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: Michael O’Connor Page 1 of 4

Winners and Victims

Blennerville by John Hooton, photo shared on Facebook

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Two New O’Connor Pieces

These two newly discovered pieces of Michael O’Connor’s excellent illumination work have turned up in Stephen Rynne’s family home. Stephen’s dad was a friend of O’Connor’s and had many pieces of his work. After Michael’s death his widow entrusted much of his work in progress to his two friends, Maurice Fridberg and Etienne Rynne, who endeavoured to find a “home” for them. That search has been taken up by Stephen, son of Etienne and very soon these wonderful pieces of artwork will be back in Listowel in No. 24 The Square.

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We are the Best

Two Listowel institutions returned with well deserved awards from the Irish Hospitality Awards ceremony in Dublin, Mike the Pies in the Best Live Entertainment venue and Jumbos in the Best Family restaurant categories.

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Tom Doodle

Doodle Rally in Main Street

I found this essay on Boards.ie in a closed account. I don’t know who the author is. it’s a first hand account of the day Doodle came to town.

We were in the middle of our Leaving exam. at St. Micks when news of Doodles coming to town was announced and come hell or high water would we be denied the chance to act as guard of honour to the Doodle entourage which had been arranged by M.O.C. the late and great Johneen Keane, however to take part we had to dress as if in Mardi Gras, this to add to the frivolity of the evening and also as a disguise so the College President did not recognise any of his star pupils. I remember Bunny Dalton who was in the lead truck with the other musicians asking John B. what music would be appropriate for the occasion and the answer was as many National Anthems as you can think of. A tour of the town was completed via Charles Street and Church Street and to this day I cant forget the faces of the townsfolk who lined the streets, most were of joy and happiness and some in awe, one old woman with rosary beads went on her knees thinking it was the Papal Nuncio while another who having been attic bound for years thought that Doodle was the reincarnation of Parnell. What followed that night was the funniest night I ever spend at home and the night was recalled once again at the post performance reception of Sives Premiere in Dublin in May 59 when I met up with John B.

Quick background for newcomers;

Tom Doodle was a jape by a group of Listowel friends led by John B. Keane. The Independent Couleogous Party was a fictional political party set up by Keane and Co. Doodle was their candidate in the General Election of 1951. They ran a campaign for him complete with unlikely promises, slogans and a jingle. His campaign highlight was a monster rally in the small square.

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Lest we Forget

This brutal Siegfried Sassoon poem has been shared widely lately as rows swirl online over the wearing of the poppy.

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Some Holy Things

The Presbytery, Listowel October 2022

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Jerry Kennelly Remembers

Some North Kerry churches remembered by Jerry Kennelly in Shannonside Annual 1959

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A Leftover from Another Age

This image of the grotto at Lourdes in a window on Church Street took me back to my childhood. This image was everywhere, in pictures and in little cards we used to have in prayerbooks. It was also very popular in memorial cards.

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De Valera and a Forest in Israel

This 1965 picture shows representatives of the Irish Jewish community presenting Eamon de Valera, Uachtaráin na hEireann, with a “Book of Honour” in thanksgiving for his work for peace during the second world war. The book was illuminated and written in calligraphy by Michael O’Connor of Listowel.

On Dev’s right as you look at the picture Professor Mervyn Abrahamson, chair of the Eamon de Valera Forest Committee.

So where is this forest?

Éamon de Valera Forest (Hebrew: יער איימון דה ואלירה) is a forest in Israel, near Nazareth. It was planted in 1966 and named after American-born Irish politician and statesman Éamon de Valera.

“It has 10,000 trees planted by the Jewish community of Ireland in tribute to President Eamonn de Valera. To be known as the Eamonn de Valera Forest at Kfar Hanna near Nazareth, the project is the latest in a series of similar forests named to honor the late President John F. Kennedy, Jan Christian Smuts and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

The 10,000 tree forest is till flourishing today.

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Greenway Mural

I met this lovely young man in the Neodata carpark.

He is Garrett Joyce and he is busy finishing his mural in time for the official opening of our Greenway.

Looking good!

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Today’s English lesson

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Getting Ready for Halloween

My dotey granddaughter in her pumpkin outfit is all ready for Halloween. She has no clue what is all about but she knows excitement when she sees it.

