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

Tag: Rockaway

Christmas Parking etc. and Sandy relief

There is fascinating first hand account here of an Irish man who fought in The Boer War (He fought with the Boers) and who also fought in 1916 and afterwards.

(Look out for the Listowel connection) 


Donal O’Sullivan

A very uplifting story in the aftermath of Sandy


When Donal O’Sullivan, a
successful, Irish-born contractor living in northeastern Queens, heard about
the devastation left byHurricane Sandyin the Rockaways, he felt compelled to go see it for

What he found in the southernmost section of the borough, on the
Saturday after the October 29th storm, stunned him. “It looked like
millions of tons of sand had been dumped in the streets,” O’Sullivan

  So the businessman from County Kerry mobilized about 150 volunteers, by the
next morning, to start digging out residents….either with shovels and
buckets…..or with Bobcats donated from his business, Navillus

O’Sullivan specializes in commercial construction and provided
the concrete for the September 11th Memorial in lowerManhattan. But he saw the need in the Rockaways and wanted to

  O’Sullivan told PIX 11 that fifty families had signed up for
assistance that first Sunday morning, and by nightfall, one hundred families
had asked for help. Since November 4th, the volunteers he’s provided from his
company have dug out some 300 families.

 A father of six, O’Sullivan’s
daughters, Katie and Caroline, have been taking part in the relief effort.  

11 and the Morning News was at one home on Beach 126th Street Wednesday
morning, as O’Sullivan’s crew dug out the basement of homeowner, Liz Gatto,
where the sand was piled four feet high. Gatto held her one year old daughter,
Ella, in her arms–as she watched the activity from the dilapidated boardwalk
across the street, where a car was buried in the sand. Gatto said she’s lived
in the Rockaways for 34 years of her life, and she never got a drop of water in
her house, not even after Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011. This time, the
ocean came crashing over the top of her home, which she had evacuated. The
electrical system will have to be replaced, before she moves back in, but she’s
grateful her family is safe.

The Rockaways served as a summer resort dating
back to the 1830’s, but with the advent of inexpensive airline travel in the
1960’s, tourism there waned. Many people, though, started living there

In Far Rockaway, afterWorld War Two, public housing was built, and many residents there have
suffered badly, after the power and heat outages caused by the hurricane.



More help on way


community ‘Day of Action’ is organized for Hurricane Sandy victims

On November 24th Irish will descend in large numbers to help in


A major
Irish “Day of Action” to help the residents of Rockaway who have been shattered
by Hurricane Sandy has been decided upon by the Irish community in conjunction
with the Irish government.

day will take place on November 24th the Saturday after Thanksgiving and up to
1,000 Irish are expected to take part from all over the New York area.
Designated work areas will be arranged in Rockaway.

day is being coordinated by the Irish Consulate in New York and buses will
transport the volunteers from the main Irish neighborhoods to the Rockaway
peninsula. The buses will be available at the Irish Immigration centers in
Queens, Bronx and likely Manhattan as well as some other upstate locations. The
Rockaway area has been devastated by the hurricane.

trades people, especially New York certified electricians are desperately
needed but volunteers of all backgrounds are welcome.

Consul General Noel Kilkenny paid tribute to the many efforts by Irish
organizations to help those in Rockaway and elsewhere who have been devastated
by the hurricane.

said when he visited Rockaway it was apparent that people on the ground were
the main need of those who have been left in dire straits.

feel the Irish with their vast array of skills and commitment to help those in
need should make an extra special effort” he said. Rockaway leaders agreed that
with its multi-ethnic mix and large Irish population it was the obvious place
to organize.

consultation with community leaders the Consulate decided to embark on the day
of action. A press release using the Irish term “Meitheal” which means a group
of neighbors coming together to help someone, has been sent out.

are invited to become an Irish Meitheal Volunteer.  All able-bodied men
and women are asked to come together and travel to Rockaway to help the
stricken neighborhood.

details (bus departures, sign-up sheets, etc.) to follow early next week.


