Then and Now

Lower Church Street


Mrs Bibiana Foran of Listowel

Mrs. Foran was a kind of Lady Bountiful whose name comes up often in accounts of charitable acts in Listowel.

In 1915 she wrote this letter to The Kerryman

Dear Sir.—The present time of stirring events has, perhaps, been needed to bring home to us the importance of guarding the lives and preserving the vitality of our children. To those whom fortune has favoured in the way of wealth, there is no need to speak. The well-being of their children is taken as a matter of course; but the children of the poor—the future working assets of our nation, are those which must engage the thinking members of our population. We see around us every day, thousands of little lives dropping out, or children who go through life with maimed, deformed bodies, without considering why it should be so, or if it could be prevented. 

See what they are doing in other countries, spending thousands of pounds to have even proper playgrounds while here we seem to be centuries behind time in everything considering child welfare. In England the State provides, free meals, medical examination of schools, dental clinics, free books, grants for baby clubs, and maternity centres, where the expectant poor mother has received advice for months before her baby is born.

 A Child Welfare Committee has been formed in Dublin, of which the Solicitor-General is chairman, the views of which has secured the sympathy and support of Irish, Liberal, and Unionist Members of the House which guides our destinies, and it only remains now for you, sir, to arouse public opinion on the subject to strengthen their hands and obtain for the children of this country the same privileges as prevail in the Sister Isle. 

You already know what the Id. dinners have done for the poor children in Tralee, and our small experience here has shown us what the lunch given at our school has done for the little boys who have been receiving it for the past few years. £10 donation towards the Samaritan Funds of the W. N. H. A. enabled us to begin the lunch one cold, raw winter’s day to about 35 children. Since then, the number has been raised to 80 and all honour to the generous people of our town and district, we have never since been in want of funds for carrying it on. 

Our Queen’s Jubilee Nurse attend; three days every week during the lunch hours and any little boy showing signs of delicacy has been attended to quietly at her own cottage. And I venture to say the 80 odd little men were, in consequence, so much improved mentally and physically, within one year, a not to be known as the same. A little experience is worth volumes of writing and why not this be carried out in every school in Ireland by the State? We know that the present grant is absolutely inadequate and it only extends to urban districts, while the poor – children in country schools are labouring under the same, if not worse, conditions. Even one good, nourishing meal a day, medical inspection of schools where ailing children will be attended to in time; Dental Clinics, free books and a public playground in every town and city where children would be free to have that play so necessary for them, would change the whole aspect of those little ones in five years. While Baby Clubs and Maternity Centres would give them a chance -a fighting chance—for their lives with all the other nations of the earth.

It is only the Nuns and the Teachers who have been so nobly trying to battle with those drawbacks that could tell what it is costing us—and them—and surely leaving sentiment entirely out of the question is it not money well spent to preserve and fashion to its best the children of our race—THE FUTURE ASSETS OF OUR NATION. 

The child makes the man. How can you expect a man to emerge with brain, bone and sinew whose veins were starved in childhood on bread and tea, what fills our jails, workhouses and asylums, and places such burdens on the rates? Perhaps the answer is here

 Yours faithfully.



Tennis Club Championship Finalists in the 1980s

 Photo : Danny Gordon


Early Floral Display, January 2019

This lovely raised bed is on Market Street outside the old mart wall.


Juvenile Tennis Players Named

Photo; Danny Gordon.

Names with a little help from Elaine

Back L to R; Dympna Galvin, Paul O’Neill, J.J. Walsh, Laura O’Neill

Front: Shane O’Connor, Elaine Kinsella, Sinead Finnegan and Dan Browne

Apologies if I have misidentified anyone. The year was 1987.


Dance hall Devils

Hi, Mary, your dance-hall article reminds me of what Dan Paddy Andy ‘said’ (in J. B. Keane’s book) of such a ‘devil’ who was feared would arrive in his dance-hall. The devil was supposed to have been  a clerical student.  He was blamed for the ruination of so many young dance-hall women that he was christened, not the Lamb, but  ‘The Ram of God.’ Dan Paddy Andy proclaimed that if the ‘Ram of God’ ever came to his hall at Renagown, he would go home a wether! As you know, if that happened, he would be (harmlessly) leading a different sort of flock!!