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: Washday

a Kingfisher, Washday blues, Rattoo Tower, Gaelscoil rebrand and Convent Memories

This kingfisher was photographed by Timothy John MacSweeney on the river Blackwater near Kanturk in Co. Cork.

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The Bad Old Days



This is a picture of a washtub and a washboard. This was the washing machine of your mothers.

I dont know any man who ever washed clothes in one of these.

Picture it for a minute and count your blessings.

Monday was washday. There was no running water so water had to be brought in buckets from a water barrel in the yard. The water was boiled in a Burko, if you were lucky, or a big pot on the range or over an open fire if you weren’t. The boiling water was then transferred to the washtub. The clothes were scrubbed on the wash board, using a big bar of Ivy or Sunlight soap. There was rinsing, blueing an starching to follow.

Washing was a day’s work and hard work at that.

Now don’t you feel privileged to live in present times?

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Rattoo


Photos; Bridget O’Connor

Rattoo Tower

A Poem by Pat Given from his anthology, October Stocktaking

A slender pencil pointing to
the skies

I see you there. The story
that you wrote

Erased by time, by men
forgot.

But still you stand and still
you tantalise.

The leather books compiled
upon this site,

Are no longer legible to
human eye.

But you, clear stylus still,
endure to write

Their meaning on the
uncomprehending sky.

To all who pause and
contemplate this scene

These silent stones become a
speaking tongue

Of God and man and Christ
between,

And toil transmuted when for
Heaven done.

O Tower, to each succeeding
age

You preach more eloquently
than printed page.

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Beatha Teanga í a Labhairt



For a language to live it must be spoken




Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail has rebranded



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Convent Memories




Whenever I mention the convent or post a picture of it on Facebook, it always prompts a flood of memories. 



Not everyone is on Facebook, so here are a few recent comments;


Sr Dympna must be turning in her grave. Not a lady to turn lightly without ‘having a word’ with the Man on High. (Kay Caball)

Great memories of this little church, first confession etc . (Máire Logue)

What a waste! Sr Dympna loved the gardens, with the help of a man named Mackassey. I remember walking around the gardens following the Priest with the Blessed Sacrament all of us in our white dresses. It was Corpus Christi. We had another name for it. Does anyone know what it was ? (Maria Sham)

About 15 of us started our school days there. It was known as Babies and High Infants. Sister Claire and Sister Consolata. with Sister Frances keeping a very close eye on us. The down side was when we went to the boys school into 1st class we got a very frosty reception. It is so sad to see this beautiful building going to wreck and ruin. (Jim Halpin)

What a pity, such a beautiful church  and left there to rot. Wanted to get married in that church but it was bought before we started planning  (Catherine Nolan)

These are just a few samples of the many responses to the pictures. I think Liz Dunne’s comment summed up how everyone feels about the convent: 


 So sad to see it falling into decline – I wish I had the pennies to save it!

My Christmas, Washday and a tragedy at Christmas

Some Christmas Memories 2015


Christmas is a time for family. I spent mine with my family, pictured below.

Even in this age of screens, and Santa brought lots this year, it’s good to play a game or two of cards. Below my younger daughter plays Uno with her niece, my youngest granddaughter.

Róisín is still reading.

On a Christmas visit to my home in Kanturk, the girls did a bit of horse whispering.

No cracker pulling session would be complete without the fortune telling fish.

This is the perfect gift for the horse lover. This Christmas tree is made from discarded horseshoes: a great way to keep the memory of a beloved horse alive at Christmas.

I was in Castlemagner to see the Duhallow Hunt ride out on St. Stephens’ Day. Despite the rain it was very impressive to see this centuries old tradition hardly changed a whit except for a few mobile phones.

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Washday Memories


Some people were transported back to the Mondays of childhood by a recent blogpost about memories of the twin tub.

I remember a time way before the washing machine, when Monday was dominated by an aluminum washtub, a washboard, Sunlight soap, Reckitts Blue, starch made from flour and a clothesline held up by a forked pole.

Photo: Memories are made of this

Most women wore an apron, usually a wrap around dark coloured  one that covered all her good clothes and, most importantly, “didn’t show the dirt”.

Sunday best clothes were literally that. They were worn only to mass and then put away for another week. These were only washed once or twice a year.

Everyday clothes were washed more often but nothing like the excessive laundering we do nowadays. Men wore a shirt for a whole week, only changing the collar, if necessary. Most countrymen wore collarless shirts so the whole shirt went a week without washing.

Washday Monday began early with the boiling of the water in the Burko Boiler. This would be on the go all day for frequent changes of washing water. The water had to be brought in buckets to the boiler.

