Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Writers Week, Military Tattoo and Crafty Buddies

All roads lead to Listowel for our Gathering events.

The advance troops are already here for the shenanigans planned for next weekend. This is a group of reenactors ready to do battle for Listowel on Saturday and Sunday next May 4 & 5 2013.


A wreath will be laid in The Square next Saturday at 4pm at a special monument for Irish people who sacrificed all in the line of duty . The ceremony is being attended by several embassies and veterans groups. All are welcome.


Dont forget to get your tickets for the Hangar dance on Sunday night in The Listowel Arms.


Congratulations to Diane Nolan who has been co opted to fill the vacant place on Listowel Town Council . The vacancy was caused by the untimely passing away of Anthony Curtin.


My friend has started a new business

This is Maria Leahy, entrepreneur.

Her business is called "Crafty Buddies".  She is selling a range of life journals. These are family keepsakes  where one generation records information and musings to pass on to the next. As an opening offer, if you buy a journal from Maria (they are €12.99 and €20) She will give you a gift of one of her unique "Zentangled" bookmarks.
Maria also has a range of lovely cards for all occasions. These cost only €3 and as well as the greeting they have a page to write special memories and messages in. They include prompts to help you along.

Maria launched her business to her fellow Knitwits on Saturday.  We loved the product and she made her first sales.

Here, Maureen, Una and Mary examine the books and cards.

I wont publish Maria's contact details here but if you contact me at the email address on top of the blog I'll put you in touch with her. She will be at the fair on Monday next May 6 2013 in The Square.


Ciara ODonnell took this great photo to celebrate Fungi's 30th birthday


Jer took a little video at the Garden Fete too.


Monday, 29 April 2013

Mario Goetze, God's Acre, Turf cutting and a trip down Memory Lane

We knew him when he was only a lad.

This is a photo of Shane Murray(Ireland) and Mario Goetze(Germany) taken in Listowel in 2008.

This is the same Mario now aged 20 in his Borussia Dortmund colours. He is in the news because he practically single handedly beat the great Real Madrid on Weds. last.


Last Wednesday night in St. John's we were treated to a rare glimpse into Listowel in times past, as seen through the lenses of John Lynch and Jack McKenna.
John McKenna played some apt tunes on the the piano as we watched footage never before seen in a public setting in Listowel.

Jack McKenna has been recording life in his native town since the 1940s. He recorded the FCA in the Square as they drilled in preparation for invasion in the 1940s. He recorded Seamus Wilmot's funeral, Dick Pierse's wonder horse, the Feale under ice and a frosty Sunday morning in the Square in the 1950s. 
These are just some of the gems we watched on Weds. night.

The feeling was one of attending an old black and white silent movie, but one set in a familiar location. It was a privilege to watch these old movies in the company of the film makers.

I took a few photos of attendees on the night
Claire and Bernie Carmody

Liz and Marie McAulliffe

Jim Sheahan and John Lynch

Sue and Jack McKenna with Sue Taylor

Veronica Corridan and friend

Dick Carmody took a great interest in the posts about An Teampall Bán. He shares this poem with us which he wrote earlier this year . The poem is about God's Acre, a burial ground of unmarked graves in Ballybeggan, Tralee. This graveyard dates back to The Famine and times of other tragic sufferings.

God’s Acre

God’s Acre bids me enter through the well trodden stile of crafted limestone
Man’s handiwork separating the living from the dead, the busy from the rested
Therein repose the remains of the unmentioned, unlisted and oft forgotten
In distant times of want, denial and inhumanity they came here for final rest
Alone they sometimes sought it out, cold refuge against an even colder neglect
Last faltering steps taken to meet their Maker in the soft embrace of Mother Earth
Or in make-shift carts a final journey shared from workhouse or roadside refuge
Drawn over limestone paths by souls rehearsing their own inevitable last journey.
In our own time of plenty and opportunity we still seek out this relic from the past
Stepping inside from a world speeding by, we each find our own personal recess
Arriving to repose the burdens of our living with the memories of those deceased
The Stations, the Grotto, the Altar and the Cross all give us comfort on our way
Departing we are relieved, comforted and renewed by this sanctuary to our dead
God surely chose his Acre wisely, its great value not being of our choice or making.

Dick Carmody                                    January, 2013


Lovely photo of men cutting turf on a raised bank, one sleánsman and one catcher  carrying on an age old tradition.


I took this photo a few years ago at the unveiling of the John B. sculpture in the Garden of Europe. Billy Keane is surrounded by a bevy of local beauties.


