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

Tag: David Kissane Page 1 of 3

Cats and Dogs, Bicycles and Trains

Pat Nolan’s Corner, Charles Street in February 2024

A Poem

Mick O’Callaghan muses on the little trials of life when one shares space with a cat or dog

Feline and canine indiscretions

I must say I love gardening.

I get such mental and stress relief 

From my regular communing with nature 

Gardening is a very relaxing exercise.

When I am planting and weeding, 

While pruning roses with my sharp secateurs

Digging up the fresh earth to the delight of birds

As they forage for any worms around

Which are silly enough to stick a head above ground,

In my raking, hoeing, and forking in fertiliser.

In bending, stretching, and pulling, 

Pushing the wheelbarrow along

My muscles are stretched on a regular basis.

Relaxing too as I sit on my garden bench

Sipping coffee, nibbling fruit or scoffing biscuits

Soaking up the lovely perfumed natural aromas around

From carnations, azaleas, dahlias, and roses

It is all sheer heavenly bliss.

But occasionally I am taken aback. 

While on my knees weeding

 I touch some offending matter 

In the form of feline indiscretion 

The scent and aroma are rather foul .

Disgusting, stomach wrenching stuff

I curse the cats with expletives most foul.

Their owners too, 

Who allow them to relieve their bowels

Onto my hallowed lawns edge

And on my manicured flower beds

I arise from my knees, cursing internally.

I scramble indoors to clean off the offending matter.

Scrubbing my fingers and hands with soap and hot water

With annoyance and anger bubbling up inside me

I now just abandon my gardening for a wee while.

And decide to head for a walk in the Town Park instead

To becalm my rising feline aroused anger.

I don my  runners and progress out the front door

I pass by Sean Lios Houses and arrive in The Park

To begin my circuits before it gets dark 

While strolling, I scent a strange smell

Which follows me around and lingers like hell

In the air around my personal space.

 I bring it home to the hall in my head.

As I cross the threshold, I get a strange feeling

Senior house management greets me strangely,

Commenting on the stinking smell now pervading the house

I am quickly banished outside the front door

To take off my runners and examine them more

Whereupon I note some foreign matter

In the form of stinking rotten dog poo most foul

All clogged between the ridges of my runners.

I take them off and I was banished to the yard. 

And am ordered to do some immediate de-fumigation

So, I take out garden hose, brush, and disinfectant

To clean doggie poo matter 

From the parts of my runners that were canine infected

So now disinfected I’m allowed back into the hall.

I reflect on my day, and I curse humans who have the gall

To let their darling four-legged friends 

Deposit their excrement in public at their will.

I don’t own a cat or dog, never did, never will.

And still here I am, inconvenienced, discommoded.

By the indiscriminate depositing actions 

Of purring feline and barking canine household pets 

Whose owners are not fully aware just yet

Of the toileting habits of their darling pets

And certainly, need more training 

In poo bagging and binning

To avoid poo litter sinning.

Trust

Look mom, no hands,

Look mom, no lock.

I was delighted, if a little surprised, to see a young visitor park their bike without a thought to its safety.

Trying to Make a Connection

Here is an email from the postbag. Maybe someone is researching the same family and would like to get in touch.

Hi Mary,

I have done some research on my family name and have traced my great-great grandfather and he had come from Listowel.

I am come from Australia to play in the Over 70 football World Cup in Cardiff Wales in August, and looking at coming to Listowel as well.

His name was William Joseph Pierse born 1815 maybe 1819, died 1861 aged 42 or 47? There are 2 death ages on the same document. 

His father may have been a surgeons tool maker in Listowel maybe David Pierse? 

There is one search at says William was born in 1829? But this made him too young and David Pierse father born 1810 which makes him too young.

Maybe there was two William Pierse from Listowel born 10 years apart.

He, William, became a surgeon, studying at LAC Dublin and came to Australia as a ships surgeon in 1852. 

The ship sank in Port Phillip bay and he stayed and married a passenger Elissa Newman.

From here I can follow the family history and how our name changed to the spelling Pierce in the late 1890’s

Told the Pierse with S was Catholic and getting work for Irish Catholic’s was hard in Australia then.

I have seen that you have had other enquires about the same name maybe you have some more info for me before I come.

Keith Pierce.  Sydney Aust.

An Spideog concluded

David Kissane

Post Torun

The weeks after Torun brought some challenging stories for some who had been involved in those championships. The story of our Kerry walking colleague Pat Murphy and his severe stroke was among the more unfortunate ones. Pat’s courage has seen him walking again at Christmas. 

When the British Masters walk championships got underway in Derby on a warm September Saturday, my opponent from Torun, Ian Torode was not at the starting line. Hopefully he will be in London in February for the indoors. 

And there were more sad stories also. We know we are not getting any younger, but surely we should be allowed to get a bit luckier. This scribbler can account himself among the lucky ones this summer. After a day that began at 6am in July at the national juvenile championships in Tullamore coaching and doing photography, I fell asleep in my van on the way home. No one injured. Luckily. My beloved van wasn’t so lucky and is now recycled. Information suggests that the neck pain and PT playbacks will fade but my advice to any driver is…do not drive when weary. One in five fatal road accidents are due to tiredness. 

                                                        Dancing in the dark

But the post-Torun period brought some new departures. My walking colleague Serena analysed a missing ingredient to my training. She has a keen eye for such things. She got the bright idea that early morning runs would suit her lifestyle. Would I like to join her? I thought it was some kind of joke, because Serena can be very funny. At times!

Anyway, why not, I says. So began a series of dawn walks/jogs/runs. Up at 6am, in the Ardfert Recreation Centre at 6.30am and watch the sun rise. Serena’s friend Sharon started the sessions also, and she was becoming quite a walker/runner when fate led her in another direction. Then Denis joined in for a while, then Martina, then Marian, then Lisa and a few more on occasion. My cynical neighbour called us the ARC Angels! 

But I was hooked. Even when Serena couldn’t attend, especially if she was after getting her hair done or such like, the dawn runs/walks became obligatory in my schedule. It was indeed one of the missing links in my previous training regime. 

And then April became May and the mornings got brighter and the birds sang for us and June became July and I was able to celebrate my 70th birthday with a morning walk. And August became September and mornings had broken like the first mornings, to quote the song. October morphed into November and the mornings became so dark that we couldn’t see each other. Serena said that was no bad thing! It became a Mick Molloy/Martin McEvilly situation. Running in the dark. Dancing in the dark. 