The washtub and board would be set up and then the washing started with the whites. These often needed an extra scrub. When washed they were put aside in a bucket of cold water to be rinsed, dipped in blue and, if needs be, starched. Starch was reserved for good table linen and sometimes for shirt collars. These would be the good shirts and, when starched, they would cut the neck of you. Starch (a paste made from flour and water and added to the rinsing water) was used very sparingly in our house.

The dirty water was thrown out, an operation involving two people, one to hold either side of the washtub. Washing was done outdoors whenever possible or if it had to be indoors it was done close to an open door. The tub was filled again and the coloured wash started.

If the housewife was lucky enough to have an assistant, mother, sister or daughter, this assistant would be hanging out the whites while the woman of the house got on with the coloureds.

Lest you think that hanging out the washing was an easy job, let me banish that notion this instant. I often was that soldier.

In our house the rinsing was always done in cold water, icy cold water…2 changes of cold rinsing water and the final rinse with a dip of the blue bag. 

Don’t get me started on bleach. If the white garment had yellowed a bit it required a third rinse, this time with bleach added. As I write I can smell it and I can feel the sting in my fingers. There was no mangle, no ringer, spinner or tumble dryer so you had to squeeze as much water as possible from the rinsed garments and then take them to the line. The line was usually a distance from the house on any piece of elevated ground where the clothes might catch any passing breeze. “Good drying” was the housewives’ dearest wish on a Monday.

Washing the coloureds was a doodle after the whites…no blue, no bleach and no starch.

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A Cloud of sadness overshadows the GAA community

I took this photo in The Small Square on one of the days between the drawn game and the replay between Brosna and Listowel Emmetts in the North Kerry Football Championship. The Emmetts’ flag was flying in anticipation of the replay planned for January 3 2015. That game was postponed due to the tragic death of one of North Kerry’s finest young players, Paddy Curtin of Moyvane.

(The replay was played in Ballybunion on Saturday January 9. Listowel Emmetts fought a hard battle to win by 9 pints to 6.  )

The below series of photos was posted by MacMonagle Photography as a tribute to Patrick Curtin. The G.A.A.s loss is as nothing compared to the family’s loss of such a talented and promising young man.

………………..

John Stack’s photo of the winning Emmetts team

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You Tube Gem



There are all sorts of things on youtube. Once in a while a little piece that is really beautiful comes along.

Below is a link to such a piece Denis Carroll made some years back. It’s a call to prayer called simply

 The Angelus

Watch out for some Listowel faces and places.

Twin Tubs, Crafts and 1960s Charles Street


Ita Hannon’s Béal


Another great photograph from Béal’s own photographer, Ita Hannon.

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Do you Remember This?




For those of you too young to remember this machine, it is a twin tub washing machine and it was the state of the art in laundry machinery in the 1970s and 80s.

The machine was top loaded. In our house it was stored in a room we called the back kitchen but nowadays is glorified with the title, Utility Room. It had to be hefted out to the kitchen on wash day…always a Monday. Then a hose was run from the tap to the wash tub and it was filled with water. We only had cold water on tap so a kettle of water, boiled on the range, was added to speed up the heating process. The lid was put on and the water heated. As soon as the water was hot enough, (this could be tested with your elbow!!!!) the clothes and the washing powder were added. The machine then “washed’ away like billyo, i.e. swirled the laundry hither and tither for what seemed like ages. Then the water had to be drained off. This was another labour intensive job. The machine had to be hefted to the back door, a hose attached and the dirty water drained off. Then the machine had to be filled again and the clothes rinsed of the dirty water. Then that water had to be drained off.

Now comes part 2. Before the twin tub we had a washing machine with a mangle. Do you remember the mangle? This vicious implement stood on top of the washtub and you had to spear a piece of washed clothing from the boiling hot water and push it into the mangle, which was two rollers with no room whatsoever between them. You turned a handle and the rollers turned, mangling the clothes and squeezing the water out of them. 

The twin tub was a huge advance, for the second tub replaced the mangle. It was, in fact, a spin dryer. Nowadays we are only used to the gentle tumble dryer. A spin dryer was a horse of a totally different color. It extracted the water from the clothes by spinning the bejasus out of them. They usually ended up inextricably entwined in each other and clung to the sides of the “dryer”. This was after the machine had done a performance to beat Daniel O’Donnell on Strictly around the kitchen floor.

You are now beginning to realize why it was called washday. By the time the clothes were on the line the day was gone and you were too exhausted to do anything else.

Happy Days?

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A Few More Lovely Gift Ideas from Craftshop na Méar

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Upper William Street, Listowel in October 2015




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Outside No. 60 Charles St. circa 1960




Photo: Noreen Carroll on Facebook

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