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
Toddy Buckley R.I.P., Tom O’Halloran R.I.P, Eileen Worts R.I.P. and Pat Walshe
Tony O’Callaghan , Artist in Copper
The Sculpture in Listowel Town Square is the design work of the late Tony O’Callaghan, a man better known for his copper plaques which are now proudly displayed in houses in Listowel and beyond.
I’m going to tell you more about Tony O’Callaghan and his work next week . Today I’m going to share with you a beautiful piece he made to be presented to Éamon ÓMurchú.
The story in Éamon’s words;
Bronze plaque is of St Ciarán. I got a present of it when Principal of Scoil Chiaráin, Glasnevin (1970-2000). St Ciarán was born in 512 and was a pupil of Mobhi who had a monastery in Glasnevin – hence the connection with the locality.
His feast day is on September 9th and he was the first abbot of Clonmacnoise. He is renowned for his learning and production of books.
The impact of education and the natural world occur again and again in the stories about Ciarán. It is written that a stag wandered up to Ciarán to hold his books in his antlers and retired daily without getting his books wet – hence the depiction on plaque.
That “Comely Maidens” Speech Remembered
(from The Irish Times)
The maiden referred to in the final paragraph is the unfortunate girl caught kissing her beau in public. She never served her sentence because she returned home to Scotland but it was left hanging over her should she ever return to these shores.
Stewarding, policing and commentating are important jobs on the day of the parade.
Some of the participants in the 2023 parade
Card Game in the Pitch and Putt Clubhouse
(Photos by Tom O’Halloran R.I.P.)
Card playing was enjoyed by members of Listowel Pitch and putt club.
In Tom O’Halloran’s photo Denis O’Donovan R.I.P., Con Whelan, Jerry Brick, Brendan Kenny, Bill Hartnett R.I.P. and Peggy Brick.
Reggie’s Guide to Social Climbing
I enjoy Reggie from The Blackrock Road on Facebook so my family knew I’d enjoy him live. We saw him in his one man show in The Everyman in Cork. It was a great laugh, a snob’s guide to “bettering yourself”.
I was early for the show in The Everyman so I explored a bit nearby. These lovely murals were done during the pandemic.
Upper William Street
Bernard O’Connell once shared this old photo on his Facebook page. Bernard grew up on this street in the house with the TV aerial. The two donkeys on the way home from the creamery are probably waiting for their owners to pick up a few messages in the nearby shops. The railings and wall lead to the railway bridge that used to be over that part of the street.
It is interesting to note that the houses in this historic part of town are still very much the same today as they were back in the 1970s.
Ten Years Ago
The late great Mary Keane officially opened Craftshop na Méar ten years ago. The lovely little craft shop traded on Church Street for seven happy years thanks to Namir Karim.
Stephen Twohig is an exile from his native Kanturk. On our Facebook group, Kanturk Memories, he is sharing his childhood memories. Day trips and holidays in Ballybunion were an important part of his young days in the 1970s.
Ballybunion, our Disney!
On day trips one could take the bus from the Square on a Saturday or Sunday, all your gear packed in bags. You were laden down with shovels, buckets, fishnets and armbands , blankets and picnic baskets.
When driving the long road through Newmarket, Rockchapel and Listowel the journey seemed to take forever. When we reached Listowel we knew we were on the home stretch. Finally cresting the last hill and long stretches of these last nine miles we would call out “Ballybunion here we come”” when we saw the gable end of the first row of houses in the town.
Ballybunion was our Disney. It had a magic and mystique about it. It was circus~ carnivaL sun and fun all in one place. Even the harsh winter Atlantic couldn’t erode all the warm memories we have from this seaside town. There are two long beaches split in the middle by a long outcrop into the ocean. On the tip are the remains of a castle, still standing guard. In the olden days the women went to one beach and the men the other and one still called them by those names. God forbid one saw the other in their long drab flax burlap costumes.! Doubtless there was any big run on sun block back then.
We always went to the men’s or right hand beach. You would scoot down the hill trying not to fall through the coarse sandy grass and finally plop down on the dry white sand. We would stay on the beach from morning until near sundown. More often than not we would be the last few stragglers left behind all huddled around each other in goosebumps from the cold. We would erect a windbreaker for a wall and drape a blanket over it if the showers came. When others ran for cover we were staunch and held our ground.
To give mother her credit she stayed with us from morning until dusk and never complained of getting bored. Dad on the other hand would last about an hour on the sand, on a good day. He would wait for us above on the grass and wave down and wonder when these kids were going to get fed up of the beach and want to go home. He would have a long wait. I like to imagine that he still watches over us, and still waits.
