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

Tag: genealogy Page 1 of 2

John Hinde’s Ireland, genealogy and Teampall Bán and Boston

I love donkeys. This John Hinde one is a lovely specimen, young and energetic yet placid enough to be handled by children. This postcard photo has been in the news recently since the death of Paddy Lydon, who was photographed as a young boy with his sister, Mary, bringing home turf in Connemara. I have heard words like romantic and even idyllic used to describe the image.

I know better. There was nothing romantic about tramping through boggy ground, stooping and rising to fill two creels with turf and then coax a stubborn ass to plod his way back to the cottage. Once Paddy and Mary had unloaded the turf, they would set off straight away for another load.


This is one for all you amateur genealogists

Walkman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California , was doing
some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Senator Harry
Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train
robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows
in Montana territory. 

On the back
of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: ‘Remus
Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887,
robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted
and hanged in 1889.’ 

So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for
information about their great-great uncle. 

Believe it or not, Harry
Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy


Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana
Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable
equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in
1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally
taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key
player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency.
In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his
honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”


Teampall Bán

About a half kilometer from town is a famine burial ground called An Teampall Bán.

Day one of the Tar Abhaile adventure was Sunday April 7 2013. I had arranged to meet the Red Pepper crew at Teampall Bán to do a recce for filming the next day. This was as near to the workhouse as we could get since there is nothing of that old building left.

The ever so hard working and obliging Mary Hanlon of the Tidy Town Committee prepared the place for our visit and it was a credit to her and the other volunteers.

The Red Pepper advance troops, Martain, Michelle, Áine and Tom  chat to Mary and Joe Hanlon.

Tom checked out the oratory. It looks beautiful.

John Pierse brought a pot of paint and a brush and Martain, who was an artist in a previous life, put the finishing touches to an inscription.

Some curious cows in the neighbouring field kept watch over it all.


The Irish Times glowing review of Pilgrim Hill

A myth still permeates that Irish
cinema is a little too concerned with the rural and the miserable. Quite the
opposite is now the case. We don’t see nearly enough about disenfranchised
agricultural communities on our screens.

The extraordinary debut feature
from youngGerard Barrett, a determined Kerryman, sets the record straight in stirring
style. Shot in unhurried, cautious fashion – making occasional gestures to the
mock documentary genre – Pilgrim Hill offers a quietly devastating
portrait of Jimmy Walsh (Joe Mullins), a bachelor farmer eking out his life in
a lonely farm on a windy outcrop. He spends his days taking care of the cattle
and tending to the needs of his ailing, unseen father. At night, he allows
himself the occasional pint at a distant pub.

There are shades of the great
French documentary Modern Life, a study of farmers in the Cévennes, in
the sequences where Jimmy talks directly to the camera. But the film gets at a
very Irish class of misery: the wretchedness of being stranded with the
previous generation while one’s contemporaries surge into the modern world.

None of this sociological
observation would matter if Pilgrim Hill lacked cinematic juice. As it
happens, Ian D Murphy’s cinematography has a limpidity that soaks up the damp
landscapes to beautiful and mournful effect.

Barrett choreographs the slow march
towards an expected catastrophe with rhythms that are positively Russian in
their leisurely grace. The decision to hold back on non-diegetic music until
the final searing denouement speaks of an impressive degree of maturity (and restraint)
from a young film-maker.

Barrett is also to be congratulated
for drawing such a disciplined performance from his lead. A farmer and
occasional amateur actor, Mullins has a steadiness and commitment that cannot
be easily faked. But it takes real talent to make effective use of such
authenticity. The moment where Jimmy speculates about dying and meeting the
“person he could have been” fairly takes the breath away.

Don’t let Pilgrim Hill pass
you by.


Yesterday was confirmation day in town.

The confirmandi had done a great job in decorating the church. I’ll bring you the fruits of their hard work over the next few days.


One of the many iconic images emerging from Boston overnight.

Listowel Connection has many friends and followers in the Boston area. Our sympathies are with them and with everyone affected by the awful tragedy.

In an example of the triumph of hope over experience, the London marathon will go ahead on Sunday.

Are you typically Irish? Exciting new county by county project

ARE YOU TYPICALLY Irish? A new project has been unveiled by the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who are working together to find out more about the Irish population.

The two have launched an all-Ireland project to create a collection of DNA samples from individuals of Irish origin, which will be used to explore human genetic variation in the Irish population.

There are two strands to the project – one on genealogy and one on genetics.

Director of Archival Services, Séamus O’Reilly FGSI will coordinate the collection of genalogical data, while Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri of the RCSI will direct all the scientific aspects.

Dr Cavalleri, a senior scientist of the Royal College of Surgeons, has worked as scientific consultant on the TV programmes The Blood of the Irish and The Blood of the Travellers.

The joint project will compile an Irish DNA Atlas through the  collection of birth briefs and DNA samples “to investigate the diversity of the Irish genome”, which the organisations describe as “a valuable, yet largely unexplored, resource of the Irish nation”.

They say this project “will provide valuable information on the migration and settlement patterns across the island of Ireland which will assist historians and archaeologists”.

It could also identify genetic risk factors for disease which in turn could improve future medical treatments.

The project aims to recruit individuals representing each of the 32 counties of Ireland, who will be given a saliva collection kit, a brief questionnaire as well as a chart on their pedigree.

All of their eight great-grandparents should come from the same general area so that their DNA represents that particular region of Ireland.

Participants, who are not paid for taking part, will not receive any results from the study – unless something is uncovered that might be of importance to their health.

