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Tag: Ciarán Sheehan

Summer 2017, Ciarán Sheehan celebrates Kathy Buckley and home remedies in the 1950s

In Listowel Town Square


Sign of Summer

Putting merchandise on the pavement outside your shop is an age old tradition in rural towns. This sight in the Square recently lifted my spirits. It heralds the arrival of summer.


At Olive Stack’s Gallery

Olive’s artists in residence bring a touch of the exotic to Listowel’s streetscape. This beautiful window display and street installation cheered my morning on March 30 2017.


Remember these?

Photos; Joe Downes

These two bottles were in every mammy’s arsenal of remedies when I was growing up. The taste of cod liver oil is so embedded in my memory that looking at the bottle I can taste it again with all the revulsion it always engendered. Even the name is distasteful!


When Broadway came to William Street

Kathy Buckley, late of William Street Listowel worked in The White House. During the Listowel Food Fair of June 2015, Kathy was honoured in a ceremony attended by the then U.S. ambassador, Kevin O’Malley and his wife. One of the highlights of the day was the singing of the Irish and U’S. National Anthems by Ciarán Sheehan, a very successful Broadway star with strong ties to Listowel and William Street.

You can listen him here;   Ciarán Sheehan sings anthems in William St.


A Sign of things to Come?

I felt a shiver of premonition when I read this in Saturday’s paper

Listowel Castle, Aoife Hannon, Milliner, a poem for the late Mary Keane and a Broadway star with a Listowel Connection

At Listowel Castle, May 2016

Bryan MacMahon statue in the castle grounds.

The Master with his beloved Square in the background. Bryan MacMahon walked around this square practically every night that he spent in town.

Listowel Castle


Flowers at The Kingdom County fair 2016


Aoife Hannon Hats and Headpieces on Display in Main Street


Second Anniversary for Mary

The late John McCarthy, poet and mad pride activist wrote this poem for Mary Keane as she approached the second anniversary of John B.’s death.

She was always

backstage, producing

keeping it all together,

pub, finances, royalties.

enquiring when writing

their final draft as to

who would exit first?

She replied laughingly,”Sure

that was always my part, all

he did was sit in

the night and write.

They were a perfect

pair, a buttress foreach other.

The gentle character

lines of her face spoke

volumes, of how she had

survived the pregnant pauses,

the standing ovations of

what had gone before

handled the  traumas and

joys from behind the scenes

while he had taken

the bows at the curtains of

life but still when asked

“How are things?” she replied wistfully,

“Aragh, I’m fine, but I’d be better

if John was here.”


Ballerina with a Listowel Connection

Hennessy Sheehan is the daughter of Broadway singer/actor Ciarán Sheehan whose ancestors hail from Upper William Street Listowel. Hennessy is now blossoming into a star in her own right.

Holiday Time

On The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee

I have just spent a happy week bonding with some of the Cork branch of the family.

It was end of term and I had sports days, end of term drama and gymnastic performances to attend, some of the lovely events one gets to go to as a proud Nana.

The Cork Primary School Sports is an major event in Cork schools calendar. It was a triumph of organization. There were a few traffic glitches but once I got into the sports field, I was amazed at the professionalism of the organizers who saw this huge event run with military precision. I’d say half of Cork were there between athletes and supporters.


My granddaughters attend Ballincollig Gymnastics Club and their end of year show features European class routines. I got to attend 3 shows, as all of the 400 pupils got to perform and I had an interest in all three shows.

Róisín before her routine

 Gymnasts watch and support their friends.

One routine at the gymnastics display went down a treat, i.e. the Dads and Daughters sequence. Here are Colm and Aisling in the centre doing their bit to the country tune, Cotton Eye Joe.

There is always a Listowel connection.

Brian MacAulliffe was there to support his daughter who is just starting on her gymnastic career.


Meanwhile in Belgium

In the background is the Tyne Cot memorial on which the names of so many idealistic young people who fought and died in Ypres during WW1are inscribed. This graveyard and all the other memorials in the region are a chilling reminder of that “world’s worst wound”.  Seán McKenna took the photos on a recent trip to the battlefields.

On Passing the New Menin Gate, by Siegfried Sassoon

Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate, –
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.

Here was the world’s worst wound. And here with pride
‘Their name liveth for evermore the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
As these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.


