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 Page 2 of 15

Food Fair This Weekend

Pat Ahern and Enzo in Ennis

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New Hair Stylist on Church Street

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Listowel Pitch and Putt

I happened to walk by the clubhouse on Sunday last and I enquired what sort of competition was in progress. It was a three club invitational. The day was sunny and warm and the course was in tip top condition as usual.

These friendly gentlemen were minding the house. I asked them is they had a photo of the founding fathers. The club is 50 this year and I have so much respect for those early pioneers who gave us this beautiful amenity, that I’d love to post a picture of them.

They told me that a photo collage is in the making to mark the 50th. All the photographs are with Billy Moloney who is looking after this project. I look forward to seeing the finished picture.

I subsequently met Billy and he says that there is non picture among the ones he has of the men who set up the club. So if you have such a picture, will you give it into the clubhouse or to Billy, These men deserve recognition in this the 50th anniversary year.

Billy told me that the delay with the collage is the difficulty in getting a frame big enough, but he’s on it.

Watch this space!

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St. Michael’s Class of 1972 Reunion

When these men got together to reminisce, much of the talk centred around football, a big part of their St. Mick’s days. (Essay on the way from David Kissane)

Christy Walsh and Jason Foley got together to crown their night with a visit from Sam Maguire.

Jim Fitzmaurice sent us Gerard Hussey’s great essay capturing life in St. Michael’s in the early days of “free education”.

         “Donagh O’Malley’s Boys”     by Gerard Hussey

They came in those first yellow school buses in 1967 from Listowel’s hinterland, from Dromerin, Clounmacon, Lisselton , Bunagara and Bunglaise in Duagh, and mixed with the Borough Boys of the Town.

Donagh O’Malley’s inspired free education policy spawned a rake of the newly educated that met again on Sat. Sept 17th after fifty years (fifty five if you count the lost years!). Those fellas from the country taught us townies a thing or three.

Their compositions stood out, descriptions of the bog went deeper than a sleán. They knew a thing or two about sciortáns and ciaráns  – “lá breá brothallach” how are you?

And they could field a ball for you  – Paddy Quilter and Tim Kennelly, the Horse with his trademark drive out from the square and a drop-kick from the lawn end that went into Captain Shanahan’s yard. That’s two  hundred yards, by the way, and speaking of which – wasn’t Eamonn Carroll (RIP) the champion sprinter in our day. I once teamed up with him and Conor Heaphy in a relay ….. a few Pilates are all I can manage now!  I still pine for a two-hundred yarder with a Callaway driver!

I remember Old John ‘volunteering’ me one Friday for a week-end cross-country event and coming along to Neilius Brosnan only to be told…  “No thanks, Sir”. Courage a plenty, Neilius – fair dues. Sure it was no pleasure to be lapped by Gerry Kiernan or Dave Kissane and John Hartnett .

Despite the regime, we learned a lot to prepare us for life during our five years. Sure, didn’t Rocky’s “Sets” stand to us …… back in the Gaeltacht and Ballai Luimnigh! And Greek and Roman history ….useful  when perusing Budget Travel brochures! And, Miss Murphy telling us that a triangle was the finest form in the natural world, and I, innocently thinking it was 36-26-36 !

Funny incidents, mixed with humiliations , were the order of the day for many of us. One day Danny Kelliher, a Butcher’s Lad was driving sheep down Cahirdown ….. and they darted into St. Michael’s. Mad for  classical learning – no doubt. “Ye can’t goin thare”, roared Danny, so we helped unround the sheep – which gave us fifteen minutes of distraction from the regime.

We all recall the unhelpful refrain…. “ and what colour chalk shall we use?” when someone lost their way trying to solve a difficult Maths problem. Humiliation was too quick to follow any mistake. 

 The heart of the matter was captured by  Tim Danaher, who once offered up “Hard Times” to Fr. Danny when he inquired what we were reading outside of school books.  I think our knowing laughter was not lost on him either! Hard times indeed,  but it formed us into a bunch of fellas that would stick together and  you’d be happy to meet again. 

