Monday, 22 January 2018

Convent Street, