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Tag: Anne Dillon

Visit of Michael D. Agnes Browne in her 105th year and the death of Anne Dillon

Visit of Uachtarán na hÉireann

President Michael D. Higgins visited Listowel to honour the Tidy Towns volunteers on Saturday May 25 2019. Here are a few photos from the great day in town.

The boys choir from Scoil Realta na Maidine sang My Silver River Feale for the president. He loved it.


 In The Square I met an artist friend of Olive Stack’s painting the occasion.

Local people, Seán Treacy, Mairead Divine, Esther Guerin, Mary Walshe, Carmel Griffin and Rachel Guerin waiting for the unveiling.

The girls of Presentation National School band played for the president .


A Lady who Never Forgot Listowel

Maureen Barrett of Ballylongford has sent us this great story of her friend Agnes Browne of Listowel and Illinois.

This is the first part of the essay that Maureen wrote in July 7, 2017. 

(Second part of the story tomorrow)

 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 on June 30, 1912 to Dan and Nora Browne. Dan was the son of Daniel Browne (butcher of Listowel) and Catherine Lynch and Nora was the daughter of Jeremiah Mulvihill, Clounmacon (a farmer in Dirha) and Johanna Buckley. They were married on November 15th, 1908 in Listowel. They  had 9 children born in Listowel and 1 born in Chicago. They eventually lost 3 of their children-Margaret-3 yrs old died March1918 of croup, Jeremiah-11 months-died March 18th 1926 of whooping cough and Lillie-3 years died March 26tha 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 . Agnes 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  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 thinkit was decided that Nora would leave with the remaining children when Dan and Kay had got settled with jobs and a place to stay for the large family they had.  They were to emigrate  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 neighbour  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 on October 11, 1926. With time some of them changed 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  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. She 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 she was Ray McAuliffe’s mother.  I’m not sure if that is correct but she changed her mind. Another one of the girls loved a Nurse Pierce who was in Listowel at that time and she wanted to stay with her. 

Agnes 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. She 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. 


Bean Uasal agus Cara Imithe ar Shlí na Firinne

My lovely friend, Anne Dillon, would have liked this touch. It’s rarely now we see a black crepe on a door announcing a death and giving details of the funeral arrangements. In these days of and Radio Kerry death notices, Anne was still one for the old ways. She had a great respect for old customs.

Although she lived most of her life in town, Anne was a country woman at heart. She embodied the hard work ethic and neighbourliness of the country, She loved the old ways  and she had a great love of her home place, her family, her history and the Irish language. She was at her happiest at home in her own home with her beloved Liam.

Anne and Liam are two of the most hospitable people I have ever had the luck to have in my life. I worked beside Anne in Presentation Secondary School where we became firm friends. She was hugely supportive and understanding of me. She eased the burden of juggling a full time teaching job with a full time caring role for me in every way she could.

When we both retired, and especially after I lost Jim, Anne and Liam’s door was always open for me and I received the warmest of welcomes there always.

Anne was always stylish, dignified and caring. She bore her last illness with great fortitude  and patience. She was a loving mother and grandmother and a loyal and generous friend. I loved her dearly.

Braithfidh mé uaim í.

In happier times

1916 Commemorative Garden, Fr. Breen 1931 and some old crockery.

Listowel Bank of Ireland Enterprise Event

Some of the Bank of Ireland staff with a Garda at the community centre on Saturday November 26 2016


Planting the 1916 Commemorative Garden


Refurbishment Work Underway here


A Priest and Soldier in WW11

Kerry Reporter Saturday, June 20, 1931; 

OBITUARY Death and Funeral of Rev. Francis Breen, B.D., C.C., Killorglin.

Clergy and laity throughout the Diocese  of Kerry, and, in particular,

the people of Killarney,  his native town, have learned with very deep

regret of the death of the Rev. Fr. Francis Breen, B.D., C.C.,

Killorglin, following so closely on the death of his lamented brother,

Father Jos Breen, C.C., Kenmare.

Enjoying rugged health from his boyhood, Father Frank Breen excelled

in every form of Gaelic sport. But handball and Gaelic football were

the games he loved best, his prowess in each earning him the respect

of doughty rivals among his Maynooth contemporaries. Even malaria of

the malign type, contracted during his service as Army Chaplain in

Mesopotamia, and beaten off almost miraculously by the prompt action

of an Irish army doctor, seemed to have made little impression on a

wonderfully healthy constitution. Yet it may well be that this fell

disease left some weakness which made him, in spite of his

characteristic grit and determination, an easy prey to the sharp

attack of pneumonia which look him off.

he was born in 1884 at 15, High Street (now O Rahilly Street),

Killarney. Passing through the Presentation Convent and Presentation

Monastery Schools, he entered St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney, where

he achieved distinction in the Intermediate examinations.