We were imbued with a sense of justice and fair play from our experiences.  Neilius reminded us of a week’s strike that we took once to make our  point about a grave injustice to one of our own – a good sign of fellowship.

Donagh’s Boys went on to make a worthy contribution to Irish life, in Education, Construction, Business, Agriculture and Miscellaneous  Professions. It is worth noting that our year of 72 produced 10 teachers.  The basic education was no burden – I gained my own further education during 3rd Arts in UCG, when I shared room with Padraic Breathnach!

It’s the fine fellas that you meet along the way that lighten the world’s load – I can count those I met at Christy’s on our 50th Re-Union as fine a cross-section as you’d like to meet  ….. a fine “Set” indeed. Thanks Rocky! 

Footnote : A few little anecdotes of our times at St. Michael’s

WE learned hand-stands at P.E. ……. we held each other up  …….. time to do it again  surely, Lads!

My first concussion ….. it wasn’t the Horse giving me a mighty shoulder  ….. t’was the  bringing down the full weight of a hard-back anthology  on my noggin…..”Alliteration, young Hussey is things sounding alike”, oblivious to the effects of the  bounce of the book on my head!

Junior  was putting up a rough chalk map of Ireland and throwing in mountains that were fish bones, for some odd reason. “The Comeraghs”, I offered as he pointed towards Tipperary. “You’re too small Hussey to be moving mountains!”  says he. The Galtees me boy.

Fr. Danny coming around once a month to collect for his propagation of the faith and checking for long hair and the trade-mark yellow-stained cigarette fingers – Frank got caught on both counts. Down to Quigleys for the hair, with Danny paying the bill, while Frank rubbed his fingers at the front school pillars to remove the yellow stains.  Maggie Stack had his measure though by putting the haircut money in his pocket and never returning. I hear he still has a fine head of hair!

Free spirits, we had a few,  and our reunion noted the missing souls: John Scully, Tim Kennelly, Vincent Donegan, Eamonn Carroll, Tim Danaher. Rest easy boys!

Our final leavetaking  had   Fr. Danny giving us  the profound declaration  “Ye’re going out into the world as rare birds with ye’re classical training”   ….. while Brendan Keane whispered “extinct birds  more likely”.                  Wit, the great leveller !

“ All life was there”, John B said of McKenna’s corner …… well, so too it was at Christy’s – a well-rounded crew and not a chip in sight,…. except those paired with the goujons!

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Some Halloween Windows

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Listowel Food Fair

Here’s the link;

Listowel Food Fair 2022

A Miscellany

At Bishopstown Scout hut

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What Lies Ahead?

My daughter Clíona spotted this sign in Cahirdown on her way home to Listowel for the weekend.

I took the photo and appealed for captions.

Catherine Moylan won with the one I’ve chosen as the heading.

She was also a close second with

Ground control, major wrong!

Geraldine O’Connor was also in the running with Fake News

I like Breda OSullivan Ahern’s “No true road but a destination.”

This sign on the approach road from Tarbert is sure to raise a smile in the midst of roadwork disruption.

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Presentation Girls Reunion

On the evening of their reunion the convent girls from the sixties remembered their previous reunion. There was talk and remembrance of the ladies who had passed away since then.

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We’re a Sound Town

The radio station Today Fm has awarded Listowel the accolade of September’s Sound Town. Cora O’Brien of Listowel Community and Business Alliance convinced the judges that Listowel was one of the best towns in Ireland to live in. We’re Sound Out!

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One Brave Lady

Get up, dress up and show up could be the motto of the lady on the right of these photos. She is Mary O’Halloran and she has Motor Neurone Disease. She is living with it and trying to do all the things she enjoyed before. Her lovely voice has gone but she retains her enviable sense of style. She is a regular at Listowel Races and she came back in style this year, earning herself a place on the stage as a finalist in the Ladies Day fashion competition.

