Listowel Town Park Today
This little house is now known as The Dandy Lodge. Most older Listowel people knew it as Danaher’s Lodge. The Dandy Lodge seems to be a name that came about when it was relocated in the park.
On the subject of names, the Town Park is actually Childers’ Park after the late Erskine Childers, who was the only Irish president to die in office. Older Listowel people call it The Cows’ Lawn remembering its iconic place in the history of Listowel.
This path is relatively new. It runs between the children’s playground and the pitch and putt course.
The playground was busy on the sunny evening I took my walk.
Listowel’s Childers’ Park, a painful memory
Kay (Moloney) Caball is a historian with a particular interest in Gurtinard House, her childhood home and in the long struggle put up by Listowel elders to secure Lord Listowel’s front lawn as a public amenity for the people of Listowel.
I took this photo after her excellent talk to Listowel’s Historical Society in The Seanchaí on Sunday April 22 2018
Kay is on the left of my picture. Chatting to her is Donal O’Connor of Tarbert and Helen Moylan of Listowel.
One hundred years ago, at the height of World War 1, there were many poor people in Listowel who were struggling to feed big families. We know that Listowel made a huge contribution of manpower to the front. Jim Halpin once told me that there was one area in Listowel which provided more soldiers that any street in any town in England. Pals’ Brigades were a way of encouraging brothers and friends to enlist. This policy left many towns, including Listowel, bereft of young men.
Listowel was lucky to have a very able leader in the late Jack McKenna, father of the present Jack McKenna. He was chair of Listowel Town Council and he was also on Kerry County Council. He was a member of Sinn Féin. He conducted a long campaign of letter writing to Lord Listowel’s agent with a request to hand over his 2 “lawns” to the town for tilling to plant vegetables.
His campaign was not meeting with any success so he and some more elders of the town set up The Sinn Féin Food Committee and took it on themselves to cut the locks on the gates and, helped by volunteers from local areas, who brought ploughs and manpower, they ploughed up the lawns.
This act of civil disobedience saw them before the courts and landed with prison sentences.
Kay Caball has done a thorough study of this episode and what followed.
Her talk was filmed by Mike Guerin and it is available here;
Sinn Féin Food Committee versus Lord Listowel
Paul Murphy, who is a great friend of Listowel Connection, sent me some stuff on his grandfather who was one of the town folk who was sentenced to jail. He served his time in Ballykinlar, Belfast. Most of the men were jailed in Cork but Jack McKenna was also incarcerated in Belfast. The regime here seems to have been particularly brutal and Mr. McKenna came home with his health broken and unable to continue with his civic work.
Local and National Treasures
In St. Joseph’s National School in Ballylongford they had a vintage day when the children displayed the artefacts they had researched.
The antiquities included a Box Brownie Camera, a tilly lamp, a bed warmer, a shoemaker’s last, a smoothing iron, a school bell and a washboard.
I feel old as I acknowledge that I remember all except the bedwarmer in use.
Listowel History and Comic Festival
Friday May 4 2018 to Sunday May 6 2018