He entered Maynooth College in 1901. for the Diocese of Kerry, and in

1907 was ordained priest in that famous College, at the same time

securing the degree of Bachelor of Divinity. He passed into the

Dunboyne establishment of the College, where, with some other

distinguished Kerry priests, he took part in the fight for “essential

Irish ‘ in the University. Having finished his Maynooth course, he

offered his services temporarily to Cardinal Bourne. Archbishop of

Westminster, and soon after the Great War began, he was requested to

act as chaplain to a vessel which was engaged to carry five hundred

wounded Australian officers through waters infested with mines and

submarines back to their native, land. This was in 1916 and about the

time he reached Australia, the rebellion of Easter Week had taken

place, and he found himself regarded as an oracle by the Irish in

Australia, who were eager to learn the history and the explanation of

the rising. He was received with special warmth by Archbishop Mannix

of Melbourne, his old President in Maynooth College, and later was

invited to accept a Mission under the Southern Cross. But his recent

experience with the wounded soldiers made him long to serve the Irish

Catholic soldiers in the Great War, and he decided to return and

volunteer for duty as Army Chaplain. His experiences as chaplain

served merely to make him a more rabid Irishman and Catholic. He was

sent Mesopotamia, making the acquaintance of Basra, Bagdad, and the

one time Garden of Eden, now a desert and a swamp. He reached the very

farthest limits of the army’s advance, at Samara and Tekrit enduring

many hardships the dreadful temperature being chief and most

intolerable—having many interesting adventures, and not a few

hair-breadth escapes. From Mesopotamia, he passed to the Holy Land,

Syria and Egypt.

When the Armistice came, he gladly returned to Kerry, and gladly

resumed the ecclesiastical garb, laying aside the khaki at the

earliest opportunity. Under Bishops O’Sullivan and O’Brien he served

as Curate in Prior. Beaufort, Glenflesk, Glenbeigh. and Killorglin.

Before going to Westminster he had had a short experience ofmissionary life in Glengarriff and Lixnaw. In 1920, under the British

regime, he took a very active part in setting up the Sinn Fein Courts,

and so as far as in him lay in those troubled times, he helped to put

an end to the use of the revolver for settling private disputes. He

was appointed one of the local magistrates in Beaufort,

( This eminent man seems to have lead a very interesting and well travelled life. In case you missed it I highlighted the reference to Lixnaw as a missionary parish.)


Memories, Memories

These marble eggs resting on an old weighing scales in the window of an antique shop in Church Street reminded me of my mother’s nest eggs. These were cheap china egg shaped things that my mother used to put in the nest boxes of the hens to show them where to lay. It was always a great nuisance if hens were ‘laying out” in a hedge or a ditch. Hens are a bit thick and they sometimes did not realise that they were in much more danger from the fox or the weasel in the great outdoors than indoors in the hen house. So, to coax them inside these old dirty nest eggs were put in the box. I recently heard of someone using golf balls for this purpose. As I say, hens are a bit thick.

When I was young, every house had this ware. I think we had a willow patterned meat plate just like this one.

We had these too but I dont remember jam coming in them. They had been kept and reused from former times.

We had one of these in green. These enamel bread bins are making a bit of a comeback lately, even though they are not really very practical. No one has that much bread in stock in these days of smaller families.


Humans of Listowel

Anne Dillon, Mary O’Connor and Bridget Maguire at the recent reunion of retired teachers at Presentation Secondary School. Listowel


R.I.P. Sr. Mary Perpetua Hickey

To paraphrase Wordsworth

 She lived unknown and few could know

When Kathy ceased to be.

Kathy was Sr. Mary Perpetua for all of her adult life. She passed away on Saturday morning November 26 2016, aged 97 and with her went the last link with the adults in my childhood. She is the last of the old stock, a  link to a different era.

She grew up, one of twelve children of a very devout hard working family in Millstreet, Co Cork. She entered the Mercy order in the days when a vocation was an honour to receive. She was blindly obedient to the vows she took at her profession and never questioned the wisdom of cruel rules that  kept her apart from her family for years, missing the funerals of both her parents.

Thank God she lived through Vatican 2 and a relaxation of the tough regime. She loved music and dancing and one of the biggest nights of her life was when my brother and his family took her to a Daniel O’Donnell concert in Millstreet. She couldn’t steel herself to approach the stage to meet him at the end as she was afraid that she would faint from the excitement. On her Golden Jubilee her friends in the convent organised for Daniel to send her a card. Daniel went one better. He sent the card and he rang her at the convent. She was dumbfounded…literally. She couldn’t utter a word.

Kathy Hickey, Sr. Perpetua, was a charismatic character, a humble, innocent soul. She never uttered a bad word about anyone and no-one had a bad word to say about her.

 She was my “Aunty Nun”. I’m honoured to have known her.

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