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: Poem Page 1 of 14

Community Garden

By the River Feale Aug 2022

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The Other Side of the Wall

Our apples are ripening nicely.

This area will be beautiful when the flowers and climbers grow a bit.

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Meeting a Former Pupil in Ballylongford

On my visit to the traditional crafts farina Ballylongford I ran into my friend, Bridget O’Connor and then together we ran into a former pupil, Dora Mulvihill. Dora and I are in a framed picture in Presentation Secondary School Listowel, celebrating Dora’s gold medal for achieving the highest marks in Irish at her Leaving Cert.

Dora’s lovely son took the picture for me.

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From 2015

When browsing through Boards recently I came across a link to these old photos.

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Bet you Didn’t know this

Fourteen years before the Titanic sank, a novelist Morgan Robertson published a novel called Futility. The story was about an ocean liner that struck an iceberg on an April night.

The name of the ship……….Titan

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From Kanturk to Ballybunion

a poem

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Remembering

Listowel’s Millenium Arch in July 2022
Millenium Arch from the river side

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Listowel Players

This old photo was shared recently on Listowel Memories. There is one correcti0n. That is not Batt O’Keeffe but John Broderick.

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Camden Street, Dublin in 1975

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The Fairy was Laughing too

I was revisiting Boards.ie recently and someone had put up the lyrics of this old song. It is like an ear worm now resounding in my head. I think the voice I hear is Brendan O’Dowda’s.

In a shady nook one moonlight night,

A leprachaun I spied;

With scarlet cap and coat of green;

A cruiskeen by his side.

‘Twas tick tack tick, his hammer went,

Upon a weeny shoe;

And I laughed to think of a purse of gold:

But the fairy was laughing too.

With tip-toe step and beating heart,

Quite softly I drew nigh:

There was mischief in his merry face;-

A twinkle in his eye.

He hammered and sang with tiny voice,

And drank his mountain dew:

And I laughed to think he was caught at last:-

But the fairy was laughing too.

As quick as thought I seized the elf;

‘Your fairy purse!’ I cried;

‘The purse!’ he said – ’tis in her hand –

‘That lady at your side!’

I turned to look: the elf was off!

Then what was I to do?

O, I laughed to think what a fool I’d been;

And the fairy was laughing too.

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Scoil Realta na Maidine in Summer 2022

First Communion Class of 1956

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A Pig Fair

This is Kanturk but it could be any town in rural Ireland in the 1950s. The building is now the AIB bank, recently among the branches earmarked to become cashless.

One seller, standing by the signpost, has obviously reached town early on Pig Market day as he has a prime location. It’s early in the morning as farmers are coming and going from the creamery with their milk churns.

Just over the bridge you can see the BP sign. This is Fitzpatricks petrol pumps on O’Brien Street. There were no diesel cars in the 1950s.

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Joy and Sorrow

William Street at evening…photo Elizabeth Brosnan

The sun has not set on the celebrations just yet.

Photo ; Breda Ferris

The Kerry ladies put up a gallant fight against a superb Meath team.

Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.

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Some of the Kerry Team Support in Listowel

Danny’s Hair and Beauty
Blossom in Market St.
Mermaids

When neighbouring counties win both the hurling and football, there are bound to be some very happy Listowel households.

Bailey and Co.

Ballybunion showing its support in typical Ballybunion fashion.

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Ballybunion 2022

Tommy Martin of The Irish Examiner holidayed in Ballybunion this year.

Here is how he opened his article on his experience.

For Sean O’Shea’s moment of square-jawed heroism NOT to be the prelude to Kerry’s ultimate deliverance just doesn’t seem to make any narrative sense. It would be stupidly anti-climactic. To north Kerry, in the space between two All-Ireland finals.

Your correspondent finds himself on his annual pilgrimage to Ballybunion this week, the seaside resort town which remains oblivious to global meltdown. While Europe burns, Ballybunion warily slips off its kagoule, not liking the look of those clouds one bit. “Some heatwave!” is the sardonic comment of choice, as two days of hazy pleasantness gave way to temperatures soaring into the mid-teens.

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A Meadow Walk

When the gardeners of the local council mow the grass in the town park they leave it tall for the birds, insects and bees and they cut paths through the grass for us to walk and enjoy. A great Idea!

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Lest we Forget

This award winning front page will forever be the image of the worst of Covid 19 restrictions. Now that we are at the other side of that awfulness we should spare a thought and a prayer for people scarred forever.

This poem is for them.

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The Beautiful Kingdom

Molly in The Square, July 2022

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Church Street supporting the team.

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Irishisms by Ronan Moore

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The Kingdom

Beautiful Knightstown pier at evening in July 2022

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Getting behind the Team

Listowel is pulling out all the stops to support Kerry

Listowel Vincent de Paul shop.

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The Ghost Train

Dan Doyle remembers going to an All Ireland final in the bad old days. Dan writes essays about growing up in The Black Valley in what seems like a different age.

Dan Doyle Black Valley All Ireland

So long ago we went to Dublin for the All Ireland final. We went on the Ghost Train from all over Kerry.  We went on the Ghost Train as it was the only way to get to Croke Park before motor cars.  The train traveled through the night and it was packed. 

It started back in West Kerry and men from Portmagee and Waterville and Sneem and Kenmare took the train.  These were the pure men of Kerry, big and tough men of the land and the sea, men who carried parts of pigs heads wrapped in news paper and tied with a bit of binder twine. These men had overcoats and caps on them and big hands from digging the land and pulling in nets with fish that time. 

My mom came home from the village and told me go. She handed me a 10 bob note and to this day i dont know where she got it as we never had much money. So she said go as some of the older lads were going from the village of Milltown.  So down to Rathpook i went at around 7 or 8. 1955 I think this one was and I stepped into the train, They say Calcutta in the back streets are full this Ghost train had them all beat, full to the rafters, men playing 31, men sitting on the toilet playing old beat up melodeons and those great men asked if we were alone and they told us stick together when we got to Dublin. It was easy to pick these men out, they all looked alike. That was before fashion came to Kerry, big grey overcoats and big caps on their head that they put on as babies and never took off i think until God called them home. Some even wore wellingtons turned down at the top, they were a sight but one thing for sure nobody bothered them in the big city, so to say this train steamed through the night would be an exaggeration in fact some times it stopped as if to draw a breath and went backwards and stopped again and seemed to collect itself as if making up its mind if it wanted to go forward or not .

We got to Dublin finally at bright of day  in the morning and we followed the big overcoats to mass. That was the way things were done that time.  W e got to the field early and that day it was a big crowd 82 thousand I think. Kerry and Dublin and our neighbor down the road John Cronin played center half back.  He was a friend to all of us young lads at the cross roads as he came up our road. Walking was his exercise.  He was black headed and big and he was an Army man and he was no one to mess with in that time of tough men.  John Dowling of Tralee was another physical man who didnt know his own strength. 

As the evening sun went down it was over. Kerry won, they beat the Dubs.  The men on the train going home they talked about next year already they had bottles of porter in their pockets of these big coats they still had bits of pigs’ heads and crubeens but by now the wrapping paper was long gone and they shared the last of the grub with us and it tasted great.  Old turn over bread was torn asunder and passed around. We went home to Kerry and the bon fires burned as we crossed the Kerry border. 

We said good bye at Rathpook station and we never saw each other again.  the Ghost Train stopped soon after and the place got civilized but let me tell you all the adventure lives on.  The 10 bob note from my mom makes me remember her still.  She was the smallest in the house.  She was special because she found a way to put us kids first.  My dad was a big tough man but he stood in awe of the job she did raising us. I loved that time of my life  I loved seeing Kerry win but that was only a small part of the story for me. I carry it for a lifetime ,

Good luck to Kerry against Galway on Sunday ,they are carrying on a tradition started long ago. If they win it will carry us through the winter thinking about it ,someone less known on the team will have a big game and thats the way it is.  The ref will throw the ball in and the atmosphere at Croke Park will make your heart beat quickly. It is good to be from Kerry on All Ireland day .  Iwill listen to Ambrose o Donovan on the radio i will listen as that is the way my dad before me did it to Micheal o Hehir and i will pace the floor like he did.

Come on the Kingdom

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Fr. Anthony Gaughan

This house in the Silent Valley in Co. Down is renovated in the style of an old time cottage with open fire and old furniture. Photo by Éamon ÓMurchú

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McKenna’s Yard staff

Photo Mike Hannon

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A Poet at a Book Launch

Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Fr. Anthony Gaughan in St. Jiohn’s at Writers’ Week 2022
queueing for a signing
Eamonn and Marion are great supporters of Fr. Gaughan

The setting was a coincidence. The picture of the Blessed Virgin was on stage as a prop for the lunchtime play, The Six Marys.

Fr. Gaughan, Catherine Moylan, Martin Moore and a lady who writes bilingual books

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Maureen Flavin Sweeney Commemorated in Knockanure

Ted and Maureen Sweeney

Maureen Flavin was born in Knockanure 99 years ago. She married Mayoman, Ted Sweeney.

The Sweeney family, Ted, his mother Margaret and sister Frances, together with Maureen, had been reporting on the hour, twenty-four hours a day, to the Meteorological Service in Dublin for the length of World War II. This hourly reporting continued until an automatic meteorological station was brought into operation in Belmullet in 1956.

On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944 the barometer at the remote weather station at Blacksod showed pressure was dropping rapidly, indicating a major Atlantic storm was due to arrive and blow right across western Europe. Based on Maureen’s readings, US general Dwight D Eisenhower postponed the D-Day landing by 24 hours. And so a woman from Knockanure changed the course of the war.

She was honoured in her home place on Sunday June 19 2022. She was not well enough to attend but I’m sure her relatives brought her back photos and recordings of the event.

( A little bird told me that she attended the All Ireland Final of 1951, the last time Mayo won)

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The New Kingdom

The New Kingdom Bar was been repainted. I love the new look.

This is one of the very stately upstairs sash windows.

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A Poignant Book Launch at Writers’ Week 2022

This book launch had a few elements of a wake about it. Like any good wake it had an element of hooley about it too.

We had songs and stories and we laughed and cried with the chief mourner.

Mary Kennelly gathered into this book a collection of poems she wrote chronicling her feelings as she observed two beloved uncles fade into the grey of dementia.

This wasn’t just another political duty for Norma Foley. Norma is a friend of Mary’s and like everyone who contributed to the success of this book launch was there a friend who empathised with Mary, knowing the toll this illness takes on families.

The book was published as a thank you to the two nursing homes, Aras Mhuire in Listowel and Fatima House in Tralee, where Mary’s two uncles, Fr. John and Brendan were cared for. All proceeds from the sale of the anthology go to these two places.

Brendan Kennelly who loved words, lost his words at the end. He returned, “helpless as a baby” to his Kerry family who eventually, in death, returned him to his worldwide family, an audience, who loved his words.

Mary Kennelly signing my book at Writers’ Week 2022.

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