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Jerry Kennelly Remembers

The Square, Listowel October 2022

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Jerry Kennelly’s Memories

From Shannonside Annual 1959

Shannonside Annual printed some of Jerry Kennelly’s reminiscences in 1959.

Jerry claimed that he was known by every man, woman and child in Listowel and district.

I hope this print isn’t too small. I firmly believe our ancestors had great eyesight. Old newspapers and magazines all seem to have tiny print size. This old man tells a first person account of life in Listowel in bygone days…. e.g.”the time of Bonaparte.”

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In The Park

1916 Commemorative garden

Lane between Park and Bridge Road

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De Valera and the Jews

Further to my Michael O’Connor story of Friday last, I went on an internet search for a forest in Israel and Jewish people in Ireland.

I found this picture of the Nobel prize winning physicist, Edwin Schrodinger on the internet. He was probably the most illustrious (and controversial) Jewish person who Dev. invited to Ireland.

Dev had two great passions, Celtic Studies and Maths. He set up the Institute for Advanced Studies and invited Shrodinger, then a renowned theoretical physicist, to be part of it. The invitation was timely as Schrodinger, an Austrian Jew, was facing expulsion or worse. He came to Ireland in 1939 and spent 17 happy years here.

I don’t pretend to understand any of his wave mechanics stuff. All I get from “Schrodinger’s Cat” is that a cat can be alive and dead at the same time.

Schrodinger took out Irish citizenship in 1948.

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The Greenway

The Curragh; Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú

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Another iteration in the restoration of this shop

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Ballinruddery

The source

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The Greenway

One entrance to the greenway is just off the Tim Kennelly roundabout.

In Cahirdown the walking and cycle paths are generously wide.

The cycling section ends at St. Michael’s.

The entrance to Páirc Mhic Shithigh is at the junction with Ballygologue Road so it was not possible to extend the widened path that far.

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Alice in Wonderland Day

This quartet were participating recently in Cork’s Alice in Wonderland Day.

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De Valera, an Israeli Forest and a Listowel Connection

Stephen Rynne is nothing if not diligent in his quest to track down samples of Michael O’Connor of Listowel’s beautiful artwork.

Here is his latest update.

Michael O’Connor on the far right of picture

Hand illustrated ‘Book of Honour’ presented to President de Valera on 5 
November 1965 to mark the planting in 1965, of a ‘Forest of Trees in his 
honour and in his name at ‘Kfar Kanna’ near the ancient town of Nazareth in 
Israel in recognition of his many years of devoted service in the cause of 
peace and freedom’. Includes quotation from Bunreacht na hÉireann and 
tributes to de Valera from Dr. Isaac Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Dr. Robert Briscoe, former Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dr. Immanuel Jakobvits, Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Mrs. Sarah Herzog, wife of the late Dr. Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Arthur Newman P.C, list of names of members of the Irish Jewish community and the names of the Eamon de Valera Forest Committee. Lettered and illuminated by hand, using Celtic symbols and decorations from the Book of Kells. Parchment leaves.

Illumination and Calligraphy by M.A. O’Connor, Dublin and Design and Presentation by 
Maurice Fridberg. Album (31pp), in bespoke presentation box;

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Beautiful Things

Kayaking in Ballybunion at sunset. Photo: David Morrison

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Beautiful Illuminated Picture

Michael O’Connor and Bryan MacMahon celebrated 100 years of Listowel Races in a beautiful work which was handed over to Kerry Writers’ Museum during Listowel Races 2022.

The piece has now begun the next stage of its journey. Stephen Rynne collected it from the museum and it is now on its way to a paper conservator who will do whatever preservation work is necessary before the museum prepares it for display.

Stephen took these photographs to give us an idea of how stunningly beautiful this is. Combining the work of two of Listowel’s greatest artists, I venture to say that it is Listowel’s and maybe even the Ireland’s greatest modern treasure.

These photographs were taken with a mobile phone through glass. They only give us a small inkling of how magnificent this piece is.

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Ladies’ Day, Listowel Races 2022

Here are some photos I took on the Island on Friday September 23 2022

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A Winter Poem

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Schoolgirls

The class reunion of the Pres. girls from the 1960s saw some old photos on display.

Senior Infants 1950

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