Christmas parking in Listowel

Thanks to Jimmy Moloney for keeping us in the loop.


Did you get to see John B. after Ten?

They are off today for their big night in The National Concert Hall tomorrow. Booked out, I’m told.

This is Ann McNamee’s lovely photo of Denis OMahoney and Batt O’Keeffe in John B. After Ten at Writers’ Week 2012

The Cows’ Lawn; Storm Damage and Deer in Killarney

Cows’ Lawn


Finally the UDC and a number of other prominent citizens formed the Sinn
Fein Food Committee with a view to acquiring this land as tillage. There was a
general feeling of frustration building up with the petty restrictions and the
number of permissions which had to be sought from Lord Listowel.. ‘Negotiations’
were opened by Sinn Fein with two local men who had permission to graze the
Lawn at the time, in order that the Food Committee might proceed with their
aims of turning the ground into tillage. It would appear that ‘negotiations’
might be a misnomer, something that rankled with the families concerned in the
following years.

Getting tired of waiting for permission, the Food Committee with the
help of Volunteers from Moyvane, Knockanure, Finuge, Rathea, Ballyconry and
Ballylongford, ploughed up the ‘front and back lawns’ concerned on 25 February
1918. The members of the Committee were jailed for a month on May 23rd, while
the Chairman of the County Council, Jack McKenna spent almost a year in Belfast Jail on this and other
alleged charges.

While they were still in jail, Lord Listowel instructed the agent to
sell the disputed land to Thomas Armstrong proprietor of the NKM Sweet Factory
for £1,400.which was then five times the market value of such land. Armstrong
then offered the land at the same price to the Food Committee and they had no
option but to pay this sum.. The deed drawn up was between Thomas Armstrong and
‘The Listowel Food Committee/The Listowel Cow Keepers/The Trustees, which was
later to cause legal problems. ‘The conveyance of 1920 was made to Dr.
O’Connor, Mr. Launders, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Flavin.
‘The front lawn was divided amongst twenty people, each of whom have the right
to graze one cow in perpetuity; and the back lawn was divided amongst twenty eight
poor people for tillage purposes’

The ‘two fields’ of thirty acres in total, were mainly in grass, bounded
on all sides by woods with the river flowing alongside. The former tennis court
was left in place with a right of way into it and it continued be used as a
Tennis Club . However it was 1935 before the first Catholic was admitted to the

Listowel Urban Council continued the quest to attain ownership of the
public areas surrounding the town and in 1946 Lord Listowel granted Gurtinard Wood and a beautiful walk to the people of Listowel for a
nominal sum of £5.00.

The tillage so fiercely fought for, did not stay in use after a few
years but the twenty cow keepers continued their right to graze their cows, on
what was now known as The Cows Lawn until 1966. The author remembers some of
these ‘Cow Keepers’ exercising this right and in fact milking cows on the Lawn
and bringing the milk up the Bridge Road in galvanised buckets, swinging off
the handlebars of their bikes.


This photo from the archives of The Kerryman is from the Munster Final of 1962 in Cork. Kerry’s Donie O’Sullivan is in the centre of the shot.


Jim MacSweeney took some great photos of deer and stagsin The National Park during the rutting season.

This fellow has been in a fair few fights, I’d say

Tha Harem


A more unusual Halloween tradition

Clamping the turf for the winter

Today is All Souls Day. In the
old days this was always a great night for the fire. One Halloween game was known as
building the house. Twelve pairs of holly twigs were arranged in a circle,
pushed into the ground and tied together at the apex. A lighted sod of turf was
placed in the centre. The coupled twigs were named after the boys and girls
present, and the pair which caught fire first indicated which boy and girl
would first be coupled in marriage. Well, it beats online dating services. Also on All Souls Night, seats for the returning dead were arranged around the fire. 


Sandy’s Wake

A kind follower sent us these distressing photos of the destruction on the Jersey Shore.

Rockaway Beach, New Jersey

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