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: Personal Page 1 of 4

Cinema Closure

Portmarnock by Éamon ÓMurchú

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My girleens are all grown up now. It was lovely to spend Christmas with them.

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St. Stephen’s Day 2021 in Youghal

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The Last Picture Show

Message of thanks from all at the Classic.

The final programme

Listowel’s ‘Classic’ Cinema has been in operation for almost 70 years, first as The Astor from 1949 to 1985 and then with the Gleeson family from October 1987 to January 2022.

Our lovely cinema closed its doors for the final time on Thursday January 6 2022.

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A Poem about Land and Legacy

John McGrath’s anthology, After Closing, is full of lovely poems to dip into. Here is one I like.

Foley’s Field

Dan Foley dug his field but not for gold,

Though long ago his father showed him how.

Plant trees! he said, The ground’s too poor to plough.

But sons don’t always do as they are told.

Dry summers gave a glimpse of buried store

And so Dan dug where mighty trees had grown,

Where cows had grazed and summer crops were sown

And men had thrived two thousand years before.

Great golden roots of long-dead deal he found.

Dan raised them one by one from acid ground,

And as he filled their void with fertile soil,

He knew the field would soon repay his toil,

For land is like a poem, it draws men back

To write another line and leave their track.

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William Street, Listowel and Kenmare Street, New York

Listowel Town Square on December 9 2021. Christmas tree re erected and debris from Storm Barra cleared. Listowel is open for business.

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William Street, Listowel in Winter 2021

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Two Stylish Christmas Displays

sunny
Sunny’s Hair and Beauty
Elizabelle Interiors

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A Little Known Kerry Man

How a New York street got an Irish name

(from Irish Central online)

Tim Sullivan went from a poor Five Points Great Hunger immigrant to Tammany Hall politician, but he never forgot his humble roots.Kenmare Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just above Little Italy, was named after an Irish immigrant’s mother.

The story of Kenmare Street is one of famine, enforced emigration, New York tenements, politics, and how a kid from the slums of the ‘Five Points’ got to name a street in Manhattan after his mother’s home town of Kenmare.

In 1849 the population of Ireland was suffering the horrors of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Poverty, disease and hunger were rife.William Trench, the agent of Lord Lansdowne landlord of the Kenmare Estate in Kerry, took a census of the local population and realized the situation was untenable.

Trench recommended the estate could cut costs if they sent a portion of the destitute population to the United States and Canada. The cost of the trip would cost less than food and lodgings for one year in a Kenmare workhouse. The cost of passage to North America was £5.

Despite the harsh weather of a winter passage and no appropriate clothing, thousands took them up on the offer. Many survived and landed in New York where they settled in the notorious neighborhood “Five Points.”

The area (Baxter Street, Orange Street and Worth Street, in what is Chinatown and Little Italy today) strained under the massive influx of immigrants at the time and living conditions were famously awful. However, many Irish found some work in tanneries, taverns and selling food on the streets.

One of the residents, Tim Sullivan, was the son of Kenmare immigrants Daniel O’Sullivan and Catherine Connelly. Sullivan started off shining shoes and doing paper rounds. He soon began running the newspaper distribution, before developing bars, and theaters and ending up in politics.Known as Big Tim or Big Feller, he was one of the city’s most powerful politicians in the first decade of the 20th century.

Richard F. Welch, a New York historian, who wrote “King of the Bowery: Big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City From the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era” describes his legacy.

“Profoundly Irish by birth, heritage and experience, the new district leader held little in the way of ethno-religious prejudices and took people as he found them.

“Brought up in abject poverty himself his worldview was refracted through a prism of class-consciousness that owed nothing to theory or ideology and everything to experience and practicality.”

“Sullivan was a master of mass politics in an age when personal contact was everything,” he writes.

“The loyalty he engendered in the multiethnic population below 14th Street was based on his big-hearted solicitude for his constituents.”Sullivan founded Kenmare Street in 1911, in memory of the town his mother emigrated from.

He died at the age of 51 when he was killed on August 31, 1913, by a train near Pelham Parkway in the Bronx.

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From Russia with Love

(Phone photographs by John Tangney)

I have a family member who has recently relocated to Russia. I asked him to send us a few photos just so we could escape for a minute to a place a world away from lovely Listowel.

Pigeon house in Mostrentgen

The dog is called Kuzya, which is, apparently, the Russian equivalent of Fido or Rover. He is a hairless breed so he has to wrap up well when he is outdoors.

