Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Man's Shop

Above are  ads from this week's Advertiser.
After 150 years of dressing the men of North Kerry and West Limerick The Man's Shop is closing its doors at the end of next month.

Ned, who is the fourth generation of his family to trade in Listowel is retiring.  His four sons  have taken different career paths. The tradition of the next generation taking over the family business  is being broken in this as in many other businesses in town.

The O'Sullivan's began business in Listowel in Upper William Street in the 1860s. Ned's great-grandfather, Michael O'Sullivan from Ardoughter in Ballyduff began a tailoring business in Pound Lane, now Upper William St.  Ned's grandfather, also Ned, moved the business to Market St. to a new premises near where  Tarrant's Garage is today. The business was thriving. Eight full time tailors were employed there at one time. Ned's father, Seán, took over the business in the 1960s and he made the move away from tailoring and into off -the- peg and general menswear. The Man's Shop moved into its present location in 1962. Ned left teaching in 1989 and went into the family business. In recent years, as his political commitments became more onerous, the shop has been run by Mark Loughnane.

Mark takes a delivery from postman, Pat Hickey, at the door of The Man's Shop

How will this street scape look in a few year's time?

On a completely different note, 2 stories from the weekend's papers.

Two Listowel men caused a bit of an upset at a rugby match in England. According to The Kerryman, David Fitzmaurice and his friend and fellow Munster supporter, Mike Brosnan, lost their way on the way back to their seats at the Munster v. Northhampton match. They found themselves in the Northhampton booth, where they were less than welcome. The Northhampton coach, Jim Mallinder, cleared the boys back to the Munster section. The incident was caught on Sky sports.

Sunday's Independent had an account of a tribute concert to the legendary Pecker Dunne. Pecker Dunne, it is said, played at more Munster finals than Cork. He is now in poor health and his friend, Mannix Flynn was organizing Sunday night's event to help him out.
There are lots of enjoyable video clips of Pecker on youtube.

Monday, 30 January 2012

old North Kerry line, Ty class

Morning all!

On this day Jan 30 in 1913 The House of Lords rejected the Home Rule Bill.

I have been doing a bit of research on the internet over the weekend and I have found a few interesting scraps for you. These scraps include the above fact.

For railway buffs and lovers of nostalgia, the following link will take you to some old super 8 footage of the old North Kerry line from Adare to Fenit filmed in August 1986.

Next up is from Life magazine, great old pictures from Ireland of yesteryear, including
O'Connell Bridge, Dublin in 1914

Now to what's happening at home.

This is the TY class in Pres. Listowel on Friday. Ger Greaney and I were helping them research their ancestors  and to form an appreciation of our heritage.

While I was out with my camera I snapped a few signs of the times in town.

This sign refers to the fact that John Chute, barber, has closed down his own barber shop and is now working in His and Hers.

 This poster reminds us that better days are ahead and an outing for us all on St. Patrick's Day.

And finally this one which I had to cross the road to see. For a minute I thought that Bob Marley was coming to town!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Town Criers and Schoolboys

Photo from North Kerry Camera by Vincent Carmody and what sound advice it is too.

Michael Lane was Listowel's first town crier. Matthew James was the last and there were several who held the post for periods in the intervening years between these two.
The crier rang his bell and made his announcements at regular intervals while walking around the town.

The above link has lots of information about town criers in countries around the globe.

One of Bryan MacMahon's plays features a town crier. Many years ago when there was talk of making the play into a film, Burl Ives was talked of as someone who might play the part.

The town crier or bellman also posted bills. Billposter is a phrase that has fallen into disuse so, for the benefit of my younger readers, he put up posters or flyers.

One such was this following riddle;

Ding dong, ding dong
Lost but not found
From Collopy's Corner up to The Pound
A whole in the middle and furry all round.

What was he talking about?

I won't keep you in misery. The answer is a lady's muff. My younger readers might have to look that one up too.

