+ John Pierse R.I.P.+
John Pierse’s Tidy Town colleagues changed their window display as a tribute to one of their stalwarts, John Pierse.
John’s nephew, Roibeard Pierse, captured the essence of John when he said that John was a man who would do the hard work and step away when the photograph was being taken. That was the John I knew. For a man who was often seen with a camera and who appreciated the importance of a photograph to document a historic moment, he was himself very camera shy.
However when I looked for photographs to illustrate my small tribute I found that I had quite a few, mainly of John in the company of like minded people.
I took this photo of John with his friend and collaborator, John Lynch on the first occasion I saw Bliain dár Saol, an invaluable documentary of life in Listowel in 1972.
The importance of this film was recognised again lately when it was shown on three days during Heritage Week 2022. The film, beautifully scripted and narrated by Eamon Keane, records The Fleadh with which John Pierse will be forever associated , the Wren and other traditions whose memory is still alive today.
John Pierse was a scholar who loved learning. This class phot0 of a group of Listowel people at a conferring in UCC on the completion of an adult outreach diploma has both Mairead and John in it. John was a life long learner. He was generous in sharing the fruits of his learning and I am one of many who has learned much from him.
Kay Caball worked with John on many of his history projects. There was a deep mutual respect and friendship between these two avid historians.
One of the projects close to John’s heart, a labour of love, was his book, Teampall Bán. He has done the town an invaluable service in trawling through documents and records to put together this thorough account of the Famine in the Listowel area. In an act typical of the man, he donated all the profits from the book to Listowel Tidy Towns’.
This book will stand as John’s legacy to future generations.
John had a huge library of history books and maps. He was a great supporter of local authors. Here he is at the launch of Vincent Carmody’s book adding another to his collection.
John loved the company of local people who shared his love of the town and its history. With him here are Kieran Moloney, Paddy Keane and Michael Guerin.
With John in this photo taken at an event during the military weekend are Kathy Walshe and Dr. Declan Downey.
These two photos I took after an event in the hospital chapel, forever a reminder of Famine times in Listowel and North Kerry.
This is the last photo I took of John Pierse. We were in a brief respite in pandemic restrictions and we were both out early in the morning to see how Listowel was faring in these extraordinary times. John was his usual chatty self. While suffering under the privations of enforced isolation, John was putting his time to good use with his books.
In his 86 years in this life, John lived a fulfilled life. He packed more into one lifetime than anyone I know. He is part of Listowel’s rich history now. He will be greatly missed by his beloved gentle Mairead and by all his family.
I am glad I got to know him.
“Lives of great men remind us
We too can make our lives sublime
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time.”
Go gcloise tú ceol na naingeal go síoraí, a John.
Going to the Creamery
This photograph which was shared originally to Rockchapel Memories by Charles MacCarthy shows the scene at the creamery in Rowles, Meelin sometime in the 20th century.
That scene, or versions of it, was repeated in villages and rural areas all over the country when men made the daily trip to the local creamery. Judging by the size of the milk churns, these men were not rich but happy farmers making a living on small holdings in a remote part of North Cork.
The ritual of the morning at the creamery involved the exchange of news and gossip. Men looked forward to what was often their only social interaction in the day. It took a few hours to get to the creamery and back but in those days people weren’t in a hurry.
This photograph was also shared on line. Sorry I cant remember by whom. Was it you, Brigid O’Brien?
It is a later time when tractors and the odd car had replaced the horse or donkey and cart. The ritual was the same though and chat was still a big part of going to the creamery.
Tina Kinsella was entertaining her sister in Lynch’s Coffee Shop. Bernie was on holiday from Wexford.