Meanwhile in France

For the French branch of the family it’s all sun, sand, al fresco dining and tennis


One of the highlights  of Summer 2015 in Listowel was the Willis Clan concert in St. John’s on June 19th.

I was privileged to be there to hear Ciarán Sheehan, star of musical theatre in the US (1000 performances in Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and many more) make an emotional return to the stage in his father’s hometown. He got a rapturous reception from a very appreciative audience.

Ciarán greeted Sheehan, Hennessey and Curtin cousins in the audience and he paid a special tribute to Vincent Carmody, also a cousin, and who has been his guide for his visit to Listowel.

The Willis Clan are a force of Nature. All 12 of them sang, danced and played one or many of a multitude of musical instruments on this night to remember. They gained many fans in Listowel in June 2015.

Jeremiah Willis singing in St. John’s June 19 2015
Jessica Willis on stage in St. John’s Listowel
Jennifer Willis June 19 2015
Jeanette Willis
The Willis Clan

Ciarán Sheehan signing a cd for a happy punter.

I recorded him from my seat in the audience. It’s here

Ciarán Sheehan in St. John’s

Kathy Buckley event at Listowel Food Fair 2015

First Year at the New Date

What used to be an Autumn event has moved to June this year. A marvelous array of events is lined up for the weekend but the show I attended yesterday was a great opener to the festival. The official opening with the traders bake off was to happen later but this was a lovely solemn ceremony coming at a poignant time in Irish American relations.

The ceremony, which took place on William Street was in honour of Kathy Buckley who was born in William Street, Listowel and went on to serve as a cook in The White house under three U.S. presidents. U.S ambassador, Kevin O’Malley unveiled a plaque at the house where she lived before she emigrated and to where she retired when her stint in the U.S came to an end.

5.00 p.m. and William Street Upper was closed to traffic and a nice crowd had gathered outside the ancestral home of Kathy Buckley.

 Two bands from local schools greeted the ambassador on his arrival. People living and working nearby came out to see the spectacle.

Listowel people and particularly William Street people were well represented.

Security was discreet but visible.

Billy Keane was the master of ceremonies.

In his introduction, Billy referred to the recent tragedy in Berkeley. Billy, himself was very touched by this accident as he lost his first cousin’s son, Niccolai Shuster. Another young victim, Aoife Beary, is in hospital in a critical condition. Aoife is the daughter of Mike Beary of Listowel. 

Our two countries have rarely felt closer as Irish American people and people with no Irish connection have opened their hearts and homes to the families of the young people killed and injured in California.

Billy introduced, local historian, Vincent Carmody, whom he described as the keeper of the flame. Vincent has kept the story of Kathy Buckley alive and he is in no small way responsible for today’s ceremony. He told a story of Kathy who, in her retirement, cooked for her Listowel relatives. One day she made homemade custard and, as was her custom in The White House, she laced it with cream. It was far too rich a taste for her Listowel relative who declared, “I don’t like it”.

Kathy replied, “If it was good enough for three U.S presidents, it’s good enough for you.”

 U.S ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, is the son of Irish emigrants. He is very proud of his Irish heritage. He too mentioned the links between our two countries and the recent tragic event which took the lives of 5 J1 students and one Irish American. He is well aware of how much the US has given to our Irish diaspora and how contact with Ireland and Irish people has so enriched “the land of the free.” He hoped that seeing the memorial to Kathy Buckley might inspire people to achieve great things.

Then he unveiled the plaque.

Next up was Ciarán Sheehan, relative of Cathy Buckley and son of an Irish father who emigrated from Upper William St. Listowel to seek a better life in the U.S. I had met Ciarán earlier in the day with Vincent and as a result of that meeting I booked my ticket to hear him sing in St. John’s as guest of the Willis Clan.

 Ciarán sang the Irish and U.S. anthems. He is a well known name in the U.S.  Recently he sang at the funeral of Beau Biden, son of the vice president of the US and he has taken part in over 1000 performances of Phantom of the Opera.

Listen to him here;  Ciaran Sheehan sings in William St. Listowel June 18 2015

Then it was time for photographs. The ambassador and his wife were most generous with their time and willing to pose with anyone who wanted.

A pint was produced from next door by Aidan O’Connor. The ambassador posed with it but refused to take a sip.

Then it was time for the neighbours who remembered Kathy to look at the plaque and remember her.

We had a laugh, a bit of a chat and a few more photos to remember the day by and we all agreed the day was a great success.

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