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Tag: Catherine Moylan Page 1 of 4

Ballybunion Lady Captain’s Day 2023

Feale Sculpture in August 2023


Ballybunion Lady Captain’s Dinner

I don’t play golf. Ballybunion golf clubhouse is not where you would usually find me. I know and love this year’s lady captain. Catherine Moylan, whom I regard as one of my family. So I got the golden ticket, an invitation to Catherine Moylan’s Lady Captain’s celebratory dinner and presentation of prizes on August 26 2023.

The dinner was a delicious one. I am assured that the golf was super enjoyable as well with a welcome goody bag at the start and refreshing cocktails at the half way point.

Catherine has joined a prestigious list.

Anne Cogan/ Darby, me and Catherine’s proud parents, Eddie and Helen Moylan at the prosecco reception in the clubhouse.

Norma Mullane, Betty Doolan, and Maria Lyons, just a few of Catherine’s many friends there to support her on her big night.

Catherine with her book club friends

Some golfing family members, uncle Jim Noonan who won the guest prize, aunt Tess Noonan, Mary Noonan and Eddie Moylan. Eddie also played in the golf competition but without success.

Illness including Covid kept a few people away.

Creating a welcoming ambience as we gathered was John McKenna on the piano, always a treat.

Patricia Boyle and Lady President, Norma Browne, with Catherine

The Lady Captain’s prize 2023 was some beautiful jewellery by Claddagh Design. The lucky winner, Josette O’Donnell, was delighted with her prize.

There were lots of prizes, including John Rahm’s balls… balls that Catherine had the foresight to ask him to sign when she met him on a visit to Ballybunion this summer.

Photo from Ballybunion Golf Club on Facebook

It was a great night for chatting and socialising and catching up. It went on late into the night.

I think I’ll forget pickle ball. Golf looks attractive.

Owen Barrett with Catherine

Margaret Scannell and Norma Browne chat with friends after dinner.

Helen shared a laugh about a funny anecdote from the time these two last met at an opera in Dublin.

Nóirín Galvin, Catherine and Anne were in school together.

The Cork, Dublin, Listowel and Tipperary cousins were chatting ’til late.


Drama with a Difference

Seán Moylan was a legend in my neck of the woods. Michael Patric has brought him vividly to life in this one man show which I saw in St. John’s on Sunday August 27th.

Patric was brilliant in the role of Moylan. He also wrote the script. Growing up I had heard of Clonbanin, Moll’s Bridge and other local places where ambushes were set and soldiers were captured. I learned from Patric that it was only their guns and ammunition that the boys were after and usually the soldiers were freed unharmed. The same cannot be said for Republicans captured by the soldiers. It wasn’t always the notorious Black and Tans who did the killing. It was as often as not trained and supposedly disciplined soldiers.

The show is a triumph. Even if you are not from North Cork and even if your mother’s first cousin is not one of the Men of the South you will enjoy this performance from an actor at the top of his game. If you get a chance to see it, grab that chance. You won’t regret it.


What a Picture!

Philip O’Carroll has very generously opened his photograph album for us. This precious photo below was taken in 1951, according to Philip the only occasion on which all the O’Carrolls were together.

Philip has named the people in the photo for us.

The year is 1951, the only time that the O’Carroll Clan was ever assembled in one place.So, let me name the family starting from right to left:

Philip (me!) Born 1948

Gerard, who was a prominent and controversial detective

Joseph, who is a priest in Manchester

Michael, retired from the World health  Organization, now living in Nicaragua

Gene, deceased

Eleanor, deceased

Dympna, deceased

Liam,  deceased

Denny, alive and well at 88

Vincent also alive and well and about to celebrate his 90th

John, who was always known as Bob, deceased

Tom, the eldest, deceased

Mother, Mary Ellen Moloney deceased

Louis, in mother’s arms, deceased

Father, James, long deceased

And finally, my grandmother, Kate Moloney 

In the background is the family’s rick of turf, fuel for the winter.

Philip remembers days spent in the bog.

We had a bank of turf in Coil Bui, a few miles from Cahirdown.  At one time or another we all paid our dues cutting the turf.  There was a wonderful stillness to the bog, so quiet you could hear people talking hundreds of yards away.  The curlew’s cry only accentuated the stillness.

The turf was cut by the man on the slean, usually a man of some heft, whose reputation depended on how much turf he could cut in a day.  A pike man tossed the heavy bricks to the youngsters who spread it out to dry, footing it and re-footing it into little stacks and then ever bigger stacks until it was time to bring it home.  The milk and the porter (in bojonters) was cooled in the bog water until it was time for the tea.  The tea tasted of the bog but it was sweet and strong.  And the sandwich! I have dined in Michelin star restaurants across the planet but nothing has ever rivalled the taste of the bog sandwich.

When the turf was home and stacked, “There was great comfort in looking at that great mass of turf.”


A Fact

The Cairo Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1970. The Cairo fire station was located inside the same building.


A Book, a Cook and Listowel CU at 50

Corner of Listowel Town Square in March 2023


A Favourite Book

I love this book so much it became my gift of choice last Christmas. It has a fact for everyday and one of Brian Bilston’s apt and quirky little poems. I love his new made up words (dords) so much that I had to share them with you.


I photographed a Photographer

I couldn’t resist taking a snap when I ran into my friend Catherine Moylan in The Listowel Arms. She was chatting to Daria Piaseczna. Daria is a photographer and she was delivering her portrait of Catherine to her.


Kathy White House Buckley

I told you that I went to Vincent Carmody’s lecture in the library. I was then inundated with questions about the lady who was the subject of the talk, Kathy Buckley of Upper William Street. So, here is an article from an Irish American newspaper published 2017 when Kathy was honoured at Listowel Food Fair.

Kathy Buckley, cook to three US Presidents (Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt), who will be honored at the 21st Listowel Food Fair. 

Were she alive today, the odds are that Kathy Buckley would be as well-known as celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Sharon Ní Chonchúir profiles the Irish woman who was head cook for three U.S. presidents.

Kathy Buckley was born in Upper William Street in Listowel, Co. Kerry. She was the eldest of seven. Her father worked as a cooper in a workshop at the rear of their house, and her mother came from a long-established family of grocers and shoemakers.

When Kathy was in her early teens she left school to take a job in the kitchen of the Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville. She showed a talent for cooking, and eventually that flair would take her all the way to the White House.

In the early 1900s, a group of wealthy Americans, including one J.P. Morgan, visited the hotel. By now Kathy was head cook, and Morgan was so impressed by her cooking that he asked her to come and work for him in Connecticut.

“Kathy told J.P. that he would have to ask her father first,” says Vincent Carmody, a relative of Kathy’s by marriage. “So J.P. wrote to Lawrence Buckley and he gave his permission, provided that J.P. promised to send Kathy home if she was unhappy or unable to settle in America.”

He needn’t have worried, for Kathy settled in quickly and started to add to her culinary skills. The lavish banquets she prepared in the Morgans’ mansion soon became legendary.

“She told me a story from that time that made her sad,” recalls Patrick Buckley, Kathy’s nephew, who still lives in the house on William Street where Kathy was born. “One day, she was preparing steaks for the Morgans’ dogs to eat and she couldn’t help feeling it was wrong. She knew there were many men in America and at home in Ireland who were starving. She felt guilty giving such good meat to dogs.”

However, Kathy’s own story was not destined to be sad, it held one more twist in store. J.P. Morgan had Calvin Coolidge, then the U.S. Vice President, to dinner one night and he too was taken with Kathy’s cooking. He was so taken that he asked her to become head of the White House kitchens when he became President.

Kathy retained this position for the duration of his presidency and for the presidential terms of both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She would look back upon this time with fondness when she eventually retired to Listowel in the early 1950s.

By that stage, she had earned the nickname “Kathy White House” in the town and she often regaled her family and friends with tales of her time among the powerful and famous. The story that stands out for Patrick Buckley is the one she told him about Charles Lindbergh.

“President Coolidge hosted a private reception to honor him for becoming the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic,” says Patrick. “After the reception, Kathy was one of the people he invited to take a trip with him on his plane. She didn’t like the idea and told him she would rather stay on terra firma. Imagine!”

The Listowel short story writer Bryan McMahon had stories about Kathy too. His mother Joanna was friends with Kathy and he would often eavesdrop on their conversations. He shared many of these stories with Carmody.

“Kathy told Joanna about a time when the White House staff were lined up to meet a new president,” says Vincent. “When Kathy was introduced as the head of the kitchen, she felt obliged to say that she had never voted for his party and never would. The President might have been taken aback but he told her that was her right as an American citizen. Doesn’t that show the type of character she was?” That president was Franklin Roosevelt.

Another tale shows the same independence of character. Once, Kathy was about to enter the lift when a senior member of the executive, who was already in the lift and didn’t like mixing with the household staff, told her to wait for its return.
“Quick as a flash, Kathy replied, ‘That’s fine, I will share with the President,’ who was coming up the corridor,” says Vincent. “She was a strong woman, never afraid to speak her mind.

Patrick Buckley R.I.P. Deana and Kevin O’Malley U.S ambassador and his wife and Vincent Carmody at the microphone.

Nevertheless, she was also someone who knew her place in the White House. When Joanna asked Kathy if she ever witnessed any global crises, her response was a modest one. “If my sandwiches came back from the Oval Office uneaten, I knew there was a world crisis,” she said.

She brought mementos of her time in the White House back with her to Listowel when she retired. They remain there to this day.

One of the most prized is the Christmas present Kathy received from President Hoover in 1930. The White House was being renovated at the time and wooden beams were replaced by steel. The President used some of the beams to make pen holders for his staff. Patrick Buckley now has this penholder on his wall along with the envelope and note that came with it.

“All the way from the White House to William Street,” he laughs.

Vincent Carmody has recipe books and menu cards that Kathy collected on her travels. “She was always looking for new dishes to serve the Presidents,” he says.

There are also letters Kathy received from Herbert Hoover’s wife Lou Henry, as well as the key that President Coolidge received when he was given the freedom of Fort Worth in Texas. He gave this to Kathy as a gift when he returned from that city.

Kathy broke her hip in 1969 and spent some time in a nursing home in Listowel before she died. Both Vincent and Patrick spent many evenings with her there.

Vincent and Patrick going through memorabilia

“Her mind would often travel back to earlier days as she lay in that darkened room,” remembers Vincent. “She would ask me to light a fire in the Oval Office or collect a tray from the Rose Garden. She never forgot the White House to her dying day.”

And her nephew will never forget his earliest memory of his aunt. “Kathy placed a huge bowl of homemade custard, rich with cream, in front of me. I was used to Bird’s Custard (a readymade brand) at the time and I told her I didn’t like hers. She threw me a look and said, ‘If it was good enough for three American presidents, it’s good enough for you.’” ♦


Sharon Ní Chonchúir (who researched and wrote this article) lives and works in West Kerry, Ireland, and much of her writing is concerned with the changing face of modern Irish culture. She writes in this issue on Katie, a woman from Kerry who was the first Irish-born White House Chef.


Celebrations at Listowel Credit Union

Jimmy joined long standing Credit Union stalwarts to celebrate 50 years in business yesterday March 7 2023.


St. Mary’s

Sunset in Norway, Photo; Margo Anglim


Listowel Parish

Fr. Kieran O’Shea’s account of Listowel Parish (Continued)

Mosaic in St. Mary’s Listowel


Kilflynn Fairy Festival Postponed

After all the preparations and excitement the fairies had to cancel again this year.

So as not to disappoint all their fairy loving followers they promise to be back brighter and better in August 2022.


Old Tarbert

Photos: Pat Kelly

This photo from 1940s is of a horse drawn hearse.

Tarbert Regatta some time in the 1940s.


A Book Launch at Writers’ Week 2022

One of the problems about Writers’ Week is that there are constantly hard choices to make. In an ideal world I would have loved to go to everything but that would have required the power of bilocation. That one is not in my repertoire of super powers.

I had decided to see all the drama on offer this year. This meant that I inevitably had to forego a few events I would have loved to attend.

One such event was John McGrath’s launch of his Closing the Circle poetry anthology.

Two poets, John with Gabriel Fitzmaurice in Kerry Writers’ Museum before the launch.

Generously all the money raised by the launch was being donated to help the victims of the war in Ukraine. Noelle and Kate were on the door.

