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: Schools’ Folklore Page 1 of 2

Conor Pass, a New Granddaughter and St. Batt’s Well

Waterfall at Conor Pass by Éamon ÓMurchú

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The Miracle of Life

There’s been a bit of a change in circumstances in the Kildare branch of the family.

Last week I got to visit the lovely Aoife, my newest grandaughter, who, at two weeks old is already everyone’s darling. Here she is making her Listowel Connection debut.

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24 The Square, Listowel

This lovely town house has been home to some of Listowel’s most famous families. The Creagh family lived here before the O’Connors. This house is now home to Kerry Writers’ Museum.

This was the family home of Michael O’Connor, illuminator. Here are a few more examples of his work.

The alphabet is amazing. The second picture is a work in progress. Michael died at a young age leaving many projects at various stages of completion.

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Our Ancestors were Superstitious

The Schools Folklore collection has many stories of superstitions and weather lore. Here are some beliefs the old people held that foretold wet weather on the way.

The Robin sings inside in the middle of the bush.
The Geese fly against the wind.
The Snail creeps up the wall.
The cat turns his back to the fire.
The wave can be heard for miles.
Red in the sky at east before the sunrise.
The warble fly lays its eggs on the cattle and the cattle run in the fields.
The high hill near Tralee is clouded at the east side.
The fish dont rise to the fisherman’s fly.
The cement floor gets damp
The spring wells will rise
The Seagulls come inland from the seashore.
COLLECTOR Gerald Mulvihill

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St. Bartholamew

Today, August 24 is the day for visiting St. Batts Well in Coolard. Applying the water from the well to sore eyes is meant to cure ailments of the eye.

A Charity Shop, A Holy Well and a Swim

Peacock Butterfly by Paddy Fitzgibbon

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Roses by the Feale in July 2021

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Volunteering in the VdeP shop

All the Covid regulations are observed in Vincents in Upper William Street. Abina and Sarah were in charge when I visited on Friday July 23 2021.

You should call in soon. They will be selling off all their summer stock in their much anticipated sale.

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The Blessed Well in Kilshenane

(From the Schools’ Folklore Collection)


Saint Senan was a great Kilshinane Saint. His well is situated in Kilshinane in John O’Connor’s farm. Many people pray for sore eyes or for any sore they have. If they are to be cured they will see a white trout in the water.
It is thought to be a very good well as people come from far and near to pray rounds there. We may pray rounds there any day, but there are four special days for doing so – Saint Senan’s day, the 8th March, the Saturday before the 1st of May the Saturday before Saint John’s day, and the 24th June, and the Saturday before Michalemas the 29th of September. Saint Senan’s well is surrounded by an iron railing.
There are three statues over the well placed there by one who may yet be canonized – the late Miss O’Connell, Principal teacher of Dromclough Girls’ National School. One of these is of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the Sacred Heart, another of the Mary of the Gael Saint Brigid. It is thought that the well sprang up suddenly one one night because of Saint Senan’s prayer.
In olden times a pattern as held there on Saint Senan’s day 8th of March Whenever there is a funeral at Kilshinane cemetry crowds of strangers go to see the well. It is thought that long ago some person took home some of the well-water to boil as an experiment but if it was down since it would not warm not alone to boil.
When people go there they bring home a bottle of the well water with hem, some people leave money there to repair the well. Miss O’Connell R.I.P. The Principal Teacher of Dromclough Girls national school get it repaired first, and got the statues over the well and the iron railing round it also.
Collector Eileen Hannon- Age 14
Informant- Mrs Bridget Flaherty- Relation grandparent- Age 74- Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry

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My Girleens are Growing Up

My three lovely granddaughters love the water. Here they are after their evening swim in The Dock in Kinsale.

