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: Tae Lane Store

St. John’s, Fleadh 1972 and TaeLane Store

St. John’s Listowel   by Nora Relihan


from a book published in 2001
by Radio Kerry.

Signposts to Kerry was a
little slot that Nora used to present on Radio Kerry. Here you have only the
text. Nora’s eloquent delivery was an integral part of the package.

“St. John’s is a dynamic
Theatre and Arts Centre which presides over the old Norman Square of the busy
market town of Listowel and its largely agricultural hinterland.

Built in 1819 to a design by
Cork architect, James Payne, the gothic style stone building served the local
Church of Ireland congregation for many generations. Bryan MacMahon would tell
the story of how, on Sunday mornings, before Independence, a platoon of British
soldiers billeted on the banks of the River Feale would march up the hill to
attend service in St. John’s with a few breaking away to go to mass in St.
Mary’s.

While growing up in Duagh,
famous playwright, George Fitzmaurice attended service in St. John’s conducted
by his father.  And more recently, during
its restoration period, Ted Hughes, who was later to become Poet Laureate to
Queen Elizabeth of England read his poetry there.

Now St. John’s is the Mecca
for a wide variety of cultural activities in an area already renowned for its
writers. New life was breathed into the old grey stone when it was officially
opened in 1990, having been restored and refurbished by a voluntary committee.
Stained glass windows are complemented by the restful blue furnishings in the
auditorium where adaptable seating and lighting provide a flexible space to
suit a variety of artistic activities. Local, national and visiting companies
from abroad provide theatre in its many forms. Such is their appreciation of
the venue that return visits have become almost the norm.

Ever since Listowel recorded
and forwarded its condolences to Warrington in Britain after the IRA’s tragic
bombing of that city, a Warrington company makes frequent return visits.

St. John’s Youth Theatre has
developed along the way and approximately one hundred children benefit from
regular teaching in different art forms. The annual summer school is a
highlight.

The visual arts find a warm welcome,
while music in all its variety can be heard – in fact St. John’s is fast
developing a high profile for World Music.

Bíonn ranganna Ghaeilge and
dramaí mar ghnathchuid den chlár.

A tourist information outlet
is accommodated in the foyer during the summer months.”

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Fleadh in Listowel ….the good old days





The below article is from  The Kerrymen, August 28 1972

ALL THE FUN OF THE FLEADH as All-Ireland Fleadh comes of age;

THE TROUBLE-FREE coming of age All-Ireland Fleadh Ceoil ended in Listowel last night with and attack on  the “little cliques of Irish intelligentsia” for always casting aspersions on things native.

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann National Director Labhras O Murchu told crowds packing the north Kerry town for the final sunlit day of the Fleadh which was celebrating 21 years of Comhaltas activity: “The Fleadh is an opportunity for being ourselves “

But he declared: “There are people in Ireland, little cliques who all the time are casting aspersions on things Irish. There always are people—the influential and so called intelligentsia among them—who are forever casting their eyes and thoughts away from the shores of Ireland.

“These are the people who would forget that we had a great culture and tradition of our own which should always be promoted.”

Comhaltas president Seamus de Brun said this was a time when the national revival was being more openly and insidiously attacked than ever before. The latest attack on the revival of Irish was the “stupidly outrageous allegation that our children were being retarded by  Above: The Bishop of Kerry, Most Rev. Dr. Casey was an interested spectator as a piper led the parade during the Fleadh Ceoil in  Listowel.

As an organisation Comhaltas did not participate in the debate on the proposal to enter the Common Market. The organisation, however, did take a more practical step to ensure that due prominence would be given to the  importance of safeguarding the national identity in the context of that debate.

Undertakings had been given by the Department that views would be further considered, but regrettably nothing further had been heard  from the Government Department concerned. A great opportunity had been lost to lead a nation-wide crusade to stimulate a renewed interest in the national revival.

Mr. de Brun declared that entry to the Common Market would not necessarily mean that our national identity would be submerged. Its advent, indeed, might well be the stimulant required to allow our people to become truly conscious of this challenge.

Urban Council chairman Mr. John Pierse said the old-time image of the Fleadhanna should be gone forever and he asked other  towns in Ireland to stand up and be counted—because it was the duty of every Irish person to carry the torch into the next generation.

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Remember this?

Today it is the very stylish TaeLane Store.

Mai Naylor/ Aoife Hannon Millinery Yarns event Writers’ Week 2013

Anyone who believes that a prophet is never appreciated in his own parish, has not been to Listowel. Listowel likes nothing better than to celebrate its own writers. Any Writers’ Week event featuring the work of a local writer is a guaranteed sell out.

Cyril Kelly may not be as well known nationally as John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon but he is huge in Listowel. Cyril’s style is conversational and confessional. He blends nostalgia with bemusement at the pace of change in the world. Growing up  in Listowel, family and particularly the joys of living in a mainly female household, the agony and the ecstasy of fatherhood, travel and teaching are among the themes he returns to again and again in his writing. All his anecdotes are told in a carefully crafted, learned yet accessible style. He delights in the well turned phrase; the well chosen adjective; the evocative metaphor. His word pictures are a delight to the eye. 

Cyril has another gift even greater than his command of the English language, that is his inimitable speaking voice. His essays are written for the voice….his own. Like  Dylan Thomas, another man who wrote for radio, his work is best  enjoyed when heard delivered by the writer.

Writers Week 2013 featured two Cyril Kelly events. The first was his reading in St. John’s. The second was an event he presented along with local milliner, Aoife Hannon. The happening took place in Tae Lane Store on Church Street and featured hats by Cyril’s mother, Mai Naylor and modern headpieces by Aoife Hannon whose star continues to rise among modern established milliners.

Cyril Kelly reminisces about Mai Naylor, Babe Jo Wilmot and her 2 pigs, Hansel and Gretel, milk delivered from cow to doorstep by the man who did the milking and the first Writers’ Week. He told us how Vatican 2 dealt a death blow to his mother’s milinery trade. Women were no longer required to cover their heads in church.

Aoife Hannon has little to do with cows and pigs. Horses are the animals most dear to the hearts of her customers. Aoife’s colorful and beautifully crafted hats are seen on racecourses and at weddings and glamorous social events here and in the U.K.

Hats by both Listowel milliners were on display in the shop and were a great talking point among the many ladies present.

Cyril Kelly, Kelly Browne of Tae Lane Store who organised the event and Aoife Hannon wearing one of her own creations.
Mirian Kiely, Bríd Kelly, Anne Moloney and Kay Caaball
Mai Naylor’s grandaughter models one of her grandmother’s hats.
 Moloneys; Anne, Maeve and Kay

 The three Kelly girls pose with their grandmother’s hats. Unfortunately there were none of her famous turbans among the hats that Kelly collected for this occasion from local women.

Mai Naylor’s three granddaughters in the Tea Lane Store at Writers’ Week 2013.

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Since it looks like this post will be enjoyed mainly by the ladies, here are a few fashon items from another era.

Dungarvan women in the fashionable attire  of the early 20th century
Bathing costumes from the same era

The Bantry Cloak.

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Business people in town made a great effort for Writers’ Week and The Races

The Horseshoe

Listowel Garden Centre’s display advertising Ladies’ Day at the races

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