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

Tag: The Gathering Page 1 of 2

John R.’s window, Ballybunion cove, NKRO remembered and Aghadoe, Co. Kerry

On John R.’s Christmas Window


Druids or Starlings

Last week I posted this photo which I took while walking along the clifftop in Ballybunion. This is what I wrote:

Druid’s Lair is located on the Cliff Path Walk north of the town, overlooking a sheer drop to the rocks below. This area is steeped in folklore and legend, with magnificent views of the Wild Atlantic Way in the distance. Deep in the pages of Ballybunion’s history is a story of Druid worship, when this turbulent epoch saw human sacrifices made to the Celtic god Mananann.

It is said that centuries ago, on May mornings as the dawn broke, sacrificial offerings were made to honour the Celtic god. This involved placing a victim at the abyss near the Scolt facing the Shannon Estuary. Specially-chosen executioners commenced the gruesome ceremony by striking blows to the victim’s head; a garrote was then used to complete the sacrifice, and the body was cast over the cliffs into the raging tide below.

Today the area is quiet and peaceful, allowing visitors to enjoy the walk along the cliffs, blissfully unaware of the blood-thirsty history behind the name Scoilt Na Dhrida! 


I was contacted by Jim MacMahon who told me that he knew this place as Scolt na Droid, a reference to the starlings that gather there to this day.

So I went back to No starlings. I consulted Danny Houlihan’s book and discovered that had got its information from there. I contacted Danny and he says that indeed this place is known as Starlings’ Cove today but he heard about the old mythological name from a family whose ancestors lived in Ballybunion before the Famine. So Ballybunion people, Scolt na Dhrida or Scolt na Droid or maybe Druid, take your pics.


Do You Remember the Year of The Gathering?

There we were at The Seanchaí at the very first meeting of North Kerry Reaching Out, an organisation set up to entice emigrants back for a visit.


In Aghadoe

Recently I went to Aghadoe to visit the grave of a recently departed very dear friend. It’s a very beautiful part of Killarney that is fairly new to me.

This looks like the remains of an old tower or keep. The sign below sheds no light on its history.

In the graveyard is the ruins of an old albbey and as we have seen in  any other such churches around Kerry people are now buried within the walls of the church.

While I was in the churchyard I explored a little and I found over the hedge is the newer lawn cemetery. I had not encountered a private cemetery like this one before. It’s very uniform and military looking.



An Rás leaves town, Busking Day and some gathering events

Photo by Denis OCarroll of Listowel’s Big Bridge and the River Feale taken on May 23 2013. Superb!


These are some of the musicians and volunteers who worked so hard to make Friday’s MS fundraiser such a hit.


On May 21, as The Rás came through, the boys from Scoil Realt na Maidine were safely positioned behind the wall at The Slua Hall.

The following photos are of local people out in the sunshine to enjoy the excitement. It was great to see such a positive buzz in town and everyone forgot about recession for a day or two.

Some people were working; John McCarthy is welcomed home by his daughter after the finish in his hometown, Listowel. Press photographer, John Reidy was snapping some local colour.

Some local media and local supporters.


The Gathering

Dont forget tomorrow night Tuesday May 28 RTE will repeat The Gathering Homeward Bound with Tadhg Kennelly.

In conjunction with The Gathering there are lots and lots of Clan and family gatherings taking place.

On the left is Martin Griffin. He, along with the Lartigue crew, is planning a gathering of descendants of people who worked on the monorail. This is planned for later on in the year. I’ll keep you posted.

Junior tells me that he is Griffin from both sides of his family. Both Griffin sides are planning a family reunion .

This is Damien Stack’s photo of his family shop which was established in 1910. The gathering of the Stack clan back to their Listowel roots promises to be a great hooley.

The Stack Clan and all its branches and adopted sons and daughters will make their way to Listowel  from July 19 to July 22 for a packed weekend.

Meanwhile in Dingle all this week a week of events to welcome scattered descendants of Corcha Dhuibhne emigrants is taking place.

I read all about it here:

Find your Kerry Ancestors

“The Dingle Peninsula has a unique and complex history.   A lot of
damage was inflicted on the Peninsula during the
course of the Second Desmond Rebellion,
the Nine Years War and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Its remoteness and
isolation may have protected it from the worst excesses of the Williamite War and the 1798 Rebellion.  

 It is one of the
places in Kerry thas has experienced the highest level of emigration over the
past  three hundred years.   

