This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at email@example.com
At Ahafona cross there is this lovely secluded grotto. It is beautifully kept and a great credit to all who look after it.
In front of the grotto is a row of seats remembering the people who loved this place very much.
A while ago when I was doing my bit about handball in Listowel, I published this picture of Charlie Nolan with the Joe James trophy he won 50 years ago. To promote that post I also published the picture on Facebook.
Some people, seeing the photo, thought that Charlie had won some recent accolade. He hadn’t but he deserves one, so here goes.
This is Charlie Nolan in his happy place beside his Silver River Feale, photographed by Paddy Fitzgibbon.
Very often it is only when someone spends years away from their native place that they truly appreciate it. This is not true in the case of Listowel’s Charlie Nolan. Charlie was born and bred here and has spent most of his adult life in and around his beloved river Feale.
In a town famous for writers and composers, Charlie is a doer, a local historian who chronicles Listowel life not in words but in video pictures. He worked for a long time with his great friend and fellow videographer, John Lynch. They went out in all weathers to document significant happenings in town. They made a great team. When John stepped back, Charlie continued on his own to record life in the town he loves so well.
He spends hours of his time editing his videos and putting a soundtrack or captions to them. Then, most importantly, he shares them with everyone.
Charlie grew up in O’Connell’s Ave, and many of his childhood neighbours and friends are scattered throughout the globe. These are the audience that most appreciate his videos of Listowel life as they remember it. He is doing them a great service and they appreciate it.
Charlie is also hugely supportive of what I do. He is one of the greatest promoters of Listowel Connection.
Charlie is up for learning new things too. Here he is on a Googling trip with Damien O’Mahoney.
Charlie is happiest outdoors, whether in Gurtinard Wood or on The Feale.
To a whole other audience, Charlie Nolan is a wildlife videographer. He has a deep knowledge of Kerry wildlife and he has an unequalled knowledge of the River Feale. He has captured on film all the native birds and animals of North Kerry and he has introduced them to an audience that may never have got to see them otherwise. Spending hours by the river is no hardship to Charlie but he uses his time there to patiently video the wildlife.
Recently was the first time I heard about Charlie, the champion handball and squash player.
This man is nothing if not modest. He “can walk with kings but keep the common touch”. Charlie has only a small appreciation of the high regard in which he is held locally. He is part of the fabric of Listowel and one of the town’s noblest sons. He deserves the freedom of the borough or any other lifetime accolade that can be bestowed on him.
Charlie Nolan is a local treasure and Listowel is very lucky to have him.
On June 18 2021, Listowel’s handball alley will come to life again with a projected interpretive dance display and interview session at dusk, 9.30p.m..
For many it will bring back the old days and the magic of the handball competitions that were the lifeblood of this place.
Here are some more of Junior Griffin’s memories.
In the days when there were 240 old pence to the pound, we would secure and old penny in some way.
After early morning mass on Sunday we would pay a visit to a lovely lady, Mrs Dowling. She lived about a mile or so out in Woodford and she had an orchard. She would sell us 8 or 10 apples for our penny and we would get back to the alley as fast as possible to sell the apples. The aim was to make four old pence. Anything more than that was a bonus and would ensure the price of the apples for the following Sunday.
When the magical four pence was made, our hearts were aglow. It meant 2 pence for the Sunday matinee and 2 pence worth of Cleeve’s slab toffee “in the fist”.
For the 2 pence 4 squares of slab toffee was purchased from Miss Eily Sheehy (sister of Frank Sheehy) of Upper Church Street. She had a little cutter for the purpose and cut off 4 squares in one piece.
Off we went across the road to the Plaza for the film. We used to break the toffee into four pieces by banging it off the metal chair legs. Inevitably some pieces of toffee would fall to the floor. The word hygiene was not in our vocabulary at that time. A quick wipe off the short pants and into the mouth as soon as possible. Our week was made. we really wanted nothing else….
Hear Junior tell this story in his own words and listen to Charlie Nolan relive the good old days in the recordings made by Coiscéim as part of this project.
By chance I passed by the ball alley on my walk on Saturday and there was a sight that would gladden Junior’s heart. A lovely lad who told me his name is Ethan Tritschler was practising badminton.
Remember the name. He looked to me like a very promising young player.
Do you remember when we used to have carnival? they were a highlight of the urban Ireland summer social calendar. This one was in Kanturk in 1956 but everywhere had them, complete with Carnival Queen and ladies in waiting.
