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: Tom Mulvihill

Listowel, a horse fair poem and a new restaurant

On an Early January Morning in Town

I was out bright and early one morning with my Christmas house guest and we were surprised to see the streets almost deserted….a rare sight indeed. In the top photo you will notice the street sweeping truck outside Perfect Pairs. The streets were so deserted that the truck was able to sweep both sides of the street unhampered by traffic.

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First Horse Fair of 2018


Market Street was closed on January 4 2018. The fair was in full swing when I went around midday. It is really no longer a horse fair as you could see any kind of livestock now appear at the fair.

I hope the tradition continues for many a long year yet.

Now I’ll give you again, this great old poem about a fair fadó, fadó

The Big Fair of Listowel

Tom Mulvihill

Now Marco Polo went to China 

But I swear upon my soul

He should have come the other way 

To The Big Fair in Listowel.

There he’d see what he didn’t see

At the court of Kubla Khan,

The greatest convocation ever

Since God created man.

There were bullocks in from Mortra

And cows from Carrig Island

Sheep and gosts from Graffa 

And pigs from Tullahinel.

There were men with hats and caps

Of every shape and size on,

And women in brown shawls and black,

A sight to feast your eyes on.

The finest fare was to be had

In all the eating places.

A sea of soup and big meat pies,

Some left over from the Races.

Floury spuds and hairy bacon

Asleep on beds of cabbage,

To satisfy a gentleman

A cannibal or savage.

And here and there among the throng

‘tis easy spot the jobbers

Jack O’Dea from County Clare

And Owen McGrath from Nobber.

There was Ryan from Tipperary

And McGinley from Tyrone.

Since ‘twas only Kerry cattle

Could walk that distance home.

And trotting up and down the street

Were frisky mares and stallions,

While here and there in little groups

Drinking porter by the gallons

Were all the travelling people,

The Carthys and the Connors,

The Maughans and the Coffeys-

Gentle folk with gentle manners.

And there you’d see old fashioned men

With moustaches like yard brushes

And more of them with beards that big

You’d take them for sloe bushes.

Up there outside the market gate

A matron old and wrinkled

Was selling salty seagrass

And little bags of winkles.

Inside the gate were country men,

Selling spuds and mangolds

While swarthy men from Egypt

Sold necklaces and bangles

And there you’ll find the laying ducks

Or broody hens for hatching,

Creels of turf and wheaten straw,

With scallops for the thatching.

Dealers down from Dublin

Did there set up their stands,

Selling boots and pinstripe suits

Both new and second hand.

Cups and saucers you could buy

Both singly or in lots,

And for your convenience late at night,

White enamel chamber pots.

If you had an ear for music

You could buy a finch or linnet,

And to bring your winter turf home

A Spanish ass or jennet.

And across at Walshe’s Corner

Stood a ballad singing fellow

Selling sheets- a penny each

Red and white and blue and yellow.

He was an old sean nós man

If you ne’er had music in you

He’s stop you in your stride, man

And you’d not begrudge the penny.

For he’d bring you back to Vinegar Hill

And to Kelly from Killane

Or you’d stand again in Thomas Street

And you’d see the darling man.

But woe alas for the singing man

The Dublin dealer and the drover,

The days of catch whatever you can

Are dead and gone and over.

Now we have fleadhs and Writers’ Weeks

And a plethora of rigmarole

But who remembers as I remember


The big fair in Listowel.

>>>>


Today’s the day!


This popular café opens today under new management. I’ll keep you posted.



Out with the old; in with the new

Brigita, the new proprietor of Scribes is pictured here with the former owner, Namir.

Fr. Daniel O’Sullivan of Listowel and California and World Book Day 2017

Going Over the Cork and Kerry Mountains




Catherine Moylan took this on the Cork/ Kerry border in January 2017

>>>>>>>



A U.S. Priest with a Strong Listowel Connection


I wonder if this illustrious pastor still has family locally.


FATHER   DANIEL  O’SULLIVAN



1846-1928



The Founding Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was born in Listowel,

Co Kerry, Ireland on March 19,1846, the fourth child of Eugene (Owen)

O’Sullivan and Margaret Nolan.  He was one of nine children, two girls

and seven boys.





He received his first education at Mr Leahy’s School in Listowel and

studied theology at All Hallows Major Seminary in Dublin.  Fr

O’Sullivan was ordained on June 24, 1871, in All Hallows Chapel by

Bishop William Whelan, O.C.D., retired  Vicar Apostolic of Bombay,

India.  Being ordained for the Diocese of Grass Valley, he left for

California in August of 1871.



1871-1872    Pastor of St Joseph, Crescent City.

1872-1878     Founding Pastor of Immaculate Conception, Smartsville, California.

1878-1881     Assistant at St Mary’s in the Mountains, Virginia City, Navada.

1881-1883     Second Pastor of St Mary’s in the Mountains and Vicar

General for Northern Nevada after the first pastor of St. Mary’s,

Father Patrick Manogue, was named Bishop of Grass Valley.

1883-1887     Pastor of St. Anthony, Mendocino, California.