 It was particularly
devastated during the Famine, with up to 5000 people dying in the Dingle
Workhouse alone.   The Kerry Examiner of 8 February 1847,
records ‘The state of the people in Dingle is horrifying.  Fever, famine
and dysentery are daily increasing, deaths from hunger daily occurring. 
From all parts of the country, they crowd into the town for relief and not a
pound of meal is to be had in the wretched town for any price’.   

Thankfully all these wars and famines are behind us and the Dingle Peninsula has

This year, the year of The Gathering, the people of the Dingle Peninsula are
taking the opportunity to welcome back our diaspora from all over the world so as
that they too might experience The Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, the Gaeltacht, the
friendliness of our people, the goodness of our food and the wealth of our
culture, language and heritage.  

Corca Dhuibhne – one of the most
beautiful places on earth. 

 23rd May to 30th May 2013.”


Joanne Dillon sends us this link to a very poignant article from Irish Central.  It tells the fate of many Irish immigrants who died in quarantine.

Fathers and sons and an extraordinary teacher

This is Rory McIlroy as a boy with his dad.

This is his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniachi pictured after her latest triumph.


A young Billy Keane and his dad.

Will you look at the state of that tie?



I searched the web and couldn’t find a photo of the father and son team of the moment, the Hartys of Dairymaster. I’m sure there is no prouder Dad in Kerry this morning than Ed. Harty of Causeway founder of Dairymaster. His son and technical director of this marvelous success story, the very hard working Dr. Edmond Harty was announced last night as Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, a well deserved accolade.


Another man who idolized his father is Tadhg Kennelly. If you missed our TV encounter, here it is

Now the inside story for my blog followers.

The first I heard of The Gathering:Homeward Bound was when a lovely young lady called Doireann O’Hara emailed me. She had found me on this blog and she was researching this 6 part series for The Gathering 2013. Listowel was one of the chosen towns and they were to choose a well known local person who lived abroad to centre the programme around.


The next time she emailed they had found Tadhg and enlisted him to be the “well known local person”. He was actually an inspired choice, in my opinion, because he is very media savvy and very natural  around cameras and stuff.

Next  Doireann  comes to town for a week to line up all the people and stories for the show. She and Vincent drive to Ballybunion to meet Boysie Gleasure’s widow.  Doireann sets up loads of meetings, organizes venues and people etc.

Then the big week came,  first week in September 2012. The cameraman, sound man, producer and director hit town. They shot hours and hours of footage. They spent an afternoon in St. John’s where lots of Kerry organizations pitched their Gathering ideas. The producer decided not to go with that in the end even though the town meeting had been part of the three previous Gathering programmes.

At editing stage they obviously decided to go with four stories, The Stack Clan Gathering,  Cathy Buckley in The White House, The Gleasure Letters and The Orphan Girls.

The programme was very well received at home and abroad.

I have been in touch with the Naylors who are the custodians of the Gleasure letters and with Julie Evans in Australia and they are thrilled with the programme and they both said that they now feel even more connected with Listowel.

One question I am being asked.

What was Tadhg like once the cameras stopped rolling?

He was the same affable charming character  off camera. He has no put-on TV persona. What you see is what you get. He was genuinely interested in the stories and his empathy with the family who suffered a huge bereavement while miles apart was spontaneous and heart felt.

He had no idea of what he was going to hear until he actually arrived in my house. As he read the letters from the young Joseph Gleasure, begging his brother to bring him out of this “hole”, Listowel, Tadhg identified with the young lad’s desire for adventure. He read the letters where Joe outlined his plans. He was working hard at school and going to the gym in the evenings in order to prepare himself for the good job he envisioned in the U.S.

Tadhg’s shock was palpable as he read the letter from George Gleasure detailing how bereft and tormented he felt on hearing of the death of his beloved son only 6 months after arriving in the U.S. Tadhg was immediately back in Sydney on that awful night when he had a premonition that something was wrong at home only to be woken from a troubled sleep to learn that his beloved father had suddenly passed away. It was a great TV moment but Tadhg’s pain was genuine.

It was part of the modus operandi of the Animo crew that everything was spontaneous and unrehearsed. Giles did not know that he was going to be put in touch with an American cousin he did not know he had, until he arrived in The Arms and was told that he was going to make a Skype call. Ben did not know that the call was going to be part of the programme.

The programme has had a great reaction locally. And didn’t the town look lovely?


