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

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New Year, Changed Town

North Kerry sunrise photographed in January 2022 by Ita Hannon

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A Poem sent to us by Éamon ÓMurchú

John O’Donohue
A Blessing For The New Year

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colors
Indigo, red, green 
and azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight

When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

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2022

John Kelliher took this marvellous picture of Listowel Town Square in December 2021

Here in North Kerry 2022 is opening with businesses closing, shops having to shut temporarily due to staff absences due to Covid and our streets at times eerily quiet as we are advised to limit social mixing. Our resilience is being tested but we will survive.

I’m back after a longer Christmas holiday than usual. Thank you to all the followers who were worried I had contracted Covid. Thankfully I have managed to avoid it so far even though it is all around me. so hopefully Listowel Connection will continue in some form for a while yet.

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John Stack, Dancing Teacher

My friend and former colleague at Presentation Secondary School, Listowel posted a sad message on Facebook in January 2022. He accompanied the message with this photo;

Hi All

I have informed the Ballydonoghue Cce branch of Comhaltas that It is with regret that I will not be returning as Set Dancing teacher in Ballydonoghue after 43 years. I have put alot of thought into my decision over the Christmas and due to a number of reasons including Covid-19 and the effect it has had on everything and still not knowing when we can return if at all this year.

I started classes in Ballydonoghue in 1978 and during my time I have had some very memorable ventures.

Our first All Ireland medal was in 1996 when our U8 set brought home medals in the U15 set competition in Listowel. We also won All Ireland medals in Ballycastle Co Antrim Castlewellan CountyDown Tullamore, Co. Offaly, IrelandPeter StackBallina Co MayoEnniscorthy Co. Wexford and Drogheda, Ireland

Winning our first All Ireland winners medal in Ballycastle County Antrim in 1999. We also have had much success at County, Munster, as well as other competitions all over the country.

We also travelled to take part in Sean Dempsey International competition in Manchester on several occasions having much success.

In 2008. 23members from the branch did a branch exchange with the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann – O’Neill Malcom Branch CCE in Washington DC. This was a very rare experience and we enjoyed visits to Capitol Hill, reception at the European union offices, also at the Irish Embassy, visiting Baltimore, Virginia, Maryland and seeing places we could only dream off. Finishing our trip with a performance on the Millennium stage In the Washington Dc Kennedy Centre where we were told we would have 200 to 250 attending and ending with over 1300 people watching us for an hour long concert.

Our trips to the RTE Studios for our performances on TG4 was a highlight for all our dancers.

I have to acknowledge the input Liz McNamara had on both Dolly and myself and the dancing class. She was a great support to us and always showed her support to every child regardless whether they won or not as she was always very proud that they had represented the branch.

Again many thanks to everyone in the branch for their support over the last 43 years and we would like to wish the branch much success in the future.

To Ballydonoghue GAA for the use of their clubrooms down through the years and of late their fabulous new building I would like to say thanks to all the officers past and present. Also to Jackie Hegarty and Tom in Tomasinis ye were always willing to help in any way ye could and put yer building at our disposal.

To the parents who have supported Dolly and myself and the class down through the years I want to thank you.

Last but not least to you our dancers wherever you may be. Passing through the doors of Ballydonoghue GAA clubrooms on a Satuday morning and Tuesday evening of late, I thank you all for the pleasure and joy you brought to us. We have made some great memories together and hope you will always remember your dancing days in Ballydonoghue.

John

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It’s for the Children

Our lovely 2021 baby has had her first Christmas, her first Christmas tree, her first visit to a crib and Santa was good to her.

Aoife has brought “hope with her and forward looking thoughts.”

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Jumbo’s, Serendipity, Kennedys in Ireland, a Mantila and Pipelaying in Knockanure


Jumbo’s




Jumbo’s of William Street looks lovely with its new paint job and its new sign.

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Serendipity


Serendipity is making a good discovery by accident. This is what happened to my niece recently when she was on an Aer lingus flight to the US.

Christine was scrolling through the onboard entertainment on her seatback screen when this popped up.

There before her eyes, thousands of mile from home, high among the clouds, she beheld a photograph of her late grandmother, my mother, Kathleen Ahern.

It would appear that a man who made a film about Listowel Radio Museum uploaded it to Vimeo and now it is widely available in lots of places including Aer Lingus planes to America.

The photo of my mother and her first cousin, Jo O’Riordan was taken in 1927 by Jo’s dad at their home in Summerville South in Cork. I donated the photo to the Wireless Museum as photos of radios from back then are rare. Not many people had radios as 2RN, now Rte, had only started broadcasting in Cork and not too many people had cameras either. So a man who took a photo of his radio was definitely a rarity. Such a man was my great uncle, the late Eugene O’Riordan.

