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: History Page 1 of 15

The Time of the Cuckoo

Athea Church at Easter 2022

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A Few Hard Cuckoo Facts

Cuckoo by bird.org

This parasitic bird is usually associated with this time of year.

The striping on the underside of the cuckoo’s body mimics the sparrowhawk. This frightens the sugar out of smaller birds. They abandon their nests long enough for the cuckoo to lay her eggs.

The eggs take 12 days to hatch. From day one these nestlings are bullies and they chuck the legitimate hatchlings out of the nest.

Cuckoo chicks grow quickly and are known for their voracious appetites. They often grow to several times the size of their adoptive parents. These parents are usually worn to a thread trying to feed their ever hungry offspring.

Wait for this bordering on incredible fact!!!!!!

A female cuckoo may visit and lay eggs in up to 50 nests in a breeding season.

By September they all clear off to Central and West Africa where they rest and gird their loins for another onslaught on the unsuspecting little Irish birds.

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From Pres. Listowel 1983/84 Journal

The journal opened with this kind of mission statement.

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History and NFTs

Photo; Jesuit photo archive

In 2015 I posted the Titanic story of this man. He is Dr. Francis O’Loughlin, formerly of Tralee, who drowned with The Titanic.

Here is the story I borrowed from a Facebook page called Historical Tralee and surrounding areas:

Bravery of Titanic Surgeon Dr. William Francis Norman O’Loughlin

New York Herald

Monday 22nd April 1912

In accounts printed about the Titanic and the bravery of her officers little has been said of one who probably was the most widely known and best beloved of all classes. He was Dr. William Francis Norman O’Loughlin, senior surgeon of the White Star Line, who perished with the ship.

During the forty years Dr. O’Loughlin has been a surgeon aboard ships of that line he gained the close friendship of innumerable men and women of prominence. Known as one of the most upright and kindly men, he also was regarded as a leader in his profession and a student of the highest order.

Survivors say they saw Dr. O’Loughlin on deck going from one to another of the frightened passengers, soothing them and aiding them in getting into the lifeboats. As the last lifeboat left the vessel he was seen standing in a companionway beside the chief steward, the purser and another officer swinging a lifebelt. He was heard to say: “I don’t think I’ll need to put this on.” He was in the companionway when the vessel went down. From those who knew him well statements were obtained yesterday regarding the fine character of the friend all were mourning. All agreed he was one of the kindest men they had ever met. Many incidents showing his unselfishness were related. One of the friends said: “He was the strongest personal friend of every officer and seaman he ever left a port with, and he was a most thorough officer. He would give his last dollar to charity and was never known to speak ill of anyone. He was the most tenderhearted man I ever met.”

One of Dr. O’Loughlin’s intimate friends in the profession was Dr. Edward C. Titus, medical director of the White Star Line. He said: “Dr. O’Loughlin was undoubtedly the finest man that I have ever known. Kind at all times, his work among the persons he met endeared him forever to them. Always ready to answer a call for aid at all hours of the day and night, he would go into the steerage to attend an ill mother or child, and they would receive as much consideration from him as the wealthiest and mightiest on board. “He was one of the best read men I ever met. Dr. O’Loughlin was always doing some charitable act. Of his income I believe it will be found that he left little, having distributed most of it among the poor. There is no doubt that he died as he wished. Once recently I said to him that as he was getting on in years he ought to make a will and leave directions for his burial, as he had no kith or kin. He replied that the only way he wanted to be buried was to be placed in a sack and buried at sea.”

Dr. O’Loughlin was a native of Tralee co kerry in Ireland. Left an orphan he was raised and educated by an uncle. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. When twenty-one years old he went to sea because of ill health and followed the sea continuously thereafter. Prior to being transferred to the Titanic he was surgeon on board the Olympic.

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Fast forward to April 2022 and I have an email from Lorelei Llee whose job title is

 Titanic Content Developer for E/M Group & Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. 

In her research she has come across my blog post about the good doctor and she wants to use it. I have to inform her that it’s not my story anyway and I certainly didn’t take the photo. Im old but….

So, of course, I look up her company. They are e/m group “an experiential media group”

https://www.emgroup.com

And here is the gas part. You know the way you have never heard of something one day and the next you are seeing it everywhere.

So it is with me and NFTs.

Enter to Win!

Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of history! RMS Titanic, Inc. is offering a select lot of NFT’s available for download and purchase.

The above is taken directly from this group’s website

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Poetry Day 2022

On Poetry Day 2022 I got a present of an anthology of modern Irish poetry.

Thank you, Nancy

Here is a short poem from my new book

It’s a lovely poem about the great human family, the tillers of soil and cutters of turf.

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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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Firemen

The Mermaids, William Street, Listowel

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John Kelliher posted this old dance ticket on Facebook.

I remembered that Violet Dalton Puttock had shared a photo of a Fireman’s ball with The Advertiser. Violet’s photo is from the ball a year or two earlier.

The men in the photo are;

Fireman’s Dance 1963-64.

 Back L-R: Buddy Dalton, Tommy Dalton, Benny O’Connell, Bunny Dalton, Jim Doyle, Michael Brennan, John Mahony and Joe Keogh. 

Front L-R: Pat Dowling, Roly Godfrey, Patsy Leahy, Ned Broderick, Tommy Lyons and Sean Curtin. 

