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Tag: Eistedfodd

What I’m Reading, Junior Griffin’s Reminiscences continued and more Irish dancing photos

 May all our U.S. Friends Have a Great Thanksgiving


Listowel Castle


Humans of Listowel

Bobby Cogan met his old badminton coach, Roly Chute, on the street when he was home for the weekend. He was delighted to hear that Roly is still going strong and still teaching the skills of badminton to North Kerry’s youngsters.  Over the years Roly has given thousands of hours coaching tennis and badminton. Listowel owes hm a big debt of gratitude.


What I’m Reading

Hazel Gaynor is an Englishwoman living in Kildare. She writes a great story.  In The Girl from The Savoy she opens our eyes to a world we will never experience, post war London. Her style is easy to read, carefully researched and accessible. I’m enjoying this one.


Junior Griffin’s Reminiscences continued

……..We didn’t realize then but we
ere back in Páirc Uí Caoimh before the year was out. That was for the Cork V.
Dublin All Ireland semi final replay.

The days before the match the
Dublin press continually queried the wisdom of staging this match in Cork.

That morning Munster
officials, the late Tadhgh Crowley and Donny Nealon called the strilesmen
together. They requested us to be extra vigilant and to remain on duty until we
were officially closed. Munster proved that they could stage the fixture.
Everything  went off without a hitch and
there were no problems.

Incidently, dear reader, can
you rememebee who p;layed in the Austin Stack Park on the same day that Cork
and Dublin played that semi final in Páirc Uí Caoimh. Answer anon.

The centenary year of 1984
saw the hurling final played in Thurles, the birthplace of the GAA. I remember
getting a bit of a telling off because of that final. I was on duty on the
terrace stiles on the town end. The senior final was well on when I was
approached by three North Kerry men seeking admission with one ticker. I let
them in. That was close to 4.00 p.m. on Sunday, Tadhgh Crowley heard it being
conversed on a pub in Tralee on the following Tuesday night. So much for people
keeping their mouths shut.

The old type low stiles were
much more difficult to manage than the modern ones.The stilesman did have the
same control. At rimes in the old low stile you would be startled by a fleeting
shadow soaring over the bar of the stile showing Carl Lewis type agility. All
you’d hear would be a loud guffaw as the intruder made his way to the safety of
being lost in the crowd. The rouses used by people to sek free admissions were
many. The common ones would be for a lady possibly with a few children to come
in first and pointing back would exclain,”Himself is paying,” “Himself” comes
in and you’ve guessed it. He is on his own. He never before saw that woman! I
can assure you that, more often than not, if you searched around later you
would see the big happy family together.

Also a group of 5 or 6 men
would queue up together. The one the rear would be gesticulating wildly and
calling “right-right-right”; giving the impression he was paying for the lot.
His turn comes- and “I am only paying for myself; I was calling to my friend
who went in on the other stile”.

The experienced stilesman
will always ask the first person to pay where there is a group. The chancer
will generally retort ” is it so you don’t trust me boy?”

Some years ago one of my
collegues, John, was approached in Limerick by a gentleman who was in a very
agitated state. Almost in tears, the poor man told John his pocket had been
picked and he had been cleaned out. Being a soft hearted Kerryman, John had
pity on the man and let him through.

The following Sunday, John
was on duty in Cork, and, low and behold- who came to his stile but the same
gentlemen in the same agitated state, John knew he was caught once but not
again. Your man was told, not too politely, where to go. I wonder what are the
odds of him picking the same stilesman on successive Sundays? No doubt our
friend is still performing his Oscar like performance to this day at stiles
somewhere throughout the province to this day.

The dreaded stile, is, of
course, the student and OAP stile. Look at the queue outside the student stile
at any major match and one could only surmise that the students of every
university in Ireland must be in attendance. To the genuine student, the
student card is like his right hand and he will always have it in his
possession. But so often we hear, “ I left it at home”; “I left it in the car”
and so forth.

The variation of cards
produced would make the mind boggle. The stilesman has seen them all, from meal
vochers to petrol vouchers to playing cards. The cards are flashed in front of
the stilesman eyes and disappear so fast with a slight of hand dexiterity that
would make the great Houdini gasp with amazement.


More Photos from the Eisteddfod

Eileen O’Sullivan has shared a few new photos of Jimmy Hickey’s dancers trips to Wales.

These photos were taken in 1999 as the Irish dancers entertained local people in the town square. Here they are dancing a polka set.

 Eileen O’Sullivan did the intricate Celtic design embroidery on her daughter, Michelle’s costume. Traditionally the costumes featured  embroidery and crochet lace collars.

Michelle O’Sullivan with  Noreen OConnor

Michelle O’Sullivan and Sarah O’Sullivan in Wales

Listowel, Jimmy Hickey and His Dancers in Wales,

Welcome Weather

We have had an unseasonably mild October in 2016. This thought struck me the other day as I walked through the Square. Shops still have their advertising outdoors, an unusual sight for late October


Change of Scene for the Roadworks

Just sweeping up.  William Street is all done and dusted for the time being. It will have to be revisited again but for now it’s the turn of Market Street .

The road is temporarily resurfaced and life can get back to normal for a while for Lynch’s Cafe and Mags Deli.


An Example to us all

This hardy lady was out bright and early do her shopping.


Jimmy Hickey in Wales

The first time Jimmy attended the Eistedfodd was in 1982 with this group from the Sliabh Luachra area.

Let me fill you in on the background.

This is how his involvement
started. Jimmy’s dancers from Sliabh Luachra were performing in a hotel in
Killarney. The organisers of the Welsh Eisteddfod were there and were very
impressed with what they saw. 

 (An eisteddf is aWelshfestivalofliterature,musicandperformance. The tradition of such a meeting of Welsh artists dates back to
at least the 12th century, when a festival of poetry and music was held byRhys ap GruffyddofDeheubarthat his court inCardiganin 1176, but the decline of thebardictradition
made it fall intoabeyance. The current format owes much to an 18th-century revival
arising out of a number of informal eisteddfodau.   Wikipedia)

In lay man’s language it is a
kind of Welsh fleadh cheoil.

The directors of the
Eisteddfod saw Jimmy and his dancers in Killarney and invited them to come to
Wales. They were only delighted to go and they returned there to great success
year after year.

On one occasion Prince
Charles attended the eisteddfod and he asked Jimmy if he could teach him to
dance. He was asking the right man.

Terry Wogan was the M.C.
another year.

This was the year they met Rolf Harris

Jack Leahy R.I.P. used to work as a ticket collector on the trains in London. He remembered watching the hoards boarding the train for the Eisteddfod every summer and  he envied them. He had to pinch himself to believe that not only was he finally attending the festival but he was participating.

Here is a link to video footage of Jimmy and crew chatting with Prince Charles and then putting on their show with the prince in the audience. Around 7,000 people attend the Eisteddfod every year.

 If you keep watching you will see the dancers performing at the Harmonie Festival in 1999. I’ll tell you more about that anon.

Jimmy Hickey and Sliabh Luachra Dancers in Wales and Germany

I talked to one of the
ladies, Sheila O’Connell of Ballydesmond, who went on that first trip to the
Eisteddfod and she remembers it very fondly, They were all very aware that they
were representing Ireland. They dressed in Irish traditional costumes and they
carried the flag everywhere they went. They were accommodated in local houses
and became firm friends with their local hosts.


Halloween Parade

This is the home of Listowel KDYS.

This is what they are planning for Halloween, October 31 2016

Garden of Europe in Listowel and an Eistedfodd in Wales.

The Garden of Europe ,Autumn 2016

This new tree has been planted to replace the one below which was uprooted in the storm of 2014.

Isn’t it beautiful!


Jimmy Hickey; The Early Days

Jimmy Hickey’s dancing teacher was Liam Dineen.

Who was Liam Dineen?

