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Listowel’s Santa Experience 2017, Heaney’s Mid Term Break and Garden Centre at Christmas

First Run on Friday


A Poem for November

Today’s poem from Irish Stories of Love and Hope is often named by students as their favourite poem. The awful life changing, everything changing reality of death is so poignantly and simply told by Heaney that it resonates even with young people who have not yet experienced a death wrench.

I lost my father when I was seven and my only sister when I was 14. This poem never fails to break my heart.

Mid Term

By Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning
in the college sick bay

Counting bells
knelling classes to a close.

At two o’clock our
neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met
my father crying-

He had always
taken funerals in his stride-

And Big Jim Evans
saying it was hard blow.

The baby cooed and
laughed and rocked the pram

When I came in,
and I was embarrassed

by old men
standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they
were sorry for my trouble.

Whispers informed
strangers I was the eldest

Away at school, as
my mother held my hand

In hers and
coughed out angry tearless sighs

At ten o’clock the
ambulance arrived

With the corpse,
stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning `I
went up  into the room, Snowdrops

And candles
soothed the bedside; I saw him

For the first time
in six weeks. Paler now

Wearing a poppy
bruise on his left temple

He lay in the four
foot box as in his cot

No gaudy scars,
the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a
foot for every year.


A Trip to The Christmas Shop

My young visitors love to visit Listowel Garden Christmas shop.


More on Paddy Drury as remembered by Jerry Histon in the Shannonside Annual in the 1950s

Paddy was a great walker. I heard him say that he brought this from his mother who, he averred, once walked from Knockanure  to Limerick and returned with a stone of yellow meal balanced on her head. This was during “the bad times”.

As I have said, without hearing Paddy tell the story, a lot of its local humour is lost. For instance, one day Paddy was seated in the snug of the public house in Listowel. The snug country pubs is usually called the office. A crony of Paddy’s passed in on the way to the bar. “Is it there you are, Paddy”. It is so and if you had minded your books like me you’d be  in an office too.

Paddy and his friend Toss Aherna one-day making a grave for an old men from Knockanure who had all his long life been avaricious for land. Toss spaced out the site of the grave and said to Paddy “I suppose the usual 6′ x 3, Paddy”.  “Ah” was Paddy’s retort “he was always very fond of the land. Suppose we give it another foot.”

When working for a farmer who had killed a boar to which the workmen were treated day after day for dinner, Paddy at last got exasperated and one-day for Grace said

May the Lord on high who rules the sky

look down upon us four, 

 and give this mate that we can ate,

and take away this boar!


The Lidl cat

This feline seems to have found a new home at Lidl, Listowel

Another Anniversary, St. John’s Window of Reconciliation and Paddy Drury Remembered

This shrine to St. Teresa, who’s feast day occurs in November. It is in the Church of St. John In Ballincollig.


November is a time for remembering our loved ones who have passed to their eternal reward. I am going to share with you a piece from a lovely book  called Irish Stories of Love and Hope which was produced a few years ago to raise money for the Irish Hospice.


Peter Fallon

You turn

Hearing the joy

Of football

In the yard

You yearn

For the footfall

Of the lost

The scarred.

Again and again

And again

You feel the sten-

Gun attack

Of that “What if?”

And that, ‘What

Well then he’d be
a boy

Who’s ten.


St. John’s, Tralee, new Window

This is the Window of Reconciliation and it was blessed by Bishop Ray Browne on October 27 2017

My photograph does not do it justice so you’ll have to go to see it for yourself.

The window was executed by Thomas Denny who is a descendant of the Dennis of Tralee.

It is in three panels, each panel evoking reconciliation. The central panel depicts the prodigal son as he is embraced on his return by his delighted father. The right hand panel is inspired by Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah.

In the left hand panel, St. John, patron of the parish sets forth filled with The Holy Spirit.

I took this information from a leaflet I picked up in the church. It also told me that this is the first new stained glass window in the church in 60 years.


A Few Photos I took on the day of the recent performance of his Tom Crean Show by Aidan Dooley

Rose Wall with Aidan

Eilish Wren bought Aidan’s book

Elaine Kinsella with Tom Crean actor and writer, Aidan Dooley


John Griffin Again

This is the very competent O’Sullivan team who were looking after the sound and lighting and the media content on the day of The Young Adult Book Fest in Listowel Community Centre. On the right is John Griffin whose mother is originally from Listowel.


A Paddy Drury Story as remembered by Jerry Histon

When Paddy came home from his war work in Scotland after the 1914 1918 war, he had, of course, some money spared. After hitting Listowel he met two cronies and took them in for a few drinks. At the time drink was very scarce and it was suggested that certain publicans were not above eking out the supply of drink with materials that never saw the distillery. Anyway, Paddy asked the lady inside the bar for “three glasses of whiskey”. When those were downed, Paddy called the woman again “Mrs, give us three more glasses of nearly!” The lady was puzzled”What nearly?” she asked. ” nearly water, ma’am,”  Paddy shot at her, to her consternation.

A missioner, giving a retreat Moyvane, asked Paddy: “what is the difference between God’s mother and your mother?” I don’t know, but I do know there was an awful difference between their two sons!” Was Paddy’s humble reply.

Paddy hired with a local farmer and one of the conditions was that he should be home for The rosary each night. The man of the house generally offered up the rosary for “myself and my four and no more!” One night the farmer asked Paddy to offer the rosary. Paddy had a few drinks on board and was, anyhow, getting tired of the farmer, So his offering was “I offered this rosary for  myself and no more!”

<<<<<<<< An Important Correction re Drury Knockanure Satire >>>>>>>>

This correction is provided by a Knockanure local and the correction of the correction by Vincent Carmody. Thanks.

“The Rhyme about Knockanure was written by John O’Sullivan.  John, from Charles Street, was a reporter for the Kerryman. His daughter May Kathleen followed in his footsteps.  She was also married to an O’Sullivan. May Kathleen’s uncle was the famous journalists, T F. O’Sullivan.

( Eamon Kelly’s father in law was. Michael O Sullivan, from the Beara Peninsula, he was an Irish teacher in St Michael’s. He had nothing to do with the O’Sullivan satirised in this rhyme.

Drury wrote about John O’Sullivan.

In Listowel Town, there lives a clown, 

who would sell his soul for porter,

Sullivan John is the man,

 a dirty mean reporter.”


This Knockanure Local also had a photograph of Paddy Drury


A Wedding in the Behan Family

I took these photos of The Horseshoe window on November 17 2017

Adhlacadh mo Mháthair, The Sive Walk and Paddy Drury Remembered

Today’s November photo shows a little robin perched on a statue in St. Michael’s Graveyard, Listowel. Many people believe that a robin in a churchyard is the spirit of the dead loved one coming back to tell us that all is well.

Below are two verses from Seán ÓRiordáin’s poignant poem, Adhlacadh Mo Mháthair (My mother’s burial) the translation I found on the internet by Valentín Ironmonger

Bhí m’aigne á sciúirseadh féin ag iarraidh

My mind was screwing itself endeavouring

An t-adhlacadh a bhlaiseadh go hiomlán,

To comprehend the internment to the full.

Nuair a d’eitil tríd an gciúnas bán go míonla

When through the tranquility gently flew

Spideog a bhí gan mhearbhall gan scáth :

A robin, unconfused and unafraid.

Agus d’fhan os cionn na huaighe fé mar go
mb’eol di

It waited over the grave as if it knew

o raibh an toisc a thug í ceilte ar chách

That the reason why it came was unknown to

Ach an té a bhí ag feitheamh ins an gcomhrainn,

Save the person who was waiting in the

Is do rinneas éad fén gcaidreamh neamhghnách.

And I was jealous of the unusual affinity.


Farewell Sive Walk

Photo by Denis Carroll

Now that the green light for the new relief road around Listowel has been given, it means that the campaign to save the Five walk has been lost.

This lovely rural walk was called Sive after one of John B.’s most famous heroines. The walk led through a grassy pathway into a bog where John B. loved to take some alone time.

I took a walk there recently and its a lovely peaceful place but very under-utilised. Pity to see it go.

