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 2 of 8

Writers’ Week Opening Night 2022

Simple Snaps by Sharon

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Celebrating 50 years of Kerry in Kerry

Kerry chief executive, Edmond Scanlon with Minister Norma Foley at the 50 year celebration.

It’s 50 years since the “12 Apostles” led by Denis Brosnan came to Listowel to set up a dairy enterprise.

From that little acorn a mighty oak has surely grown.

Denis Brosnan with Catherine Moylan at the celebrations.

Some local people representing local supporters were also invited to the do.

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Meanwhile in the U.K. More Celebrations

While we were going to the races or to plays, book launches or lectures on the June bank holiday weekend 2022, our friends and relatives across the pond were in party mode.

Everyone was baking buns for the street party. You’ve heard them called queen cakes. These are queen- to- be cakes, I suppose.

Artist: Eleanor Tomlinson’

The hit image of the celebration was the queen sloping off home hand in hand with Paddington after their marmalade tea party.

Wait ’til I get you home.

There is always one! In a buttoned up family where rules of behaviour are tight and restrictive, it was lovely to see the naughty behaviour of Prince Louis “showing them up” on their big day.

In case we were in any doubt, his mother is a saint.

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Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

Éamon and Nora ÓMurchú
Writers’ Week volunteers
Linda Galvin greeted the guests with some jazz

Joan and Rose couldn’t resist the pull of the music and they broke into a little impromptu jive.

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+Eileen Worts R.I.P.+

Eileen passed away peacefully on June 9 2022. She slipped away from us quietly but Eileen had made her mark in life and she leaves many memories. She will not be forgotten.

This is my favourite photo of Eileen. She is in Halo with her dear daughter, Elaine.

Eileen was a dedicated Listowel woman but above all else, her family came first,

Here she is having a chat with her brother, Charlie.

Eileen was always ready to stop and chat. It was a joy to meet her on her stroll around town.

I snapped her having a chat with Martin Chute as he took time out from sign writing.

We all know Eileen as a dedicated member of Listowel Tidy Town Committee. But do you know that Eileen was volunteering to look after Listowel even before Tidy Towns?

This picture is from a an organisation that predated Tidy Towns. It was called TABLE…Towards a Better Listowel Everyday. Eileen is helping Ned O’Sullivan to plant a tree in Feale Drive in 1994.

One of Eileen’s proudest moments was Listowel winning the overall prize for Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2018.

In 2019 Eileen and her fellow Tidy Towners welcomed President Michael D. Higgins to Listowel.

In 2016, when Listowel was Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town, Eileen was there at the unveiling of the lovely commemorative seat.

Eileen was not just there for the glory days. Here she is helping out with the annual recycling event at Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing.

Despite failing health, Eileen Worts rolled up her sleeves and joined her friends, Breda and Jackie to do some of the hard work.

May the sod rest lightly on her gentle soul.

I hope this little poem is a small comfort to Elaine and those who loved Eileen in life.

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Writers’ Week and other things

Listowel Town Square in June 2022

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Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

What a great few days, (Writers’ Week is not really a week) we had. I enjoyed every moment from start to finish. I haven’t had such a hectic time since before Covid.

I’m going to tell you all about it, not necessarily in the order in which it happened.

This event happened in St. John’s on Friday June 3rd. 2022. The ladies onstage are best selling authors, Catherine Ryan Howard, Carmel Harrington and Hazel Gaynor. They write in three very different styles. What they have in common is that they are all really successful, they write full time and their work has been categorised as commercial fiction as if that was somehow inferior to literary.

As Catherine said, they write the books people read.

With them on stage is Catherine Moylan who is chair of Writers’ Week. Catherine is passionate about including these writers in the festival of writing. It was a great event.

Catherine Ryan Howard wrote a brilliant thriller set in lockdown Dublin. It is called 56Days and I’d highly recommend it. Her Nothing Man is great too.

Carmel Harrington writes what is called up lit. Up Lit is a new trend. It stands for uplifting literature, stories with kindness at their core. Carmel is hugely popular. She is on her 11th book. Her tenth, A Mother’s Heart is in the shops now.