This was the only photo I could find on the internet of Miriam O'Callaghan accepting the inaurgual Mary Cummins award for outstanding achievement by an Irish woman working in the media. It was presented at the First Women in the Media event held in Ballybunion last weekend. The event was a great success by all accounts.

The Bog2Beach challenge was a great success as well. If I come across any photos in my research or if someone would like to send me some of photos of either event I'd love to share them.


Yesterday I went to Kerry Parents and Friends Garden Fete. Here is alittle video I made and I'll post some photos during the week.


Friday, 26 April 2013

Hyperpersonalisation, Clontarf and Gardaí

The Battle of Clontarf, 23 April 1014.
 imagined by artist Hugh Frazer (above).
THE major tiff between the Irish (led by High King Brian Boru) and the Vikings.

The internet has changed us

Digital social networking has changed how we interact with one another. A new generation is growing up who do not write letters, rarely speak on the telephone and who feel happiest when communicating with their friends by text, email or facebook message. Even workers who sit in quite close proximity to each other often communicate with each other via iMessage.  Different times!

We are all experiencing the recency effect. This is the phenomenon that is putting an end to newspapers as bearers of news. By the time the paper hits the streets, we are all well ahead with all the latest twists and developments in the story.

Have you noticed how so much TV now is reality tv? We have a fascination now with seeing for ourselves how other people live,  e.g. The Estate, Tallifornia, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. We don't want fictionalised accounts any more, we want to see it for  in reality.

Psychologists are studying how all of this change is altering us as people and a whole new vocabulary is being minted. Just to keep you all in the loop here are a few of the new terms.

Troll ; This is a verb and a noun. To troll is to post inflamatory messages online with the purpose of provoking a response. A troll is not a nice person, he is a stirrer, or, in  my mother's language "a common disturber". It's important to recognise him and to ignore him completely.

Negativity Bias;  This is the strange phenomenon which sees many people respond more strongly to negative rather than positive information. This is why the internet is full of false rumours after a tragedy like the recent Boston bombings.

Hyperpersonal Communication: This is the scenario where people form closer bonds on the internet than they do face to face. This allows the paedophile to groom his victim, the axe murderer to lure his prey, but also the shy person to find a friend or partner. Have you noticed how some people have no bother posting their whole life story online with daily or often more frequent updates?

Disinhibition: This is closely linked to hyperpersonal communication. Some people seem to be freed from the social inhibitors that make us polite, restrained and temperate once they go online. People who in real life are mannerly, go online and  feel free to act with no repercussions, so they hurl abuse, taunt and mock without fear of reprisal. This is the phenomenon at work in the worst cyberbullying we see among teenagers.

Cyber-balkanisation; People tend to engage only with websites and social media that reaffirm their own opinions.

Here endeth today's lesson.


Do you recognise these 3 from 1995? Ray and Blathnaid are all still working in RTE and Dara has relocated to Britain.


For all my friends in the Gardaí a photo from 1922


These are the men behind a great weekend in store for us at the May bank holiday weekend. Get out your military uniform or your vintage dress and have it aired in good time for the Military Tattoo on Sunday May 5 2013

Then on Monday May 6th come to The Square for the vintage car rally and vintage market. Fun and frolics for young and old is guaranteed.


This is Robert McCrum launching the next bank holiday weekend's entertainment.... Writers Week starting May 29 2013

These are Seán Lyons and the adjudicators of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. This is the 18th year that this prize will be awarded. You can read all about the shortlisted novels here http://writersweek.ie


Don't forget!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Australian Kenneallys, some family researchers and Writers' Week 2013

Challenging Times RTE 1993:    I wonder where they are now.


Jer sent me this account of a very interesting lady with strong Listowel connections.

Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, Time, New Scientist, The Monthly, and other publications. Her book, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, is published by Penguin. Before becoming a reporter, she received a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cambridge University and a B.A. (Hons) in English and Linguistics from Melbourne University. She was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and has lived in England, Iowa, and Brooklyn, New York http://www.christinekenneally.com

"My great-grandfather, J.J. Kenneally, wrote the first pro-Kelly book. J. J., who grew up in the same country town as the Kellys, was ten when Ned Kelly was hung, so he is surely writing from experience when he says local children at the time used to play “the Kellys and the police.” The Kellys always won.
On a much darker note, in his introduction to the story of the Kelly gang and the awful events that led to Ned Kelly's execution, he wrote:
"Irish patriotism was such an unforgiveable crime in the eyes of British Government officials in the Colony of Victoria, that even the serving of a savage sentence would not wipe out the campaign of anti-Irish hatred so well organised in the Colonies."

