If May Eve was bad, May Day was 100 times worse. Traditionally it was a “gale day”, i.e. a day on which the half yearly rent had to be paid to the landlord. It was a day of bargaining and pleading and setting a rent for the coming year. The letting of grazing and meadowing usually dated from May 1st and farm hands were hired from May 1.

So this was the time of the hiring fairs.These fairs were held in Ireland since 1752. Men and women came to the fairs, often carrying the symbols of their trade. A milkman would carry a spancel, others brought a flail, a reaping hook or spade. Farmers came and struck a bargain for help on the farm for the year. Peig describes this in her autobiography. She had 2 very different experiences in her time in service, once with a lovely mistress and once with a cruel b..tch who overworked her and treated her abominably.

May Day marked the beginning of summer for the farmer. Cattle were put out to grass. All the spring work should be finished by May Day.

The weather was also watched closely on May 1. The May moon was observed, the strength and direction of the wind and the amount of rain were all carefully noted on May Day as indications of what was to come for the coming summer.


Success on the racetrack for people with a strong Listowel connection

From last week’s Kerryman

Wednesday April 25 2012

FORMER Listowel owners Maurice and Patricia Regan, proprietors of Newtown Anner Stud Farm at Clonmel, have enjoyed a tremendous seven days both here in Ireland and in America with their outstanding racehorses.

At The Curragh on Sunday, their game 4-year old Cnocan diva, scored for the second time in recent weeks, winning the Irish Field 1mile handicap, by a short head, from Susiescot, under a most polished drive by Dundalk apprentice Stephen Grey. Despite going up 10 pounds for its recent half a length Limerick success, he showed tremendous battling qualities to gain the day by the minimum margin.

At Aqueduct Park in America, the Regans International racing interests, were carried to Listed Status, when their runner My Red Bird won the Featured Listed Stakes last week, while at the same venue on Saturday night last, their runner Magical Cat, formerly trained in Tipperary by Joe Murphy, was a most impressive winner, of the nights feature event.


A story that has touched the
hearts of everyone in Listowel is the illness and
passing of Sinéad Halkett.

The sympathies and prayers of the
whole of Listowel go out to Anne, John, Robert and Claire and all of Sinéad’s
relatives and friends. There are no adequate words at this time.

This photograph was taken in
happier times when the very talented young Sinéad was being presented with a
prize by the then Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey.

+May she rest in peace+


Good news surely from The Irish Times!

Three towns selected for heritage project


Youghal, Westport and Listowel have been chosen to pilot a new heritage project which involves conserving buildings and maximising their tourism potential.

The Historic Towns Initiative for Ireland will be introduced in other locations if these projects are successful.

The plan is being led by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the

Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland.

Work will now begin in the three towns in Cork, Mayo and Kerry to conserve and protect buildings and find new uses for them where necessary.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan hosted a forum yesterday to kick-start the plan.

The forum heard that a number of international heritage-led urban regeneration projects had been completed and would provide useful case studies for Ireland.

Mr Deenihan said Ireland’s historic towns were “a significant attraction” for tourists with an interest in culture and heritage.

“The pilot of the Heritage Towns Initiative will aim to preserve existing heritage assets, stimulate heritage-led regeneration and add to the tourism offering of these locations,” Mr Deenihan said.

“The needs of the communities that live in participating towns will remain core to the process,” he added.