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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Winning

Canon’s Height in Summer 2024

Aisling Shannon, Master classes

Con Curtin Music festival 28 29 30 June 2024

Our banjo tutor Aisling Neville. 

Aisling Neville is a multi-instrumentalist who hails from Listowel in Co. Kerry. Aisling has spent many years on session circuits all over Ireland at various festivals and fleadhs. She holds 7 All Ireland titles, winning the Senior Banjo in 2003. Due to this success, she was selected for the Comhaltas tours of Ireland, Britain, and North America. Aisling completed the BAMus in UCC and was the recipient of the Doc Gleeson Award for performance excellence while in attendance there. She was also a member of The Bedford Cross Céilí band in recent years. Aisling is  a primary school teacher in Co. Clare  with over 20 years of experience teaching in various settings. She has adjudicated extensively at county and provincial level also.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This image has gone viral. The unfortunate motorist changed his mind when driving through the Conor Pass and attempted to turn back. The car was removed later but our photographer seems to have left by then. I looked for photos of the removal of the car but couldn’t find any.

Wouldn’t you die….?

Bibiana Foran

I brought you this photo last week.

Jer Kennelly found her mentioned in this newspaper clip

Killarney Echo and South Kerry Chronicle 1899-1920, Saturday, 22 April 1911

When an old age pensioner enters the Workhouse the pension is no longer paid. As the law is at present, such old persons entering the Workhouse cease to be pensioners. An effort is being made to change the law. ———–

Large numbers of the old people who became old age pensioners at the beginning of the year-have gone back to the Workhouses. The food, comforts, and accommodation of the Workhouse are something more than they can obtain for 5s. a week outside. Inmates of Workhouses, in Kerry and elsewhere receive better .treatment than they did in years gone by. Still, respectable old people do not like the Workhouse, and it’s  only right that homes should be established for them. 

THE MOVEMENT IN LISTOWEL edited,

The members of the Listowel branch of the Women’s National Health Association, met last week and, judging by the statements made at the meeting, it would seem that the movement against consumption and its causes has made much progress in that district. If any doubts were entertained regarding the assertions that the disease can be cured the statement made at the meeting in question, by Mrs. Foran P.L.G., should have the effect of removing them. She informed those present that some persons sent from the Listowel district to the sanatorium for treatment had returned quite restored to health. 

We Have a Winner

My granddaughter, Cora, plays soccer with her club, Lakewood, and with her school, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin. The schools’ competition is a 5’s blitz. It is very hard on the nerves because if your team goes down a goal you have very little time to make it up. Last week Cora’s team, representing Cork, won the Munster Schools’ Final and are now into the All Ireland final.

Hopes are high for victory in her other discipline, Gaelic football. Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin is into the final of Sciath na Scol to be played later this week.

Cora with her proud parents

Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin team

A Rallying Cry

A Fact

In 1220 Henry 1 laid the foundation stone for Westminster Abbey in London.

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In Dublin

Easter 2024 altar in St. Mary’s Church

It all Happened Again, and Again and Again

From Pres. Secondary School yearbook 2004/05

Knocknagoshel Phoenix 2006

The Big Smoke

I took the train from Farranfore with my friend, Peggy, on a mission to see our old friends who usually travel in the other direction to meet us.

This sign is at the entrance to the station. Take a half a look at the translation of Live train/ platform information.

Did no one check it before it went up?

Who signed off on it?

We visited The National Gallery. It’s a beautiful place, so much more worthwhile than the shops.

The only shopping we did was in the National Gallery. There I spotted a Listowel connection, two displays of Anna Guerin’s Sock Co op souvenir socks.

More Flowers

We have a Champion

Schools 5- a -side soccer is like World Cup when you are 11.

Cora and her Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin team are Cork champions and Cora got the award for “Player of the Tournament”. On now to Munster in May.

A Fact

The most difficult tongue twister in the world is

“The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

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A Trip to Ballincollig

Listowel Garda Styatio in Sept. 2023

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Keeping an Eye on Things

Molly at home

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Celebrating 40

Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin in Ballincollig is celebrating 40 years since its humble beginnings in an old supermarket. The school has has the same principal, Gabriel ÓCathasaigh, since its inception.

It is part of the contract for new school buildings that the contractor set aside a percentage for art. The art project funded from this percentage is Abhainn an Feasa, the Salon river in ceramic tiles depicting stories along the river and its banks.