JJ Kenneally Australia, wrote this in a letter to his Irish Cousin Jerry Kennelly of Knockanure

The North Western portion of this State has been visited by a plague of grasshoppers. Some say the hoppers came to visit His Royal Highness, Duke of Gloucester who is still here and must feel somewhat bored with the fulsome flattery and other rubbish that is daily heaped upon him by the Jingoistic element in these parts. In the hope of getting an advertisement for my book. I sent a copy to the Duke, but so far, I have not heard from him. If he accepts, the papers will have a feature of "Ned Kelly" being installed in the bosom of the Royal Family, But if he does not accept, I will send a similar copy to President De Valera with a suitable letter.

My father arrived in MELBOURNE in 186 ? and my mother nee Julia Dillon of Lyrecrompane with her four children -Johanna, Matthew, Honora ,and Daniel arrived at Melbourne on the 10th of August 1865  Patrick died at Listowel he was between Matt and Hanora .These born in Australia were Julia, Mrs Ryan, Jeremiah who died on 31st of August 1884. James Jerome yours truly ,Elizabeth and Mary Mother Benedict at the Presentation Convent , Windsor ,Melbourne 

Dan died 16th July 1933. Hanora is an invalid and has lived with me for many years. Matt is a well to do farmer at Eleven Mile Creek,Glenrowan West ,Victoria,Australia. Matt has 3 sons and 1 daughter . Dan 4 sons and 3 daughters. Mrs Ryan 2 sons and 2 daughters . Matt married Bridget OBrien , Dan married Ellen Kelliher, and I married Elie Deegan. I addressed a copy of my book to Messrs Dillon Bros,Lyrecrompane ,&c but I have not heard from any of them. I understand that some of Ned Dillons sons are still living in the old family homestead and I would like to learn something about them. I am inclined to think that cousin Tim Kennelly when living in West Australia was not very enthusiastic in his search for relatives in Victoria . 

I contested the Merenda Federal Electorate as a Labour Candidate in December 1906 and again in 1910 . In each case was defeated by one of my own Nationality . In 1906 the late Richard O Neil acted as vote splitter for Robert Harper the retiring Member. In 1910 Mr Thomas Hunt of Kilmore , who had previously attended as delegate the Pan Celtic Congress in Ireland acted , knowingly or unknowingly as Harpers vote splitter
The result was Harper protectionist 7900 votes
Kennelly Labour 7200 votes.
Hunt Independent Labour 1945 votes.
Thompson Independent 876 votes lost deposit

In a non-Labour Electorate, my effort was regarded, as the best fight put up for Labour in the whole Commonwealth Elections if 1910.
I am pleased to learn that you are taking a keen interest in Public Affairs.
I wish you every success."


Listowel Youth club in the 1970s


I had a few interesting emails recently. I would be grateful if anyone can help these people. I will also put NKRO on the trail of their ancestors.

My name is Berenice Holmes and I live at Victoria Point just out of Brisbane Queensland Australia.  I have been trying to find out information about my great grandmother.
Her maiden name was Mary McKenna and her Death certificate states that she was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland around 1845 and her date of death was 04-02-1930 aged 85 years in Brisbane.
It gives her father’s name as John McKenna and her mother as Mary?  (no maiden surname).   This makes it very hard as there are so many Mary McKenna’s when you come to make a search.

She emigrated to Queensland, Australia sometime around 1866 from what I can gather.  This might not be accurate.

She married William George Ives in Brisbane Qld Australia in December 1877 and had 6 children (3 boys & 3 girls). My Grandmother was the second eldest of the girls her name was Florence Bridget Ives.
Mary’s eldest child Margaret Mary died about 9 days after birth.  My mother Iris is still living and is 93 yrs old she talks about her Grandmother Mary (McKenna) quite often.
Mum is always saying her grandmother came from County Kerry the most beautiful part of Ireland.

A few years ago I caught up with a cousin who said she visited Listowel and said that the McKenna’s who have the Hardware or timber yard were relatives of our great grandmother Mary McKenna.
I have not tried to make contact with them yet as I did not know where to enquire as they only seem to have a business address on the internet.
My cousin’s grandfather was one of my grandmother’s brothers.   It seems very hard to get any information from Ireland.  I have not had great success with Ancestry.com.

At the write-up on my grandmother’s wedding in July 1905 to James Dwyer it said that her cousin little Kathleen McElligott acted as a trainbearer.  I have found that some McElligott’s came from around the Listowel
area and emigrated to Queensland Australia.  Maybe there is some family connection there.   I don’t know if you could be of any help.

