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

Tag: Listowel Races Page 1 of 6

Fís na hÓige, Races, No. 24 The Square and a Listowel Poem

Howth by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Fís na hÓige

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.

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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.

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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.

Friends and family pose with the O’Neill family.

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A Poem from Poetry Town, Listowel

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Casa Mia, Jed and Danny, Donal Ryan and The Races back in the Day

 Corner of William Street Upper

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Outdoor Dining

Two of the town’s Patricians, Jed Chute and Danny Hannon enjoying the Indian Summer 2020 in Listowel’s Main Street.

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Old Age


In the 19th century they had a very poor view of the senior years.

Thank God we live in an age when 70 is the new 50


Nicholas Leonard wrote the following


What do you make of the following item, published in 1838 and  from, I believe, a U.S. origin?

 

Periods of Human Life, from the Wexford Conservative, 1 August 1838.

Decrepitude – From 71 to 77: The age of avarice, jealousy, and envy.

Caducity– (Senility) From 78 to 84. The age of distrust, vain-boasting, unfeelingness, suspicion.

Age of Favor – From 81 to 91. The age of insensibility, love of flattery, of attention and indulgence.

Age of Wonder– From 92 to 98. The age of indifference and love of praise.

Phenomenon – From 99 to 105. The age of insensibility, hope and the last sigh.


‘Caducity’ I never heard of, but on checking online, it refers to senility, dotage, perishable…

Not sure that the future is all that rosy- not much to look forward to in the above list, apart from the ‘last sigh.’

Nicholas


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Happiness is…..



I’m really enjoying this one.


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Listowel Races in the Papers


Eileen Sheridan came across these old 1977 newspaper photos and and Dave O’Sullivan unearthed a great Kieran OShea article from the same paper. 



The 1977 Harvest Festival Committee



The 1924 Race Committee




Muckross, Church Street, Listowel Races in Days Gone By and David Toomey, Endurance Runner

Boats at rest on the Lower Lake, Killarney

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Animals in The National Park

I love seeing this old form of transport in Killarney National Park

These are the famous herd of Kerry cows.

 Here is Cora with Molly as they wait patiently for Daddy to return with the picnic.

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Mullally’s of Church Street 

Armel White alerted me to this. As painters stripped the paint prior to repainting Murphy’s, they revealed the name of the former owners, Mullally, bringing back many memories to Listowel people.

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 Charles’ Street in 2003

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Listowel Races in the Light of Other Days

We won’t be seeing any of these scenes this September. Here are a few old photos just to remind you of better times.

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David Toomey…Man of Iron


David Twomey is Listowel’s very talented town gardener. In Valeria O’Sullivan’s picture from last weekend he is taking part in a gruelling ultra marathon.


David Toomey, on Drung Hill, Mountain Stage, Kells, Co Kerry, undertaking a 200km non stop endurance race – The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon, a daunting 40 hour, 200km, non stop race, which traverses the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Iveragh Peninsula, on Ireland’s longest trail route in Ireland. All athletes adhered to social distancing, HSE and Sport Ireland Covid19 guidelines.

Photos:Valerie O’Sullivan


Unfortunately, David suffered a foot injury towards the closing stages and was unable to finish.

Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach (He’ll live to fight another day)

Kingfisher, A jockey fatality, a Fancy Dress Parade and the Harp and Lion is finished

Takes more Than a Sign to stop Him

Photo: Chris Grayson

This lad is not called a Kingfisher for nothing.

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A sobering thought from John O’Flahery’s great book about Listowel Races

First jockey to be killed in Listowel. The year was 1896.

The man in question was a 21 year old jockey from Fedamore, named Michael Prendergast who was tragically killed during the last race on the second day when his mount “Castlequarter”, crashed into a corner post after jumping the last fence. 

The accident happened when Prendergast was trying to drive Castlequarter inside the eventual winner, Tantalus, as they approached the final corner post. As they neared the post, Castlequarter swerved to the right and would have gone inside the post if Prendergast had not snatched him up. This momentaery delay cost him his life, for, when he straightened his horse, he found that the gap had almost been closed by Tantalus and his rider. 

Courageously, Prendergast tried to squeeze through the tiny space, but, instead, he only succeeded in driving the horse on to the post with shattering force. He was propelled from the saddle and struck the ground violently with his head, knocking him unconscious. 

He was removed to Feale View Hotel, the home of the Hon. Secretary, Michael O’Connor, with blood streaming from his ears. Despite being attended to by a number of doctors, he died without regaining consciousness, at 7.00p.m. on Friday August 29. His young wife, whom he had married only a few months before, was at his bedside. 

The terrible accident, which prematurely ended a very promising career, was all the more pathetic, because, up to then, Prendergast had been enjoying an outstanding meeting, during which he had notched up three winners, including the two feature races. 


Perhaps the accident might not have happened at all had the stewards not disqualified the winner of the first race that day, Antelope, because he had come inside one of the posts.  In trying to avoid the same fate, Prendergast earned the unenviable distinction of being the first jockey to be killed at Listowel. Incidentally, his mount, Castlequarter broke his neck in a fall at Croom the following year.

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Down Memory Lane


Eileen Sheridan sent us this good one.

Front row.

Babe Joe Wilmot,Tadgh Brennan, Maisie McSweeney

Back row

Maureen Horgan Ethel Ryan

At the side Jerry Flaherty

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The Sign is done. The Harp strings are painted and while he had the ladder up,

 Martin gave the Lion’s face a cat’s lick. Passing pigeons are a menace.


Alternative Fashion Event 2018, A Sunday Morning walk in Ballybunion and a West Cork postbox

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More Alternative Fashion Listowel Races 2018


On the Saturday of Listowel Races, The Tidy Town Committee in conjunction with Listowel Race Committee and with prizes sponsored by local traders, hold a marvellous upcycle restyle event. This event is growing in popularity year on year and now we have people preparing their outfits for months in advance.

I met Niamh Kenny and her mother Bridie in the tent. Niamh was wearing the Caroline Leahy creation that her mother had got made for Niamh’s communion. Niamh accessorised it with a borrowed hat which was adorned with feathers from the milliner’s grandmother’s hat. Niamh’s earrings were customised from vintage Chanel buttons she picked up in Paris.

Orlagh Winters is chatting to Anne Leneghan about her outfit. Anne volunteers in a charity shop and the lady who donated this told her that she wore it on her honeymoon 65 years ago. Anne wore it beautifully with a vintage fur stole hat and bag, all from charity shops.

The audience was riveted as much by the stories as the style.

This lady was a runner up in the competition. Her story was that her ensemble was a tribute to aunts. The various pieces of her outfit were inherited from different aunts and she put them all together beautifully. It looks to me like our grandmothers wore a lot of brown, beige and other muted colours.

Orlagh’s modern silver boots were in sharp contrast with the sensible, comfortable brogues of the contestant.

Andrea Thornton is one of those ladies who love to wear vintage clothes every day. She told us that her pupils are often fascinated to see what she will wear to class on any day.

Anna was resplendent in a vintage black outfit.

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Sunday Morning in Ballybunion


On a beautiful crisp autumn Sunday morning, Sept. 23 2018 I took my camera to Ballybunion.

The Garda station was looking spruce.

They have decided against replacing the metal golf ball, stolen by vandals, on the statue of U.S. president, Bill Clinton.

For the art lover, Ballybunion has some unique and fascinating artistic touches .

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Another Georgian postbox


Neil Brosnan spotted this one in Pearson’s Bridge in west Cork

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