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: Garden of Europe Page 1 of 8

Aspects of Listowel

Listowel’s Twin Spires, November 2021
Newly restored St. John’s
Beautifully restored stain glass window and stonework

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

A Listowel Fact

Listowel’s Garden of Europe was originally a extensive quarry. It later became the town landfill site. Finally Listowel Rotary Club transitioned it into The Garden of Europe with a section for each country in the European Union.

The Holocaust Memorial occupies a central place in the garden. It serves as reminder of the awful atrocities perpetrated during Hitler’s reign.

The memorial is made of railway sleepers, reminding us of the railways in Europe that transported so many innocent people to a horrific life and, for some, death in concentration camps. The sleepers are surrounded by chains, representing the shackles of captivity.

I am grateful to the farseeing rotarians who left Listowel this reminder of Europe’s darkest days. May we never forget.

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Christmas, a Time for posting mail

Pillar box in Listowel in December 2021

These three stylised ones are on Christmas cards. Even though fewer and fewer Christmas cards are posted each year, the postbox still remains a very strong symbol of Christmas.

<<<<<<<<<<<

That Time before Time Began

Cyril Kelly remembers happy carefree days “fishing” in The Feale and lazing in the sun in those summers before Time began.

I love this one.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<,

A Mill, a Poem, a Signwriter and a Celtic Illuminator

Schiller in The Garden of Europe, Listowel, September 2021

<<<<<<<<<<<<

The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill

…Beneath it a stream gently rippled
Around it the birds loved to trill 
Though now far away 
Still my thoughts fondly stray 
To the old rustic bridge by the mill

Thomas Peter Keenan

While I was in Castletownroche for my family wedding I took the opportunity to visit the most famous spot in the village.

The Mill
The rustic bridge

<<<<<<<<<<

A President of St. Michael’s (1902)

Death of a Priest.
Much regret will he felt by Kerry priests and Kerry men all over the world at the death of the Very Rev. Father Timothy Crowley, lately president of St Michael’s College, Listowel. Father Crowley was a native of Kilsarken, and received his earlier education at St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney. Going thence to Maynooth, he had a distinguished career, and was made on his ordination president of the Kerry Diocesan Seminary. Subsequently he made a tour in America collecting for the O’Connell Memorial Church, and on his return was appointed to the presidency of St. Michael’s College, Listowel. Failing health overtook him, and he passed away in his 54th year, to the great regret of his confreres in the diocese, who deplore the loss of so able a colleague.

New Zealand Tablet, 14 August 1902

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Carroll’s Hardware, The Square, Listowel

Martin Chute is doing an excellent job of signwriting on this iconic building in Listowel’s picturesque Square.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<

A Poem for Poetry Week

This poem by Delia O’Sullivan from her great book It’s Now or Never will give you food for thought.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Michael O’Connor Remembered

Plans are afoot to bring some of the works of this extraordinary but under appreciated Listowel born artist back to his family home at 24 The Square, now Kerry Writers’ Museum.

On today, September 17, the anniversary of Michael’s death, his son, Fr. Brendan O’Connor shares memories of his father with us.

Michael Anthony O’Connor (1913-1969)
Although it is over 50 years since the passing of my late father, on 17th September 1969, I still have fond memories of seeing him stooped over his drawing board in the evenings, with paints, brushes, pens and quills arranged on the table beside him. He would work patiently for hours on end, usually after we had all gone to bed when he would have less distractions.

His concentrated and painstaking artistic work reflected his good-humored and patient manner. He never had to raise his voice.

“What did your mother tell you?” was enough to convey that it was time to obey.

We looked forward to his return from the office every day – his professional work was as an assistant architect in the Department of Transport and Power – but especially on Fridays when he would bring some chocolates for us and a treat for my mother.

We were so accustomed to his artistic creations that we didn’t fully appreciate the originality, skill and dedication he brought to his art. He had the humility to continue working at a very high level of achievement without seeking to be known or appreciated. The completed work was its own reward.

This is shown in particular in the “Breastplate of St Patrick” – a family heirloom which he produced for his own enjoyment in 1961 to celebrate 1,500th anniversary of the national saint. 


