Friday, 15 December 2017

Nighttime in Listowel December 2017


Listowel Castle at night

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The very last of the exhibitors at the BOI Enterprise Town event









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December 2017 Nightime in Listowel










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Christmas in the 1920s by Eamon Kelly     Concluded


.....The hearth was the friendliest place in the house. The place to talk, to sing and to listen to a good story, to hear the conversation of the grown-ups and to let on not to hear little bits of gossip or some scandal our elders seemed to take an unlaughing pleasure in. The hearth was the place where the mother read out the American letters from Aunt Margaret, Aunt Mary and our Aunty Bridgie, and counted out the dollars they, and Aunt Liz, had sent us. We would all repeat the American address where our aunts lived to see who’d remember it best. It was Ditmar’s Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, Long Island, New York. The hearth was the place where we knelt before the supper on Christmas Eve for The Rosary with the trimmings we thought would never end.

When it was time for us all small lads to go to bed we’d hang up our stockings along the mantle shelf and on the crane to make sure DaidĂ­ na Nollag wouldn’t forget us. Even if was only a new penny it would be welcome. A penny was a great treat in those days when you would get five bulls eyes for a half penny and two peggy’s legs for a full penny. In the end we would have to be hunted to bed we would be so lazy leaving the warm hearth. But the promise of driving in the pony and trap through the dark to early mass in the morning would finally shift us, but we weren’t gone yet. We’d all have to stand at the front door to admire the bunches of lights in the houses down along the valley and up the rising ground to Rossacrew, all the little lights winking and blinking through the dark until, as the man said, the earth below looked like a reflection of the starry Heaven above.


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The Listowel Arms is looking very festive







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The Catechism



Boy did people remember this! I think the following email sums up most of the feedback I got .

Hi, Mary, The Catechism had 'all the answers' - and was all black-and-white! No grey areas! O tempora O mores!

In my young days - 50s and 60s - religion was terrorised into us- often accompanied by a bit of pummelling, just to concentrate the mind!

Even to this day, churches can  inspire an atavistic dread of hell-fire and damnation. We must only trust that there is something better in store for us. We shall see...

The most-remembered thing about the Catechism for me is the phrase concocted from reversing its  letters: Master Sits In His Chair Each Time At Catechism. (Except when he rises to cuff home the message of love and forgiveness!).

Thursday, 14 December 2017

€3 Note, Enterprise Town and Eamon Kelly's Christmas long ago


Not exactly Rudolf but a red stag in Killarney last week. Photo by Chris Grayson

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Well, I never

I thought you might be as surprised as I was by this fact from Durrus History

While reading the evidence before a parliamentary enquiry into land tenure taken in Bantry in 1844 I came across a reference to a tenant paying his landlord with a £3 note.  I never came across this before, I do remember the old orange 10 shilling note.
When I checked it out the history was interesting.  Ireland apparently joined sterling in 1825 (currency fluctuations are not new) and the Bank of Ireland was given authority to issue notes.  Included was the £3 and 30 shilling notes.
In 1844 a farm laborer was lucky to get 8p. per day and the salary of a Resident Magistrate started at £300 per annum.  If you took  a laborer now at a low €75 a day that would give the value of £3 at €6,750 or the pay of the modern equivalent of a Resident Magistrate a District Justice at €123K then the value of £3 would be €12,300. Obviously the differential between £1 and £5 was too much hence the £3 note!

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The Last of the Enterprise Town photos



















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Christmas in Kerry in the 1920s

This account by Eamon Kelly of his childhood Christmas is from a book called Christmas in Ireland by Colin Morrison

....It was the quality of the candlelight, too shy you’d say to penetrate into every nook and corner, and giving the kitchen the appearance of an old oil painting that I remember from Christmases long ago. I remember too all the work that went into making the house ready for  the feast -bringing in the berry holly to deck out the kitchen, fixing the candles and cutting the log, Bloc na Nollag, and placing it in position in the hearth lying flat as it fell, we were told, and the sods of turf standing as they were cut. It took the block some time to take fire but when it did the chairs had to be moved back, even the cat had to shift herself when the little jets of steam and sparks making loud reports came from the log. In the wider circle, we, the small lads sat on the floor with cups of lemonade and sweet cake after the Christmas Eve supper of ling, white onion sauce and laughing potatoes. And we made room for a neighbor or two while my father uncorked a big earthenware jar and landed out a few healthy taoscáns of the dark liquid and it was  “Happy Christmas, Merry Christmas everyone” reechoing what was painted on the mottos pinned to the chimney breast.

(more tomorrow)

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An Invitation for You 


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Xmas, North Kerry Harriers, The Catechism, more Enterprise photos and Christmas in Ballylongford


Gurtinard Wood in Winter 2017

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A Modern Christmas Poem

Xmas by Wes Magee

Not a twig stirs. The frost bitten garden
Huddles under a heaped duvet of snow.
Pond, tree, sky and street are granite with cold.

In the house electronic games warble;
Holly awaits the advent of balloons
And the TV set glows tipsy with joy.


This is a great poem about the secularization of Christmas. Christ is taken out and the Xbox takes his place centre stage.

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It's That Time of Year

North Kerry Harriers met in the grounds of Glin castle on December 3 2017. Local Limerick photographers, Liam Downes and Estelle O'Donoghue, took some  photos to record the occasion.



Estelle O'Donoghue  took this fabulous photo.




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A Relic left behind from our Youth


Call it brainwashing if you like, but I and my school fellows had the answers to the questions set out in this green book so dinned into us in school that most of us could, to this day, with just a little prompting, reel off all those answers.

This copy turned up among the National Treasures collected recently. I'm sure the very sight of it will send shivers down a few spines.

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Some More People at BOI Enterprise Town Evening















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Christmas Long Ago


Christmas for us Small Lads    by Eamon Kelly

Christmas for us small lads growing up in the 1920s was a pool of light in the inky darkness of the winter. A soft amber pool of light which came from three sources- the big log and turf fire, the oil lamp with the hairpin straddling the glass chimney and the stately white candles, one in every window, spreading their light out into the yard and road and showing the way, the old people told us, to Mary and Joseph should they be passing in search of shelter on Christmas night. Although my father used to say that if they happened to be passing our house the blessed pair would have strayed a tiny step on the road to Bethlehem.


In the month of December there was no road darker than the road outside our house, for we were living in the depths of the country, and as yet the ESB poles had not come marching down the valley bringing a brighter but a harsher light. And it cuts me to the quick today when I hear that instead of the old tallow candle there is a new garish electric imitation lighting in many of the windows I looked on as a lad.

(Continued tomorrow)

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Ballylongford at Christmas 2017

They switched on their Christmas tree lights in Bally on Saturday December 9 2017 and Ballylongford Snaps took lots of great photos. Here are a few and there are lots more HERE