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Rare Kennedy Photographs


These photographs of Joseph Kennedy in Ireland have turned up recently. They are now in the JFK Archive.

Joseph Kennedy at the Giants Causeway

Joseph Kennedy in Killarney

Kennedy children on horseback in The Gap of Dunloe

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Do you Remember the Mantilla?


(Photo and text from The National Treasures Facebook page)



Mantilla. This is my mantilla headscarf that I wore to church when I was young. The tradition at the time was that all women had to cover their heads going to mass. When I wore it, I thought I was very grown up. It was a very beautiful object and I thought I was very mature, just like the older ladies. I remember my aunt in particular, Noreen Ennis, having a nice mantilla with some very fine lace work. In a way, the mantilla was a way to express yourself in that there were degrees of sophistication in the headscarves and mantillas that women wore. I didn’t really understand why I was wearing it and, much like everyone else, I wouldn’t have understood what was said during the mass as it was in Latin, but we just accepted it for what it was. After the Second Vatican Council (Pope John XXIII), young women no longer had to cover their heads anymore. Priests could say mass in the vernacular as well, and the laity could be more involved. Despite being relegated to the bottom of the drawer, I’ve kept my mantilla for over 50 years.”

Thanks to Mary Ennis


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Pipelaying in Knockanure




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All Ireland Champions 2019




Thy danced for us in The Square on the day of the Entente Florale judging .

Last week they danced for the judges at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2019 in Drgheda and they won.

Ballydonoghue Under 12 set dancers with their very proud teacher, John Stack.

Feale, Childhood Friends, Rose of Tralee 2019, a holy well and Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel

River Feale, November 3 2018

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Childhood Friends on Facebook


Bernard O’Connell of Listowel and Canada posted this great old picture on Facebook.

far left Mary Brosnan, Katrina Lyons, Myself, Noreen Holyoake, Mary Lyons, Mary Carmody, Maura Moriarity

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Big Year next year for the Rose Festival



(Photo and text from Traleetoday.ie)



NEXT year is a very special one for the Rose of Tralee International Festival as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

It’s already been announced that there will be no regional finals and centres will put forward a Rose every two years (apart from Kerry, Cork and Dublin) resulting in just 32 Roses coming to Tralee next year for the festival.

Now, in another change, it’s been decided that the Festival will move back a few days. It will start on Friday, August 23 and the  2019 Rose of Tralee will be announced on Tuesday, August 27.

For the past number of years the Festival has started slightly later than mid-August (this year it began on August 17), but next year will bring it closer to what it used to be years ago, with the winner announced closer to the end of the month.

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Holy Well in Tarbert



from the Dúchas folklore collection

There was a blessed well in Jim Woulfe’s field and one day they washed clothes in it and that night the well changed out to Tom O’Connor field which was two fields away. People used go there on Sundays and especially Sundays of May. Some people used go there to get cured from some disease they had and they would leave a piece of cloth of the bushes round the well. There used also around the well three times to every rosary they would say. It is called Sundays Well. If you were to be cured at some wells you would see a fish.
Eileen Shine
Address
Gortdromasillahy, Co. Kerry

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Armistice Day Centenary in Listowel



On Sunday Nov. 11 2018 the Listowel History Society organised a moving commemorative ceremony to honour all the North Kerry men who served in WW1. In the church, after an evocative memorial mass, local school children read out the names of men from their area who had died in the Great War.

I dont know if other people saw something very poignant in the sight of this drummer boy. 

Drummer boys were part of armies as far back as history goes. They were originally tasked with ensuring soldiers marched in time. By the time of WW1 these young boys (they were not actually soldiers as they were usually under 18) were more like regimental mascots. But young and all as they were, they went into battle alongside their regiment and many of them died.

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Wreath laying Ceremony at the war memorial stone.



Sunday November 11 2018

Wreaths were laid.

The tricolour was lowered and then raised again.

The bugler played the last post.  We stood for two minutes silence and we played the National Anthem.

And we remembered.

John Stack shared with us this photo of those who were part of the Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel on Sunday, November 11 2018

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The Ball Alley Today




A blank canvas

McKennas, Donoghues in Glenderry and Australia and a look back at St. Patrick’s Day



Beautiful Kerry



Chris Grayson snapped this robin in The National Park in Killarney last week.

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McKennas






Photo: Mike Hannon

Do you remember when it looked like this?

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From a Land Down Under


All over the world there are Listowel people searching for their roots. I am always delighted when someone makes contact to say that Listowel Connection has helped in that search. Here is an email I received from Nan Bailey in Queensland.

