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Tag: Cows’ Lawn

A Song, a Story and a Few Shops

Photo; Chris Grayson somewhere in Cork


From the Pres. Scrapbook

Winner of An Post writing competition


Colourful Listowel

Some Listowel traders have chosen really strong bright colours for their recently painted shopfronts.

This is Betty McGrath’s Listowel Florist on Courthouse Road

Lizzy’s Little Kitchen on Church Street

Sheahan’s Grocery on Upper William Street

Daisy Boo Barista on Church Street


One Hundred Years Ago

As it appears from Duagh School in the schools folklore collection:

The following is a version of a song composed by Timothy Mc Govern in the year 1922, lamenting our betrayal by Mulcahy, Griffith and Collins and also the murder of Jerry Leary and Johnny Linnane by the Black – and – Tans.

The Banks of the Feale


Through the green hills of Kerry my ballads are ringing,

Sinn Féin is my motto and my land “Gránuaile”

The lads and fair lassies my songs will be singing

When I’m laid down to rest on the banks of the Feale.


When I think of the tyrants

the landlords and grabbers

My heart it feels cold and my courage runs down.

Kerry stood first in the red gap of danger

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


When Mulcahy and Griffith and Collins betrayed us 

And battered the four courts be 

sure ’twas no fun.

The sassenachs helped them with no one to aid us.

While sharp rang the crack of an Englishman’s gun.


Brave Jerry Leary and Linnane 

from North Kerry

And Buckley, that hero of fame and renown,

With bombs and grenades they were killed in a hurry

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Sad was my heart at the death  of brave Rory

And Buckley and Traynor and Foley likewise

With bombs and grenades we invaded their stronghold,

Our boys were victorious in country and town.


Though we laid down our arms we did not surrender

We’re ready to die for old Ireland again

The gallant Republic has men to defend it

Regardless of prison torture and pain.


Here’s to the man who stood first in the ambush

God bless those brave men whom

the traitors shot down

My curse to the traitors who fought for the strangers

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Éamonn Ó Corradáin


Éamonn Ó Corradáin




Ploughing the Cows Lawn

The man on the right of this picture is the Thomas J. Murphy, victualler who arrived home to Listowel 100 years ago, having spent none months in Ballykinlar Internment Camp. Thomas was known locally as The Colonel.

The picture was sent to us by Tomas’ grandson, Paul Murphy. Paul would love to know who the other men are or what was the occasion of the photograph. Can you help him?


Zingy Zest, Revival and The Cows Lawn and Link to Just a Thoughts

Another shop Closure

Early 2020 has seen the closure of several businesses in Listowel. Zingyzest is added to Flavin’s, Kerry Wool and  One Stop Sweet Shop. I hope this trend is reversed soon.


Revival 2020

This festival gets bigger and bigger every year. This year’s line up guarantees that the tickets will sell out fast. Don’t be disappointed.


1945 Handover of the Childers’ Park

Kerry Champion Saturday, November 17, 1945; Section: Front page, Page: 1



Public Park.

Mr. R. A. Macaulay, solicitor to the Council wrote to the Acting Town Clerk under date November 12th enclosing map and letter received from Messrs. M. J. Byrne and Co. Solicitors, relative to the gift to the Council of a tract- of land at Gurtinard, donated by the Listowel estate.

Messrs. M. J. Byrnes’ letter explained that the property transferred is to be held in trust for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Listowel as a public park and no buildings of any kind are to be erected thereon without the consent in writing of the transferors.

Gifts Act.

Mr. Macaulay, the Council’s Solicitor, also wrote enclosing copy of the Local Authorities (Acceptance of Gifts) Act 1945. Mr. Macaulay’s .letter stated that he had not yet had an opportunity of preparing a draft scheme for submission to the Council but that he thought it would be of great assistance and would make for economy in time if the enclosures he sent therewith were submitted to the Council to obtain their views on the broad outlines of the undertaking. The Council may have definite views affecting the management of the gift property and also affecting the provisions of the proposed scheme and when such views were submitted to him he, Mr. Macaulay would prepare a draft of the scheme which could be submitted to the Council in due course. Having discussed the matter the Council unanimously approved as far as possible the provisions of the scheme but they requested the Council’s Solicitor to draft a scheme which would be considered at next meeting.


Just a Thought

Last week’s Thoughts are at the link below

Just a Thought

Love lost, Ploughing up The Cows’ Lawn and an old photo

Listowel Pitch and Putt club now maintains a course in the Cows’ Lawn.

This  was the location of much controversy 100 years ago.


