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 email@example.com
We are tired of hearing of the struggles of travellers in Dublin airport these days. Édaein O’Connell has an answer in her article in The Irish Independent. Look out for her in Peig Sayers Bar.
A Titanic Fact from Vincent Doyle
Hi Mary, just been reading your story regarding the Titanic and I remember a funny story a friend told me some time ago, he said that when they found the wreckage in 1951 they were amazed that the swimming pool was still full.
More local drama in St. John’s this week. The old ones are the best!
Family reunion at Easter
Lovely to be back in the bosom of my family. Molly Madra makes herself at home on my gilet.
I took on the Rummikub champion again. My 3 last tiles are hopeless, all over the place and I am heading for defeat. Cora, because she is a lovely child, shows me how to win. So a victory of sorts, at last.
This is us on a night out. Remember the two boys at the front in the photo? Our days in Listowel in the Lilac Studio, Kennedy’s Pet Farm, The Donkey Sanctuary and Athea or Tarbert Fairy Trails seem very long ago now.
Criostóir Grayson is an excellent wildlife photographer. He is lucky to have this little lady in his garden. Here is what Conserve Ireland says about the bank vole.
Bank voles are very small rodents which are often mistaken for mice. They have small compact bodies generally about 15cm from head to tip including a 5cm long tail and can weigh from 15 to 40 grams, they have small eyes and ears and a blunt nose. Their tails are shorter than mice and are covered in fur with their blunt noses also being the main physical difference between the two. The fur is a chestnut red or brown on the upper body with their undersides being a bluff to grey colour. Juveniles will have a more grey to brown fur colouration. The fore feet have four toes while the slightly larger five toed hind feet leave small tracks up to 2cm in length which are quite similar to the footprints of mice. Bank voles are not a particularly vocal species but will emit a limited range of squeaks when communicating using high frequency ultrasound which humans cannot hear. The bank vole has a well developed sense of smell which is important for receiving information on individuals who have used territorial scent markings in an area.
Join us Online in St. Mary’s, Listowel at Christmas 2021
All masses will be live-streamed on the parish website
Above is advice from a campaign called Don’t Buy It. Apt at Christmastime.
Gerard Stack who wrote to us about Walsh’s shop came from the above shop. Like many other shops in Listowel there was a shop on the street and a totally unrelated business, often run by the man of the house, in the back of the premises.
Now Walsh’s shop was in the premises that is now Chutes’ Stores/ Milano. It used to be Cavendish’s. This was a popular TV and electrical brand. Anyway, Gerard remembers that, at Christmas this big shop sold bikes and toys. They invited the nearby children in to try out the toys and this party was sometimes covered by The Kerryman.
I told this story to Pierce Walsh (no relation). He thought maybe he was too far from the shop to get the golden ticket. He was in Church Street. He did remember, however, that, for one Christmas before he went to South Africa, Xavier MacAuliffe had a toy shop. Does anyone else have memories of that one?
Back in 1920;
Dave O’Sullivan found this great old ad.
Don’t They Know it’s Christmas Time?
I was home in Kanturk when I snapped this picture of Woody looking longingly through the window at his family’s Christmas tree.
Meanwhile thousands of miles away another EPA horse is living the dream. He is to appear in a Hollywood movie with Dwayne Johnson.
His new owner sent a picture of the co stars at their first meeting; The Rock and EPA Cullen.
CHRISTMAS EVE IN KERRY
Butte Independent 1927
“Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, and the Pooka is at rest
Contented in his stable eating hay;
The crystal snow is gleaming on the mountains of the West, And a lonesome sea is sobbing far away; But I know a star is watching o’er the bogland and the stream, And ‘tis coming, coming, coming o’er the foam; And ’tis twinkling o’er the prairie with a message and a dream Of Christmas in my dear old Kerry home.
‘Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, and the happy mermaids croon The songs, of youth and hope that never die; Oh never more on that dear shore for you and me, aroon. The rapture of that olden lullaby: But the candle lights are gleaming on a hillside far away. And peace is in the blue December gloam; And o’er the sea of memory I hear the pipers play At Christmas in my dear old Kerry home.
‘Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, oh I hear the fairies’ lyre Anear the gates of slumber calling sweet. Calling softly, calling ever to the land of young desire, To the pattering of childhood’s happy feet;
But a sleepless sea is throbbing, and the stars are watching’ true As they journey to the wanderers who roam — Oh the sea, the stars shall bring me tender memories of you
I’m taking my leave of you today for 2021. A big shout out to all my helpers, supporters, my technical support team, my researchers and contributors. There would be no Listowel Connection without you. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me, met me or in any way offered a word of thanks, support and encouragement. It is all appreciated.
