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 firstname.lastname@example.org
This thatched house at Acres was formerly owned by Trinity College, Dublin, who were granted extensive lands in north Kerry in the 17th century .Trinity College were granted extensive lands in north Kerry after the 9 Years War (1594-1603). Most of this was in the Ballylongford/Tarbert areas, but they held lands in Clanmaurice too.
At the same time as the College was granted the lands, there was a transplantation of Gaelic families from Laois & Offaly and it was then that that the Moores, Lawlors, Dowlings, Kellys (etc) came to north Kerry. This suggests that north Kerry had by then been devastated and the local population decimated. In a later transplanting into the area, many families from Clare arrived and you get the Carmodys, Finucanes, McMahons etc.
Mrs. Crowley, ice cream and a snake
An extract from Keane’s Kingdom in Saturday’s IrishIndependent
Building Works in Sept 2022
I took these photos in town on Sept 13 2022
Getting Ready for The Races
In the time honoured tradition of Listowel people, I’m closing for business for Race week. I intend going to The Island and having a break (I’ll bring the camera.)
Fís na hÓige Productions is a film and drama group based in St. John’s. During July they held a film making course.
Kiana Breatnach sent us these photos.
This could be the start of Something Big
This is No.24 The Square, Listowel.
Today it is home to Kerry Writers Museum.
Here is the same house in the 1950s when Dr. Michael O’Connor and his family lived there. The Morris Minor in front is the family car.
This is Fr. Brendan O’Connor pictured at the door.
He made a return visit to his father’s family home on September 19 2021.
In this photo sent to me by her grandson, Eitan Elazar, is Fr. Brendan’s grandmother at the same door in the 1950s.
This was the reason for Fr. Brendan’s visit and the “something big’ referred to in my heading.
It is St. Patrick’s breastplate, illuminated by the late Michael O’Connor, son of Dr. Michael O’Connor and father of Fr. Brendan.
Michael O’Connor had an enormous talent for illumination.
Illumination is calligraphy in the style of The Book of Kells.
Jimmy Deenihan, chair of Kerry Literary Trust presented Fr. Brendan with a copy of Bertha Beatty’s Kerry Memories. Bertha also lived in No. 24 The Square when the Creagh family owned it.
Also in the photo is Cara Trant, Manager of Kerry Writers’ Museum.
Bryan MacMahon and Michael O’Connor collaborated on several pieces. Jim MacMahon came to Listowel to meet Fr. Brendan and to see the treasures.
Fr. Brendan used his late father’s magnifying glass to show Jim some of the intricate detail in the breastplate. Michael O’Connor worked on this at the kitchen table in his Dublin home, after the children had gone to bed. He worked holding a magnifying glass in one hand and a brush/pen in the other. Under these less -than -ideal conditions he produced Celtic illumination work of the highest quality, work proclaimed by experts in this field as the best of its kind.
The hope is that after expert work of conservation, some of Michael’s work will be displayed in the house where he grew up.
Fr. Brendan O’Connor, me, David Browne , chair of Kerry Writers’ Museum and Stephen Rynne who is the driving force behind the project to bring the work of Michael O’Connor to the wide audience it deserves.
Stephen’s father, Etienne Rynne was a friend of Michael O’Connor’s and Aideen, Stephen’s mother, is willing to give her treasured piece of O’Connor’s work for display along with the other works.
Aideen is holding the piece in my photograph. It is an illuminated papal blessing scroll presented to her and her husband, Etienne, by Michael O’Connor on the occasion of their marriage.
Maybe there are other people with a Listowel Connection or not who have a piece of this original artwork in their possession. Stephen, who is co-ordinating the project is anxious to trace the whereabouts of as many original pieces as possible.
Maybe you have one of the 6 Christmas cards with words by Bryan MacMahon and illumination by Michael O’Connor that were produced by Oriel Press. The original artwork for these has been lost but maybe you have kept a card and it is now part of this extraordinary story.
Friday, September 24 2021 at Listowel Races
Photos by Bridget O’Connor
These ladies were the finalists in the Best Dressed competition.
And the winner is….
This photo is from Listowel Races site. The lady is Maritess McCarthy.
I love seeing this old form of transport in Killarney National Park
These are the famous herd of Kerry cows.
Here is Cora with Molly as they wait patiently for Daddy to return with the picnic.
Mullally’s of Church Street
Armel White alerted me to this. As painters stripped the paint prior to repainting Murphy’s, they revealed the name of the former owners, Mullally, bringing back many memories to Listowel people.
Charles’ Street in 2003
Listowel Races in the Light of Other Days
We won’t be seeing any of these scenes this September. Here are a few old photos just to remind you of better times.
David Toomey…Man of Iron
David Twomey is Listowel’s very talented town gardener. In Valeria O’Sullivan’s picture from last weekend he is taking part in a gruelling ultra marathon.
David Toomey, on Drung Hill, Mountain Stage, Kells, Co Kerry, undertaking a 200km non stop endurance race – The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon, a daunting 40 hour, 200km, non stop race, which traverses the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Iveragh Peninsula, on Ireland’s longest trail route in Ireland. All athletes adhered to social distancing, HSE and Sport Ireland Covid19 guidelines.
Unfortunately, David suffered a foot injury towards the closing stages and was unable to finish.
Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach (He’ll live to fight another day)
A sobering thought from John O’Flahery’s great book about Listowel Races
First jockey to be killed in Listowel. The year was 1896.
The man in question was a 21 year old jockey from Fedamore, named Michael Prendergast who was tragically killed during the last race on the second day when his mount “Castlequarter”, crashed into a corner post after jumping the last fence.
The accident happened when Prendergast was trying to drive Castlequarter inside the eventual winner, Tantalus, as they approached the final corner post. As they neared the post, Castlequarter swerved to the right and would have gone inside the post if Prendergast had not snatched him up. This momentaery delay cost him his life, for, when he straightened his horse, he found that the gap had almost been closed by Tantalus and his rider.
Courageously, Prendergast tried to squeeze through the tiny space, but, instead, he only succeeded in driving the horse on to the post with shattering force. He was propelled from the saddle and struck the ground violently with his head, knocking him unconscious.
He was removed to Feale View Hotel, the home of the Hon. Secretary, Michael O’Connor, with blood streaming from his ears. Despite being attended to by a number of doctors, he died without regaining consciousness, at 7.00p.m. on Friday August 29. His young wife, whom he had married only a few months before, was at his bedside.
The terrible accident, which prematurely ended a very promising career, was all the more pathetic, because, up to then, Prendergast had been enjoying an outstanding meeting, during which he had notched up three winners, including the two feature races.
Perhaps the accident might not have happened at all had the stewards not disqualified the winner of the first race that day, Antelope, because he had come inside one of the posts. In trying to avoid the same fate, Prendergast earned the unenviable distinction of being the first jockey to be killed at Listowel. Incidentally, his mount, Castlequarter broke his neck in a fall at Croom the following year.
Down Memory Lane
Eileen Sheridan sent us this good one.
Babe Joe Wilmot,Tadgh Brennan, Maisie McSweeney
Maureen Horgan Ethel Ryan
At the side Jerry Flaherty
The Sign is done. The Harp strings are painted and while he had the ladder up,
Martin gave the Lion’s face a cat’s lick. Passing pigeons are a menace.