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Bread Shoes, Dried up River and Listowel Characters Mural

Skerries by Éamon ÓMurchú

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A Strange Tale from the School’s Folklore Collection

Little Hands and the Bread Shoes

Once upon a time there lived a man with his wife and son war broke in France, and every Irish man had to go there, and this man had to go also. He wrote letters every day to his wife, and one a wire came to his wife that her husband got killed in the war. She had only one little boy, and he was only a baby. It was a slate house they had.
One day as the little boy was sleeping in his cradle, a slate fell off over the window, and a branch of ivy went in the window and it grew around the child’s. The child was about four years when he went to school. After a time the children got the “flu”, and the little boy took it, and he was very sick, and it was worse he was geting, and at last he died.
His mother kept a little red pair of shoes under her bed, and when she went up in the room the mice had them eaten, and then she took out a loaf of bread out of the bin and softened it in boiling water; and while she was softening the bread a man went in and asked a piece of bread for God’s sake. The woman said that she had bread inside, and she had a loaf in the bin.
The man who asked her was Christ at last the boy was buried, and the threw herself on the grave, and the neighbours pulled her away, and she went to bed after going home, and a few nights after her son appeared to her and said I am in the first step of heaven mother, but the bread shoes are keeping me back, and the night he came he said he was in the second step of heaven, but the bread shoes had kept him back and the next night he came he said he was in the third step of heaven but the bread shoes had kept him back, and then they took off the shoes, and he went to heaven. After a short time the boys mother died, and she went to heaven
Collector; Eileen Hannon Age 14-

Informant- Mrs Ellen Foley-Age 74-

Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry.

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Wouldn’t it Lift your Heart?

This is my grandnephew in the U.S. dancing with his great grandmother at a family wedding.

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Drought 2021

The River Feale at the Big Bridge is at a very low level.

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Elegy to Road Kill

Fox

by John McGrath

I killed a fox last night

outside the graveyard wall.

Too late to brake I caught

a flash of golden fur

in headlight’s glare,

Felt the thump and crunch

of steel on bone,

Slow-motion silence,

Disbelief and then,

certitude

that fate had mindlessly conspired

to lead us to this place,

this point in time,

this intersecting line

where two lives intertwine

with tragedy.

One of us remained

outside the graveyard wall.

One moved on

and died a little too.

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The Mural is Finished

I took the following photos on July 24 2021 as the muralist just finished the artwork. I took a few long shots to give those of you not in town an idea of where it is and to put the scale of the work in context

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Newbridge House and Farm and how to make a wheel

A study of a pigeon by Criostóir Grayson

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Newbridge House and Farm

Recently Éamon ÓMurchú visited Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate.

This is an exceptionally interesting visitor attraction bringing country life, old days and old ways within easy reach of Dublin.

Look at the old milk churns. They are a throwback to days when cows were milked by hand and the milk taken by the farmer to the creamery.

A collection of rakes, spades, scythe, sickles, slash hook, a hay knife, a sleán, a push mower and an implement on the lower right that baffles me.

Could it be a whet stone?

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Memory Lane

An old one of Jim Halpin chatting to a garda at the door of his military and historical museum.

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Wheelmaking

from Asdee National School in the Schools’ Folklore Collection.

The wheel is made in the following way – the stock which is made of elm is first chipped with a hatchet – it is then put into the dell and turned. The dell is twisted round with a handle and the carpenter is at the other side with his chizels until he has it rounded enough. He then marks it with two lines at about two inches apart. The lines are used as a guide for mortising the wheel. He then gets a compass and centers his wheel so as to have his mortises even for the spokes. He then dresses his spokes which are made of oak. The spokes are prepared in the following way – they are first cut with a saw about two feet long by three inches broad and two inches in thickness. He first cuts the tenant which fits into the mortice. Then he rounds the spokes with a hatchet. After this he works a drawing-knife for to clean it. Next he works a spoke-shave in it and then he brings it to perfection with a smoothing-plane. When he has his spokes dressed he drives them into the stock. Then he gets a trammel for to get the round of the wheel for to give him a guide to mark his fellows. He then cuts the end of the spokes to fit into the fellows. The fellows are made into six parts and are a kind of bent to bring in the circle of the wheel. He then bores two holes on each fellow with an augur in order to fit them into the spokes. It is then taken to the forge and shod with an iron band.
COLLECTORMaureen D. O’ Connor

AddressTullahennel South, Co. Kerry

INFORMANTWilliam Egan Age67 Address Tullahennel South, Co. Kerry

This account is full of the specific vocabulary of the wheelwright, words lost to us today.

