Friday, 28 April 2017

A Chick Party, John B. Keane's Cuckoo and a few Listowel people

Noreen Murphy's image for Mallow Camera Club's People at Work project.


A Family Walk in Lovely Listowel in April 2017


A Little Ones Hen Party

Do you remember I was at a hen party recently?  Well, there was an unwritten rule that you had to be over 18 to attend. This ruled out three very important members of the bridal party…. the three flower girls.

Clíona, the bride, was anxious that they would not feel completely left out, so, with the help of The Listowel Arms, she organized a little mini hen or maybe chicken party for them.

This type of party was new to the Listowel Arms but they pulled out all the stops and made it an afternoon to remember for the girls.

We had afternoon tea at  a lovely round table dressed in a lace tablecloth and set with vintage cups and saucers. In the table centre was a wooden trencher decorated with tea lights and fresh flowers in a vintage tea pot.

The hotel’s wedding co ordinator, Patrice O’Callaghan, came to greet the girls. The chef left the kitchen to attend to their requirements and brought them an extra helping of chocolate triangles. They were waited on like royalty and they had the best and most exclusive hen party ever.

We are all looking forward to the big day when we will be back in the hotel again. The girls have requested that apple and rhubarb crumble be put on the menu. It is absolutely delicious.


Cuckoo Cuckoo by John B. Keane

The summertime is coming
And the birds are sweetly singing.

So runs the evergreen chorus. Summer’s PRO, to wit the bark- brown cuckoo, freshly arrived from Morocco, has already made several pronouncements in places as far apart as Knockanure and Newcastlewest. The gist of his revelations is that the season is legitimately under way now and he has established himself in a ready-made nest, manufactured to measure by a brace of innocent and well meaning blackbirds, whose offspring he simply heaved over the side to make way for his ample African posterior. For thirty years or so now, since I first started to write for money I have unfailingly made mention of the cuckoo’s arrival.

I have published every report I ever received, devoting lengthy paragraphs to the more meritorious. Yet there are people who regularly come along and ask me why I never write about the cuckoo. These people know very well I write about the cuckoo. What they are really asking is why I do not write about their own special cuckoos or rather, the individual cuckoo that only they have heard. How true the old saying that there is no cuckoo like your own cuckoo. On reflection I must honestly add that maybe there is no such old saying. If this is so then I hereby sponsor it for inclusion in the next anthology of old sayings.

(more next week)


Newcastlewest circa 1900


Snapped in Listowel Town Square

Eileen O'Sullivan and her friend were enjoying the April sunshine in Listowel on Saturday April 22 2017

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Stack's Mountains by John B. Keane, businesses coming and going and the end of Ballybunion's black balls

Man at Work

Photo: Christopher Bourke for Mallow Camera Club's People at Work project


Stack's Mountains

Recently my good friend, Mary Sobieralski gave me some of her old John B. Keane books. I'm enjoying reading them and I'll share some of John B.'s wit and wisdom with you all.

This one is long out of print. It has some lovely essays on life in North Kerry in simpler times. Here is John B.s account of summers spent in the country with relatives. I too remember when the highlight of the summer holidays was the time spent with relatives who lived just a few miles away.  I'll give you the essay piecemeal so that you can savour the elements in bite sized pieces......

Last week I visited the Stacks Mountains where I was reared and countrified. I arrived in a new car but I had hardly set foot in the townland I knew as a boy when I was reminded of my first visit and my departure. I came in a creamery lorry and I departed aboard Jumpin’ Hanlon’s pony drawn fishcart.  Jumpin, who had a fish shop a few doors down the street from my father’s house in Listowel would come in September with a load of mackerel. His full name was James Jumpin’ Alive O’Hanlon. He acquired his nickname from the way he responded when asked if his fish were fresh.

“Man dear,” he would say, ”they’re jumpin alive.”
Then he would choose an outstanding specimen and hold it in his hands in such a way that it seemed to jump from his grasp of its own accord.
“Catch that fish,” he would call out, “Catch that fish. In God’s name don’t let it go home to Cahirciveen.”
That would be the tatara as he went on all fours to seize the mackerel which, as soon as he recovered it, would jump out of his hand again until finally he was obliged to tap it on the head with his knuckles to make sure it didn’t return to that wild part of the Atlantic from whence it first came.


