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: haymaking

Then and Now

Áras an Phiarsaigh, June 2022

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Today’s Tumbling Paddy

Do you remember this image from last week. It was the Tumbling Paddy, used for gathering the mown hay into heaps for making into wynnds. Things have moved on and no one uses a Tumbling Paddy anymore.

I was at home in Kanturk last week and they were haymaking.

This is the modern equivalent of the Tumbling Paddy.

These are today’s wynnds. Progress!

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Covid hasn’t gone away

Our poor little girleen got Covid.

Thank God it was a mild dose. A big fright and a short few hours in the hospital saw her soon back to her old self again.

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David Kissane’s Memories of St. Michael’s Continued

The new NCPE (National College of Physical Education) in Limerick was in the thoughts of the sports students in St Michael’s that year but the balance of interest was in teaching, especially primary teaching. While Mrs Murphy and Mr Eggliston (affectionately called “Iggy”) had worked hard to make science popular at Junior Cert level, the uptake of the science subjects by our final year was low and the classical background of the school held sway in our peer year. We did study physics for a while in 5th year as fair play to the school for testing the future waters in that trial. It gave us an insight into the magic of neutrons, the photoelectric threshold and transmutation. The silent secrets of the world around us. When a little digging took place today in old books, the red Leaving Cert Physics by the Christian Brothers was unearthed with a hand-written photo-statted Christmas exam paper still sleeping inside. Comments written on the inside covers by fellow students and Convent girls’ names inscribed in little hearts while Mr Eggliston was busy at the blackboard. I had totally forgotten that we studied physics for a few months – fifty years is a long time – but the formulas and facts and diagrams came flooding back as if they had been close friends all along. The book was closed in LC1 in 1971 and never opened again till today.

While different students left St Michael’s with different attitudes to teachers – friends, frenemies or just no comment – all our teachers had a genuine interest in hoisting the proper sails for the oceans ahead. 

                                                            Pushpenny

Subcultures often define a society. The game of “Pushpenny” was huge in St Michael’s and persisted right up to the final days of the class of 1972. It consisted of a game between two students, played out on the wooden desks with a coin (usually one of the new decimal coins, although the old thrupenny bits were ideal) as a flat football, another bigger coin by each of the two players and a piece of ruler to strike the bigger coins which would in turn strike the “football” and send it flying to the “goal” which was usually a book. There were corners, frees, line balls and penalties, with screamers, banana shots and diagonal bullets. Every lunchtime, or part thereof, was accentuated by Pushpenny games, with leagues, cup-finals and home-and-away fixtures. My desk-mate, Mike Carmody from Lyreacrompane was an expert. Being a Leeds Utd supporter, he was on a high after that first week in May 1972 when Leeds had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup Final 1-0 in front of a 100,000 people at Wembley. Alan Clarke goal. The only time that Leeds have won before or since. My Man Utd were having a shaky time so all I could do was redeem their fortunes with Pushpenny goals. Now and again, if a teacher was delayed on the way to class, or if a teacher arrived early for class and had a chat with another outside the door, a whole spate of games would break out on every desk. When the teacher arrived, there was a scramble to hide coins and accoutrements and replace with the necessary books and copies. Once or twice, a teacher might confiscate the coins and pocket the lot (obviously to be later donated to charity) but generally a blind eye was turned as the games were quiet and harmless.

Injuries were rare but once I did a metaphorical sliding tackle on the desk with my striking hand and managed to get an inch-long splinter of the desk lodged under my nail. My Lyreacrompane/Leeds opponent went pale and partially fainted. I scored the resultant penalty before he recovered. Man Utd 1, Leeds 0.

A few days before we finished classes, it was announced that Fr long was retiring as president of the college after being in charge since 1954. A gathering of the whole school was organised and Mr Paddy Rochford gave a speech in which he revealed the career of Fr Long. “Danny” had guided the college over the boom in student numbers that had occurred after the introduction of free education in 1967 (our first year) and the introduction of science subjects and French to replace or complement the strictly traditional classical subjects. Fr Danny introduced the black gown for the teachers of our year, giving them a fearful appearance on occasion. The gowns did have a practical value in keeping chalk off their clothes but on occasion some teachers were known to discard the heavy archaic apparel when “Danny” went across the road to his president’s house for his meals.

Towards the last week of class that magical May, a blackboard was commandeered to act as a stadium for lunchtime games and there was a world cup of Pushpenny with a knockout system and a big lead-up to a grand final. A significant incident around the final has grasped a place in the memory. The whole class was assembled in a circle around the two finalists and the town boys had returned early from lunch to witness the end of an era of Pushpenny. At a vital moment of the action, Fr Danny Long opened the door. Gasps. This usually meant trouble and a charge of unstudent-like behaviour and repercussions could follow. We could hear our hearts beating and our eyes looked down. Danny became a legend when he simply said “Carry on!” and walked out, closing the door behind him. In our minds we would respect him forever for that action. To feel valued in our curious pastime was a privilege written in no book and summarised the atmosphere in St Michael’s College in 1972.

