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Tag: Bob Boland

In Farran Wood, an unidentified nun and the Convent Primary Band and John B. on Bob Boland

Carrot and Click

In Farran Wood in Co. Cork, Aisling Darby lures a young deer with a carrot so that she can get a close up.


At Listowel Convent

The photo was taken in the convent garden some years ago. The man who sent it doesn’t know either of the subjects.


Convent Primary School Band at Christmas

Tom Fitzgerald took this one but he didn’t note the year


John B. Keane on Bob Boland

John B. Keane wrote a regular column in The Limerick Leader. He wrote often of lesser known local writers. It is clear that John B. saw great merit in Boland’s writing as you will see in the following essay from the Limerick Leader archive.

LAST week we dealt briefly with the life and works of the late George Fitzmaurice. This week we will look at the works and life of the late Robert Leslie Boland of Farnstack, Lisselton.

Before we do, however, I would like to clear up a misunderstanding concerning the religion of George Fitzmaurice. George was born into the Protestantism of the Church of Ireland, and was not a Catholic, as two of my readers would have me believe.

George’s father was a parson. His mother was a Winifred O’Connor who worked as a maid in the Fitzmaurice household at Kilcara, Duagh. The marriage took place before the Ne Temere decree which meant that the sons were brought up in the father’s faith and the daughters in the mother’s faith. Wiffred O’Connor, of course was a Catholic.


Robert Lee Boland, on the other hand, was a Catholic. He was born in the Farnstack farmhouse in 1888 where his son Daniel continues the tradition of farming. The Bolands of Farnstack distinguished themselves in almost every aspect of Irish life. Bob was educated at the local national school and at St Michael’s College, Listowel. He died a comparatively young man in 1955.

A few short years before he had the heart rending experience of seeing his youngest son Val, precede him to the grave. Val was probably the most promising of all the young Kerry writers of his time. From a young age he produced excellent poetry but it was not until he came to Saint Michael’s that his talents really started to take shape. He died a schoolboy. Anyone who ever knew him will remember him forever with affection and respect.

Robert Leslie was a poet of consequence. He preferred to be called Bob and that is how we shall refer to him from now on. He was a colourful character with a host of friends. He liked a drink and he liked good company. Some of his best poems were Rabelasian. Those that were not were often compared to the poems of Robert Burns for whom Bob held an enormous respect. Personally, I think he was more influenced by Matthew Arnold than any other.


Only one collection of his works was published and this for private circulation. The work was entitled, “Thistles and Docks” being, according to the author, “a selection, grave, gay and Rabelaisian from the works of Robert Leslie Boland, Farnstack House, Lisselton, Co. Kerry.”

It contains many of his more popular pieces. There is “Sonnet to a Lavatory.”

Temple of seclusion! Aptly set apart

To house the toilet needs, Repository

Where bodily wants are eased and the heart

Feels restful, too, in thy sweet privacy.

Thou art the throne room of soliloquy

Where each lone patron with no special art,

Relaxes for expulsion, setting free

Imprisoned waste and the unmuffled fart.

Quiet citadel! Kings and Queens have sate

Within thee, glad to leave their votive gift

(So democratic for their Royal state)

And grateful for kind nature’s daily shift.

Who would not hail thee, backward edifice ?

Cloister for brief retirement and for peace


I don’t think readers will be really offended by the foregoing. The great merit about Boland was that he was always marginally ahead of the censor. During the war years Bob applied to the Department of Commerce for sugar . He had six beehives and he needed sugar to keep the inmates alive. His application was naturally in verse:

Dear sir, I beg hereby to make application,

For sugar for bees whose plight is starvation .

Be generous you must for my (six in number),

Like Europe are feeling the pinch of the hunger.

You know how the weather down here militated

Against the good “workers” who waited and waited.

For fine sunny days to go out in the clover,

But vain were their longings and summer is now over.

This is a thought your Department should cherish

Tis urgent, tis needed or my colonies perish.

There follows an incredibly beautiful allegory in which the queen bees have their say. One describes her honeymoon with a drone who has just been stung to death:

I remember the morning of our wedding flight;

His vigour, his passion, his speed like a kite

When up towards the ether, with wings humming loud,

He gave me the razz right on top of the cloud.


Bob once participated in a Radio Eireann question time which was broadcast from Ballybunion. When asked his occupation by the question master, he replied immediately: “Philosopher, philanderer and farmer.”

His most oft-quoted poem, “Loneliness”, deserves to be quoted in full but alas there isn’t enough space It was compose, after midnight, whilst walking over a three mile stretch of moorland between Ballylongford and Farnstack. He was also very fond of walking from the Ballybunion strand to the mouth of the Cashen. Sometimes he would recognise and salute acquaintances. Other times he would be lost in his thoughts and heeded nothing but nature;

Lone as a climber on some Alpine peak.

Lone as the last kiss on a lover’s cheek

Lone as the Pole Star from its sky tower watching.

Lone as a gander when the geese are hatching.

Lone as a maiden weeping in distress.

Lone as a bullock when the cow says “yes.”

Lone as a skylark who has lost his song.

Lone as a eunuch for his gems are gone.

Lone as a petrel on the stormy wave.

Lone as a deadman in a nameless grave.

Lone as a lassie on the bathroom bowl,

When she finds no paper in the toilet roll.

Lone as the Artic when the Polar bear howls

In the blizzard from his 
frozen lair.

A shame

There is in the poetry of Bob Boland an underlying dismissal of himself. He builds beautifully with a series of perfectly disciplined couplets and then for what would seem like pure devilment he allows his theme to collapse by following up with a Rabelaisian climax. It is a conscious dismissal and it could be that he was uncertain about his ability to write poetry. This was a shame because in many ways he was unique particularly in his choice of themes which range from “Ode to a Po” to “Sonnet to a Spud” which was broadcast by the B.B.C.

There was the same self dismissal in George Fitzmaurice who was born less than three miles from the Boland home at Farnstack. Bob however, was outgoing and gregarious while George was pathologically shy.

There are such diverse composition as “Ode to a load of Hay” and “Sonnet to a Cowdung”:

Cowdung all nature greets you with a smile,

Your blending essence made our Emerald Isle.

This article by the late and great John B Keane first appeared in the Limerick Leader on April 9, 1977









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Athea, Green Oranges, Ignorance Dispelled, a Boland Poem and a Walking Tour

Listowel’s Carnegie Library

This is Listowel’s Carnegie Library, now KDYS Youth Centre. Andrew Carnegie was an American philanthropist  who endowed communities all over Ireland with free libraries. Kerry seems to have benefited more than many other Irish counties. This year we are commemorating 100 years since Carnegie’s death. An Post is bringing out a commemorative stamp. The stamp is going to feature Athea’s Carnegie Library.

(Below photo and text are from Athea Tidy Town on Facebook)

Delighted to learn that our Carnegie Library here in Athea will feature on a postal stamp to be released on August 8th to mark the centenary of the Death of Andrew Carnegie who provided the grant to build the Libraries! Stamps will be available to preorder online shortly.


Athea Mural

I finally got to Athes to see the restored mural and all the recent developments.

This Jim Dunn mural is still my favourite. Every time I see it I enjoy it afresh. If you haven’t seen it yet, put it on The Bucket List today.

The other celtic style mural featuring local people, and celebrating Athea talent and legends has been fully refurbished and is looking vibrant and striking. It’s absolutely lovely. It is now preserved from the elements as well.


A Charity Shop Find

I found this gem in the Irish Wheelchair shop in Listowel.  It’s full of interesting pieces of information, stuff most of us get wrong. I’m proposing to drip feed some of my newfound wisdom to you here.

Once a teacher……..

Are oranges orange?

No, is the short answer. In many countries, oranges are green, even when ripe, and are sold that way in shops.

There are no oranges in the wild.  An orange is a cross between the tangerine and the pomelo, which is pale green or yellow. They were first grown in South East Asia. The first oranges were green and Vietnamese oranges are still green. Thai tangerines are green on the outside and orange on the inside.

In Honduras the people eat their oranges green at home and orange them up for export. They do this by blasting them with ethylene which removes the green outer layer, allowing the orange layer to show thorough.

So if you are visiting Vietnam or other really hot country, buy the green oranges. They are fully ripe and delicious. I verified the ‘fact” with Google.


Bob Boland’s Heartfelt Plea

Bob Boland, Farnastack poet and agricultural contractor, lived through World War Two and all the privations of rationing that accompanied it. Here he pleads with the Dept. to give him a permit for fuel so he can do his job and work for the local farmers at the harvest.


Guided Walk, Saturday July 13 2019

These lovely people walked with me on my first guided walk around town on Saturday. They came from Listowel, Duagh,  from Lithuania, from Canada, from the U.S. and the U.K. and there was a brave family from Mayo there too. They heard some stories and I heard some stories too. Great morning!

Lady with Bucket, Bob Boland’s Bees, Dominick Moloney in Market St and Crusaders on the Ring

Female Kingfisher

Photo: Chris Grayson


This picture is from the National Library. I don’t know who this lady is but I have known many ladies like her. The bucket is the giveaway. Country women in my day were often seen with such a bucket in hand. They were used for everything.


Bob Boland

I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted this out of print book in the Listowel St. Vincent de Paul shop. What a treasure!

Bob Boland was a Farnastack poet who passed away in 1955. He was well known as a rhymer, a storyteller and a great play actor and joker. He assumed the mock ascendancy title Sir Robert Leslie Boland Bart.

Here is one of his little gems. He wrote this poem in 1946 when sugar was rationed and a bad summer had left his bees in dire straights

A Versified Application for Sugar for Bees

to the Department of Industry and Commerce, Dublin


Pedal Power

Dominick Moloney cycles home on Market Street, Listowel Junly 2 2019.


Kerry Crusaders on Ring of Kerry Cycle

I dont know who took the photo but Ring of Kerry Cycle shared it.

Valerie O’Sullivan took this one of a Listowel cyclist and fitness fanatic with a well known supporter who doesn’t appear to have a bicycle but I could be wrong.

Old Listowel, St. Michael’s, A Sonnet and a lLocal TV chef.

St. Michaels’ class of 2019 (from Facebook)


Listowel 1824

Kay Caball found this treasure for us.

This picture from The National Library of Ireland must be one of the oldest watercolours of Listowel.

Street view of Listowel dated 3rd April, 1824. A row of thatched houses is seen across the street. The scene includes two figures are by the door of the first building on the right, one standing, the other seated on a bench placed beneath an architectural feature resembling a niche. Near a cart with solid wheels a horse is being led in through a door. The upper part of Listowel Castle, with a pointed arch and imposing walls, looms up behind the houses, in the centre of the image.

from Journal of a tour of Kerry Tipperary and Cork

Friday Ens. [April] 2nd – after hard driving arrived at Tarbert on the banks of the Shannon – a very pleasant drive & fine prospects. Mrs Mary McManus – the only Inn in the Town – very indifferent. No regular conveyance to Tralee – obliged to get out of bed to force a Driver into his seat. Weather clears up at Listowel – after pass 9 axle deep in Bog arrive at Tralee.


St. Michael’s College July 7 2019


A Sonnet from Bob Boland


Still Doing Listowel Proud

Lizzy Lyons of Lizzy’s Little Kitchen is a popular regular on Weekend AM.

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