He responded generously to requests for illuminated commemorative scrolls and the like. He also completed a number of commissions for official government purposes, but of all of these we have little data.


Although original illuminated artwork and calligraphy in the Celtic style was not much appreciated at the time, a small circle of friends and acquaintances were aware of the quality of his achievements. Prof. Etienne Rynne and Maurice Fridberg have left written testimonies of their appreciation. 
Mr Fridberg, an Art Collector, wrote in a letter to the President of Ireland in 1972 –

“Michael O’Connor was in my opinion the greatest artist of modern Celtic Illumination in this century. “

Although obviously influenced by the Book of Kells, his own individuality comes through every letter.” Prof. Rynne, wrote an article on the revival of Irish Art in an American journal, also in 1972, in which he said “O’Connor, however, produced much excellent work, notably in the form of beautifully illuminated letters. Although a master-craftsman and an original worker he depended somewhat more on the ancient models and on neat symmetry than did O’Murnaghan. … With the death in 1969 of O’Connor, the ranks of first-class artists working in the ‘Celtic’ style were seriously bereft.”

Michael O’Connor was born in No. 24, The Square, Listowel in 1913. He married Margaret Walsh in 1950 and they had four children, Michael, Brendan, Gerardine and Aidan. We used to enjoy memorable visits to the family home on the Square when we were children and were especially proud of the Castle in the garden! 
It would indeed be a very fitting if belated tribute to his contribution to the ancient Irish artistic heritage and culture to have his available works displayed in his ancestral home in Listowel.
Brendan O’Connor (Rev.)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

St. John’s Windows, Garden of Europe and a book photo from Facebook

November, Month of The Holy Souls

<<<<<<<<


Windows at St. John’s Listowel




<<<<<<<<


Charles Street, Listowel, November 2019



<<<<<<<<<


In The Garden of Europe in November 2019

<<<<<<<<<

In Good Company



Im still processing the photos from the weekend. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this one posted on Facebook by a lovely lady I met in Philip’s Bookshop on Saturday. She is clearly a lady with good taste in reading material.

<<<<<<<<


R.I.P.  Gay Byrne



John B.’s Headstone, Summer Visitors and Cyril Kelly on being a pupil of The Master

Chapel at Teampall Bán, Listowel

<<<<<<<<<


There are so Many Lovely Songs to Sing



<<<<<<<<<<<


Summer Visitors


Whenever I have visitors I make sure they don’t leave without visiting the Garden of Europe.

My boyeens are not boyeens any more. They were back in Listowel with their parents last weekend. They were on their way to Coláiste Bhréanainn in Ballybunion.

Breeda Ahern and Sheila Crowley also made the trip over the border from Co. Cork.

<<<<<<

A Trip to the Library

Recently I have been writing a lot about the Carnegie Library and it put Cyril Kelly in mind of trips there in his youth.

Here is a charming essay in Cyril’s uniquely  evocative style recalling a charismatic teacher;

CARNEGIE LIBRARY     Cyril Kelly

This was the man who led us, both literally and metaphorically, from the classroom every day. This was The Master, our Pied Piper, who was forever bugling a beguiling tune, a tune sparkling with grace notes of the imagination. He’d have us on the white steed behind Niamh, her golden fleece romping in our faces. Transformed by his telling we had mutated into forty spellbound Oisíns. Knockanore was disappearing in our wake. The briny tang of the ocean was in our nostrils, bidding us to keep a westward course, forbidding us to glance back at our broken hearted father, Fionn. We were heading for the land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg.

On the very next antidotal day, we’d be traipsing after him, into the graveyard beside the school. The narrow paths, with no beginning and no end criss-crossed the place like some zoomorphic motif. We were on a mission to see who would be the first to spot a headstone which was decorated with a Celtic design. The diligent boys leading the line were in danger of overtaking the laggards at the tail who were hissing that, in the dark recesses of the slightly open tomb, they had seen, staring back at them, a yella skull. 

But, on very special days, we crossed the road to the Carnegie Library. Master McMahon told us that it was the most magical building in the whole town. Even the whole world, if it came to that. He told us that we were so lucky because Andrew Carnegie, the richest man on earth, had bought all of these books for us. We were amazed because none of us knew Andrew and we felt sure that he didn’t know any of us. As a matter of fact, not one of us knew anyone who bought books, either for us or for anyone else. Master McMahon said that the Librarian, Maisie Gleeson, was minding the books for Carnegie and, especially for the boys in 3rdclass.