It carried us through the national outdoors, the British Masters, the Dublin Marathon, the cross country season and the 10K national walks. Then December brought some wet pre-dawns as well morning starry skies – the plough in the stars was so near once that I could have ploughed a furrow with it. Now I am instructed to be at the ARC in the morning at 6.30 for the first 2024 session.

It’s been some journey from crossing the Wisla in March to crossing the Spideog today on January 1st. 2024

Let the magic and the madness continue.

He Did It

When a contestant wins at Countdown for 8 consecutive weeks he is declared an octochamp and he is retired from competition until the finals in June.

Jack Harvey, with the very tenuous Listowel connection (see previous post), has achieved that honour. And he didn’t need a conundrum to get him there.

A Fact

During WW2 a complete blackout was observed in the cities and towns of Britain so that German bombers could not easily find their targets in the dark.

However, furnaces from steam trains glowed brightly and could be spotted by enemy navigators. If a train driver heard a plane overhead, he knew that the plan would be to follow the line of light and be led straight to a town or airfield. So train drivers were instructed , if they heard an aircraft, to pull into the nearest siding and leg it away from the train.

These were, of course, goods trains, so no passengers to evacuate.

<<<<<<<<

Of Cabbages and Kings

Listowel Credit Union at the junction of Courthouse Road and Church Street

From Pres. Yearbook 1986

Was Macbeth a Kerryman?

An Spideog

First part of another great essay by David Kissane

A morning session in Ardfert Recreation Centre in September 2023

Now read the story of how this came about…

                              From The Wisla to the Spideog

 The concluding part of a first World Masters experience

                                                          By David Kissane

I lift my head. I realise it’s the first day of 2024. There is only 1K to go. I see the name of the river I am crossing. An Spideog. The end of the Beaufort 5K, expertly organised by Star of the Laune AC, brings me over the Spideog River. A nice wet Kerry event on the first day of the new year. Most of the other runners haven’t had time to notice the bridge, the name or the river. They are possibly having their shower now. An indoor shower. I am still experiencing the outdoor shower. 

The advantage of doing a personal seasonal worst (!) is that you get to notice things like that. It’s the philosophical way to run. I don’t care, man. I’m here for the stories and the folklore. Hoover up the hinterland. My St Brendan’s AC committee colleague Sheena comes from here in Beaufort and bade me farewell halfway through the race. She is catching up by now over tea with her Beaufortian relations. Club colleagues Artur and Tom are out in the Charles O’Shea 10K but will probably finish ahead of me. 

The river curiously named An Spideog (the robin) has a great story behind it. Once upon a time, a local chieftain owed some money and he got a loan from the devil to get him out of trouble. The loan had to be paid back before a certain date or the soul of the chieftain would belong to the devil. Of course the chieftain slipped up again and the devil came for his soul. But the chieftain had the gift of the geab (not unknown to Kerry people in this region!) and the devil gave him a glimmer of hope. He gave the chieftain a sieve and said that if he could fill the sieve with water from the nearby river, he would write off the debt.

The chieftain jumped for joy and set to work, scooping water from the river with the sieve, only to discover that many holes make for poor water-gathering. Many scoops, empty sieve.

Time running out until a robin appears. The robin, with his traditional spiritual and cognitive insights, suggested that the holes of the sieve could be filled with sticky mud. Ergo, the chieftain obeyed and was able to fill the sieve and escape his debt. So the chieftain named the river after the robin. An Spideog.

A Fact

Today’s fact comes to you from Vincent Doyle, formerly of this parish.

<<<<<<

Everyone is a Santa

In the Rose Hotel, Tralee

Christmas Tree in St. Mary’s , December 2023

The Mermaids

The Mermaids is celebrating. I think I saw a 20 on one of the balloons.

Carols on Upper Church Street

Listowel Folk Group adding a sprinkle of Christmas magic to Church Street on December 16 2023.

No, not Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, our own Tina and John Kinsella getting into the spirit of things.

Pierce Walsh was on hand with piping hot mince pies.

What a lovely gesture. Refreshments for the singers and musicians.

Another Great Long Read for Christmastime

                                       For Want of Wings

                                         A Christmas Story

It was the week before Christmas. Suddenly the frost had gently dropped like manna overnight and the meadow to the east of our house glistened in the morning sun. Even the haggard was radiant in its crystal grass-blades and the hill above was coated in a Christmas cloak. The furze slept their winter sleep. 

I looked out our front window. The view was stunning. All of North Kerry was emblazoned in white frost. The best window in Ireland, my uncle Mike had christened it once as he gazed out with his eternally satisfied demeanour. From Mount Brandon in the south west to Sliabh Mis and Carrantuohill to the south to the Paps in the south east. They were all there in their December furs. The window itself was now adorned with holly and crepe decorations and my father’s home-made candlestick. 

Although I was having an identity crisis with Santy for the first time, having reached the unfortunate use of reason, drifting out of the more predictable age of unreason, I was being infused with Christmas-ness by the frosty morning. Our PYE radio was playing “The Green Green Grass of Home” by Tom Jones (a song I always since associate with Christmas) and the seasonal motto was over our kitchen door proclaiming “God Bless This House”.

Just one thing was gnawing at my heart’s hinterland that morning. A group of us had planned to go out “in the wran” on St Stephen’s Day and I had planned to be one of the first in our area to take a guitar. The previous summer, I had planned to have a guitar by Christmas. There were always bits of electric wire lying around Mick Finucane’s ditches in his Gort below the Quarry to the west. And Mick was such a sound man, he wouldn’t miss a few bits of wire. I had heard about my cousins in Urlee who had made home-made fiddles by using vernacular items. So I brought home the lengths of wire, got bits of a butter box and crafted a home-made guitar of uncertain genetic descendency. It had three of Mick Finucane’s electric fence wires as strings and made a sound akin to a cat with serious stomach issue. It didn’t last long as the strings had a mind of their own and preferred the freedom of shrivellry. And I had worn my fingers away trying to play “Hound Dog”. It was the end of my short music career. I thought.

It need not be mentioned now that Mick Finucane’s cows were found wandering around the hill around that time. I wouldn’t know anything about that.

Now, as I looked out the window to North Kerry, I saw Ned Kennelly making his way up the crystalline path through Mickeen’s Field towards our house. His cap as always sitting at a slight nose-ward tilt on his head. His raised chin to counteract the angle of the cap. A lively gait in his nimble legs. The always-energy of his stride poured out to anyone he would meet. He exuded that bubbly pre-Christmas tingle. 

Mysteriously, he was carrying a fairly large package wrapped in newspaper, as far as I could make out. I intuited that something magical was about to happen.