Cliona Cogan on the Sive Walk


Remembering Paddy Drury, Poet, Patriot, Wit and Seanchaí

remember  Paddy Drury
 (I typed this from a library copy of Shannonside Annual)

By Jeremiah Histon

My name is Paddy Drury,

I come from the Bog Lane,

I work for Morgan Sheehy,

Drawing Porter from the train.

This is Paddy Drury’s answer to the Black
and Tans who accosted him in Listowel the end of 1920 to ask who he was. He
escaped with nothing worse than a kick in the behind.

Paddy was a small stocky rubicund little
man, with an old hat clamped on the back of his poll when I knew him. He
was  not at all unlike the statue of
Padraig O Conaire now in Galway, but while he had a native wit he did not have
OConaire’s aptitude for writing.

Paddy was born about 90 years ago in the
Bog Lane, Knockanure, Co Kerry. I believe that all of the family were rhymers.
He had three brothers, Michael (always referred to by the family as Ruckard), Bill
and Jack (who was lame), they had one sister Mary. When Mary left the district,
Ruckard when asked where she had gone, always answered she went in the police.
Paddy had little if any, schooling. From an early age he worked for farmers
around Listowel, Knockanure and Athea. During the 1914-18 war he went to
Scotland to work in a factory on war work. 

The stories told of and by Paddy are legion.
Many of them do not sound so well in cold print, but when told by Paddy in his
own inimitable style, they had a drollery and humour  that was infectious. He was also liable at
any time to put his thoughts into rough verse, but unfortunately most of his
verses are gone into the Limbo of forgotten things and a new generation  did not know Paddy and care less about him.

One of Paddy’s best known effusions is his
diatribe on gaping neighbours in Knockanure, who are looking over at their half-
doors at him one morning as he walked along, sick and sorry after a good night
the night before. Paddy broke out:

Knockanur, both mean and poor,

with its church without a steeple,

With ignorant boors, lookin’ over

Criticisin’and dacent people!

Again one day when the North Kerry
Volunteers were lined up int The Square Listowel, Paddy noticed the 2 bellmen  (or town criers) of Listowel looking at the parade. Paddy was moved to utter:

Brave Irish Irish men you are lined up;

no doubt you are good Fenians;

you commanders too are out in view-

Mick Lane and Harry Sleeman !


An Invitation

We are all invited by Listowel Tidy Town Committee to the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate all who died in the Listowel Workhouses during The Famine. Some local Famine scholars will give talks and the plaque will be revealed at the hospital chapel. All this on Saturday next November 18 2017 at Listowel Hospital Chapel at 2.30 p.m.

Paddy Drury, a tree creeper and a Food Trail

November…a time for remembering


A Fascinating Little Bird

Chris Grayson who is one of the best nature photographers I know snapped this little tree creeper. Isn’t he well camouflaged.


Paddy Drury’s Epitaph

The late poet, Paddy Drury, was renouned for
his witty verses about other people. His tongue was caustic and many a one in
his time felt the lash.

Probably his best known lambast is his unjustified criticism of the lovely people of Knockanure.

Knockanure both mean and poor

Its church without a steeple

Hungry hoors looking out half doors

Criticising decent people.

Paddy composed his own epitaph

Here lie the bones of Paddy Drury

Owing their size to Guinness brewery

However, one of the good nuns in the
Killarney home where he died prevailed on him not to have it engraved on his
headstone. Paddy agreed, maybe because he was well aware that there was no
money there for a headstone anyway. However when a band of his friends, under
the leadership of  John B. Keane
collected enough to erect a gravestone to Paddy and the Drury family, they kept
to the usual conventions in these matters and put a more respectful and
dignified inscription on it.


A Few Late Tourists Still visiting us


Listowel Food Trail 2017

As part of Listowel Food Fair we took a trail around the town on Nov 11 and we stopped to sample some appetising fare at eateries along the wayWe started our trail at The Listowel Arms Hotel

The bar was set very high with lots and lots of delicious nibbles on offer. Like the bad sprinter who bolts like a greyhound out of the traps and then finds that there is nothing left in the tank for the last stretch, I ate way too much here. We had five more stops on our tour and I was beaten already.