Extraordinary teacher is honoured

(from The Irish Times)

A deaf-blind music teacher who developed a unique method of teaching others has been recognised for her inspirational work.

For the last 20 years Orla O’Sullivan, from Frankfield in Cork, has taught scores of students, from beginners up to diploma level.

Ms O’Sullivan, who started teaching deaf children at a local primary school in the mid-1990s, now uses a purpose-built classroom in her home for hearing and non-hearing pupils.

She believes all schoolchildren should be given the option to learn music, regardless of disability.

“I teach music in a standard, normal way. The difference is in how I prepare,” she said.

“I memorise everything, even the questions that are normally asked by students at the various levels. With my hearing aids on and with close lip-reading I can usually make out what is being said.

“As regards the music, again, with my hearing aids on, I can hear/feel some of the notes. The notes I cannot hear, I hear in my imagination. As regards sight, what I see is normal for me. I can only imagine what a person with perfect vision can see.”

Ms O’Sullivan was among nine people with hearing loss commended at the Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards in the Alexandra Hotel in Dublin.

The workplace award winner was left profoundly deaf and vision-impaired when given a drug after she contracted double pneumonia at six weeks old.

She said her mother noticed that, as a young baby, she reacted to certain kinds of music, including vibrations from piano keys. After her first music lesson at six, she spent most of her childhood playtime practising on her piano.

Ms O’Sullivan said teaching music to deaf pupils is much more difficult and demanding for both the teacher and the pupil, but as a deaf-blind teacher she feels she is the best qualified to do it.

“I can sign [ISL] and relate to them [pupils] in ways that a fully hearing and sighted teacher cannot,” said the mother to six-month-old John Amadeus.

“And with the aid of enlarging technology, for reading, and better hearing devices, and amplifiers, it will get easier and more effective. Many deaf and deaf-blind people believe that music is impossible for them to understand and appreciate. That is not true.

“I, and others like musician and therapist Russ Palmer, the Finnish rapper SignMark, pianist Mark Pampel, Paul Whittaker, and Evelyn Glennie are examples of what can be achieved.”


 More on Callaghan’s Cross

Callaghan’s Cross, Vincent tells me, is so called because the family that lived there were called Callaghan.

The original house was a timber structure with a tarred roof. It was build by The Lartigue Company for the switch keeper. Where The Lartigue line ran across a junction a keeper was employed to operate the switch. He swung the line out of the way to open the junction and when the train was due he swung the line back into alignment.

Ned O’Callaghan had this job and he lived in this house with his wife, Madge Enright from Tarmons in Tarbert. In the 1950s the house was upgraded and extended. The O’Callaghans had 6 children.

Some loose ends tidied up

Today I will return to a few themes which I have neglected while I was dealing with demand for photos of the ladies on Ladies’ Day.

First up is military history. You may remember the Dr. Enright who attended to Con Dee after Gortagleanna. His grand nephew, Liam Enright wrote to me to tell me that this Dr. James Enright had a brother Dr. Thomas Enright who, ironically, was killed in Salonica in 1918 while serving in the British Army. Liam was able to find a photograph of his headstone and the military cemetary where he is buried in Salonika ( now Thessalonika, Greece) on the internet.

In case any other blog followers are interested, Liam was able to find the photos on a website called The War Graves Photographic Project where you can buy these photos for a small fee. You may find pics of your own relations lost in both World Wars. Here is the link


I heard again from James Scanlon and he sent us this useful link for information on relatives who were active during the war of independence.

“For those who want to research their relatives in more depth this other website gives an excellent guide to the documents which can be got from the military pensions process of the 1920’s and 1930’s.”


Next up is an Olympic story with a Listowel (more correctly Finuge ) connection.

The following information was sent to me by John and Monica Summers,
 who live in Sydney, Australia but who have a Whelan connection with Finuge. 

(Sorry about the format. It’s a digitized old newspaper…March 14 1952) 

Pat Leane’s  family was from Finuge and there are still members of the family living there including Nell Leane who was born in Australia, fell in love and moved to Finuge in the 1950s. 


Rugged Pat Leane has impressive records for almost everything on theathletic field. He has hopes of Helsinki; Leape football nay claim him.

TWENTY – TWO – YEAR – OLD’ six-footer Pot- Leone, of Oak-leigh, 13 stone of Irish pluck,must be Victoria’s most versatileamateur athlete.