No, they didn’t choose a hairless breed deliberately. He is a rescue dog.

A typical apartment block from the Soviet era

Moon over Mostrentgen, a suburb of Moscow.

Graffiti through a fork of a tree

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Listowel, December 2021

Upper William Street, Listowel in 2021

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Then and Now on Market Street

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A Listowel Fact about Leahy’s Corner

These two houses were the first slated houses in Listowel. They were built by a man called O’Callaghan with money he brought back from the Napoleonic wars.

The blocked up windows were a later renovation. At various times in our history a tax known as a window tax was imposed. The more windows you had in your house the more tax you paid. This is thought to have given rise to the phrase ‘daylight robbery”.

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From Shannonside Annual 1958

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Three Generations

I decided to reprise my photo with my daughter and granddaughter on their recent visit.

Aoife was a bit reluctant to add her hand to the mix.

The final take was a lovely one.

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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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A Church, a Social and a Rookery

Photo; Chris Grayson at St. Mary of the Angels, Beaufort

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Church of the Immaculate Conception, Castletownroche

Wedding in Church of the Immaculate Conception, Castletownroche

While I was in Castletownroche for my family wedding last week, I took a few photos of their lovely windows.

This window is behind the main altar and is unusual in that, apart from the central image, the side panels are repetitive and rather uninteresting.

The Mother of Sorrows window, like the others has no acknowledgement of a donation so it looks like the parish had to foot the bill.

This Sacred Heart window matches in design the Madonna one. Both are very pretty and colourful.

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North Kerry Pioneer Total Abstinance Social 1962

I had this email from Kathy Reynolds

Hi Mary

My name is Kathy Reynolds (nee Fitzmaurice) now living in England’s smallest county Rutland but originally from Lisselton
My family are pleased to hold Tony Fitzmaurice’s (Sandhill Rd, Ballybunion) large collection of photographs in particular the early photographs from the 1950’s & 60’s that capture so well the town of Ballybunion and the people of North Kerry. A video showing photographs taken at the what I thought was  1962 Ballylongford Pioneers Social can be seen at https://vimeo.com/592832676 However I was told today that although held in Ballylongford it was a North Kerry event and people from across North Kerry including Listowel are shown.
It would be wonderful if the people could be identified and the photographs reconnected with those people or their families, what recollections might be brought to life. Are there any photographic or historical groups in the Listowel area that might be able to help me reconnect the photographs with the families, indeed a link to it in your own wonderful blog would connect with so many. If you can offer suggestions I would love to hear from you.
A future project for Tony’s archive is more directly linked with Listowel as it is about 150+ images of children sitting on Santa’s lap at McKennas in 1959. I expect many Listowel children will have been captured but there will be children from across North Kerry
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,

Kathy Reynolds

kathymreynolds@icloud.com

( Please follow the link and let me know if you recognise anyone. We’ll have a better chance with the Santa ones when Kathy puts them up.)

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Look Up

They say that crows are a very intelligent species. They were quick to spot an opportunity on the scaffolding at St. John’s.

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Mother Gertrude came from a Very Holy Family

New Zealand Tablet 26 October 1899

Death of a Venerable Nun.— The death of Sister Mary Gertrude O’Connor (known for upwards of a generation as Mother Gertrude), of the Presentation Convent, Listowel, is an event deserving of more than local or ordinary notice (says the Daily Nation.) For nearly 51 years this truly excellent lady occupied a prominent and honoured place in the religious life of her native county. Entering the Listowel Convent on the 15th of August, 1849, her religious life may be said to have synchronised with the life of that distinguished branch of the great Presentation Community, and the remarkable growth of that Convent, both in usefulness as a educational institution and in size, is in no small measure due to her influence and labours. Mother Gertrude was born in Tralee about 76 years ago. Her father held a commission in the British Army, served with distinction under Moore and Wellington, and the hero of Corunna is said to have died in his arms. The Very Rev. John O’Connor. D.D., who, for many years occupied a prominent place in the clerical life of his native diocese, and was one of the organisers of that brave band of Irishmen who went to the assistance of Pope Pius the Ninth in the early stage of his struggle with the infidel makers of modern Italy, and who, led by his fiery missionary zeal went abroad while yet a young curate, where he died some years ago, was a brother of Mother Gertrude. Another distinguished brother was Dr. Morgan O’Connor who died universally respected and regretted a few years ago in Wagga, New South Wales. 

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