My friends, Peggy O’Shea from Firies and Bridget O’Connor from Ballyduff joined me to lose some money and spot some style on Friday Sept. 23 2022.

My great friend, Jimmy was joined by his friend Ted for the day out.

Lilly and her dad Simon were enjoying the racing.

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I wonder what John B. is so certain of in this lesser known poem I found in a penguin anthology of Irish verse.

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A Fact

Carnivorous animals will not eat another animal that has been hit by a bolt of lightening.

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Beautiful Things

Kayaking in Ballybunion at sunset. Photo: David Morrison

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Beautiful Illuminated Picture

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.

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Ladies’ Day, Listowel Races 2022

Here are some photos I took on the Island on Friday September 23 2022

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A Winter Poem

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Schoolgirls

The class reunion of the Pres. girls from the 1960s saw some old photos on display.

Senior Infants 1950

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A Different Kind of Race

Listowel Town Square

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More Sustainable Fashion

This is part of the huge crowd at the races on Saturday Sept 24 2022. Listowel Racecourse is so vast and well laid out that there is always plenty of room for everyone and while demand for bars and toilets etc. leads to queues, these are never too long and this year everyone was in great good humour due to the sunshine and the blessed release from Covid restrictions. The best way to teach us to appreciate something is to take it away from us for a while.

Mary, Orla, Imelda and Joan were busy in the marquee organising the sustainable fashion event on behalf of Listowel Tidy Towns.

The ever stylish Helena was busy getting every entrant signed up.

Out on the course John Kelliher, who did a marvellous job of photographing all the colour and excitement of race week in Listowel, obliged me by posing with my friends and his, Maria and Anne.

This gorgeous lady was relaxing in the sunshine.

Local people in the marquee observing it all.

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A Poem for this Time of Year

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That Famous Walking Race

The walking race from Tarbert to Listowel was a much anticipated and keenly contested attraction in the 1960s. there are apocryphal tales of fellows going astray, fellows taking short cuts and there is one tall tale of a contestant who “borrowed” a bike for part of the journey.

King of the Mailroad Walking Race: Tarbert to Listowel.

John B Keane who gave a commentary on the race. Derek Johnson (Clonmel) winner and Dr John Walsh, race promoter. September 1961.

From the archive of the late Tony Fitzmaurice, Ballybunion.

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The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen

Photo from St. John’s Asts Centre on Facebook

Frances Kennedy was crowned Queen of the Wren at a great night of traditional music, dancing and merriment in Listowel Town Square on Friday Sept.23 2022

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Listowel Races 2022 Day 1 continued

Listowel Town Square

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Best Dressed Couples

Listowel Races this year introduced a new fashion event. This saw men and women dressing up as a co-ordinated couple. The venue was sponsored by Lyrath Estate Hotels. This company has a very strong Listowel Connection.

The judge on the day was Elaine Kinsella, a broadcaster with a very strong Listowel Connection.

The llama wasn’t helping her with the judging and since he was on his own he wasn’t eligible for the couples competition so he took a minute off from entertaining the children to allow his use as a prop for Instagram.

Gillian and Raymond Gilbourne were every inch the stylish co ordinated couple. They didn’t win.

A couple with a very strong Listowel Connection (and a Kanturk one too) are Barry and Eithne O’Halloran. They didn’t win either. They came second.

Barry was not actually on the island for the competition. He was presenting a prize on behalf of his company.

And the winners were Jacy Ybanez (Tralee) and Brian O’Connor (Abbeyfeale) with an outfit described by the people in the know as “fashion forward”.

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Pres. Girls Reunion

Hard to believe that these lovely ladies graduated from Presentation Secondary School in the early 1960s.

They chatted and reminisced ’til early morning

Miriam Kiely and Mary Sobieralski on their way to the reunion.

Mary and Marlene hadn’t met since they left school.

It was a great night for remembering and reconnecting.

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Harvest Festival 1994

Listowel Harvest Festival made a welcome return to town this year. Will it ever match the fun we had on the streets in 1994. Junior Griffin kept the brochure

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