Vincent is my source for this town crier information. He also told me, because I knew you would be wondering, that in the 1800's Collopy's had a hotel at the corner where Jimmy Deenihan now has his office. The pound referred to is probably in William St.. There was a pound in the premises that now houses an Indian Chinese restaurant.

Vincent also had a few names for my boyeens and he can tell us when the photo was taken. The photo was taken outside St. Patrick's Hall in the 1930's. This was Bryan MacMahon's third class. They were having class here while the school was being refurbished.
In the front row 4 from left is Sean Kirby, 3 from him, the last boy holding the slate is Sean O'Sullivan and next to him is Roly Chute. The boy right in the middle of the next row back is David Fitzmaurice.
Vincent says that Sean MacCarthy or one of his brothers is in the photo. There too is Maurice Stack, and Kevin Donovan.
Thank you, Vincent for all your help. I would really love it if anyone could identify a few more or help in any way with naming the girls.

Omission yesterday: Cian Keenan of Dromclough is also a finalist in the Doodle4Google competition. You can vote for him here 


Congratulations to Jim Quinlan whose lovely photo of our bridge at night was featured on TV3 weather last night.

This picture is Paul O'Connor's but you get the idea. Jim's is not up on the TV3 website yet but watch out for it in the next few days.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Haggis and schooldays

Today Jan 26, is Australia Day
So "Have a nice day"   all my readers in Australia .

Last night (25th January) was Burns night in Scotland. Robert Burns’ most famous song is 'Auld Lang Syne.'  In Scotland they cook plenty of haggis on Burns Night and those who keep with tradition will welcome the haggis with a piper playing on the pipes and with a speaker reciting The Address to a Haggis' 

Here is just one stanza of a long  poem

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye worthy of a grace

As lang's my arm.

Jer Kennelly send me the following two photos. They are Listowel boys and girls but we do not know a date or any names. Jer. estimates they were taken about 80 years ago. Anyone any ideas?

Now a few stories from The Kerryman.
Cyrene Lawlee of this parish is one of the finalists in The Doodle 4Google art competition. The theme of this year's competition is I wish.... Why not go online and give one of Listowel's budding artists a leg up. If she wins, her winning entry will be displayed on the Ireland Google site for a day in March.

Maria Dillon of Listowel was chosen to help launch NUI Galway's new 4 year degree course in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Maria is a familiar face to patrons of St. Johns and Scribes.

Now a few ads

Tonight  mass and benediction and the official dedication of the Padre Pio shrine will take place in our parish church at 7.00p.m.

Tomorrow night is NKRO Trad night in MacCarthy's of Finuge. A great night of music and craic is promised.

Finally for now two dates for the diary

On Feb. 11 in Greaney's Spar Listowel NKRO will hold a day of memories. We want you all to rummage around in the attic and bring us your old photographs. We will scan them and give them back to you immediately. We are gathering heritage material for our website which we hope to launch in March.

Feb 24 will be a night which will go down in Listowel folk memory for generations. On that night in The Teachers' Club in Parnell Square, Dublin, a Listowel hooley will be held. Vincent Carmody is organizing this event as a fundraiser for Writers' Week. The great and the good of Listowel's most talented will provide the entertainment and there will be some great Listowel related prizes on offer. Further information can be had at the The Writers Week office

Household charges and window tax

Yesterday I paid our household charges. There used to be an old joke about the despot who said "I'll tax everyone who has a thumb and call it a thumb tax."
Rulers have always been inventive at thinking up new ways to raise taxes from Jane citizen.

Hearth tax was introduced to England, Ireland and Wales in 1662. It decreed a 2s payment per year on every hearth in a house. This gives some idea of the size of the house. It was repealed in 1689, but the Scottish Parliament levied a one-off tax of 14 shillings on each hearth in Scotland in 1691. Hearth tax returns list number of hearths by parish and name of occupier.

And then 

Window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed at a later date), as a result of the tax. (Source Wikipaedia)

Of course Ireland was then part of the United Kingdom and subject to the same laws. These blocked out windows in  Moloney's are testament to that.

Some people believe that the phrase 'daylight robbery" originates from this tax. Sources on the internet would disagree.