It was that forgotten memory that boomeranged back to me as I headed out for a post-competition walk-jog on Monday night last along the Greenway in Tralee. I had been looking up some old photos during the day in search of sports photos from the 1960s. I came across a musical photo that had been hidden for the best part of six decades. Sitting outside our front door in the 1960s, getting ready for the “wran”. 

The rest of the St Brendan’s AC gang are too fast for me so they whizz off to do their 8K while I take the jarvey-journey along the magnificent greenway. They would pass me on their way back later with John Culloty way ahead, charging like a steam train. A runaway human steam train.

I settle into a nice waggly-walk but feel the reminders of the previous day’s national 10K masters championships in my back and shoulders. A glowing walking championships festival in St Anne’s Park in Raheny where masters and seniors walked together. Until the seniors sped away in their 20K and 35K voyages of wonder. I did a pb for the 10K with the help of the real walkers who sped by me at intervals in the up-and-down course.

Now as Monday night reveals a starry sky, the pains come out to share the recovery walk with me. “Your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings” the Romanian poet Nina Cassian had written some years ago. Definitely feel that way now as Sunday’s exertions take their toll. It will be more pronounced on Tuesday when the forty eight hour lactic slump will voice its existence. That poem by Cassian is called “Temptation” and the first line challenges with “Call yourself alive!”

If the body is not alive, the mind comes into play as I head west along the Greenway with the lights of Ballyroe rising up the hill to my right.

And the discovery of the old photo chases me out under the stars and so I recall Ned Kennelly coming in our front door all those years ago. No knocking on doors in those days. We lived “ar scáth a chéile” on our Lisselton hill, seven hundred feet over the valley of North Kerry. “God bless all here” he announced as he came into our kitchen. 

My mother had the strong tea pouring in no time but my eyes were on the packaged object which Ned had placed beside him. He chatted away to my mother about Christmasses long ago and how the price of candles had gone up and how the Christmas boxes were getting smaller. I got the impression that he was playing the waiting game with me…whatever was in the parcel was a funny shape, wide at one end and tapering away to slender at the other end. I could read the writing on the The Kerryman that it was enclosed in. A cord was holding the wrapping in place.

I was sitting on a thistle for what was like half my life with my legs hopping on the cement floor. I noticed that Ned was roguishly absorbing the intensity of my impatience. 

And then he turned to face me directly and I experienced fully how alive his eyes were. He says “I think you have music in you! You had better let it out, boy bán”! That expression was often used on our hill of people who were not good at cutting turf, digging spuds, shovelling out manure or pulling a calf from a cow. 

He had me trína chéile.

He began to tear the Kerryman pages away with a ticklingly crackling sound. Like the seventh veil, the last page came way and fell on the floor and there it was in Ned’s hands! A guitar! A beautiful brown and white guitar. With real strings. Six strings. And Elvis Presley’s name on it. A world of possibilities was held in those hands. 

I was struck dumb. My hands fell by my sides and I was disarmed. I was also confused as maybe Ned was showing me someone else’s guitar. He had a big family himself and he was probably going to ask us what we thought of their present…until he repeated the sweetest words: “I think you have music in you… and this is for you…”

He reached out the guitar and my arms accepted it gratefully. My mother said strongly “What do you say!” Not a question. An order.

                                                  Strings Attached 

The rest of that pre-Christmas day was a day with strings attached. It was a stringed Christmas. I am not sure what Santy brought to be perfectly honest a few days later on a frosty Christmas morning. I had an Elvis guitar and it came from my new hero, Ned Kennelly.

Later it was revealed to me that Ned had heard about me going west to Mick Finucane’s Gort in search of the golden fleece of the strings and my aborted guitar-construction. When his eldest son gave up his musical career, left his guitar at home and headed off to England, Ned had decided to gift the guitar to me on that magic week before Christmas in the swinging sixties. 

After a goose dinner on Christmas Day, I borrowed a wire clothes hangers from my mother’s wardrobe. I didn’t ask permission as it’s hard to believe how scarce wire clothes hangers were in the 1960s. Anyway, I didn’t want to bother her by asking as she was busy all day with food and washing up. My father was still recovering from his busy weeks as a postman so I grabbed the clothes hangers, ran out to the shed and fashioned the wire into a mouth organ holder. 

Then came St Stephen’s Day. With my two-day old guitar-friend, I headed down the hill on my monster-bike. On my head was a made-up cowboy hat that had been thrown away by my father, a bit of black polish on my face and a pair of wellingtons on my feet and a few pieces of crepe paper hanging loose. At Lyre Cross, I joined Mossy Henchy, Pat O’Connor and Tom Mulvihill. Off we went out in the “wran” as we called it. 

We cycled to every house from Lyre to Lisselton Cross, through Ballydonoghue and Kilgarvan, via Tullahinell and Asdee and back through Guhard, Farnastack, up Scralm and into Larha. Coining we were! I can see the faces of the audience that awaited in each house. Delighted to be honoured by musicians fulfilling an ancient tradition, they would throw the pennies at us after a few bars of music. We were stars. We were on tour. We were making money from music and we were mesmerising the population of three parishes. 

We had enough pocket money for the first weeks of the new year and the whole world was opening up ahead…

I smile now as I look up at the stars on my return jog into Tralee. There’s Venus and Mars up above me as far away as they were six decades ago. The lights of Tralee draw me towards the town as John Culloty, as expected, powers past me with a good quarter-mile to spare over Ursula Barrett, Ivan from Spain and Kenneth Leen. 

I see a falling star…

Well, my musical career never happened. After years strumming my Elvis guitar, even with new strings from Fred Mann in the small square in Listowel, it was revealed to me that I didn’t have a note in my head. Or in my hands. Someone told us after the day in the wran that we were given money to stop playing! The boys with me may have some musical talent, but my well was dry. 

The next Christmas, I found a drum at my bedside when I woke up on Christmas morning. I had obviously given hints to Santy that perhaps percussion rather than strings was how I could release the music in me. The drum however created logistical problems as I often got inspiration to play it late at night when my parents were trying to go to sleep. And my pet dog Spot attempted to accompany me with a terrier-wail that reached a high pitch. My father suggested strongly that if I went out the hill and played during the day, it might be a better idea.

The drum dream died too. I tried the fiddle later. It felt like a guitar that never grew up, so my fiddling doodled out. As did my dream of music.

I had to rebrand my borders and redefine my definitions. Life ensured that. As Albert Camus said “You will never live if you are constantly looking for the meaning of life”.