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Question Answered

In reply to the people who were wondering who “The Twelve Apostles” who, 50 years ago set up Kerry were;

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Poem for you

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Hay time, a reunion and Poetry Town

Listowel Community Centre in 2021

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In the Meadow

Photo from the internet

This photograph will bring back memories to many of you. The four men are almost certainly neighbours because haymaking required manpower and that’s when comharing came into its own. You helped the neighbours in their meadow and they came and helped you in yours.

Fine weather was extremely important when you had “hay down”. This is the time when the hay is mown and lying flat in the meadow. It is at its most vulnerable. Heavy rain at this juncture meant the hay was drenched and had to be tossed and turned to try to dry it. Wet hay would rot and sour and the cows would refuse to eat it.

Two days of sunny weather after the hay was mown was ideal as on the first day the hay could be turned and raked into rows and on the second day the wynds could be made. Once the hay was in wynds, the farmer could relax as even if it rained then it would run off the cock of hay without damaging it.

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Reunited

I hadn’t seen my friend, Liz Dunn since the first lockdown. Ansence makes the heart grow fonder but I’m glad to be reunited.

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Nature Takes its Course in 2021

Crabs (at Carrigafoyle)

By John McGrath

By Carrigafoyle I found them on the shore,

catastrophe of crabs at Shannonside,

a hundred thousand corpses, maybe more,

abandoned high and dry by ebbing tide.

So small and white like pebbles by the sea,

I wondered what disaster had ensued,

what plague or poison shaped this tragedy

that wrought misfortune of such magnitude.

No massacre, I learned, but nature’s ways.

Somewhere beneath the wild Atlantic swells

these tiny creatures shed their carapace,

together they cast off their outgrown shells

and then, on cue, the mating games begin,

those age-old ecstasies of skin on skin.

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Listowel has been chosen as one of Ireland’s Poetry towns.

Here is what it says on the website;

“The people and communities of each Poetry Town will celebrate poetry in their everyday lives and surroundings, create communal experiences, and celebrate the pride, strength and diversity of each town. Watch this space for more, including the announcement of each town’s Poet Laureate in mid-August, and upcoming details on events. Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices and is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.”

I’ll keep you posted.

Padre Pio glove in Castleisland, Diaries and Making Hay

Mount Brandon yesterday


Photo Credit: Con Lane

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A Listowel Doorway


Door at Tankers Bar, Upper William Street in January 2020

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Castleisland in the News


( photos from Rte on Facebook)

Fr. Mossy Brick, parish priest of Castleisland has a special devotion to Padre Pio. He has brought that devotion with him from parish to parish in his ministry. He installed the below shrine in Castleisland before Christmas . On January 7 over 1000 people gathered into the church for mass and a blessing with a mitten worn by the saint.



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The Demise of the Diary


“I never travel without my diary,” said Oscar Wilde. “One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

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Ag Sabhailt an Fhéir



Una Hayes’ photo shows the Hayes family taking a break from haymaking at Tannavalla, Listowel.

James Lynch on a hay raker in Knockanure in the 1950s

Make hay while the sun shines, goes the old saying. For many years in Ireland haymaking scenes like these were part of every summer.

It was not always so. There is no word in the Irish language for hay, just a word for grass that is also used for hay. Ag baint an fhéir = cutting the hay.

In fact, there are four different words in old Irish for grass, bruimsean for grass with creeping roots, cuiseog or traithnín for grass with a wiry stem, raithleadh for spiky grass and fear seasglar she sedge type grass.

I learned all this from a lovely calendar my granddaughter gave me for Christmas. I also learned that we didn’t make hay in Ireland until the Vikings introduced it. The winters were mild and cattle numbers lower so there was always enough winter grass for them.

Whiteboys in Moyvane

Ah, happy days! This one from the National Archives shows haymaking in an Irish meadow, probably 1950s or 60s

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Whiteboys in Moyvane

Hanging at the cross where the streets meet in Newtownsands.

Told by Con Shine (carpenter).

Written by J.B. Connell (NT Moyvane)

My father remembers the White boys. There was a landlord in Kilbaha called Wall. There was another in Moyvane named Sandes. Sandes knew the names of all the white boys in the district. So did Wall. The white boys trusted Sandes. But they were afraid that Wall would tell all the names. So they decided to do away with Wall. Wall was afraid of them. He made up his mind to take a house in Glin and went the Kerry line to Glin . But he came back by Newtownsands way. The white boys watched him they attacked his house that night and the firing went on till morning.