James Dwyer the first husband of my grandmother Florence Bridget Ives died in 1918 and she remarried.  Her second husband was my grandfather John Augustine McAuliffe.  I am tracing his family
also and his grandfather my great great grandfather John Florence McAuliffe was born in 1836 in Newmarket, County Cork, Ireland.   His father was John McAuliffe born in 1818 in County Cork and his
mother’s maiden name was Ellen ‘Shine” I think.   I have not been able to find a connection there at the moment.

I was wondering if you could give me any information on the best way to try and search out my family ancestors.  I am praying that one day I will be able to come and visit Listowel myself as I have a very strong
passion about my Irish roots but as I am the only immediate family my Mum has and I am her carer and I cannot commit to any overseas trips at this time.  I would have loved to have been able to come over
for “The Gathering” this year.

Looking forward to hearing from you even if you cannot help me in anyway.

(P.S. NKRO has news for you Berenice but your email box is temporarily out of order)

The next is from Trisha Turner

I have signed up for listowel connection to receive emails.

My Great Grandmother was Ellen McCarthy, born Listowel, County Cork, Ireland abt 1861.  Her parents listed on her marriage license was listed as Daniel McCarthy and Mary Buckley.

my Great Grandfather  William Henry Arnold, Born  January 6, 1855 in Carrightwohill, Ireland.  Evidently they met in Illinois USA and he  married Ellen McCarthy.  It appears that they had one child my grandmother Kathleen Arnold born January 1, 1881 and then I cannot find out what happened to Ellen as my great grandfather married again.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Will you look who is coming to Writers' Week 2013

Listowel Writers’ Week - 29 May – 2 June 2013

Now entering its 42nd year, Listowel Writers’ Week is Ireland’s longest running literary festival, renowned for bringing together international writers and audiences in the historical and intimate surroundings of Listowel, Co Kerry.

Featuring at this year’s festival will be Nadeem Aslam, Dermot Bolger, Marina Chapman, Emma Donoghue, Honor Donohoe, Robin Dunbar, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Peggy Gallagher, Thomas Keneally, Gene Kerrigan, Martha Long, Colum McCann, Alison Moore, Andrew Miller, Rebecca Miller, Peter Murphy, Audrey Niffenegger, Colm Tóibín, Willy Vlautin and many more.  In addition the Festival will be hosting a series of events to celebrate The Gathering, these will include themes such as Migration, The Irish Famine, Celebration of Máire Mhac an tSaoi and The Irish-American Short Story.

Isn't that an impressive lineup?  I'll fill you in on a few more details over the next few weeks.

Máire Logue sent us some photos from the recent event in Dublin to launch the 2013 festival.

Dublin and Listowel litterati and glitterati assembled for the 2013 launch

Seán Lyons, chairman addresses the audience.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

John Duggan and some Ballygologue youngsters in 1975

In every family there is at least one who realises the value of the family tree and he takes it on himself to  write the story in order to preserve it for the next generation.
When people contact me looking for help with their tree, I usually refer them to NKRO but when John Duggan wrote I knew I could help him myself, since I knew just the relative he was looking for.
I demanded payment for my services, in the form of a story for this blog.

Here it is;

It’s probably appropriate, with Listowel Writers Week looming large on the local calendar, that I begin my story with US comedy series “Guys Book Club”. The programme follows the misadventures of six disenchanted married men who try to recapture their manhood by using a fictional book club to escape the clutches of their nagging wives. It’s something that probably wouldn’t have crossed my radar but for my ongoing research into our family tree which, as of last weekend, now includes Chicago-born series writer and producer George Zwierszynski, a great-grandson of Ballybunion. He became the latest in a lengthening line of discoveries during painstaking hours, weeks and months of trawling through archives, both online and in person. 

What began over Christmas as a flippant comment about how interesting it might be to know a bit more about our ancestors has now become what, to the casual observer, might appear to be something more akin to an all-consuming obsession. And it was this newfound devotion that led me back to Kerry over the past Easter weekend – a location that had been a second home throughout my childhood years due to our annual Summer holidays spent at the beach in Ballybunion, but a county that had eluded me for over twenty years, with the exception of one wedding, possibly due to my greater independence and spending power that prompted the exploration of other worldly locales.

Conveniently, the majority of my mother’s family history was centred between Ballylongford and Ballybunion so they were the main focus of my attention as I embarked on my journey to the past. Cognoscent of it being one of the two busiest times of the year for the church I had contacted Fr. Kennelly in Ballylongford in advance of my visit to assess the possibility of inspecting the parish records during the Easter weekend. Fortunately, he welcomed my intrusion with more generosity than I could ever have hoped for. He graciously granted me as much time as I wished with the craggy, hard-covered ledgers that held the elusive information I needed to solve my genealogical puzzle, and at one stage he even gave me an impromptu linguistic lesson so that I could decipher the Latin names in the older pre-Vatican Two records. The thick heavy pages of the book and their elegant calligraphy transported me back in time to another world as I scanned the pages for Bunyans and Wallaces. The circle of life would in some cases be completed before my eyes as a name that would initially appear in the baptism book might later be found on the marriage register and then soon afterwards in the death records – a sobering experience.