I particularly love Hazel Gaynor’s books. She writes historical fiction and she is a meticulous researcher of sometimes little known topics. Many of her books are available in audio book form or for Kindle.

I’m delighted these three ladies came to Listowel. They have proven that they deserve their place in a festival that celebrates writing.

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Meanwhile

While I was enjoying plays and books, another exciting thing was taking place.

A lovely lovely Listowel girl was being picked as Kerry Rose for 2022.

Édaein O’Connell has everything you could want in a Rose. She is “lovely and fair as the rose of the summer”. She is also media savvy, well able to account for herself, a witty and entertaining journalist who appeals to readers at home and abroad.

I hope she sings The Night Visiting Song as her party piece. It will bowl the judges over. My money is on Édaein to be the first ever Kerry Rose to win the contest outright. Even if she doesn’t, she will be a brilliant Kerry Rose for the year.

Édaein was sponsored by Garvey’s Super Valu and one of her first tasks as Rose was a visit there.

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A Half Century Ago

This class of Leaving Certs. from 50 years ago had a reunion lately but I got no pictures unfortunately.

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A Request

Dear Mary 

I am writing because I found your blog, and I was wondering if you could help me with some research I am conducting.

In particular I am looking for fifth and sixth year class photos of the Presentation Secondary School, for girls in Listowel for the following years: 1957, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63. 

I would really appreciate if you could help point me in the right direction, or if indeed you might know anyone who might have a yearbook with class photos, that they could send me by taking a picture of the yearbook themselves.

Kind regards,

Mel Cannon

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It’s Here: Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

Listowel Town Square in May 2022

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It’s Never Too late

When John Lenehan decides to do something, he doesn’t let something as trivial as age stand in his way.

When John wanted to connect with the land of his ancestors, he didn’t just visit, he bought a house and came to live here.

When he decided to finish his education, he enrolled in Fordham College and completed the course he had started 66 years earlier.

He graduated last week with students young enough to be his grandchildren. That did not daunt John. His proud family were among the cheering throng.

From all your friends in North Kerry, John, congratulations. We’re proud of you too.

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In Dirrha Bog

A little birdie told me that this is the work of Paud Pelican. Isn’t it a marvel?

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Then and Now

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A Poem because It’s Writers’ Week

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A Welcome Sight

On Saturday May 28 2022 as I was walking through The Small Square I met this gaggle of escapees from a Nursing Home.

They were a Hen Party from Clare and they serenaded me with their local anthem, My Lovely Rose of Clare. The bride- to -be is a nurse so the “oldsters” were in safe hands.

Lovely to see life getting back to normal!

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Did You Know?

Josef Locke was a very popular tenor in the 1940s and 50s. He came from Derry. He sang is an over- the- top grandiose style and his life was equally grandiose and over- the- top. He married 4 times.

For a few years in the 1960s Locke owned The Listowel Arms.

I discovered this fact when I was preparing for my Morning Walk on Friday next, June 3 . I will be accompanied by singers and historians. I promise you that you will hear some other little known facts about Listowel. There wll be some facts that everyone knows as well.

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Goodbye, goodbye, I wish you all a temporary goodbye

I intend to enjoy Writers’ Week this year as a punter. I intend to attend every gig I can. I’ll take lots of photographs and I’ll be back to blogging when I recover.

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Illumination

Listowel Town Square in May 2022

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Clarification

I posted this picture yesterday and I wondered why there were so few boys in the class. Vincent Carmody solved the mystery.

There were always junior (locally called Babies) classes in both the boys and girls schools in Listowel. There was a custom for boys who lived in O’Connell’s Avenue or other houses near the convent or for boys who had an association with the convent to go there up to First Communion class.

I presumed that the full class of communion boys must have been in the new school. Not so. Éamon ÓMurchú remembers boys communion classes in the old school and in The Carnegie.

Everyone agrees that Quirkes of Church St. was the place to go for the best after communion breakfast.

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Lovely Listowel

This Church Street shop has very elaborate and unusual embellishments on the first storey.

