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: Festivals Page 1 of 14

An Aviator and a Dunce

Bridge Road

The Dandy Lodge

November 2023

Martin Chute’s mural on the gable of the Pitch and Putt clubhouse

Wrong Way Corrigan

From the Capuchin archive

Douglas ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan, Dublin, 1938

An image of Douglas Corrigan (1907-1995) at a reception in Dublin on 24 July 1938. As noted in the original caption, Corrigan (left) is shown with James Montgomery (1870-1943) who was the Irish film censor from 1923 to 1940.

Corrigan was a pioneering American aviator who earned the nickname ‘Wrong Way’ after ‘accidentally’ flying across the Atlantic when his original intention was to fly a cross-country route from New York to California. He took off from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on 17 July 1938 and bizarrely landed on 18 July at Baldonnel Aerodrome in County Dublin after flying for just over twenty-eight hours. His first reported words after stepping off his plane in Dublin were ‘Just got in from New York. Where am I?’ His only provisions were two chocolate bars, two boxes of fig bars, and a small quantity of water.

In the aftermath of his adventure, Corrigan became something of a celebrity with a ticker-tape parade on his return to New York, a meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House, a Hollywood movie about his life and a best-selling book.

Corrigan insisted that his accidental flight was caused by navigational error and a malfunctioning compass, but almost immediately suggestions were made that it was always his intention to undertake the risky transatlantic crossing. Corrigan was a skilled aviation engineer and experienced pilot who had previously worked on Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft in advance of his first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in May 1927. Despite claims to the contrary, never once in public did Corrigan budge from his story that this historic flight was purely accidental.

The photograph forms part of a file of press images assembled by the editors of ‘The Capuchin Annual’.

The Thomas McAuliffe Window in St. Mary’s

A picture of this generous man from Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of an Irish Market Town.

(Note to self…If you’re looking for information on any Listowel business from 1850 to 1950, Vincent’s books have a lot more information than Google.)

Christmas in Abbeyfeale

The book gives no clue to the identity of the author. Maybe someone knows Shane?

And the Winner is…..

Listowel Writers’ Week sponsor the prize for best poem at the A Post Irish book awards. An established and very well regarded poet, Mary O’Donnell won for this poem called Vectors in Kabul.

Confession here…I have only a vague idea of what it’s about. Once it gets into the nitty gritty of Maths I’m lost but I think it is a very clever poem.

The irony for me is that, while it is about educating girls in Taliban controlled Kabul, it is also about this Western educated woman failing to understand mathematical concepts but understanding freedom only too well.

A Fact

This is what Christmas was like in rural Ireland in the 1950s and 60s.

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My Favourite Mural

Childers Park Wildflower Meadow, September 2023

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Contrasting Murals

Creative Walls is a marvellous project by Listowel Community and Business Alliance.

Here is what they have to say about the latest Listowel mural

~ Listowel Characters ~
The latest Listowel Characters mural has been commissioned by the Listowel Business & Community Alliance. With support from Kerry Co Arts and Creative Ireland.

The artist selected for the new typographic mural is the talented Master Signwriter – Martin Chute. As with our previous walls, the artist gets to choose an inspiring quote from a selection of Writers, Poets, Songwriters, and more.  Martin was keen to create a mural featuring John B. Keane.

“Where’er I go I’ll love you sweet Listowel and doff my distant cap each day to you” 
– Sweet Listowel. 

Martin lived and worked in the United States for many years. Now his exquisite lettering enriches the fascias of his native Listowel. The Chute family’s sign writing and artistic painting work are a prominent feature on Listowel’s shopfronts.

Since his return from America, Martin’s unique, handcrafted signs and shopfront designs have transformed the streetscape in Listowel. His work offers an identity and a sense of place that has contributed to the preservation of the town’s character.

Thank you Martin and all involved for this exquisite piece which has attracted massive attention and admiration already. An asset to the town of Listowel. A special thanks to Pat Nolan from Pat Nolan’s Furniture & Carpet Centre for kindly donating this wall space for this project.💙

#listowel #wherestoriesbegin #soundtown #followthegreenway #kingdomofkerrygreenways #discoverthekingdom #listowel4all 

Listowel Business and Community Alliance
Kerry County Arts 
Creative Ireland
John B. Keane’s Pub, Listowel, Co. Kerry

This is the other Charles Street mural. The contrast in styles is striking. Listowel Community and Business Alliance is catering for all tastes.

I particularly love the quotation Martin chose. Listowel is often described as lovely. Sweet is somehow to me more emotive, more tender, The colours, the shape and the timbre of Chute’s mural is reminiscent of an old sweet wrapper, a taste of childhood.

The doffing of the cap suggests to me respect and reverence, an acknowledgement of all that Listowel has given. It’s a gesture of gratitude and loyalty.

My blog has brought me into contact with many Listowel emigrants. This mural speaks to them and for them. I find among the Listowel diaspora, a massive loyalty to the town. I haven’t met a Listowel person yet who was not proud of where he came from.

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Kilbrin

Kilbrin is a very small village in North Cork. It has no shop and no pub now. It has a primary school and preschool and a thriving GAA club.