Cora is in 6th class. She posed for me with some of the magnificent artwork on display when I visited.

The significance of the robin harks back to the poet from whom the school takes its name. Seán ÓRiordáin’s famous anthology is titled Eirbeall Spideoige. (The Robin’s Tail)

The reason Cora was out of uniform was because she had just returned from playing a Sciath na Scol football game. This is a very competitive school league in hurling and football. Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin is defending its titles in both disciplines. They would dearly love to celebrate their 40th with wins.

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My Annual Leave

It’s race week. Those of us of a certain vintage never work during race week. I’m hoping to go to the island with my houseguests and If I do I’ll take a few photos for you.

Wish me luck!

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Hurling and Knitting

Greenway mural at old Neodata site in August 2023

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I think you can go now

It looks like Listowel’s public toilet has finally got the green (or is it red?) light

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The Crotta O’Neill’s Fairytale

They say GAA is family and nowhere is this more true that in a small rural village like Kilflynn. I watched the game on TG4 by chance and I have been fascinated by the story ever since.

This essay by Noel McGrath from Facebook describes it well.

Glory Glory Crotta

Sometimes words failed to describe a feeling, and in this case words will fail.

What this means to Crotta people and the community cannot be put in to words.

Crotta have had 54 years of pain walking out of Austin Stacks in  preliminary stages, quarter, semi and finals where each year leaves a scar on the heart. Some of us have lived through all of these, while others have lived through some due to age or have moved on to the next world. 

As the great Mick O’Connell said, we play sport for fun and take a break from life for a while. 

We all have a competitive side though and the will for your club to win is always there. Unless you’re from Crotta you won’t understand the hurt and pain each year has been, where you see your club and the players not getting over the line. Some of these players may have been you, your brother, son, nephew, grandson, neighbour and your heart goes out to them.

Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.

With this current team, I have witnessed the huge amount of work  and commitment put in by the players themselves and mentors along the journey from u6 Coiste na nOg up to senior.

A lot of mentors these players have gone through will be here today, and should give themselves a pat on the back, without your commitment this day would not exist.

The veterans on the team, the likes of Shane and Sean have shown how leadership is done. Shane, top scorer in the championship and a work rate like it was his first year at championship, Sean seamlessly transitioning from a back to a forward with sensational breaking the line plays.

The younger members of the team know what winning is from minor and u21 and have brought this mindset into the team. As an older person looking at them their mindset and drive for success is admirable, they carry no weight of the past, there is only one way forward.

Going through each player would be too much here, but a special mention on our captain Bill Keane as he is the captain. A captain should be among other things a model of excellence to his teammates. I have watched Bill playing for both Crotta and Senans and what a model, sheer hard work and 100% commitment always and no airs and graces. Delighted  for him and his family.

We all have heroes or people we look up to, whether it’s Muhammad Ali, Katie Taylor, Cian Lynch and so on.

But sometimes these heroes are right beside you,  and I am happy to say as a person older than all the players, they are our heroes and people to look up to and admire.

We have waited a long, long time for this day, and we should have in our thoughts those no longer with us, and we wish could be here to witness this historical moment in our club as the “new kids are in town” have arrived.

So with that, I would like to thank this team for giving us a memorable year, sometimes driving our hearts into overdrive but most importantly making our dreams come true.

The scars in the heart have healed instantaneously like magic.

2023 is the new 1968.

Let the celebrations begin.

Crotta abu

Photos from Facebook

Former @crotta.gaa Senior hurlers Pascal Nolan ,Cyril Nolan, John Joe Conway, Mike Hickey and Brendan Twomey keeping a eye on the Crotta Senior training on Wednesday evening before the final.

supporters Shane Herbert, Fr.Gerry Keane, Paddy Weir, Paul Sheehan and Paud Twomey  keeping an eye on the Crotta Senior training on Wednesday evening .

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Learning from Nana

I have taught each of my grandchildren in turn how to knit. Cora is a great student and has mastered the key skills of plain and purl, casting on and casting off after just a few days practice.

Knitting requires patience and perseverance. There are no quick results with knitting. it is a great skill to learn in a world where results are mostly instant.

Killian is a bit old now for the knitting with Nana lark but back in the day….

