Sutton, Co.  Dublin by Eamon ÓMurchú


Rob Cross’ colourised old Listowel photos

A man named Rob Cross has taken to preserving our history in beautifully restored and digitised old photos.

Dave O’Sullivan helped me to get them to you.

At the gate of the then R.I.C. barracks, now the Garda Station

Church St.

Main Street

Sweeny Tailors in Church St.

A larger group at the R.I.C. station


Listowel’s Own Agnes Brown R.I.P.

Maureen Barrett who wrote Agnes story for us  and Agnes Brown on Agnes’ 100 th. birthday.

July 7, 2017

 I will start with the fact that Mary Agnes (known her whole life as Agnes) Broderick formerly of Dirha East,  Listowel died January 12, 2017 in Tinley Park, Illinois at the wonderful age of 104-5 months short of being 105-Agnes was born June 30, 1912 to Dan and Nora Browne-Dan was the son of Daniel Browne-(butcher of Listowel) and a Catherine Lynch and Nora was the daughter of Jeremiah Mulvihill-Clounmackon (a farmer in Dirha) and Johanna Buckley-they were married November 15th, 1908 in Listowel-they would have 9 children born in Listowel and 1 born in Chicago-they would eventually lose 3 of their children-Margaret-3 yrs old died March,1918 of croup, Jeremiah-11 mo-died March 18th, 1926 of whooping cough and Lillie-3 years died March 26th a week after her brother of whooping cough.  

The story was always told in the family that a gypsy came to the house when the children were sick and make a drink brewed from a weed from the bog for Agnes and that is what kept her from getting sick-the gypsy was never seen again. She remembered that a Sullivan family in Market Street lost 5 children at the time(this has not been verified). A relative of theirs a Dr. Connor came from Dublin to help Dr.Dillon from Listowel with all the illness and he ordered that Agnes be removed from the house.

Dan Brown was very active in the fight for freedom of Ireland along side his neighbors Tom and Ned Pellican- the friendship between those 2 families has survived since then and this little story about Agnes is being written by a niece of Tom and Ned who now lives in Chicago-Maureen Barrett from Ballylongford. 

The story of the Brown family being evicted from their home and their neighbors building them a replacement house in one day is out there in stories from those terrible times. Dan Brown fought on the Republican side after The Treaty was signed -she told me he was offered money and a job and suffered much at the hands of  those who were trying to get him to join the the other side but he refused. He was eventually convinced  by someone- “to give up trying to free Ireland as he had a family to take care of”so he gave up the fight and  in May 1925 he and his oldest daughter Catherine (Kay) left Ireland on the ship Republic arriving first in Boston and then New York where they then took a train to Chicago to stay with a relative a Mrs.Kissane-I think she was his sister-Kay lived with another relative at another address as Kay was underage she had to go to school in Chicago until she was 16. 

 Dan worked for the railroad I think-it was decided that Nora would leave with the remaining children after Dan and Kay got settled with jobs and a place to stay for the large family they had which was supposed to be in April of 1926 but the death of  2 of their children from croup/bronchitis type illnesses in March of that year so devastated Nora that the trip was cancelled

Dan Brown wanted to come back home to Listowel to be with his wife after the death of their 2 children but was convinced that it was in the best interest of them all that he didn’t so he stayed in Chicago and proceeded with plans for them to travel at a later date- Agnes shared with me that the only reason her mother survived the death of her children was that her friend  and neighbor Mrs.Pellican and indeed all her friends on the road came and took over her home and children’s care because she couldn’t even get out of bed to face what had happened to her-the trip was eventually rescheduled and Nora and her remaining 5 children Johanna-16 y/o,Mary (Agnes) 14,Nora 9, Dan 7 and Bridget 5- left Listowel and sailed to New York on the Westphalia arriving in New York October 11, 1926. With time some of them would  change their names to more Americanized names and Johanna became Joan,Bridget became  Eileen and Nora became Brenda.

Some of Agnes’s recollections of her trip were that it was that it was an exciting adventure-the most beautiful time of their lives was her statement. They made friends with the cooks and enjoyed many treats that were new to children leaving Ireland-it was her first time seeing coloured ice cream that was the one she remembers the most-they had a great time on the ship ran and played freely-she remembers a German girl they befriended even thought she didn’t speak English got lost on board the ship-she didn’t remember her being found. 

