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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael O’Connor and Bryan MacMahon celebrated 100 years of Listowel Races in a beautiful work which was handed over to Kerry Writers’ Museum during Listowel Races 2022.
The piece has now begun the next stage of its journey. Stephen Rynne collected it from the museum and it is now on its way to a paper conservator who will do whatever preservation work is necessary before the museum prepares it for display.
Stephen took these photographs to give us an idea of how stunningly beautiful this is. Combining the work of two of Listowel’s greatest artists, I venture to say that it is Listowel’s and maybe even the Ireland’s greatest modern treasure.
These photographs were taken with a mobile phone through glass. They only give us a small inkling of how magnificent this piece is.
Ladies’ Day, Listowel Races 2022
Here are some photos I took on the Island on Friday September 23 2022
A Winter Poem
The class reunion of the Pres. girls from the 1960s saw some old photos on display.
This event encourages men and women to upcycle and reuse old clothes and accessories.
Unfortunately the men were much more reluctant than the ladies to enter the competition even though a few I saw on the course were sporting clothes that had seen better days
The winner of the competition was a veteran of these competitions and dressed up especially for the occasion.
The winner was Sean Donoghue and the reason he is hugging the judge is because he is well known to her from dressing up competitions.
Any men reading this who may be thinking of coming to the Races on Saturday 2023, start sorting out a vintage outfit. There is a prize of €300 for the taking and there are fabulous goody bags sponsored by local shops, for the finalists. If this year is anything to go by, to enter is to be a finalist.
This snappy dresser was the runner up.
These are all the finalists.
If there was a prize for the most stylish young lady, Maire Enright would have got my vote. This young lady told me she loves to buy clothes in the second hand shop, New2You. It was there she got her dress and her gorgeous fascinator. If she keeps up this good practice, and I think she will, she’ll be winning that 300 euros yet.
When you’re putting together your vintage outfit the shoes and accessories are all part of the look.
Lady’s fan repurposed from a Barbie doll’s dress.
Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing
It’s a generational thing.
Paud Fitzmaurice was the second in three generations of the Fitzmaurice family to hold the position of Race company accountant.
He followed in the footsteps of his late father David. His son, David succeeded him.
This generation’s David, (aka Classy) pictured at Listowel Races 2022, on the seat that commemorates his late father.
A Poem for the Season
Great News from my friends in the Save our Cinema campaign
Here is the latest update;
First the bad news. KCC rejected our submission under the Town & Village Renewal Scheme 2022 to fund a new cinema, military museum and associated community cafe in Listowel. It was not a total surprise even though a lot of work was put into the 25 page proposal including a face-to-face meeting with the Municipal District Officer in Listowel and multiple conversations with the helpful admin people in the Community Department in Tralee. The rejection came in the form of a cursory letter at the end of July.
The Good News. While the above was ongoing a very generous benefactor got in touch and to make a long story short they have pledged €200k (yes, €200 000) with the option of a further €200k subject to some conditions for a new cinema auditorium in the town.
This clearly is huge news and changes everything and it has been difficult to contain our excitement during the fabulous summer we’ve just had. The starting point is that any new cinema has to equal or ideally surpass what one gets a home. So no mouldy carpets, seats not much better that one gets on a budget airline, dank toilets and indifferent customer service. Instead the bar has been set to compare with the 3 screen, 112 seat Electric Cinema in the old television building at White City in London with its comfy and luxurious armchairs (pictured below).
Friends of Listowel Cinema are currently looking at two options on the back of this amazing proposition. One, an existing building in the town and secondly a green field site outside of Listowel. Needless to say both options will have to go through the full planning process and so the timeframe is lengthy unfortunately.
We promise to keep you updated though where appropriate. In the meantime heartfelt thanks to everyone on here for their continued support and on the other social media accounts and in person. We will continue to share exciting movie and cinema news with you every week and in particular now that we are in late autumn after the Races and facing into an uncertain winter.
This Fall also marks the first time in 35 years that the big screen will not light up in Listowel and the end of 25 years of Kieran’s beloved film club. Last but not least the €2 920 that was raised on the GoFundMe campaign will be gifted to the 3 named charities in the coming weeks. The delay is simply because the Classic Movieplex is still for sale on the auctioneers web site and no ‘Sale Agreed’ has yet appeared on the building despite being told to the contrary in early June.
My story of Andrew Carnegie and Listowel Library prompted Mattie Lennon to send us an account of a man who was no Andrew Carnegie. Here is the strange tale of Towsend Murphy Zink.
A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 66 were built in Ireland of which 62 are still in operation today.
