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: Listowel Writers Week Page 2 of 4

looking Forward to Writers’ Week

Upper William Street in march 2022

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Ballinagare, Ballyduff

Photo: Moss Joe Browne

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Some More from St. Patrick’s Day in Listowel

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Listowel Writers’ Week

I called in to the Writers’ Week office last week. I was delighted to see a familiar face. My good friend, Liz Dunn, was looking after the shop.

The office has had a facelift. The welcome was as warm as ever. As usual there was time for a chat in the midst of the work of organising this year’s “live” festival.

Listowel Writers’ Week 2022 will run from June 1 to June 5.

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Old Posters

While on my way to the Writers’ Week office, I spotted these in Kerry Writers’ Museum.

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Marching on

Ballybunion on March 17 2022

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Setting the Spuds

Raymond O’Sullivan has a great knowledge of gardening and the old traditions. Here is what he says about potatoes.

St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for planting spuds. Maybe because the saint protects them and the devil has no power over them on that day. But more likely because it is within a couple of days of the Spring equinox, 20th March this year, when there is a good chance that soil conditions would be suitable. Lunar gardeners believe potatoes should be planted in the week following a full moon, and the moon was full on Friday night. We got a couple of fine days and everything seemed to be right, so I took the chance. Potatoes can put up with a bit of hardship. Fingers crossed!! Not so with many seeds though, the soil needs to be much warmer for germination. An old gardener gave me a trick to test the suitability of the soil temperature for seed germination: you take off your pants, and if you can sit comfortably on the ground on your bare backside, then it is time to start setting seeds outdoors.

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Some Local Sports Clubs on Parade

St Michael’s basketballers
Listowel Emmetts
Listowel Celtic

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A Strange Happening at a Holy Well

In the schools folklore collection of 1937 three are many stories about holy wells. Clandouglas children had many wells to choose from and their elders had many a tale to tell.

Margaret Shanahan collected this story from her father.

Sunday’s Well is in Oak Park near Tralee on the Abbeydorney side. Wether’s Well is in Tubrid near Ardfert village + I wish to tell the following story, which I heard from my deceased father (R. I. P.) who is dead 19 years + was 75 when he died. From early times people paid rounds at both wells + still continue to do so.

In Wether’s Well there is a mound , an altar, + a well but in Sunday’s Well there is only the well + a lone bush. When the Sandes were Landlords of Oak Park, one of them got a mason to remove the altar with its three effigies from Tubrid or Wether’s Well to Oak Park + erect it over Sunday’s Well. The next morning it was back again in its own place at Wether’s Well + signs of the fresh mortar could be tracked as the crow flies from one well to the other aCdistance of about 5 miles in a direct line.

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Sport and Writing…….Where did Tadhg learn his love of these

You can take the man out of Kerry but….

Tadhg has found success a long way from Church Street. He has never forgotten his roots and is literally and metaphorically flying the flag for his native traditions.

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R.I.P. Noreen Holyoake- Keese

Listowel Connection has lost a great friend and supporter. Noreen always took time to tell me how much she appreciated the work I do in connecting people like herself who loved Listowel so much.

Noreen passed away peacefully at her home in the U.S. on March 22 2022. She is mourned by her dear mother and her family, here and in her adopted home in New York.

Bernard O’Connell, the only boy in the photo, posted this photo a few years ago. Noreen is in the centre of some Listowel childhood friends.

Mary Brosnan, Katrina Lyons, Bernard O’Connell, Noreen Holyoake, Mary Lyons, Mary Carmody, Maura Moriarty.

I was thrilled to meet Noreen in person in 2019. She was a lovely lady.

May Noreen rest in peace. Braithfidh mé uaim í.

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Aisling Ghéar do dhearcas Féin……

The first marquee event of Listowel Writers’ Week 2022 took place in The Listowel Arms Hotel on Saturday evening, March 26 2022.

Picture shows Catherine Moylan , chair of Listowel Writers’ Week with Deirdre Walsh of Radio Kerry who interviewed Emer McLysath and Sarah Breen, authors of the Complete Aisling series.

It was a very enjoyable event, a great start to this years exciting festival.

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Remembering and Anticipating

Stack’s Arcade and Coco, William Street

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Remembering a tragic event

2022 marks a century of the Garda Síochána policing Ireland.

It is timely to remember again a North Kerry garda, a young father drowned while on duty.

Corrib Tragedy January 18 1934

Over the years, the River Corrib has seen many tragic moments because of drowning accidents. While the Anach Chuain disaster of 1828, was terrible, with the loss of 19 people, one of the saddest must be the tragedy that occurred during a cold winter’s night of January 1934.

What makes this accident so haunting is the fact that the people who lost their lives were neither boating or swimming: they were occupants of a motor car who should not have been in that particular area on that night. What is even sadder still is that they drowned within ear-shot of a dance that was being held in the Commercial Boat Club. As young people enjoyed the dancing and music in the hall, four others struggled for their lives in a submerged car just outside. Many people say that one cannot escape fate, and this is a story of just that: it is haunting to say the least as one examines the circumstances that led to this appalling tragedy.

The following account of the accident was published:

“Drowned Within Sound of Dance – Agonising Search – For Four Bodies in Motor Car – Pathetic Final Scenes.”

“Whilst the band played and the dancers danced at the Commercial Boat Club, Galway, on Thursday night last, a motor car returning from Ballinasloe plunged into the Corrib at the end of Steamer’s Quay, carrying its four occupants to death in four feet of water.

No one heard the splash: no one witnessed the grim tragedy of a mistaken road. All was over in less time than it takes to write the story. It was not until Saturday morning, after a diligent search by the Civic Guards, that the car with its huddle of dead bodies in the back seat was found lying on its left side beneath the waters.

The names of the victims were as follows:

            Sergeant Forde (28) in charge of Maam station, a native of Tynagh, Co. Galway, married; leaves a widow, a son and a daughter.

            Guard Kenneally (32) Maam, a native of Newtownsands, Co. Kerry, married; leaves a widow and one son.

            Martin Keane P.C. (45) Maam, shopkeeper and farmer the driver of the car, married; leaves a widow, three boys and two girls.

            Miss Margaret Laffey (25) Carragh, Cornamona.

The purpose of the ill-fated journey that day was to take a girl, Sarah Laffey, who had been ill for some time, to a hospital in Ballinasloe. The first leg of the journey was from Maam to Carragh in Cornamona, where the girl lived. Her sister, Margaret, decided to accompany her and travelled with them. The party started on their journey for Ballinasloe about 12:30pm and arrived there at 3:30pm. They travelled in a 1929 green saloon, Fordor Ford car, the property of Martin Keane of Maam, who was also the driver.

The drowning tragedy happened on their way back to Galway.

( Source: Alice Kennelly, granddaughter of Garda Michael Kennelly)

Garda Michael Kennelly of Knockanure

 {From Clifden 200 site Clifden celebrating 200 years from May 25th to June 4th 2012. See from Clifden to the South the Brandon Hills, in Kerry, 90 miles away. Garda Michael Kennelly is featured in the ‘Gardai 1930’ photo, seated extreme left. He hailed from Newtownsandes (now Moyvane) Co. Kerry and lived in Aillebrack with his wife Alice McHale-Kennelly. He was killed ‘on duty’ in January 1934 when he and his colleague Sergeant Forde, were returning to Maam Garda Station after escorting a female patient to Ballinasloe Mental Hospital. On driving through Galway the hackney car in which they were travelling left the road and entered the River Corrib at Woodquay. Garda Kennelly was drowned along with the others in the car.}

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Writers’ Week Visitor

Terry Prone and Cara Trant at a Writers Week of yesteryear

This year Listowel Writers’ week will run from June 1 to June 5. LWW’s very popular writing workshops and masterclassesare open now for booking.

They have a very varied offering this year. Take a look HERE

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A Symbol of our time

Daffodils are symbols of Spring every year,

“Ten thousand saw I at a glance

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Antigen tests are symbols of Spring 2022.

Every now and again pictures of old tin openers, washboards and other items that only the really old can remember appear on social media with the caption “Do you remember when….?

Will the antigen test be the tin opener of 2050?

Will people be telling future generations about the great pandemic in their Census 2021 time capsule?

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O’Connell’s Avenue

Kevin’s public house in William Street

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An Enjoyable Fundraiser

This was the scene at a fundraiser for Bee for Battens. These days are now just a memory but they will come again.

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O’Connell’s Avenue

Another fascinating post from Vincent Carmody’s 2016 Living History Miscellany.

Building of O’Connell’s Avenue. Listowel.

In the 10 years after our Civil War, very little was achieved, nationally, in the building of local authority housing. Around 1930, the members of, the Listowel U.D.C. were concerned with severe overcrowding in many properties and the use of many more with very poor sanitary conditions. Following a survey of the town’s housing stock, they presented their findings and a plan to the Department Of Local Government. In response they were informed that the Listowel Council had been granted funds for the building of 104 houses.