When the tide went out it left warm pools to bathe in over by the cliffs and in some cases small caves that you dared not venture in, in fear. Mike and I would pull plastic boats or ships behind us. When with us Dad would hold us high on his shoulders as he waded out into the tall waves scaring the daylights out of us on purpose. You could hear the screans and yells of children as they jumped the incoming waves. played ball or held on to flapping kites, or just made castles in the sand. And there sitting uncomfortably on the edge of the blanket looking out of place in his heavy tweeds, shirt and tie and cap is your man from the front of Roches, waiting. Out of place again, on the edge of more than the blanket. He will spend the required time then hoof it up for tea in the shade of a Hotel. Or head to the pub to wait it out.
Every few hours we would hop from foot to foot on the hot tar up the steep hill to the two shops near the bathrooms. These shops had all you ever wanted as a child. Little plastic windmills spun in the wind like propellers, balloons, kites, boats, bright buckets and shovels stuck out from every possible place. There, laid out was an array of sweets and delights that would leave your mouth watering if not so already in the sweltering heat. The smells of cotton candy, cones, periwinkles and sun lotions filled the sea air. We would each buy a ninety-nine cone with a chocolate crumbling “flake” stuck in the top. Then before it melted you would climb up the coarse grass to the hill on top and look down on the beach far below trying to see your own blanket. When finished scoot down the hill again with a runny and melting cone for the mother. In the late afternoon we would be left to ourselves as the parents went over and had tea at the far end of the beach. If indulgent they would treat themselves to a warm seaweed bath. All we could think about was the slimy. shiny fronds of the bubbled seaweed and we couldn’t believe they would willingly bathe in it.
If it was wet or rainy we would go for tea and Club Milks at Dana’s. There you would pick out postcards from the revolving racks and write and send them, though we probably would be home before they got there. There were always treats in the front window of Beasleys that would catch your eye and we wouldn’t be happy until we had emptied our pockets and had it in our hands. There were toy cars. diaries . seashells, boats, storybooks and the ever favourite candy rock. This was a long piece of hard candy, the o
utside pink and inside white and cleverly had the word Ballybunion ingrained in the white centre . You would bring them home as gifts or ruin many a good appetite or tooth.
Up the street were two arcades. We would spend every penny we had saved or borrowed on the bumper cars or many video games. There was one driving game called “Superbug” and the brother and I would challenge anyone to beat us such was our dedication and devotion to it.
At night we would go to the Bingo with mother and if you won, the lady calling the numbers would have you choose from a number of balloons tied above her tied on a string. Having chosen she would pop the balloon and as dramatically as she could unravel the winnings. Therein would be a brown fiver or if lucky a big red twenty pound note. On the way home we would buy a burger and bag of chips from the caravan across the street and head home.
If left alone in our room we would hang out at the window and watch the people go by outside. There was an alleyway between the Central and The Ambassador and at the back was a dance hall. All night long there would be a stream of people coming and going and in the distance the rhythm and boom of the muffled music. It was near impossible to sleep with all the excitement, the shouts, the loud motorbikes, scuffles, the odd smashing bottle but much laughter in the streets outside. Outside was the grown up world we longed for and would pass through, way too soon.
Yes if you had to choose, these were the good old days. And you had better remember them as you would have to write about it every first week back at school in “La Cois Farraige” (Day by the sea).
Ballygologue Park Entrance
Molly and I love to walk on the John B. Keane Road
We took a small detour one day and went up Ballygologue Road. Their flower displays at the entrance to the park and along the grassy area are definitely worthy of another prize.
This is the little island at the exit.
Listowel Pitch and Putt Course
If there is a picture out there of the founding fathers of Listowel Pitch and Putt Club please send it to me. These men are heroes. They had the vision. They planted the trees in whose shade they never sat. We are so lucky to have this lovely oasis in the middle of our town. I don’t play the game but I love the course. It is a joy to walk beside it every day.
Barry O’Halloran, whose father Tom was one of the early committee members has sent us copies of the receipts for the early planting.
I’m sure it seemed like a lot of money in 1974. It was money well spent.
I must not forget today’s committee and groundsmen who have built on that early course, enhancing it with trees, shrubs and flowers. They have kept the dream alive and I think you will agree with me that the course nowadays is a credit to those who look after it.
The marvellous men who layed out this course, planted the first trees, and maintained it for so long, would be more than proud to see the magnificent shape it is in today.
Isn’t it absolutely pristine?
Ballybunion Community Market
If you are looking for that different souvenir of your holiday in Ballybunion or a beautiful hand knit layette for that new baby; if you are looking for the best of vegetables, preserves, confectionery or Kombucha, Ballybunion Community Market is the place to go. It’s in the field opposite McMunns.
There is Irish music to entertain you. Emily of Simply Devine Preserves told me that they will have new stalls added each week so it’s well worth a trip back.
