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: Pat Ahern Page 1 of 2

Music in Ballybunion and a few family photos

Gurtinard Wood, April 2019

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Music in a Ballybunion Cave on Easter Saturday 2019


The weather was glorious. The beach was thronged. The town was alive with runners and walkers taking part in the annual run.

There was a mild sandstorm blowing on the beach.

And there in a cave a group of musicians and singers were entertaining a good crowd of delighted and surprised onlookers.

A section of the audience

Singers and musicians

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Black and Tan recruiting poster


Bernard O’Connell found this one.

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Family



Easter is a time for family


When you really really want to go to Funderland but there is a minimum height restriction on some of the rides…..

Unfortunately she didn’t measure up but there were lots of rides for smallies too.


My brother Pat with his latest pride and joy

My Trip Home, a Funeral, A Hunt and Kitchener is remembered by a “school chum”

Holly at the Bridge








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Adventures on Returning Home in November 2016


Recently I went back to my roots for the sad occasion of the funeral of my Aunty Nun, Sr. Perpetua Hickey of The Convent of Mercy, Charleville, Co. Cork.  She wasn’t really my aunt at all. Her sister was married to my uncle, but all my life she was known to me as she was to all her nieces and nephews as Aunty Nun.

The Mercy sisters in Charleville are lucky in that they still live in their convent in the centre of town. Unlike so many sisters nowadays, they live in familiar surroundings among people they have lived with all their adult lives.

The wake in the convent chapel was like taking a step back in time.

The coffin of Sr. Perpetua was shouldered by relatives and friends the short distance from the convent that was her home to the nearby parish church.

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Never a Dull Moment


I love to go home to Kanturk. My old home is a warm welcoming place always full of bustle, friends, family and incident.

One incident from this visit will not be forgotten in a hurry.

I was stung by a Kanturk wasp  on November 26 2016!!!!!

On a more pleasant note I got to see Duhallow Hunt gather for their meet in Kanturk and on Day 2 of my visit I got to see the farrier at work on EPA’s new acquisition who is called after Conor Murray. In case you are new to my blog, the Aherns naming convention sees all their horses named after rugby players.

That is my brother in his element, among fellow horse lovers.

These beautiful hounds waited patiently some distance away as the hunt got mounted and ready.

Their handlers know every one of these hounds by name .

They only leave their waiting spot when instructed to do so.

Here they are, heading out on the Greenfield Rd. ahead of the hunt.

It was a perfect day for riding out, cold, crisp and dry.

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The Farrier


The forge is a thing of the past. The farrier or blacksmith now comes to you. Luckily, while I was still at home, C.J. called to shoe Conor. The horse behaved impeccably for his first experience with the farrier. 

“Thank you, Pat”

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Kitchener… a friend’s account of him from the archives



Northern Star (Lismore, NSW ):



Wed. 5th July 1916







KITCHENER AS A BOY.



AT SCHOOL IN; CO. KERRY.



A CHUM’S RECOLLECTIONS.



Mr. Michael Byrnes, who is now on a visit to Manly, was a schoolmate

of Kitchener’s



” It- is over 55 years ago,” says ‘Mr. Byrnes, since Lord Kitchener

went to the old National School at Kilflinn, Sweet County Kerry, which

I attended. It was half-way between Listowel and Tralee, and his

father, .(Colonel Kitchener), had a farm called Crotta Domain. My

recollections of the boy Kitchener are very distinct, although it is

so many yours ago. We were neighbours and playmates together, and

always ‘the best of chums. We were just about the same age, both

under 10 years, and we were both literature lovers and rambled about

the beautiful countryside in each other’s company. Although there

was nothing very remarkable about the boy in the way of cleverness

at school, yet I’vealways vividly remembered him through the long

years. No doubt he had a personality; He was a very strange boy in

many ways, very reserved, and studious. 



He preferred being by himself very often, not that he was stuck up in

any shape or form, and although not many of his schoolmates shared his

confidences, he was liked and respected by the. whole of them, and

enjoyed a popularity which was strange considering his studious moods

and attitude of aloofness. He never cared for footall or hurling, but

was passionately fond of horses. He was always happy on horseback, and

loved to follow the hounds. The sight of the huntsmen and the, dogs

and the sound of the horn, always woke him out of his usual

seriousness, and he used to get very excited and enthusiastic when the

meets were on.



At school he was not by any means a dull boy,  I said before, he

didn’t, to our minds at least, show any signs of cleverness. The

masters, however, thought a lot of him, and he always managed to get

through his lessons without difficulty.



Every summer we boys used to spend a month at a Strand, a little

watering place on the sea.Young Kitchener always came with us?  we

all stayed with uncles and aunts of mine. With all of my family he was

a great favourite and the womenfolk particularly were fond of the 

gentlemanly, quiet lad. Strange to say, he had  a dread of deep water

a big wave would always drive him back to shore, and he would never go

in any depth. The remarkable thing was that he was utterly fearless

in every other direction. Looking back on his extraordinarily boyish

fear of the deep sea, it appears uncannily, pathetic now that he has

found a lonely grave in the depths of the ocean.