Liam Dineen was born in Ballyduff, the second eldest of eight boys. Both of his parents died when he was very young. He was a keen Irish dancer. In the early 1930s he emigrated to Australia. While there he worked hard but still found time to teach Irish dancing. After four or five years he returned to the family pub in Ballyduff and he set to studying Irish dancing in earnest. His teacher was the great Jerry Molyneaux.

Dineen’s pub became the meeting place for master and pupil and, it seems, the more liquid refreshment that was consumed the more steps that were passed on to the receptive Liam.

 Soon the student became the master.

It was to this master in his dancing school in Forge Lane, Listowel that Jimmy Hickey headed out with his sixpence clutched tightly in his fist on that first Saturday. Little did he realise that he was embarking on a course that would change his life.

Liam Dineen was the finest dancing teacher of his day. He loved the dance and he enjoyed teaching. He grew to love his star pupil and he took him to concerts, feiseanna and every traditional gathering they could get to. He entered Jimmy in competitions, local, Munster and All Ireland.

“As a hard task master, he expected me to win. As a good student I obliged!” recalls Jimmy.

Having won several local competitions, it was time  for Jimmy to take his place in a national competition. He did this in the O hUigín  Cup competition in Ballyheigue. Jimmy went on to win this competition three times, the first time when he was only 15 years old and dancing against senior dancers with much more experience of competition.

The master was justifiably proud of his pupil and Jimmy recalls dancing in every pub in Ballyheigue, Ballyduff and Listowel on the way home. The cup was filled and emptied in every one.

Jimmy comes from a family of shoemakers. He learned the trade from his father and this was the path laid out for him. Jimmy had other ideas. He had to make a choice between shoe repairs and dance teaching. The choice was an easy one.

Dancing has brought Jimmy a lifetime of enjoyment, fun, travel, shows, concerts, competitions, TV appearances and international festivals.

This is Jimmy Hickey’s troupe of musicians and dancers who represented Ireland at the Welsh Eistedfodd in Llangollen.

Back Row; Marion O’Connell, Kathleen McCarthy, Phil O’Connell, Seán Murphy, Mary Murphy R.I.P., Ted Kenny, Kathleen Nola, Mary Doyle, R.I.P., Brina Keane, John Stack, Jean Lynch and Jimmy Hickey

Middle; Dan O’Connell, Philomena McCarthy, Doreen Galvin, Elaine Nolan, Mary Hartnett, Maria O’Donovan, Bob Downey,

Front: Mary Lynch, Trish Lynch and Kate Downey


Humans of Listowel

Today’s humans are friends, Rose (Guiney) Treacy and Colette (Keane) Stack. I interrupted them as they were having a cuppa and a chat in Lizzy’s Little Kitchen


Poem of the Year 2016

This year is the first year that Listowel Writers’ Week is sponsoring a competition at The Bord Gais Book Awards. The short listed poems are all here

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year 2016

Read them and then go to the Bord Gais Book of the Year site and vote for your favourite and you could win €100 in book tokens.

Book of the Year Vote Page

My favourite is Patagonia by Emma McKervey

Emma McKervey is from Co Down and studied at Dartington College of Arts. Her work has been published in Ireland and internationally.

I have read there is a tribe living in the mountains

and lakes of Patagonia who can barely count beyond five,

yet have a language so precise there is a word for;

the curious experience of unexpectedly discovering

something spherical and precious in your mouth,

formed perhaps by grit finding its way into the shellfish

(such as an oyster) you have just eaten.

Or something like that.  I identify with this conceptual position.

And as I listen to my children debate on the train

as to which is the greater – googolplex or infinity –

whilst knowing they still struggle with their 4 times table,

I can’t help but reflect that maybe we should be

on a small canoe at great altitude, trailing

our semantic home spun nets behind instead.


Road Works, Upper William Street, October 2016


Settle a Bet

Does anyone know when the one way system was introduced to Listowel, 1980, ’81 or 82′?

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