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Tag: Stack’s Mountain

Stack’s Mountains by John B. Keane, businesses coming and going and the end of Ballybunion’s black balls

Man at Work

Photo: Christopher Bourke for Mallow Camera Club’s People at Work project


Stack’s Mountains

Recently my good friend, Mary Sobieralski gave me some of her old John B. Keane books. I’m enjoying reading them and I’ll share some of John B.’s wit and wisdom with you all.

This one is long out of print. It has some lovely essays on life in North Kerry in simpler times. Here is John B.s account of summers spent in the country with relatives. I too remember when the highlight of the summer holidays was the time spent with relatives who lived just a few miles away.  I’ll give you the essay piecemeal so that you can savour the elements in bite sized pieces……

Last week I visited the
Stacks Mountains where I was reared and countrified. I arrived in a new car but
I had hardly set foot in the townland I knew as a boy when I was reminded of my
first visit and my departure. I came in a creamery lorry and I departed aboard
Jumpin’ Hanlon’s pony drawn fishcart.  Jumpin,
who had a fish shop a few doors down the street from my father’s house in
Listowel would come in September with a load of mackerel. His full name was
James Jumpin’ Alive O’Hanlon. He acquired his nickname from the way he
responded when asked if his fish were fresh.

“Man dear,” he would say, ”they’re
jumpin alive.”

Then he would choose an outstanding
specimen and hold it in his hands in such a way that it seemed to jump from his
grasp of its own accord.

“Catch that fish,” he would
call out, “Catch that fish. In God’s name don’t let it go home to Cahirciveen.”

That would be the tatara as
he went on all fours to seize the mackerel which, as soon as he recovered it,
would jump out of his hand again until finally he was obliged to tap it on the
head with his knuckles to make sure it didn’t return to that wild part of the
Atlantic from whence it first came.


Walsh’s Ballroom and The Cinema

This sign on the old ballroom is causing me some confusion. I don’t remember this premises ever being known as The Plaza but I’ve been known to be wrong before.


Closing Down


Women in Media 2017

On Sunday April 23 2017 Jerry Kennelly came to Ballybunion for WiM 2017 to talk about his extraordinary mother, Joan. His parents were very much a team, so talking about Joan meant also  talking about Padraig. In fact the whole family from the moment they could walk and talk were drafted into the team and they all played a role in the success of Kerry’s Eye and the family’s photography business.

Joan came from fairly humble beginnings and she suffered the loss of both her parents early in life. She was a hard working resourceful lady and when she set her mind to a task, it got done.

After a spell in London and Spain she returned to her native Tralee and married Padraig Kennelly. Tragedy still dogged her with the loss of several babies through miscarriage but she soldiered on helping her husband build an empire.

In the days before internet and mobile phones, the Kennellys had an international business supplying photographs and stories to the world’s media.

My favourite of Jerry’s stories was the one about deGaulle’s visit to Kerry.

Charles de Gaulle, the French president was a frequent visitor to Sneem, Co. Kerry a fact that is commemorated in a statue in the village.

When he resigned as president in 1969, de Gaulle decided to take a quiet holiday in Kerry. Security was tight and when he went to mass on Sunday journalists were forbidden to bring cameras into the church. Joan Kennelly always carried a little camera in her bag and  when Charles deGaulle rose to pray in the European fashion at a point in the ceremony when the Irish congregation remained kneeling, she grabbed her chance and photographed him head and shoulders over all the other worshippers. The fuzzy image  was like gold dust. It made its way into all the major European publications.

There were many more stories like this told on Sunday morning. The story of the Kennelly’s of Ash Street deserves a documentary or even a full length film.


There they are…Gone!

The white patches on the pavements are all that’s left of Ballybunion’s controversial black balls.

Stacks Mountains, Sonny Bill update

Photo by Donal Murphy of Mallow Camera Club from their People at Work project


The Stack’s Mountains  by John B. Keane (continued)

I returned every year to the
Stacks’ Mountains for those long summer holidays until I reached the age of
fifteen. I still frequently return to the warm secure home where I was reared
when Hitler was shrieking his head off in Berlin and innocent Irishmen were
dying in distant places like Tobruck and Alamain, men from The Stacks at that,
long before their time, in useless carnage, carefree boys whose only weapon
until that timewere the hayfork and the turf slean, who wanted only the right
to work and play and find a place at the table.

I had already written a short
book about the matchmaker Dan Paddy Andy O’Sullivan but if his name crops up
now and again, don’t hold it against me. Dan was to The Stacks’ Mountain what
bark is to a tree. Any cur síos about the Stack’s Mountain would be incomplete
without Dan Paddy Andy. Dan would, no doubt, have been the most famous name in
the area. The wealthiest is a man in England who doesn’t like having his name

The Second World War was the
best time to be in The Stacks Mountain. There was no man nor boy who didn’t
have a shilling in his pocket. There was an insatiable demand for turf and
Lyreacrompane was the home of it. Man, woman and child took to the bogs across
the summers and, for the first time in the history of that much abused, much
deprived community every person who wasn’t disabled or sick had a pound or two
to spare.

Buyers would come from
Tralee, Castleisland, Abbeyfeale and Listowel on the lookout for likely
roadside ricks to fill the wagons waiting at the railway depots in the
aforementioned towns.  Those who journed to the towns with horse, ass, mule and
pony rails were often met a mile outside with buyers with orders to fill. In addition, Kerry County Council initiated a turf cutting campaign in order to
supply cheap fuel to the many institutions under its care. This even ensured
jobs for townies if they wanted them.

In The Stacks there were no
villages but there were several shops such as Lyre Post Ofice, Doran’s, Nolan’s
and McElligott’s and, of course, there was Dan Paddy Andy’s famous dance hall
at the crossroads of Renagown. There were three or four visiting butchers and
fish mongers and occasional travelling salesmen. Mostly Pakistani with huge
trunks of wispy undergarments, scarves and frocks perched precariously on the
carriers of ancient bicycles. I remember two of these quite well.

There was Likey Nicey Tie and
Likey Nicey Knickeys. The latter often indicated that he was prepared to  exchange his wares for the favours of the
country ladies. As far as I know he never did any business in this fashion. In
our youthful ignorance we would stalk them as far as the cross of Renagown
shouting “Likey Nicey Tie”, Likey Nicey Knickeys and, most heinous of all,
“Likey Pig’s Bum.”

We had been informed by
hobside knowalls that these dark coloured salesmen would be damned if they ate
any kind of pig’s meat but doubly damned if it was the rear of the pig.  We
didn’t know any better. We were young and backward and wouldn’t know prejudice
from the prod of a thorn.


Continuing his winning ways

If you don’t know who Sonny Bill is or why a show horse with only the most tenuous of Listowel connections is featuring today, just go ahead to the next item or, if you have an hour to spare, look him up on the blog and you will get the whole story.

For anyone wondering how my favourite horse is doing in his new home, well, its all good news. He has started his 2017 showing season with two wins, one show champion win and one reserve, (meaning second overall for best in show). The photos were sent from the U.K. by Rebecca Collins.


When is a fountain not a fountain?

A while ago I posted this photo of Castleisland’s fountain. As we can see it is not actually a fountain in the traditional sense but it’s a Kerry fountain. Margaret Dillon took the time to remind me that there was also such a fountain in Listowel at Ballygologue cross. Listowel’s fountain was also a water pump.

In Castleisland’s case I wonder if the pillar behind the pump has anything to do with the water supply. Could it be some sort of folly?

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