A KWD refuse truck passes Listowel Garda Station on March 26 2020
Local poet, John McGrath shared this poem on Facebook. I know it will resonate with many of my emigrant readers.
The Week after St Patrick’s
The week after St Patrick’s, my mother
pressed his suit and packed his case,
Then drove him to the station for the early train
from Ballyhaunis to the crowded boat,
Then on to Manchester and solitude
until All Souls came slowly round again.
I don’t remember ever saying Goodbye.
At seventeen I took the train myself
and saw first-hand my father’s box-room life,
the Woodbines by his shabby single bed.
I don’t remember ever saying Hello
Just sat beside this stranger in the gloom
and talked of home and life, and all the while
I wanted to be gone, get on with mine.
Westerns and ‘The Western’ kept him sane,
newspapers from home until the time
to take the train came slowly round once more.
Lost in Louis L’Amour, he seldom heard
the toilet’s ugly flush, the gurgling bath
next door. Zane Grey dulled the traffic’s
angry roar, outside his grimy window.
Back home the year before he died we spoke
at last as equals, smoked our cigarettes,
his a Woodbine still, and mine a tipped;
My mother would have killed us if she’d known.
The phone-call came as Winter turned to Spring
I stood beside him, touched his face of ice
And knew our last Hello had been Goodbye.
John McGrath March 2018
Jill Friedman’s Kerry
Internationally renowned photographer, Jill Friedman took these photographs on trip to The Kingdom.
Lord Ormathwaite was mentioned in one of the old stories last week. Kay Caball has come across him in her research.
In 1770, John Walsh (uncle-in-law of John Benn Walsh, Lord Ormathwaite) had purchased land from Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice, 3rd earl of Kerry, in both Clanmaurice and Iraghticonnor for £15,230, and again, in 1774, for £5,944. John Walsh, was a wealthy nabob, born in Madras, who returned from India to Britain after the battle Plassey. He became an MP, with a country estate in Berkshire. He bequeathed his Irish estates after his death to his niece Margaret Benn-Walsh in trust for her son, who became Lord Ormathwaite, owning 9,000 acres in north Kerry at the time of the Great Famine.
Sir John Benn WLSH (later Lord Ormathwaite) visited north Kerry in 1823 -1864 and kept a journal relating these visits to the different [named] tenants. Excerpts from this journal are published in John D. Pierse’s book Teampall Bán: Aspects of the Famine in north Kerry 1845-1852, p. 241
 Kay Caball, The Fall of the Fitzmaurices: The Demise of Kerry’s First Family.
North Kerry and The Spanish Flu
The last great pandemic was the Spanish flu, which ravaged the world in the years after World War 2
Photo from Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine 2018 shows workmen wearing masks.
This magazine has a very informative article about the pandemic.
North Kerry was particularly hard hit, with many deaths.
In 1918 532 deaths were reported in the Listowel district. As well as the flu, people died of TB and natural causes and many had lingering injuries acquired on the battle front.
Irishgenealogy,ie has a database of civil and church records that hold fascinating information. If you want to know how your ancestors fared during this last pandemic you could search the death records. Each entry records the cause of death and the duration of the final illness. If you make any interesting discoveries, we’d love to know.