Most Irish people did not live in big town houses. Houses with less than 7 windows were exempt from the tax.  I think these following people who lived outside Listowel were safe.

While trawling the internet for a picture to illustrate my post I came upon these very interesting old photos

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck

These quaint postcards come from the very interesting collection of 
Maggie Land Blanck.

Did men then wear their hats indoors or did they dress up for the photo?


Congratulations to Eileen Moylan formerly of Listowel. She was named among the top 50 new exhibitors at  http://showcaseireland.com/   Ireland's huge craft expo in Dublin at the weekend.

Eileen is a silversmith and her online shop is here

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Corner Boys

This picture of Listowel Celtic footballers yesterday evoked,for Vincent Carmody, this memory of other very different lads on that same corner in bygone days.

"The boys at the corner are a throwback to former years when the corner house , then owned by two eccentric Dillon sisters, was a haunt for pals on their homeward journey from their nocturnal public house visit. A motley, porter fuelled crowd, standing at the corner, laughing, talking, belching and of course sometimes far..ng used draw the wrath of the sisters, and armed with the previous night’s chamber pot, the sisters would send its contents flowing out of an opened window, down on the unsuspecting heads of the revellers below."  

A cornerboy was usually a term of insult and these boys, unlike our soccer players,  were often of the not so law-abiding ilk.

The paper sellers who sold the Kerryman on the streets in Tralee had a peculiar cry, "Kerryman, Kerryman, court and all in it". A corner boy featured in the edition of 1909.

 It also has an advertisement from St Brendan's in Killarney who had scholarships of £10 raising to £15 in the second year. It states that a student who has a good knowledge of Irish and Mathematics can hardly fail to receive a scholarship.
 Other items in the paper include the sale of creamery plant and machinery at Derrico near Ballyduff on Sept. 2nd 1909; GAA Tournament, Football and hurling in aid of Ballyheigue Church on Sept. 5th 1909; Suffragettes had a meeting at Hudson's Bridge in Dingle, Mrs Cousins Treasurer of the Irish Women's Franchise League spoke for 45 minutes; Editorial in the Kerryman remarked on the lack of amusements at our health resorts. 
Kerryman of 25th Sept. 1909 reports murder of water bailiff, there is a second murder in the October edition; Pierce Mahony a former member of the Irish Parliamentary Party was accused of evicting a Kerry tenant, but it was his son  who did the deed; District Inspector McAuley who was retiring was described by Mr McElligott as one of natures gentlemen; 
Listowel court, Mathew James a corner boy was fined 10s 6d for abusive language, Mary Mournane fined 2/6 for abusive language, Jer Galvin of Ballyhennessy summonsed for assault, case dismissed, Gowran of Knocknacrohy failed to pay rent.

But the best account of corner boys was left to us by John B. Keane who made a study of the species.

This article, although rather longer than my usual posts is well worth a read. It also features a reference to The Man's Shop which is soon to close forever.

