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: Schools’ Folklore Page 2 of 3

Bread Shoes, Dried up River and Listowel Characters Mural

Skerries by Éamon ÓMurchú

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A Strange Tale from the School’s Folklore Collection

Little Hands and the Bread Shoes

Once upon a time there lived a man with his wife and son war broke in France, and every Irish man had to go there, and this man had to go also. He wrote letters every day to his wife, and one a wire came to his wife that her husband got killed in the war. She had only one little boy, and he was only a baby. It was a slate house they had.
One day as the little boy was sleeping in his cradle, a slate fell off over the window, and a branch of ivy went in the window and it grew around the child’s. The child was about four years when he went to school. After a time the children got the “flu”, and the little boy took it, and he was very sick, and it was worse he was geting, and at last he died.
His mother kept a little red pair of shoes under her bed, and when she went up in the room the mice had them eaten, and then she took out a loaf of bread out of the bin and softened it in boiling water; and while she was softening the bread a man went in and asked a piece of bread for God’s sake. The woman said that she had bread inside, and she had a loaf in the bin.
The man who asked her was Christ at last the boy was buried, and the threw herself on the grave, and the neighbours pulled her away, and she went to bed after going home, and a few nights after her son appeared to her and said I am in the first step of heaven mother, but the bread shoes are keeping me back, and the night he came he said he was in the second step of heaven, but the bread shoes had kept him back and the next night he came he said he was in the third step of heaven but the bread shoes had kept him back, and then they took off the shoes, and he went to heaven. After a short time the boys mother died, and she went to heaven
Collector; Eileen Hannon Age 14-

Informant- Mrs Ellen Foley-Age 74-

Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry.

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Wouldn’t it Lift your Heart?

This is my grandnephew in the U.S. dancing with his great grandmother at a family wedding.

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Drought 2021

The River Feale at the Big Bridge is at a very low level.

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Elegy to Road Kill

Fox

by John McGrath

I killed a fox last night

outside the graveyard wall.

Too late to brake I caught

a flash of golden fur

in headlight’s glare,

Felt the thump and crunch

of steel on bone,

Slow-motion silence,

Disbelief and then,

certitude

that fate had mindlessly conspired

to lead us to this place,

this point in time,

this intersecting line

where two lives intertwine

with tragedy.

One of us remained

outside the graveyard wall.

One moved on

and died a little too.

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The Mural is Finished

I took the following photos on July 24 2021 as the muralist just finished the artwork. I took a few long shots to give those of you not in town an idea of where it is and to put the scale of the work in context

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Newbridge House and Farm and how to make a wheel

A study of a pigeon by Criostóir Grayson

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Newbridge House and Farm

Recently Éamon ÓMurchú visited Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate.

This is an exceptionally interesting visitor attraction bringing country life, old days and old ways within easy reach of Dublin.

Look at the old milk churns. They are a throwback to days when cows were milked by hand and the milk taken by the farmer to the creamery.

A collection of rakes, spades, scythe, sickles, slash hook, a hay knife, a sleán, a push mower and an implement on the lower right that baffles me.

Could it be a whet stone?

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Memory Lane

An old one of Jim Halpin chatting to a garda at the door of his military and historical museum.

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Wheelmaking

from Asdee National School in the Schools’ Folklore Collection.

The wheel is made in the following way – the stock which is made of elm is first chipped with a hatchet – it is then put into the dell and turned. The dell is twisted round with a handle and the carpenter is at the other side with his chizels until he has it rounded enough. He then marks it with two lines at about two inches apart. The lines are used as a guide for mortising the wheel. He then gets a compass and centers his wheel so as to have his mortises even for the spokes. He then dresses his spokes which are made of oak. The spokes are prepared in the following way – they are first cut with a saw about two feet long by three inches broad and two inches in thickness. He first cuts the tenant which fits into the mortice. Then he rounds the spokes with a hatchet. After this he works a drawing-knife for to clean it. Next he works a spoke-shave in it and then he brings it to perfection with a smoothing-plane. When he has his spokes dressed he drives them into the stock. Then he gets a trammel for to get the round of the wheel for to give him a guide to mark his fellows. He then cuts the end of the spokes to fit into the fellows. The fellows are made into six parts and are a kind of bent to bring in the circle of the wheel. He then bores two holes on each fellow with an augur in order to fit them into the spokes. It is then taken to the forge and shod with an iron band.
COLLECTORMaureen D. O’ Connor

AddressTullahennel South, Co. Kerry

INFORMANTWilliam Egan Age67 Address Tullahennel South, Co. Kerry

This account is full of the specific vocabulary of the wheelwright, words lost to us today.

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Today’s Poem

Ar Scáth a Chéile a Mhaireann na Daoine

We live within the shadow of each other (Irish Proverb)

By John McGrath

Bang!

A finch against my window.

I felt the shudder as its world met mine,

Rushed to where it fell.

Sapped of sense and movement,

Eyes glazed, grey, lifeless,

Wings splayed, stone still.

I saw its small beak quiver,

Move as if to speak.

A tiny pulse throbbed in its downy throat.

Cupping it in my palm,

I felt the soft, warm beat within,

Willed life into stillness.

Restored by simple touch

It stirred, fluttered, faltered, flew

And healed the poet too.

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Good news on Parking in Ballybunion

(From Radio Kerry)

More public car parking is being provided in Ballybunion.

Kerry County Council says it will provide the free spaces at the Tintean Theatre carpark, located off Church Road.

The extra spaces will be available until the end of September and signage has been put in place to direct motorists to the car park.

Tralee Artist, Folklore and My Neighbour is The New Mayor of Kerry

People have been wondering about Molly. I’m glad to report that I met her in Cork recently and she was in great form. She has loved lockdown with her family at home all the time and lots and lots of attention.

I told her her Listowel admirers were asking.

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Tralee Artist, Mike O’Donnell

Last week I found myself in a part of Tralee that I am not familiar with. I’m sorry I should have noted the name of the area. I was delighted to see the work of one of my favourite muralist’s adorning the walls. The pictures are fabulous but I have no idea what exactly they depict. Looks like Famine times and a few extra unrelated images.

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Bíonn Siúlach Scéalach

I am old enough to remember when homeless men walked the roads, travelling from parish to parish in search of seasonal work. They often called asking if they could sleep in the hay barn for the night. It was unlucky to refuse such a request but my poor mother, who was a widow, never slept a wink if there was a man sleeping in the barn. She was in dread fear he would smoke and burn the barn, hay and all down.

This is what I found in the school’s folklore collection about these spailpíní.

Beggars seldom stay in the same house more than one night unless when the next day is bad. They always have their own food which they collected during the day but sometimes the people of the house give them their supper and breakfast. They also give them a bag of straw to sleep on for the night. Tinkers usually travel in families but the poor travellers go singly or in twos.

About five or six years ago a poor travelling woman stayed at our house for three days and she used to tell us a good deal of funny stories every night.
The best known travelling folk in my locality are as follows:- Paddy Flynn, Bob Landers, Jimmy O’Leary, the O’Briens, Mrs Fitzgerald and they come the most frequently to my locality.

These travellers usually come at Easter and Christmas and before the Pattern and Listowel races.

COLLECTOR James Maher

Gender male

Address Knockaunacurraheen, Co. Kerry

INFORMANT Mrs Sheehy

Gender female

Age 75

Address Ballintogher, Co. Kerry

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Bridge Road

These businesses are on opposite sides of Bridge Road as you approach town from the Tralee side.

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On This Day, June 30 1922

(information from a book, On this Day by Myles Dungan of RTE)

June 30 1922 was the day that future genealogists’ and family researchers’ hearts were well and truly broken. On that fateful day, the biggest explosion ever seen in Dublin destroyed records of Irish administrations from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Earlier damage had already been done during World War 1 with the pulping of census returns for 1861, ’71, ’81 and “ 91.

What was lost in the explosion of 1922?

Census returns for the years 1921, 31, 41, and ’51

One thousand Church of Ireland parish registers

Wills and deeds and land transactions

Court Reports

Military Records

Was this explosion an accident?

Sadly, no.

The public records office was housed in The Four Courts in Dublin. 

On April 14 1922, anti treaty rebels under Rory O’Connor occupied this building.

Pro treaty forces of the Free State government under Michael Collins attempted to dislodge them.

On June 30th the rebels in The Four Courts, now under Ernie O’Malley, surrendered.

The arsenal of ammunition and explosives the rebels had stored in The Four Courts was torched and thus was lost a millennium of official Irish records.

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Jimmy Moloney, Mayor of Kerry

Jimmy Moloney was installed as Mayor of Kerry yesterday. Here he is with his two aunts, Kay Caball and Eila Moriarty.

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St. Patrick’s Hall, Lizzy’s Relocation and A Lixnaw legend

William Street in May 2021

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St. Patrick’s Hall

St. Patrick’s Hall is located in Upper William Street, aka locally as Patrick Street.

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Lizzy is on the Move

Listowel’s own celebrity chef is back on our screens on Sunday mornings. This extremely busy lady is also planning to move premises in Listowel. While she is not dropping the word from the brand name, her new café will not be so little at all.

