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Tag: Rose of Tralee 2017

Irish Coinage, Poor Relations, Trees and a VIP guest for Listowel Food Fair

Restaurants in Church Street, Listowel


A quick History of Irish Coinage

In 1926 The Irish Free State set up a committee to design and plan a new Irish coinage. William Butler Yeats who combined a knowledge of poetry, art and Irish history was an inspired choice to chair this committee.

The design chosen to be used on all the coins was the Irish harp,. The Irish harp is a 16 string model. The best example is the Brian Boru harp in Trinity College, Dublin. The reverse of each coin depicted an animal.

On Feb 15 1971 decimal coinage was introduced to Ireland. The new coins were designed by Gabriel Hayes

In January 2002 the latest iteration of coinage happened with the change from the punt to the euro and then today’s coins were minted. The biggest innovation of this move was the replacement of some notes by €1 and €2 coins.

Half pennies have gone and pennies were to be phased out with the introduction of “rounding up” in 2015. This does not seen to have caught on and there are still quite a few lower denomination coins hanging about.


Poor Relations by John B. Keane

Part 2

I was in the kitchen of a farmer’s house
one time when a poor relation called in search of a substantial sum of money.
He required it to pay a fine and compensation for an offence committed while
under the influence. If the money was not forthcoming it was certain that he would
wind up in jail, which meant in his view that not only himself but his
relations would be disgraced in the eyes of the countryside.

“My friend,” said the farmer,” if I had
money you would have no need to call because knowing your plight I would hand
it over without being asked. Would you believe,’ said the farmer, extracting a
large cigarette packet from his pocket, “that this is my last fag. God only
knows where the price of the next one is to come from.

So saying he threw the empty box on the
floor, placed the cigarette in his mouth, bent over the fire, lifted a coal,
blew on it and applied it to the cigarette and was soon puffing contentedly as
he calmly awaited the next cue of what to him was a comedy, but to his visitor
a tragedy.

“You could sell a cow,” said the poor
relation. “You wouldn’t miss one and I swear I’d pay you back before the end of
the year.”

“Of course, I could se;ll a cow,” said the
farmer,”and if you got into trouble again I could sell another one. Word would
spread and anytime a relation was in trouble I could sell a cow but what would
I do when the cows were all gone? People would ask me why did I sell all my
cows when I asked them for help.”

The poor relation held hid tongue at this
rebuff while the farmer shook his head at the injustice of it all.

“I would have nowhere to turn,” he said,
with a tear in his eye.

I almost shed a tear myself as I listened.
At first I had been sorry for the poor relation. Now I was even sorrier for the
farmer. There was a contorted look of sheer weariness on his face. He looked
wanly into the fire before he spoke.

“I have nowhere to turn,” he choked as
though his cows were sold already. “ I have no well off relations like others.
All my relations are poor. They haven’t a penny to put on top of another. You
wouldn’t like to see me pauperized, would you? You wouldn’t want to see me with
a bag on  my back walking the roads?”

Here the farmer laid a hand on the shoulder
of his poor relation. He looked him in the eye for several seconds.

“of course you wouldn’t,” he answered in
the poor fellow’s stead, “ because you are not that kind of a man. You know
what it’s like to have nothing yourself and you wouldn’t like to see another in
the same fix, especially one of your own.

After the poor relation had departed the
farmer pulled out a large packet of Gold Flakes fro another pocket, ripped off
the protective tissue and extracted a cigarette which he lit from the expiring
butt of the first.


Poems are made by fools like me

But Only God can make a tree.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

It has been confirmed that this year’s Rose of Tralee, Jennifer Byrne will attend on Opening Night of Listowel Food Fair, November 9 2017

Fr. Michael Kissane, Muckross in summer 2017 and Elizabeth Marince, our Rose

St. John’s spire at eventide


We Owe a lot to Family Historians

At the recent Kissane clan gathering, their family historian, Eily Walsh, marked all of the family graves and tombs for the visiting diaspora to visit. Headstones tell us so much about our ancestors. For many of our scattered Irish there are no grave markers to help. Yes, their families are buried here but they were too poor or too sick to erect a memorial. In some cases they were the last of the line remaining on Irish soil. I have witnessed first hand the joy some returning families experience in discovering a plot where their Irish ancestors lived, worked or are buried.

Fr. Michael Kissane of Kilcox

The Kissanes number many influential academics in their gallery of famous ancestors. This man caught my eye at their recent exhibition of photographs.

This man, Fr. Micheál OCiosáin worked as a priest in the parish of Ballyferriter. While there he published a collection of essays about life in Ballyferriter.

He also wrote a history of his native place, Cnoc an Fhómhair in 1988.

The renowned Irish scholar, Páraig Tyers, published a book of photographs of Ballyferriter and Cork Dhuibhne in honour of Fr. Ó Ciosáin in 1991.


Muckross in Summer

Recently I took a trip to Killarney and I visited Muckross house and Gardens, always a pleasure.

Muckross famous herd of Kerry cows.

The walled garden


She Didn’t Win But……..

Elizabeth Marince may not have won the judges vote but she won the hearts of everyone in Kerry with her sincere and entertaining interview with Daithí on stage in the Dome. Her singing of Up the Kingdom was the talking point of the night on social media. Did you spot her mother and sister singing along in the audience?  Elizabeth told me that that song was an anthem in her grandfather’s house and everyone in the family knew all the words and sang it always at family gatherings.

Someone suggested on Facebook that she stay and sing it it again on RTE’s Up for the Match. I think there is a small obstacle of next Saturday’s match to be got over first

Visitors, Locals and Dunkirk, a Listowel Connection to the Florida Rose

Ita Hannon took this super shot of Tarbert Lighthouse.


Enduring Love

Couples coming and going in Listowel last week


Aileen Returns as a Visitor

Thirty years ago a recently qualified young teacher made her way to Listowel to take up her new teaching post in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel.

Aileen Hayes did not arrive in town on a bike but when she returned recently and we visited the Lartigue she posed with their bike.

 These volunteers were on duty on the day we visited.

During the six years she lived in Listowel, Aileen took part in several Lartigue Theatre productions. Martin Griffin was a star of these shows. She met him on her return visit in his new role as stationmaster of the Lartigue.

When Aileen arrived in town for the first time in 1978 she was dismayed to find that there was no accommodation to be found. The fleadh cheoil was in full swing and every bed in town was occupied. Aileen and her dad were wandering the streets in despair when they ran into Bryan MacMahon. They told him of their plight. Bryan invited them into his home and he made a few phone calls on their behalf. Bryan found Aileen a bed for the 2 nights until things had quietened down and the fleadh crowds had departed. Aileen never forgot the great man’s kindness to her in her hour of need. She got to know The Master better when she came to work and live in town and whenever she ran into him in the street he always stopped for a chat and a catch up. So, on her recent return visit, Aileen was happy to pose for a photo with her first Listowel friend.

We took the tour of the castle with Dianne Nolan.

Aileen was fascinated by the reworked confession boxes in St. Mary’s. She hadn’t seen anything like this before.

We visited the Garden of Europe.

When she lived in Listowel, Aileen lived in Church St. in a house owned by Pierse Walsh. Pierse invited myself and Aileen for a coffee and a scone in his lovely welcoming Café Hanna and they reminisced about times past and the changes in both their lives in thirty years.


When a whole generation was wiped out…

Dunkirk  ………Despite staggering
losses, the airmen clambered aboard their woefully outclassed Fairey Battles
and Bristol Blenheims again and again to embark on doomed missions to stem the
German advance.

culminated on May 14 when the RAF launched a series of desperate raids around
Sedan to aid their French allies and attempt to destroy key bridges being used
by the Germans.

results were catastrophic.

Of 71
aircraft, 39 were shot down, the worst reversal of its type in the history of
the RAF.

operators Michael Millar, from Dublin, and William Nolan, from Rathkeale, Co
Limerick, both died that day in Fairey Battles; wireless operator Patrick
Aherne, from Youghal, Co Cork, went down in a Blenheim.

continued to go out.

Five days
after Sedan, pilot officer Jimmy McElligot, from Listowel, Co Kerry, took his
Fairey Battle out to bomb targets in the Ardennes.

As he
carried out the mission his aircraft was swarmed by no less than six Me109

putting up stiff resistance, the result was inevitable.

battle came down in a wood, and Jimmy died from his injuries.


Sr. Roch Kissane

The Kissanes are gathered this weekend to celebrate their family. This illustrious clan are to the forefront in business and education today. Their ancestors were farmers who, from a farm in North Kerry,  send its offspring far and wide to be leaders of their communities in the U.S. and Australia.

One of these famous offspring was Sr. Roch Kissane.

It was my great privilege to meet Sr. Roch in her later years..a truly extraordinary woman.

This is Sr. Roch with her sister in religious and real life,  Sr. Chrysostom. A huge tragedy that befell Sr. Roch early in her life in her new home, Australia, was the tragic death of her sister. Hannah Kissane was drowned while swimming at a beach near their convent. A local man and his son who were in the water nearby made valient but vain attempts to save her. That man was also drowned. His son kept in touch with the Kissane family and came to visit them years later when on a trip to Ireland.


It was Roses Roses All the Way

On Tuesday last, Aug 15 2017,  I was planning on taking my young visitors to their favourite Kerry visitor attraction, The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

This was no ordinary night at the track as the Roses were to attend. We got to town early and learned, by chance, that the Roses were due at the Rose Hotel at 4.00 p.m. We took a stroll through the park, which was looking resplendent in preparation for the festival, and we called to look at the new mural.

Along the way I told the boys something of the history behind the festival. I told them the two sad stories, of Mary the inspiration for the song and of Dorothy, the 2011 Washington Rose who died so young.

 We headed back to the hotel in good time to get a good viewing point for the entrance of the lovely girls. The Texas delegation had a huge charm offensive going on. They plied us with flags, badges and keyrings. My two young charges were sorely tempted to change allegiance. I had to remind that the Florida Rose was the Rose with the Listowel connection.

The Texas Rose’s dad, Mr. O’Lopez himself gave every child a token  and soon he had a crew of local children holding his big banner and waving Texas flags. In the battle of the fans, Texas won hands down.

The Carlow Rose wiped away a tear as she spotted her crew with their massive banner. The girl in front of her in my photograph is Teresa Daly from Kanturk who is the Chicago Rose.

There was something unsettlingly military about the uniformed ranks of young men forming a guard of honour as the Roses entered.

The Roses also wore a uniform of red dress and black shoes.

Family and friend cheered and applauded.

Then we spotted her. Our very own Listowel connection, Elizabeth Marince, proud granddaughter of Tom O’Donoghue of Tannavalla, delighted to be back in Kerry doing her Listowel family proud.

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