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: Ballylongford Page 1 of 5

Christmas Crafts

St. John’s, Listowel Nov 2022

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Crafting Revival

I love to see enterprising young people practicing old crafts. Ballylongford was the place to be on Sunday November 20 2022. The Community Centre was jammed with beautiful things and lovely crafters.

My daughter in law, Carine, was delighted with her purchases from the Mulvihill family stall. She is holding the unique willow wreath which she plans to put on her door. She also loves the flower picture she got for her kitchen.

This engaging young lady was rocking an equine theme with lightweight horseshoe ornaments for every occasion.

I remember a time when every bride carried a horseshoe as well as her bouquet.

This is what the internet says about the horseshoe as a symbol of luck;

Although the origins are not exactly known, it is believed that the horseshoe became the symbol of luck when the eighth century Chaldeans thought its crescent shape represented various moon goddesses thus protecting against the curse of the evil eye.

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Remembering Childhood Christmases in Listowel

Margaret Dillon kindly answered my call. Here is her account of childhood Christmases in pre digital days.

These days Christmas is heralded by a marathon of Festive adverts which start earlier each year. Back in the 40’s and 50’s we didn’t have Television so we weren’t subjected to that constant bombardment. Nevertheless we had full and plenty of all the Christmas essentials. Listowel was a busy bustling town back then, the shops were full of all sorts of goodies. Of couse as children we were only interested in the Toy shops particulary Fitzgibbon’s and Walsh’s corner shop. Walsh’s window had a nodding Santa  which was a great attraction.  We couldn’t contain ourselves on Christmas morning as we opened our presents. Santa was a wonder then and he still is to all children. 

On the home front , the  decorations were put up  across the ceiling from corner to corner. The Holly was put behind the pictures and most important of all the crib was put on the sideboard or windowsill. The cake and plum pudding were already made. While Mam was making the cake we made our wishes as we stirred the mixture. A few days beforehand a goose ( for the New Year celebrations) and a flitch of hairy bacon to go wth the turkey arrived from our Clare relations.  My mother and the neighbours Mrs Hickey and Mrs Brennan bought  the live turkeys in the market,  Mrs Brennan did the killing and we plucked our own, making sure to keep the wings. They served as dusters around the range and grate for the rest of the year.

The big shop was done shortly before the big day in John Joe’s and the  reward  for our business during the year was the Christmas box. This was like a mini hamper containing tea, a pot of jam and maybe an Oxford Lunch cake. The drinks order of minerals, bottles of Guinness and a bottle of Sherry  arrived from John R’s in a large timber box.  

Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas hymns “Away in a Manger” or “Angels we have heard on High” Or the Christmas songs “Jingle Bells” , “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”  Adeste Fidelis was sung at  Mass on Christmas Day After Mass we stayed back to visit and welcome Baby Jesus in the crib. During the holidays we paid regular visit to the cribs in the parish church and the convent chapel.

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Boyeens to Men

My lovely boyeens spent a lot of time in Listowel as children. They always surprise me with their recall of things we did together on their Kerry holidays.

Killian on the Greenway in Nov 2022

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Folklore in The Library

Tom Dillon was his usual entertaining and informative self in Listowel Library last week when he filled us in on the origins of place names.

Placenames are in danger of being lost as we move to Eircodes.

Tom told us that the fishermen had names for various parts of the Feale. Now that fishing is no more these names are in danger of being lost.

I did not know this until Tom told us but wags in Tralee have invented a new place name. They call the Corrib Oil station the Mini Barack Obama.

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Christmas Market 2022

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Community Garden

By the River Feale Aug 2022

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The Other Side of the Wall

Our apples are ripening nicely.

This area will be beautiful when the flowers and climbers grow a bit.

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Meeting a Former Pupil in Ballylongford

On my visit to the traditional crafts farina Ballylongford I ran into my friend, Bridget O’Connor and then together we ran into a former pupil, Dora Mulvihill. Dora and I are in a framed picture in Presentation Secondary School Listowel, celebrating Dora’s gold medal for achieving the highest marks in Irish at her Leaving Cert.

Dora’s lovely son took the picture for me.

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From 2015

When browsing through Boards recently I came across a link to these old photos.

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Bet you Didn’t know this

Fourteen years before the Titanic sank, a novelist Morgan Robertson published a novel called Futility. The story was about an ocean liner that struck an iceberg on an April night.

