in the style of The Book of Kells.
Jimmy Deenihan, chair of Kerry Literary Trust presented Fr. Brendan with a copy of Bertha Beatty’s Kerry Memories. Bertha also lived in No. 24 The Square when the Creagh family owned it.
Also in the photo is Cara Trant, Manager of Kerry Writers’ Museum.
Bryan MacMahon and Michael O’Connor collaborated on several pieces. Jim MacMahon came to Listowel to meet Fr. Brendan and to see the treasures.
Fr. Brendan used his late father’s magnifying glass to show Jim some of the intricate detail in the breastplate. Michael O’Connor worked on this at the kitchen table in his Dublin home, after the children had gone to bed. He worked holding a magnifying glass in one hand and a brush/pen in the other. Under these less -than -ideal conditions he produced Celtic illumination work of the highest quality, work proclaimed by experts in this field as the best of its kind.
The hope is that after expert work of conservation, some of Michael’s work will be displayed in the house where he grew up.
Fr. Brendan O’Connor, me, David Browne , chair of Kerry Writers’ Museum and Stephen Rynne who is the driving force behind the project to bring the work of Michael O’Connor to the wide audience it deserves.
Stephen’s father, Etienne Rynne was a friend of Michael O’Connor’s and Aideen, Stephen’s mother, is willing to give her treasured piece of O’Connor’s work for display along with the other works.
Aideen is holding the piece in my photograph. It is an illuminated papal blessing scroll presented to her and her husband, Etienne, by Michael O’Connor on the occasion of their marriage.
Maybe there are other people with a Listowel Connection or not who have a piece of this original artwork in their possession. Stephen, who is co-ordinating the project is anxious to trace the whereabouts of as many original pieces as possible.
Maybe you have one of the 6 Christmas cards with words by Bryan MacMahon and illumination by Michael O’Connor that were produced by Oriel Press. The original artwork for these has been lost but maybe you have kept a card and it is now part of this extraordinary story.
Friday, September 24 2021 at Listowel Races
Photos by Bridget O’Connor
These ladies were the finalists in the Best Dressed competition.
And the winner is….
This photo is from Listowel Races site. The lady is Maritess McCarthy.
Anseo is an initiative by Kerry County Council and others to help the entertainment industry and to bring a bit of entertainment to our streets that have been so quiet for so long.
This is the scene at the Anseo concert in Listowel on Saturday Sept 18 2021.
Afternoon Show 1.00 – 3.30pm
Eoghan Duignan, John Browne & Brendan O’Sullivan
Tim O’ Shea & Afro Trad Ireland
Liam O’Connor & Family
Evening Show 6.00 – 8.30pm
Seamus Begley & Donogh Hennessy
Peter Staunton and Super Ceili
This is the line up. As you can see it features the best musicians and brilliant music. So why was the venue almost empty?
Answer; People didn’t know about it.
“I would have been there if I’d known,” is what I am hearing on every side since.
I know the First Communion was on and the storytelling festival but maybe it should have been part of the craic for these events.
These four ladies couldn’t resist breaking into a set.
I’m told that the evening concert was sold out.
After the Races
A poem for the week that’s in it.
At the Storytelling Festival
The O’Connor family from Cork with local storyteller, Godfrey Coppinger at the international Storytelling Festival at Kerry Writers Museum on Sept 19 2021
Ladies Day, Sept 24 2021 at Listowel Races
I missed the Races this year but my friend deputised for me and took a some photos for you. Here are a few of Bridget O’Connor’s photos from Friday.
Ballylongford Blacksmithing Festival
I was in Ballylongford on Saturday September 25 2021 for this very new , very different festival. The blacksmiths looked nothing like blacksmiths I remember from my childhood and their open air forges were fuelled by gas.
These smiths were not farriers but decorative workers in molten metal. I saw no leather aprons and face shields here and there seemed to be a certain kind of hippy style to these modern day smiths. They made beautiful things and it was great to see them at work.