One hundred years ago this week, a
remarkable event took place in Listowel.   A courageous action by a
group of leaders in the town, armed only with hurleys, struck a non-violent
blow on behalf of the people of the town to be masters of their own destiny, and
to ‘walk their own land’.  

event itself was the ploughing of the Cows Lawn, the property of Lord Listowel
which was eventually to lead to the provision of probably the best loved
amenity in the town  –  the present Town Park.

a group of people ‘ploughing’ might seem a harmless enough activity, this
ploughing was anything but harmless.  It led to a number of clashes
and confrontations between the police and a number of local men, thirteen of
whom were sentenced to 12 months in Cork and Belfast Gaol

understand what a momentous occasion it was we have only to see the headlines
in The Kerryman the following week:

As World War I raged,
shortages of food and rising prices in 1917 started to cause distress  in
the town.   The British Ministry of Food set up a food control
committee for Ireland on 31 August 1917 and many of its regulations, in theory,
applied to this country.    Sinn Féin established Food Committees
throughout the country and started to organise local markets, distribution of
local food at fair  prices and  arrangements for the poor
of the town to get small areas of land or allotments to grow their own food.   

February  1917, Listowel Urban Council Chairman Jack McKenna had been
involved in a fruitless exchange of letters with Lord Listowel looking for
permission to use 15 to 20 acres of vacant land

to be distributed
among ‘artisans, labourers and small traders of the town … on which they could
raise food to supplement their small earnings’. While a number of small
unsuitable fields had been suggested, these were not acceptable to the Urban

The two fields
identified as the most suitable for the purpose were  called at the
time the Back Lawn and the Front Lawn . These fields were at that time leased
from Lord Listowel by two local men and ‘negotiations’ were opened with them to
give up their tenancies.  John Keane held the front lawn and was
willing to give up his tenancy.’Mr Keane was prepared to forego his right for
the purpose of enabling the Council to proceed with the scheme, provided that
Lord Listowel was satisfied’.

Mr.   Kenny
who had the grazing of the back lawn was not keen to give up his title. He had
a butcher shop – it was absolutely essential to enable him to carry on his
trade as a butcher in the adjoining Church St., however he was persuaded to ‘do
the right thing’.

On 25th February 1918, tired of
waiting for permission, the Sinn Féin Food Committee with the help of the Irish
Volunteers from Moyvane, Knockanure, Finuge, Rathea, Ballyconry and
Ballylongford marched into the town ‘all armed with hurleys and headed by
bands, while ploughs and horses brought up the rear.  They were
cordially received by the Listowel Company of Irish Volunteers with their brass
band.  The whole procession, composed of some eleven or twelve
hundred Volunteers, marched to the estate office in Feale View at 1.30 o’clock
where the above mentioned waited on Mr. M. Hill, who is Lord Listowel’s chief

 Although Messrs.
Kenny and Keane had given up possession, Mr Hill refused to hand over the keys
as he had not got orders from Lord Listowel. The Volunteers then broke open the
gates leading to the back lawn near the National School house.  The
ploughs and ploughmen started operations and another section  of
Vounteers took over the front lawn.  Over the following two months,
local people continued with tilling the land despite visits from the R.I.C.,
and the threat of court proceedings which culminated in the imprisonment of
thirteen of the ‘offenders’ in Cork and Belfast Gaols.


This was just the
start of an endeavour
fifty years later culminated in the acquisition of the two lawns  for
the people of Listowel.  It had taken from the twelfth century,
firstly  with the Fitzmaurices and then with earls of Listowel as overlords,
to put the lands back into the hands of the people of the town.

An illustrated talk on
the full history  of the Cows Lawn from this event onwards, entitled
Sinn Féin v. Lord Listowel 1918’ will be given by Kay Caball at
the Seanchaí on Sunday 22nd April 7pm.


Today’s love poem is a favourite with teenagers.

But You Didn’t

By Merrill Glass

Remember the time you lent me your car and I dented it?

I thought you’d kill me…

But you didn’t.

Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was

formal, and you came in jeans?

I thought you’d hate me…

But you didn’t.

Remember the times I’d flirt with

other boys just to make you jealous, and

you were?

I thought you’d drop me…

But you didn’t.

There were plenty of things you did to put up with me,

to keep me happy, to love me, and there are

so many things I wanted to tell

you when you returned from


But you didn’t.


People I Don’t know with a Motorbike

From the John Hannon archive


In Case You haven’t Booked yet

Tickets are selling fast for this John B. Keane classic in St. John’s

Photo; Frances Kennedy

Many Young Men of Twenty opens on Friday April 20 2018

The Cows lawn concluded.; More on Superstorm Sandy

The final installment of Kay Caball’s history of Childers’ Park.

In 1966, Listowel Urban Council, still striving to finally put the Cows
Lawn in public ownership and also to provide a Town Park for the residents,
opened negotiations with the ‘Cow Keepers’ to purchase their shares. On 23
August 1965 the following Shareholders were offered £200 per share:

Martin Daly Market St.