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Kanturk, My Hometown

I had a small wander in Kanturk last week and I was well impressed.

This is O’Brien Street. Just to the right of this picture is the lovely little riverside park.

The ducks were sheltering on the sunny day I visited. If you are going to break your journey to Cork, I’d advise a little stroll here. I’ll share more pictures tomorrow.

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There is Always a Listowel Connection

My niece took the photo. Her Listowel connection, apart from me, is her husband, sitting to her right ( left in the picture). He is Michael O’Sullivan, formerly of Knockanure.

The lady in blue is Maureen Larkin, formerly of Listowel. All were in a pub on a night out in Dublin in August 2023.

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Teampall Bán

Beautiful butterflies and moths photographed in Ardgillan by Éamon OMurchú.

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Teampall Bán

Teampall Bán has been undergoing some changes so I was delighted to have an opportunity to visit with my houseguests. It is always an opportunity for a history lesson and a time for reflection on our many blessings in life today.

Killian and Cora are standing at the magnificent new gate sponsored by Beasley Engineering. As you can see the painting isn’t quite finished yet.

The Celtic Cross is beautifully repainted.

Last time I visited the gable wall mural was looking a bit shabby. This time it had been painted over. The mural with its dark sky and gaunt crosses added a sombre air to the place and was very much part of the experience for me. Maybe they will be able to get someone to redo it.

The tree of contemplation.

The “scores on the doors” are blood chilling.

The quiet little chapel is perfect for prayer and reflection.

It’s hard to call a place of such awful sorrow a visitor attraction. In the manner of war cemeteries and and holocaust museums it is a reminder to us all of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. I believe we should market it more. It’s a truly hauntingly beautiful place. Credit for its upkeep goes to Listowel Tidy Towns and friends.

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Flocks of Birds

Thank you, Rose McGinty for sharing this

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R.I.P. Sinead O’Connor

A verse of a traditional song in tribute to the sweetest singer of them all

I’ve seen the lark soar high at morn,
Heard his song up in the blue.
I have heard the blackbird pipe his note,
The thrush and the linnet too.
But there’s none of them can sing so sweet,
My singing bird, as you,
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
My singing bird, as you

Below is the poem Sinead’s brother, Joseph, said at her funeral ceremony. Sinead, in her internet rants, was wont to refer to her f…ing family. There is no doubt her family loved her dearly, if she could only have believed that.

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire

When I’m walking with my sons

Through the laneways 

Called ‘The Metals’

By the train-tracks. 

And he sings among the dandelions 

And bottle-tops and stones, 

Serenading purple ivy, 

Weary tree-trunks. 

And I have it in my head 

That I can recognise his song, 

Pick him out, 

I mean distinct 

From all his flock-mates.

Impossible, I know. 

Heard one blackbird, heard them all. 

But there are times 

He whistles up a recollection. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire – 

And I’m suddenly a kid, 

Asking where from here to Sandycove 

My youngest sister hid. 

I’m fourteen this Easter. 

My job to mind her. 

Good Friday on the pier – 

And I suddenly can’t find her. 

The sky like a bruise 

By the lighthouse wall. 

We were playing hide-and-seek. 

Is she lost? Did she fall? 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire 

And the terror’s like a wave 

Breaking hard on a hull, 

And the peoples’ faces grave 

As Yeats on a banknote. 

Stern as the mansions 

Of Killiney in the distance, 

As the pier’s granite stanchions, 

And Howth is a drowned child 

Slumped in Dublin Bay, 

And my heart is a drum 

And the breakers gull-grey. 

The baths. It starts raining. 

The People’s Park. 

And my tears and the terns, 

And the dogs’ bitter bark. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire, 

And I pray to him, then, 

For God isn’t here, 

In a sobbed Amen. 

And she waves from the bandstand, 

Her hair in damp strings, 

And the blackbird arises 

With a clatter of wings 

From the shrubs by the teahouse,

 

Where old ladies dream 

Of sailors and Kingstown 

And Teddy’s ice-cream. 

And we don’t say a word 

But cling in the mizzle, 

And the whistle of the bird 

Getting lost in the drizzle. 

Mercy weaves her nest 

In the wildflowers and the leaves, 

There are stranger things in heaven 

Than a blackbird believes. 

– Joseph O’Connor, 2010 

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