Thursday, 30 November 2017

Boys on Tour in 1959, Christmas windows, a convict ancestor and a Christmas Memory

Photo by John Kelliher


Something old


A Poem  for the dying stages of the year by Gillian Clarke


More on Roz Scharf's Fascinating Ancestors

Hi Mary
Edmund’s line came out with Cromwell.  They pop up as serving in Roger MacElligottes 51st Foote in the Kings’s Army.I know that they fought at the battle of the Boyne and there is some rumour that Valentine and Thomas followed Roger into the Tower when he was incarcerated.  Edmund lived in Ballyhallil in Limerick but as a dancing master he travelled around the country.  It was this that prompted the senior legal at the time to give him life because he used his role as a dancing master to sign people up to the Whiteboys.  I’m attaching a couple of items sent me by my cousin which detail the incident which eventually led to his capture.
I found it hard to reconcile his actions with a life sentence.  He was 51 when transported.  I have three other convicts all of whom were Rockites.  William Smith, a weaver from C. Monaghan, Thomas Maher who was implicated in the Holy cross incident in Limerick and Thomas Lysaght a Rocket from Limerick.  All three only got 7 years. Eddie is my favourite.  He was transported on the Brampton which was a ship with Irish rebels.  The guys looked after him, even reporting him as dead so as to keep him from the arduous voyage.  Luckily for me he was resurrected like Lazarus wgen he reached Sydney cove.  He was not a model prisoner and ended up in irons twice.  The final time he was released into his wife’s custody.  He also did a stint on the treadmill for being lazy but they did not take into consideration those calves of iron - conditioned from years of leaping as an Irish dancer.  I have written a chapter on Eddie which I can forward to you if your interested.  I have found that most people tend to glaze over when I start with my obsession but if I can weave things into a bit of a story, they come alive.  I try to be clear on whether its a good story or a true story.  (trained as a historian)

The O’Keeffes were in service on an estate called Lottaville.  My Great grandfather was baptised at St Patrick’s Cork in 1833.  His father was Cornelius O’Keefe and mother Mary Milliwick - the only information I have is a parish entry for their marriage and that reads Cork and Ross - Glanmire 1828-1841.  William married Julia Cotter on 15 October 1859 in Mayfield Ballinamought East, St Anne’s Shandon Cork.  They were both in service at Lottaville.  they had 2 daughters and 5 sons.  The youngest - my grandfather in1873.  Julia died 10 days after my grandfather died.  Luckily, the master of Lottaville (Capt Grey?) kept the family on.  Even when William left for Australia as a self funded emigrant, he allowed the family to stay on at Lottaville until William could send the money for the fares for the children who came to Australia one year later.  Needless to say, English kids travelled free.  I have so much respect for William because he made sure that his family didn’t go into the poor house but he worked to earn the money to bring them all out together.  It was difficult to track the family because of the English requirement that O’ was dropped from the name.  My aunt was most particular that the O’ was used and that the name was spelledlt with a double ff.  I have some photos from my great aunt’s album with photos taken in Cork.  Pretty amazing that people who did not have much took the time and effort to have a photo to celebrate their existence and this was continued in Australia.

Bray’s of Raheen - my great grand mother X2 are a hoot. They trace back to Hugh Brady Arch bishop of Meath.  Needless to say a tad more posh than the others.  But the brother E.J Brady has titled himself the grandfather of Australian socialism.  He was also connected with the kibbutz like settlement Ralaheen which was set up in Clare to try to give Irish farmers a shot at being self sufficient - not having English landlords or being require to tithe to the protestant church.

They were such an interesting lot.  I really have to acknowledge the research of my cousin Joanne who has been doing this for years and most of the wonderful insights have evolved from her hard work.

We’ll definitely have to catch up when I arrive.  I think with all the rebel connections, I might even ask for a passing parade from the lads.


More Listowel Polar Express Christmas windows

(Note; Photographing windows is very difficult because of reflection and  glare)

Coco Kids in The Square

The Horseshoe

John R.'s

Lynch's in Main Street


Soup Kitchens in Famine Times

In the 1840s in Ireland workhouses and well meaning groups such as The Quakers set up soup kitchens to relieve the hunger that was claiming lives daily.
These famine relief kind deeds often took the form of huge pots of "soup" which were prepared for the starving people.

One of the more horrific stories told of that time is of starving children, demented by hunger, crowding round the big cauldron and getting scalded or falling in.

This pot is on display in a museum in Kilmurry in Co. Cork. There is a great website devoted to Famine pots and well worth a visit. Here is the link:

Famine Pots


A Christmas Memory

Seeing a photo  of Jackie McGillicuddy yesterday awakened a memory of a kindness at Christmas for Cathy Dunne. Here his what she wrote:

"The story of Jackies toys took me back. Every year I put away the toys for my five children in September and paid every week for them. One year the included batteries. Jackie said he would not put the batteries in but would give them to me separately when I collected the toys. Christmas Eve when I opened the packet there was no batteries. I rang but Jackie was gone home. The children were disappointed but I told them Santa must have forgotten the and would return soon with the batteries. 

On St Stephens Day Jackie arrived full of apologies and brought a huge compendium of games. Luckily the children were out and did not see "Santa". 

Jackie was a wonderful gentleman. That service would not be available now."

Well, I'm happy to inform Cathy that I'm reliably informed that Seán, Jackie's son who now runs the business, is just as kind and accommodating as his dad. It's a lovely shop to go into and all of the staff are helpful and knowledgeable. You can still pay in instalments and they will keep the toys until Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Christmas in Listowel, Christy Ring remembered, laying the gas pipeline, a colourful ancestor and Christmas windows

Listowel Castle by John Kelliher.


McKenna's Christmas Shop


A Correspondent with a Very Interesting Ancestor

God only knows what you will come across if you go delving in the family history. This lady who wrote to me recently sure found a fascinating relative among her ancestors.

I’m descended from a convict Edmund Elliott who was convicted for crimes against the English.  He was a dance master and a senior Whiteboy .  He was given a life sentence at the Kerry assize in the early 1920’2 and sent to Australia on the Brampton.  Apparently he was caught leading a raid on the house of the person who had employed him to perform for some local function.  His family had a long connection with Kerry and in particular Listowel.  His ancestors were part of the Roger McElliogotet 51st Foote that fought for the King at the Battle of the Boyne .

I’m a retied teacher and am planning to visit Ireland next September.   So far the plan is to go to Cork to see  where the paternal  line of O’Keeffe/Cotter came from and then on to Shanagolden and Listowel for the Elliott and lastly to Raheen in Clare to visit the home of the Bradys’.

My cousin sent me your blog because at present we are fossicking about in the Boyne to discover if Valentine and Thomas Elliott did porridge with Roger McElliogotte in the Tower.  Unfortunately, I think our generations have become somewhat anaemic when compared to the exploits of our ancestors.

Roz Scharf


A Cork tribute to Christy Ring


A Poem for today

A bugbear of mine is making nouns into verbs. People dont look anything up anymore.
They google it. People don't insult you anymore they troll you. 
My own family have a word for what I do, it's awfulising. So we are in the era of nouns as verbs. Here is a poem from someone who shares my dread of this new phenomenon.


That's Gas

The big yellow thing in the foreground is the new gas pipe. Below is the park as it is nowadays.


Listowel's North Pole Express

Listowel is pulling out all the stops this year to make sure the the children have a memorable Santa experience.  Click the link below to read all about it.

Listowel's North Pole Express

Many of the businesses in town are getting behind the venture and the train themed Christmas windows are a big talking point in town these days.

My favourite is Finesse, which is the work of Listowel's best window dresser, Cora O'Brien

Chic window features a replica Lartigue Monorail

Broderick's Pharmacy features a brick built train.

Isn't Listowel Veterinary Centre's window splendid?

Hartnett's Pharmacy


more windows tomorrow

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

November's butterfly, Unveiling a Famine Plaque and a Famine window in St. Marys'

Photo: John Kelliher


 A Timely Poem; November's Butterfly  by Larry Belt

Sometimes in November
When the sun is sitting high
An Autumn breeze will steal the leaves
And cause the trees to cry.

Sometimes in November
A butterfly will appear
A cherished thought, a battle fought
For one you loved so dear.

Sometimes in November
Loved ones pass away
You wallow in grief, seek relief
And then you learn to pray.

Sometimes in November
An angel gets its wings
It's good and bad, but always sad
the joy and pain this brings.

Sometimes in November
A family says goodbye
as Heaven waits
To open its gates
To November's butterfly.


A Photo from 1975

The occasion was a presentation to Bryan MacMahon by the teachers of Scoil Realta na Maidine


A Famine Commemoration in November 2017

The plaque was unveiled.

We took a few photos of the dignitaries.

Then we repaired across the way to Ard Churam  for a cup of tea, a chat and a few talks about Listowel and The Famine.

First up was historian and genealogist, Kay Caball. She took us back to the dark days of the 1840s when sending your 14 year old daughter to Australia seemed like the only hope for her future.
I heard a quote recently when someone was referring to today's awful refugee crisis.
"No parent puts his child into a leaky boat on rough seas unless he believes that he is safer there than he is on land."
Listowel in the 1840s and 50s was similar. Parents sent their daughters to the other end of the world and an uncertain future in order to save them from the horrors at home.
Kay's talk was laced with anecdote and human interest stories. The Earl Grey girls came to life before our eyes.

Bryan MacMahon of Ballyheigue has recently published his history of The Famine in North Kerry. He too brought the story to life for us, giving us some insight into the hard task of the relieving officer who had to decide on admissions to the workhouse. His job was at stake if he made a wrong decision.
Bryan told us a story that sent me searching in St. Mary's as soon as I could. According to Bryan's research, the parish priest of Listowel, Fr. Darby OMahoney was particularly kind and caring to his flock during their harsh time. He told us that there is stained glass window in St. Mary's depicting Fr. O'Mahoney ministering to the sick and dying.

The window is in a fairly inaccessible place, in the sanctuary on the right hand side. It depicts Fr. Darby O'Mahoney who was Listowel's parish priest anointing the sick during the Famine. Behind him are some nuns with their mouths covered to prevent infection. In the forefront of the picture is a dead child.

Beside the window is this plaque saying the window and plaque were erected by the people of Listowel.

On Saturday the last  speaker was John Pierse who told us of his desire to see the flower of the lumper on a postage stamp as a fitting memorial of those who were lost when this crop failed in successive years.

All in all, the Listowel Famine commemoration was a very worthwhile event that I am glad to have attended. Well done to all those who made it a success.


Listowel Garden Centre, November 2017


Some More Polar Christmas Windows

Here are some more polar train windows from Christmas 2017

Chic's magnificent window with Olive Stack's Christmas scene is a striking first impression for motorists entering town this Christmas.

Vanity Case

Every Woman



Gentleman Barbers


Lizzy's Little Kitchen


Mc Gillicuddy's

O'Connor's Pharmacy

Olive Stack's

Woulfe's Bookshop


McGillicuddy's Toys; A Listowel Institution

McGillicuddy's Toys shared this lovely family photo on Facebook. Seeing it, I was whisked back in time to the days before Facebook and online shopping when Jackie McGillicuddy's was an integral part of a Listowel Christmas.

In the 1970s when I was in the market for toys, Jackie's was a Santa's workshop. He had every toy the heart could wish for and he was so so kind and obliging. He operated a credit scheme for those who found it hard to come up with all the money at once. He also offered free storage until Christmas Eve.
Once, when we had a Christmas disaster and the stylus of the Magna Doodle got thrown out with the wrapping paper, Jackie was the soul of patience and understanding and even borrowed another stylus until the lost one was replaced.

Mary Gore R.I.P. used to be his right hand woman. I remember the year of Polly Pockets. Mary predicted that they would never sell, overpriced and so small that a child might feel thy had got a very poor present. It was one of Mary's few mistakes. She had her finger on the pulse of the children's   toy scene long before we had The Late Late Toy Show to tell us what was a "must have."

Happy days!