Joseph Walsh, Church St., 

Paddy Keane, Church

Joe Scanlon, Bridge Road, 

Gerald Lynch, The Square, 

Mrs. Tadg Brennan,
Colbert St., 

Patrick Finucane, Church St 

Mrs. May Quillinan, C/o Miss Stack, The Emporium, Church St., 

Miss N Kelly, Upper William

Mrs Nora Buckley, William St.

Miss Tessie Buckley, William St.,

Michael Woulfe, C/o McKennas, Listowel

All signified their agreement but at that point problems with the legal
conveyance arose. A barrister’s opinion supplied by William A. Binchy (father
of Maeve Binchy) dated 10.10.1965 spelled out the ‘defect in the title of the
land in question’. 

Because the ownership had been vested in so many different
titleholders, some now deceased, his opinion was that the best and indeed only
way forward was a Compulsory Purchase Order.

The Compulsory Purchase Order was effected on 14 April 1966, the Urban
Council borrowed £4,300 from the New Ireland Insurance Co., to pay for the
acquisition, which they later recouped by selling a small section of the road frontage. At the same time the very distinctive
Danaher’s Lodge, now called the Dandy Lodge, a nineteenth century cottage which
had been the gate lodge to the manor and was identified as the first house in Bridge Road in the Ordinance Survey map of 1887,19 was
moved stone by stone across the road to the new entrance to the Park. The Town
Park, now known as Childers Park is in public ownership, used on a daily basis
by the people of the town with pitch & putt, rugby, soccer, a children’s playground
and Community Centre.

The highlight of the
 development of the Lawns is the Garden 
of Europe.
In the wooded area which had 
formerly been used a town dump, the 
council, with
the help of local voluntary
associations initiated the planting of the 
of Europe, now regarded as one of Listowel’s hidden treasures. It contains more
than 2,500 trees and shrubs from all European countries. It also contains
Ireland’s only public monument to the memory of the millions who died in the
Holocaust. The focal point of the garden is an impressive bust of the poet
Schiller. Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ set to music by Beethoven in his Ninth
Symphony is now the official anthem of the European Union.


‘Ode to Joy’ expresses Schiller’s idealistic vision of the human race
becoming brothers, a vision also shared by Beethoven.  Surely it is a fitting
conclusion to the long drawn out struggle of the people of Listowel to be
masters of their own destiny, to walk 
their ‘own’ land and enjoy all the
on offer in their ‘Town Park’. As this research shows, It had taken
from the middle of the twelfth century, firstly with the Fitzmaurices, then the
Hares as overlords, to reach a conclusion where the tenants and dispossessed
were ‘brothers’ rather than serfs.


I am very grateful to Kay for sharing this with us. She has done us all a great service in documenting this fascinating piece of Listowel history.

Below are some of the facilities available in the Cows’ Lawn to the people of Listowel today.

Adult playground
tennis courts
Tee box on Pitch and Putt Course
Artwork and Graffiti
flower bed


Beautiful early colour photographs here (mostly Galway)


Did you know there’s an Irish actor in the popular
TV soap Home and Away?

Irish actor Alison McGirr, from Co Carlow, landed
the role as Molly Brenner and has been appearing in episodes of the show in
Australia since August of this year. 

She started appearing in episodes broadcasted in
Ireland in recent weeks. 

McGirr, whose great-grandparents were from Ireland,
was herself born in Australia but moved back to Ireland with her family 1996
where she attended Tullow Community School in Co Carlow.

McGirr is engaged to fellow actor Sam Atwell, who
is best known for his role as Kane Philips in the TV show.

Home and Away is watched by an estimated 150,000 Irish
people on RTÉ everyday.


Do you remember yesterday’s first hand pictures from New Jersey? They were shared with us by Marie Shaw and she wrote this account of superstorm Sandy.

Hi Mary,

Fortunately I was not in the thick of it. I live in Manchester, NJ about 13/15 miles inland from the coast. Most of those pictures were taken from the block behind my son’s home in Belmar, NJ.

As I am sure you have heard in the media, the devastation on the coastline from lower Manhattan and all through the Jersey shore to Atlantic City is horrendous. A quarter of a million people in lower Manhattan without power which means no water, no heat, no cooking facilities. Over one hundred  homes in Breezy Point NY burned to the ground. Miraculously, nobody perished in the blaze.Rockaway Beach, NY (affectionately known in the old days as Ballybunion USA) just a memory of what it once was.

The entire Jersey shore has been wiped out with hotels, private beachfront homes and miles and miles of boardwalk gone. So many families homeless in the aftermath, so many lives ruined by the wrath of mother nature.

When, as a child back in Listowel, we would experience a storm, the older people would talk about “The night of the big wind” I had no idea what the fuss was about but I certainly do now. I have never heard such gale force winds. Up to 80 miles an hour, windows shaking, trees uprooted and flashing lights in the sky. The flashing lights we found out later were transformers exploding.