And if another benefactor, had got his way September 11 2022 would be the 17th anniversary of the turning of the first sod for the construction of a library of a different kind.
When Iowa attorney T.M. Zink died on September 11th in 1930, aged 72, he disinherited his wife in his will and left $5 to his daughter. The will, which had been drawn up on July 18th. He left a sum of $50,000 to be invested for 75 years, when he calculated it would total about $4 million. This would be used to endow a rather unique library: “A Woman free” library, where, “No woman shall at any time, under any pretence or for any purpose, be allowed inside the library, or upon the premises or have any say about anything concerned therewith, nor appoint any person or persons to perform any act connected therewith.”
He also stipulated that “No book, work of art, chart, magazine, picture, unless some production by a man, shall be allowed inside or outside the building, or upon the premises, and this shall include all decorations for inside and outside the building.” And over each entrance there would be a sign carved in stone bearing the words, “No Woman Admitted.”
He said that his intention was,” . . . to forever exclude all women from the premises and having anything to say or do with the trust estate and library. …”
He went on to explain his considered decision, “My intense hatred of women is not of recent origin or development nor based upon any personal differences I ever had with them but is the result of my experiences with women, observations of them, and study of all literatures and philosophical works within my limited knowledge relating thereto.”
At the end of the seventy-five-year period, in 2005, no more than 25% of the estate was to be used for the purchase of the site and for the construction of a non-circulating library. He added that an additional 25% should be “invested in the best, most reliable and authentic books, maps, charts, works of art, magazines, and other authentic works containing all known information and knowledge of science, literature, geography, religions, and all known knowledge of the world.”
The document continues, “no book, work of art, map, or chart shall be excluded therefrom on account of any theory, philosophy, ethics, religion, or language; it being my intention and purpose to establish a library in which all known human knowledge may be found by any man wishing the same.”
Townsend Murphy Zink was born on December 28, 1858, in Hillsboro, Ohio. While he was still a young child, his parents, James and Clarissa, picked up and moved to Jasper County in Iowa, not far from the county seat of Newton. Not one for the farm life, Zink opted to study law at the State University of Iowa. He received his degree in June 1883 and moved to Le Mars, where he would practice for the remainder of his life.
Having been such a prominent member of the Le Mars community, his death was front-page news in all the area papers. Hundreds attended the funeral services that were held at his home at 112 Third Street, SE, which looks amazingly similar today to what it looked like back in 1930.
On September 15th 1930 a piece in the Le Mars Globe Post stated that, “In the passing of Mr. Zink, this city and the members of the bar of this community, lose a real, honest man of high standing and ideas.” An editorial in that same day’s paper said, “If T.M. Zink had been able to attend his own funeral, he would have been touched by the evidences of affection and esteem which his fellowmen have held him.” The author continues, “There were many who sensed in a greater or less degree his underlying goodness; many to whom he had been kind in his unobtrusive way; many who had cause tosee his passing with regret.”
Today there is no Womanless Library as a tourist attraction in Le Mars. Mr Zink’s will was successfully challenged and she got everything. Dr. George Donahoe from the state mental hospital in Cherokee. He testified, “Mr. Zink was suffering from a classic case of sexual paranoia, which is a form of insanity that is chronic, progressive and incurable.”
One way or another the “honest man of high standing” was no Andrew Carnegie.
Two Books and a Correction
I called to Woulfe’s to pick up In Our Day, It’s a great collection of first hand recollections of old Dublin.
While I was in the shop I spotted this poetry book that I had seen advertised. It’s lovely, a collection of poems for those times “when you can’t find the words.”
Now the mug Sean brought me from France…..I made a big mistake last time I posted about it. The mug is from Brittany not Normany as I said. Eagle eyed people will have recognised the Brittany flag.
Brittany and Normandy are kinda frenemies. There is a belief in Brittany that Normandy ‘stole” their Mont Saint Michel.
Apologies to my Brittany family, especially Sean.
New Business on Bridge Road
Parking is about to Change
These men, or men like them were at every parking meter yesterday.
They came to town in these vans.
I didn’t ask but I’m guessing they were adjusting our parking meters to take cards
A Fact ( and a warning)
Drinking too much coffee can be lethal. Ten Grams (100 cups) over four hours can kill the average human being.
This area will be beautiful when the flowers and climbers grow a bit.
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.
When browsing through Boards recently I came across a link to these old photos.
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.
This old photo was shared recently on Listowel Memories. There is one correcti0n. That is not Batt O’Keeffe but John Broderick.
Camden Street, Dublin in 1975
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.
Scoil Realta na Maidine in Summer 2022
First Communion Class of 1956
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.