A Christmas Disappearance

Love is always worth waiting for, and can change the countenance of the most unlikely of characters, writes John B Keane, in this seasonal tale.
WHEN I was young and more observant, I spent some of my spare time studying the corner across the street from this very room where I write at present.
I also studied the denizens of the area and when my room window was partly open, I would often catch fragments of conversation.
The corner had one resident Boy by the name of Johnny Muller. Passers-by would sometimes stop and endeavour to begin conversations with him. He never responded even when asked for the location of a bank or the post office.
If he was in talkative mood, he might sometimes acknowledge the weather assessments of an old lady who passed down every morning and up every evening. "'Tis soft," she might say.
"Soft enough," he might reply.
Once she asked him if the weather would hold. "Could," he replied.
Lay people do not understand the function of a corner boy. He is not obliged to respond to questions or make observations. His function is to be there, to maintain his corner no matter what. Johnny Muller took his job seriously and this is the reason why he never smiled.
From my vantage point at the upstairs window, I occasionally examined his face. There were no wrinkles and no blemishes. There were no repulsive aspects and no scars. I could never deduce whether he was grey-haired or bald because of the peaked cap which he always wore.
I suppose the fairest thing to say would be that it was a good enough face as faces go. It certainly wasn't distinguished but neither was it forgettable. Some said that it was a face without character but there would be no way of confirming this until he was put to the test. As a rule, when put to the test, corner boys vanish from the scene or surrender their attention to distant vistas unseen by the laymen's eye.
It took me several years to discover that Johnny Muller's face was incomplete, as indeed are the faces of most corner boys. In Johnny's case, it was clear that none of the great emotions had ever tampered with it. It seemed to me that it was awaiting alteration. His facial disposition was drab. His throat clearances and coughs were run-of-the-mill, as were his rare utterances.
Only his sneezes had colour. Unfailingly they were highly explosive and when they erupted in close continuity, they shook him to his very foundations. Otherwise there was hardly anything to him but we should be forewarned that things change just when it seems that they will never change.
Johnny Muller was a resolute corner boy. He spent that part of his life which he didn't spend in bed, at his corner. When he first took over, after the previous incumbent had expired in the wake of a one-sided contest with a carelessly-discarded banana skin, he foolishly believed that he would have little to do save pass the time and be mindful of his protectorate. It wasn't long before he learned that his responsibilities were legion.
Dogs had to be chastised and moved on. Querimonious and uppity passers-by had to be studiously ignored. Patrolling Civic Guards who stopped to rest up awhile had to be hummed and hawed upon their constitutional way. There were other duties too numerous to mention.
When he arrived at his chosen corner at nine o'clock each morning, he would first look up the street and then look down. He would then address his attention to the adjoining street and, satisfying himself that all was as it should be, would thrust his hands deep into his trousers pockets and submit himself to a comprehensive bout of scratching. He would withdraw his hand after a while and draw upon the lobes of his ears, the point of his chin and the end of his nose. He would rub his shoulder blades and his behind against the wall at his rear. Finally he would scratch his ankles and his heels with their corresponding ankles and heels. Then and only then would he relax and enter into a period of meditation. He would be roused after a half hour or so by the chiming of the parish clock.
HE was about to return once more to his reflections when he beheld, out of the corner of his eye, a most uncommonly attractive creature coming his way.
As she passed by, a wonderful fragrance assailed his senses. Johnny noticed the elegant figure, the glamorous eyelashes and the beautiful blonde hair which fell gracefully over her slender shoulders.
"No chicken!" he whispered to himself as he roused himself totally to concentrate the better upon this enchanting apparition. "But then," he concluded as he finished his initial survey, "no old maid either."
By his reckoning she would be a young 60. By my mother's, I discovered later, she would be nearer to 80 than 70.
When the visitor turned on her heel and retraced her steps Johnny Muller gave her the nod of friendly salutation and also the nod of absolute approval. An almost imperceptible smile appeared on her angelic features. From the look on Johnny's face it was clear that he was smitten. He was overcome by an unfamiliar giddiness. It was the kind of giddiness that overwhelms characters of Johnny Muller's ilk once in a lifetime. He had, up until this time, been fond of saying to himself "I wouldn't give tuppence for a woman, any kind of woman" when an attractive member of the opposite sex passed his corner.
Suddenly she had stopped and was looking straight into his eyes. A sparkling smile had now spread itself across her heavily made-up face. She had noticed him before, not once but several times and always from a distance. She was certain that he had not seen her. He would have reacted if he had. Now that it was Christmas, she would make the most of her chance.
"What do you do here all day?" she asked gently. It was the way she said it that hastened the melting process which had already begun in the underworked furnace of his heart.
Normally he would never answer when a strange female addressed him but now his reply was warm and instant.
"I keeps an eye on things," he told her. A puzzled frown appeared for a moment on her shining visage. Johnny was quick to notice that perplexity added to her allure.
"You sort of watch over things?" she suggested. Johnny nodded eagerly and then, to give substance to his role, his features assumed a deadly seriousness as he looked up and down and hither and thither, as he scanned the faces of passers-by in search of evildoers. Satisfying himself that his bailiwick was secure, he favoured her with a smile of unconditional reassurance.
"Do you watch over me?" Her voice quivered as though she would burst into tears.
"You above all," Johnny found himself saying.
"Me above all!" She repeated the words as though they were the last line of a prayer. Johnny nodded reassuringly as they sought to solve the mysteries in each other's eyes. Her next move was to take him by the hand. He followed without a word until they reached the entrance to a clothier's called The Man's Shop.
After they had entered, some female onlookers, his mother among them, commented on the incident. The conclusions they drew were interesting. Johnny Muller always had an untouched look about him. It was certain that he had never been touched by a woman's hand, at least not since his infancy when he submitted himself to his mother's ministrations.
"That woman's search is over," my mother spoke with assurance. "She always knew what she wanted and she's found it at last."
When the happy pair emerged from The Man's Shop, there were gasps from the onlookers. Gone were the shabby clothes, the greasy cap and the worn shoes. Resplendent in his new outfit, Johnny Muller took his fiancee's hand and led her across the road where he bade goodbye to his corner of 40 years.
What the onlookers would remember most was Johnny's face. It was the complete product at last. For her part, she radiated happiness. Her new partner was a far cry from the shop-soiled assortment she had put through her hands over a lifetime.
Neither of the happy pair was seen again in the locality but the locals evinced no surprise.
"It's that kind of town," my mother would announce modestly whenever Christmas came round and the subject of the disappearance was drawn down