Walsh's Ballroom and The Cinema

This sign on the old ballroom is causing me some confusion. I don't remember this premises ever being known as The Plaza but I've been known to be wrong before.


Closing Down


Women in Media 2017

On Sunday April 23 2017 Jerry Kennelly came to Ballybunion for WiM 2017 to talk about his extraordinary mother, Joan. His parents were very much a team, so talking about Joan meant also  talking about Padraig. In fact the whole family from the moment they could walk and talk were drafted into the team and they all played a role in the success of Kerry's Eye and the family's photography business.

Joan came from fairly humble beginnings and she suffered the loss of both her parents early in life. She was a hard working resourceful lady and when she set her mind to a task, it got done.

After a spell in London and Spain she returned to her native Tralee and married Padraig Kennelly. Tragedy still dogged her with the loss of several babies through miscarriage but she soldiered on helping her husband build an empire.
In the days before internet and mobile phones, the Kennellys had an international business supplying photographs and stories to the world's media.

My favourite of Jerry's stories was the one about deGaulle's visit to Kerry.

Charles de Gaulle, the French president was a frequent visitor to Sneem, Co. Kerry a fact that is commemorated in a statue in the village.

When he resigned as president in 1969, de Gaulle decided to take a quiet holiday in Kerry. Security was tight and when he went to mass on Sunday journalists were forbidden to bring cameras into the church. Joan Kennelly always carried a little camera in her bag and  when Charles deGaulle rose to pray in the European fashion at a point in the ceremony when the Irish congregation remained kneeling, she grabbed her chance and photographed him head and shoulders over all the other worshippers. The fuzzy image  was like gold dust. It made its way into all the major European publications.

There were many more stories like this told on Sunday morning. The story of the Kennelly's of Ash Street deserves a documentary or even a full length film.


There they are...Gone!

The white patches on the pavements are all that's left of Ballybunion's controversial black balls.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

April Walk for Scoil Realta na Maidine and Women in Media 2017

People at Work by Mallow Camera Club

Photo: Mary O'Sullivan


A Family Walk in the Park, April 2017


More Walkers at the Scoil Realta na Maidine Fundraiser


Women in Media 2017

I only got to two events last weekend as I was busy, busy, busy.

 Women in Media takes place in Kilcooly's Hotel in Ballybunion.
The line up of high profile ladies is beginning to look familiar but they do always deliver  food for thought.

Katie Hannon very ably chaired the panel discussion on the topical subject of truth in the media

 Dearbhail MacDonald was a pannelist.

 I photographed the same Dearbhail on Sunday after she had accepted the Mary Cummins award. She was absolutely thrilled with her award, to the point of saying that she appreciated it more than any other award she had received and she has received many.

Mandy Johnson was there.

 Steve Carson was a late addition to the panel. He was attending with his wife, Miriam O'Callaghan.

There are always more then 2 sides to every story, we were told. And then there is a back story.
Journalists should always tell the truth and shame the devil, whatever or whoever the current devil may be.

If you tell a lie often enough, it gets harder and harder to refute. Mandy Johnson told us that when she worked in politics, parties had a team whose sole  job was rebuttal.

In this era of fake news and spin, checking and rechecking is ultra important but checking and rechecking costs money.

Miriam told us that who is telling the news is important. People trust RTE to tell the truth. She said that when Primetime went recently to Blacksod to cover the tragic drowning of 4 rescue personnel, they got a great reaction. Viewers like to see the location of the action and they like to see their news bringers empathise with local people.

(Aside: This might explain why we saw Kieran Mulooley at the gate of Ashford Castle at the weekend. He told us basically that he knew nothing of the story. He didn't know if Rory McIlroy was married yet or what the wedding dress looked like or who turned up and who didn't. He said he'd know the wedding was over when he saw the fireworks. He knew they cost €50k but then we all knew that. He interviewed a few local people who didn't know anything either but like himself had come for a gawk. News!!!!)

This is Katie Hannon's hand. If there was ever a symbol which identified anyone, it has to be Katie's unpretentious Bic biro.