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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Kerry Candlelight

Early morning in Portmarnock in Winter 2021…..Photo : Éamon ÓMurchú

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That was then and This is Now

What a difference a year makes, in Listowel street names?

Information from Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of an Irish Market town.

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Marbles

We used to call them glassy alleys. They certainly looked like glass but I dont know if they were made of glass really. They were certainly smooth and colourful and in my childhood very much the domain of boys.

Gender stereotyping was rife in my youth. Boys didn’t play with dolls. Girls didn’t play with guns or marbles.

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Our Perennial Christmas Song

Christmas is a time for ritual. Part of Listowel Connection ritual is the inclusion of this song at this time of year. Master MacMahon used to teach it to his Fourth Class boys in Scoil Realta na Maidine.

The Kerry Candlelight

1

I am standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,
For ‘tis soon I’ll see the moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay.
So behind me, then, is London, with the magic of its night,
And before me is a window filled with Kerry Candlelight.

Chorus

‘Tis the lovely light of glory that came down from heav’n on high,
And whenever I recall it, there’s a teardrop in my eye.
By the mountainside at twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,
There my true love sits a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.

2

She’ll be waiting by the turf fire; soon our arms will be entwined,
And the loneliness of exile will be lost or cast behind,
As we hear the Christmas greetings of the neighbours in the night,
Then our hearts will beat together in the blessed Candlelight.

3

Now the train is moving westward, so God speed its racing wheels,
And God speed its whistle ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,
For I’m dreaming of an altar where, beside my Breda bright,
I will whisper vows of true love in the Kerry Candlelight.

Bryan MacMahon

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Cancel Culture Gone Mad

Image from a card I received yesterday

“Ireland should remove the British royal insignia which can still be seen on some post boxes, according to Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe.

In an interview on Newstalk Breakfast, the Limerick councillor said Irish post boxes should reflect modern Irish life…..”

Thus began an article by Olivia Kelleher in Breaking News.ie

“Oh no, please don’t,” say I.

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Don’t Forget!

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A National Treasure

Kevin Lane alerted me to the story in The New York Times and Jim Ryan helped me find the RTE coverage of it.

Here is the link to the Rte story: Rare footage of Cork and Kerry discovered

The discovery of the rare films was initiated by Mícheál Ó Mainnín, a farmer and fisherman from Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (Ballyferriter), as he sought to verify memories his grandfather had shared with him about “the American with a camera”.

“My grandfather, Mick ‘Neilí’ Ó Mainnín, remembered this man coming around. He was collecting birds, eggs and other animals. He became very popular in the area as he had plenty money and was giving out money to anyone who brought him birds.

“My grandfather told me about a day they were fishing in Inis Mhic Uibhleáin (Inishvickillane) and they met ‘the yank’ on the island. He had a movie camera with him and he took a film of my grandfather, my granduncle and the Daly brothers.”

Using the family story as a starting point, Mr Ó Mainnín began the task of identifying the curious “American” in the hope that his films may have survived.

The film was shot in 1925 and 1926 and features events and people in Cork and Kerry. It is lovely.

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North Kerry

Market Street, Listowel, December 2021

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Ads for North Kerry Businesses

From Shannonside Annual 1958

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A Christmas Window…Behan’s Horseshoe

One of these bunnies is a bit on the Kildare side. Maybe he overindulged in The Horseshoe.

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A Poem

Today’s poem is by Éamon ÓMurchú. It arose out of a recent hospital stay.

Fear Turns to Awe

Thirteen years 

of fear and trepidation

Change in the space of two days 

To Gratitude  and Admiration

Everybody here Displays

Commitment

Dedication

Expertise

Professionalism –

putting the patients first 

in all they plan and do

Front of House staff 

give warm and reassuring welcome

While in the pre-op room 

frenzied yet consistent attention to detail

Plan Prepare and Reassure

In the Operating Theatre 

one witnesses 

albeit briefly 

Extraordinary

Teamwork, 

Partnership, 

Cooperation, 

and Skill Sets 

that know no bounds

And there is the Patient’s room

where the Night Nurse

caring, patient, encouraging 

with kind demeanour makes a sleepless night 

manageable 

-the patient coping 

by looking forward to her next visit and chat

And the Day Nurse –

Kind comforting reassurance

coupled with

firm but sensitive directives

which hasten recovery and healing

People gifted kind unique

We owe them; let’s not forget that

All personnel here share 

a humanity and concern for life 

in all its manifestations – 

so exemplary,

so necessary 

in our world today  

Conversion is their trade

Fear into awe

Worry into relief

Darkness into light

Sadness into joy

These people 

are of the same stock as you and me

Vulnerable and proficient

Deserving affirmation

Let’s not be wanting in our response

Let’s praise, applaud and celebrate

In deed and word

Joining them in their healing

Thus making a better world

Éamon Ó Murchú 

12/11/2021

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Which Crest?

