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: Mary Hanlon

Adare, Ballybunion Street Names and a Look back at Writers Week 2018 and a few photos from the weekend

May 24 and 25 2019

This weekend I was at two Michael D. events, two book launches, MS busking and the Eucharistic procession. I took tons of photos. It will take a while to process them, to tell the story and to drip  feed some of the best of them into blog posts. This week I’m busy with Writers’ Week so please be patient. There will be lean days yet and I’ll post the pictures for you.

VIP visitors, Michael D. and Sabina Higgins with Listowel VIPs, Julie Gleeson and Mary Hanlon.

Hard working Listowel/North Kerry M.S. Society volunteers with Ballybunion musicians and singers at their annual busking day in Listowel on Friday May 24 2019.

Joe Hanlon can’t wait to read his copy of Under the Bed…. Robert Pierse’s autobiographical work launched on Friday May 24 2019.

John Devoy signs his book, Quondam  for Limerick visitors in Woulfe’s bookshop on Saturday May 25 2019.

Annual Eucharistic procession at Convent Cross on Saturday May 25 2019

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Picturesque Adare, Co. Limerick

I stopped recently on my way home from Kildare. Adare is such a beautiful little town.



Adare Manor is a no-go area but otherwise the town is charming and welcoming.

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Ballybunion Street Names


Remember I told you all about the palaver Listowel had over street names?

Well we could take a leaf out of Ballybunion’s book. They used a very simple method, e.g. if the road leads to a doon call it Doon Road. If it leads to a sandhill, call it sandhill Road

Here are just a few examples I snapped while I was in town last week

All self explanatory but wait……..

A few roads are named after famous Ballybunion people but that’s understandable.

and




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Two More Sleeps to Opening Night Writers Week 2019


A few more from last year.

Ballybunion, Moyvane Time Capsule and Billy Keane’s New Book

Chaffinch


photo; Chris Grayson  



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Swinging a Camán in Ballybunion

I have a granddaughter who loves to hurl. Here she is giving it a lash on the beach in Ballybunion on Sunday October 30 2016.

 It was like a summers’ day. The children were having a ball.

There were swimmers and surfers in the water, some of them without wetsuits!

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Moyvane ICA’s Time Capsule

photographs by Elizabeth Brosnan

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The Best of Billy Keane



This book is a new departure for Billy Keane. It is not a novel. It is not a sports biography. In a way, it is a bit of both and more.

Journalism, by its nature is throw away writing. Colour pieces like Billy’s weekly columns in the Irish Independent are to be read and discarded. That is the nature of the beast.

Every now and again someone recognises that writing of this calibre is more relevant and lasting than yesterday’s newspaper and thus a collection is born.

The Best of Billy Keane is a curated collection of Billy’s columns in The Irish Independent and The Kerryman.

I am a fan of this genre.  Among  my all time favourites is the late great Con Houlihan, the chatty Maeve Binchy,  Tom Humphries, Olivia O’Leary and Miriam Lord. So you see what I like; a well turned phrase, an unexpected analogy, but most of all a keen observation of people with a hint of the eccentric, the entertaining.

Billy Keane’s writing is all of the above. At times he wears his heart on his sleeve. His essay can be a mixture of self revelation, self deprecation, occasionally a bit of self indulgence, a moment to wallow in grief, or sorrow or regret. He writes about the people he admires and the people he loves. Who will forget his recent articles following the death of Anthony Foley?…..too late for inclusion in this anthology. Rarely, does he get on his hobby horse and indulge in a rant. He sometimes wanders into a bizarre world of tall tales and overwrought imaginings.

One thing I love about Billy’s writing is the randomness  of it all. When I open my Irish Independent on a Monday, after I’ve read the headlines and done the Soduko I head for Billy Keane’s column. It’s like opening a surprise present from a favourite giver. Very often it is a local issue, maybe a story or a death that has caught Billy’s fancy.

Didn’t Homer make the Iliad out of a local row, according to Patrick Kavanagh?  Like Kavanagh, Billy Keane has that ability to take the local and make it universal.

I have laughed and cried reading Billy Keane. I have learned a bit, mainly about sport or the lot of the rural publican. I have been uplifted, amused and sometimes plunged into despair by the power of his writing. I have always, always been entertained.

I welcome this anthology. I will keep it handy beside my collections of the writing of Con Houlihan and my Windharp Poems of Ireland. I think I’ll ditch The Life Changing Magic of Tidying (unread) to make room.

Billy Keane has always encouraged me in what I do. He has often told me of his high regard for my late husband. Billy was in one of the first classes that Jim taught when he came to Listowel. Before the principalship of Diarmaid OSuilleabháin, St. Michael’s more often then not employed past pupils. Billy told me that Jim was like a breath of fresh air.