“I found your blog Listowel Connection this evening when I googled Glanderry, Ireland to see just where it was. I still don’t know, but presume it must be in the Listowel district.

My Fathers Mother, Mary Donoghue was born in Listowel area as were several of her siblings and tonight, for the first time I saw a baptism record for one of them in Family Search, that had Glanderry named as the Fathers place of birth.

This is the first time I have ever seen where my Great Grandfather John Donoghue was from and I was stoked. They were supposed to have lived at some stage above a post office, but I only have that 3rd hand, so don’t know exactly where

I have subscribed to your blog and am looking forward to reading more about Listowel and the surrounding area and learning about where some of my Irish ancestors come from.”

I know I have lots of Donoghue and O’Donoghue followers who might just be able to help Nan in her search for her Listowel connection.

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Two More Sleeps to St. Patrick’s Day 2017




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Shenanigans at a Hooley in Listowel in 1839


Kerry Evening
Post Wednesday, November 13, 1839; 

TO THE EDITOR
OF THE KERRY EVENING POST

Listowel. 9th November, 1839. 

Dear Mr. Editor.—A
series of political dinners have been given, during the past and present week,
in our town and neighbourhood; But the grand coalition festival of that exotic
and eccentric Maurice Mac O’Connor to Morgan O Connell, M.P.; Pierce Mahony,
ex-M.P.; John Cronin of park; Rev Mr Harrington, C.C.; Rev Mr Simple, C.C.; Mr
Marshall, Auctioneer and many others.

 The letter goes on to explain the
expensive and lavish preparations, items from Limerick and ornaments, wreaths
and greens from Ballinruddery , used in decorations. Their motto was “Céad
Míle Failte.  Being market day many came to admire the show. 

Pierce Mahony
spoke in very dull and prosy language. Morgan O’C admitted that Tories had
political interests to support and rights to contend for, as well as the
Radicals. Third Toast was The National Board of Education and Fr Mahony who had
recently erected a school, but later on in the letter, it noted that the school
was, not finished yet and badly needed to educate the children who had bad
habits wandering around the Market place. 
Mr Marshall speaking under the influence of spirits, it was alleged, mentioned Mr Mc O’Connor being good at feeding pigs and jack asses. Ned Cain
gave an explanation the following day about the exaggerated speeches….

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Listowel Cyclists




Early one Saturday morning I snapped these cyclists pedalling through town on their weekly training spin.

Writers Week chairs, Fr. O’Connor of Knockanure and a few holiday snaps

Some past chairpeople of Listowel Writers Week who attended the Writers Week 2014 programme launch; David Browne, Michael Lynch, Seán Lyons, Nora Relihan and Madeleine O’Sullivan.

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Yes we can!

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Knockanure church commemoration April 25 2014








Bishop Browne and Fr. Lucid

Bishop Browne planted 2 yew trees watched by Fr. Moore


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A Better Class of holiday snap!

John Stack took these stunningly beautiful photos on his recent trip to Italy and Switzerland.

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Below is an extract from a school folklore project:

Fr O’Connor was my granduncle. He was a powerful strong man. Lord Adare was building a castle one time the gave the contract to a Englishman, but he told him the Irish were to get work. The contractor brought a great big strong man from England with him, and any one that could bar stones with him got work .  Labour men brought a letter from FR. O Connor of Shanagolden looking for work but they could not bar stones with the English man so they were sent away. Fr. O Connor gave a letter to a poor man and he went to Lord Adare to get work. He was barring stones with the strong man and he was sent away because he couldn`t  keep up with him .

 ” For Fr. O Connor’s sake give me work” said the poor man. 

“If Fr. O Connor were here himself  I’d give him work” said the foreman. 

When Fr. O Connor heard it, he got an old suit of clothes and he put them on and carried his letter to Adare looking for work. He started working with the strong man. When the bar was full Fr. O Connor said ” Is that all you`re going to carry?” 

The strong man said “The load maybe be too heavy when you get to the top with it.” 

With that Fr. O Connor put on a few more stones on the load. When they were going to start he gave a little shake and broke the Englishman’s back. Everyone got work after that. 

He died in Shanagolden and some friends were there when he dying and he said to them “If the parishioners want to keep me don`t go against them. 

The parishioners buried him in Knockanure graveyard beside the wall.

 (This story was told by C. Shine a Carpenter at Newtownsands)

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Cheeky robin….great photo from Timothy John MacSweeney.

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The Diaspora


I met Graham and Terence Healey in the parish office. They were searching for Healey relatives. They had come all the way from New South Wales in Australia to visit the home of their Healy and Linnane ancestors. They had a great story to tell. More later……


Keith and Chris Stack from New Zealand were in The Horseshoe with Damien tracing their North Kerry Stack roots.

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