 In the morning they set fire to the house and Wall was burned to death. 200 soldiers came from Limerick the following day. They were to kill everybody they met. But Sands met them over on the Tarbert road near Johnny Nash’s and told them not touch anybody that he would have all the white boys arrested that he knew them all. The soldiers did no harm then.

 They went to Kilbaha and the first they met were my father and my uncle Johnny, threshing in the haggard. Sands said they are two honest boys, they’re a widow’s sons they never did harm to anybody. And so they did nothing to them. My father was about 18 at the time. 

Sands gave the names of all the white boys and they were arrested and tried in Tralee. Three of them were sentenced to be hanged one of them was ordered to be brought to Newtown to be hanged. His name was Neill (Nayle). He was the ringleader he was hanged in Newtown by the soldiers. They drove 2 poles in the ground below at the cross and put another pole across. They then put him standing in a horses car, put a rope around his neck then pulled away the car and left him hanging there. He was hanging there all day. The soldiers use to come often and give him a swing for sport and leave him swing away for himself. All the doors were shut that day. You would not see a head out the door.

In the evening they took him down and carried him to Tralee in a car. But they lost him above at Shea`s height Clountubrid. They turned back and found him again and carried him to Tralee.

The other two were hanged in Tralee. one of them was Mulvihill. I do not know who the other man was. Wall lived in Kilbaha where the road turns up to Kennelly`s house.

Note Michael Mulvihill was tried in Tralee 3rd March 1809. He set fire to Walls House. He was executed on 29th July 1809 .

Danny McMahon claimed that Wall was not at home when his house was attacked.

(The Whiteboys (Irish: Buachaillí Bána) were a secret Irish agrarian organisation in 18th-century Ireland which used violent tactics to defend tenant farmer land rights for subsistence farming. Their name derives from the white smocks the members wore in their nightly raids, They sought to address rack-rents, tithe collection, excessive priests’ dues, evictions and other oppressive acts. As a result they targeted landlords and tithe collectors. Over time, Whiteboyism became a general term for rural violence connected to secret societies. Because of this generalisation, the historical record for the Whiteboys as a specific organisation is unclear. There were three major outbreaks of Whiteboyism: 1761–64; 1770–76; and 1784–86…..Wikipedia)


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Jer. Kennelly found this story tin the Catholic Press of Nov. 1896


Michael Prendergast, one of the Fedamore jockeys, recently received serious injuries while riding Castlequarter in the Island Plate at Listowel meeting, and died the next day. Prendergast was removed to the residence of Mr. Michael O’Connor, where he was attended by Drs. O’Connor and Clancy, but he never regained consciousness. In addition to his wife, Fathers Courtney, Eric and Finlay, and a Sister of Mercy were in constant attendance on deceased. He had only been married about two months ago, and was but 21 years of age. He had ridden many winners for the Fedamore stable.

What a sad story!


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The following story comes from a great website called, Irish Central

The Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Hamden, CT will present a program on the Orphan Train Riders, a group of an estimated 273,000 children, many of whom were Irish, who were transported from New York City to live with families in rural America during the 19th century.



Writer and photographer Tom Riley, who has been speaking publicly about the topic for 20 years and has written two books on the subject, will discuss the history of the Orphan Trains at the event, which is to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan 30.



Riley told the Connecticut Post-Chronicle that while few records were kept regarding the trains, some estimate that between 400,000 and 600,00 were relocated between 1854 and 1929.



“Life in the 19th century in New York City could be a brutal for a child,” he said. “New York City was a magnet to immigrants in search of a job, but it was also a haven for alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves and murderers. The loss of a job, addiction, injury or death of a parent on the job and the absence of a social safety net often meant it was children who suffered the most.”



He said that on any given day 12,000 to 15,000 orphaned and homeless children were sleeping in alleyways, cardboard boxes, or sewer pipes throughout the city.



In 1832, a group of women concerned that young girls were being forced into prostitution formed the American Female Guardian Society. The group soon started taking in both boys and girls and later established 12 industrial schools where children were taught a trade and skills to support themselves.



“They did this work for 21 years before Charles Loring Brace came to New York City and was appalled at what he saw,” Riley said.



Riley came upon the history of the Orphan Trains by accident while researching a book on the home for children where he grew up. In a hayloft, he discovered 26 boxes of records dating back as far as 1832.



Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, which is home to the world’s largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine, is located at Quinnipiac University, 3011 Whitney Ave in Hamden, CT.  



The free presentation is open to the public, but registration is required.To register, call 203-582-6500 or visit www.ighm.org.



Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/Nearly-300000-Irish-children-transported-from-New-York-to-rural-America.html#ixzz2riK2zk1g 
Follow us: @IrishCentral on Twitter | IrishCentral on Facebook

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Something light to finish with

Sign outside The Star and Garter in Church St. yesterday,  Jan 29 2014

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