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
The Black Valley is one of the most inaccessible places and also one of the most beautiful in Co. Kerry.
Recently a man, Michael Rodgers, posted some extraordinary photographs on Facebook. There are no people in these shots, just sheep and nature at its rawest.
These abandoned houses tell their own story.
There are some inhabited houses too, a church and a school, a community hanging on by the skin of its teeth.
Before they built Our Lady of the Valley church in 1955, people had to go to Derrycunnihy Church to worship.
“Long before the Lady of the Valley Church was built after quite a Battle to Build it the Black Valley Residents traveled from Lord Brandon’s Cottage, took a boat rowed by Teresa Tangney to a spot across the Upper Lake to a spot near the Derrycunnihy Church which was still a hike from the Dock which took a couple hours.” Michael Rodgers
Presentation Secondary School Yearbook 1991
The early days of football for ladies in Listowel…
President Clinton in Ballybunion 1998
Photo; Bert Griffin
Ring of Kerry Cycle 2022
Listowel’s Ard Chúram crew were out in force volunteering as stewards at the very successful cycle. Unfortunately the weather was fairly miserable but the mood was upbeat among the cyclists and volunteers.
Dr. Colm Henry HSE Clinical Director with Árd Charm chairman, Finbarr Mawe
Timothy Hurley, Cahirsiveen, with Finbarr and Kathy Mawe
Volunteers, Angela Quinlan and Anne Donegan at Kenmare Food Station.
At the Kenmare food station, Anne Donegal looking after AC cyclist Fergus O’Brien, Cork
Cathal Walshe, PRO of ROKCC with Listowel Árd Chúram volunteers, Mike Moriarty and Brenda O’Halloran on Friday evening at the registration desk
The Claddagh Ring, The Listowel Connection
Yesterday The New York Times’ Sandra Jordan did a story on the Claddagh ring
Walt Disney, Queen Victoria, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Gabriel Byrne have all worn them.
200 Claddagh rings were recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers.
These are some of the great titbits I learned from the article.
When it comes to a modern take on the Claddagh design, the New York Times has this to say about Eileen Moylan of Claddagh Design
In 2013, the Overall Winner at Showcase Ireland, a national exposition presented on behalf of the Design and Crafts Council Ireland, was a minimalist version of the Claddagh ring. The design, which eliminated any detailing on the hands, cuffs and crown, was created by Eileen Moylan, a goldsmith with Claddagh Design.
Ms. Moylan said she was 8 when her grandmother gave her a Claddagh ring. “It was my first proper piece of jewelry and I adored it,” the 44-year-old said. But when she studied jewelry design, she found the traditional Claddagh ring too ornate.
“I was inspired by fede rings, lovely, simple things,” she said. “I didn’t want to remove the elements of the hands, heart and crown — my rings are still recognizable as Claddaghs.”
Ms. Moylan, who makes all her rings by hand, does sell traditional rings, but she said her contemporary designs, which start at 196 euros ($206), are her best-sellers. She uses only recycled metal: silver, white and yellow gold, platinum and palladium.
A lot of customers “like the simple, clean lines,” she said. “I sell a lot of men’s wedding rings, they are not ornate. And an awful lot of men are getting my Claddagh rings as engagement rings.”
In 2017,commissioned by Writers’ Week, Eileen made an extraordinarily beautiful presentation piece for Brendan Kennelly. Here she is pictured with him on Opening Night, Listowel Writers Week 2017.
All of Eileen’s work is exceptional. She deserves all the recognition she gets.
William Street, Listowel, in Irish is rendered as Sráid and Phiarsaigh, just one of many street naming puzzles in Listowel.
Here are the rest of the great old film posters that Norma O’Connor sent us.
If any one has a story relating to any of these films, we’d love to hear it. First date maybe, disastrous date or the best night of your life.
Norma sent us the schedule for some of these films in The Plaza, Church Street, Listowel.
The Law and Order with Ronald Reagan showed on 3/06/1956
A girl in every port – 6/09/1954
Lost in Alaska – 13/02/1955
Run for Cover – 06/11/1956
The Virgin Queen – 19/11/1956
Suddenly – 27/11/1955
Malta Story – 14/02/1955
Listowel Writers’ Week 2022; Friday Walk
One of the really enjoyable events for patrons of Writers’ Week is the daily morning walks.
