This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at email@example.com
This is Mr, Jiggs happily grazing in his field in Kanturk. He didn’t win any competitions ( He didn’t enter any). He is included in the blog today because it’s summer, a slow news day and he is an auld pet.
More St. Michael’s Memories from 1972
Morning has Broken by David Kissane
What a different world it was in May 1972! The carnivals were in full swing and some of our class went to Finuge Carnival to have a fling before the exam. Some even got lucky! They said. And others pushed it to the limit and took one of the many buses that shunted to the dance in Shanagolden on Saturday May 20th. Some craic on that bus on the way there. Bigger craic on the way home. Even a few students headed for the “Gay Bachelor Festival” in Ballybunion during the Leaving Cert to help alleviate the stress of revision. Yeah right.
And there was the 13th of May fair in Listowel. An ancient event no doubt inspired by the festival of Bealtaine. The fire-festival of Baal. Horse dung and life all over Market Street. Women who still wore scarves, even shawls and men who wore caps and spit on their palms and bought and sold. Visits to the Bargain Stores and Cavendish’s. Echoes of Kavanagh’s “shops and stalls and markets and the Oriental streets”. Child of Prague statues and duffel coats and a glass of Guinness in Stack’s Hotel. Chats in The Sheebeen.
The balladian beauty of a fair day. The exotic came to town.
We watched it all on our way down to the school bus in the evening.
Listowel Writers’ Week was also coming to life in that year and John B Keane and Bryan MacMahon were to the forefront in the town where big crowds were gathering for the novel festival. Some day, I said to myself…but I recall spending a half-day-off down by the river rather than attending any of the festival’s talks, in the belief that you need something to write about before you can write about it!
And what about the clothes we fellas wore both at school and after. No uniforms. Boots if we could afford them under bright-coloured bell-bottom trousers and orange-coloured shirts with massive collars. Ties straight from Woodstock akin to the wildflower gardens of today. Peace man! Polo-necks and tank tops were a speciality. The polo-necks were a divil in a sweaty ballroom. The heat rushed up to the neck and had nowhere to escape. Thank god for the Hai Karate anti-perspirant. Strong as a horse it was but a right hoor for attracting doctor bees if you laid down in a meadow of a Sunday afternoon. Then there was the hair! Long and wide and directionless. Like furze bushes on a windy night. Side-locks that would sweep out the stall for you.
Outside the Walls
While study was more in our minds than most other things in the latter months of our second level education, we were glued to our one-channel TVs for major news events. The deaths of 13 people in Derry on Bloody Sunday on January 30th was a riveting event and was discussed in our class at length. A suggestion by one student that we should organise a protest fell on deaf ears. Too avant-garde for the majority. Mr Rochford organised a class debate sometime later and the event gave us the opportunity to hone our argumentative edges. A rare and educational avenue which put riches in our store.
The debates on Ireland joining the European Economic Community was a little prolonged for any dramatic focus by our heat-seeking mental faculties, but it did broaden our horizons, although 6,ooo plus people in North Kerry wanted to change the future by voting against joining Europe in the referendum that May. Interesting. Raidió na Gaeltachta was launched that year and, being a possible topic for an essay, was devoured with gratitude. Apollo 16 landed on the moon (no big surprise) in April. Black September terrorists. The Vietnam War reached an emotional peak for much of the world, and for us as we sat down to our Leaving Cert exams, when the Associated Press photographer Nick Ut takes his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a naked 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc running down a road after being burned by the chemical napalm. The Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty was signed between the US and Russia – it is not forgotten by our age-group what a real threat nuclear war had been up to then.
A world of hope and fear. Was it ever otherwise.
P.J. Kenny and Street Leagues
This photograph is from 1927. It shows the Greenville team, winners of the McGrath Cup. Street leagues go back a long way in Listowel.
Mr. P.J. Kenny’s name is synonymous with the organising of street leagues in more recent times. P.J. continued his involvement with the leagues in Scoil Realta na Maidine, even after his retirement from teaching.
On Monday last, June 20 2022 the school honoured his huge commitment with the presentation of an engraved vase and a special cake.
The teams that contest the leagues nowadays represent The Boro, The Ashes, The Gleann and The Country.
The 2022 senior league was won by The Boro
Ogie Scanlon was the winner of the Brendan Guiney Cup. The cup was presented by the late Brendan’s sister, Rose, and brother, Jim.
A nun walks home to the convent in 2007. A lot has changed.
A Listowel Fact
Lord Listowel visited the town in 1814 and he handed over sites for two churches, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland. Both were built almost ten years later. St. Mary’s was built in 1829. The spire and porch were added in 1865. Initially the congregation stood during mass as there were no pews. The seats were added and side aisles built in 1910.
Pixie has made a Calendar
If you’re looking for a gift idea for a Covid bound emigrant, this could be the answer to your prayers.
Pixie will deliver or drop for you to collect if you are local.
You can contact him with your order at the email address below.
Santa at McKenna’s in 1959
Were you one of the lucky children who visited Santa in Listowel in 1959?
Kathy Reynolds has put a lovely collection of Santa photos from that occasion up on line. The link is here;
If you recognise yourself or someone you know please email Kathy. The photos are numbered and you can give her the number and the names of the people in the photo. Kathy’s email address is on the video. She asks that you respect copyright.
Tom Fitzgerald took this photo of the Listowel Writers Week gang at a craftshop Christmas event;
Mary Cogan, Una Hayes, Eilish Wren, Bernie Carmody, Seán Lyons, Maureen Connolly and Masiréad Sharry
The late Eileen Hannon with Danny and Noreen O’Connell at the same event.
Hose and Half Hose
The question of hosiery came up last week when we were discussing Duhallow Knitwear and how it was always referred to in my home town as The Hosiery.
Our friend, Nicholas, did a bit of research on the internet and this is what he found.
I believe it all started with mens’ wear – (late 13c., “covering of woven cloth or leather for the lower part of the leg, with or without feet,” from late Old English ‘hosa’ “covering for the leg”) and developed into basically everything that covered the leg from the knee to the ankle.
At first, the hoses on the two legs were separate pieces of material- a solution was necessary to preserve modesty, so a cloth codpiece was invented to cover the gap in material. this was amended to metal to cope with a certain vulnerability to injury. In the 400s, following a widespread outbreak of what we would now call (to spare blushes) a ‘social disease,’ the codpiece was essential to cover the effects and visible signs of the disease and the manifold ‘medicines’ applied to combat it. I believe Gucci revived the codpiece in modern times as a fashion statement rather, I suppose, than as a ‘nod’ to the more indelicate associations. And it was an unexpected motif in the Spring 2020 menswear collection by American designer Thom Browne, shown in Paris in 2019. Like everything else connected with male vanity, it is believed that codpieces were much aggrandized and exaggerated in size by some…. Henry the V111 was one who did this, as depicted in Holbien Junior’s portrait. I presume Kings, depending on male heirs to keep the line going, would at least, have to appear capable of doing so (or be prepared to behead his Queens and kick out the Pope).
There is a contemporary male-worn item commonly used contact sports, and in ballet: the ‘jockstrap.’
It is time to call a halt on this somewhat distasteful topic. It may not all be suitable for your Blog. In any case, you have the final editorial call and you may disregard any or all of the above as you wish.
During lockdown we are all taking time to observe Nature all around us. Part of that observation for a photographer is also capturing the moment in a snap.
Tom Fitzgerald was fascinated by this magpie who swopped down to take away the remains of his piazza.
The Confirmation Class of 2020
When the story of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is told these boys will be saying, “I remember it well. It was the year I was to make my Confirmation but….”