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 2 of 21

Poetry, Drama and Memories

The Big Bridge in May 2024

+ Nóra Relihan R.I.P+

Photo credit: Paul O’Flynn

Nóra Relihan, who passed away on June 14th 2024, deserves a statue in her honour in her adopted town of Listowel, for Nóra was central to every significant cultural development in Listowel during her lifetime. She packed more into her life than many people do in many lifetimes.

Nóra was named Kerry Person of the Year 2023

(Photo and text from Kerry Association in Dublin)

Nóra had a varied career throughout her lifetime with solo tours, drama, TV, and film appearances, including “Fair City” and TG4 film “Limbo”.

Jimmy Deenihan, Chairperson of the Selection Committee, said “Nóra Relihan richly deserves this prestigious award in recognition of her immense contribution to the promotion of the Arts during her lifetime. One of her greatest achievements was the establishment of St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre in Listowel which is regarded as the premier small arts centre in the country. She now joins the pantheon of renowned Kerry Artists who have received the award to date including Pauline Bewick, Brendan Kennelly, Fr Tony Gaughin and Fr Pat Aherne”.

In announcing the award, Mary Shanahan, Chairperson of the Kerry Association in Dublin said “Nóra has made a unique contribution to the promotion of the Arts in Kerry and nationally. She deservedly merits the accolade “Voice of the Kingdom” for her role as Director, entertainer, broadcaster and for her role in the various arts activities in North Kerry”.

In accepting the award Nóra Relihan said; “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award from the Kerry Association; it is a really lovely tribute to my interest and work in the arts over many decades”.

Photo from Kay Caball

Nóra (in sunglasses) with John B. Keane and the cast of Sive. On the right is Dan Moloney T.D. who entertained them in the Dáil after their big win in the All Ireland Drama Festival in 1959.

Here Nóra remembers her performance as Mena Glavin. Nóra, always glamorous and stylish, transformed into the shrewish, put- upon Mena was a triumph of acting.

Nóra was also an evocative writer.

Photo from Kay Caball …..Nóra, second from left with the cast of Drama at Inish in 1955.

Nóra loved the stage. Whether as a cast member in a big production, as a solo performer, performing on location, touring, or producing, the stage was Nóra’s home. It was fitting that her family returned her to St. John’s in Listowel to bring the curtain down on her long life.

Nóra is remembered in Kerry for her programmes on Radio Kerry, her Signposts to Kerry and Hospitals Requests. Her mellifluous voice was perfect for radio.

I took this photo with Phil in John B. Keane’s pub during one of Nóra’s final performances, a one woman show.

Nóra with her neighbours on Nunday in 2012.

Nóra at Writers Week in 2014 with Brenda Woulfe and Mike Lynch.

Nóra with her great friend and co founder of Listowel Writers’ Week, Noreen Buckley, was honoured at a commemorative meal in 2014.

With Joe Murphy in St. John’s

Nóra Relihan leaves behind a cultural legacy to her beloved Kerry. We will not see her likes again.

A great lady has exited the stage. We are lucky to have known her.

Monday, May 17 2024

Byrne

Michael Guerin, Owen MacMahon and Mary McKenna on the Friday morning walk at Writers’ Week 2024.

Owen was an excellent Byrne in Listowel Drama Group’s recent production of John B. Keane’s Big Maggie. Mary was only 10 when her late father played the same role with Kilcullen Drama Group in the first ever amateur production of the play many moons ago.

The cast….Mary’s late dad was Johnny O’Neill. The play won many accolades at the festivals. Johnny won the award for Best supporting actor at the All Ireland final in Athlone.

The Sullivans

This is an extract from Ireland’s Own. It contradicts what I had always believed, i.e. that ÓSúilleabháin meant one eyed rather than dark eyed.

Another Fascinating Fact

The contrary Mary of the nursery rhyme was known as Bloody Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a fanatical Catholic. She tortured and killed Protestants and buried them in her “garden”. Her ‘silver bells’ were thumbscrews and “cockle shells” were instruments of torture attached to male genitalia.

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After Writers Week 2024

Listowel Arms Hotel, scene of much of the action last weekend.

Listowel Printing works in Tannavalla

I’ll be a frequent visitor here for the next while. Watch this space.

June Weekend 2024

As predicted, there was way too much on last weekend. I got to see a small fraction of Writers’ Week and I never got to The Races.

May 29 2024 started out with an early morning trip to the hospital. This trip took a little longer than planned.

When you’re in a hurry there is always roadworks.

Muskerry Golf Club to the right. My late father in law was once president here.

Pastureland and grazing cattle to the left of me.

Home at last in time to see Uachtarán na hEireann in The Listowel Arms.

When your Friend goes to The Chelsea Flower Show

and the whole village is a flower show.

A Fact

New York city keeps train tracks free of ice by setting them n fire.

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Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Horse chestnut tree at the entrance to Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail

I Love Brendan O’Connor’s Writing

From last Sunday’s Independent

Maytime

Crazy Hair Parade

Presentation Primary School marched through town last Thursday with their hair in every kind of crazy style. It was a great laugh and raised a few euros for the school.

Graduation Day

Sometimes I feel very old….. My boyeens who featured here so often on their many trips to the Kingdom are all grown up. Here they are with their emotional parents as they finish secondary school and prepare to head out on a new adventure.

McCrohan’s of 15 Main Street

This is the Kennedy home today. It was here that the last of the Listowel McCrohan’s spent his last days in the care of Dr. Johnny Walsh.

This is how it looked in 1983 when Tim and Karen visited Listowel.

No. 15 Main Street is where the McCrohan family lived.

This is how No 15 looks today.

It was Larkin’s in 1983

Look at how much more beautiful it is now, embellished by the superb paintwork of Martin Chute.

Changes afoot

This premises, the former ESB office, has had this enormous window installed. I don’t know what is going in there but I’ll tell you as soon as I know.

A Fact

All pet hamsters are descended from a single female wild golden hamster found in a litter of 12 in Syria in 1930.

Vote for Ard Chúram

David Kissane’s picture of The Hill in Lacca, Lisselton in May 2024

Tim McCrohan’s Visit

Tim McCrohan visited Listowel on his honeymoon in 1983 and he got a Céad Mile Fáilte from Dr. Johnny Walsh.

He writes;

Hello Mary, 

Yes…so THANKFUL you were able to forward my message on to her (Eleanor). As I previously wrote, when we visited Listowel to search for some family gravesites during our honeymoon back in 1983, we met with Dr. Walsh (who had cared for my uncle when he resided at a local nursing home in 1955.) Because we were in the U.S. and had no other family there to bury him when he passed, my dad had sent Dr. Walsh monies to bury his uncle after he passed away in 1955. My dad had never been able to visit the town where his own father was born, so when we honeymooned in Ireland, we took a day trip to see if we could locate the gravesite or even the Dr who took care of my uncle.  It was a long shot, as the last contact our family had with the Dr was almost 30 years previous. To our surprise, we did locate Dr. Walsh’s office who, when we introduced ourselves, closed his practice and took us around the town. (I share my uncle’s (who he cared for and buried) same name (Timothy McCrohan), so he immediately recognized it when I introduced myself.)  During the visit throughout the town, he said our family home was at 15 Main Street. They would have lived there in the late 1850s/1870s. At the time of our visit, it was then the DJ Larkin Building, next to the Spinning Wheel Restaurant.  He also took us by the Kennedy Nursing Home (or what was formerly known as, “Greenlawn” Nursing home back in the late 1940’s/1950’s.) which was owned/operated by Dr. Walsh. According to his daughter, Eleanor (Walsh) Belcher, (who we subsequently connected with via your site) he set up the nursing home in 1948.  She would, on occasion, visit there with him when she was a young girl, so she felt it was likely she may have even met my uncle during one of those visits when he resided there in 1955. I’ve attached a few pics of our visit back then of the Kennedy Nursing Home (Church Street), Dr. John Walsh’s office (26, The Square) and the DJ Larkin Building (15 Main Street) (upper loft would have been our family’s residence back in the 1850/60’s). As I previously relayed to you, Dr. Walsh knew exactly where my uncle had been laid to rest (because he took care of the entire burial for our family) so he took us to see it.  What a wonderful surprise it was to meet Dr. Walsh, visit my Uncle’s gravesite, and to see and learn about the town of Listowel.  We were so grateful! 

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading all the various blogs from your site, which gives me great insight to the town my family was from. 

Thank you again!

(Another McCrohan story tomorrow)

Forget Bilocation. You’ll need Trilocation

There is so much on in Listowel on the June Holiday Weekend 2024 that visitors will be spoilt for choice.

Of course there is The Races.

Then this;

St. John’s has a packed programme of events for young and old.

And, of course, Writers’ Week

Your Vital Vote

AIB is giving away big money to local charities all over Ireland. Charities get a one off chance to apply so it is important that we pull out all the stops to get them as much as we can on the first (and only) time of asking.

Ard Churam is a vital local service, keeping our valued older people cared for. Because many of the older people who use the service were born before the digital age, it is really important that we, who are more tech savvy, get them this sorely needed cash.

The charity number is really important. The name of the charity, Ard Churam is in Irish so be careful auto correct doesn’t change it to Are Charm.

Registered Charity Number| 20068417

Here is the link:

Ard Churam

Very Proud Nana

This is Cora in her Munster kit for her trip to The Aviva in Dublin for the All Ireland final of the schools’ soccer 5’s on Wednesday.

Last week she won Sciath na Scol camogie with her school, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin.

A Fact

Mount Everest sank one inch due to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

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In Kanturk

Follow the yellow brick road…Glenlohane Co. Cork

The Voice of Horse Racing

Racecourse commentator Jerry Hannon from Listowel says his career as the voice of Irish horse racing started out as a party piece

“From an early age I was fascinated by horse-racing commentators and how the one voice at a race meeting could create such an atmosphere. I think that’s what whetted my appetite.

“At the time, there was a TV programme called Sports Stadium, which showed races from the previous week. I used to record those races using an old cassette tape and then I’d play them back and try to put my own voice to it. Michael O’Hehir’s famous 1967 commentary of Foinavon winning the Grand National at Aintree became my party piece.”

This opening paragraph is from a recent article in The Irish Independent

A Snooker Poem

I intend bringing you the poems, all sports related, that I found in the library on Poetry Day 2024. I’m starting with this one as it is topical when history has been made and three qualifiers dethroned the big boys and made their way to the last four at The World Snooker Championships. The dream faded in the final, however, and it was a seeded player, Kyren Wilson, who was crowned 2024 World Snooker Champion.

In Kanturk

My recent visit to Kanturk coincided with the official reopening of Twohigs after a big refurbishment.

The ribbon was cut by this lady, Kathleen O’Connell who has worked in Twohigs for 50 years.

I met old friends and had a great catch up.

Mary Lynch is a pal from my school days. Kieran OSullivan was giving out samples of the various salads made that morning in his family business, GOS Salads

Mickey and Minnie were there for the children.

The party went on for 3 days.

Maurice Walsh

A Fact

A rat can last longer without water than a camel can.

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