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 Races Page 2 of 4

1959 Donkey Derby

Sunrise on Galway Bay by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Donkey Derbies

Donkeys in Race Week 1959

I saved the following poem years ago. Unfortunately I never noted the name of the poet. If you wrote it or you know who did, will you let me know and I’ll credit them.

Listowel Donkey Derby 1959

The weather being fine, being fifty nine and the races drawing nigh

To win the donkey derby sure our hopes were very high.

So we called on all the donkeys that might win cup or bowl

And we started preparations for the derby in Listowel.

The donkeys came in dozens, some were fast and some were slow,

But sure that’s the way you’ll find them no matter where you go

But we put them through their paces and we raced them past the pole

And twas all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

We had Nixes grey and Driscolls bay, she showed a little blemish

John Joe brought our camera in case of a photo finish

When Lady Barney won the second race, Dan Riordan scratched his pole

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Nedeen Buckley came with Sad Dust and Nellies Morning Dew

This was a kind of challenge race and t’was left between the two

Then Margaret came on Forge Road Lad, He’s the sire of a foal

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

When Shanahan’s Stamps came winning home, the crowd they gave a roar

They heard it back in Coolagown and down through Ennismore

Bob Stack got so excited, he ran up the winning pole

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Scortlea’s Hope when going well, won many a thrilling race

He ran his best to half a length and that was no disgrace

But when Casey down from Dromerin,  said he couldn’t run with goats

Sure his feeding was substandard, it was small Kilarda oats.

When Phil arrived on Gurtinard Lad,  Sean’s donkey gave a wink

He started like a bullet and gave him no time to think

Our jockeys rode like professionals both fearless and bold

And there’s one thing I can vouch for; a race was never sold.

The crowd grew larger every night, they came from far and near

Elsey , Kit and Minnie came the winners home to cheer

We had Bertha , Paul and Bridie, sure they played their usual role

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Eileen came with Kathleen and Bridge came running fast

Sure Mary nearly broke her neck in case she might be last

Ginette was there from London oh my heart she nearly stole

And t’was all in preparation for the Derby in Listowel.

So then when the fun was over and we picked our chosen few

We raced them down Church Street where we met our Waterloo

But such is life, there is always strife in trying to reach your goal

Still our hopes are high for another try at the derby in Listowel.

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Ferry at Rest

Breda Ferris took this photo of the Tarbert ferry. This is what she wrote about it when she posted it on Facebook;

‘Shannon Breeze’ Ferry leaves Tarbert and sails to Kilimer without any passengers. It is a terrific service when you consider the cost of doing this. Wonder should they have a booking service only during winter. Would surely save some money

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John Lawlor’s Tragic Death in 1921

(From Glin Historical Society)

Kerrys fight for Freedom 

John Lawlor was born on May 3rd 1903. His father was Listowel’s parish clerk and the family lived in Convent street. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers and at the time of his death was studying for the priesthood.

In November 1920 John’s father refused to ring the bells of Listowel church to mark armistice day and he was subsequently threatened and lived in fear of the RIC and Black and Tans.

A month later John was home on holiday from his clerical studies from All Hallows College, Dublin. On New year’s Eve as he was going to church he was accosted by a group of Black and Tans on William Street and brutally assaulted. This unprovoked attack was in response to his father’s refusal to comply with the request to commemorate Armistice Day. 

John Lawlor died from his injuries on New Year’s Day was was buried in Listowel cemetery. He was 17 years old.

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Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival 2022

BBF 2022, our local bardic festival will take place this year

– March 24th to 27th.

The committee are currently making plans today for workshops.

Closing date for entries to the writing competitions is February 28 2022.

For full details of the festival click on this link.

Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival 2022

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Races 2021, Baby Joy and more photos from Ballylongford

Listowel Races 2021 by Bridget O’Connor

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Just another Working Day

Pat Healy of Healyracing working on The Island on Monday.

Gordon Elliot, trainer, back in Listowel for another year.

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Welcome Baby Aoife

What a blessing! I get to hold the hand of my newest granddaughter.

(The painted nails are the remains of the wedding.)

Aoife with her Mammy, Clíona Cogan McKenna. Aoife is 2 months old.

Aoife has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger already.

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Ball Alley Transformation

Listowel Ballalley has had many makeovers. The latest is a series of lovely murals by local artists. Paul (not so local), Erin and Eimear were hard at work when I visited at the weekend. The murals are a work in progress and we should have the grand launch soon.

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Old Post Box

At Kelly’s, The Six Crosses

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We all grow into our mothers eventually

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Last few from the Blacksmithing Festival

There was lots more than smithing going on in Ballylongford on Saturday September 25 2021. There were pony rides for the children, a wandering musician, stalls with vintage stuff for sale and other side shows.

This “lord and lady’ were dressed in period costume, sword and all.

Indoors I met my friend, Dan Hartnett, with lots of vintage tools, cutlery and miscellaneous stuff.

Another seller had these colourful tin signs.

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Races, A Poem, a Postbox and Smithing in Ballylongford

In The Garden of Europe

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Listowel Races, Sept`. 2021

Listowel native, Niamh Kenny won a prize for her beautiful hat. It complemented her outfit perfectly.

Wllie and Jackie Mullins in the winners enclosure.

The ever stylish Mary O’Halloran was one of the Ladies Day finalists. She did a moving interview with Celia Holman Lee. Mary loves Listowel Races and comes every year.

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Talking Poetry

John Given and Jimmy Deenihan are finalising plans for the publication of John’s father, Pat Given’s, next book of poems.

Here is a poem from Pat’s last anthology. It was reproduced for Poetry Town.