The name of the ship……….Titan

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From Kanturk to Ballybunion

a poem

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Memories

Cluain Doire, Listowel in August 2022

The residents of Cluain Doire have the loveliest entrance to any estate.

They are showing their support for Kerry Rose, Edaein.

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Ballylongford Traditional Craft Fair

The fair promised more that it delivered. I was disappointed not to get a tour of the old mill and a few of the promised crafters that I had been looking forward to weren’t there when I went on the Sunday.

I missed the Black Irish Band as well.

However the crafters that were there gave us a great insight into how things were done long ago. My great grandfather was a weaver. There weren’t any weavers at the fair but there were spinners and felters.

The felters were from Cork. They had some lovely colourful stuff and they were teaching the children how felting is done.

This crafter was making jugs and vases out of leather.

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Seán MacCarthy Remembers

I was looking through an old book, Streets of Listowel when I came across this great essay from the late great Seán MacCarthy.

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Fr. Anthony Gaughan

This house in the Silent Valley in Co. Down is renovated in the style of an old time cottage with open fire and old furniture. Photo by Éamon ÓMurchú

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McKenna’s Yard staff

Photo Mike Hannon

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A Poet at a Book Launch

Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Fr. Anthony Gaughan in St. Jiohn’s at Writers’ Week 2022
queueing for a signing
Eamonn and Marion are great supporters of Fr. Gaughan

The setting was a coincidence. The picture of the Blessed Virgin was on stage as a prop for the lunchtime play, The Six Marys.

Fr. Gaughan, Catherine Moylan, Martin Moore and a lady who writes bilingual books

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Maureen Flavin Sweeney Commemorated in Knockanure

Ted and Maureen Sweeney

Maureen Flavin was born in Knockanure 99 years ago. She married Mayoman, Ted Sweeney.

The Sweeney family, Ted, his mother Margaret and sister Frances, together with Maureen, had been reporting on the hour, twenty-four hours a day, to the Meteorological Service in Dublin for the length of World War II. This hourly reporting continued until an automatic meteorological station was brought into operation in Belmullet in 1956.

On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944 the barometer at the remote weather station at Blacksod showed pressure was dropping rapidly, indicating a major Atlantic storm was due to arrive and blow right across western Europe. Based on Maureen’s readings, US general Dwight D Eisenhower postponed the D-Day landing by 24 hours. And so a woman from Knockanure changed the course of the war.

She was honoured in her home place on Sunday June 19 2022. She was not well enough to attend but I’m sure her relatives brought her back photos and recordings of the event.

( A little bird told me that she attended the All Ireland Final of 1951, the last time Mayo won)

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The New Kingdom

The New Kingdom Bar was been repainted. I love the new look.

This is one of the very stately upstairs sash windows.

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A Poignant Book Launch at Writers’ Week 2022

This book launch had a few elements of a wake about it. Like any good wake it had an element of hooley about it too.

We had songs and stories and we laughed and cried with the chief mourner.

Mary Kennelly gathered into this book a collection of poems she wrote chronicling her feelings as she observed two beloved uncles fade into the grey of dementia.

This wasn’t just another political duty for Norma Foley. Norma is a friend of Mary’s and like everyone who contributed to the success of this book launch was there a friend who empathised with Mary, knowing the toll this illness takes on families.

The book was published as a thank you to the two nursing homes, Aras Mhuire in Listowel and Fatima House in Tralee, where Mary’s two uncles, Fr. John and Brendan were cared for. All proceeds from the sale of the anthology go to these two places.

Brendan Kennelly who loved words, lost his words at the end. He returned, “helpless as a baby” to his Kerry family who eventually, in death, returned him to his worldwide family, an audience, who loved his words.

Mary Kennelly signing my book at Writers’ Week 2022.

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Convent life Remembered

Through an eye of the Big Bridge in March 2022

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Sr. Consolata Remembers her early Days in Listowel

From an interview in Pres. School Yearbook 2009

(to be continued)

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More from St. Patrick’s Day 2022

Lovely Pres. girls enjoying the parade

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Family outing in Malahide

Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú

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The Square in Late March 2022

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Census 2022

Sunday is Census evening. Dave O’Sullivan found a few tibits to get us in the mood for recording for posterity

1911

According to 2016 CSO figures the population of Listowel is 4,820.

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