The month of May, 1886, was to have a great influence in his life.  On

May 7 he became a United States citizen in ceremonies in Ukiah

Superior Court, Mendocino County.  On May 28 the Diocese of Grass

Valley was transferred to Sacramento, and all the parishes along the

coast as far north as Fort Bragg became part of the Archdiocese of San

Francisco.  Father O’Sullivan thus found himself a priest of this

archdiocese.



1887-1896     Founding Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in

Redwood City.





Father O’Sullivan was appointed Pastor of the Mission San Jose on June

15, 1896.  However, he never served as pastor and there is a gap in

our knowledge of his life until the beginning of 1898.



1898-1928 Pastor of All Hallows Parish in San Francisco.



Father Daniel O’Sullivan died on February 3, 1928 and was buried in

Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, where a large monument stands in his

memory.

<<<<<<<


The Big Fair



A while back I published Delia O’Sullivan’s great account of the big fair in town and then I came across a great poem which brought the fair to life before our eyes.

The poem was written by a man called Tom Mulvihill.  I knew nothing of him.

On World Book Day, March 2 2017 I was in The Seanchaí for a lovely shared reading over a cuppa.

I could hardly believe my ears when I heard Donal O’Connor of Tarbert stand up and recite Tom Mulvihill’s poem from memory.

I enquired of Donal afterwards what he knew of Tom Mulvihill and he told me that he knew him long ago in Ballylongford. He was the son of the parish clerk.

His more famous brother, Roger, wrote Ballyheigue Bay and went on to run The White Sands hotel.

After Tom’s death his family gathered his writings into a little book. Donal has a copy “somewhere”. He’ll share it when he finds it.

<<<<<<


 Some of The Writers in The Seanchaí on World Book Day


Susan Hitching, artist and writer

Donal O’Connor, writer and historian

Michael Gallagher

Above are just three of the writers who shared their work with us on World Book Day 2017

<<<<<<<<



Listowel’s Own Outlet Store




You know the way many famous shops in America have outlets where they sell off stock that has been on the shelves a while at reduced prices. Well, Listowel has an outlet too. It’s Coco in The Square.

The Big Fair, A New Charity Shop and Lots of Free Parking Spaces

A Baby Robin




Photo: Chris Grayson



<<<<<<<<<



The Big Fair


in photos and a poem

The Big Fair of Listowel

Tom Mulvihill

Now Marco Polo went to China

But I swear upon my soul

He should have come the other
way

To The Big Fair in Listowel.

There he’d see what he didn’t
see

At the court of Kubla Khan,

The greatest convocation ever

Since God created man.

There were bullocks in from
Mortra

And cows from Carrig Island

Sheep and gosts from Graffa

And pigs from Tullahinel.

There were men with hats and
caps

Of every shape and size on,

And women in brown shawls and
black,

A sight to feast your eyes
on.

The finest fare was to be had

In all the eating places.

A sea of soup and big meat
pies,

Some left over from the
Races.

Floury spuds and hairy bacon

Asleep on beds of cabbage,

To satisfy a gentleman

A cannibal or savage.

And here and there among the
throng

‘tis easy spot the jobbers

Jack O’Dea from County Clare

And Owen McGrath from Nobber.

There was Ryan from Tipperary

And McGinley from Tyrone.

Since ‘twas only Kerry cattle

Could walk that distance
home.

And trotting up and down the
street

Were frisky mares and
stallions,

While here and there in
little groups

Drinking porter by the
gallons

Were all the travelling
people,

The Carthys and the Connors,

The Maughans and the Coffeys-

Gentle folk with gentle
manners.

And there you’d see old
fashioned men

With moustaches like yard
brushes

And more of them with beards
that big

You’d take them for sloe
bushes.

Up there outside the market
gate

A matron old and wrinkled

Was selling salty seagrass

And little bags of winkles.

Inside the gate were country
men,

Selling spuds and mangolds

While swarthy men from Egypt

Sold necklaces and bangles

And there you’ll find the
laying ducks

Or broody hens for hatching,

Creels of turf and wheaten
straw,

With scallops for the
thatching.

Dealers down from Dublin

Did there set up their
stands,

Selling boots and pinstripe
suits

Both new and second hand.

Cups and saucers you could
buy

Both singly or in lots,

And for your convenience late
at night,

White enamel chamber pots.

If you had an ear for music

You could buy a finch or
linnet,

And to bring your winter turf
home

A Spanish ass or jennet.

And across at Walshe’s Corner

Stood a ballad singing fellow

Selling sheets- a penny each

Red and white and blue and
yellow.

He was an old sean nós man

If you ne’er had music in you

He’s stop you in your stride,
man

And you’d not begrudge the
penny.

For he’d bring you back to
Vinegar Hill

And to Kelly from Killane

Or you’d stand again in
Thomas Street

And you’d see the darling
man.

But woe alas for the singing
man

The Dublin dealer and the
drover,

The days of catch whatever
you can

Are dead and gone and over.

Now we have fleadhs and
Writers’ Weeks

And a plethora of rigmarole

But who remembers as I
remember

The big fair in Listowel.

>>>>>>>

Still a Charity Shop


but now for a different charity




<<<<<<<

New Parking Sign

These blue Parking signs are appearing all over town.

<<<<<<<



A Step Back in Time


Louise Galvin took a step back in time to when she wore the brown uniform herself. Louise visited Presentation Secondary School, Listowel where she was once a star pupil and a hero of the school basketball team.

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