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
These are just two of the great local books I’d highly recommend this Christmas.
Some of my readers abroad have been enquiring where they can get local books. Woulfe’s Independent Bookshop is your one stop shop for books. Brenda stocks all the local books. She also has a wide selection of all the popular titles and she will post to anywhere in the world, but be warned, postage costs to places outside of Ireland are high.
The Joy of Comics
This essay is by Declan Hassett from his lovely nostalgic book,
All our Yesterdays
( Footnote from your blogger; Many of our childhood and teenage years’ comics were published by the Thompson family referred to in this essay. The actor, Alan Cumming, worked there as a journalist and sometime model. Teenage romance comics were 64 pages long and were written as photo essays. The photos were posed by real people. Alan Cumming was one of these. In his autobiographical book, Baggage, Alan Cumming revealed that the company had a policy of not hiring Roman Catholics.)
The Christmas Spirit
I was on my way to my hairdresser’s appointment when I saw a crowd gathered at the door of the shop.
All was shortly revealed. Danny had spotted the class of schoolboys looking at his lovely Christmas window. Danny, being Danny, grabbed his jar of lollipops and distributed them to the delighted boys.
Sometimes a small gesture can make your day.
McGillicuddy’s Toy Shop
At the heart of Listowel Christmasses for over a century
Memories brung back Memories
I got this email yesterday from Dave O’Sullivan.
Greetings from a wet and windy Kildare.
What a lovely essay from Nathalie this morning. Nathalie’s experience in Listowel in terms of warm welcomes and inclusion mirrors mine, one that has created a network of lifelong friendships and affinity for lovely Listowel.
I have attached a piece from the South Pacific show Nathalie references in her Listowel memoir which may trigger more memories for you readers.
This is a jostle stone. It’s been here since the days of the horse and carriage. You’ll see them in every town. Their purpose was to protect the corners of a house or other property from damage by the wheels of carriages as they entered a lane or avenue. The stone jostled the carriage away from the wall and into the middle of the road.
Here there is a jostle stone on either side of the road.
This is another more simple example on Church Street.
“Fond Memory Brings the Light of Other Days Around Me”
Nathalie Léger spent a year of her young life in Listowel. The town and its people made a lasting impression on this young lady.
My own time in Pres. Secondary School did not overlap with Nathalie’s. She discovered me much later through this blog. In response to my request, she has written this essay about her time here.
I came to Listowel during the last week of September 1988. I needed a little while to settle before getting ready to start work on October 1st at Presentation Convent as the French language assistant.
Finding a lodging was made easy with the help of Sr Consolata and some teachers, and I moved in to Market St Apartments.
As I had to buy some tableware I went to Carroll’s on the Square. Then I purchased two extra blankets at Moriarty’s on William St – Irish winters can be so cold !
I also opened a savings account at the Bank of Ireland, where they had very few French clients at the time I believe. The welcome was professional but very friendly.
At Presentation Convent I discovered a different education system that I would call holistic, not just academic. I was particularly impressed by the students and staff’s commitment in the operetta “South Pacific”. I took part in it too, helping with makeup and supervising. This was very enriching as I intended to become – and I have indeed – a teacher of English as a modern language.
I miss the friendly atmosphere and the fits of laughter in the staff room – I soon learnt quite a few “Kerry jokes” !
I really enjoyed working with the staff, who gave me the opportunity to discover what working with teenagers was like. Thank you everyone, particularly Noreen McCarthy, Geraldine O’Connor, Colette Daly, Bridget O’Connor, and of course Sr Consolata.
I would like to give special thanks to Joanna Keane who was replacing her sister-in-law Elaine at the time. Joanna showed me around – I remember a day trip to Dingle with lunch at The Forge – and she naturally introduced me to John B and Mary.
Since John B did not speak a lot of French he nicknamed me “la belle Parisienne”, which I found quite funny as I am not from Paris at all.
Not only did I meet lovely people but I also got the opportunity to read great novels and plays which helped me understand Irish people’s attachment to their land. John B’s pub became the perfect place to meet those people and have a good time chatting and laughing.
Thanks to Mary I saw “The Year of the Hiker” on stage in Tralee, which was a great moment for me.
Before leaving Listowel at the beginning of June 1989 I asked John B if he could sign the books I had bought. He very kindly wrote a different autograph in each of them. God knows how much I have treasured these books since !
Although many years have passed, I have never forgotten lovely Listowel and all the fantastic people I met there. Reading Listowel Connection every week is a means to not only remember the good old times but also discover today’s Listowel.
Thanks to social media I am in touch with Bridget and you, Mary. Now my dearest wish is to come back to Listowel, as real meetings will always be the best.
All of you take care and stay safe !
With my best regards,
( Explainer; The reason Nathalie didn’t start work until October is that nothing in Listowel started in earnest until “after The Races”. In those years the Races were always on the last full week in September.)
Like Old Times
I made a rare foray to Tralee and I was surprised to see that Dunnes Stores seems to have morphed into Marks and Spencer’s since I was there last.
It has a real butcher’s shop with butchers butchering away before our eyes.
Meanwhile in Tralee Town Square
This shop is closing down. Looks like the old order yielding place to the new.
More Listowel Christmas Windows
The theme, this year is Toy Story.
A Meeting on Church Street
Clíona (Cogan) McKenna and Joan Kenny in late November 2021
St. Michael’s College used to be as fever hospital. In the 1940s and 50s it had a massive reputation for the teaching of Latin and Greek. A remarkable number of St. Michael’s past pupils have achieved international eminence.
Hard to believe but the first team game that was played in the college was cricket.
That was Then; This is Now
Another premises looking for a new tenant. The first photo dates back to 2007.
How Much is….?
A Listowel pooch in a room with a view.
Today’s Long Read
Cyril Kelly tells us about the trials and tribulations of an altar boy in November. They were all boys before Vatican 2. No altar servers then.
Cyril brings 1950s Listowel vividly to life in this beautifully crafted essay.
That was Then; This is Now
A then and now picture with a difference…new principal of Presentation Secondary School, Listowel, Katherina Broderick pictured with former principal, Sr. Consolata Bracken in St. Mary’s Listowel on Presentation Day, November 21 2021
(photo shared on school’s Facebook page)
Katherina is the first past pupil to be appointed principal. I wish her every good luck in her new role.
A nun walks home to the convent in 2007. A lot has changed.
A Listowel Fact
Lord Listowel visited the town in 1814 and he handed over sites for two churches, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland. Both were built almost ten years later. St. Mary’s was built in 1829. The spire and porch were added in 1865. Initially the congregation stood during mass as there were no pews. The seats were added and side aisles built in 1910.
Pixie has made a Calendar
If you’re looking for a gift idea for a Covid bound emigrant, this could be the answer to your prayers.
Pixie will deliver or drop for you to collect if you are local.
You can contact him with your order at the email address below.
Santa at McKenna’s in 1959
Were you one of the lucky children who visited Santa in Listowel in 1959?
Kathy Reynolds has put a lovely collection of Santa photos from that occasion up on line. The link is here;
If you recognise yourself or someone you know please email Kathy. The photos are numbered and you can give her the number and the names of the people in the photo. Kathy’s email address is on the video. She asks that you respect copyright.