On we soldiered to Allos

Here we settled down in the very comfortable back lounge while Armel told us the story of the food we were about to eat. I tasted friand for the first time.

In Café Hanna at John R.’s we had some delicious savoury and sweet treats

Our next stop was Mike the Pies and I told you all about that on Monday’s post

Then we strolled down William Street, well sated at this stage but we still had Jumbos, Lizzy’s and Gapos to come.

Damien served us turkey burgers and tacos. His butcher, Larry was on hand to verify the provenance of the ingredients. If you thought Jumbos was just beefburgers and chips you’d be wrong. This visit was an eye opener for me.

Lizzy is now a nationally acclaimed cook and her restaurant is one of the most popular in town. Food here was top class.

Lastly we went to Gapos. This is one of my favourite restaurants so I knew the food would be good. It was lovely to meet the chef and hear his story as well as tasting some of his native Armenian dishes.


V.I.P in town on Friday

Colm Cooper will be signing copies of his autobiography in Woulfe’s Independent Bookshop at 5.00p.m. on Friday next November 17 1017


A little birdie told me that Mickey MacConnell will be one the Late Late Show with his ballad of Lidl and Aldi.

Paddy Drury remembered and St. Patrick’s day in South Carolina; The Listowel Connection

The Times they are a changin'”

The clocks went forward one hour at the weekend. We have always used this phrase but it struck me on Sunday that it is now true. I woke up on Sunday morning to find that all the clocks in my house had adjusted themselves to the changed time. They had “gone” forward literally. The twice yearly ritual of going round the house and manually resetting the clocks will be another story to tell the grandchildren. Woe betide you if you forgot to reset the time on the video recorder!


Paddy Drury

A poet and wit who is remembered in many of the best Listowel stories and anecdotes is the late Paddy Drury. One Sunday recently, my good friends, Anne and Liam Dillon invited me to lunch, and, to complete a very pleasant afternoon, they took me to see Paddy Drury’s resting place in Knockanure graveyard.

His grave lies within the walls of the old Knockanure church.

The graveyard is an old but very well maintained one in an absolutely beautiful rural location.

The late Dan Keane  wrote a poem to Drury and here it is for you:

Drury’s Ghost       Dan Keane

Down Farran by the old

One night I took a stroll

As bright aurora’s crimson

Flashed upward from the pole.

From the red wine of

To the dead I drank a toast,

Then what appeared beside me

But Paddy Drury’s ghost.


At length I uttered, “Drury

What brings your spirit back?

Is there anything you’re
needing? “

He answered, “Not a whack!”


“But the friends I loved are

And the scene is not the

There’s a dozen homesteads

Down along my own Bog Lane.

How I loved each thatched
white cottage

When their silent signals

Like a fleet of ships in

Belching out their morning

“I’ve met all the friends in

Drurys, Dores, the Nolans,

Fiddler Creed and Dancing

With his legs as loose a

Tade and Jim and Dick ,the

Dan the Bucko from the Lane,

I’d a pint in Peter’s parlour

With my old friend, Daniel


“I have toiled with many

When the grub was really bad.

I’d never live for ninety

But for the teeth I had.

But the frame was getting

And the teeth were getting

So I found my stimulation

In the stuff I couldn’t chew.


So I said, “You are in Heaven

And what more can mortals

Do you know you’ll soon be

With a headstone o’er your

He betrayed no foolish

Gave a jovial exclamation

In the quaint old Drury

“Hope ‘twont raise my

“ Let the human fad be

It will do no harm there

And some pilgrim might, in

For the Drurys say a prayer.

Otherwise, above my ashes

I’ve no asset to my soul

And if Drury still was living

They’d begrudge him draw the

The poem is a very long one so I have edited it a bit but I kept the references to Drury’s neighbours in Bog Lane, the reference to his legendary grumbling about bad grub, his capacity for drink and the fact that his headstone was paid for my monies raised by his friends, among them  John B. Keane.


St. Patrick’s Day in South Carolina

This is Maeve Moloney Koch taking part in her local St. Patrick’s parade in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Maeve is carrying a Kerry flag.

Maeve with her local congressman, Joe Wilson


If you live or have ever lived with an Irish Mammy this will give you a good laugh:

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