Hannah Mulvihill, An Exceptional Lady
Hannah with me at the launch of my book, A Minute of Your Time in St. John’s in 2019
Hannah Mulvihill has been volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul, Listowel Conference since 2004. Hannah worked at Imperial Stag for 31 years. She was made redundant when the company went into liquidation. For the first time in her life she had time on her hands.
She was shopping one day in Super Valu when she was approached by Betty Quille. She said that Hannah’s name had been mentioned at a recent meeting of St. Vincent de Paul as someone who may like to volunteer. She attended the weekly meeting the very next week and she joined straight away. She became involved in the St. Vincent de Paul shop on William Street and she has made many friends there over the years.
Hannah has seen many changes in SVP over the past years. Last year, 2020, has been the most challenging. She is glad that the Meals on Wheels service continued uninterrupted. Two ladies, Val and Martina, who work part-time prepare and cook the lunches and have them ready to be delivered by a team of very dedicated volunteers. Hannah is very thankful to this dedicated group who worked continuously throughout the pandemic.
The shop on Upper William Street, unfortunately, had to close but is thankfully now re-opened. It has a large stock of lovely clothes, shoes, accessories, bags, bedding, pictures, jewellery. and much more. Much of the stock is new or good as new. It would be well worth anyone’s while to drop in and maybe bag yourself a bargain.
Hannah comes from a family of ten. She is well used to putting a shoulder to the wheel. Growing up in the forties and fifties was difficult. Hannah went to London after her Inter Cert. There she hoped to get a job and so ease the burden for her parents. She travelled to London with her aunt who was returning after a trip home. She lived with her aunt until she got married.
Her first Monday in London, Hannah was at home on her own and decided to set off and explore her new surroundings. She came upon a branch of Barclays Bank and decided to go in to enquire about applying for a job. They were most helpful. They didn’t have an application form but they promised to ask head office to send her one. The form arrived. Hannah filled it in and sent it back by return post. She was called for interview and was successful. She was offered training. After her training she went to work in Barclay’s Wimbledon Hill branch. Hannah also worked at Kenco Coffee Company for a few years. She met her husband, Martin at a dance in The Hibernian Club, Fulham, Broadway and they were married in 1966. They came back to Listowel in 1973.
Hannah and Martin have one daughter, three grandchildren and two great grandsons in Canada.
( The word braddy comes from the Irish bradach, a bó bradach was the thieving cow who was forever breaking into the neighbours pastures)
The following extract is taken from Jim Costelloe’s great rural memoir of Asdee in the 1940’s and ’50s
Every herd of cows- although I doubt if the few short horn cows we had could be called a bawn- had a leader. When given the task of minding the cows she had to be supervised at all times. After all she was the inquisitive one and led the others around the boundary ditches when they were first let in to the aftergrass. While most of the cows were content to feed on the new grass which was a feast in comparison to the bare grazing fields, the braddy cow chose to roam around the field and, of course, she had to inspect the tilled area. The important part of minding the cows was to prevent any of them from getting a taste of the garden. Once the cows got the first taste of the growing turnips or cabbage at all, the job was twice as hard. The forbidden fruit was all that was on their minds after tasting the garden produce and the aftergrass, while welcome, was only to be eaten when the animals were prevented from going into the garden.
My Fellow Local Historians
I met Charlie Nolan and Jer. Kennelly in The Square. Charlie is the greatest supporter of Listowel Connection bar none and without Jer. I wouldn’t have half the great stories from the papers or photographs. It is always a pleasure to meet these two gentlemen. We are ploughing the same furrow, preserving the stories, the sights and the memories. We are keepers of the flame.
A Listowel Supplement to The Kerryman in 1994
A blog supporter found this great old paper and he gave it to me to share. I’m sure these girls will be thrilled to see their innocent letters to Santa reproduced here. School off for two months, Helen!
On Being a Nana
I enjoy a privilege not granted to everyone. I have lived long enough to get to know my grandchildren.
These are three of my five grandchildren. I got to spend a day with them recently when they had a day off as their school was being used as a polling station for the presidential election. Here we are on Station Road, Ballincollig on our way to the shops.
Then this happened. We hit the Balance charity shop in Ballincollig on the day that some Beano lover had donated his old stash of comic albums. Róisín loves nothing better than a vintage comic. She literally danced and leapt around the shop when I bought the lot. This has to be one of my best days as a Nana.
In Lixnaw, the cradle of Kerry hurling, they are celebrating