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: Tralee

Tralee Mercy Sisters, Records Destroyed and A Trip Home

It’s still safe to visit us.

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Mercy Sisters First Tralee House

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On this Day; June 30 1922

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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Going Home

I made a trip to Ballincollig recently to catch up with some of my family. Clíona and Seán were on their way home to Kildare from a wedding in Kinsale. Their happy event is due in early August and I’ve hardly seen them for the whole 9 months.

The boys are boyeens no longer. They are as tall as their dad now.

On my way home to The Kingdom I called to my family in Kanturk.

This time there were 3 horses to greet me in the field near the house.

This is Woody, the newest of the three. The two well established ones were bullying him out of my picture.

This noble looking fellow was the boss on this occasion.

Just to spite them I’m putting a picture of Woody all by himself in all his chestnut beauty.

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Ireland’s Love Affair with the Kennedys

Of all the American presidents, Ireland held a special place is the heart of JFK and that love was reciprocated. The combination of his youthful good looks, his superb speechmaking and declared love for this “green and misty isle” of his ancestors on both sides, meant that on his visit here shortly before his death, he was feted like a film star and world leader rolled into one. The photograph printed in a Sunday newspaper of President and Mrs. Kennedy was displayed in many Irish homes side by side with The Pope.

So I was not surprised when a local man shared with me an album of photographs and newspaper cuttings that an Irish American nun had put together for him.

The album included autographed photographs of JFK and Jackie.

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Lovely changes in The Small Square

The green awning and wind shelter at Lynch’s are an enhancement to this corner.

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D Day Heroine, Tralee and listowel

Blossoms in Howth

Photo: Eamon ÓMurchú

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Tralee had finished their pedestrianisation just in time for outdoor dining regulations. Quinlan’s looks particularly attractive.

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Our New Public Toilet

Necessary but ugly

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The Big Bridge at Night

I was by the big bridge at night for the first time recently. It is beautiful. My photo doesn’t do it justice.

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Famous lady with a Listowel Connection

This is the Western People story about Maureen Sweeney who was in all the papers recently because she was awarded huge honour by the U.S. Congress

Maureen Sweeney was 21 years old when she took weather readings at Blacksod weather station in June 1944. Her actions influenced the D-Day landings and changed the path of the war. Her data threw General Dwight D Eisenhower’s meticulously planned invasion strategy into chaos. It forced him to mediate between opposing US and UK weather advisors and generals, and ultimately left him alone to make one of the most difficult decisions in the entire war. Maureen’s readings were the first to point out an impending storm which led to the postponement of the invasion.&nbsp; Her readings were used to pinpoint a short window of opportunity that Eisenhower needed to launch, thereby altering the course of the war.

When John J Kelly, who led the design and production of the modern landing craft, which has been used in military and humanitarian roles worldwide, heard the story of Maureen Sweeney, he was fascinated.

John approached the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, of which he was a director, and requested official recognition of Maureen and the Sweeney Family by the museum. The World War II museum has sent a letter to Maureen that John J Kelly will read during the tribute on June 19. John will also read a personal note to Maureen from US Congressman Jack Bergman (Michigan First District) who is the highest-ranking veteran to ever serve in Congress. A distinguished award, rarely given, and obtained by Congressman Bergman will be read and presented to Maureen and the Sweeney family by John.

Now aged 98, Maureen beat Covid-19 last year.

Now the Listowel Connection

Billy MacSweeney told us this story and it appeared in Listowel Connection in 2018

In my Grandparents time, Kerry people understood that they were cut off from the rest of Ireland by a series of mountains; they realized that they were isolated and had to look after themselves. Life was harder in Kerry than in the Golden Vale or on the central plains of Ireland. The mothers of Kerry especially, knew that they had to look to every advantage to help their children and prized education highly to that end. In the mid-19thcentury the people of Listowel welcomed enthusiastically the establishment of St Michael’s College for Boys and the Presentation Convent Secondary schools for Girls, not forgetting the Technical School. The people who read this blog are most likely familiar with the Census’ 1901 and 1911 and will have noticed that many homes in Listowel housed not only Boarders but also welcomed Scholars who came from the villages and isolated farms scattered around North Kerry. These boys and girls spent 5-6 years in the Listowel schools to be educated for ‘life’.

The upshot of this was that from Listowel we sent out many young adults who were a credit to their teachers to take their places in many organizations and many whose names became nationally known for their talents and abilities, especially in the Arts.

Let me tell you about one such young girl, Maureen Flavin, who was born in Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry. When the time came for Maureen to go on from National school she was welcomed into the Mulvihill home in Upper Church Street who themselves had a young girl, Ginny, of the same age. Maureen and Ginny became fast friends and stayed so for life. 

When Maureen finished school in 1930 she wanted a job; couldn’t get one in Kerry because of the times that were in it, so she answered an ad in the National Papers for an Assnt. Postmistress in Black Sod, in North Mayo. Her references and qualifications were suitable and in due course, as she says to her own surprise she was offered the job. This was to set Maureen on a course where she would be an integral part of one of the most momentous actions of the age. Mrs Sweeney, the Black Sod Postmistress, was married to Ted who was the Lighthouse Keeper, both operating from the Lighthouse building in Black Sod. They had a son, also Ted, who Maureen fell in love with and married in due course. They in turn had three boys and a girl and life took up a normal rhythm for the family; that is until 3rd June 1944.

The WW2 was in full swing at this stage with Gen. Eisenhower as the Allied Supreme Commander and Gen. Rommel the German Commander in Normandy. Rommel knew that an Allied invasion was prepared and imminent. Conventional Meteorological sources at the time for the US and German military said that the coming days would bring very inclement weather so that the invasion would have to be postponed. Eisenhower postponed the action and Rommel left Normandy for a weekend in Berlin based on the same information. The British Chief Meteorologist had however visited Black Sod some years previously and knew the value of Black Sod as the most westerly station in Europe and when a break in the weather was reported by Black Sod on 3rdJune he persuaded Eisenhower that 6thand 7thJune would be clear and to ignore the same conventional Met advice used by both the US and the Germans. Ted compiled the reports for the Irish Met Office and Maureen transmitted them. Maureen remembers receiving a telephone call a short time later from a lady with a ‘very posh English accent’ asking for confirmation of her report. Ted was called to the phone and he confirmed the readings, The rest, as they say, is history. 

Ted Sweeney died in 2001.  Maureen is still alive.

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Who is the New Mayor of Kerry

Repro Free – CLLR JIMMY MOLONEY ELECTED CATHAOIRLEACH OF KERRY COUNTY COUNCIL Historic meeting of Kerry County Council at Austin Stack Park Jimmy Moloney from Listowel has been elected Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council at a historic meeting of the local authority which was held at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. To facilitate a physical gathering of elected councillors and management and to ensure adherence to public health guidelines, the main stand at Austin Stack Park was used for the meeting to elect a new Cathaoirleach and Leas-Cathaoirleach for the coming year. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD .

Jimmy Moloney is the grandson of the late Dan Moloney T.D. and Senator. He comes from a family steeped in politics. The Kerryman of July 6 1963, in a full page obituary to Dan Moloney described him as an outstanding public figure.

This is an extract from one of the many tributes paid to Dan Moloney.

So young Jimmy has big boots to fill. At his installation in Austin Stack Park on Monday, Jimmy undertook to do his best for Kerry and for the country. We wish him the very best in his big year.

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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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