At this time, it was to be one of the largest local authority building contracts in the country. The contracting tender in 1932, was won by a local building contractor, M.J. Hannon. This in itself was a great bonus to the town, as it guaranteed a substantial number of years work, for the town’s tradesmen and laborers, with, of course, a great spin off for the town’s businesses.

Some years ago, I spoke at length, and took notes, from Mr Jim (Red) O’Sullivan of Charles Street. Jim, who had worked with the Hannon Builders since he left school, was officer manager at the time of the construction, (he is pictured in the second last row). Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the notes were misplaced. However, I can recall a number of the things which he told me. The council took soundings on a possible name, one of the early contenders, before they decided on O’Connell’s Avenue, was Eucharistic Avenue, this was on account of the Eucharistic Congress which was been held in Dublin, in the summer of that year. He also explained, that the the wage bill per week was, if I remember correctly, in the region of £400. At the time, this would have been an enormous sum of money. Jim would collect the money from the bank first thing each Saturday morning, after which, he would be escorted by an armed detective, back to the office. There, he would make out the pay packets, in readiness for paying each man, at the conclusion of the half-days work on Saturday.

All the blocks for the building work were manufactured on site. The land on which the houses were built had been purchased from Lord Listowel. Prior to it being built on, it had been used as meadowing by the O’Donnell family, family butchers in Listowel.

The main entrance to the houses was from Convent Street. Later, a roadway was built to connect up with Upper William Street. The building of this later facilitated the erection of St Brendan’s Terrace.

The man on the left of Seán T. O’Ceallaigh is Eamon Kissane, he was a F.F TD for North Kerry, the other man with the hat is Eddie Leahy and the third man is John McAuliffe.

The official opening was on Monday, June 17th 1935. It was presided over, by then Government Minister, Sean T. O Kelly. ( He, ten years later, in June 1945, became Ireland’s second President, replacing the outgoing Douglas Hyde).

The first residents had taken over their houses, prior to the official ceremony. In the main these were couples with young families. Today, a third generation of these families own many of these houses. Over the years, there has been mass emigration from the area. However, those who remained, have contributed greatly, to the, social, cultural and sporting history of the town.

This is a pamphlet which was distributed to the local businesses, asking that their employees, be allowed time off, to participate in the ceremony.

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A Dan Keane Limerick

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Egg Nog from an 1852 recipe

How did anyone ever drink this?

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Listowel Writers’ Week Memory

Once upon a time during Listowel Writers’ Week PJ Lynch painted a portrait of Ryan Tubridy in the ballroom of The Listowel Arms Hotel.

This year, 2022 Writers Week will run from June 1 to June 5

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Reaching out beyond Parish Boundaries

Galvins on William Street

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Old Friends Reunited at Writers’ Week

Éamon ÓMurchú, Kay Caball, Pat White and Jim MacMahon

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Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine

Ballydonoghue Parish magazine is a credit to everyone associated with it over the years. It is a treasure, eagerly awaited at home and abroad every year. So many of these precious local journals have ceased to publish and their loss leaves a huge gap in our tapestry of local history and memories.

I take my hat off to the good people of Ballydonoghue.

The 2022 Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine committee at a function at The Thatch, Lisselton February 19 2022.

Front: Maria Leahy, Jim Finnerty, Áine Canavan, Colette O’Connor and John F Keane. Back: Seán Linnane, Ger Moran, Mike Gilbert, Ann Foley, Seán Stack and David Kissane.Material is being accepted now for the 2022 edition and may be emailed to magazine@ballydonoghue.net or posted to BPM, Lisselton PO, Co Kerry.

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A Dan Keane Limerick

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Matt Mooney’s Photo

Matt shared this photo of Vocational School boys on Facebook…no dates and no names except for Matt himself on the back left and Michael Gaine on the back right.

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Old Ballybunion

Ballybunion Tourist Office shared this beach scene as it was 1930 to 1950

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In Time of War

Mattie Lennon sent us this;

“Hitler was running riot through Poland with very little opposition. The cream of the British Army, battered and broken, had their backs to the sandy walls of Dunkirk. The Listowel Grenadiers of the LDF were gathered in Eddie Scanlon’s pub making feverish plans to invade Russia…..

 “The Listowel LDF after much liquid discussion, in Eddie Scanlon’s Bar, decided not to invade Russia after all”.

 Written by the late Sean McCarthy.

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