My family are buried in Kilbrin.

Over the graveyard wall a flock of sheep were investigating a mound of earth. Kilbrin is in the heart of the countryside.

Kilbrin is a very very old burial ground, still in use today . A wonderful restoration job has been done here by the local graveyard committee. All of the graves’ inscriptions which can be read are also online;

Kilbrin Graveyard inscriptions

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My Family

For the first time in years we were all together for race week.

We took walks and they discovered new things about the place where they grew up.

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Death of an Irishwoman

(Michael Hartnett wrote this about his grandmother who was a link to another era in Irish social history.)

Ignorant, in the sense she ate monotonous food 

and thought the world was flat, and pagan, 

in the sense she knew the things that moved at night 

were neither dogs nor cats 

but púcas and darkfaced men 

she nevertheless had fierce pride.

But sentenced in the end to eat thin diminishing porridge 

in a stone-cold kitchen 

she clinched her brittle hands around a world 

she could not understand.

I loved her from the day she died.

She was a summer dance at the crossroads.

She was a cardgame where a nose was broken.

She was a song that nobody sings.

She was a house ransacked by soldiers.

She was a language seldom spoken.

She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.

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Great Idea… but you must book

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A Fact

Be warned: You can overdose on coffee!!!

Ten grammes of coffee or about 100 cups over 4 hours can kill the average human being

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Harvest Festival Queens

William Street

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On Church Street Upper

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Listowel Harvest Festival Queens

During the week of the Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing, a local committee has always looked after entertainment away from the racecourse. The highlight of this entertainment is the All Ireland Wren Boys competition, traditionally held on the Friday night of race week.

Another highlight for many years was the selection of the Harvest Festival Queen. Betty Stack was part of the organising committee and she sent us a few photos.

Bernadette Sheehan, the 1994 Queen on the specially made float

Anna Enright, the 1991 Queen with the late Michael Dowling. Michael and Danny Hannon shared M. C. ing duties.

Dáithí OSé took over as M.C. for the last few years. The winner then went on to represent Listowel Harvest Festival in the Kerry Rose of Tralee selection.

Kathleen O’Sullivan 1993

Betty gave us a full list of all of the Queens

Harvest Festival Queens Through the Years

(With thanks to Betty Stack)

Rita Groarke, Moyvane 1989

Norma Carmody,  Listowel 1990

Anna Enright, Moyvane 1991

Bridget Tydings, Listowel 1992

Kathleen O’Sullivan, Coilbee 1993

Bernadette Sheehan, Moyvane 1994

Ursula Carmody, Listowel 1995

Collette Carmody/Culhane 1996

Deirdre O’Connell, Clounmacon 1997

Elaine O’Connor, Ballygologue 1998

Sarah Griffin, Greenville 1999

Helena O’Carroll, Duagh 2000

Claire Naughton, Listowel 2001

Katie McNamara, Lisselton 2002

Olivia Dineen, Causeway 2003

Katie Shanahan, Causeway 2004

Ashling O’Donovan, Duagh 2005

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Progress

We’re a bit behind the actual work but I’m reporting to you in the order in which I photographed the creation of this latest mural. This is Sept 8 2023.

The next generation…Martin’s son, Jack, helped him out a bit on this very big project. Jack doesn’t want to be a signwriter and he was reluctant to pose for a photograph too.

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Mike the Pies has no Pies

Jumbo’s has no Elephants

When I came to Listowel first I was fascinated by some of the shop names. I was used to shops named after the proprietor. Listowel had shops with fascinating names like The Fancy Warehouse and The Cloth Hall and pubs with names like The Bees’ Knees and Journey’s End. There was a Serendipity, an Infidel and appropriately enough, an Enigma.

I hope this intriguing little Listowel quirk of giving a business a name which gives no clue as to what it might sell continues and leaves the curious visitor with a question to ask that many local people can’t answer.

Can you remember where Jumbo’s got it’s name?

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A Fact

Sean’s Bar in Athlone is the oldest pub in Ireland. It is operating as a bar since AD 900. The building is actually older. Google it. It’s fascinating.

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Loving Listowel Library

Market Street in August 2023

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I Love the Library

When I was a child of primary school age I discovered the public library. All through my growing up years summer was for reading. I lived about 2 miles outside the town. I often cycled to and from town twice in a day to exchange my library books. I read all of Enid Blyton, Patricia Lynch, Canon Sheehan and later Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie.

Now I live within a stone’a throw of the library. Living my childhood dream!

Unlike my childhood one, Listowel Library is a marvellous place. It has books, magazines and papers, local study section, computers and puzzles.

AND it has this marvellous mystery box where people leave their old books for you to pick up for free and you could literally find a treasure there.

I found this rare, long out of date book there. It is Listowel’s Mick McCarthy’s account of his time labouring in London. If Mick writes even half as well as his brother, Seán, this will be brilliant. I can’t wait!

Thank you to the donor and to Listowel Library.

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Main Street, Listowel

Lynch’s Corner where Main Street joins William Street/Sráid an Phiarsaigh

Who are Tim and Sue and where are they now? The date looks like 19?? There’s a story there if we only had a sleuth to find it.

