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Tag: Nano Nagle

Group Cert English, Listowel people at Raceweek and Peggy Rorke’s cure

Robin on bramble Photographed by Chris Grayson


Group Cert English paper 1963

The Group Cert was an exam that was taken by pupils in Vocational schools. There used to be a segregation of pupils into academic schools which taught subjects like Latin and Greek as well as the core subjects, and vocational schools which prepared pupils for the world of work. These vocational schools alone had an exam after two years called Group Cert. Many pupils then left to take up apprenticeships or to go into jobs.


…And Lion

This iconic piece of stucco is being refurbished.


Raceweek Back in the Day

Seamus Buckley’s photos show spectators watching the barmen’s race during race week sometime in the 1950s or 60s

Yesterday’s Raceweek photos brought this response from Gerard Leahy;

Great memories Mary, and you are correct, all of us emigrants cast our minds back to Listowel during Race Week. I loved seeing the old Race Cards. Stuart Stack ( Damian Stack ‘s father) used to distribute bundles of cards to us kids on Race morning and we would sell them up and down the street, the square and the pubs for a shilling, making 100% profit. So many memories of Race Week but Jimmy Hennessy, King of the Wrenboys will always stand out!!!


Did Her Sister make a Miraculous Recovery?

I photographed this headstone in the nuns’ graveyard at the Nano Nagle Centre in Cork. The Nano Nagle Centre, which is well worth a visit, holds the graves of both  Presentation and the Ursuline sisters. It is on the site of the old South Pres. I’ll be coming back to it here because I made a second visit there recently and was fascinated by the marvellous work of preservation and information that The Presentation Sisters have done at this site which is a museum, a peaceful garden and a visitor centre. I’ll have to go back a third time because, by bad timing, I missed the guided tour by Sr. Bride Given, formerly of Listowel whom I am told is an excellent guide.

Back to this child, Anne Rorke of County Dublin who was buried with the nuns.

Dave O’Sullivan did a bit of research for us and the story he found refers to Anne’s sister but sheds enough light for us to  surmise about Anne and her fate.

The Andrew Rorke referred to in this cutting is obviously Anne’s father. In 1840 he belonged to the ‘Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty”,  was a follower of O’Connell’s and obviously wealthy enough to be able to send his daughters to the Ursuline Boarding School  in Cork to be educated.

The next newspaper story is the fascinating one.

For those of you who have difficulty reading the newspaper cutting, here is the gist of it;

Margaret (Peggy) Rorke of Tyrrellstown in Co. Dublin contracted measles while a boarder in the Ursuline Convent School in Cork. This is 1823 when an outbreak of measles could result in deaths in a crowded community. Anyway Margaret was in a bad way, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat,  could only sit in a chair because to lie prone would have resulted in her lungs filling up with fluid.

In this state she is attended by the nuns and is preparing for death, when they send for a famous priest and miracle worker to give her the Last Rites, then called Extreme Unction or Holy Viaticum (Bread for the journey to heaven). 

This priest is Prince Alexander Leopold Franz Emmerich of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst

He performs the last rites on the dying girl, she spends some time in prayer and, lo and behold, she throws off the covers and walks for the first time in three months. She is completely and undeniably cured.

The newspaper comments

“Peggy Rorke’s cure will ne’er be forgot

By those who were there and those who were not”

From this story we can surmise that her sister Anne died of some complication of measles in 1815.  Because they had suffered the loss of one daughter, the family would have done anything to save the life of Margaret, including bringing a miracle priest from Germany. Daniel O’Connell may even have had something to do with it.


Sunday at the Races

Sean and Killian were with me in Kerry for the weekend. We went to The Island on Sunday and we had a great time. Not too much luck with the horses but a good time nonetheless.

There was a great crowd in attendance.

Nano Nagle Place, Old Piseogs and Carrigkerry

 Chris Grayson


Old Cork

This photo was not taken today or yesterday. I think it’s the 1960s and these are tourist caravans on the Western Road outside the Ear Nose and Throat hospital. The street is now one way.


The Legacy of Nano Angle and The Presentation Sisters

In Listowel we have a memorial to the work of the nuns centralised in our town square. We were lucky to have both Presentation and Mercy sisters helping to educate and care for generations of Listowel people.

The mission of the Presentation sisters was to educate the young ladies of North Kerry and I was privileged to work with them for many years.

Nano Nagle, who founded the Presentation sisters was a Cork woman. The order now has converted their South Presentation school and convent into a magnificent heritage centre. I was there with my daughter, Cliona, a Pres girl,  on Heritage Day 2018

Impressive, isn’t it?

 The nuns’ burial ground with its uniform headstones reminded me of the graves I’ve seen in pictures of a battlefield.