On our first day in the library, we all had to line up on tippy-toes at Maisie’s desk to scratch our names with nervous N-nibs on green cards. Maisie eyed us all over her spectacles, welcoming each one of us ominously by name, telling us that she knew our mothers and woe-be-tide anyone who didn’t behave themselves, particularly any boy who did not take good care of Andrew’s books.

If you have a book, boys, Master McMahon’s voice was echoing around us. If you have a book, boys, you have an exciting friend.

Drumming his fingers along a shelf, humming to himself, he flicked one of the books from its place, tumbling it into his arms. Turning towards us, he held it like a trophy in the air. 

The Clue of The Twisted Candle. Nancy Drew, boys. She’s a beauty. Blonde, like Niamh Cinn Óir. Solves exciting mysteries for her father.

The Master took his time to scan our expectant faces.

Here, Mickey, proffering the book to Mikey Looby whose father was a detective. Why don’t you sit down there at that table. Read the first few chapters. See what Nancy Drew is up to this time.

Turning to the shelves again, The Master threw back over his shoulder; Sure if I know anything, Mikey, you’ll probably solve the mystery before she does. Mikey, clasping the book in his arms, stumbled to the nearest chair, thirty nine pairs of envious eyes fastened to him. Sure it’s in the blood, Mikey boy. It’s in the blood.

Selecting another book, The Master faced us once more. This time he called on Dan Driscoll.

I saw you driving your father’s pony and cart to the fair last week. Three of the loveliest pink plump bonavs you had. And what a fine looking pony Dan Driscoll has, boys.

Well, here in my hand I’m holding Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. This man is a fantastic story teller. He’ll take you to the frontier lands of America. I promise that you’ll see and smell the rolling plains of Wyoming more clearly than if you were in the Plaza cinema down the street. You’ll ride with cowboys, you’ll hear the neighing not of ponies but of palominos. You’ll meet deadly gunmen, boys, noble Red Indians. And on the headstones in Boothill, boys, you won’t find any Celtic designs. 

And there, in the vastness of the library, The Master’s youthful tenor voice startled the silence; Take me back to the Black Hills/ The Black Hills of Dakota/ To the beautiful Indian country that I love. By the time he was finished he was besieged by a posse of outstretched hands and beseeching cries of Sir! Sir! Sir! Every one of us was demented to get our paws on that book, any book.

<<<<<<<<

Archeloogy Open Day at the new Bypass


A nice little crowd came along yesterday to see what was to see at the site of the old cottage at Curraghatoosane.




<<<<<<<<<<

Resurfacing Courthouse Road


Street Names Saga Drags on in the 70s and its daisies and dandelions everywhere in 2019 and Friends in The Áras

Signs of Summer in Upper william Street



The circus is in town. The ice cream cones are out. It must be summer.



<<<<<<<<<<<<


Biodiversity


We have all learned that we have to allow the daisies, dandelions and other wildflowers to grow and flourish as they play an important role in the natural world. Listowel is doing its bit.

<<<<<<<

Listowel Street names





It would appear that the MacMahon family preferred Ashe Street to Church Street as their address.  Ashe Street is an English translation of the Irish Sráid an Aghasaigh

Many people to this day use Patrick Street instead of William Street Upper, even though that plebiscite was defeated. 

Colbert St. was changed by agreement from Bridewell Lane although I dont know why it is Street in English and Road in Irish.

To this day the naming of places proves controversial. We wont mention the Ballybunion/ Ballybunnion or the Moyvane/Newtownsandes debate. As for Dingle, An Daingean or Daingean Uí Chúis….

<<<<<<<

Friends in High Places

Áras an Uachtaráin….the Listowel Connection

The Kerry Association in Dublin presented their Arts award for 2019 to Pauline Bewick. The presentation was made by Uachtarán na hEireann, Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Jim and Elizabeth Dunn of Athea and Listowel, as friends of Pauline’s, “were (according to Liz) humbled to be invited and honoured to attend”.

Page 1 of 8

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén