Celtic Art…A Listowel Connection
Many knitting stitches are inspired by celtic knots and patterns. This is the nearest I get to being a celtic artist.
A young lady who grew up in Listowel and is now a highly rated goldsmith/silversmith was surely influenced by her Listowel surroundings as she walked our streets.
This is Eileen’s Celtic love-knot pendant.
“Two hearts intertwine through an infinity symbol to create a distinctive Celtic design. With no beginning and no end, this Celtic love knot represents eternal love.”
The unique Celtic Torc Pendant crafted from solid gold.
“This striking piece carries intricate panels of Celtic knotwork. With no beginning and no end, the Celtic knot offers a symbol of eternity. The ancient torc, believed to have been worn as symbol of protection, as a talisman for protection.”
These are just 2 pieces from Eileen’s online shop. She also handcrafts beautiful custom pieces for clients at home and abroad in her studio in Macroom.
A Sad Event Commemorated in a play
A Play, The Bell Ringer by Charlie McCarthy had its first staging in Schoolyard Theatre Charleville on Feb 2 2023. It is a reminder of one of the saddest events to ever happen in this country outside of wartime.
Gerard Greaney researched this disaster. Here is his comprehensive story with all its heart rending and poignant details.
“Here is a piece I wrote a few years ago on the Cinema Fire Disaster in Dromcollogher when 48 people, over 10% of the town’s population, perished in a blaze.” Gerard Greaney
On Sunday 5th September 1926, forty-eight people lost their lives when a fire broke out during a film show in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick. The two films, which had been brought from Cork by a projectionist hired by a local man, were shown in the hall in Church St. This was on the upper floor of a building used for storing hardware and access to it was by an external timber ladder, fixed to the wall to form a stairs. The hall, which had been used for meetings and entertainments for a number of years, was a rectangular room with a separate small dressing room area in the right hand rear corner.
The show began about 9:15 p.m. after Benediction had finished in the local church, at which many of the audience had been present. Estimates of the attendance varied but it appears that at least 150 people crowded into the hall, many of them children.
At around 10:00 p.m. as the second film was showing, one of the reels, which lay unprotected on a table near the door, went on fire when a candle on the table overturned and set it alight. The people immediately rushed to the single narrow door from which the ladder/stairs descended. Those seated nearest the exit escaped as the fire spread rapidly. Others fled to the rear of the hall where the two windows were located and they crowded into the small dressing room area. Some got out through the window and jumped on to a nearby hay rick. Unfortunately, the window exit was blocked when a woman became trapped in it. Within minutes the floor of the hall collapsed and the victims were hurtled to the ground where they died from the combination of burns, asphyxiation and shock. 46 people were dead within fifteen minutes. Two survivors later died from their injuries.
More than half of the victims were aged under twenty-five, nineteen were less than twenty years old and fifteen were children. The two youngest victims were both just seven years of age, Thomas Noonan and John Kenny. The Kenny family of Carraward also lost a second son, John’s twelve-year-old brother, James. The oldest to die was sixty eight year old Mary Turner from Gardenfield. Jeremiah Buckley, a fifty-two year old national teacher, his wife, Ellen (47), daughter Bridie (10), sister-in-law Kate Wall (45) and their maid, Nora Kirwan (18) all perished. This entire household on the Square was wiped out. The family terrier was to be seen whining at the door next day. Bridie would have celebrated her eleventh birthday on the following Thursday. Thomas Buckley (62), Woodfield, Jeremiah’s brother, also died. The Buckleys were the only married couple among the victims.
Margaret Collins (60) and Kate Collins (58) died along with Kate’s daughter (22) and two nieces from Sheshive, Nora (22) and Myra O’Sullivan (21). There were two sad cases of the death of young mothers and two of their children. Mary Barrett (34) of Carraward and two of her five children, Mollie (10) and Tom, Anne Fitzgerald (37) of Pike St. with two of her three children, daughter Margaret (10) and son Daniel. Equally poignant was the death of Kate McAuliffe (56), her fifteen-year-old daughter Mary and eleven-year-old son John, leaving Florence McAuliffe (53) of Church St. without his entire family. Mary B. O’Brien (51) from Kells died alongside her only child, Nellie (18) leaving an invalid, wheelchair bound husband.
Patrick O’Donnell (62), Pike St. stayed in the hall looking for his wife Katie and young daughter Mary unaware that they had escaped through the window. Mary (O’ Flynn) was the last known survivor and passed away a few years ago. Among the other victims was May O’Brien (24) of Church St. who was engaged to marry local Garda John Davis, Nora Mary Hannigan (11), a London resident, who was visiting relatives in the town and Violet Irwin (15) from the nearby village of Feenagh. Edward Stack (22), a farm labourer working for the O’Sullivan family in Mondellihy, was from Duagh, Co. Kerry and John J. Walsh was a national teacher in Milford. All the other victims were from the parish of Dromcollogher. Most of these lived in the village itself. Ten were from Pike St.
One of the victims had not even been at the show. William Savage, a 56-year-old butcher and farmer, who lived across the road, was incorrectly told that his two sons were trapped and he rushed into the burning building from which he never emerged. Robert Aherne, a 31-year-old publican, also lived in Church St. He had only been married for five months. He escaped with his wife Nora, who was expecting their first child but returned to try to rescue his mother-in-law, Anne O’Callaghan and perished along with her. Thomas Buckley a retired schoolteacher and Jim Quaid, 39-year-old farmer stayed in the building helping others to escape. They both lost their own lives.
Special permission was obtained from the Bishop of Limerick, Most Rev. Dr. David Keane, to allow a communal burial of all the victims in the church grounds. The funeral Mass on Tuesday 7th of September was attended by the bishop and by William T. Cosgrave, President of the Executive Council, as the head of the government was then styled. The parish priest of Dromcollogher, John Canon Begley, presided while the celebrant of the mass was Rev. Daniel O’Callaghan son of one of the victims, Mary Anne O’Callaghan (61).
A benevolent fund was established and money poured in from all over the world. Those affected received various amounts, some as lump sums, most sent in instalments every quarter to the dependants of the victims, and to some of the injured survivors, until the 1950’s. For many the burning money was a much needed and welcome supplement
In the 1940’s the site of the hall was bought by the relatives of the victims and given to Limerick County Council who erected an attractively designed Memorial Library there, where framed photographs, contemporary newspapers and other materials relating to the tragedy are displayed. A large Celtic style cross marks the communal grave in the nearby churchyard on which are inscribed the names and dates of birth of all forty-eight victims, innocent men, women and children whose lives were so unexpectedly and cruelly ended on that September night of horror, ninety seven years ago.
The mass grave in Dromcollogher Church yard where all but two of the victims are buried
Names of the Deceased
William R. Aherne Mary Barrett Mary Barrett
Thomas Barrett Bridget Buckley Ellen Buckley
Jeremiah Buckley Thomas Buckley Kate Collins
Kate Collins Margaret Collins Mary Egan
Anne Fitzgerald Daniel Fitzgerald Margaret Fitzgerald
Nora-Mary Hannigan Maurice Hartnett Daniel Horan
Violet Irwin James Kenny John Kenny
James Kirwan Margaret Kirwan Nora Kirwan
Nora Long Catherine McAuliffe John McCarthy
Mary McAuliffe Anthony McAuliffe Ellen Madden
Thomas Noonan Mary-Ita Nunan Ellen O’Brien
Mary O’Brien Mary B. O’Brien Mary O’Callaghan
Patrick O’Donnell Eugene O’Sullivan Mary O’Sullivan
Nora O’Sullivan James Quaid William Quirke
William Savage Bridget Sheehan Edward Stack
Mary Turner Kate Wall John J. Walsh
Chapel on the Hill
I recently bought a new car. I bought it in O’Callaghan’s Kanturk. This is a view from the forecourt of the car dealership; the picturesque old Protestant church is now unoccupied but still beautiful.
Families like Sheltons, Prouse, Sharpe and Bolster worshipped there in my time. It was, of course, forbidden for us Catholics to cross the threshold!