In Listowel’s Garden of Europe in April 2019


Wing Sleán Turf cutting Competition

Information from Tony McKenna, Bord na Mona archivist.

The first All Ireland Turf Cutting Championship was held on 21st April 1934 at Allenwood, Co. Kildare. From the late 1600s to the end of the 19th century around 6 to 8,000,000 tons of turf were cut each year for home heating and sale. The industry in the 1800s mainly produced moss peat for animal litter and some briquettes. However by the early 1900s the amount of turf cut each year had fallen to around 3,000,000 tons. The turf cutting championships were organised as part of a campaign to increase the amount of turf cut and reduce the imports of coal. Eamon De Valera and other Ministers attended each year. The competitions ran from 1934 until 1939. When the war started everybody went back to the bog so the competitions were no longer needed. This photo shows the wing slean competition in 1934.

When Tony published this post on his Facebook page he received some interesting responses. Here are two;

On June 2nd in Ballyteague at the All Ireland turf footing championship we are commentating the 85th anniversary of this event all descendants of those who participated are invited we have done a huge amount of research and have a vast collecting of photos and memorabilia it promises to be a great day

Denis Linehan : I believe Christy Daly from Gneeveguilla Co. Kerry was the best turf cutter in Ireland. He came from a stone throw of Eamonn Kelly story teller.


Parnell Square?

I took this photo on April 24 2019

In Irish and English it’s just the plain old Square

I’m having a hard time convincing people that there is no Patrick Street in Listowel.

We have St. Patrick’s Hall with its big statue of St. Patrick but, sorry folks, no Patrick Street. Despite the proper name of the street being William Street or Sráid an Phiarsaigh many residents of the street give their address as Patrick Street.

Mike the Pies, probably the best known business on the street, is at 28 Patrick Street  and Casa Mia, a few doors down on the same street is at 38 William Street. Across the road Listowel Chitropractic is at 49 William Street and Halo Health is at 7 Upper William Street.

The length of William Street was originally known as Pound Lane. There was an animal pound where The Mermaids is now. For those who never heard of a pound, it was a place where animals which were found straying or which were confiscated were kept until the owner was found and any fines owed were paid.

Lord Listowel is was who changed the name to William Street. His own name was William and it is alleged he called the street after himself.


A Feast of Theatre

In the space of a few days last week you could have seen six excellent plays all performed by superb actors from the American continent. All of this was because 

Acting Irish International Theatre Festival 2019 was in town.

I saw three of the six productions including Long Day’s Journey into Night which blew the adjudicator away. She gave it all the big prizes.

This play was great.

Here is the cast. The two oder players played the parts of the younger ones 35 years later.

My theatre companions posed with Jimmy Deenihan who was part of the local organising committee.

I also saw Spinning but I took no photos. The actor who played Conor in this production was my pick for best actor but what do I know?

I also saw Long Day’s Journey. It was a tour de force of acting and I’m glad to have seen it but unlike several in the audience I wouldn’t go to see it more than once. One man told me it was his fourth time seeing the play. 

The play is three and a half hours long. It’s theme is beyond sad. It is three and a half hours of unrelenting misery, no uplift at all. However it is a classic and people who know so much more than me about these things think really highly of it.

If you want to see more about the festival, including more photos and an account of who won the prizes here is the link

Acting Irish International Theatre Festival 2019