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: Mattie Lennon Page 1 of 5

Guards and Christmas

Listowel Library

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Christmas Windows 2022

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From An Sleán, A Clounmacon journal from 1985

Many local heroes remember in this poem by Garry Histon

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More from a Centenary of Policing Commemorations

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Christmas Displays 20232

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Mattie’s Nose

A Nose That Knows

“Those who in quarrels interpose

Must oft wipe a bloody nose” — John Gay.


       With all due respect to Mr Gay one doesn’t have to indulge in pugnacious behaviour to get an injured snout. My mugshot at the top of the page is slightly out of date. I have now less hair and more jowls and I’m wearing spectacles full time. But one thing hasn’t changed; my olfactory organ still has a Grecian bend.

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Pitch and Putt Course

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú

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Listowel Pitch and Putt Course

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?

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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.

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Sonny Canavan’s Dog

Mattie Lennon tells a John B. Keane yarn.

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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.

William Street

Danny’s

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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

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An Irish Santa

St. Michael’s graveyard in Winter 2021

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Church Street

Church Street gets its name from the church which once stood at the top of the street. All that remains of that church now is the bell tower pictured above. The church itself was demolished and the stones used to build the new church in The Square.

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A Christmas Window

My photographs do a great injustice to Listowel’s lovely Christmas window displays. This one is Finesse, who always have a perfect interpretation of whatever theme is set.

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An Irish Santa Claus

Unlike the most famous inhabitant of the North Pole, this Santa is probably a man you have never heard of. Mattie Lennon in this essay is doing his bit to right that wrong.

The Irish Santa Claus

by Mattie Lennon

Seamus Maguire was born in Thurles in 1950: the only child of James and Eileen Maguire. He completed his education in 1969 and subsequently worked as a Bus driver, Prison Officer and Social Worker in Tipperary and Cork.

In 1979, The International Year Of The Child, he founded Youth-In-Need. It was meant to be a one off project to help three young people for six months. Seamus went on to pioneer many projects to help young and old at home and abroad. Over the years he was the recipient of many prestigious awards and commendations.

He headed an organisation which operated a soup-run in London.

While he and his volunteers were distributing soup, sandwiches and blankets to the Irish homeless, Seamus felt that the marginalized exiles needed more. In December 1979 when Jingle Bells was blaring from loudspeakers in cities around the world and Ireland was coming to terms with the buzz brought about by the cub-Celtic Tiger, Seamus was busy. The unsung hero from Tipperary was approaching the homeless in the English capital offering them the chance to ” go home for Christmas”.

Those who availed of his offer were taken to a hostel and given accommodation. Proper food for a few days and fresh clothes meant that many who had abandoned all hope of a homecoming would be able to meet their loved ones looking “fairly respectable”.

Amid all the hardship, Seamus and his crew experienced the odd humorous incident.

A volunteer worker from County Donegal, John Cassidy, told the following story to me; “In early 1992 we arrived in Hammersmith with a forty- foot lorry loaded with food and blankets for the homeless centres. As we were unloading on a road that was restricted to vehicles under three tons a policeman insisted we move or he would have us arrested and the lorry impounded.

After a few moments of heated discussion Seamus produced a document bearing the seal of both the Irish and British Governments and warned the policeman that it would cause a diplomatic incident if he continued harassing us. The policeman reached for the document that Seamus was holding, hesitated, looked at Seamus and said; “you have four hours to unload and get the truck out of here”.

Thankfully the policeman did not insist on checking the paper that Seamus was holding; it was a customs clearance certificate.”

I penned the following ballad about Seamus Maguire; it was put to music by John Hoban

SEAMUS MAGUIRE By Mattie Lennon

The soup-runs of well meaning people

Could not heal the souls or hurt pride

Of the Irish in alien doorways

With no one but God on their side.

Through decades of drink and misfortune

Returning was out of the frame;

The streets and the hills of their homeland

Were but specks on an ocean of shame.

Despondency fed by resentment

Ran loose like an unbroken colt,

‘Til a hero, unsung, from Tipp’rary

Gave the conscience of Ireland a jolt.

“We’ll bring some of them home for next Christmas,

Who haven’t seen loved ones for years.

All we need is the will and the courage”

He blasted at pessimist ears.

Chorus;

Dreams dreamt, under cardboard in Camden,

Of a whin-bush, round tower or turf fire

Were realised beyond expectation;

We were brought home by Seamus Maguire.