A blog follower needs help from O’Connors or anyone well versed in heraldry.

She wishes to know which of these family crests is the correct one for her Kerry O’Connor clan.

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Costing a Fortune

Mattie Lennon wrote a letter to The Sunday Independent. When he saw it in print he was surprised to see that someone had done the Math and came up with the answer to the question he posed.

I’d love to know did he arrive at the correct answer. It looks a bit big to me. I know that there are a few mathematicians among followers of Listowel Connection. Your help is needed.

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One for those with a Limerick Connection

Vincent Carmody has produced another triumph. In this latest book he has been joined by his good friend, Tom Donovan to produce a pictorial account of Limerick commercial life between 1840 and 1960.

The book was launched in Limerick on November 30th.

Left to right in St. Mary’s Cathedral at the launch were Tom Ruddle, Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Tom Donovan, Vincent Carmody and Jimmy Moloney, Mayor of Kerry

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Knitwits, Discountland, Creamery staff and a poem to remind us of our mortality

Market Street, Listowel, March 2019

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Knitwits Welcome back Una Hayes

Lovely to have Una back knitting with us after an absence due to illness.

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New Discount Shop in Old Location


William Street in March 2019 and a new store opens.

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Memory Lane in The Advertiser


I took this photo from last week’s Advertiser

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The Clock of Life


I posted this before and it proved popular

Newtownsandes Creamery, Greenville Road, Gapo’s and St. Patrick’s Day in California

Market Street, Listowel in March 2019

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Moyvane Creamery


These photos are from this year’s creamery calendar

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Work has started




The site is cleared beside the convent chapel.

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Gapo’s




Last week I posted these photos and people have asked me since who are these lovely people who run Gapo’s. A few years ago Listowel Food Fair did the food stories of Listowel’s eateries. Below is their photo and text about Gapo’s.

Gapo’s



We have a real fairy tale Food Story for you this week. 



From one of the world’s most ancient nations, to a North Kerry town at the heart of rural Ireland. The journey for Gapo’s begins far away in Armenia where Head Chef Artur Gabrielyan comes from. Born and raised near the country’s capital Yerevan one of Europe’s most exuberant and endearing cities, Artur was born into a family steeped in food culture. All family both immediate and extended were involved in cooking, his grandmother Nvart was the head village Cook, the lady who villagers called on whenever there was a cause for celebration; birthdays, christenings or weddings. Nvart would gather her crew, usually several other village women all great cooks they would get together and feed the party. Creating hearty feasts of their country, sharing dishes and great times. Having grown up in this environment, it’s not surprising that Artur chose a career in food, although it didn’t begin that way.

Living in Yerevan in the late 1990s, Artur closed the business he was running largely due to the unrest around him, the city had remained in turmoil since its break from the Soviet Union in 1991. He felt a life away from his homeland was the best option for his future. Initially planning on heading to Sweden with his friend, this didn’t work out and he found himself in Ireland. His first experience of Irish culture was watching Riverdance while still living Yerevan, the iconic dance performance captured his imagination and planted Ireland in his conscious.

On arriving in Ireland, he first came to Dublin and shortly afterwards arrived to Listowel. It was here he found his feet and began taking English classes that were being offered at the time to residents in the town looking to learn the language. While doing these classes, a local woman Sue McKenna who noted his talent for food, introduced him to Mario Del Alessandro who took him on as a chef. And so, began a 16-year career at Casa Mia’s Ristorante further up William Street.

Not only did he find a job, he also met his wife Liene Druka who worked as a waitress at the restaurant. Liene had arrived on a gap year from college with her friend, a native of Tukums Latvia, she spent a year at Casa Mia’s before returning to college to complete her studies. Once her studies finished, she was back in Listowel and remained working at Casa Mia’s until the birth of their first son in 2007. Following on from that she worked locally in both Ballybunion and Listowel until 2016 when the couple decided to open their own restaurant. Spotting a demand for something different in the town, while also having the opportunity to create Armenian style dishes, Artur and Liene took over the property on William Street formerly known as Mai Fitz’s. Opening on May 11th, 2016 they have made their mark as giving a unique dining experience in the town. While there are several Lebanese style restaurants located on the east coast, close to Dublin, to find an Armenia exclusive restaurant is tough. So, it may be possible that Listowel has the only Armenian Restaurant in Ireland!

The creations at Gapo’s are uniquely Armenian with a reference to European cuisine. Artur and Liene offer an experience for their guests by taking them on a journey through the different countries by using food as their vehicle. The main characteristics of Armenia Cuisine are a reliance on the quality of the ingredients, the use of wheat in a variety of forms, of legumes, nuts, and fruit as a main ingredient as well as to sour food, and the stuffing of a wide variety of leaves. The Tabule dish for just €6 served as a starter on the evening menu is a great way of trying out the cuisine.