Lizzy is moving from Lower William Street to Church Street into the premises until recently trading as The Nook.

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Michael O’Leary’s Kanturk Connection

This old newspaper cutting from 1958 was posted by Trish O’Neill in a Facebook Group called Kanturk Memories. It is a photo of the wedding of Michael O’Leary of Ryanair’s parents. His mother was an O’Callaghan from Banagh outside Kanturk, down the road from my childhood home.

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A “Pied Piper” in Lixnaw

Ballincloher pupils contributed many legends of the “Lords of Lixnaw” to the school’s folklore collection. This one seems to owe more to fancy than to fact. Reading the stories, it would appear that they need to be taken with a large pinch of salt as truth got well diluted by fantasy.

….The mansion and out buildings, which were many (some of the remains still exist and the place is called the Old Court) were at one time greatly infected with rats and were found very difficult to exterminate.

A strange man came along one day and offered to rid them of the rats. He ordered that a large building should be provided and fitted up so that no rat could escape out of it. This was done and the rat charmer, if such he may be called, went out in the courtyard, whistled a tune which had the effect of bringing all the rats from the surrounding houses and fields into the courtyard where the man stood. He continued the tune until all the rats were assembled around him, when he marched them off to the house which had been provided for them.

They all followed him into the house and then he shut and locked the iron door so that no rat could escape. He received the reward he had claimed and went his way.

On the following day a strange man riding a black horse drove into the courtyard and demanded the release of the prisoners which he said were locked in the building. The steward said he knew of no prisoners and the man in black pointed to the house where the rats were imprisoned and said he would rid him of them at once demanding to have the door unlocked. This was done and the man rode away with all the rats at his heels.

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New Business in Church Street

Across the road from the former home of the man who gave us The Gift Of Ink another kind of ink business is opening shortly. We’ll soon have all the body art we can buy.

A Tattoo Parlour, I’m reliably informed.

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Beautiful Kerry, Have a Book on Us, A Leprechaunand Some St. Vincent de Paul Volunteers

Photo: Martin Moore

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Good Idea

If you felt like a read of something while on your visit to Ballybunion, here was your problem solved. This table of free books catered for a wide variety of tastes.

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A Tall Tale from Clandouglas National School in The Schools’ Folklore Collection

Once upon a time there lived in the Parish of Ballygologue Listowel a man named Paddy Muldoon. Paddy was a bit of a ne’er do well, never settling down to any steady job but like McCawber always hoping for something to turn up. In that same district lived an old man named Johnny Sullivan. Johnny was great at telling yarns about ghosts, fairies, leprechauns, Headless Coaches, and so forth. Now Paddy having plenty of time because he did little work often visited old Johnny to hear his tales. But of all the stories the one he liked best was that about Leprechauns because that crock of gold would be no black eye to Paddy. However although he dreamed of crocks of gold, in his sober senses he gave the matter little thought. Paddy generally took a short cut to old Johnny’s abode. This path usual in country places skirted a Fort and on through a bog. One fine day in the summer time Paddy was sauntering along whistling gaily, when on raising his eyes what did he see right in front of him beside the Fort, but a wee little man seated on a stool hammering away at his shoe. A Leprechaun, thought Paddy, as he darted forward + seized the Leprechaun and shouted “I have you at last, where is the crock”. You have me all right, said the Leprechaun, but give us a chance, don’t shake the life out of me, and I will show you. The crock is in the bog beyond but the ground is very soft and you must tie your shoes very well. Look, one of your shoes is nearly off. Ah you old cock, said Paddy, that won’t do. You know old Johnny told Paddy that he should never take his eyes off the Leprechaun, for if he did the Leprechaun would vanish. Just at that moment another man Joe Cassidy came along the path, and when he saw Paddy holding the Leprechaun began to congratulate him on his good fortune. Both of them became so excited, that Paddy for a moment, took his eyes off the Leprechaun, who instantly vanished leaving Paddy standing there to mourn the loss of his crock of gold.

COLLECTOR Maureen Mc Elligott

NFORMANT Mr John O’ Halloran

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Magnificent trees on Listowel Pitch and Putt Course

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In Ballybunion

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Return of the St. Vincent de Paul shop

My friends in Listowel St. Vincent de Paul shop are back in action and would welcome donations.

The shop is located on Upper William Street.

It is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 to 5

Some of the helpful volunteers who run the shop are Mary, Bina, Hannah, Nancy and Katsy. I love to drop in to them. They are always helpful and friendly.

You’d never know what treasure you might find there.

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