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Post Box on College Road, Cork

This lovely post box is on College Rd. Cork near the junction with Highfield Road.

I had occasion to be in the Bons. The paper shop in the hospital was closed. I made my way to what in my day used to be Flirty’s shop and post office. It is now a Daybreak. There I made a discovery.

Students don’t buy newspapers. I was in the shop at 8.30 a.m. and there was only a handful of papers available.

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A Tinsmith at Work

At the Ballylongford Blacksmithing Fair Sept. 25 2021

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At The Races, Ballylongford a New Library Experience

Howth by Éamon ÓMurchú

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A Poem from a Week of Poetry in Poetry Town

From the 10 to 18 September 2021 Listowel was one of Ireland’s Poetry Towns. Here is another of the poems that were available to collect all over town.

Great idea! I hope we get to do it again.

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Ladies Day at Listowel Races 2021

A few more of Bridget O’Connor’s photos

The winner of Race Three; Game Catch

Patsy Dowling and John O’Connor

Christy O’Connor and his grandaughter

Margaret Kearney, Ballyduff

Maria Stack and Anne Leneghan

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Blacksmithing Festival, Ballylongford Sept. 25 2021

The festival was part of the fundraising effort to revive and restore the old mill.

I parked in the church carpark and walked to the venue for the festival. At the bridge I came upon this group being given a guided tour of the architecture of Ballylongford by Dr. Declan Downey. Had I known that was on I’d have taken part in that too.

Declan Downey is a thorough researcher and an excellent guide.

At the corner I met these three heroes. I think they may be from Asdee. After a bit of good natured caffling they pointed me in the right direction.

I obeyed the sign and found my way to the displays.

There was a nice little crowd gathered around the exhibitions.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what I saw of the fun of the fair.

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The Public Library is Changing

I hadn’t visited the library in person in ages until a few weeks ago. I have been listening to audio books on Borrowbox and I have been reducing my “to be read” pile slowly.

I made my return with my granddaughter in Ballincollig.

Cora showed me how the system operates now.

It’s a DIY job now. You put your library card and then your book, whether you’re returning or borrowing, under a barcode scanner and all the information is digitised and recorded on a computer. No need for any interaction with a librarian any more.

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Kerry Thanks

A full page ad in Irish Examiner, Monday September 27 2021

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Just a Thought

My reflections, broadcast last week on Radio Kerry are at the link below;

Just a Thought

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Fís na hÓige, Races, No. 24 The Square and a Listowel Poem

Howth by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Fís na hÓige

Fís na hÓige Productions is a film and drama group based in St. John’s. During July they held a film making course.

Kiana Breatnach sent us these photos.

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This could be the start of Something Big

This is No.24 The Square, Listowel.

Today it is home to Kerry Writers Museum.

Here is the same house in the 1950s when Dr. Michael O’Connor and his family lived there. The Morris Minor in front is the family car.

This is Fr. Brendan O’Connor pictured at the door.

He made a return visit to his father’s family home on September 19 2021.

In this photo sent to me by her grandson, Eitan Elazar, is Fr. Brendan’s grandmother at the same door in the 1950s.

This was the reason for Fr. Brendan’s visit and the “something big’ referred to in my heading.

It is St. Patrick’s breastplate, illuminated by the late Michael O’Connor, son of Dr. Michael O’Connor and father of Fr. Brendan.

Michael O’Connor had an enormous talent for illumination.

Illumination is calligraphy in the style of The Book of Kells.

Jimmy Deenihan, chair of Kerry Literary Trust presented Fr. Brendan with a copy of Bertha Beatty’s Kerry Memories. Bertha also lived in No. 24 The Square when the Creagh family owned it.

Also in the photo is Cara Trant, Manager of Kerry Writers’ Museum.

Bryan MacMahon and Michael O’Connor collaborated on several pieces. Jim MacMahon came to Listowel to meet Fr. Brendan and to see the treasures.

Fr. Brendan used his late father’s magnifying glass to show Jim some of the intricate detail in the breastplate. Michael O’Connor worked on this at the kitchen table in his Dublin home, after the children had gone to bed. He worked holding a magnifying glass in one hand and a brush/pen in the other. Under these less -than -ideal conditions he produced Celtic illumination work of the highest quality, work proclaimed by experts in this field as the best of its kind.

The hope is that after expert work of conservation, some of Michael’s work will be displayed in the house where he grew up.

Fr. Brendan O’Connor, me, David Browne , chair of Kerry Writers’ Museum and Stephen Rynne who is the driving force behind the project to bring the work of Michael O’Connor to the wide audience it deserves.

Stephen’s father, Etienne Rynne was a friend of Michael O’Connor’s and Aideen, Stephen’s mother, is willing to give her treasured piece of O’Connor’s work for display along with the other works.

Aideen is holding the piece in my photograph. It is an illuminated papal blessing scroll presented to her and her husband, Etienne, by Michael O’Connor on the occasion of their marriage.

Maybe there are other people with a Listowel Connection or not who have a piece of this original artwork in their possession. Stephen, who is co-ordinating the project is anxious to trace the whereabouts of as many original pieces as possible.

Maybe you have one of the 6 Christmas cards with words by Bryan MacMahon and illumination by Michael O’Connor that were produced by Oriel Press. The original artwork for these has been lost but maybe you have kept a card and it is now part of this extraordinary story.

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Friday, September 24 2021 at Listowel Races

Photos by Bridget O’Connor

These ladies were the finalists in the Best Dressed competition.

And the winner is….

This photo is from Listowel Races site. The lady is Maritess McCarthy.

Friends and family pose with the O’Neill family.

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A Poem from Poetry Town, Listowel

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