And what does the name Gapo’s represent? Gapo is the name of Artur’s grandfather who without doubt would be very proud of the success his grandson has achieved here in Ireland.

We have had a real adventure this week with Gapo’s and would like to thank Artur, Liene and their two beautiful sons Gabriel and Mikael for having us and sharing their Food Story. 

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St. Patrick’s Day in San Diego



They’re planning a hooley in California


Church St, Conditions for Listowel Children in 1915 and juvenile tennis players

Then and Now



Lower Church Street



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Mrs Bibiana Foran of Listowel



Mrs. Foran was a kind of Lady Bountiful whose name comes up often in accounts of charitable acts in Listowel.

In 1915 she wrote this letter to The Kerryman



Dear Sir.—The present time of stirring events has, perhaps, been needed to bring home to us the importance of guarding the lives and preserving the vitality of our children. To those whom fortune has favoured in the way of wealth, there is no need to speak. The well-being of their children is taken as a matter of course; but the children of the poor—the future working assets of our nation, are those which must engage the thinking members of our population. We see around us every day, thousands of little lives dropping out, or children who go through life with maimed, deformed bodies, without considering why it should be so, or if it could be prevented. 



See what they are doing in other countries, spending thousands of pounds to have even proper playgrounds while here we seem to be centuries behind time in everything considering child welfare. In England the State provides, free meals, medical examination of schools, dental clinics, free books, grants for baby clubs, and maternity centres, where the expectant poor mother has received advice for months before her baby is born.



 A Child Welfare Committee has been formed in Dublin, of which the Solicitor-General is chairman, the views of which has secured the sympathy and support of Irish, Liberal, and Unionist Members of the House which guides our destinies, and it only remains now for you, sir, to arouse public opinion on the subject to strengthen their hands and obtain for the children of this country the same privileges as prevail in the Sister Isle. 



You already know what the Id. dinners have done for the poor children in Tralee, and our small experience here has shown us what the lunch given at our school has done for the little boys who have been receiving it for the past few years. £10 donation towards the Samaritan Funds of the W. N. H. A. enabled us to begin the lunch one cold, raw winter’s day to about 35 children. Since then, the number has been raised to 80 and all honour to the generous people of our town and district, we have never since been in want of funds for carrying it on. 



Our Queen’s Jubilee Nurse attend; three days every week during the lunch hours and any little boy showing signs of delicacy has been attended to quietly at her own cottage. And I venture to say the 80 odd little men were, in consequence, so much improved mentally and physically, within one year, a not to be known as the same. A little experience is worth volumes of writing and why not this be carried out in every school in Ireland by the State? We know that the present grant is absolutely inadequate and it only extends to urban districts, while the poor – children in country schools are labouring under the same, if not worse, conditions. Even one good, nourishing meal a day, medical inspection of schools where ailing children will be attended to in time; Dental Clinics, free books and a public playground in every town and city where children would be free to have that play so necessary for them, would change the whole aspect of those little ones in five years. While Baby Clubs and Maternity Centres would give them a chance -a fighting chance—for their lives with all the other nations of the earth.


It is only the Nuns and the Teachers who have been so nobly trying to battle with those drawbacks that could tell what it is costing us—and them—and surely leaving sentiment entirely out of the question is it not money well spent to preserve and fashion to its best the children of our race—THE FUTURE ASSETS OF OUR NATION. 

The child makes the man. How can you expect a man to emerge with brain, bone and sinew whose veins were starved in childhood on bread and tea, what fills our jails, workhouses and asylums, and places such burdens on the rates? Perhaps the answer is here

 Yours faithfully.

 BIBIANA FORAN


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Tennis Club Championship Finalists in the 1980s




 Photo : Danny Gordon

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Early Floral Display, January 2019




This lovely raised bed is on Market Street outside the old mart wall.


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Juvenile Tennis Players Named


Photo; Danny Gordon.

Names with a little help from Elaine

Back L to R; Dympna Galvin, Paul O’Neill, J.J. Walsh, Laura O’Neill

Front: Shane O’Connor, Elaine Kinsella, Sinead Finnegan and Dan Browne

Apologies if I have misidentified anyone. The year was 1987.

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Dance hall Devils



Hi, Mary, your dance-hall article reminds me of what Dan Paddy Andy ‘said’ (in J. B. Keane’s book) of such a ‘devil’ who was feared would arrive in his dance-hall. The devil was supposed to have been  a clerical student.  He was blamed for the ruination of so many young dance-hall women that he was christened, not the Lamb, but  ‘The Ram of God.’ Dan Paddy Andy proclaimed that if the ‘Ram of God’ ever came to his hall at Renagown, he would go home a wether! As you know, if that happened, he would be (harmlessly) leading a different sort of flock!!

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