With my mother in tow I also visited numerous relatives and acquaintances in the area who were mostly intrigued, but sometimes bemused, by my endeavours. All were unfailingly helpful though, with boxes of photographs being thrust onto tables in front of me and permission being given to record as many of them as I wanted. Inevitably once the albums were opened the trips down Memory Lane ensued and the stories started to flow, time passing in decades before our eyes and in hours on our watches. It was great to meet in person the people who constituted such a significant portion of the family tree and it gave the project a life and a personality that had been somewhat lacking in what had been largely an academic exercise up to that point. I presented my findings that included records of immigrations to America and also evidence of how long-accepted “distant” relationships had come into being, something that always drew expressions of wonderment. The information exchange flowed both ways though and in the course of discussions I unearthed a couple of genuine nuggets of information that would never have registered with me if I had been merely scanning through a record book somewhere, such was its obscure nature.

We also dedicated nearly a full day to the more sombre duty of visiting the local graveyards where our ancestors lay, from Aghavallen and Lislaughtin to Kilconly and Killahenny. This was not an activity that I had much appreciation for during my formative years but after the previous months of investigations I now had a greater understanding of the people we were paying our respects to. After four full days of being a general nuisance to the people of the locality it was time to leave the Kingdom and return home for work the following Tuesday morning. I left the area satisfied with all of the information that I had gathered but more importantly aware that the family tree was a living thing and not a very large piece of paper with a lot of lines and pictures in it.

After updating my records upon my return home I noticed that there was still one branch of the tree that had bore very few leaves. Repeated enquiries about the Carmodys of Listowel had yielded very little except for the odd puzzled look or the uncertain proffering of a few names hastily followed by a dismissive “sure they’re all gone now”. Perhaps spoiled by the great success that I had enjoyed with all of the other families I refused to believe that the Carmodys could not be found. I bombarded Google with every combination of keywords I could think of. I interrogated the genealogy websites relentlessly. I harangued my mother in the forlorn hope that some long forgotten recollection would miraculously return to her, but it was all in vain. So, in desperation, during my latest assault on Google I happened upon a blog that branded itself as being for the sons and daughters of Listowel who found themselves far from home. I browsed its pages and saw photographs from the archives along with other content that harked back to a bygone era. I decided that this might be my last hope at tracking down the elusive Carmodys and immediately set about typing an email to the address given on the website. Amazingly, within four hours I received a reply from Mary Cogan acknowledging my correspondence and promising to investigate the matter further later in the week. A couple of days later Mary sent another mail concerning a photograph of Carmodys Bakery that had featured in a recently published local book. Finally, a breakthrough! I was heartened by this development and eagerly awaited the next correspondence. That Saturday my search was over. 

Despite the presence of a TG4 camera crew for a couple of days during the week and all its associated upheavals Mary never forgot about my enquiry and I was overjoyed when I read the contents of the email. It triumphantly proclaimed that the prodigal Carmodys had been found and, what’s more, they were living in Listowel! She also provided me  with contact information for them and within a couple of hours I was chatting on the phone to a real live Carmody, swapping stories and filling in the blanks that had blighted my tree for so long. I had barely hung up the phone when my mother was asking me all manner of questions about the family and she too was delighted to hear all about them. It brought to a close a long search and at least future generations won’t have to wonder what became of the Carmody clan. Ironically, it’s fair to say that while we share some ancestors we also differ in some things, because it transpires that she is heavily involved in the upcoming Writers Week but the extent of my literary prowess would barely qualify me for a role as an extra on the aforementioned “Guys Book Club” show.

Thank you, John. What a great story and what a lovely collage.

 BTW his Carmodys are the Carmodys of Wonder Bakery fame.
I think you will agree that John is not too bad at the writing. We might see him yet at Writers Week.

A picture of some Wonder Bakery bread vans  from Vincent Carmody's book


This photo was captioned Kerry Travellers

This yesterday's picture. Apologies to all Gardaí. The man interviewing the Travellers is not a Garda


This photo of Ballygologue children in 1975 was first published in The Advertiser. If you recognise yourself, do write and tell me where you are now.


Congregational singing in the church in Knockanure recently