To find out more, you are invited to email

Update on North Kerry Reaching Out

As promised here is the latest from NKRO.

The website is in train. Right Price Media are currently working on it. As soon as we have the skeleton, we will be linking to all the great local websites, so if you are reading this and you maintain a website that we might be in danger of forgetting, be sure to email us with the details. Caroline in The Seanchaí has been trawling through the web for all the local sites so we have lots of links ready. Then the real work will begin of gathering the news and the archival material.

In the meantime, NKRO is using this blog to stay in touch with people who might want help with the genealogy side of things. So far we have had 6 contacts, ranging in location from U.S. to Australia to Zambia. Ger Greaney, who is the nearest we have to a genealogist, is helping these people with their queries. Separately, our local historian, Vincent has been liaising with the diaspora you have been reading about here.   Queries so far did not all relate to Listowel, so it is important that we establish contact people in the other parishes.

Here is a list of the villages we have included so far but if anyone contacts us we will try to help regardless of where they place their ancestors.



Lisselton also known as Ballydonoghue







Lixnaw, Rathea and Iremore

Moyvane also known as Newtownsandes



At our last meeting Tom Fitzgerald gave us a demonstration on how he had used to build his own family tree. It is no replacement for the hard slog of trawling through online documents and databases and making contacts by email, phone and letter but it does put it all together in one place, and its free to upload 250 names. So if you get tired after the first 250, it will have cost you nothing except your time and effort.

Everyone is waiting for news of our training. Negotiations are taking place with U.L. who have a marvellous genealogy and heritage dept. which runs cert., diploma and degree courses from its Irish Ancestry Research Centre. We are hoping shortly to have news of workshops run by Dr. David Butler and his UL team coming to a venue in Listowel this winter. 

Meanwhile we are holding an informal genealogy evening on Oct. 18 in The Family Centre. The purpose of this is to share what knowledge we have learned from trial and error, and to get to know one another better. The Centre has only 16 computers so we have to limit the numbers to the first 16 to email But if there is enough demand we will organise another such night.

The bottom line. Currently we have a very slack purse. 

We have a little income from Ger’s sponsorship for his Killarney Adventure.

Please support our raffle in The Saddle tomorrow night.

This money will go to pay for hire of The Family Centre and for printing and stationery costs incurred so far.

The big money for training we are hoping to get from a grant. The application has been made and fingers and toes are crossed.

We haven’t forgotten the Week of Welcomes. A decision on a date will be made before Christmas.

Our next meeting will be in three weeks time. Local people will be notified.

Our time has come

Do you all recognise this timepiece? It hangs outside Mai Fitz’s on William Street. It should not be today’s picture because I should have thought of taking a photo at our meeting on Monday night. I was so excited by the sight of the huge attendance that I forgot to fish out the camera and record the occasion. Apologies. Kerry’s Eye did take a photo or two so I’ll see if they will share.

The meeting was a great success.The over capacity crowd was very enthusiastic and ready for the challenge of preserving our history.

I’ll outline the format of the night for those who couldn’t make it. Ger Greaney, our hard working chairman, introduced the project and gave a bit of the background to its beginnings. Cara Trant then gave a presentation on the pilot project in Loughrea. She showed us all that it could be done. We can learn from any mistakes our Galway pioneers made and we can build on the model they have outlined for the work.

 Ger was next up. He had diligently traced the history of one lesser known but mildly famous Listowel family. He was greatly helped in this research by all the hard work that had been done and is now shared on line by Robert Corridan. This family is the Stack family, formerly of 53 Church St. Michael Stack is a state senator for Philadelphia but his family originated in Listowel, Co. Kerry. Seven of the children from this family alone emigrated to the U.S. and have all done well in their adopted homes. Ger traced this family using on line records and he painted a fantastic picture for us of what could be done. Of course it will not be so easy to trace people less in the public eye.

It never ceases to fascinate me what can be found online. Only yesterday I found a marriage record for my great grandfather from 1839. This record had been kindly uploaded by another member of my extended family who was researching through church records for another ancestor.

Back to Monday night. With everyone fired with enthusiasm for looking back, we came to the highlight of the night, Vincent Carmody’s slide show of pictures of North Kerry. Vincent presented to us a varied and interesting insight into North Kerry in the past. We saw a beached plane on Beale strand and what looked like half of North Kerry under its wing. We saw a photo of a fleet of naval warships sailing up the Shannon estuary. This sparked one of the audience to recount his mother’s memories of the same sailors on a paper chase training exercise. He told us that the sailors had stayed in Tarbert for 6 months and had assimilated well into the local community. I heard on the radio yesterday that our own Irish soldiers are likewise bonding with the people of Tibnin today. We marvelled at progress as we saw a picture of the first car to be registered in Limerick as well as one of Mrs. Raymond in full regalia heading to town in her ass and cart. Many people in the audience recognised friends and relations, and in one or two cases themselves, in the photos.

A lively question and answer session ensued. Everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable night. The next question is, Where to from here? All suggestions will be brought to the attention of the committee.

BTW I have not forgotten the bandsroom. Vincent is on it and will give me something to post on it shortly.

Will this Seanchaí have a new story to tell?

This is where the public meeting of North Kerrry Reaching Out will take place on tomorrow evening at 8.00 p.m. If the word on the street is anything to go by we should have a good attendance. There is a huge interest locally in researching the family tree.

Hopefully we will attract some very talented people and in no time at all we will have our website up and running. Then we can get down to the task of getting the news and the folklore of North Kerry on line. Ideally every village should have its own website.  Moyvane is the shining example of best practice in this regard.

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