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

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Mary Cogan, retired from teaching in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am a native of Kanturk, Co. Cork.
I have published two books; Listowel Through a Lens and A minute of your Time

Then and Now

Áras an Phiarsaigh, June 2022

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Today’s Tumbling Paddy

Do you remember this image from last week. It was the Tumbling Paddy, used for gathering the mown hay into heaps for making into wynnds. Things have moved on and no one uses a Tumbling Paddy anymore.

I was at home in Kanturk last week and they were haymaking.

This is the modern equivalent of the Tumbling Paddy.

These are today’s wynnds. Progress!

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Covid hasn’t gone away

Our poor little girleen got Covid.

Thank God it was a mild dose. A big fright and a short few hours in the hospital saw her soon back to her old self again.

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David Kissane’s Memories of St. Michael’s Continued

The new NCPE (National College of Physical Education) in Limerick was in the thoughts of the sports students in St Michael’s that year but the balance of interest was in teaching, especially primary teaching. While Mrs Murphy and Mr Eggliston (affectionately called “Iggy”) had worked hard to make science popular at Junior Cert level, the uptake of the science subjects by our final year was low and the classical background of the school held sway in our peer year. We did study physics for a while in 5th year as fair play to the school for testing the future waters in that trial. It gave us an insight into the magic of neutrons, the photoelectric threshold and transmutation. The silent secrets of the world around us. When a little digging took place today in old books, the red Leaving Cert Physics by the Christian Brothers was unearthed with a hand-written photo-statted Christmas exam paper still sleeping inside. Comments written on the inside covers by fellow students and Convent girls’ names inscribed in little hearts while Mr Eggliston was busy at the blackboard. I had totally forgotten that we studied physics for a few months – fifty years is a long time – but the formulas and facts and diagrams came flooding back as if they had been close friends all along. The book was closed in LC1 in 1971 and never opened again till today.

While different students left St Michael’s with different attitudes to teachers – friends, frenemies or just no comment – all our teachers had a genuine interest in hoisting the proper sails for the oceans ahead. 

                                                            Pushpenny

Subcultures often define a society. The game of “Pushpenny” was huge in St Michael’s and persisted right up to the final days of the class of 1972. It consisted of a game between two students, played out on the wooden desks with a coin (usually one of the new decimal coins, although the old thrupenny bits were ideal) as a flat football, another bigger coin by each of the two players and a piece of ruler to strike the bigger coins which would in turn strike the “football” and send it flying to the “goal” which was usually a book. There were corners, frees, line balls and penalties, with screamers, banana shots and diagonal bullets. Every lunchtime, or part thereof, was accentuated by Pushpenny games, with leagues, cup-finals and home-and-away fixtures. My desk-mate, Mike Carmody from Lyreacrompane was an expert. Being a Leeds Utd supporter, he was on a high after that first week in May 1972 when Leeds had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup Final 1-0 in front of a 100,000 people at Wembley. Alan Clarke goal. The only time that Leeds have won before or since. My Man Utd were having a shaky time so all I could do was redeem their fortunes with Pushpenny goals. Now and again, if a teacher was delayed on the way to class, or if a teacher arrived early for class and had a chat with another outside the door, a whole spate of games would break out on every desk. When the teacher arrived, there was a scramble to hide coins and accoutrements and replace with the necessary books and copies. Once or twice, a teacher might confiscate the coins and pocket the lot (obviously to be later donated to charity) but generally a blind eye was turned as the games were quiet and harmless.

Injuries were rare but once I did a metaphorical sliding tackle on the desk with my striking hand and managed to get an inch-long splinter of the desk lodged under my nail. My Lyreacrompane/Leeds opponent went pale and partially fainted. I scored the resultant penalty before he recovered. Man Utd 1, Leeds 0.

A few days before we finished classes, it was announced that Fr long was retiring as president of the college after being in charge since 1954. A gathering of the whole school was organised and Mr Paddy Rochford gave a speech in which he revealed the career of Fr Long. “Danny” had guided the college over the boom in student numbers that had occurred after the introduction of free education in 1967 (our first year) and the introduction of science subjects and French to replace or complement the strictly traditional classical subjects. Fr Danny introduced the black gown for the teachers of our year, giving them a fearful appearance on occasion. The gowns did have a practical value in keeping chalk off their clothes but on occasion some teachers were known to discard the heavy archaic apparel when “Danny” went across the road to his president’s house for his meals.

Towards the last week of class that magical May, a blackboard was commandeered to act as a stadium for lunchtime games and there was a world cup of Pushpenny with a knockout system and a big lead-up to a grand final. A significant incident around the final has grasped a place in the memory. The whole class was assembled in a circle around the two finalists and the town boys had returned early from lunch to witness the end of an era of Pushpenny. At a vital moment of the action, Fr Danny Long opened the door. Gasps. This usually meant trouble and a charge of unstudent-like behaviour and repercussions could follow. We could hear our hearts beating and our eyes looked down. Danny became a legend when he simply said “Carry on!” and walked out, closing the door behind him. In our minds we would respect him forever for that action. To feel valued in our curious pastime was a privilege written in no book and summarised the atmosphere in St Michael’s College in 1972.

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Question Answered

In reply to the people who were wondering who “The Twelve Apostles” who, 50 years ago set up Kerry were;

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Poem for you

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Memories

Listowel Courthouse in June 2022

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More of David Kissane’s St. Michael’s Memories

Left to Right 

Front :   Kieran Fitzgerald, Maurice O ‘Sullivan, Mick O’Connell, Tom Lyons, David Kissane .

Middle:  John Hynes, Tadhg Moriarty, P J Browne, Timmy Shanahan , Jimmy Deenihan, Pat Stack .

Rear :  Eamon O’ Carroll, Maurice O’Connor, Pat Stack, Tommy O ‘Flaherty, John O’ Connell , Jerry Kiernan, Pat Quilter .

Tim Kennelly was also on that team but was missing on the day of the photo.

Morning has broken…continued

The Teachers

… the last month of St Michael’s College engaged us. In comes Mr Pat Joe Given to bestow Greek on us. I can still count in Greek…heis, duo, treis, tessares. pente, hex, hepta, octo, ennea, deka…and later he would return to impart the last of the English course. He was a quiet teacher who never lost his cool and had that distant gaze between notes that could turn a passing blackbird or thrush into a poem. “Lord Jim” by Joseph Conrad left a huge impression and the quotes learned by heart have stuck a lifetime: “Each blade of grass has its place on the earth from where it draws its life, its strength; so is man rooted to the land he loves from where he draws his faith together with his life…” 

Likewise the Romantic poets filled us with blue, crystalline dreams and Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” challenged our understanding of the female psyche. Mr Given had been a boxer and we tried to imagine him in the ring delivering a left uppercut and found it difficult to equate that with the gentler man who carried us through the magic of the English course. Then our former English teacher, Mr John Molyneaux came in with his Latin nouns and interesting stories and Caesar’s exciting Gallic wars. Johnny O’Flaherty took us through the green fields of the Gaeilge and into the minds of the Irish rural characters created by the Ó Céileachairs and the enigmatic Liam Ó Flaithearta. Johnny had the composure, self-assurance and into-class march of a military leader and a keen sense of humour. I was to spend a life teaching Gaeilge afterwards, partly due to the class experience he exuded.

The college president, Fr Danny Long reminded us of “man’s inhumanity to man” during the religion classes with his chopping hand-guillotine mannerism and was relentless with any student who lost concentration! As were all the teachers!

Then comes the other “M”, Mr John Molyneaux Junior with that twinkle in his eye and his unique sense of humour. “Fierce battles” in history were his speciality – every battle he imparted to us was “a fierce battle” – and his favourite exam questions were the “causes, course and results” of the Geraldine War or any other war he had to wage. It was not by accident that I pursued history to MA level because he led me along the enchanted way to the secrets of the story of humanity.

Mr Paddy Rochford brought us to Leaving Cert maths and reminded us that idle chat was just “cluck, cluck, cluck”! He took over the role of de facto career guidance teacher when there was no such role in the school (or in many schools at the time). 

to be continued

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June 1 2022 at The Listowel Arms

Eamonn Dillon introduced me to this man and now I’ve forgotten his name.I remember though that he was at Writers’ Week representing Fáilte Ireland. Eamonn is a great fan of Listowel Connection and he told this man all about our little community here in this corner of the internet. He took great interest. Time will tell if it translates into action.

Eddie and Helen Moylan, proud parents of Catherine, chair of Listowel Writers Week and Eileen of Claddagh Design who created the beautiful bespoke Presentation piece for the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Moira Murrell

Local ladies out for a walk, observing all the carry on at the hotel.

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The Brazen Head

This is a photo from the internet of The Brazen Head pub in Dublin. It claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub. It has a Listowel Connection. One of Michael O’Connor’s beautiful illuminations is on the wall. In fact he did that art work twice as the first one was water damaged in situ.

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Winners

Anne and Kevin won their competition in Sunday’s Well. I am never too old to be proud of my children’s achievements.

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Just a Thought

Last week it was my turn to fill the twice daily Just a Thought slot on Radio Kerry.

The reflections are here; Just a Thought

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More from Opening Night Writers’ Week 2022

Listowel Arms Home, Listowel Town Square in June 2022

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More People at Opening Night, Writers’ Week 2022

These two lovely ladies were out in support of their friend, Catherine

Because it was so long since we had been out at an in -person event, Catherine Moylan, on Opening Night asked us to introduce ourselves to the people sitting next to us. I was sitting beside these lovely ladies who , like myself, have worked at the chalk face.

Eilish Wren
Con and Catherine Kirby

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My Trip to Cork

The Cork branch of my family are very sport orientated. On my recent trip, for the first time since she was a teenager, I watched Anne play a tennis match She was taking part in an open competition in Sundays Well.

Sunday’s Well is a bit more posh and aware of its history than her own club, Lakewood. Lakewood is the old John A Woods Sports and leisure Club. No boating here but soccer and pitch and putt as well as tennis.

Anne and her partner, Kevin won their match, beating the top seeds. I took the photo after their tough match when Anne was not looking her most rested!

Poor Cora sustained an ankle injury at her soccer academy and is hobbling in a boot for a while.

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From Pres. Yearbook 1991

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You Have to Laugh

This lady bought a robotic lawnmower. It is scheduled to mow the lawn at a given time every day, hail, rain or shine. She took pity on it on the first wet day.

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Memories, Memories

David Kissane Remembers happy days in St. Michael’s.

David Kissane pictured recently after he had won a silver medal in the British Masters 3K walk in Derby.

Thoughts of one of the Class of ’72 in St Michael’s, Listowel

                                            By David Kissane

It all happened on the way to the toilet. An outdoor toilet. Well it was 1972 in an out-of-the-way place on a North Kerry hill. It was one of those early May mornings. Crisp air on my face as I went out the back door. A look up at the hill to the north to say hallo to the spring of my life. So far. A promising sky. Hedges of fuchsia with baby blossoms between the hill and me. Blackbirds and thrushes and robins making their music all around. A cow lowing in Neleen Brennan’s field to the left with Ballybunion clearly outlined against the shining Atlantic Ocean to the west. Down the hill to the south, the world and St Michael’s College were waiting.

My mother had turned on the radio as I went out the door and the words of Cat Stevens wafted out of our Pye radio into the Lacca air after me: 

                                   “Morning has broken

                                   Like the first morning

                                   Blackbird has spoken

                                   Like the first bird

                                   Praise for the singing 

                                   Praise for the morning

                                   Praise for the springing

                                   Fresh from the word…”

And fifty years later on, this very week I am still awed by the song. I didn’t know at the time that it was a hymn published in 1931 and adorned later by a traditional Scottish air. That May morning it chased me out and tackled the brain and heart. It was to become for me the anthem of 1972. The year of our Leaving Cert in St Michael’s College, Listowel.

Come walk in my shoes for a few paragraphs and recall your own last days of Leaving Cert. See what your journey back will do for you. 

Later that morning I would cycle down the steep hill past Neleen Brennan’s house that once housed a World War 1 soldier who was blown to pieces in an orchard in France after only a fortnight of the war, past Ned Kennelly’s on my right and then down the lethal Fahas bends, where I had once lost control of a bike and spent a week picking furze bush thorns out of bodily nooks and crannies, past Roger Kissane’s house, turn left at the “bridge” over a small stream that drained a hillside and over to Gunn’s Cross and right turn down Gunn’s Hill, past my old primary school on the left, 1815 steeple and graveyard on the right and on to Lisselton Cross. Two morning miles that I had covered out and back for five years of my second-level schooling. Then on board the yellow school bus after a short chatty wait in Jeremiah Behan’s shop door and off then the long route to Listowel, Convent girls, College boys and Vocational School boys and girls coming on board at various stops. Gerard Neville from Inch would join me in the seat as he had done for years. Down the narrow road to Dromerin and Jerry Riordan and neighbours would join the bus near his parents’ shop. Over the River Gale then and eventually to our destinations.

Walk up town to the college. Check out the Convent girls going the opposite way. Say hallo to the Tech students on the left. See who was coming out of Roly Chute’s shop on the corner. Chat and news from the newsicians. Turn right into the college lawn with the budding apple trees in front of the three-storey building. One storey underground. In the door. Up the marble stairs. Sit down. Open books. Leaving Cert a month away. The year of our lives.

More tomorrow….

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More from Opening Night ’22

The Square, June 2022

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Listowel Writers’ Week Opening Night 2022

Making their way across the Square were Joe and Mirelle Murphy.

Noelle Hegarty and Bridie O’Rourke

Paddy Glacken and friends

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What I’m Reading

This book falls into the category of truth stranger than fiction. It is the most graphic and most frightening account of the ruinous effects of a gambling addiction.

I don’t think I’ll ever again see a Paddypower outlet without thinking of Tony Ten.

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You Have to Laugh

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A Leading Light in Science Education

A KERRY man is leading national efforts to encourage the study of scientific subjects among the young – in an effort to get more brains focused on cracking some of our greatest climate problems.

Listowel native Dr John O’Donoghue, RSC Co-ordinator at Trinity College, Dublin, has been appointed the lead on a new project called Current Chemistry Investigators; charged with getting more and more students to engage with science specifically to investigate the field of energy storage.

It was one of a number of projects Dr O’Donoghue helped Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris launch recently to further public understanding and involvement in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Dr O’Donoghue will be leading efforts to get more and more working on energy storage – one of the biggest conundrums facing a planet rocketing towards disastrous global warming. (The Kerryman)

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John is based in the school of chemistry at Trinity College Dublin. He divides his time between the university and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) as an education coordinator. He is also the project coordinator in Ireland for Spectroscopy in a Suitcase, which is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the RSC. He previously taught science at primary, secondary and higher level.

He develops chemistry education resources for teachers based on the Irish Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert curriculum. He writes about science education mainly in a secondary school context and has contributed pieces to many Irish and UK publications. (Source; The Royal Society of Chemistry)

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Latest News from Friends of Listowel Cinema

So that there is no confusion the campaign to save the Classic has ended. But there was always a Plan B. Cinema is just too important to the fabric of cultural life in Listowel and the success of #TheQuietGirl shows that the big screen is far from dead despite the naysayers. Most people in Listowel haven’t had the opportunity to see this amazing Irish film and Tralee is simply not accessible or convenient for most, not to mention the price of fuel.

For obvious reasons we cannot disclose the proposed location but it is zoned within the town centre. A small, 60 seat single screen cinema would be part of a multipurpose community and cultural hub together with a cafe.

We will let you know more in two weeks time but for it to succeed it needs the buy-in of elected and unelected public representatives in the town together with Kerry County Council. Contact your local Councillor, TD or Municipal district officer and impress upon them the importance of a place to see #JurassicWorldDominion#TopGunMaverick or #ancailinciuin the 3 most popular films in cinemas at the moment, in your town.

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June Races, Ladies Day 2022

Dublin’s Temple Bar from a website Ireland of the Welcomes

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Listowel Races, June Weekend 2022

Sunday was Ladies Day on The Island and John Kelleher took these photos of the style winners.

These were the 10 finalists for the best dressed lady competition.

The judges had a hard job. On the left is the runner up, Denise Jeffers. The winner is in the centre off the photo, Grace Flynn. Winner of the most fashion forward hat was Denise O’Connor on the right.

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People on Opening Night June 1 2022

Vourneen Kissane and Margaret Reidy
Maureen Hartnett, Carmel Hartnett and Aileen Scanlan
Bernie McAuliffe and Michael Enright
David Browne and Michael Enright

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Lartigue Monorail back on track

The O’Neill family were first on board for the 2022 season. I hope they all have a great season as I know funds were running low for this unique Listowel visitor attraction. This might be a good year for Listowel folk to take a trip.

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A Poem

Local poet, Pat Given, launched his latest anthology, A New Day, at Writers’ Week 2022

Pat with his wife and family on the night of the launch

One of Pat’s charming poems.

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A Tumbling Paddy

I remember being fascinated as I watched my father working with this piece of equipment. I haven’t seen one in real life for years and years. I must be remembering it from 1955 or early 56. My father died in 1957.

The tumbling paddy was attached to the horse and he pulled it along while my father guided it through the hay row. The purpose was to gather the hay into piles to be made into wynnds. The skill involved tumbling the pile of hay. My father used to put the reins over his head for the act of tumbling. He would then upend the paddy and tumble out the pile of hay. This meant for a few seconds letting go of the shafts. He then skilfully circumnavigated the pile of hay, retook the shafts and the reins and continued on hay gathering. It was hard skilful work. The paddy had no moving parts. All the work was done by man and horse working in unison. It is one of my most vivid childhood memories.

The photograph was shared by Dan Hartnett on Facebook. Thank you, Dan.

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Update on the Cinema

The campaign to save our cinema has unfortunately, not been successful.

This is the latest post from the brave committee who tried their best to save the cinema. They have bowed out gracefully.

Yesterday we were informed by the auctioneers that the Classic has been sold to a “retail investor”. There is a detailed update on the GoFundMe page (link in bio) but we’d just simply like to thank everyone on here for your support. It’s been a real pleasure.

Thank you

Friends of Listowel Cinema

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