                                              The Methodology of Music

When I think back now, Ned Kennelly’s saying that I had music in me may not have been a mistaken reading of my child-psyche. Years later I would discover that music and art have many dimensions. Humble or otherwise, there is both in all of us. Some may find the means to express them in a day or a week. Others may take years. For many, it may take half a lifetime to find the methodology of the music, and it may come out in the most amazing ways, once you meet the moments and mark the miles.

Some months after that stringed Christmas, when I watched Ned fashion the treadle for a sleán out of a piece of raw ash, I began to understand what expressing the music meant. When I saw him putting a patch on a wellington so lovingly that the wellington became a friend of his hands, I understood it more. I began to see what he meant by music. When summer beckoned all along our hill, I saw him turn the green earth of the hill field to set spuds where furze bushes had grown only a generation before. I heard his music then too. The instrument of the spade and his keen eye were composing music with the earth that April day. 

As I listened to the words of Petula Clark singing “Downtown”, I hinged on the words “the music of the city”. Much later I was privileged to watch, live on stage on Broadway, “The Phantom of the Opera” with its haunting song “The Music of the Night”. Even this very Christmas Eve in Tralee parkrun (for which I was presented with a certificate for completing 100 of them), I could hear the music of the feet and hearts. Some as sweet as Sissel singing “Shenandoah” – although my own foot-music was more heavy metal than Chopin’s Nocturne, Opus 9. And what comes on the radio on the way home from the parkrun this morning but Cass Elliot singing “You’ve got to make your own kind of music”! Life re-pitched in its own chaotic creativity.

The generosity and the advice to make my own kind of music outlasted all the Christmasses of my life. The potential that Santy was there in all of us every day was the lesson I learned from Ned. It would carry beyond “Twixtmas” into the years.

Ned has long since gone to his eternal reward. I chatted with his son Eamon this Christmas Eve to tell him about the gift of neighbourly love that I was given on that Christmas week long ago. The guitar has now merged with nature but the abiding legacy of its gifting marches on.

As will my memory of Ned Kennelly who taught me how to put lyrics to the melody of life on a Christmas when my shoulders wanted wings.

A Craft Fair

Listowel Community Centre on Saturday December 16 2023

Fifi Shades of Cake with her scrumptious cakes…almost too good to eat.

This Killarney man had the most gorgeous rustic stables, all made from fallen wood and tree branches. My photo doesn’t do them justice. If you don’t already have a nativity set, this stable is a must buy.

If you are after knitwear for a small one, these are perfect.

This elf was guarding Santa’s door.

I met my lovely past pupil, Paulina, now the mother of two lovely children.

An Old Christmas Card

William MacNeely Christmas Card, 1949 

A Christmas greeting card from William MacNeely (1889-1963) from 1949. He was the Donegal-born Bishop of Raphoe from 1923 until 1963. Following his ordination as a priest, his first appointment was to the teaching staff of St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny (1912-16). MacNeely subsequently volunteered as a chaplain in the First World War, serving with Irish battalions in the British Army from 1916 to 1918, seeing action on the Western Front, during which he was injured in a gas attack. He was appointed Bishop of Raphoe in July 1923 (at the relatively young age of thirty-five). He served as Bishop for over forty years. He died on 11 December 1963. The design of the Christmas card is most likely the work of Richard King (Rísteard Ó Cíonga), a renowned stained-glass artist who also contributed much of the artwork for the ‘The Capuchin Annual’ publication

A Date for the Diary

A Christmas Fact

In the 14th century, Christmas pudding was a type of porridge made using mutton and beef alongside spices, wines, raisins, currants and more. Over time, people slowly added more alcohol alongside eggs and dried fruit until we eventually ended up with the Christmas pudding we’re all familiar with today. 

<<<<<<<<

Bringing Home the Holly

Bridge Road

Bringing Home the Holly

David Kissane’s precious account of life in Lisselton in his youth. This essay was written in December 2022 after David’s training session in Banna before a 10k walk race in Dublin. I love this story and I dedicate it today to a great follower of Listowel Connection, Eileen, who remembers Sallow Glen and holly gathering.

This beautiful piece of writing is worth making a cuppa and sitting down for. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Bringing the Holly

                                                By David Kissane

Bang! My father’s bike got punctured just outside the University. The University of Lisselton. 

You may never have heard of Lisselton. If you’ve heard of Jason Foley, 2022 (and 23) GAA All-Star full back, then it may help to know he is from Lisselton in the Parish of Ballydonoghue. You may not have known there was a university in Lisselton. Most people definitely won’t know that fact. In December 1965 when my father’s front tube went bang, there was a university in Lisselton. Before MTU, Tralee. It’s a long story. Well, it’s a short story really!

There was a well-established Christmas custom in our house. On the Sunday after December 8th since he was a young man, my father would head off on his trusty Raleigh to bring home the holly. It was no short journey. From the side of Cnoc an Fhómhair to the source of the holly, Sallow Glen near Tarbert was a fair distance. Thirteen hill and dale miles there and thirteen dale and hill miles back in the dark of the December night. 

He had worked on Hanlon’s farm near Sallow Glen when he was in his twenties. He fell in love around the area and the green and lush wood was to be his pre-Christmas pilgrimage every year. I always thought it was about more than holly, although holly was an essential part of the decorations at a time when Christmas trees were not a custom and fairy lights were yet to shine on our hill.

Initially my uncle Mike used to cycle with my father on these pilgrimages. My brothers had been allowed to accompany him on his Noelly journey later while I, as the youngest in the family, had to watch them go and await an eternity of their return with the red and green magic. My sisters did not qualify to share the journey. It was a man thing.

And then came the first day of December 1965 and the announcement by my father that I was to share the journey with him. I was twelve years old. I became a boy-man that day.

I had become the owner of a second-hand bike the previous summer. My brother Seán tells me that he gave me the £5 note that purchased the bike-animal from Mickeen Lynch in Killomeroe. (There are many advantages in being the baby of the family. Older siblings gave you things.) 

There was a smile on Mickeen’s face when he handed over the bike. A Hercules. By name and nature. A tank of an animal made more for war than peace. So high, I had to cycle by placing one of my legs underneath the bar and leave the saddle redundant. A piece of contortionistic twisting that possible stretched muscle and bone for football and athletics in later years. A balancing act ideal for discus throwing. A weird thing to look at, though and I became a cycling legend on our hill before my time.

So the day came. The voyage of St Brendan of Ardfert to America or that of Maol Dún of Irish folklore would hardly equal the heady level of expectation on that December Sunday. Home from early mass, my father made his version of ham sandwiches. Usually my mother did all the food in our house but the holly day was all male. When I say ham sandwiches, I really mean an inch layer of butter on each slice of home-made mixed bread with three thick slices of ham nestling in between. A pig in between two bread vans, my father called it.