Australian Olympic selectors haveso faP overlooked him, but happy-golucky, curly-haired Pat hasn’t given uphope yet.

He’s going to make one last do-or-die bidto crash his way into the Helsinki team thismonth. And rugged Pat can do it if anyone


Tomorrow he will .be inthe last stage of the stiffVictorian decathlon cham-pionship – the perfect out-let for his varied and out-standing talents.

Title-holder Leane‘s besttotal so far has been 5,886points. But he’s traininghard daily, and is sure hecan reach the Olympicstandard of 7,000 points,provided he is not ham-pered by adverse weather

or track conditions.

Talk to the star and youfind him almost excessivelymodest, but his list of bestperformances easily qualifyhim as the State’s leadingcne-man athletic team.Here they are:

High Jump: 6ft. 5¿in.

Broad Jump: 24ft. 23in.

Hop, Step, and Jump:

44ft. 6in.

Pole Vault: 10ft. 9in.100 Yards: 10.1sec.220 Yards: 23.3sec.

440 Yards: 51.7sec.

Javelin Throw: 165ft.Shot Put: 38ft.

Discus Throw: 128ft. 6in.120 Yards Hurdles: 16.9


1,500 Metres: 5.20

Pat has already proved him-self Australia’s best broad andhigh jumper this season, andrecently became the only ath

lete to better the Olympic stan-dard of 6ft. 4in. for the highjump.

When he’s not concernedwith improving his athleticform, schoolteacher Pat is alsowell up in the football world.A. brilliant centre half-forward,he played with Association clubOakleigh in 1947-48-49, andGolden Point, Ballarat, in ’50

FOR recreation he plays

a keen game of tennis,and in his spare time playsthe piano!

A natural athlete, Pat beganpicking up sport trophies as a12-year-old at De La Salle Col-lege, Malvern. He was good atfootball, cricket, and handball,and school champion in the 100and 220 yards, high and broadjumps, and shot put.

He had some early tips fromDe La Salle honorary coach. BobWright, and now gets a littleadvice occasionally from “Pop”Gordon, well-known Universitycoach. Mostly, however, hetrains by himself, and figuresout his own schedules.

“It’s more fun that way,” he

says. j

Experts believe he has such

terrific potential that If he had |

been coached consistently overthe last 10 years he would nowbe in top international class inany one of his strong events.But Pat, undisturbed, likes tohave a go at everything,although he prefers jumping.

For his decathlon trainingPat Is building up stamina withtwo six-minute miles once aweek, and improving techniqueon five other days.

Pat‘s future is uncertain. Hisburning ambition is to repre-sent Australia at the OlympicGames. But if he doesn’t go toHelsinki, his athletic careermay be cut short.

Pat‘s engaged to a Ballaratgirl, and a tempting offer hasbeen made for him to play pro-fessional football with NorthMelbourne.

He makes no attempt to dis-guise his love for athletics, butprofessional football would helphim establish a home. It wouldalso immediately disqualify him

as an amateur.

Pat‘s’ parents hail fromCounty Kerry, and they’remighty proud of their son.

“But,” says Pat with a
Probably they reckon he’dbe a world-beater at thegood old Irish game ofhurley.

grin, “that’s one game atwhich I’d draw the line -it’s too tough!”

– Alan Trengove


Another story from down under.

Meanwhile in Sydney, Tadhg is still filming The Gathering. Here he is talking to Barbara, a descendant of Bridget Ryan who left the workhouse in Listowel as a ‘famine orphan”.


Clerys during the Civil War

Beautiful weather;. planning The Gathering

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in The Kingdom. Listowel was looking fab.

The Welcome signs are out

We even tried out the new wheelchair accessible platform by the river.


Animo TV are still in town. Yesterday they were filming an open session in St. John’s. All kinds of organizations who are involved in tourism came together to tell Tadhg Kennelly what is planned for The Gathering 2013. I took a few snaps.


Michelle Obama wowed the audience with her speech on Tuesday night. Listen to this from one blogger

11 pm. Stunning, brilliant, moving, passionate and
right. Flawless. That was a speech a presidential nominee would be proud to
have given. The best speech of the conventions so far. There was an emotional
arc and steel to this that was as suffused with patriotism as it was with love.
Yes, I’m gushing. But gushing is what I feel. And this is live-blogging. So sue
me. I’ve never heard a speech from a First Lady anywhere close to this.
Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast

Barack and the girls watching proudly.

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