Radio Kerry’s Saturday Supplement presenter, Joe McGill with Catherine Moylan and John McGrath at the launch.


Writers’ Week and other things

Listowel Town Square in June 2022


Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

What a great few days, (Writers’ Week is not really a week) we had. I enjoyed every moment from start to finish. I haven’t had such a hectic time since before Covid.

I’m going to tell you all about it, not necessarily in the order in which it happened.

This event happened in St. John’s on Friday June 3rd. 2022. The ladies onstage are best selling authors, Catherine Ryan Howard, Carmel Harrington and Hazel Gaynor. They write in three very different styles. What they have in common is that they are all really successful, they write full time and their work has been categorised as commercial fiction as if that was somehow inferior to literary.

As Catherine said, they write the books people read.

With them on stage is Catherine Moylan who is chair of Writers’ Week. Catherine is passionate about including these writers in the festival of writing. It was a great event.

Catherine Ryan Howard wrote a brilliant thriller set in lockdown Dublin. It is called 56Days and I’d highly recommend it. Her Nothing Man is great too.

Carmel Harrington writes what is called up lit. Up Lit is a new trend. It stands for uplifting literature, stories with kindness at their core. Carmel is hugely popular. She is on her 11th book. Her tenth, A Mother’s Heart is in the shops now.

I particularly love Hazel Gaynor’s books. She writes historical fiction and she is a meticulous researcher of sometimes little known topics. Many of her books are available in audio book form or for Kindle.

I’m delighted these three ladies came to Listowel. They have proven that they deserve their place in a festival that celebrates writing.



While I was enjoying plays and books, another exciting thing was taking place.

A lovely lovely Listowel girl was being picked as Kerry Rose for 2022.

Édaein O’Connell has everything you could want in a Rose. She is “lovely and fair as the rose of the summer”. She is also media savvy, well able to account for herself, a witty and entertaining journalist who appeals to readers at home and abroad.

I hope she sings The Night Visiting Song as her party piece. It will bowl the judges over. My money is on Édaein to be the first ever Kerry Rose to win the contest outright. Even if she doesn’t, she will be a brilliant Kerry Rose for the year.

Édaein was sponsored by Garvey’s Super Valu and one of her first tasks as Rose was a visit there.


A Half Century Ago

This class of Leaving Certs. from 50 years ago had a reunion lately but I got no pictures unfortunately.


A Request

Dear Mary 

I am writing because I found your blog, and I was wondering if you could help me with some research I am conducting.

In particular I am looking for fifth and sixth year class photos of the Presentation Secondary School, for girls in Listowel for the following years: 1957, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63. 

I would really appreciate if you could help point me in the right direction, or if indeed you might know anyone who might have a yearbook with class photos, that they could send me by taking a picture of the yearbook themselves.

Kind regards,

Mel Cannon



Photo credit; Tom Quish, Mallow Camera Club


A Postbox

The post box at the corner of Church Street was still out of service last time I was in that part of town.

Mike Hannon shared this old picture of Bryan MacMahon with the very same postbox.


Listowel Cinemas

Tom McElligott and his committee are working hard to save the Classic Movieplex. They have set up a Go Fund Me page.

Save Our Cinema

To realise the dream they need 100,000 euros

Mike Hannon’s picture of the cinema when it was The Astor

Tom sent me this old poster that was sent to him by a great grandson of Michael J. Tighe.

It is from 1925.

Once upon a time there were at least 4 cinema in Listowel. I dont know which one was The Stella.

There was a cinema in the Plaza, one where Quill’s North County is now, one in Tae Lane and one where the Classic was.


Won’t be Long Now

Catherine Moylan, Chair of Listowel Writers’ Week, is looking forward to standing at the podium in person to open this year’s festival.

The 2022 festival will be officially opened by Dominic West.

Writers’ Week 2022 will run from June 1 to June 5


From the Pres. Yearbook 2002/03

Little Known Fact

If Holly (Ilex aquifolium) finds its leaves are being nibbled by deer, it switches genes on to make them spiky when they regrow. So on taller Holly trees, the upper leaves (which are out of reach) have smooth edges, while the lower leaves are prickly


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