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: John McGrath Page 1 of 6

St. Mary’s

Sunset in Norway, Photo; Margo Anglim

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Listowel Parish

Fr. Kieran O’Shea’s account of Listowel Parish (Continued)

Mosaic in St. Mary’s Listowel

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Kilflynn Fairy Festival Postponed

After all the preparations and excitement the fairies had to cancel again this year.

So as not to disappoint all their fairy loving followers they promise to be back brighter and better in August 2022.

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Old Tarbert

Photos: Pat Kelly

This photo from 1940s is of a horse drawn hearse.

Tarbert Regatta some time in the 1940s.

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A Book Launch at Writers’ Week 2022

One of the problems about Writers’ Week is that there are constantly hard choices to make. In an ideal world I would have loved to go to everything but that would have required the power of bilocation. That one is not in my repertoire of super powers.

I had decided to see all the drama on offer this year. This meant that I inevitably had to forego a few events I would have loved to attend.

One such event was John McGrath’s launch of his Closing the Circle poetry anthology.

Two poets, John with Gabriel Fitzmaurice in Kerry Writers’ Museum before the launch.

Generously all the money raised by the launch was being donated to help the victims of the war in Ukraine. Noelle and Kate were on the door.

Radio Kerry’s Saturday Supplement presenter, Joe McGill with Catherine Moylan and John McGrath at the launch.

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Brent Geese

Gap of Dunloe by Chris Grayson

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Brent geese feeding at Ceanndaoithe photographed by Ita Hannon.

Once upon a time brent geese were considered to be more fish than bird and the clergy were known to eat them in a Tralee hotel on fast days during Lent.

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This is one of my favourite poems from the bad old days of Covid 19.

I Want To Go On

By John McGrath

I want to go on looking in

when they let us out again.

I like what I found there.

Alone I was afraid at first

but then I realised

Searching for what matters

Was what we’re meant to do

How we’re meant to be

Nothing to fear but fear, and me.

Don’t get me wrong

I miss the hugs, the friends,

the buzz of conversation

But I love the contemplation,

So now and then I’ll look back in

when we get out again. 

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Culinary Delights for Hard Times

(Health warning; If you are eating your breakfast or if you are of a delicate constitution, you may need to leave these next cuttings until later in the day)

Eddie Moylan found this great old gem in a sale and he knew just the person to give it to….me

The book was first published in 1852. It was reprinted in 1977 which doesn’t seem that long ago to people like me. It purports to be a guide to cheap and nourishing dishes for cash strapped people. The author was once the maitre d’hotel and chief cook to her majesty the queen but I doubt very much if he served her many of these dishes.

You will notice that many of the recipes include terms not in today’s vocabulary. Have fun looking them up. You will also notice that some of the recipes sound a bit naughty. Words like faggot and cocky leeky wouldn’t have given rise to sniggers in Victorian England.

If your stomach isn’t well and truly turned as you contemplate that, how about this for a use for an old hen or cock.

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Bridge Road, February 2022

This is Bridge Road these days as the new paths are laid and the cycle lane is completed.

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Then and Now

Ballybunion; Photograph by Sharon of Simple Snaps by Sharon

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Relocating

Purtill Solicitors has relocated from The Square to Church Street

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1983

In 1983 the secondary school was extending its footprint. another extension is planned soon.

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The Land

by John McGrath

I stand in fields where my forefathers stood once

And feel the dreams of those who’ve gone before me.

I tramp through damp and half-remembered pastures,

The folds and features of the land that bore me

All around.  Above the sound of lark’s song,

Below the spring of earth beneath my feet,

The green and gold of April in the hedgerow,

The purple haze where sky and heather meet.

Where mighty men have thought to mark their passing

The furze creeps back to mock the spade and plough,

Those futile epitaphs of generations

In Folk Museums condemned to moulder now.

Where men have raised a fence or tilled a furrow

The land, as if to scorn their simple gains,

Erases each proud trace until tomorrow.

The men have gone; the land alone remains.

