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Tag: Presentation Convent Page 1 of 2

In Farran Wood, an unidentified nun and the Convent Primary Band and John B. on Bob Boland

Carrot and Click

In Farran Wood in Co. Cork, Aisling Darby lures a young deer with a carrot so that she can get a close up.


At Listowel Convent

The photo was taken in the convent garden some years ago. The man who sent it doesn’t know either of the subjects.


Convent Primary School Band at Christmas

Tom Fitzgerald took this one but he didn’t note the year


John B. Keane on Bob Boland

John B. Keane wrote a regular column in The Limerick Leader. He wrote often of lesser known local writers. It is clear that John B. saw great merit in Boland’s writing as you will see in the following essay from the Limerick Leader archive.

LAST week we dealt briefly with the life and works of the late George Fitzmaurice. This week we will look at the works and life of the late Robert Leslie Boland of Farnstack, Lisselton.

Before we do, however, I would like to clear up a misunderstanding concerning the religion of George Fitzmaurice. George was born into the Protestantism of the Church of Ireland, and was not a Catholic, as two of my readers would have me believe.

George’s father was a parson. His mother was a Winifred O’Connor who worked as a maid in the Fitzmaurice household at Kilcara, Duagh. The marriage took place before the Ne Temere decree which meant that the sons were brought up in the father’s faith and the daughters in the mother’s faith. Wiffred O’Connor, of course was a Catholic.


Robert Lee Boland, on the other hand, was a Catholic. He was born in the Farnstack farmhouse in 1888 where his son Daniel continues the tradition of farming. The Bolands of Farnstack distinguished themselves in almost every aspect of Irish life. Bob was educated at the local national school and at St Michael’s College, Listowel. He died a comparatively young man in 1955.

A few short years before he had the heart rending experience of seeing his youngest son Val, precede him to the grave. Val was probably the most promising of all the young Kerry writers of his time. From a young age he produced excellent poetry but it was not until he came to Saint Michael’s that his talents really started to take shape. He died a schoolboy. Anyone who ever knew him will remember him forever with affection and respect.

Robert Leslie was a poet of consequence. He preferred to be called Bob and that is how we shall refer to him from now on. He was a colourful character with a host of friends. He liked a drink and he liked good company. Some of his best poems were Rabelasian. Those that were not were often compared to the poems of Robert Burns for whom Bob held an enormous respect. Personally, I think he was more influenced by Matthew Arnold than any other.


Only one collection of his works was published and this for private circulation. The work was entitled, “Thistles and Docks” being, according to the author, “a selection, grave, gay and Rabelaisian from the works of Robert Leslie Boland, Farnstack House, Lisselton, Co. Kerry.”

It contains many of his more popular pieces. There is “Sonnet to a Lavatory.”

Temple of seclusion! Aptly set apart

To house the toilet needs, Repository

Where bodily wants are eased and the heart

Feels restful, too, in thy sweet privacy.

Thou art the throne room of soliloquy

Where each lone patron with no special art,

Relaxes for expulsion, setting free

Imprisoned waste and the unmuffled fart.

Quiet citadel! Kings and Queens have sate

Within thee, glad to leave their votive gift

(So democratic for their Royal state)

And grateful for kind nature’s daily shift.

Who would not hail thee, backward edifice ?

Cloister for brief retirement and for peace


I don’t think readers will be really offended by the foregoing. The great merit about Boland was that he was always marginally ahead of the censor. During the war years Bob applied to the Department of Commerce for sugar . He had six beehives and he needed sugar to keep the inmates alive. His application was naturally in verse:

Dear sir, I beg hereby to make application,

For sugar for bees whose plight is starvation .

Be generous you must for my (six in number),

Like Europe are feeling the pinch of the hunger.

You know how the weather down here militated

Against the good “workers” who waited and waited.

For fine sunny days to go out in the clover,

But vain were their longings and summer is now over.

This is a thought your Department should cherish

Tis urgent, tis needed or my colonies perish.

There follows an incredibly beautiful allegory in which the queen bees have their say. One describes her honeymoon with a drone who has just been stung to death:

I remember the morning of our wedding flight;

His vigour, his passion, his speed like a kite

When up towards the ether, with wings humming loud,

He gave me the razz right on top of the cloud.


Bob once participated in a Radio Eireann question time which was broadcast from Ballybunion. When asked his occupation by the question master, he replied immediately: “Philosopher, philanderer and farmer.”

His most oft-quoted poem, “Loneliness”, deserves to be quoted in full but alas there isn’t enough space It was compose, after midnight, whilst walking over a three mile stretch of moorland between Ballylongford and Farnstack. He was also very fond of walking from the Ballybunion strand to the mouth of the Cashen. Sometimes he would recognise and salute acquaintances. Other times he would be lost in his thoughts and heeded nothing but nature;

Lone as a climber on some Alpine peak.

Lone as the last kiss on a lover’s cheek

Lone as the Pole Star from its sky tower watching.

Lone as a gander when the geese are hatching.

Lone as a maiden weeping in distress.

Lone as a bullock when the cow says “yes.”

Lone as a skylark who has lost his song.

Lone as a eunuch for his gems are gone.

Lone as a petrel on the stormy wave.

Lone as a deadman in a nameless grave.

Lone as a lassie on the bathroom bowl,

When she finds no paper in the toilet roll.

Lone as the Artic when the Polar bear howls

In the blizzard from his 
frozen lair.

A shame

There is in the poetry of Bob Boland an underlying dismissal of himself. He builds beautifully with a series of perfectly disciplined couplets and then for what would seem like pure devilment he allows his theme to collapse by following up with a Rabelaisian climax. It is a conscious dismissal and it could be that he was uncertain about his ability to write poetry. This was a shame because in many ways he was unique particularly in his choice of themes which range from “Ode to a Po” to “Sonnet to a Spud” which was broadcast by the B.B.C.

There was the same self dismissal in George Fitzmaurice who was born less than three miles from the Boland home at Farnstack. Bob however, was outgoing and gregarious while George was pathologically shy.

There are such diverse composition as “Ode to a load of Hay” and “Sonnet to a Cowdung”:

Cowdung all nature greets you with a smile,

Your blending essence made our Emerald Isle.

This article by the late and great John B Keane first appeared in the Limerick Leader on April 9, 1977









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Ardagh Chalice, Presentation Convent Listowel and More from Races 2019

The Arcade looking good in the sunshine last week


Mending Fences

From my vantage point at the rails I could see the damage a field of horses jumping over them can do to the hurdles.

Immediately the workforce are out with mallets repairing the fence.

Here it is, good as new and ready for the next onslaught.


Presentation Convent, Listowel

As I was passing by on foot to the races I dropped in to my old workplace and I took a few photos of the dear old convent. 

The Parents’ Committee has erected a plaque to the nuns and the great contribution they have made to education in North Kerry.

The secondary school grounds.

 Looking towards the convent chapel from the school grounds

 Presentation Convent Listowel in September 2019

The old convent chapel


Building in Greenville

This building is going up next door to the convent chapel.


Ardagh Chalice

The Sam Maguire Cup was based on the Ardagh Chalice 

The Ardagh Chalice is one of the greatest treasures of the early Irish Church. It is part of a hoard of objects found in the 19th century by a young man digging for potatoes near Ardagh, Co. Limerick. It was used for dispensing Eucharistic wine during the celebration of Mass. The form of the chalice recalls late Roman tableware, but the method of construction is Irish.

The Ardagh Chalice represents a high point in early medieval craftsmanship and can be compared in this regard to the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Paten.

See it on display at the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology


A Minute of Your Time

If you’d like to pre-order a signed copy, just drop me a line at The book is with the printers but as soon as I have it I will be mailing copies.

For Listowel people, the launch is planned for St. John’s Listowel on Saturday October 19 at 7.30


Culture Night 2019

I ran into Aimee and Sinead from Writers’ Week as they finalised their plans for Culture Night. I met them in Listowel Printing Works where they were meeting with Paul. He has a part in the Culture Night event too.

Trip to Kanturk, Changing face of Business and and death of a local nun in 1880

Photo credit: Neil O’Mullane of Mallow Camera Club


There’s a bridle hanging on the wall

There’s a saddle in a lonely stall

You ask me why the teardrops fall

It’s that bridle hanging on the wall

There’s a horseshoe nailed above the door

It’s a shoe that my old pony wore

There’s a faded blanket in the hall

And that bridle hanging on the wall….

I was reminded of this old country song by Carson Robinson when I visited my old home in Kanturk recently. Everywhere there are horses and horse related accoutrements and memorabilia.

My brother, Pat, was putting EPA Murray outdoors for a day in the sun. Murray is a show horse so his coat has to be protected from strong sunlight which might discolour it. Hence the head to toe sunsuit. You live and learn!


Now and Then

Woulfe’s Bookshop was once Curly Connors’ pub. Maybe in microcosm this reflects the story of business life in Listowel. Once upon a time the town was full of drinking establishments. Even grocery shops had a bar at the back. Nowadays we only have a few pubs left and these also have to offer something extra like pub theatre, music sessions, comedy or quizzes to keep their customers happy. Entertainment has moved out of the pub and into the home.


“She lived unknown and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be….”

She wasn’t Wordsworth’s Lucy but Sr. Clare of Presentation Convent Listowel lived a short and secluded life back in the 1880s

Sentinel  Tuesday, October 26, 1880; 

INTELLIGENCE. From our Correspondent.

OF A RELIGEUSE. Listowel, Friday. I regret to announce the death of Sister Mary

of the Presentation Convent, Listowel, who after a comparatively short illness,
which was borne with the fortitude of a good Christian, rendered her pure soul
to Him who gave it. The good sister at the early age of 20 years, obeying the
feelings which God had implanted in her heart, consecrated her young life to
the service of heaven, and for six years laboured incessantly in the duties of
the office which her vocation assigned to her. (No relatives or surname


Just a Thought

If you missed me on Radio Kerry last week, my “Thoughts” are HERE

Pres. Convent Chapel photos

Beautiful North Kerry

Great photo of a rain shower by Mike Enright


More of Mairéad O’Sullivan’s Convent Chapel Photos from 2007


Adare is still like this today

This Ireland XO photo shows girls at a water pump in Adare, Co. Limerick


Looking Ahead to St. Patrick’s Day 2017

John Relihan of Duagh and Holy Smoke, Cork has been to London to prepare for another big street party to mark the saint’s day.

This is Seán Spicer, the U.S. Trump administration Press Secretary (he of the alternative facts fame) who is, no doubt, preparing to celebrate as well. The CNN photo from 2016 shows Sean, whose emigrant ancestors came from Co. Clare, sporting his rather unusual St. Patrick’s Day attire.


Then and Now….       a loss for design

This is how a post box used to look.

This is how they look today

Presentation Chapel in 2007 and a short history of Pres. sisters in town and a big win in badminton for a Moyvane family

St. Brigid’s Day

Celebrating St Brigid at her Well near the Cashen River between Ballyduff and Ballybunion in North Kerry

(Photo and caption: Diocese of Kerry on Facebook)


Presentation Chapel, Listowel in August 2007

Mairéad O’Sullivan shared some of her really beautiful pictures of the convent chapel with us. Here are the first few.


Hard Times come again no more

Frances Kennedy found this photo on a site called Ireland Long ago. It shows a young woman whose home has been destroyed in a Black and Tan reprisal attack. The atrocity took place in Meelin Co. Cork.

The Black and Tans (they got the name from the colours of their uniforms) were as feared in Ireland in the 1920s as The Taliban. They went around the countryside spreading fear and exerting their own brand of rough justice. This young woman appears broken but unbowed. Hopefully the menfolk of her household had found safety somewhere before this photo was taken.


Presentation Sisters in Listowel

Photos of the convent in 2007 by Mairead O’Sullivan and text from Sr. Éilís Daly

Sr. Eilís with a tree with the names of the sisters who had gone before her up to 2002.

As we celebrate our tradition of Presentation Catholic education in

Listowel, we take inspiration from the lives of the Four Presentation

Sisters who began Catholic education in Listowel in 1844.  On the 7th

of May 1844, Sr. Mary Augustine Stack- a native of Listowel and three

sisters from Milltown, Sr. Mary Teresa Kelly, Sr. Mary Francis

McCarthy and Sr. Mary Francis Brennan founded a convent and school in


During the Famine of 1845-48, the sisters had to close their school.

They opened soup kitchens to feed the starving people. The Famine resulted in

the deaths of many families and of some of the young sisters. Sharing

their meagre resources with the poor, over the course of twelve

months, the sisters supplied 31,000 breakfasts to the starving

children. The Convent Annuals read of the Sisters baking bread to feed

so many, eventually being reduced to rye and black bread. The Sisters

also initiated groups to make garments for the women and shirts for

the men in the workhouse closeby – so that people could earn wages.

A significant event in the life of the early Listowel Presentation

community was the ‘Battle of the Cross’ in 1857.  The Sisters were

ordered to take down the Cross from the gable end of their school by

the Education Board. In spite of dire threats, the sisters refused to

do so, and defied the Board. Eventually the Board yielded.

In 2007 the sisters closed their convent, after 163 years of service

in Listowel. The tradition of Presentation Catholic education is still

alive in Listowel.  Our school is now under the trusteeship of CEIST

which is committed to continuing the great tradition of Presentation

Catholic education in Listowel into the future.


Badminton in the Genes ?

Junior Griffin has a long list of Kerry badminton families. This family must be the most high profile at the moment.

“A pair of very proud parents, Breda and William O’Flaherty of Moyvane with their daughter Niamh and son James who created their own bit of Kerry Badminton history at Killarney on Sunday last, January 29 2017 by both winning Kerry senior singles championships; Niamh at 16 years of age is the youngest ever winner of the ladies senior title and they are the first brother and sister div 1 title holders to do that double since 1996.

For both it was their first senior title. In the mens decider James overcame 10 times title holder Tom Bourke in a three set final that was a pure joy to behold. Indeed, it has been acclaimed as one of the greatest Kerry finals ever.” Junior



Grandparents’ Day

Yesterday, February 1 2017, feast of St. Brigid  was Grandparents Day. My photo shows St. Michael’s boys on their way to mass in the parish church. Pupils and staff from Scoil Realta na Maidine also attended. On behalf of all grandparents, “Thank you, boys.”

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