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St. Vincent de Paul Society Honours Hannah

Listowel St. Vincent de Paul Society recently honoured one of its most treasured members, Hannah Mulvihill.

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Illuminated Parchment Presentation

This photo was shared by Mike Hannon on Facebook. I recognise the occasion. It is the handover during race week 1958 of an illuminated work of art to the directors of Listowel Race Company.

The picture being presented is the work of Bryan MacMahon and Michael O’Connor.

Jer Kennelly found a great clip online that explains the work of an illuminator.

Bishop Barron

It is well worthwhile to watch this to appreciate the genius that was Listowel’s Michael O’Connor.

I am looking forward to developments at Kerry Writers’ Museum which will see O’Connor’s work displayed for us all to see. Many examples of the great artist’s work have been promised by their owners, often his family members, to the museum as soon as it has a place to conserve and display them.

Example of a Michael O’Connor illuminated letter

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Betty Remembered at The Races

In memory of Betty McGrath, her good friend, Larry Buckley, has organised a race at this weekend’s race meeting. The race will be run on Sunday June 5 2022, Ladies Day

In The Lingerie Room, Elaine is a is also remembering. Her window display remembers Betty, a queen of style.

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New on Church Street

I checked out their website. I think it is a kind of government recruitment agency. This is what the website says;

“Get the tailored support you need Turas Nua is delivering the JobPath programme to help long-term unemployed people get the support they need to move into suitable, sustainable employment….”

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NCBI Window Display

NCBI Listowel is getting behind Writers’ Week with this apt window display.

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Mary O’Halloran was pictured at Navan recently.

Mary is a frequent visitor to Listowel Races where she is always one of the best turned out ladies on the course.

Mary is living with Motor Neurone Disease.

I can’t give her the 2 page spread Charlie Bird got in last Sunday’s Independent. But I can tell you that I greatly admire Mary and all the other people with MND who are quietly getting on with life.

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St. Michael’s

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú in Bantry

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St. Michael’s Centenary Gala Day

Mike Hannon has shared lots of photos recently of a gala day to mark 100 years of St. Michael’s in Listowel. A big day of fun and games, stalls and the army band rounded off a weekend of celebrating.

Babe Joe Wilmott
Beatrice and Jack Carmody
Breda O’Mahony and Bill Hartnett
Fr. Antony Gaughan and

I have memories of that weekend too. On Saturday we had a mass with a raft of priests who were old boys of the college concelebrating. We had a gala dinner and then the big day on Sunday.

I was one of the volunteers manning the food and crafts stall. Health and safety regulations were more lax in those days. We sold eggs still warm from the hens’ bottoms. We had home made cakes and jams and all sorts of knitted and hand sewn goods, bric a brac and white elephants galore.

John OFlahery was in charge of our committee.

One of our number was the lovely Elsie Geale. Elsie was scrupulously honest and this caused a bit of the bother on the day before the fair.

We had collected egg boxes for weeks to box the promised (by the parents of the country boys) fresh eggs that had been pledged for the Sunday morning. Of course the egg boxes had the names and branding of the egg companies who had supplied them to the shops. No way would Elsie tolerate us selling our eggs in boxes that declared they came from somewhere else. So, at the height of our preparations, we had to cut rectangles of wallpaper and paste them over the names on the lids of all the boxes.

I think the competition was to guess the weight of the cake.

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I had Visitors

Aoife read about everything that’s on during Writers’ Week 2022. Then she chewed the brochure.

It’s decided. She is coming back on June 1 for the festival.

Aoife and her Mammy, Clíona

That smile says, “I have my daddy exactly where I want him, wrapped around my little finger.”

We took her to see the changes in The Square. In fairness she did not really remember how it used to look so she was happy enough with the new set up.

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From Pres Yearbook 2006

In 2006 the magazine committee decided to ask a former teacher, Aileen Hayes, now Scanlan, for her memories of her time in Pres.

Here is an extract from her article.

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Two Listowel Men

Billy Keane and Jimmy Moloney

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