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A Timely Song

Here we come a wassailing

Among the leaves so green

Here we come a wassailing, so fair to be seen…..

So what exactly is wassailing?

  • Singing and drinking, usually associated with Christmas time.
  • Going around orchards at the beginning of a new year, blessing the trees and praying for a fruitful year.
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Listowel Technical School Hurling and Football teams back in the day.

The late Tom Galvin posted this photo on Facebook and Marie Shine supplied some of the names;

Back row, left, 2nd – Tim Hartnett.Ennismore, 6th: Danny Fealey, Ballygologue Road.

2nd Row left: Now Garda Tim Reidy, Lixnaw, 3rd: Roger Connor (Mike The Pies), 5th: Billy Walsh Greenville 7th: Gerry Carey Convent Street 10th: Michael Nagle, Ballybunion Front Row: Right of Tod Nolan (RIP): ? Costello Ballybunion.

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Young Scientists in 1983

Ballybunion; Photo by Simple Snaps by Sharon

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Plough Monday

I bought a great book in Woulfe’s before Christmas. Its an old fashioned Almanac full of wisdom and folk information.

I bet you never heard of Plough Monday. Traditionally it is the first Monday after The Epiphany. this year that was January 10th. It is called Plough Monday because it was the beginning of the agricultural year.

The first tillage task is ploughing.

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New Indian Restaurant

This is the next iteration of this Indian eatery. It seems to change hands often but if you love Indian food you’ll be glad you still have a takeaway to get your fix from in Listowel

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In 1983

Another story from Presentation School Magazine.

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A Poem of Love and Loss

(John McGrath in After Closing)

Missing You

(For James McGrath)

The sheep of Donegal are missing you today.

They bleat your name on rocky hillsides.

The echo of their voices on the Wild Atlantic

resounds all the way to Clifden where

the gulls cry, So do we! So do we!

In Killorglin, a wild goat ruminates

on words you shared in a bright room,

as we looked out on a jagged mountain

that came and went and reappeared

in a magical mist, as light and dark as time. 

Here in Lisselton, sun and rain beat down

on Cnoc an Óir and on the apple trees.

Swallows dart and dive and write your name

against the slate-grey skies.  They miss you too

and we cry, So do we! So do we!

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Cinema Memories

Ballybunion Photo: Simple Snaps by Sharon

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Remembering

Paul Johnson shared with us a link to the wonderful film about the cinema from a few years ago

A Window in Heaven’s Gable

“A documentary about the love affair between a town and its cinema. The town realizes how lucky it is to have a cinema, as most small towns in Ireland have lost theirs. The Classic Cinema in Listowel is one of the last of the small family-run independent cinemas on this island. It is also the story of Kieran Gleeson, the man who rescued the cinema from dereliction over thirty years ago and ran it with love until his recent passing. In defiance of the odds, his wife and two teenage children continue to keep the flame of cinema alive in the town.”

Sadly, despite their trojan efforts the cinema has had to close its doors in January 2022

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Opening an Old Page

I discovered this old magazine lately. It’s like looking into another life. Here is one of the short articles written by the girls. looks like Listowel was vibrant with industries and festivals thriving.

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A Man who Plants a Tree touches the Future

We’re getting a facelift down my way. David Twomey and the outdoor staff of Listowel Municipal Area of Kerry County Council are brightening up a little corner we used to refer to as the outside farm. We’re getting trees and shrubs on a pebble carpet. Lovely!

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A Poem

In Ballyegan Bog

By John McGrath (In After Closing)

In Ballyegan bog the cuckoo’s tune

has changed to mark the turning of the year.

Through summer’s haze the lark sings loud and clear

and soars above the dancing ceannabhán.

Where lines of neat turf-teepees strut and seem

to mock neglected neighbours with disdain,

sad strips of black spaghetti wait in vain

for willing hands. The bog-land trampoline

beneath my feet springs back as I march on,

remembering those summer days long gone

when life was sweet as heather-scented air

and feet were bare and fleet as children’s are,

when time endured and even work was play

and skylarks sang the live-long, lark-song day.

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