Sonny Canavan’s Dog
Mattie Lennon tells a John B. Keane yarn.
Kerry Pride Festival
Last Weekend June 16 to 18 2022 was Kerry Pride Festival. While most of the Listowel events were happening at The Family Resource Centre , some local traders were also flying the rainbow flag.
And the winner is……
Healyracing turned the camera away from the horses to snap Charlene Brosnan as she is announced winner of The Best Dressed Lady competition at Killarney Races on July 15 2022
Some of the finalists against the backdrop of the Killarney Mountains. Photo: Healyracing
Ballybunion folk have been busy growing sunflowers this year. They had a display of all their sunflowers on the castle green in Ballybunion.
They made all the papers. They are thinking of making it an annual event.
A Christmas Card from the Michel O’Connor Collection
Words by Bryan MacMahon gorgeously illustrated by Micheal O’Connor, a lovely co labortive work by two talented Listowel men.
John Stack shared this old Fleadh photo on Facebook
War Relief to Listowel and North Kerry, 1921
Mark Holan sent us the following interesting information he uncovered in his research
I wonder if anyone knows if their family was helped in this way.
The American Committee for Relief in Ireland collected $5 million (£1,210,627) during the first half of 1921 to ease war-related suffering. The Irish White Cross distributed the money to all 32 counties through summer 1922, with £25,878 in “personal relief” approved in County Kerry. The North Kerry distribution including:
“Personal relief” included weekly allowances to dependents of civilians prevented from working “through being ‘on the run’ or imprisoned for reasons connected with the political situation”, dependents of those killed during the war, and to those prevented from following their ordinary occupations due to military restrictions or the destruction of their businesses, the Irish White Cross reported in 1922. Lump sum payments also were made to wounded civilians, and for the purchase of key essentials such as clothes, bedding, and trade implements.
Some 600 volunteer parish committees, typically composed of “local clergy and other responsible people,” helped to process and forward applications to the Standing Executive Committee in Dublin, which made the final determination.
On Sunday, 21 August 1921, a month after the truce, Bishop of Kerry Charles O’Sullivan ordered a special collection taken at all the masses in Listowel to provide local assistance to the Irish White Cross. The collection totaled £119 5s 10d, Kerry People reported.
A few weeks later, the Irish hierarchy sent letters to the Freeman’s Journal thanking the American Committee and White Cross. In Kerry, Bishop O’Sullivan wrote, “our persecuted people have good reason to remember and be grateful for the timely help which has enabled not a few of them to keep body and soul together, after they had seen their homes reduced to ashes, their women ill-treated, their men folk cruelly done to death.”
Of course, with civil war around the corner, the hardships were far from over.
I posted this question a short while ago.
Can anyone tell us if this lady was an aunt of the late Canon Leahy of Listowel?
Advocate, Melbourne, Sat 4 Sep 1909
IRISH NUNS IN INDIA
Again the Daughters of the Cross have to record the loss of one of their Sisters, who died at Anand on Sunday, 18th July, after an illness of only a few hours. Sister Agnes Mary was born in Kerry, Ireland, in April, 1865, and joined the congregation at Liege in October, 1884.Two years later she arrived in India, and since that time worked with the greatest earnestness in the convents at Karachi, Igatpuri, Bandra, Panchgani, Dadar, and finally at Anand, of which house she was made Superioress in December, 1908. In the first week of July, cholera broke out in that locality, and some of the orphan children confided to the care of the Sisters; contracted the disease. A few cases proved fatal. However, on Sunday last it was hoped that the epidemic had ceased, an intimation to that effect
having been written by the Superioress herself, little thinking that she would be the next chosen victim. Sister Agnes Mary saw without fear death approaching, and was perfectly calm and resigned to God’s holy will. During the years she spent in India, and in whatever house she laboured, she was ever a subject of the greatest edification to her Sisters in religion and to all with whom She came in contact. Her happy disposition endeared her to everyone, and her loss will be keenly felt. Quietly and religiously she spent her days, and one may truly say: “She went about doing good.” Her death was a fit crowning to her life—a victim to duty, she has fallen at her post.
Dave O’Sullivan has the answer.
I can confirm that Sister Mary Agnes who died in India was the aunt of Mgr Michael Leahy.
She was born Honora LEAHY was born about 11 Apr 1865 in Lisaniskea, Knockanure, Co. Kerry. She was christened on 13 Apr 1865 in Moyvane, Co. Kerry. Her parents were James Leahy and Kate O’Connor.
Mgr Michael Leahy was the son of Honora’s brother Tom Leahy.
Listowel Pitch and Putt Club plays Host
Kerry County Juvenile Matchplay competition is being held at Listowel Pitch and Putt Club this Thursday the 26th Aug.The course will be closed to everyone apart from the juveniles competing on the day.