One of her sisters did consider staying at home with an aunt Margaret-I think Ray McAuliffe’s mother-not sure if that is correct-but changed her mind. Aanother one of the girls loved a Nurse Pierce who was in Listowel at that time and she wanted to stay with her. She remembered staying with a relative in New York who had come from Ireland years earlier and Agnes was overwhelmed that that relative now had her own maid-she remembered the maid was a Mrs.Foley and she couldn’t do enough for them while they stayed there-her mother’s brother Jerry Mulvihill came to visit them while they were staying there and stayed the whole day-Dan Browne went to New York to bring the family back to Chicago-she remembered the excitement of taking a taxi to the train station-it was her first time seeing a colored person-he was the taxi driver-she remembers seeing the statue of Liberty as they were leaving New York on the train. She loved the US from the minute she arrived-loved the whole family being back together-loved going to school here-was put back a few classes but the nuns were “lovely” to everybody-a change I am sure from what they left in Ireland-she wrote an essay in school and won a prize for it. 

I was always amazed at how she remembered everyone in Listowel even years after she left and she explained that while she- never missed Listowel she said but after being gone for a while she realized she was forgetting people and she never wanted to do that so she would lay in bed at night and as she would say “go down the road into town” and go in an out of each house and draw up peoples faces in her mind and name them so that whe would never forget them-and she never did-she could name all the Oconnor family down the road-Hilda,Nellie,Rita,Anthony,John, Mike and May-at least she thought that was all of them. She remembered a Sr.Frances at the convent very fondly-she once wrote an essay that she showed to her father Dan Brown and he gave her a penny as it was so good. She remembered  a Sr. Margaret who she had in 2nd class telling her she was smart like her Aunt Hannie who taught in Tipperary-( I don’t know who auntie Hannie was)

She had so many little memories of things we wouldn’t think were important to remember-remembers Margaret McMahon from Church St.telling a not appropriate joke in class and the nun hearing her. 

She had very clear memories of her family’s involvement in the “troubles” she and her neighbor (my uncle) Tom Pellican got many the pair of new shoes at Whelan’s(Morans’s) shoe shop-they would go into the shop and the notes would be put into the insole of the shoes for “the boys”and they would walk out and nobody knew what they were up to-she remembers one of the Enrights from the road getting TB while he was in jail with her father Dan Browne-she talked of her father escaping from Limerick jail and nobody knowing for sure where he was at first-she talked of the Black a tans raiding their home on a regular basis looking for her father-one of her sisters suffered from what I assume we would call PTSD from having the tans come and go and thrash their house and frighten them-she died still loving DeValera and hating Michael Collins-I had attempted to get her to watch the movie Michael Collins when it came out and “no way” was her answer- I did prevail and on commenting to her about “what a powerful man he was” her answer was “wouldn’t we be mad about him if he wasn’t a blue shirt”. She could still name all the “informers” in the Listowel area-they shall remain unnamed. After the family settled in Chicago their house was a regular visiting place for the old friends from home especailly the friends from the Republican side they also would keep some of the footballers when they came from home to play in Chicago.

  Agnes married  a John Broderick whose family was from Listowel also-and raised 3 lovely daughters-Dan and Nora Browne never returned to Listowel-Dan died December 30, 1955-Nora Browne died July 14, 1959. As time went on different family members did go back to visit although not very often for most of them. Agnes was to go on one of the family trips but it was discoverd that her citizenship papers were not in order and by the time they would have gotten them it would have been too late to travel with the family group.  Several  years before her death she had an opportunity to go back with her daughter and son-in-law but declined citing health issues. She never saw Listowel again but always kept it close to her heart. The remains of the house they lived in is still there next to Pellicans house in Dirha.  

As a final joyous note to finish her life’s story as a Listowel woman a memorial mass was said for Agnes in St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Deerfield Beach, Florida on St.Patrick’s Day 2017 at the request of a decendent of her old neighbors in Dirha-the Pellicans. It was celebrated by Fr. Bryan Dalton the pastor of the church at the time who was from Listowel-she would have loved that.


Pat McAuliffe, 100 Years On

Warren Buckley sent us this memory of a great Listowel man, who literally shaped the streetscapes of his native North Kerry.

Pat McAuliffe, died on October 28th 1920 at the age of 75. Over a century ago he wrote in plaster  “Vita Brevis Ars Longa” . On the 100th Anniversary of his death “Life is short, Art eternal” rings very true. Some debate the translation of Hippocrates words – maybe “Art” should be “Craft” or “Technique” – we need no distinction in Pat’s work – for him these words are not orthogonal. Here is a short tribute to his craft, technique and art a century on – 

Facebook video; Pat Mcauliffe