The captains of business he badgered

While his care-workers beavered away,

Collecting the cash and resources,

And then came the memorable day

When the “rescue coach” left Dublin’s quayside

In December of seventy nine,

Taking fifty glad hearts to the country

With their loved ones once more to entwine.

For the next twenty years every Christmas

Maguire and his team would ensure

That the birth of the Saviour was special

For those He called “Bless’ed”; the poor.

And many a parent died happy

Resigned to their ultimate fate

With the son or the daughter they cherished

United before ’twas too late.

Chorus 

The date on a gravestone in Thurles

Proclaims ninety-nine as the year

That God gave to Seamus Maguire

The reward for his mission down here.

And his name in more permanent fashion

Is forever inscribed in that tome;

The hearts of our destitute exiles

Who once had no hope of going home.

Chorus.

(c)  Mattie Lennon 2004

For a man who was so good to so many it is very sad that in the end, he died alone. It is equally sad that nobody saw fit to keep Youth-in-Need going after his death.

John Cassidy, who was one of his stalwart volunteers said,  “ . . . I feel his commitment to the less well off should be acknowledged in some meaningful way. To the homeless Irish on the streets of London Seamus Maguire was known as the ‘Irish Santa Claus’. “

Irish Santa Claus

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And the Wittiest 2021 Christmas T shirt….

Dunnes Stores.

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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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Halloween, a New Shop and Eamon Kelly’s Suit

Halloween 2021 at Scoil Realta na Maidine, Listowel

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Halloween, Irish or American Style

I loved this column in Monday’s Irish Examiner. Enjoy!

Explainer;

Sheeple is a derogatory term to describe people who are docile and easily led. It is often used by people who oppose mandatory vaccine certs or any other government imposed restrictions that they disagree with.

“Do your own research” is a slogan used by people who are anti vaccine. Basically they are saying distrust the science and find like minded people on the internet.

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Stylish New Shop on Market Street

Rose and Crowm, Market Street, Listowel

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This poem will take you back to the bad old days.

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Eamon Kelly, Seanchaí

Some of us who were lucky enough to hear and enjoy The Seanchaí in our youth. Mattie Lennon tells us something about the man who was the consummate Irish storyteller

Brendan O’Shea (O’Sheas Tailoring, Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin) told me the following story:

At the end of September 2001, Eamon Kelly brought a suit in to Brendan for some alterations. The suit was fifteen years old. Prior to one of his trips to America, Eamon had it made by another Dublin tailor who left the jacket minus an inside pocket and the trousers without belt-loops or a back-pocket. Now, Eamon, the perfectionist, asked his fellow-Kerryman to rectify the sartorial omissions, which he did.

When Eamon died on 24th October 2001, he had left detailed instructions with his wife, Maura, about the funeral arrangements and which suit he wanted to be laid out in. Yes, you’ve guessed it!

Did the man who wrote so lovingly of Con-the-tailor, who made his first Communion suit, and who had portrayed an unforgettable tailor in “The Tailor and Ansty” want to somehow, bring the work of a Kerry tailor out of this world with him? I don’t know. And neither does Brendan O’Shea.

As his coffin left the church, the Congregation gave a round of applause. The show was over and this time there was no encore. The final curtain had fallen on a one-man show, performed by a man of many parts. Actor, storyteller and writer, loving husband, devoted father and great Kerryman.

Shortly before his death, while lecturing North American Literature and Theatre students in the art of storytelling, he said: “My journeying is over. If the humour takes me, I may appear in some Alhambra, where angels with folded wings will sit in the stalls, applaud politely and maybe come round after and say;’ that was great’ “.

As he walked into that great Rambling House in the sky, can’t you imagine the opening line?: “Ye’re glad I came”.

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Savannah McCarthy, International defender

Photo; The WLN Show
Photo: The WLN Show

Savannah McCarthy of Listowel is establishing herself as a regular in the starting XI for the Irish Ladies Football team.

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A Fact

The Lion King or The Lion Queen

In the time between Disney’s 1994 version of The Lion King and its 2019 remake the world’s population of lions had halved.

Zoologist, Craig Parker, of the lion research centre at the University of Minnesota told National Geographic that lion societies are matrilineal. The lionesses rule the pride while the males come and go. It would have been Sarabi who hand over her dominion to Nala, Simba’s mate.

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