Off we headed down the hill after my mother had drowned us both, especially me in holy water from the blue font inside out front door. Left at the bridge and on to the better road and then “bang!” as that puncture happened. My father uttered a strange new word of a semi-religious nature that I hadn’t heard before. I was indeed growing up now that he would allow me to listen to his secret language. Luckily, the tyre/tube explosion had happened outside Moss Enright’s house. The University of Lisselton. 

Every Sunday and holy days of obligation after second mass, the young bucks of the Parish of Ballydonoghue (of which Lisselton was once the centre) would gather in this small thatched intimate two-roomed cottage. The owner, Moss Enright was a blind man who never saw the changing colours of the hill above but could see into your soul. He lived alone but on Sundays his house became a rambling house for the teen and early twenties – boys and young men only. The house acquired the name of “The College”. Later it was upgraded to university status. Why? Well apparently a lot of learning went on there. Mainly about boy-girl relations. There were rumours of The News of the World being read there which had pictures and stories that were not in The Kerryman. Fellas who didn’t know certain things were asking questions and getting answers. Interesting answers. Sometimes slightly exaggerated by the wily older “lecturers”. What, where, how and when was the first word in many of the questions and the expressions “hayshed”, “liquor is quicker” and “jiggy jig” seemed to occur quite a lot. Allegedly. Mothers raised their heads and looked down their noses and rooted for their rosary beads when Moss Enright’s house was mentioned. 

And the fact that young fellas went there after second mass seemed a special affront to the strict ethos of the world that we thought we knew. The culture of unspeakability was in force. 

My father had a decision to make. Seek help in the den of iniquity or turn back home. I think he may have blessed himself as he made the fateful decision, quickly enough. I concurred. No knocking in those days. My father lifted the latch and walked in. I could hear the devil giggling in front of the fires of hell as we entered the small living room which was half the house. The smell of turf from Ballyegan bog in the fire to our right had a devilish aura about it. I distinctly remember a voice breaking off in the middle of a sentence that had “mini-skirt” in it and then a silence fell. Male eyes looked at my father and then at me. They ate our presence. They were all seated on the sugán chairs which Moss himself made. He could see with his carpenter’s hands.

I was about to bolt when Moss asked “Who’s there?” He guessed from the silence that we were not regulars and my father said “Moss, my bike…” and Moss immediately said “Jim Kissane, come in and sit down!” And before we knew it, four or five fellas were turning the bike upside down and applying sharp-smelling solution to the tube and lighting a match to heat it and applying a patch and soon we were on the road again.

They may have been dancing with the devil, but they could certainly fix a puncture.

As we thanked them and left, I was endowed with awe as to how the story of the mini skirt developed and what the question was that gave it substance. I did look back once. At the little sash window of wonder that looked south to Lisselton Cross. A lookback of pre-memory. 

I was to look back many times like that in my life-post-Lisselton University.

Onward we pedalled, right at Gunn’s Cross and left just below it at Lyre Cross and up Boland’s Hill. Past Fitz’s shop on the right that supplied groceries to the local population of Farnastack and beyond since before the Emergency, otherwise known as World War 2. Our family had shopped there with the ration books which ensured a measure of tea and sugar and flour. Most times. People on our hill sometimes went without the basics while the world powers rattled bullets at each other. The price of neutrality, or being a small nation. There was always torching for birds at night or the turnips or the hens and ducks which were sacrificed for the bare kitchen tables. 

But now it was 1965 and the world was different. We had butter and ham sandwiches to look forward to. 

We had to dismount near the top of Boland’s Hill and my father reminded me of the famous local poet, Robert Leslie Boland who once resided there. A local poet who wrote like Keats when necessary. He also wrote a sonnet about piles. The only poet in the world to write a poem about piles. Apparently he had to write it while standing up. He also wrote a poem about Brown and Mageen who had owned a shop long gone by the 1960s. He was yet to be recognised as a major poet by the ones who think they know. 

On the farm also on our left was the stone structure of Boland’s Loft. Another den of iniquity, my father said with a new trust in my cognitive capacity. He was telling me a story rather than preaching. Dances took place when the loft was empty. Priests tried to close it down because men and women came together there. Dancing was a dangerous thing and priests had been told by their mothers, the church and by their superiors that dancing meant hell. I tried to figure this out and concluded temporarily that all good things were sinful. It was only one pm and already life was becoming incredibly interesting.

My brain was purring as we remounted our iron horses just after Boland’s Quarry which had supplied stones for local roads. To our right was another quarry across the fields, Lyons’s Quarry. 

“I worked there myself” my father said and he added that a rat had run up the leg of a worker’s trousers while he was sitting down to his lunch. “What happened then?” I asked with wide eyes in the frosty air.

 “The rat came down again…there wasn’t much to see there!” he quipped and I reddened while interpreting that one. 

Onward past Guhard and Tullahinell, along uncertain narrow roads where I had never been before. I was informed of a Healy man who married one of my aunts on a farm here in Tullahinell and who was buried somewhere in England. The story in between was not revealed so I nodded silently as my nose began to run with the cold. Cycling doesn’t really warm you up, I said to my father and he silently agreed. 

As we cycled down towards Ahanagran Cross, the blue Shannon revealed itself to the north and soon we were in Ballylongford. 

“We can’t leave with the curse of the village” my father declared as he jumped off his bike outside a public house on the right. Before I could ask the meaning of that, we had entered the pub and I was told to sit on the high stool at the bar. Another first. I distinctly recall the smell of porter and pub that pervaded. A conversation started between my father and the few others who were having an after-mass drink (what time did mass finish in Bally?) and a glass of sparkling Nash’s lemonade was placed in front of me by the barman who sensed he had another new possible customer. 

With refreshed heads, we headed out of Ballylongford and onward to Sallow Glen, past Lios Laughtin Abbey where we stopped to pray for a silent moment. Before I could ask why, my father was already on his bike.

The first sight of the wood was enthralling. A place of mystery and verdant cover with all sort of possibilities and holly somewhere. In those days, it was not an issue to go through a farm or a wood and pick holly. My father had warned me that he would pick the first holly when we found it. He would ensure that he would show me how to cut it properly so that twice the amount of produce would grow on that branch next year. He had warned me also that he had come there a few rare years and found no red berry holly at all…an October frost had enticed the birds to eat every berry they could find. This challenged my confidence until we started searching. 