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Today’s Poem

Ar Scáth a Chéile a Mhaireann na Daoine

We live within the shadow of each other (Irish Proverb)

By John McGrath

Bang!

A finch against my window.

I felt the shudder as its world met mine,

Rushed to where it fell.

Sapped of sense and movement,

Eyes glazed, grey, lifeless,

Wings splayed, stone still.

I saw its small beak quiver,

Move as if to speak.

A tiny pulse throbbed in its downy throat.

Cupping it in my palm,

I felt the soft, warm beat within,

Willed life into stillness.

Restored by simple touch

It stirred, fluttered, faltered, flew

And healed the poet too.

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Good news on Parking in Ballybunion

(From Radio Kerry)

More public car parking is being provided in Ballybunion.

Kerry County Council says it will provide the free spaces at the Tintean Theatre carpark, located off Church Road.

The extra spaces will be available until the end of September and signage has been put in place to direct motorists to the car park.

Tralee Artist, Folklore and My Neighbour is The New Mayor of Kerry

People have been wondering about Molly. I’m glad to report that I met her in Cork recently and she was in great form. She has loved lockdown with her family at home all the time and lots and lots of attention.

I told her her Listowel admirers were asking.

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Tralee Artist, Mike O’Donnell

Last week I found myself in a part of Tralee that I am not familiar with. I’m sorry I should have noted the name of the area. I was delighted to see the work of one of my favourite muralist’s adorning the walls. The pictures are fabulous but I have no idea what exactly they depict. Looks like Famine times and a few extra unrelated images.

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Bíonn Siúlach Scéalach

I am old enough to remember when homeless men walked the roads, travelling from parish to parish in search of seasonal work. They often called asking if they could sleep in the hay barn for the night. It was unlucky to refuse such a request but my poor mother, who was a widow, never slept a wink if there was a man sleeping in the barn. She was in dread fear he would smoke and burn the barn, hay and all down.

This is what I found in the school’s folklore collection about these spailpíní.

Beggars seldom stay in the same house more than one night unless when the next day is bad. They always have their own food which they collected during the day but sometimes the people of the house give them their supper and breakfast. They also give them a bag of straw to sleep on for the night. Tinkers usually travel in families but the poor travellers go singly or in twos.

About five or six years ago a poor travelling woman stayed at our house for three days and she used to tell us a good deal of funny stories every night.
The best known travelling folk in my locality are as follows:- Paddy Flynn, Bob Landers, Jimmy O’Leary, the O’Briens, Mrs Fitzgerald and they come the most frequently to my locality.

These travellers usually come at Easter and Christmas and before the Pattern and Listowel races.

COLLECTOR James Maher

Gender male

Address Knockaunacurraheen, Co. Kerry

INFORMANT Mrs Sheehy

Gender female

Age 75

Address Ballintogher, Co. Kerry

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Bridge Road

These businesses are on opposite sides of Bridge Road as you approach town from the Tralee side.

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On This Day, June 30 1922

(information from a book, On this Day by Myles Dungan of RTE)

June 30 1922 was the day that future genealogists’ and family researchers’ hearts were well and truly broken. On that fateful day, the biggest explosion ever seen in Dublin destroyed records of Irish administrations from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Earlier damage had already been done during World War 1 with the pulping of census returns for 1861, ’71, ’81 and “ 91.

What was lost in the explosion of 1922?

Census returns for the years 1921, 31, 41, and ’51

One thousand Church of Ireland parish registers

Wills and deeds and land transactions

Court Reports

Military Records

Was this explosion an accident?

Sadly, no.

The public records office was housed in The Four Courts in Dublin. 

On April 14 1922, anti treaty rebels under Rory O’Connor occupied this building.

Pro treaty forces of the Free State government under Michael Collins attempted to dislodge them.

On June 30th the rebels in The Four Courts, now under Ernie O’Malley, surrendered.

The arsenal of ammunition and explosives the rebels had stored in The Four Courts was torched and thus was lost a millennium of official Irish records.

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Jimmy Moloney, Mayor of Kerry

Jimmy Moloney was installed as Mayor of Kerry yesterday. Here he is with his two aunts, Kay Caball and Eila Moriarty.

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