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

Tag: New Jersey

St Patrick’s Celebrations 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day  2017 to everyone in the Listowel connection community

Photo and sand art by Mario Perez


Noreen O’Connell sends us this sad poem which was written by her emigrant great grand uncle, Paddy Histon

 The Dear
Little Shamrock

The shamrock you sent me

Fond greetings it brings me,

From the green hills of Ireland,

Far, far away:

And when I hold them

With care I unfold them,

For they grew near my home

In the hills of Athea.

The leaves were once green

Mow they are dried up and withered,

The tears from my eyes

Will refresh them like dew:

They recall to my mind

The long-cherished memories,

For it’s often I trod

On the spot where it grew.

Oh, could they but speak

What stories they would tell me,

Of the heroes who fought

To set our land free,

The martyrs who fell

By the sword and the  scaffold,

Are fondly engraved in my sad memory.

Here’s to the shamrock,

The flowers of St Patrick,

I will wear it to honour

The Saint’s blessed day:

But my footsteps will tread

On the shores of Columbia,

But my heart is at home

In the hills of Athea

Composed by Patrick J. Histon

In Conn. U.S. A . circa  1930


St Patrick’s Day in 1909

This lovely old photo was sent by Margel Soderberg. She tells me that this is her grandfather and she says

“His family lived in Chicago but his grandparent’s emigrated from Listowel in the 1860’s. In the photo, he is a young boy of 10, dressed as an archer and the date is given as St. Patrick’s day.  I have posted it to the Chicago Genealogy page but it didn’t sound familiar to anyone so I wondered it there was some type of celebration that was familiar to you.  He was Catholic.”

Does anyone in Chicago have any idea why this little Irish boy was dressed like this on the feast day of our patron saint.


Today is St. Patrick’s day so I’ll be busy with my camera.

They have already celebrated our national festival in other places. Here are a few photos from abroad.

Far from his native Lyreacrompane, Liam Murphy  celebrated the feast in New Jersey before the storm struck.

His friend Jule Spohn told him in a message of the plans for St. Patrick’s Day in Newark:

Hi Liam. Here is a little bit of St. Patrick’s Day news from Newark for you and your “Irish” friends. On St. Patrick’s Day morning our “New Cardinal” here in Newark, His Eminence Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, will be the principle celebrant and homilist at the “2017 Memorial Mass for Deceased Members and Investiture of the Grand Mashall and Deputy Grand Marshal.” The Mass will be at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral on Washington Street and Central Ave at 9:15 am and will feature the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band and the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Color Guard. Newark’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place that same day – March 17th – starting over by the Pru Sports Center on Mulberry Street at 1 pm. HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY to all.


And in Sarasota, Florida

Pat del Savio writes;

As there isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day Parade nearby, I am sending you some photos of my town’s Irish Gaelic Festival, a small, but enjoyable event.

Dancers with gray costumes are from The Drake School of Dance.

Dancers in multicolor costumes are from the  Irish Dance Academy of Sarasota Three of the dancers are competing in dancing competitions in Belfast and Dublin this year. Gillian McCormick is the teacher and she is in the photo with the dancers.

 The local weatherman is Bob Harrigan who was part of the entertainment on the day.

 Cathay Dunne had a fairly successful career in Ireland and Germany before turning his attention to the U.S.,

These costumes were hand made by the dance teacher’s mother and the crochet collars hand made by her aunt in Ireland.

Behind this man is an inflatable pop up Irish pub.


We’re ready for the off

The Cows’ Lawn; Storm Damage and Deer in Killarney

Cows’ Lawn


Finally the UDC and a number of other prominent citizens formed the Sinn
Fein Food Committee with a view to acquiring this land as tillage. There was a
general feeling of frustration building up with the petty restrictions and the
number of permissions which had to be sought from Lord Listowel.. ‘Negotiations’
were opened by Sinn Fein with two local men who had permission to graze the
Lawn at the time, in order that the Food Committee might proceed with their
aims of turning the ground into tillage. It would appear that ‘negotiations’
might be a misnomer, something that rankled with the families concerned in the
following years.

Getting tired of waiting for permission, the Food Committee with the
help of Volunteers from Moyvane, Knockanure, Finuge, Rathea, Ballyconry and
Ballylongford, ploughed up the ‘front and back lawns’ concerned on 25 February
1918. The members of the Committee were jailed for a month on May 23rd, while
the Chairman of the County Council, Jack McKenna spent almost a year in Belfast Jail on this and other
alleged charges.

While they were still in jail, Lord Listowel instructed the agent to
sell the disputed land to Thomas Armstrong proprietor of the NKM Sweet Factory
for £1,400.which was then five times the market value of such land. Armstrong
then offered the land at the same price to the Food Committee and they had no
option but to pay this sum.. The deed drawn up was between Thomas Armstrong and
‘The Listowel Food Committee/The Listowel Cow Keepers/The Trustees, which was
later to cause legal problems. ‘The conveyance of 1920 was made to Dr.
O’Connor, Mr. Launders, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Flavin.
‘The front lawn was divided amongst twenty people, each of whom have the right
to graze one cow in perpetuity; and the back lawn was divided amongst twenty eight
poor people for tillage purposes’

The ‘two fields’ of thirty acres in total, were mainly in grass, bounded
on all sides by woods with the river flowing alongside. The former tennis court
was left in place with a right of way into it and it continued be used as a
Tennis Club . However it was 1935 before the first Catholic was admitted to the

Listowel Urban Council continued the quest to attain ownership of the
public areas surrounding the town and in 1946 Lord Listowel granted Gurtinard Wood and a beautiful walk to the people of Listowel for a
nominal sum of £5.00.

The tillage so fiercely fought for, did not stay in use after a few
years but the twenty cow keepers continued their right to graze their cows, on
what was now known as The Cows Lawn until 1966. The author remembers some of
these ‘Cow Keepers’ exercising this right and in fact milking cows on the Lawn
and bringing the milk up the Bridge Road in galvanised buckets, swinging off
the handlebars of their bikes.


This photo from the archives of The Kerryman is from the Munster Final of 1962 in Cork. Kerry’s Donie O’Sullivan is in the centre of the shot.


Jim MacSweeney took some great photos of deer and stagsin The National Park during the rutting season.

This fellow has been in a fair few fights, I’d say

Tha Harem


A more unusual Halloween tradition

Clamping the turf for the winter

Today is All Souls Day. In the
old days this was always a great night for the fire. One Halloween game was known as
building the house. Twelve pairs of holly twigs were arranged in a circle,
pushed into the ground and tied together at the apex. A lighted sod of turf was
placed in the centre. The coupled twigs were named after the boys and girls
present, and the pair which caught fire first indicated which boy and girl
would first be coupled in marriage. Well, it beats online dating services. Also on All Souls Night, seats for the returning dead were arranged around the fire. 


Sandy’s Wake

A kind follower sent us these distressing photos of the destruction on the Jersey Shore.

Rockaway Beach, New Jersey

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