This is a jostle stone. It’s been here since the days of the horse and carriage. You’ll see them in every town. Their purpose was to protect the corners of a house or other property from damage by the wheels of carriages as they entered a lane or avenue. The stone jostled the carriage away from the wall and into the middle of the road.
Here there is a jostle stone on either side of the road.
This is another more simple example on Church Street.
“Fond Memory Brings the Light of Other Days Around Me”
Nathalie Léger spent a year of her young life in Listowel. The town and its people made a lasting impression on this young lady.
My own time in Pres. Secondary School did not overlap with Nathalie’s. She discovered me much later through this blog. In response to my request, she has written this essay about her time here.
I came to Listowel during the last week of September 1988. I needed a little while to settle before getting ready to start work on October 1st at Presentation Convent as the French language assistant.
Finding a lodging was made easy with the help of Sr Consolata and some teachers, and I moved in to Market St Apartments.
As I had to buy some tableware I went to Carroll’s on the Square. Then I purchased two extra blankets at Moriarty’s on William St – Irish winters can be so cold !
I also opened a savings account at the Bank of Ireland, where they had very few French clients at the time I believe. The welcome was professional but very friendly.
At Presentation Convent I discovered a different education system that I would call holistic, not just academic. I was particularly impressed by the students and staff’s commitment in the operetta “South Pacific”. I took part in it too, helping with makeup and supervising. This was very enriching as I intended to become – and I have indeed – a teacher of English as a modern language.
I miss the friendly atmosphere and the fits of laughter in the staff room – I soon learnt quite a few “Kerry jokes” !
I really enjoyed working with the staff, who gave me the opportunity to discover what working with teenagers was like. Thank you everyone, particularly Noreen McCarthy, Geraldine O’Connor, Colette Daly, Bridget O’Connor, and of course Sr Consolata.
I would like to give special thanks to Joanna Keane who was replacing her sister-in-law Elaine at the time. Joanna showed me around – I remember a day trip to Dingle with lunch at The Forge – and she naturally introduced me to John B and Mary.
Since John B did not speak a lot of French he nicknamed me “la belle Parisienne”, which I found quite funny as I am not from Paris at all.
Not only did I meet lovely people but I also got the opportunity to read great novels and plays which helped me understand Irish people’s attachment to their land. John B’s pub became the perfect place to meet those people and have a good time chatting and laughing.
Thanks to Mary I saw “The Year of the Hiker” on stage in Tralee, which was a great moment for me.
Before leaving Listowel at the beginning of June 1989 I asked John B if he could sign the books I had bought. He very kindly wrote a different autograph in each of them. God knows how much I have treasured these books since !
Although many years have passed, I have never forgotten lovely Listowel and all the fantastic people I met there. Reading Listowel Connection every week is a means to not only remember the good old times but also discover today’s Listowel.
Thanks to social media I am in touch with Bridget and you, Mary. Now my dearest wish is to come back to Listowel, as real meetings will always be the best.
All of you take care and stay safe !
With my best regards,
( Explainer; The reason Nathalie didn’t start work until October is that nothing in Listowel started in earnest until “after The Races”. In those years the Races were always on the last full week in September.)
Like Old Times
I made a rare foray to Tralee and I was surprised to see that Dunnes Stores seems to have morphed into Marks and Spencer’s since I was there last.
It has a real butcher’s shop with butchers butchering away before our eyes.
Meanwhile in Tralee Town Square
This shop is closing down. Looks like the old order yielding place to the new.
More Listowel Christmas Windows
The theme, this year is Toy Story.
A Meeting on Church Street
Clíona (Cogan) McKenna and Joan Kenny in late November 2021
The Dandy Lodge, built between 1845 and 1897, was the only house on the Bridge Road. There were no other houses on Bridge Road until 1929. The Gurtenard Estate wall ran along the left hand side of the road and a mud ditch bordering a wood ran along the right hand side.
The Carnegie Library was the only other building on Bridge Road. It was burned down in 1922 during a period of violent civil disturbance in Listowel.
Sive at 50
To mark the half century of John B. Keane’s Sive, the Listowel Players staged a special production of the play.
These pages from the programme take us back to the glory days of drama in Listowel. We remember all the good people who were involved, some no longer with us.
A John B. Keane Play in Listowel in 2021
(Photos from Patsy and Frances Kennedy)
From November 25 to 29 2021 St. John’s Theatre Group will present Moll, a drama by John B. Keane in St John’s, Listowel, nightly at 8.00 p.m. Strict Covid guidelines will be followed so capacity will be limited. If you don’t want to miss it, book early
Batt O’Keeffe and Frances Kennedy in character
The P.P. and curates
We have free wifi in Listowel Town Square
This is a screenshot from my phone yesterday, November 17 2021.