Main Street, like so many other Listowel streets has 2 names. Unlike most it has 2 different Irish versions of its English name, Main Street.

And still local people call it The Small Square

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Resilience in Verse

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Today’s Fact

There is an old English word called trumpery.

The meaning of trumpery is;

Trumpery comes from the Old French tromperie, with its root of tromper, “to deceive.” Definitions of trumpery. ornamental objects of no great value. synonyms: falderol, folderal, frill, gimcrack, gimcrackery, nonsense.

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Protestants in Tarbert

Planting on Eileen/Breda’s wall with cinema in background in July 2023

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The (Pink) Movie of Summer 2023

Cartoon by Mike O’Donnell

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A Verse

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Gone!

Square Deals has closed.

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Protestants in Tarbert

(from Rev. Patrick Comerford’s blog)

One of the earliest Methodist preachers to minister in Tarbert was the Revd Gideon Ouseley, an Irish speaker from Dumore, Co Galway. He rowed across the Shannon from Kilrush, Co Clare, to Tarbert, one day in 1820, and as he came ashore on Tarbert Island he declared aloud: ‘I take Tarbert in the name of the Lord Jesus.’

The Revd William Foote held regular Methodist services in Tarbert from 1820, and his twin sons were baptised in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert) on 4 April 1821.

The Methodist Conference approved building a chapel in Tarbert in 1830, and a site on Church Street, east of the Rectory, was leased from John Leslie of Tarbert House. The new chapel and school opened for worship on 30 October 1830. It was a year after Catholic Emancipation and, by coincidence, this was the same year work began on building the first Roman Catholic church in Tarbert.

At the opening of the new Wesleyan chapel, the preachers included the Revd Elijah Hoole, a former missionary in India, and the Revd James Gillman, a Methodist minister in Limerick. The Clare Mission, based in Kilrush, once covered five counties – Clare, Galway, Tipperary, Limerick and Kerry – and ministers based in Kilrush regularly rowed eight miles across the Shannon Estuary to preach in the chapel in Tarbert, often exposing themselves to great danger.

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Changes at Listowel Writers’ Week

Tom Donovan

 Listowel Writers’ Week Announces Appointment of New Chairperson  20th  July 2023:  

The board of directors of Listowel Writers Week is pleased to announce the unanimous election of Tom Donovan to the position of Chair of the Board as well as the appointment of Richard Vance as a new, incoming director, both appointments taking effect from the 13th July 2023. The previous Chair, Catherine Moylan, retired having completed her full term as a director and Chair of the Board. The new Chair and directors would like to express their appreciation to Catherine for her hard work and contribution to Listowel Writers Week over many years. 
Tom Donovan is a native of Glin, and resides in Clarina, County Limerick. Before being elected to the position of Chair, Tom was already an existing member of the board as well as holding the position of Company Secretary. Tom has had a long and distinguished record in the public sector as well as extensive experience in the literary, historical, voluntary and charitable sectors. He is also the editor of the Old Limerick Journal, the Ballybrown Journal, and the Glencorbry Chronicle as well as Treasurer of the Limerick Historical Society. He has edited several publications as The Knights of Glin, Seven Centuries of Change (2009), and Limerick, Snapshots of 1840 to 1960 (with the well-known Listowel historian Vincent Carmody) in 2021. 
 Speaking about his election, Tom Donovan said: “I am both honoured and delighted to accept the role of Chair of the Board of Listowel Writers’ Week. On my own behalf and on behalf of the board, I would like to thank Catherine Moylan and other directors I have served with, for all their good work. I look forward to a good year where everyone in Listowel can become part of the festival and maintain it as one of Ireland’s premier literary events”. 
Robert Vance, a native of Dublin but a long-time resident of Fenit, County Kerry has also joined the board as a new director. Robert will bring fresh and new insight and valuable skillsets to the Board having had extensive media experience through working both with RTE and the private sector in developing over 50 film productions. He also has extensive experience in the tourism sector. Robert has also written and published several books including Secret Sights and The Magic of Ireland. 
Writers’ Week Board is committed to inclusivity, diversity, and community involvement. These new appointments will both enhance the existing board and ensure that it will continue to serve the Company, Festival, and Listowel in the years ahead. Further appointments to the board will be announced in the immediate future. The Listowel Writers’ Week Board looks forward to celebrating and continuing the proud North Kerry literary tradition of Writers’ Week, developed over 53 years, giving a platform to new and emerging writers and bringing the best of international literary writers to Kerry and Ireland in the years ahead. It also remains very appreciative of its stakeholders including The Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland, Kerry Group, Kerry County Council, The Piggott Family, The Nielson Family, Xavier McAuliffe, its many patrons and sponsors, the businesses and residents of Listowel and of course, all of our volunteers, old and new, without whom Listowel Writers’ Week would not be what it is today. 

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This is a Fact

(I couldn’t believe this one either but I Googled it and apparently that is the word for it alright)

Some people ‘s fear of encountering a big word while reading aloud is so disabling that it is classed as a social phobia.

There is a word for this phobia. Believe it or not the fear of big words is

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Try pronouncing that one.

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