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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: St. Brigid

St. Brigid, Muire na nGael

Today is February 1st. feast of our second patron saint. According to one tradition Saint Brigid was born in Faughart, Co Louth, where there is a shrine and another holy well dedicated to her. The Saint founded a convent in Kildare in 470 that has now grown into a cathedral city. There are the remains of a small oratory known as Saint Brigid’s fire temple, where a small eternal flame was kept alight for centuries in remembrance of her.

This is St. Brigid’s in Kildare

This window is in the Catholic church of St. Brigid in Kildare Town.

This is the St. Brigid stained glass window in St. John’s church, Ballybunion

She is usually depicted either with her famous cross or a church which she built.

The Kildare crowd in their church plaque don’t bother with the Co. Louth part of the legend. There she is all Kildare.

St Brigid’s Cloak

Once when on a visit to my Kildare family I came upon this display in the Whitewater Shopping Centre in Newbridge.

This is St. Bridget with her marvellous cloak. The project was the work of a local knitting group.

The story of the cloak is this. St. Bridget wanted to build a monastery so she approached the king of Leinster to give her a site. He laughed her off. Undaunted, she returned to him and asked only for “as much land as my cloak will cover” His majesty took one look at her small cloak and agreed to her request.

Then began her first miracle. She asked her followers to take her cloak and to walk North, South, East and West with it. The cloak grew and grew until it covered more than enough land to built her monastery. The king picked his jaw up from the floor, decided that this lady was blessed by God and there and then became her biggest fan and ardent supporter.

To celebrate this miracle one tradition is to leave a handkerchief (if anyone has one of these anymore) or piece of linen out overnight. St. Brigid will bless it and it will have curative powers from then on.

St. Brigid’s Cross

Probably the most popular tradition associated with St. Bridget is the custom of making crosses from rushes and hanging them in houses to ward off dangers particularly the danger of fire.

St Bridget had n0 cross with her when she was in the bothán of a dying man whom she wished to convert to Christianity. She picked up the nearest thing, rushes on the floor, and fashioned a crude cross from these. Irish schoolchildren have been making flitters of their fingers emulating her feat ever since.

Valerie O’Sullivan took these photos of the mid Kerry crowd out on The Biddy last year. The tradition involves taking an effigy of St. Bridget (a Brídeóg) from house to house and having a bit of a hooley along the way. This tradition is related to mumming and the colourful hats are part of it all.

Some people make a St. Brigid shrine. This was Helen Dunlea’s last year.

This is the St. Brigid icon by Sr. Aloysius McVeigh.

An icon is different to a picture in that it’s purpose it to tell the whole story. If a picture paints a thousand words, an icon paints several thousands.

Some of the symbols are;

Sword under her foot…her love of peace

Animals…she was fond of sheep and cows and depended on these for food and nourishment

Monastery

Her fellow sisters

Bishop’s Crosier…many traditions have it that Bridget was ordained a bishop

St. Brigid’s Cross

St Brigid’s Fire…Her fire was kept alight for decades, used for heating and cooking etc.

So now you know something about the saint responsible for our new national holiday.

I’m told that the name Bridget and derivatives has fallen out of fashion but her cult is now having a moment as we celebrate on our new national holiday.

Look at this beautiful piece of St. Brigid jewellery from Listowel goldsmith, Eileen Moylan. If you have a Bridget in your life, here is her birthday present sorted.

Claddagh Design website

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Lá Fhéile Bride, some photos and memories of Listowel in the fifties

Lá ‘le Bríde





Tomorrow is February 1 2017, Lá Fhéile Bríde. The photo from the internet is of Bridgitswell in Kildare. She is our patron saint, of equal status with St. Patrick. Today we celebrate her and by tradition, we hang her cross to ward off evil.

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Beale on the Wild Atlantic Way

Ita Hannon loves her native Béal and you can see why. This is just one of the many beautiful scenes she has captured and shared with us.

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Trip to Trinity

Presentation Secondary School students paid a recent visit to Trinity College Dublin.  

(photo; Twitter)

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Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue

Isn’t this a super photo? It was taken on Christmas Day in Ballybunion and posted on the internet.

 I apologise for not noting the photographer’s name.

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Broderick’s Bar, Tae Lane, Listowel


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Summers in the 1950s Remembered by Maria Sham

During the summer school holidays we would take jam pots and go to Teampaillín Bán. I think the name means in English the little white graveyard. People were buried in a mass grave there during the Famine, only we did not know that then. Years later my brother Neilie got a group together and had a monument erected there to all the people of the famine who are buried there. The walk was on the Ballybunion road and I can still smell the tar on the road melting with the heat. In Teampaillín Bán there was a stream and we would paddle and catch kissans [little fish] and bring them home in our jam jars; the poor things did not survive long; we killed them with kindness over feeding them.

Also trips to Ballybunion, that was fantastic, Mam and Aunty Angie would bring tomato sandwiches, a large apple pie in a roasting tin and ‘ currant loaf, we would get a tray of tea at Collins’, (which was a house just off the beach) a large pot, milk, sugar and cups, all for I think 2 shillings. First we ran into the sea only in our knickers as we did not have swimsuits. After we would have our tea and it was fantastic. Even if the tomato sandwiches were full of sand nobody cared. Before leaving Ballybunion we would get our sand buckets and when the tide was gone out we marched off to the rocks and filled our buckets with periwinkles that we would boil when we got home. I remembered going to Ballybunion once with my aunt Eily in the donkey and cart, there was not that many motor cars or buses on the roads then.

At the back of our house there were a lot of elder bushes and we would hold concerts there. Admittance was a piece of broken china or a bottle top. We would dress up and pretend all kinds of things. We would put the elder flowers in our hair and pretend to be princesses. We would make mud cakes in empty polish tins and decorate them with daisies. We would have pretend shops.

As we got older it was not all play, Doreen and myself had to do jobs in the house i.e. wash up and clean the windows. There were brass rods on the stairs we had to clean with Brasso. Another job for us girls was to clean all the shoes for everyone on Saturday for Sunday mass.

My education finished at the convent at the early age of 15 followed by 2 years at the local technical college.

I left for England in March 1959 on the first step to my future.

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A Few Names



Marie Shaw thinks she recognises a few faces in Maria Sham’s photo.

This was a younger class for me but I THINK I recognize a few girls.

Third from left, back row is definitely Joan Relihan (Brennan)

Fourth from right, back row looks like Anne Wixtead.

Margaret Dillon, front row in plaid.?

Cathy Mae Leahy or maybe her sister Eleanor, front row, first on right and Maeve Mooney, second from right, front row.

God, that’s a long time ago.

Keep the memories coming Mary!

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