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
I was a bit early and the festivities hadn’t started in earnest when I was in the Square. My little visitor had fallen asleep so we were at home before the switching on of the lights which was done this year by Paul Manning. We missed Santa and the school band as well so my photos do not do the event justice.
This is Paul Manning at the festivities in The Square. Unfortunately on the way home, Paul lost the hat he is wearing here. The hat was adorned with 2 badges which are of sentimental value to Paul. If you found it, you could hand it in to John B.s, St. John’s , The Garda Station or Doran’s. Indeed if you hand it in anywhere in town they’ll get it back to Paul.
On Friday I was back in Listowel Library for Tom Dillon’s entertaining talk on folklore. The talk was based on some of the local stories in the national folklore collection.
I was struck that some things that happened during the recent Covid crisis are things that only we know. Not everything is reported in the paper. I resolved to tell my family that Nick and the team at Listowel Garden Centre gave me a present of a plant and a bar of chocolate one day during lockdown. The gift came out of the blue. It meant a lot as did all the other kindnesses I received. I will pass the stories on to the next generation. That’s folklore.
Many stories were collected by schoolchildren in copies like these in the great initiative in 1936/37. Is it time to do it again?
Here is an extract from that great treasure trove;
My great grandfather whose name was Daniel Mangan from Bedford owned a house in William Street but it belongs to a man by the name of Corbet now and he fixes [?] cycles. When the house was owned by my great grandfather it was a latin school and it was taught by a man named Mac Namara My grand father whos name was Pat Mangan was taught Latin there. Mr. Mac Namara aied [?]named man.
They had slates to write on with slate pencils. The black board was a big slate. They had a few stools and planks across two or three boxes.
There was a hedge school in Ballydonohue. It was taught by a man named Relihan. One day they were attacked by English soldiers and Relihan was hanged. Told by Mrs. Keane, Ashe Street, Listowel. Written by W. Keane, Ashe Street, Listowel.
What an Improvement
Exemplary Fire Fighters
Proud to see our own John Curtin and John Kelliher rewarded for their long service to the fire service.
Clíona and Aoife picked a good weekend to visit. Lots going on. Aoife slept through most of it though.
A Christmas Belief
A Lifetime in Pitch nd Putt Rewarded
The late Tony O’Callaghan was a very talented artist. He produced a huge body of work in his lifetime and many a Listowel home treasures one of his pieces. The one above was presented to John Joe Kenny by Listowel Pitch and Putt Club to acknowledge his years of service to the club.
I love to see enterprising young people practicing old crafts. Ballylongford was the place to be on Sunday November 20 2022. The Community Centre was jammed with beautiful things and lovely crafters.
My daughter in law, Carine, was delighted with her purchases from the Mulvihill family stall. She is holding the unique willow wreath which she plans to put on her door. She also loves the flower picture she got for her kitchen.
This engaging young lady was rocking an equine theme with lightweight horseshoe ornaments for every occasion.
I remember a time when every bride carried a horseshoe as well as her bouquet.
This is what the internet says about the horseshoe as a symbol of luck;
Although the origins are not exactly known, it is believed that the horseshoe became the symbol of luck when the eighth century Chaldeans thought its crescent shape represented various moon goddesses thus protecting against the curse of the evil eye.
Remembering Childhood Christmases in Listowel
Margaret Dillon kindly answered my call. Here is her account of childhood Christmases in pre digital days.
These days Christmas is heralded by a marathon of Festive adverts which start earlier each year. Back in the 40’s and 50’s we didn’t have Television so we weren’t subjected to that constant bombardment. Nevertheless we had full and plenty of all the Christmas essentials. Listowel was a busy bustling town back then, the shops were full of all sorts of goodies. Of couse as children we were only interested in the Toy shops particulary Fitzgibbon’s and Walsh’s corner shop. Walsh’s window had a nodding Santa which was a great attraction. We couldn’t contain ourselves on Christmas morning as we opened our presents. Santa was a wonder then and he still is to all children.
On the home front , the decorations were put up across the ceiling from corner to corner. The Holly was put behind the pictures and most important of all the crib was put on the sideboard or windowsill. The cake and plum pudding were already made. While Mam was making the cake we made our wishes as we stirred the mixture. A few days beforehand a goose ( for the New Year celebrations) and a flitch of hairy bacon to go wth the turkey arrived from our Clare relations. My mother and the neighbours Mrs Hickey and Mrs Brennan bought the live turkeys in the market, Mrs Brennan did the killing and we plucked our own, making sure to keep the wings. They served as dusters around the range and grate for the rest of the year.
The big shop was done shortly before the big day in John Joe’s and the reward for our business during the year was the Christmas box. This was like a mini hamper containing tea, a pot of jam and maybe an Oxford Lunch cake. The drinks order of minerals, bottles of Guinness and a bottle of Sherry arrived from John R’s in a large timber box.
Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas hymns “Away in a Manger” or “Angels we have heard on High” Or the Christmas songs “Jingle Bells” , “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” Adeste Fidelis was sung at Mass on Christmas Day After Mass we stayed back to visit and welcome Baby Jesus in the crib. During the holidays we paid regular visit to the cribs in the parish church and the convent chapel.
Boyeens to Men
My lovely boyeens spent a lot of time in Listowel as children. They always surprise me with their recall of things we did together on their Kerry holidays.
Folklore in The Library
Tom Dillon was his usual entertaining and informative self in Listowel Library last week when he filled us in on the origins of place names.
Placenames are in danger of being lost as we move to Eircodes.
Tom told us that the fishermen had names for various parts of the Feale. Now that fishing is no more these names are in danger of being lost.
I did not know this until Tom told us but wags in Tralee have invented a new place name. They call the Corrib Oil station the Mini Barack Obama.
Sr. Consolata may be small in stature but she has the presence of a giant in Listowel parish. I know she would not want to be called a saint but that is how Shane O’Donoghue ( Chair of Listowel Parish Council) described her on Sunday Nov 20 2022 .
The occasion was the presentation by Bishop Ray Brown of the pope’s bene merenti medal to Sr. Consolata Bracken.
This prestigious medal is presented to people who have been acknowledged by their parish to have given exceptional service.
Sr. Consolata with three of her old friends from her days in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel. Geraldine O’Connor, Bridget O’Connor and Lisa Whelan.
Sunday’s mass and ceremony was attended by past pupils, former colleagues from Pres., friends from St. Vincent de Paul, members and past members of the parish choir, neighbours, friends and many more whose lives she touched in quiet ways.
It was fitting that the ceremony took place on the Sunday nearest to Presentation Day. The vision and ideals of Nano Nagle are ever close to Sr. Consolata’s heart.
We in Listowel are blessed to have known her and I am honoured beyond measure to call her friend.
Candles at Christmas Recalled
from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook
A timely reminder that next Sunday, 20th November, last before Advent, the end of the Liturgical year and five weeks from Christmas, is the traditional day for mixing the Christmas (Plum) Pudding. Remember it should have thirteen ingredients, representing Christ and the twelve apostles. Each member of the family takes a turn in stirring the mixture and everyone is allowed to make a wish. It should be mixed with a wooden spoon representing the manger, and in an East/West direction in memory of the ‘Three Wise Men’. The sprig of holly on top of the pudding is a reminder of the crown of thorns. Happy steaming, and take the opportunity to have a little festive dram yourself. So it begins!
I’m a bit late but I’d say you are not too late to make one this week.