It was a bit of a shock to see a grave with a family name. I don’t know if she was any relation.

 This was a surprise. I can’t imagine how she came to be buried here in South Pres.

 The convent garden is wonderful with borders of lavender on which bees were at work.

In the museum there were artefacts and photos from Presentation communities around the world.There was a stamp from Listowel and a roll book from South Pres.


Some Little Known Superstitions

From Patrick O’Sullivan’s excellent Country Diary

Times were different back then!



Just over the border in Co. Limerick is the lovely little village of Carrigkerry.

Memories, Lord Listowel, Comic Con , An old tractor. Stack’s Arcade and Rás Tailteann 2018

 Chris Grayson


Dan Shine of Listowel

I posted this photo of Dan with his daughter Laura’s children and it brought back happy memories. His sister, Rose wrote;

“Hi Mary, how wonderful to see a photo of my brother Dan Shine, thank you for posting it. I have many memories of him getting his uniform ready for his FCA meeting every Monday Monday night, cleaning the brass buttons with Brasso until they were gleaming and polishing his black boots, you could almost see your face in them lol, happy happy days. Regards, Rose.


Zumba in The Square

At the recent History Festival there was a great variety of different activities going on.

Deadpool and the missus were taking a stroll on Church Street


Lord Listowel

This is a photo of the third earl of Listowel. I found it online when I was researching for my walk around the Square and into Bridge Road on June 2nd. 2018 as part of the Listowel Writers’ Week programme.


Comics, Games and figurines at Comic Con

In comjunction with Listowel History Festival there was a Comic Con in The Listowel Arms. This was a first for me but it obviously has a huge following judging by the crowds in attendance.


A Few More from The History Weekend

This tractor is over 100 years

It was brought to Listowel by the Donegan Family who run a garage in Milford, near Charleville in Co. Cork. They are passionate about restoring old tractors and proudly told me that there are only three of these tractors still around today and the Donegan family own all three.

I remember these tractors as the ones that pulled the thresher which was a feature of farm life in my young days.


From the John Hannon Archive

An old photo of Stack’s, The Arcade.


Listowel Welcomes Rás Tailteann 2018

Shrove and Bikers

Today is Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. In places Shrove is celebrated with a carnival. The words carn and vale mean farewell to the flesh.  Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent, traditionally a time for abstinence from all the pleasures of the flesh.

A rule in christiandom since the middle ages forbade people to eat meat or any dairy products including eggs during Lent. This was a very harsh deprivation for Irish people whose diet was heavily reliant on milk and eggs.

On Shrove Tuesday any surplus milk eggs and butter were used up in the making of pancakes. This was a last fling before the austerity of Lent.

Shrove, in ancient Ireland, was the time to get married. It was considered one’s civic duty to marry and raise a family and unmarried people had no status and were horribly bullied in 17th and 18th century Ireland. Some of these reprehensible customs even continued in parts of Kerry into the 19th and early 20th. century.

Since one could not marry during Lent there was always a rush to marry during Shrove. Nearly every parish in Ireland had at least one wedding on Shrove Tuesday. Some of us remember that Peig Sayers got married on Shrove Tuesday and she mentions in her autobiography that there were “alán póstaí eile ar an mBuailtín” on the same day.

Those who did not marry and were considered of marriageable age had their names put on the Skelligs List. There was a tradition that Lent began a week later on Skellig so people who missed the boat in Kerry were shipped off to Skellig where they had another week to find a mate.

According to Kevin Danaher in “The Year in Ireland” Shrove Tuesday was a time when “practical jokes on hardened bachelors were allowed by custom”. He says that in Tralee delinquent bachelors were serenaded with ‘music’ on buckets and tin cans. We can only suppose that this horrid custom was also practised in Listowel.


After my lesson in social history I have a few photos for you.

I took this photo on Saturday last. North Kerry and west Limerick bikers were gathered at The New Kingdom in Church St. for their annual poker run in aid of Nano Nagle school.

A great day out was had by the bikers and much needed funds were raised for the school. Well done everyone!


How’s this for parking? Photo taken in Listowel on Saturday week.

Yes, I am reliably informed that this car was parked!


The governor of Montana is to visit Ireland. Read more here–to-celebrate-Irish-ties-and-history-139687333.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


Finally here is a link to a recipe for a Michelin star pancake


P.S. If you are going to back anything at Cheltenham listen to Ruby first. Here’s the link,

Nano, Nano

This is Nano Nagle.  She is our own lady with the lamp. Padraig Tarrant, a brilliant sculptor with strong connections to Listowel and to the Presentation Order sculpted this beautiful black marble tribute to the work of all the sisters in Listowel. It stands outside St. Mary’s church overlooking The Square.

Here you can read a brief description of The work of the Presentation sisters in Listowel

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