We were searching for a long time. An hour passed as we wove through brambles, briars and branches, but all green and brown. Not a berry in sight. A briar with a sting like a wasp tore through the back of my hand as exhaustion and despair knocked on my heart’s door. My father examined the wound and spit on his hanky and rubbed the blood off. I guessed he was not impressed with my undernourished enthusiasm or my dipping stamina. I had to follow the leader to be safe. I had visions of being abandoned and lost for years in the bowels of Sallow Glen. Eating berries, if they could be found and wood bark and ciarógs. Drinking water from the stream that rippled somewhere on its way to the Shannon. Emerging from the wood as a hairy old man, unable to express myself, filthy and smelly and making animal sounds. A bit like after finishing a marathon…

And there it was! All of a sudden, a huge holly tree stood majestically before us, a riot of red and green. 

“A Mhuire Mháthair!” my father exclaimed. My eyes opened to the gift which Sallow Glen had bestowed on us. He had told me stories on winter nights about the Celts worshipping trees, about Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna having adventures in the great forests in the days of old. Now I believed him. I swear to God that at that moment the low December sun shone through an opening in the wood and lit up the holly tree and turned it into an altar of light, a fire of nature and a blessing and an affirmation that we had found the holy grail. He blessed himself and so did I. 

I watched him take out his pen-knife and lovingly accept the small branchlet of scarlet berried wonder from the tree. It felt more like the tree was gifting it to him. Then he motioned to me to take out my little excalibur-not of a pen knife that I had bought in Behan’s shop at Lisselton Cross and gently showed me how to accept the holly. I thought I was in the presence of a spirit and was uplifted and enthralled and almost said thank you to the tree.

Years later the experience would be replicated in other sharing moments. It started in Sallow Glen.

Then , when I was still under the spell, my father said “enough”. I opened my mouth to say “more” but he raised his finger and shook it towards my brain. That was that. Like all good experiences, less was more.

The eating of the well-buttered sandwiches and the cold tea from the bottles on a fallen tree trunk, untouched by time, was magic. We ate in silence as in the bog or after a rare experience. A robin came right up to us to check out why we had invited ourselves to his/her wood. We threw a few crumbs and there was the beam of low sharp sunlight breaking through again and shining right in the little bird’s eyes. I was able to see the colours of his middle eye and I think I became a half robin at that moment. That day just kept on giving.

As I rose from the tree trunk full of everything, my father said “Hang on a minute”. I sat back down silently. He shifted his hat on his head and said emotionally “You know the graveyard in Lios Laughtin that we passed on the way here?”

“Yeah” I said lowly. 

“Well”, he stated with a fierce sincerity “you have a little brother who is buried there. He was only four. I think of him when we come this way for the holly. I think he knows it too”.

I had heard silences and broken conversations at home when death had been mentioned and might even have decided not to remember such things. But I heard it now. And I was to remember it.

We went over to the bikes and secured our barts of holly on the carriers. The weight of the moment was lifted when my father failed to get his leg over the bart of holly on the carrier of the bike and fell over in a heap. Cue the laughing by us both…but I had to wait till he laughed first!

My father was never the same, but he was always himself. 

Soon we were back on our bikes and heading back the thirteen starry miles home, partly by a different road. Despite the shine of a possible frost on the narrow road, a gratitude attitude pervaded my being. What threads were making up the fabric of that day! The sun set at this stage as December suns don’t hang around and a chilly breeze faced us from the north west. I felt warm inside though, happy to be here and not always wanting to be there.

When we passed Moss Enright’s later, the house was dark and Moss was asleep in his own darkness. I wondered what inner luminosity his dreams bestowed with the visions he got from the words of others. Of the visions supplied by his gifted carpenter’s hands. Or the deeper visions given only to those who are blind.

I looked up the hill and whispered to Moss, and to my lost brother, the first words that came into my head. A sky of stars, the plough pointing to the north star, lights in Kennelly’s, Linnane’s, Henchy’s, Kissane’s, Healy’s, Sullivan’s, Lynch’s, Linnane’s, Deenihan’s, Bambury’s and Barry’s houses. And Christmas was coming. 

Last week we put the name of Joseph Kissane on a new headstone on the family plot. A bright and crisp Sunday lies ahead. My 69th Christmas on earth is coming too and next Sunday I will walk the walk in Dublin for our little brother Joseph who never saw his 5th Christmas.

Another Stained Glass Window in St. Mary’s

This beautiful window is located over the reconciliation room.

This window is at the more sheltered side of the building and so has not suffered the ravages of weather. It looks as beautiful today as the day it was installed.

The Last Supper scene at the base of the window

Thwe window was donated in memory of Canon Davis who died in 1911

An Invitation

A Fact

The two most popular names for Santa Claus are Kris Kringle and Saint Nick.

<<<<<<<<

Frost and Holly

December morning 2022

<<<<<<<<<<<

Still More Photos from the Garda Centenary

<<<<<<<<<<

Bringing Home the Holly

As he trains for his next race, David Kissane ruminates about times gone by when Christmas outings had a different purpose but were no less gruelling.

Dec 11 2022

The road to the Hill…Now read on

Bringing the Holly

                                                By David Kissane

Bang! My father’s bike got punctured just outside the University. The University of Lisselton. 

This is the first thing that comes into my mind this frosty morning as I head to Banna, driving very carefully, to do a 10K walk ahead of the national 10K road championship in Dublin next Sunday. I gingerly get out of the van and head for the safety of the sands. What a beautiful morning! Crisp and clear and honest above the head. After a week struggling with a man flu and no voice, this is like a dash to freedom with four layers of tops, all gloved up and a raw hunger. In our house, I have tried to get man flu defined as a serious ailment. With no success. 

I settle into a race-walk mode and transition from flu to fluency. I recall the burst ball in the England v France World Cup quarter final last night and decide that was what spurred the memory of my father’s burst tube on a frosty day in December 1965.

You may never have heard of Lisselton. If you’ve heard of Jason Foley, 2022 GAA All-Star full back, then it may help to know he is from Lisselton in the Parish of Ballydonoghue. You may not have known there was a university in Lisselton. Most people definitely won’t know that fact. In December 1965 when my father’s front tube went bang, there was a university in Lisselton. Before MTU, Tralee. It’s a long story. Well, it’s a short story really!

There was a well-established Christmas custom in our house. On the Sunday after December 8th since he was a young man, my father would head off on his trusty Raleigh to bring home the holly. It was no short journey. From the side of Cnoc an Fhómhair to the source of the holly, Sallow Glen near Tarbert was a fair distance. Thirteen hill and dale miles there and thirteen dale and hill miles back in the dark of the December night. 

