The Dandy Lodge in Listowel Town Park. Beautiful window boxes in place for the upcoming Entente Florale judging.
Harp and Lion
Restoration work has started on this great Listowel icon. I’m looking forward to seeing it restored to its former glory.
Today’s Pearl of Wisdom from my Charity Shop “Find”
Is the world’s saltiest water in The Dead Sea?
No, it’s not, according to this fascinating book. The saltiest water in the world is in Don Juan Pond in the Dry Valleys of north eastern Antartica. It’s also known as Lake Don Juan. It’s a tiny lake whose depth is only 6 inches. It’s water is so salty that it doesn’t freeze even though the air around it is -50C.
The water is a whopping 40% salt, more than twice as salty as The Dead Sea. The water in Don Juan didn’t come from the sky. It’s too cold and dry there for rain or snow. The water seeped up through the ground and the upper layer of water evaporated leaving this salty residue behind. The lake was only discovered in 1961.
A Reminder of Slower Times
Patrick O’Shea, who had a Listowel mother, was curious to know what this is. He saw if at a junction in Cork and he asked Facebook what it could be. He learned that stones like these were placed at the entrance to lanes and small roads to prevent horse drawn carriages from riding over the corner of the nearby building and wearing it away. The corner stone forced the horse to swing wide into the entrance and to take a straight path into the side road.
When I posted this photo of Peggy and her family a while ago, Mattie Lennon saw it and remembered a lovely piece that he had written about Peggy and her relationship with the great Seán MacCarthy. Mattie sends us the piece here and I’m going to give it to you in two instalments.
Peggy will be singing the songs of Seán MacCarthy at the memorial weekend on the August bank holiday in Finuge…well worth a visit.
What could I say about Peggy?
Nothing but the truth.
I loved her songs and her singing
I heard away back in my youth.
Her songs were food to my Soul
Her voice was a thrill to my ear.
I loved her then as a child,
It was mutual and sincere.
I love her today as a friend
And the memories shared together.
Her songs still lift my soul
Like the lark warbling o’er the heather.
What can I say about Peggy?
Thanks for the joy she has given.
Blest be the dawn of our friendship
When Peggy was only seven. —-
The above, written in perfect Copperplate, was handed to me by octogenarian Kerry poet Dan Keane when I told him I was writing a piece about Peggy Sweeney.
When I met and talked to the singer herself she spoke in equally glowing terms of Dan. But, then, she struck me as the kind of person who would have great difficulty speaking unkindly of anyone. Any mild criticism of a fellow human being seemed to be invariably followed by. “Ah … he (or she) is alright”.
Peggy was born in Rathea, Co. Kerry, the second youngest of seven children.
My hinted request for a D.O.B. [Date Of Birth] was met with Kerry specificness; “In the second half of the last century”.
When I point out that David Mamet, in his book True and False, claims that nobody with a happy childhood ever went into show business the tumultuous reply is like the Smearla river in flood. I am left in no doubt about her happy childhood, despite the fact that her father died when she was only six. Her grandfather was a very good fiddle player and by the time Peggy was a year-and-a-half old she was able to hum the tunes that he played for her. Her father was a dancing teacher and her mother, a beautiful singer, (who was very much a woman before her time), taught her all her songs.
She emphasizes that she grew up in a house of laughter, song and dance “which brought us all a long way, the day wasn’t half long enough for us and if I had to do it all over again I’d do the very same thing”.
Peggy can, in the words of Thomas Prior, ” … answer to the truth of a song”. When she sings “Rathea In County Kerry” written for her by cousin, Brian Burke, you get an example of that.
When I think of the days that once I spent
In the hills of County Kerry
Those happy days before I went
And took the Holyhead ferry.
Well we danced and we sang
‘Til the morning shone shone,
Though my grief I try to bury
For our lives were free in good company
In Rathea in County Kerry.
A story emanating from the Presentation Convent in Listowel has a two-pronged connection with W.B. Yeats (first it brings to mind his line:” I made my song a coat”). When Sister Austin asked Peggy to recite “The Sally Gardens” the quietly confident child recited a line or two and got stuck; only to then volunteer, ” I can’t recite it Sister … .but I will sing it”.
From an early age she competed. But competition is not her forte and she says: “I had to compete.” Adding modestly, “I won a couple of All-Irelands with the Lixnaw branch of Comltas”.
She competed, as a member of Scor, and left unbeaten in Kerry or Munster and believing that competition destroys the love of singing. “When I reached the age where I didn’t have to compete any more that’s when I really enjoyed singing”.
A Poignant Tarbert Story
from Tarbert.ie on Facebook
Tarbert.ie posted this photo with the following caption;
In 1985 a man was waiting for the Ferry in Tarbert when a group of children spotted he had a camera and asked him to take a picture of them…. the result was the below picture!
He kept it safe over the next almost 35 years and now wants to reunite it with its subjects!
Jennifer Scanlan saw the photo, recognised her brothers and their friends and solved the mystery;
The children are Derek R.I.P and Thomas OGorman with their friends, brother and sister, Josephine and Thomas.