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Tag: San Sebastian

San Sebastian remembered and snow in Listowel in 2010

Back to Basque

Well, it seems that the world and his mother has been to San Sebastian. Since I wrote about my encounter with the fur clad inhabitants of this fair town, many of my blog followers have contacted me to tell me of their visit to this most beautiful of ancient towns.

I think that many people seem to have combined a trip here with a visit to Lourdes. This  would account for many people with a Listowel connection being familiar with this part of Pays Basque.

I heard a story of a nun and her sister who were propositioned on the beach by two lovely Spanish heart throbs. Explanations in poor French and even poorer Spanish were met with the equivalent of “All the Irish girls pretend they are nuns.”

Cathy Dunne set me straight about the housing situation in the region. Apparently, young Spanish people are no longer happy to live in high rise apartments and there is much new building of houses. These houses are very expensive.

The best story of all comes from Kay Caball (Moloney, when she visited San Sebastian).

“It was the first foreign holiday I was ever on – when I was 21 and Anne Crowley came with me.  We were the two biggest country eejits you ever came across.  

We took the plane to Lourdes as there were no package or other hols then.  I suppose Michael Kennelly must have arranged the flight.  We never went next or near the Grotto!  We just stayed the night and took off on a rattly train to San Sebastian.   

We had ‘full board’ in the hotel and after our evening dinner we were served with a plate of cherries and a bowl of water.  We hadn’t a clue what the bowl of water was for but after some discussion we decided it was for spitting the cherry stones into.   So in the most ladylike fashion that we could muster, we took to aiming our cherries from our mouths to the bowl.  There would be a big splash.  The funny thing was that each night more and more waiters seemed to be forming up at the service door to watch the performance.  

I think we must have been back home when we copped on that it was a finger bowl.”


Lunchtime in San Sebastian

It was January 25th 2015 when I visited and the weather was what the weather folk call “bracing” but everyone was eating and drinking outdoors.  We patronized the Irish bar. The only thing Irish about it was the name and the fact that they served Guinness and Murphy. Our waiter had never been to Ireland and the owner wasn’t Irish either. The prices were a bit Irish though. We had to pay extra to drink outdoors!

When we went into the old town for our grub I was shocked at the sight of so many people happily eating tapas standing at outdoor tables. These really are hardy people. I can understand the need for fur coats.

Because they had an ancient with them, my family sought out an indoor restaurant, (pictured below). Those things hanging from the ceiling are hams. (Does anyone remember yella bacon?)

It was a lovely restaurant with the owners’  three generations of one family conversing with their customers in French, Spanish, Basque and English.


Le chapeau Basque

Most men, especially older men in this region wear a form of beret called le chapeau Basque. They usually wear black for everyday wear and red for festivals.

Basque music involves much drumming and their flute is always played with one hand.


Warehouse to Risin Sun


Snow in town in 2010

Snow in 2010

Sisters at the unveiling of the statue in 2010


Fr. Pat Moore

Fr Pat Moore and Mary Fagan of Horizons.

The whole diocese of Kerry but particularly the parish of Duagh is in shock following the news that their popular parish priest is suffering from a serious illness. Below is a post from Maine Valley blog

Masses will be
offered at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Lyreacrompane and at St. Brigid’s
Parish Church in Duagh this Tuesday evening, February 24 at 7-30pm for the
return to full health of the hugely popular PP Fr. Pat Moore.

Fr. Jack O’Donnell will
be the celebrant in Lyre and Fr. Tom McMahon and Fr. Paul Dillon will be the
concelebrants in Duagh. The masses are expected to attract huge crowds
from all corners of the joint parishes of Duagh and Lyre and well beyond.

The announcement of Fr.
Moore’s recent illness has shocked his parishioners and messages of support
have been pouring in from all directions for the Asdee native.

In a blog on the site, Fr. Moore wrote the following on Saturday.

“Today I got word of my
PET scan appointment in Cork University Hospital next week. I am very
aware and held by the Great Wall of support, prayer, good wishes and practical
help around me that leaves me wanting for nothing.

The shock of getting
the news on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes isn’t stuck into me, thankfully.
The place I need to move to is Trust – trust in doctors and their care, and
trust in he God who is making his presence felt in a very real way around me.

Aine Ford prayed with
me that I may experience Christ’s compassionate gaze in an even more
intimate way during these days of uncertainty.”

A small sample of the
messages to Fr. Moore from friends and parishioners: 

“Fr. Pat, as we both travel on a
journey, a journey full of love compassion and caring, the people we meet on
our journey they are angels without wings. They are all interested in us as
individuals not as a patient, but the greatest challenge in front of us as our
journey moves along is to trust in our Lord. For us to realise that this
journey has been planed by him and he alone knows the destination, let our
faith in him be our companion on our journey, we need no more,”
– Bernard Collins.

“Father Moore to let
you know your in our thoughts and prayers. Wishing you all the best and hoping
you’ll be back soon. The parish isn’t the same without you.”

“We are in a daze since we learned
the news. This has put everything into perspective for us. Please God with all
our prayers you will be back to full health in a short time. miss the fun, the
jokes, the support and the company, so don’t stay away too long. Thinking of
you and talk to you soon please God.”


Rathea Listowel and San Sebastian

Listowel’s changing face


Do you remember this?



Built in 2000, destroyed by a storm in 2014


The following article was published in the Rathea Irremore journal a few years ago


 Yarns from Rathea

Dan Lyons
of Rathea was better known as The Major, possibly to distinguish him from his
near neighbour, Anthony Dan Lyons, sometimes referred to as Spec, who was a
great poet with many compositions to his credit. I would hope that poems by the
latter may be resurrected and be printed in this or some other local journal,
thereby getting a new lease of life.

it is with a few yarns concerning the Major, I’m now going to deal with. He had
a tidy farm of good land. He kept about eleven cows, no bull. I suppose he
would only keep ten cows if he had kept a bull. When a cow would come around,
he would rope her and take her about a half a mile down the road to the Yankee

after many years and he was getting older and possibly getting tired of
jostling with recalcitrant bovines along the road down to Kirby’s bull, he
surprised everybody by setting off for Listowel Fair one morning. There he duly
purchased the worst, smallest and cheapest bull in the fair. It would seem that
economy in financial matters was one of his strong points.

home with the bull in tow, he walked proudly into the yard. His wife came out
to view the purchase. It seems she got a bit of a shock when she laid eyes on
the acquisition. However, she, it seems rallied quickly, and proceeded to
berate and scold The Major with considerable volume and at great length, for
buying such an article. “Sure the calves off him will be no size,” she
finished, breathless. Seizing his opportunity the Major spoke out in his own
defence. “What do you talk about woman?” he said, “no calves off
him because he is small, Paddy so-and-so is only four feet ten, and hasn’t he
two sons in the guards.”

The Major
and his wife reared a large family. They were very brainy. One of them, Simon
by name, joined the Franciscan Order, was ordained and in due course attained
considerable status in same. He was the author of several books on religious

The Major
was very fond of playing cards. Cahill’s was the house for the game. Either he
was a bad player, or unlucky, or both, for he seldom won a game and arrived
back home without a copper in his pocket. Now when Simon, whose name in
religion was Father Adrian, would come back yearly on holidays, he would
accompany his father to the card game, and being a good player, or lucky, or
both, he’d finish the night in possession of a heap of coppers. Being a
Franciscan, and forbidden by the Rule of his Order to keep money, he’d hand it
over to The Major. The latter would pocket the money with a self satisfied
smile, turn to Fr. Adrian and say: “Simon you’re the first one of your
cloth that wasn’t a robber”.


                        John Joe


More from my continental holiday

My January holiday in the Basque country taught me lots of things about the Basque people. They have one of the oldest languages in the world. It bears very little or no similarity to any other language. The above tableware is decorated with the local Basque symbol.

There are 7 Basque provinces straddling the Pyranees between Spain and France. Navarre is the biggest.  Basque people are fiercely proud of their language and traditions. I’ll tell you more about that anon. Today I want to tell you about my trip to Spain.

Ciboure is very near to the Spanish border. It is the custom locally for people to take a trip across the border to San Sebastian on a Sunday afternoon. When in Rome….

We took the train from Hendaye. There was no acknowledgement of a border. We just travelled from one town to another with no feeling that we had passed from one country to another except that now the train station names were in Basque and Spanish rather than Basque and French.

San Sebastian was an eye opener!

I never in all my living life saw so many fur coats.

I am reliably informed that Spanish people live in small apartments and live most of their lives outdoors. Certainly it would seem that donning your fur coat and promenading on the front in San Sebastian on a January Sunday is the done thing for Spanish ladies of a certain age.


Back home: Some Artistic window displays at Lynch’s of Main St.

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