When Jim died and I was finding it hard to find motivation to continue with my blog, Billy was among the many local people who encouraged me to keep going. I remember what he said when I met him one day in the small square. “We need chroniclers.” So, from one chronicler to another,

Go néirí go geal leis an togra nua seo. More power to your elbow. May you continue to entertain us for many years to come. Is ag dul i bhfeabhas atá tú.

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Some Humans




Jean, Neil, Mary and Mary on the Cliff Walk, Ballybunion

John Hinde’s Ireland, genealogy and Teampall Bán and Boston

I love donkeys. This John Hinde one is a lovely specimen, young and energetic yet placid enough to be handled by children. This postcard photo has been in the news recently since the death of Paddy Lydon, who was photographed as a young boy with his sister, Mary, bringing home turf in Connemara. I have heard words like romantic and even idyllic used to describe the image.

I know better. There was nothing romantic about tramping through boggy ground, stooping and rising to fill two creels with turf and then coax a stubborn ass to plod his way back to the cottage. Once Paddy and Mary had unloaded the turf, they would set off straight away for another load.

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This is one for all you amateur genealogists

Judy
Walkman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California , was doing
some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Senator Harry
Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train
robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common
ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows
in Montana territory. 

On the back
of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: ‘Remus
Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887,
robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted
and hanged in 1889.’ 



So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for
information about their great-great uncle. 

Believe it or not, Harry
Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy
research:

 

Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana
Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable
equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in
1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally
taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key
player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency.
In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his
honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”


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Teampall Bán

About a half kilometer from town is a famine burial ground called An Teampall Bán.

Day one of the Tar Abhaile adventure was Sunday April 7 2013. I had arranged to meet the Red Pepper crew at Teampall Bán to do a recce for filming the next day. This was as near to the workhouse as we could get since there is nothing of that old building left.

The ever so hard working and obliging Mary Hanlon of the Tidy Town Committee prepared the place for our visit and it was a credit to her and the other volunteers.

The Red Pepper advance troops, Martain, Michelle, Áine and Tom  chat to Mary and Joe Hanlon.

Tom checked out the oratory. It looks beautiful.

John Pierse brought a pot of paint and a brush and Martain, who was an artist in a previous life, put the finishing touches to an inscription.

Some curious cows in the neighbouring field kept watch over it all.

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The Irish Times glowing review of Pilgrim Hill

A myth still permeates that Irish
cinema is a little too concerned with the rural and the miserable. Quite the
opposite is now the case. We don’t see nearly enough about disenfranchised
agricultural communities on our screens.

The extraordinary debut feature
from youngGerard Barrett, a determined Kerryman, sets the record straight in stirring
style. Shot in unhurried, cautious fashion – making occasional gestures to the
mock documentary genre – Pilgrim Hill offers a quietly devastating
portrait of Jimmy Walsh (Joe Mullins), a bachelor farmer eking out his life in
a lonely farm on a windy outcrop. He spends his days taking care of the cattle
and tending to the needs of his ailing, unseen father. At night, he allows
himself the occasional pint at a distant pub.

There are shades of the great
French documentary Modern Life, a study of farmers in the Cévennes, in
the sequences where Jimmy talks directly to the camera. But the film gets at a
very Irish class of misery: the wretchedness of being stranded with the
previous generation while one’s contemporaries surge into the modern world.

None of this sociological
observation would matter if Pilgrim Hill lacked cinematic juice. As it
happens, Ian D Murphy’s cinematography has a limpidity that soaks up the damp
landscapes to beautiful and mournful effect.

Barrett choreographs the slow march
towards an expected catastrophe with rhythms that are positively Russian in
their leisurely grace. The decision to hold back on non-diegetic music until
the final searing denouement speaks of an impressive degree of maturity (and restraint)
from a young film-maker.

Barrett is also to be congratulated
for drawing such a disciplined performance from his lead. A farmer and
occasional amateur actor, Mullins has a steadiness and commitment that cannot
be easily faked. But it takes real talent to make effective use of such
authenticity. The moment where Jimmy speculates about dying and meeting the
“person he could have been” fairly takes the breath away.

Don’t let Pilgrim Hill pass
you by.

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Yesterday was confirmation day in town.

The confirmandi had done a great job in decorating the church. I’ll bring you the fruits of their hard work over the next few days.



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One of the many iconic images emerging from Boston overnight.

Listowel Connection has many friends and followers in the Boston area. Our sympathies are with them and with everyone affected by the awful tragedy.

In an example of the triumph of hope over experience, the London marathon will go ahead on Sunday.

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