Vincent Carmody made these rambles around town a feature and he is still the most knowledgeable walking guide.
I have learned from a master and now I am delighted to guide a Morning Walk. This year it was on Friday, June 3.
My walk is much like my blog, totally random and with a lot of help from my friends.
This is the 2022 team. Kay Caball is the historian, Seán Stack with a lot of help from Mary Fagan is in charge of sound, Clíona McKenna reads a bit and acts as my assistant and prompter, Paddy McElligott is in charge of all the tenor numbers, Mary Moylan is the musician and singer extraordinaire and Éamon ÓMurchú reads eloquently from the work of Joseph O’Connor.
Because I am otherwise engaged, I don’t get to take too many photos but I got a few.
Kay Caball regaling the walkers with tales of The Fitzmaurices and their adventures.
With some walkers before we set off from The Listowel Arms.
I met this lady on Opening Night and she told me she’d come even though she isn’t too keen on walking. I assured her that calling this event a walk is a grave misnomer.
Sean Moriarty and Denis O’Mahoney of The Lartigue Theatre Company admire the photo and plaque to commemorate Danny Hannon and Ireland’s smallest theatre in Kerry Writers’ Museum, close to the site where it all began 50 years ago.
This is a section of the audience who gathered to remember Danny and the great days of theatre in Listowel.
The Lartigue wasn’t just a theatre or even a group of players, the Lartigue was a family. Like other families the Lartigue holidayed together, travelled abroad together and chipped in together in whatever escapade Danny planned for them.
Danny and his volunteers literally built the theatre, painted it and manned it for 10 years.
Denis and Seán told us the history of the theatre company in entertaining and graphic detail. Neither man had a script they could share with me but I’m still hopeful they will put the history on paper for us.
The Plaza Cinema
Norma O’Connor, whose parents ran the cinema in The Plaza for years sent us some lovely old cinema posters.
The Plaza was built by Trevor Chute and he hired people to run it as a cinema. Norma’s mother started working in The Plaza in 1938. Norma’s father, who was an electrician, came to work there as a projectionist. He was still working there when he passed away suddenly in 1963. He actually died sitting in his car outside the cinema at the age of only 42.
Norma has had the posters folded up for years. She did her best to flatten them.
She also sent us the dates when these films were shown in The Plaza. Many of the film star’s names will be familiar to my older readers.
More next week…
An Uplifting Writers’ Week Story
One day during Writers’ Week, as I was going from one venue to another I happened upon an artist setting up his easel outside the hotel. I stopped to chat to him. He told me that he was Seán ÓDuibhir from Galway. He came to Listowel to met up with his sister who was here from the U.K. for Writers’ Week. I told him that I’d put him in my blog. He reached into his bag and he gave me a print of a picture he had done the day before.
Fr. Kieran O’Shea’s account of Listowel Parish (Continued)
Kilflynn Fairy Festival Postponed
After all the preparations and excitement the fairies had to cancel again this year.
So as not to disappoint all their fairy loving followers they promise to be back brighter and better in August 2022.
Photos: Pat Kelly
This photo from 1940s is of a horse drawn hearse.
Tarbert Regatta some time in the 1940s.
A Book Launch at Writers’ Week 2022
One of the problems about Writers’ Week is that there are constantly hard choices to make. In an ideal world I would have loved to go to everything but that would have required the power of bilocation. That one is not in my repertoire of super powers.
I had decided to see all the drama on offer this year. This meant that I inevitably had to forego a few events I would have loved to attend.
One such event was John McGrath’s launch of his Closing the Circle poetry anthology.
Two poets, John with Gabriel Fitzmaurice in Kerry Writers’ Museum before the launch.
Generously all the money raised by the launch was being donated to help the victims of the war in Ukraine. Noelle and Kate were on the door.
Radio Kerry’s Saturday Supplement presenter, Joe McGill with Catherine Moylan and John McGrath at the launch.