There are some stories of the late Lord Kitchener that convey the

idea that he was official and unapproachable, but my experience of him

to me, on that memorable morning of his visit to Sydney,’ showed that

he was possessed of indeed very human qualities. 

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What I’m Reading


Best :Loved Poems; This is an absolutely lovely book and perfect for a present for a lover of literature and pictures and perfect for a lover of Kerry.

The poems are introduced and curated by Gabriel Fitzmaurice and the photographs are by John Reidy,

The collection includes one of my favourite poems; 

Though there are Torturers by Michael Coady

Though there are torturers,

 There are also musicians

……..

Though the image of God

 is everywhere defiled,

A man in West Clare,

Is playing the concertina

………….



HOYS, Mumming and broadband in Ballyduff

Gurtinard Wood; Early Autumn Morning

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HOYS



The Horse of the Year Show is called Hoys by everyone in the know. It is the pinnacle of achievement for a show horse. I was there last week at the NEC in Birmingham to watch the lovely Sonny Bill make his debut in the big arena, under lights.

These are the old owners: my brother Pat and his daughter Elizabeth with the new owner, Jane Collins. Jane is an MEP but she took annual leave to watch her new Irish hunter perform.

This is the big moment when Sonny Bill made his entrance into the big time. It’s a long way now from hunting with The Duhallows in fields around Kanturk and Kilbrin.

Jane and her daughter, Rebecca had organised VIP seats for the visitors.

There were 22 horses in his class and the judges placed Sonny Bill 8th. This was a very satisfactory outcome for his first time in the big time. I’ll let you in on a secret. Sonny was wearing hair extensions in his tail. It’s all about appearance in showing….a kind of beauty pageant for horses.

Elizabeth was delighted with her rosette from HOYS. Sonny is still showing in her name even though he is no longer hers.

Pat and Elizabeth with Sonny Bill’s new English friends.

Sue Walker and her husband Nigel run the yard where Sonny is liveried. Here Elizabeth is showing them the horse she intends buying next.  They approved.

Hoys is a huge show with 250 retail stands. Unfortunately most of these were equine. There were some really entertaining shows in the arena. One of these was the Clydesdales.

This man was selling  a Mojo. He had them for horses and humans and they are meant to cure all aches and pains. A few of our party fell for his patter. If there is a huge improvement in horse or man I’ll let you know.

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Listowel Square with St. John’s



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Have you ever Heard of Mumming?


At the moment I am continuing my research on Jimmy Hickey’s life in dancing. One of the unusual things that came up was mumming. Jimmy Hickey and his dancers attended the Welsh Eisteddfod on several occasions. The only other representatives of Irish traditions was a group of Wexford mummers.

This is Sheila O’Connell’s photo of the Wexford boys. Sheila was one of Jimmy Hickey’s Sliabh Luachra dancers.

Mumming is an ancient Irish folk dance. The dancers hold sticks in their hands and clash the sticks as they perform the figures of the dance. The tradition is a bit like our wren boys and was often performed at Christmas time. John Kinsella, who hails from Co. Wexford remembers his father mumming.

This is Sheila O’Connell of Ballydesmond in her traditional Irish costume chatting to one of the mummers. Sheila is wearing the traditional hat worn by the mummers. That black one was the leader’s hat. The rest of the dancers wore green and gold and their hats were a bit like a bishop’s mitre.

 The mummers were also accomplished musicians. Here they are giving an impromptu performance while cooling off in the river.

This is Mary Doyle R.I.P. cooling off as she listens to the music. She is wearing a tr.aditional Welsh bonnet which many of the Irish contingent bought as souvenirs.

This is Jimmy Hickey and the Sliabh Luachra dancers. The box player is a very young Liam O’Connor

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The March of Time


These photos are from the Ballyduff Facebook page. The first is rural electrification in the 1950s. The second photo is the laying of fibre optic broadband cable in 2016.




Sonny Bill – An update from his new home; August 20 2016

The Road to the Horse of the Year Show


My birth surname is Ahern. In Irish it is Eachtigheirn, from each + tiarna which translates literally as “Lord of the Horse”. This family association with horses is definitely manifest in my brother, Pat, and his daughter, my niece, Elizabeth. They are at their happiest in the company of horses.

Elizabeth breakfasting with her beloved horses

They love all animals and there are always some cats and dogs about the place.

Everyone’s favourite….Freddy Ahern

Dinny

The late Rosie

Screech’s kitten

But it is horses who are their first and last love.

Elizabeth hunting with the Duhallows.

Whenever I visit home there is often a horse peering over some door, or a farrier, vet or horse physio visiting.

The farrier is a regular visitor. Above he is shoeing Sonny Bill in summer 2014.

 Pat leading a horse to pasture

Another fellow peeps out, curious to see what is going on.

An early picture of Pat, on the left, on horseback

Pat and Elizabeth, under their brand EPA have had some moderate success buying and selling horses. They are a good partnership at training horses in the early stages of their careers in the ring.

Far and away their greatest success so far has come with their show horse, Sonny Bill.

Sonny Bill learning to follow without a lead rein

Getting him used to traffic noise he will encounter on the road

From day one Sonny Bill loved to work and learn new skills.

Elizabeth and Pat bought this horse as a foal from Breda Stud where both his mother and father live. Pat and Elizabeth spotted his potential from an early age and put  a lot of work into him to bring him to a certain stage. He now needed  expert help to get him ready for showing.

Enter Matt and Joanna Jones. 

On one of the wettest days of summer 2015 Sonny Bill, ridden by Joanna Jones, began his showing career at The Kingdom County Fair in Tralee. He didn’t win on his first day out but it was to be the only day showing in 2015 when he didn’t come home with a rosette.

Due to ill health, Joanna couldn’t ride him for the rest of 2015.

He formed a new partnership with Felicity Ward.

 Winning in New Castle West

Felicity and Sonny Bill at the RDS

Second in the RDS, Summer 2015

It’s 2016 and Joanna is well again. She and Sonny Bill win all round them.

The only stop to his gallop was the Dublin Horse Show, where he had a Michael Conlon moment when the judges overlooked his obvious merits  for a prize.

 By then he was already sold to his new forever home in the U.K.

Now comes the 21st century fairytale part. This is a story of social media and internet dating as Sonny Bill finds a new lady who loves him as much as (or maybe a teensy bit more than) Elizabeth does.

Before Sonny Bill,  EPA had a successful horse, Mr. Riordan, whom they sold to a U.K buyer. He was sold again, this time to Sue Walker. Another avid horse woman, Jane Collins, who has her horses in Walker’s yard,  was looking for a horse and Sue put her touch with Elizabeth.  Sue had seen Sonny Bill on the internet and she thought he would be just the one for Jane. .Jane Collins and Elizabeth Ahern became cyber friends on Facebook and there she followed the exploits of Sonny Bill  and all his winning ways. She fell in  love with Sonny Bill and determined to buy him. Nigel, Sue Walker’s husband came to Ireland to make sure Sonny was everything he appeared to be on line. The deal was done.

In true internet dating fashion, Jane never met Sonny Bill in the flesh until he was bought and in the U.K. Then it was love at first sight.

Long story short;  Sonny Bill travelled to his new home in the U.K. immediately after the RDS.

On Saturday last, August 20 2016, at Ashbourne Show in Derbyshire, on only his second outing since settling in Britain, Sonny Bill won his class and was declared Standing Hunter Champion of the show. This qualifies him for The Horse of the Year Show in October of this year.

In this competition Sonny Bill will be ridden by Katie Jerram. She is one of Britain’s top riders. The picture of her above is from the June issue of Woman and Home illustrating an article about the three riders who ride the queen’s horses.

Katie Jerram on Sonny Bill at Ashbourne Show

Everyone in the family is delighted for everyone involved in this success story.

We’re all on our way to Birmingham for The Horse of the Year Show 2016 and who knows………..?

My grandniece, Jessica, on Sonny Bill

Horseshoes are thought to bring good luck, aren’t they?

(photo credits: Jim MacSweeney, Willie Nunan, Tony Quinlivan, Rebecca Collins, Elizabeth Ahern and myself)

Battle in The Square May 1 2016, a few people I met and a new foal in Kanturk

Ballybunion Golf Course by Jason O’Doherty

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Sunday May 1 2016 in The Square



Tony Quinlivan’s realistic photo of the carnage on the streets give you a feeling for what the mock battle scene was like in Listowel.

There is a part of me that says war is never a game and is never entertaining. But for most of us the 2 world wars are now just stories we read, not something we experience daily like the poor citizens of Aleppo.

 The wreaths were still in The Square reminding us of the real fallen soldiers as the mock soldiers assembled for the mock battle.

At the corner by the castle a real guard talked to a fake soldier.

 The citizenry cowered in doorways.

 Suddenly into the quiet square came armoured tanks and “soldiers” looking menacing and brandishing guns.

 Young sentries stood no chance.

 Prisoners were taken and the enemy rounded up and carted off.

 Medics attended to the wounded.

A local garda…a real one…saw off the ‘enemy” out of town….for another year.

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Human of Listowel I met in Town at the Military Weekend




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Relocation, Relocation, Relocation


This business is now on Church Street.

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Meanwhile in Kanturk new life is welcomed to the Stable




My brother’s lovely mare and her foal are just getting used to each other. She is an inexperienced first time mother but she is learning fast how to care for her very handsome foal. He was just a day old when we visited and Mammy was still a bit unnerved by all the attention.

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You’ll be sorry if You Miss this



On Weds. May11 2016 in St. John’s a great DVD will be launched. Sales on the night are in aid of Kerry Parents and friends.

The DVD is a celebration of Listowel, its wildlife and its people. It is a compilation of the work of Charles Nolan and John Lynch, two of Listowel’s greatest documentary videographers.

Among other things it features the wildlife on the River Feale, Patrick Hickey making a shoe and the funeral of the great dancing master, Jerry Molyneaux.

The soundtrack features  some of today’s best local musicians.

For those who can’t make it on the night, the DVDs will be available to purchase in local shops

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