Incredibly, only about forty lives were lost and most of those were people who refused to follow orders to “Stay inside your homes” and ending up being struck by falling trees and live electrical wires on the ground.

Most of us (The Irish in partulicar) have always had an ongoing romantic affair with the sea but we are all realizing that the sea and nature in general can turn on us in an instant and many can be left with broken hearts and broken lives.

On a happier note, as the sea grows calm once again, the attached picture shows that everything has it’s time and place and tonight we feel that God is still in the heavens and all will be right with the world once again.


Marie Shaw

Calm after the storm


Still standing in the midst of the devastation ay Breezy Point New York.


And I saw this next on Facebook. Uplifting!

The Cows’ Lawn and Trick or Treating

Kay Caball did very thorough research on the history of our beloved town park. She has included in her work all her references and a comprehensive bibliography. I have left these out for the purposes of the blog. Believe me though, everything she says, she can back up.



Kay Caball 

The ‘Two Fields’

This is a study of land transactions and the people associated with them
which saw the ‘Lawns’ of Gurtinard, Listowel evolve from the preserve of the ‘big
house’ to the people of the town as their Town Park.

The history of North Kerry is echoed in a small way in the story of
these two fields. From earliest times, to the present day, land and ‘fields’
have been important in North Kerry. John B. Keane in his most famous play ‘The
Field’  first performed in 1965, outlined the lengths that a North Kerry farmer
was willing to go to, because of his attachment to his rented land ‘nurturing
it from barren rock into a fertile field’. While the townspeople of Listowel
did not go to the lengths that the Bull McCabe did to obtain the object he
desired, they were steadfast in their wish to retrieve these fields from
landlord and transfer into public ownership.

The history of the fields or the ‘Cows Lawn’ as they are colloquially
known, began when Richard Hare purchased the lands of the 3rd Earl of Kerry. In
1783 the 3rd Earl of Kerry, Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice sold his entire estate
of 30,000 acres in North Kerry, most of which came into the possession of
Richard Hare, ‘then of the city of Cork, Esquire’.

The 3rd Earl had gone to
live in Paris after accumulating gambling debts. His stay was cut short by the
French Revolution, and in 1792 he and his wife were forced to flee back to
England. TheKerry
Evening Postof
July 19 1911 tells us that ‘the Earl got out of Paris with great difficulty,
leaving all his plate, pictures, furniture and papers behind him in charge of two
faithful servants. The Government of the Terror guillotined the servants and
seized all the property’.  He had the forethought to arrange that his papers
would not fall into the same hands and they are currently stored in the
National Archives in Paris. We learn from these documents the protracted
dealing between Fitzmaurice and Hare, until the lands in question were legally
transferred into the name of Hare.

The Earl had been the first Fitzmaurice for six hundred years to be an
absentee landlord, appearing to be only interested in the money the estate
brought in, to support his lavish lifestyle initially in Bath & London.
According to the papers stored in Paris, there was continuous difficulty in
getting rents paid regularly, for example in 1774 out of a rent roll of £5.124
only £1.034 was paid . In 1776  Arthur Young was shocked at the condition of the
place: ‘Everything around lies in ruin and the house itself is going fast off
by the thieving depredations of the neighborhood’.

( more tomorrow)


I cannot say for certain when this old drinking trough was demolished. It was certainly there in 2007 when I took the photo. It is a pity that it had to go as it served to remind us of  why the park was called The Cows’ Lawn.


The origins of trick or treating

There is s great website called  “today I found out about….”, with all kinds of interesting and colourful information. This is where I found this account of the origins of a popular Halloween custom.

“As for the trick or treating, or “guising” (from “disguising”), traditions, beginning in the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called “souling” and the children were called “soulless”.

An example of a relatively recent (19th century) souling song is as follows:

A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

As you might have guessed from the song, a common food given while souling was a Soul Cake (also sometimes known as a Harcake).  Soul cakes were small round cakes, often with a cross marked on top, that represented a soul being freed from Purgatory when the cake was eaten.  Soul cakes were generally sweet cakes, including such ingredients as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and raisins.

Souling ultimately gave rise to guising in the U.K. starting in the 19th century, with children dressing up and begging for things like fruit and money.  In order to earn this token, they’d often tell jokes, sing songs, play an instrument, recite a poem, or perform in some other way for the amusement, not unlike the old tradition of souling but instead of prayers, a performance was offered.

The practice of guising made its way to North America, probably brought over by the Scottish and Irish in the late 19th or early 20th century (first documented reference in 1911).

Read more at 


The new interiors’ shop in The Square


Don’t forget this coming weekend is The Food fair


Super picture of Fungi


Healyracing’s fab. action photo from Kinsale Point to Point on Sunday.

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