St Brigid’s Day

Today Feb. 1 is the feast day of our most significant female saint. The St. Brigid’s cross, woven from rushes is traditionally made on this day and displayed until Feb. 1 of next year when a new one is made. It is credited with warding off fire and other hazards (Covid 19, hopefully)


Ireland’s Beautiful East Coast

Sunrise in Portmarnock and sunset in Malahide on 23rd January 2021. 

Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú


John and Noreen O’Connell

 John and Noreen O’Connell in The Central Ballroom Ballybunion in 1966

A recent picture of John and Noreen

More of John’s Childhood Shenanigans, in his own words

My life wasn’t all work. I had great fun always. I had a great life.and still I am enjoying every minute of it.

On my way to school I passed the railway gates. Now and again, I dropped a ha’penny unknownst to Mrs Kenny on the track. When the train rolled over it, the ha’penny flattened to the size of a penny, so when the coast was clear again I picked up my new coin. After school I visited Jack Thornton. The shop was darkish and Jack was a bit short-sighted, so he used just feel the coin and thinking it was a penny I got my tomhaisín of black jacks. Miraculous medals were also a great way to get a bit of slab toffee from Jack. You bent off the top. put them on the train track and they were transformed into a tanner ( 6d bit). I remember my brother and myself finding about 5 shillings on the side of the road  one evening. What a stash.  We were made .We were cute enough to say nothing about it at home, so we spent months eating Peggy’s leg. 

Our first football was a sock filled with a balled-up Kerryman.

We waited patiently for my father or a neighbour to kill a pig so we could get the pig’s bladder. This we blew up with a bicycle pump and it was our football as long as it lasted. We had 2 teams of 5 a side, playing back in our field, Botharín Dubh versus The Cross. 

Next we bought a brown ball from Tim Shanahan at Faleys for 25 shillings  but it didn’t last long. We hatched a plan to buy a white O’ Neills, so we canvassed the neighbours for a few bob, sold blackberries and jam crocks until we could buy our real ball at Sean Tack Sullivans for £3. We used to  put our  alarm clock on the ditch to time ourselves and one match lasted for an hour and a half as we were ahead and a smart lad from the Cross put the clock back a half hour to try and beat us, but no good, we beat them well. 

I played for the Gleann and Emmetts later on.


tomhaisín was a little packet for sweets made by folding a little square of newspaper into a cone shape. Tomhas is the Irish for measure.

slab toffee : This was very hard toffee made by Cleeve’s of Limerick. It came to the shop in a big slab divided into 1/2 inch cubes which were sold at around 2 for a penny. They were great value as there was hours of chewing in each square.

Peggy’s Leg; This was like a stick of “rock” only smaller.

Black Jacks; These were liquorice sweets that left your tongue and lips black for hours.

jam crock; a jam jar or jam pot.


 A Holy Well

Photos and text by Amanda Clarke From the Archives: Tobar na Molt, Well of the Wethers, Ardfert, Kerry

A priest was illegally conducting Mass. As the priest hunters arrived at the well, three wethers (sheep) appeared and distracted the well hunters leading them down to the strand. Another version has the priest being killed and the well springing up where he was slain. It’s a beautiful spot in its own walled enclosure comprising a deep well, an undressing house (pilgrims once fully immersed in the well), an altar, a double shrine, a rag tree and a mound said to be the burial place of St Ita. Bishop Erc baptised St Brendan here in 484AD , and St Ita fostered Brendan until he was 6 or 7 years old. The altar looks like a chest tomb, the figures meant to represent Brendan, Erc and Ita. They are said to sweat at certain times and the pilgrim should rub her fingers in the moisture then apply it to a sore place, The water was resorted to for many cures and holds a silver trout. It was empty when I visited but I think it’s filled up again. Mass is still held here on St Brendan’s Day, 16th May and it is also visited on May Day, St John’s Eve and Michaelmas. A tranquil and much revered spot.