He had worked on Hanlon’s farm near Sallow Glen when he was in his twenties. He fell in love around the area and the green and lush wood was to be his pre-Christmas pilgrimage every year. I always thought it was about more than holly, although holly was an essential part of the decorations at a time when Christmas trees were not a custom and fairy lights were yet to shine on our hill.

Initially my uncle Mike used to cycle with my father on these pilgrimages. My brothers had been allowed to accompany him on his Noelly journey later while I, as the youngest in the family, had to watch them go and await an eternity of their return with the red and green magic. My sisters did not qualify to share the journey. It was a man thing.

And then came the first day of December 1965 and the announcement by my father that I was to share the journey with him. I was twelve years old. I became a boy-man that day.

I had become the owner of a second-hand bike the previous summer. My brother Seán tells me that he gave me the £5 note that purchased the bike-animal from Mickeen Lynch in Killomeroe. (There are many advantages in being the baby of the family. Older siblings gave you things.) 

There was a smile on Mickeen’s face when he handed over the bike. A Hercules. By name and nature. A tank of an animal made more for war than peace. So high, I had to cycle by placing one of my legs underneath the bar and leave the saddle redundant. A piece of contortionistic twisting that possible stretched muscle and bone for football and athletics in later years. A balancing act ideal for discus throwing. A weird thing to look at, though and I became a cycling legend on our hill before my time.

So the day came. The voyage of St Brendan of Ardfert to America or that of Maol Dún of Irish folklore would hardly equal the heady level of expectation on that December Sunday. Home from early mass, my father made his version of ham sandwiches. Usually my mother did all the food in our house but the holly day was all male. When I say ham sandwiches, I really mean an inch layer of butter on each slice of home-made mixed bread with three thick slices of ham nestling in between. A pig in between two bread vans, my father called it.

Off we headed down the hill after my mother had drowned us both, especially me in holy water from the blue font inside out front door. Left at the bridge and on to the better road and then “bang!” as that puncture happened. My father uttered a strange new word of a semi-religious nature that I hadn’t heard before. I was indeed growing up now that he would allow me to listen to his secret language. Luckily, the tyre/tube explosion had happened outside Moss Enright’s house. The University of Lisselton. 

Every Sunday and holy days of obligation after second mass, the young bucks of the Parish of Ballydonoghue (of which Lisselton was once the centre) would gather in this small thatched intimate two-roomed cottage. The owner, Moss Enright was a blind man who never saw the changing colours of the hill above but could see into your soul. He lived alone but on Sundays his house became a rambling house for the teen and early twenties – boys and young men only. The house acquired the name of “The College”. Later it was upgraded to university status. Why? Well apparently a lot of learning went on there. Mainly about boy-girl relations. There were rumours of The News of the World being read there which had pictures and stories that were not in The Kerryman. Fellas who didn’t know certain things were asking questions and getting answers. Interesting answers. Sometimes slightly exaggerated by the wily older “lecturers”. What, where, how and when was the first word in many of the questions and the expressions “hayshed”, “liquor is quicker” and “jiggy jig” seemed to occur quite a lot. Allegedly. Mothers raised their heads and looked down their noses and rooted for their rosary beads when Moss Enright’s house was mentioned. 

And the fact that young fellas went there after second mass seemed a special affront to the strict ethos of the world that we thought we knew. The culture of unspeakability was in force. 

My father had a decision to make. Seek help in the den of iniquity or turn back home. I think he may have blessed himself as he made the fateful decision, quickly enough. I concurred. No knocking in those days. My father lifted the latch and walked in. I could hear the devil giggling in front of the fires of hell as we entered the small living room which was half the house. The smell of turf from Ballyegan bog in the fire to our right had a devilish aura about it. I distinctly remember a voice breaking off in the middle of a sentence that had “mini-skirt” in it and then a silence fell. Male eyes looked at my father and then at me. They ate our presence. They were all seated on the sugán chairs which Moss himself made. He could see with his carpenter’s hands.

I was about to bolt when Moss asked “Who’s there?” He guessed from the silence that we were not regulars and my father said “Moss, my bike…” and Moss immediately said “Jim Kissane, come in and sit down!” And before we knew it, four or five fellas were turning the bike upside down and applying sharp-smelling solution to the tube and lighting a match to heat it and applying a patch and soon we were on the road again.

They may have been dancing with the devil, but they could certainly fix a puncture.

As we thanked them and left, I was endowed with awe as to how the story of the mini skirt developed and what the question was that gave it substance. I did look back once. At the little sash window of wonder that looked south to Lisselton Cross. A lookback of pre-memory. 

I was to look back many times like that in my life-post-Lisselton University.

Onward we pedalled, right at Gunn’s Cross and left just below it at Lyre Cross and up Boland’s Hill. Past Fitz’s shop on the right that supplied groceries to the local population of Farnastack and beyond since before the Emergency, otherwise known as World War 2. Our family had shopped there with the ration books which ensured a measure of tea and sugar and flour. Most times. People on our hill sometimes went without the basics while the world powers rattled bullets at each other. The price of neutrality, or being a small nation. There was always torching for birds at night or the turnips or the hens and ducks which were sacrificed for the bare kitchen tables. 

But now it was 1965 and the world was different. We had butter and ham sandwiches to look forward to. 

We had to dismount near the top of Boland’s Hill and my father reminded me of the famous local poet, Robert Leslie Boland who once resided there. A local poet who wrote like Keats when necessary. He also wrote a sonnet about piles. The only poet in the world to write a poem about piles. Apparently he had to write it while standing up. He also wrote a poem about Brown and Mageen who had owned a shop long gone by the 1960s. He was yet to be recognised as a major poet by the ones who think they know. 

On the farm also on our left was the stone structure of Boland’s Loft. Another den of iniquity, my father said with a new trust in my cognitive capacity. He was telling me a story rather than preaching. Dances took place when the loft was empty. Priests tried to close it down because men and women came together there. Dancing was a dangerous thing and priests had been told by their mothers, the church and by their superiors that dancing meant hell. I tried to figure this out and concluded temporarily that all good things were sinful. It was only one pm and already life was becoming incredibly interesting.

My brain was purring as we remounted our iron horses just after Boland’s Quarry which had supplied stones for local roads. To our right was another quarry across the fields, Lyons’s Quarry. 

“I worked there myself” my father said and he added that a rat had run up the leg of a worker’s trousers while he was sitting down to his lunch. “What happened then?” I asked with wide eyes in the frosty air.

 “The rat came down again…there wasn’t much to see there!” he quipped and I reddened while interpreting that one. 