Monday, 23 January 2012

Chinese New Year and Listowel Celtic

Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year and in honor of this I'm posting photos of Listowel's Chinese connection. And because it's the year of the dragon I'm not forgetting Manny, Listowel's very own bearded dragon. Monday is his day off anyway so he will be celebrating in the peace and quiet which he loves.

While on my trip to town to photograph Royal China I encountered a familiar Sunday morning sight. Listowel Celtic were gathering at Carmody's Corner for their trip to their Sunday game.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mary Robinson in Listowel 1991

In 1991 President Mary Robinson opened Writers' Week. On the evening of her arrival in town Writers' Week, as part of their festival programme held a fancy dress parade for the local children. Because of the buzz surrounding the visit of such a prestigious visitor the parade was bigger then usual. Many of the participants took a Mná na hEireann slant to their costumes since this was a theme of the Robinson presidency.
This group of local girls chose a theme closer to home and came prepared for racing.
Would you back a horse ridden by any of these "jockeys"?

Aren't they sweet?

On the morning following the official opening, Mary Robinson agreed to meet with representatives of local charities in the Castle Room in the hotel. I was there with this group representing the local branch of MS Ireland.

In the picture are James Kenny, Bridie O'Rourke, Helen Moylan, Tom Kelly, Mary Robinson,Nuala Finnegan,Ursula O'Conor, Anne O'Connor, Mary Doyle, Marie Kennelly(hidden) and Mary Cogan.

I'm sure that there are lots more photos out there from that day, because the president was very gracious and posed with each group in turn. I'd love to post them here and I know others would love to see them.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Another shop closure

This corner of town is about to see a big change. The Man's Shop, an
iconic establishment, is about to close its doors. Ned O'Sullivan's with
its colorful and inviting shopfront is one of the first sights one gets on
approaching town from the Ballybunion side.

This is the shop window today.

My photo taken a few yeas ago shows Mark Loughnane chatting to Jerry Ryan at the door of the shop.


Congratulations to Jimmy Deenihan on this award.

     18 Jan 2012
     Minister Deenihan is Kerry Person of the Year

     Minister Jimmy Deenihan has been selected as this year's Kerry
Person of the Year by the Kerry Association in Dublin.
     The association's cathaoirleach Maura Hughes made the announcement at a reception in Dublin's Royal College of Physicians last night.
     Ms Hughes said Minister Deenihan had made a vast contribution to
sporting and cultural life as well as to the promotion of Kerry industry.