Music on the night was by the late Bunny Dalton Showband, Listowel. 

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Corpus Christi Procession 2011

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St Senan’s Well

(Today, March 8 is the feast of St. Senan. Here is an account from the Schools’ Folklore Collection of the saint’s well near Listowel.)

There is a holy well, and close by a burial ground, in the townland of Kilsheanane or Kilsenan about 5 miles west of Listowel on the road to Tralee. Both are called after St. Senan who was Bishop and Abbot of Scattery Island on the Shannon in Co. Clare, in the VI Century. He built many churches and had a monastery on the Island. His feast day falls on the 8th March.

On that date in former times, people came long distances, even outside of Kerry, to pay rounds at the Blessed Well. It is said to be powerful in many complaints but especially in eye trouble, and running sores. At the present day people, principally locals within a five mile radius, come to pay rounds on St Senan’s Day 8th March. The path of the “round” follows a well beaten track around the well. The “Round” itself consists of 3 Rosaries, one to be said while walking round the well 3 times, therefore it takes 9 rounds of the well to complete the 3 Rosaries. The round is started by kneeling in front of the well and beginning the Rosary there and after some time stand up and walk round the orbit 3 times completing the round of the Beads in front of the well. Then start the second Rosary and walk round orbit 3 times and complete Beads at front of well. Do this the third time and your round at St Senan’s well is completed. You then take a drink of the well water from the well itself (a small mug is always there for the purpose).
Next you wash the afflicted part in the stream running out of the well. Also people usually take home with them a bottle of the well water for that purpose. Many white and black thorn trees grow adjacent to the well and strings of all kinds, tassels of shawls etc are left tied to the branches in token that the particular complaint is also to be got rid of. 

Sometimes Coppers and hairpins etc are left.

Within the last dozen or more years an elderly lady teacher Miss M O’Connell now deceased, got a cement slab altar-like construction built at the back of the well. In this there are three niches, one holding a statue of our Blessed Lady, another a statue of the Sacred Heart and the third a statue of St Bridget, each enclosed in a glass shade.
Miss Glavin a retired teacher of 66 years of age told me that she often heard her mother (R.I.P.) who lived about 4 miles from the townland of Kilsenane, tell a story of how a Protestant family residing near the well, took some water from the well home to their own house and put it in a pot or kettle to boil, but if it were left over the fire for ever it would not boil. The ancestors of this family were Roman Catholics but in the bad times they turned ‘Soupers.’
Those who came to pay rounds at the well, usually enter the burial ground by the stile and pray for the dead in general and their own deceased relations in particular. This is done on the way and from the well.

COLLECTOR

M. Shanahan

INFORMANT

Miss Glavin

School:  Clandouglas, Lixnaw

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Looking Forward to The Races

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Just a Thought

Here is the link to my last week’s reflections on Radio Kerry;

Just a Thought

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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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Some Old Things

Catch of the Day, Main Street

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Two St. Michael’s Colleagues, R.I.P

Two Corkmen, Jim Cogan and Michael Cody, many moons ago.

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Medicinal Recipes from 1852

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Good New for St. Michael’s

(text and image from St. Michael’s website)

Back: Mayor of Kerry, Jimmy Moloney, Johnny Mulvihill, Principal, St Michaels’, Minister for Education, Norma Foley, Mike Hassett, Deputy Principal. Tony Behan, Board of Management Front: Odhran Bucklety, Jack O’Connor, Ciaran O’Sullivan and Donagh Buckley

Statement from Norma Foley;

Multi-million Euro Extension for Listowel School!I am delighted to announce a multi-million euro extension project for St Michael’s College Listowel under the additional accommodation scheme.The state of-the-art building project includes provision for a special education teaching room, a multimedia room, a music room, an art room, two science labs and a project store room. Approval was also given for reconfiguration works to upgrade an existing art room, converting it into a mainstream classroom.It was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit St Michael’s College in Listowel this week and to personally deliver this good news.St Michael’s College is synonymous with the town and this extension is an endorsement of the excellence in education being provided by the entire school community.

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Dan Keane’s Limericks

Dan Keane who passed away in 2012 was a man of varied and extraordinary talents. I encountered Dan first as as storyteller and I was enthralled by him. His story was about a football match, a subject on which Dan was an expert. I later learned that Dan was a ballad maker and poet of some merit.

Much later I learned that Dan, while including scholars and literary men among his ancestors, was , himself, completely self taught. His appetite for knowledge coupled with his interest in local history and lore made him a knowledgeable and popular raconteur and writer.

His last volume of verse was the above, A Kerryman’s limericks, and I’m going to bring you a few over the next few days.

The next is not one of Dan’s but he professed it was one of his favourites.

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Great Old Photos

Tipperary Studies is a great website devoted to preserving and promoting the past.

They have a marvellous digital archive of old photos and videos. Among their collections is a collection of Photographs of Munster. These photos were taken by a professional photographer on glass plates in the 1930s.

While most of the images are of Tipperary there are some lovely photos of a few Listowel shops and their owners or workers.

Please respect Tipperary Studies copyright claim to these digitised images which may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.

This lovely photo was unidentified in the collection but an old neighbour has identified the late Mrs. Mona Dalton at the gate of her home in Bridge Road.

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