Onward past Guhard and Tullahinell, along uncertain narrow roads where I had never been before. I was informed of a Healy man who married one of my aunts on a farm here in Tullahinell and who was buried somewhere in England. The story in between was not revealed so I nodded silently as my nose began to run with the cold. Cycling doesn’t really warm you up, I said to my father and he silently agreed. 

As we cycled down towards Ahanagran Cross, the blue Shannon revealed itself to the north and soon we were in Ballylongford. 

“We can’t leave with the curse of the village” my father declared as he jumped off his bike outside a public house on the right. Before I could ask the meaning of that, we had entered the pub and I was told to sit on the high stool at the bar. Another first. I distinctly recall the smell of porter and pub that pervaded. A conversation started between my father and the few others who were having an after-mass drink (what time did mass finish in Bally?) and a glass of sparkling Nash’s lemonade was placed in front of me by the barman who sensed he had another new possible customer. 

With refreshed heads, we headed out of Ballylongford and onward to Sallow Glen, past Lios Laughtin Abbey where we stopped to pray for a silent moment. Before I could ask why, my father was already on his bike.

The first sight of the wood was enthralling. A place of mystery and verdant cover with all sort of possibilities and holly somewhere. In those days, it was not an issue to go through a farm or a wood and pick holly. My father had warned me that he would pick the first holly when we found it. He would ensure that he would show me how to cut it properly so that twice the amount of produce would grow on that branch next year. He had warned me also that he had come there a few rare years and found no red berry holly at all…an October frost had enticed the birds to eat every berry they could find. This challenged my confidence until we started searching. 

We were searching for a long time. An hour passed as we wove through brambles, briars and branches, but all green and brown. Not a berry in sight. A briar with a sting like a wasp tore through the back of my hand as exhaustion and despair knocked on my heart’s door. My father examined the wound and spit on his hanky and rubbed the blood off. I guessed he was not impressed with my undernourished enthusiasm or my dipping stamina. I had to follow the leader to be safe. I had visions of being abandoned and lost for years in the bowels of Sallow Glen. Eating berries, if they could be found and wood bark and ciarógs. Drinking water from the stream that rippled somewhere on its way to the Shannon. Emerging from the wood as a hairy old man, unable to express myself, filthy and smelly and making animal sounds. A bit like after finishing a marathon…

And there it was! All of a sudden, a huge holly tree stood majestically before us, a riot of red and green. 

“A Mhuire Mháthair!” my father exclaimed. My eyes opened to the gift which Sallow Glen had bestowed on us. He had told me stories on winter nights about the Celts worshipping trees, about Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna having adventures in the great forests in the days of old. Now I believed him. I swear to God that at that moment the low December sun shone through an opening in the wood and lit up the holly tree and turned it into an altar of light, a fire of nature and a blessing and an affirmation that we had found the holy grail. He blessed himself and so did I. 

I watched him take out his pen-knife and lovingly accept the small branchlet of scarlet berried wonder from the tree. It felt more like the tree was gifting it to him. Then he motioned to me to take out my little excalibur-not of a pen knife that I had bought in Behan’s shop at Lisselton Cross and gently showed me how to accept the holly. I thought I was in the presence of a spirit and was uplifted and enthralled and almost said thank you to the tree.

Years later the experience would be replicated in other sharing moments. It started in Sallow Glen.

Then , when I was still under the spell, my father said “enough”. I opened my mouth to say “more” but he raised his finger and shook it towards my brain. That was that. Like all good experiences, less was more.

The eating of the well-buttered sandwiches and the cold tea from the bottles on a fallen tree trunk, untouched by time, was magic. We ate in silence as in the bog or after a rare experience. A robin came right up to us to check out why we had invited ourselves to his/her wood. We threw a few crumbs and there was the beam of low sharp sunlight breaking through again and shining right in the little bird’s eyes. I was able to see the colours of his middle eye and I think I became a half robin at that moment. That day just kept on giving.

As I rose from the tree trunk full of everything, my father said “Hang on a minute”. I sat back down silently. He shifted his hat on his head and said emotionally “You know the graveyard in Lios Laughtin that we passed on the way here?”

“Yeah” I said lowly. 

“Well”, he stated with a fierce sincerity “you have a little brother who is buried there. He was only four. I think of him when we come this way for the holly. I think he knows it too”.

I had heard silences and broken conversations at home when death had been mentioned and might even have decided not to remember such things. But I heard it now. And I was to remember it.

We went over to the bikes and secured our barts of holly on the carriers. The weight of the moment was lifted when my father failed to get his leg over the bart of holly on the carrier of the bike and fell over in a heap. Cue the laughing by us both…but I had to wait till he laughed first!

My father was never the same, but he was always himself. 

Soon we were back on our bikes and heading back the thirteen starry miles home, partly by a different road. Despite the shine of a possible frost on the narrow road, a gratitude attitude pervaded my being. What threads were making up the fabric of that day! The sun set at this stage as December suns don’t hang around and a chilly breeze faced us from the north west. I felt warm inside though, happy to be here and not always wanting to be there.

When we passed Moss Enright’s later, the house was dark and Moss was asleep in his own darkness. I wondered what inner luminosity his dreams bestowed with the visions he got from the words of others. Of the visions supplied by his gifted carpenter’s hands. Or the deeper visions given only to those who are blind.

I looked up the hill and whispered to Moss, and to my lost brother, the first words that came into my head. A sky of stars, the plough pointing to the north star, lights in Kennelly’s, Linnane’s, Henchy’s, Kissane’s, Healy’s, Sullivan’s, Lynch’s, Linnane’s, Deenihan’s, Bambury’s and Barry’s houses. And Christmas was coming. 

Now I am back on Banna with the 10K nearly done. People are basking in the December 2022 sun. Damien and Adrienne McLoughlin wave as they pass…a lot of athletics knowledge in the McLoughlin house. The huge success of the Irish cross country squad in the European championships in the past few hours in Turin is mentioned. Then two young women raise their arms to the sun as they pass by and kiss each other. Moss Enright would have smiled behind his closed seeing eyes. Unknown people like him helped to create the open world we have in Ireland in 2022 and beyond. It can’t be an accident that Kerry rhymes with merry! A normal Sunday for most of us and later we will say that we didn’t do much today. The writer Montagne would comment “You say you have done nothing today…have you not lived?”.

Last week we put the name of Joseph Kissane on a new headstone on the family plot. A bright and crisp Sunday lies ahead. My 69th Christmas on earth is coming too and next Sunday I will walk the walk in Dublin for our little brother Joseph who never saw his 5th Christmas.

<<<<<<<<

Athea at Christmas 2022

Photo: Athea Tidy Towns

<<<<<<<<<<

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén