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Tag: Sandy

Thanksgiving, sinking of the Mexico 1836 and Kerry team from 1903

Today is the day when families in the U.S. traditionally give thanks. It might be a good time for us all to take time out and ponder a few reasons for us to give thanks.


Here is a story from Irish Central on how the Irish saved Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated in February 21 1621 when a band of starving pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were saved at the last minute by the arrival of a ship from DublinIreland bearing food from there.

The Boston Post the largest circulation newspaper in the 1920 and 1930s discovered the earlier date for the Thanksgiving ritual and showed that the traditional date of the autumn of 1621 was actually incorrect.

According to the ‘Observant Citizen’ a columnist for the Boston Post the Pilgrims in the winter of their first year were starving and faced the end of the their project to colonize the new land when “a ship arrived from overseas bearing the much needed food.’

The Observant Citizen, because of anti-Irish prejudice refused to name it as an Irish ship but it was actually The Lyon and “its provenance and that of the food was Dublin Ireland.”

It turned out that from records at the Massachusetts Historical Society that the wife of one of the prominent Plymouth brethren was the daughter of a Dublin merchant and that it was he who chartered the vessel, loaded it with food and dispatched it to Plymouth.

The Observant Citizen whoever he was, never admitted the Irish connection even though a number of Irish organizations challenged him on the issue.

Nonetheless  the Massachusetts historical records revealed the tale giving the Irish a fair claim to saving Thanksgiving.


At the present time, the people of Long Island are trying to recover from the worst disaster that has ever befallen them. But back in 1836 another little known disaster befell 200 immigrants, mostly Irish, along this very stretch of shore. A monument in Lyndberg commemorates the sinking of the Bristol and Mexico, ships carrying unfortunate people hoping to escape the poverty and deprivation at home to make a better life in the U.S.  Coffin ships indeed!

The BRISTOL was an
American ship nearly new, manned by a crew of 16 officers and men, having 100
passengers, about 90 of whom were in the steerage. She sailed from Liverpool,
Oct. 16th, 1836, and arrived off the Hook, Nov. 20th. Not succeeding in obtaining
a pilot, she was driven, on the 21st, by a violent gale, upon the Rockaway
shoals, a few miles west of the Marine Pavilion, and half a mile from the
shore. The roughness of the sea, by the continuance of the gale, rendered it
impracticable to afford any assistance from the land, till after midnight of
the 22nd, when a boat from the shore succeeded, at imminent peril, in rescuing
32 individuals from a watery grave. Of course 84 perished, of whom 3 were cabin
passengers, and the residue emigrants and seamen.

The MEXICO was an
American Barque of 300 tons, manned by a crew of 12 men including officers, and
having on board 112 steerage passengers, as ascertained from her papers,
certified by the Collector at Liverpool. She left Liverpool Oct. 23rd, 1836
only a week after the Bristol, but did not arrive off the Hook till the 31st of
December. Not being able to find a pilot, she stood off to sea; but on
returning to the Hook on the 2nd. of Jan. and attempting to enter the Bay, she
was driven on Hempstead Beach, about 10 miles east of the spot where the
Bristol had been wrecked. The weather being intensely cold, and the waves
constantly breaking over the vessel, the most of the passengers and crew
perished in the succeeding night. On the following day, a boat from the shore
succeeded in reaching the vessel, and rescued the captain, 4 passengers, and 3
of the crew, who dropped from the bowsprit. The boat was unable to return, and
the few survivors were necessarily left to their fate. The whole number that perished
was 116.

 On the 11th of Jan. 43 bodies were buried at
the place where the monument is erected, and several others that were
afterwards recovered. A few of the bodies were recognised and taken by friends
for burial elsewhere.

The whole number that perished from these two
vessels only 7 weeks apart, was 200.


Joanne Dillon alerted me to this good news story from Queens and the Rockaways


Discover Kerry posted this photo from 1903 of Kerry’s first all Ireland winning team.


O’Brien and Godmother of Wanderly Wagon. Don’t know who the children are but probably some early rent-a-crowd from RTE


Sad reading on Radio Kerry website 

A soup kitchen has opened in Tralee, in response to the growing number of Kerry people struggling to feed themselves and their families.
It’s located on Ashe Street, and is currently open for two hours every Saturday afternoon, from 12 noon to 2pm.
Two Tralee residents, Colette Price and Dawn Roberts, are currently running the kitchen, along with volunteers from the Tralee Lions Club, which is funding the project.
They’ve appealed to anyone of any age and from any walk of life, to drop in and avail of nourishing, home-made food, which they’re also welcome to bring home with them.
Colette Price says there are people in Tralee, including those who are working, who are struggling to feed their families:

Christmas Parking etc. and Sandy relief

There is fascinating first hand account here of an Irish man who fought in The Boer War (He fought with the Boers) and who also fought in 1916 and afterwards.

(Look out for the Listowel connection) 


Donal O’Sullivan

A very uplifting story in the aftermath of Sandy


When Donal O’Sullivan, a
successful, Irish-born contractor living in northeastern Queens, heard about
the devastation left byHurricane Sandyin the Rockaways, he felt compelled to go see it for

What he found in the southernmost section of the borough, on the
Saturday after the October 29th storm, stunned him. “It looked like
millions of tons of sand had been dumped in the streets,” O’Sullivan

  So the businessman from County Kerry mobilized about 150 volunteers, by the
next morning, to start digging out residents….either with shovels and
buckets…..or with Bobcats donated from his business, Navillus

O’Sullivan specializes in commercial construction and provided
the concrete for the September 11th Memorial in lowerManhattan. But he saw the need in the Rockaways and wanted to

  O’Sullivan told PIX 11 that fifty families had signed up for
assistance that first Sunday morning, and by nightfall, one hundred families
had asked for help. Since November 4th, the volunteers he’s provided from his
company have dug out some 300 families.

 A father of six, O’Sullivan’s
daughters, Katie and Caroline, have been taking part in the relief effort.  

11 and the Morning News was at one home on Beach 126th Street Wednesday
morning, as O’Sullivan’s crew dug out the basement of homeowner, Liz Gatto,
where the sand was piled four feet high. Gatto held her one year old daughter,
Ella, in her arms–as she watched the activity from the dilapidated boardwalk
across the street, where a car was buried in the sand. Gatto said she’s lived
in the Rockaways for 34 years of her life, and she never got a drop of water in
her house, not even after Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011. This time, the
ocean came crashing over the top of her home, which she had evacuated. The
electrical system will have to be replaced, before she moves back in, but she’s
grateful her family is safe.

The Rockaways served as a summer resort dating
back to the 1830’s, but with the advent of inexpensive airline travel in the
1960’s, tourism there waned. Many people, though, started living there

In Far Rockaway, afterWorld War Two, public housing was built, and many residents there have
suffered badly, after the power and heat outages caused by the hurricane.



More help on way


community ‘Day of Action’ is organized for Hurricane Sandy victims

On November 24th Irish will descend in large numbers to help in


A major
Irish “Day of Action” to help the residents of Rockaway who have been shattered
by Hurricane Sandy has been decided upon by the Irish community in conjunction
with the Irish government.

day will take place on November 24th the Saturday after Thanksgiving and up to
1,000 Irish are expected to take part from all over the New York area.
Designated work areas will be arranged in Rockaway.

day is being coordinated by the Irish Consulate in New York and buses will
transport the volunteers from the main Irish neighborhoods to the Rockaway
peninsula. The buses will be available at the Irish Immigration centers in
Queens, Bronx and likely Manhattan as well as some other upstate locations. The
Rockaway area has been devastated by the hurricane.

trades people, especially New York certified electricians are desperately
needed but volunteers of all backgrounds are welcome.

Consul General Noel Kilkenny paid tribute to the many efforts by Irish
organizations to help those in Rockaway and elsewhere who have been devastated
by the hurricane.

said when he visited Rockaway it was apparent that people on the ground were
the main need of those who have been left in dire straits.

feel the Irish with their vast array of skills and commitment to help those in
need should make an extra special effort” he said. Rockaway leaders agreed that
with its multi-ethnic mix and large Irish population it was the obvious place
to organize.

consultation with community leaders the Consulate decided to embark on the day
of action. A press release using the Irish term “Meitheal” which means a group
of neighbors coming together to help someone, has been sent out.

are invited to become an Irish Meitheal Volunteer.  All able-bodied men
and women are asked to come together and travel to Rockaway to help the
stricken neighborhood.

details (bus departures, sign-up sheets, etc.) to follow early next week.


Christmas parking in Listowel

Thanks to Jimmy Moloney for keeping us in the loop.


Did you get to see John B. after Ten?

They are off today for their big night in The National Concert Hall tomorrow. Booked out, I’m told.

This is Ann McNamee’s lovely photo of Denis OMahoney and Batt O’Keeffe in John B. After Ten at Writers’ Week 2012

The Cows lawn concluded.; More on Superstorm Sandy

The final installment of Kay Caball’s history of Childers’ Park.

In 1966, Listowel Urban Council, still striving to finally put the Cows
Lawn in public ownership and also to provide a Town Park for the residents,
opened negotiations with the ‘Cow Keepers’ to purchase their shares. On 23
August 1965 the following Shareholders were offered £200 per share:

Martin Daly Market St.

Joseph Walsh, Church St., 

Paddy Keane, Church

Joe Scanlon, Bridge Road, 

Gerald Lynch, The Square, 

Mrs. Tadg Brennan,
Colbert St., 

Patrick Finucane, Church St 

Mrs. May Quillinan, C/o Miss Stack, The Emporium, Church St., 

Miss N Kelly, Upper William

Mrs Nora Buckley, William St.

Miss Tessie Buckley, William St.,

Michael Woulfe, C/o McKennas, Listowel

All signified their agreement but at that point problems with the legal
conveyance arose. A barrister’s opinion supplied by William A. Binchy (father
of Maeve Binchy) dated 10.10.1965 spelled out the ‘defect in the title of the
land in question’. 

Because the ownership had been vested in so many different
titleholders, some now deceased, his opinion was that the best and indeed only
way forward was a Compulsory Purchase Order.

The Compulsory Purchase Order was effected on 14 April 1966, the Urban
Council borrowed £4,300 from the New Ireland Insurance Co., to pay for the
acquisition, which they later recouped by selling a small section of the road frontage. At the same time the very distinctive
Danaher’s Lodge, now called the Dandy Lodge, a nineteenth century cottage which
had been the gate lodge to the manor and was identified as the first house in Bridge Road in the Ordinance Survey map of 1887,19 was
moved stone by stone across the road to the new entrance to the Park. The Town
Park, now known as Childers Park is in public ownership, used on a daily basis
by the people of the town with pitch & putt, rugby, soccer, a children’s playground
and Community Centre.

The highlight of the
 development of the Lawns is the Garden 
of Europe.
In the wooded area which had 
formerly been used a town dump, the 
council, with
the help of local voluntary
associations initiated the planting of the 
of Europe, now regarded as one of Listowel’s hidden treasures. It contains more
than 2,500 trees and shrubs from all European countries. It also contains
Ireland’s only public monument to the memory of the millions who died in the
Holocaust. The focal point of the garden is an impressive bust of the poet
Schiller. Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ set to music by Beethoven in his Ninth
Symphony is now the official anthem of the European Union.


‘Ode to Joy’ expresses Schiller’s idealistic vision of the human race
becoming brothers, a vision also shared by Beethoven.  Surely it is a fitting
conclusion to the long drawn out struggle of the people of Listowel to be
masters of their own destiny, to walk 
their ‘own’ land and enjoy all the
on offer in their ‘Town Park’. As this research shows, It had taken
from the middle of the twelfth century, firstly with the Fitzmaurices, then the
Hares as overlords, to reach a conclusion where the tenants and dispossessed
were ‘brothers’ rather than serfs.


I am very grateful to Kay for sharing this with us. She has done us all a great service in documenting this fascinating piece of Listowel history.

Below are some of the facilities available in the Cows’ Lawn to the people of Listowel today.

Adult playground
tennis courts
Tee box on Pitch and Putt Course
Artwork and Graffiti
flower bed


Beautiful early colour photographs here (mostly Galway)


Did you know there’s an Irish actor in the popular
TV soap Home and Away?

Irish actor Alison McGirr, from Co Carlow, landed
the role as Molly Brenner and has been appearing in episodes of the show in
Australia since August of this year. 

She started appearing in episodes broadcasted in
Ireland in recent weeks. 

McGirr, whose great-grandparents were from Ireland,
was herself born in Australia but moved back to Ireland with her family 1996
where she attended Tullow Community School in Co Carlow.

McGirr is engaged to fellow actor Sam Atwell, who
is best known for his role as Kane Philips in the TV show.

Home and Away is watched by an estimated 150,000 Irish
people on RTÉ everyday.


Do you remember yesterday’s first hand pictures from New Jersey? They were shared with us by Marie Shaw and she wrote this account of superstorm Sandy.

Hi Mary,

Fortunately I was not in the thick of it. I live in Manchester, NJ about 13/15 miles inland from the coast. Most of those pictures were taken from the block behind my son’s home in Belmar, NJ.

As I am sure you have heard in the media, the devastation on the coastline from lower Manhattan and all through the Jersey shore to Atlantic City is horrendous. A quarter of a million people in lower Manhattan without power which means no water, no heat, no cooking facilities. Over one hundred  homes in Breezy Point NY burned to the ground. Miraculously, nobody perished in the blaze.Rockaway Beach, NY (affectionately known in the old days as Ballybunion USA) just a memory of what it once was.

The entire Jersey shore has been wiped out with hotels, private beachfront homes and miles and miles of boardwalk gone. So many families homeless in the aftermath, so many lives ruined by the wrath of mother nature.

When, as a child back in Listowel, we would experience a storm, the older people would talk about “The night of the big wind” I had no idea what the fuss was about but I certainly do now. I have never heard such gale force winds. Up to 80 miles an hour, windows shaking, trees uprooted and flashing lights in the sky. The flashing lights we found out later were transformers exploding.

Incredibly, only about forty lives were lost and most of those were people who refused to follow orders to “Stay inside your homes” and ending up being struck by falling trees and live electrical wires on the ground.

Most of us (The Irish in partulicar) have always had an ongoing romantic affair with the sea but we are all realizing that the sea and nature in general can turn on us in an instant and many can be left with broken hearts and broken lives.

On a happier note, as the sea grows calm once again, the attached picture shows that everything has it’s time and place and tonight we feel that God is still in the heavens and all will be right with the world once again.


Marie Shaw

Calm after the storm


Still standing in the midst of the devastation ay Breezy Point New York.


And I saw this next on Facebook. Uplifting!

The Cows’ Lawn; Storm Damage and Deer in Killarney

Cows’ Lawn


Finally the UDC and a number of other prominent citizens formed the Sinn
Fein Food Committee with a view to acquiring this land as tillage. There was a
general feeling of frustration building up with the petty restrictions and the
number of permissions which had to be sought from Lord Listowel.. ‘Negotiations’
were opened by Sinn Fein with two local men who had permission to graze the
Lawn at the time, in order that the Food Committee might proceed with their
aims of turning the ground into tillage. It would appear that ‘negotiations’
might be a misnomer, something that rankled with the families concerned in the
following years.

Getting tired of waiting for permission, the Food Committee with the
help of Volunteers from Moyvane, Knockanure, Finuge, Rathea, Ballyconry and
Ballylongford, ploughed up the ‘front and back lawns’ concerned on 25 February
1918. The members of the Committee were jailed for a month on May 23rd, while
the Chairman of the County Council, Jack McKenna spent almost a year in Belfast Jail on this and other
alleged charges.

While they were still in jail, Lord Listowel instructed the agent to
sell the disputed land to Thomas Armstrong proprietor of the NKM Sweet Factory
for £1,400.which was then five times the market value of such land. Armstrong
then offered the land at the same price to the Food Committee and they had no
option but to pay this sum.. The deed drawn up was between Thomas Armstrong and
‘The Listowel Food Committee/The Listowel Cow Keepers/The Trustees, which was
later to cause legal problems. ‘The conveyance of 1920 was made to Dr.
O’Connor, Mr. Launders, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Flavin.
‘The front lawn was divided amongst twenty people, each of whom have the right
to graze one cow in perpetuity; and the back lawn was divided amongst twenty eight
poor people for tillage purposes’

The ‘two fields’ of thirty acres in total, were mainly in grass, bounded
on all sides by woods with the river flowing alongside. The former tennis court
was left in place with a right of way into it and it continued be used as a
Tennis Club . However it was 1935 before the first Catholic was admitted to the

Listowel Urban Council continued the quest to attain ownership of the
public areas surrounding the town and in 1946 Lord Listowel granted Gurtinard Wood and a beautiful walk to the people of Listowel for a
nominal sum of £5.00.

The tillage so fiercely fought for, did not stay in use after a few
years but the twenty cow keepers continued their right to graze their cows, on
what was now known as The Cows Lawn until 1966. The author remembers some of
these ‘Cow Keepers’ exercising this right and in fact milking cows on the Lawn
and bringing the milk up the Bridge Road in galvanised buckets, swinging off
the handlebars of their bikes.


This photo from the archives of The Kerryman is from the Munster Final of 1962 in Cork. Kerry’s Donie O’Sullivan is in the centre of the shot.


Jim MacSweeney took some great photos of deer and stagsin The National Park during the rutting season.

This fellow has been in a fair few fights, I’d say

Tha Harem


A more unusual Halloween tradition

Clamping the turf for the winter

Today is All Souls Day. In the
old days this was always a great night for the fire. One Halloween game was known as
building the house. Twelve pairs of holly twigs were arranged in a circle,
pushed into the ground and tied together at the apex. A lighted sod of turf was
placed in the centre. The coupled twigs were named after the boys and girls
present, and the pair which caught fire first indicated which boy and girl
would first be coupled in marriage. Well, it beats online dating services. Also on All Souls Night, seats for the returning dead were arranged around the fire. 


Sandy’s Wake

A kind follower sent us these distressing photos of the destruction on the Jersey Shore.

Rockaway Beach, New Jersey

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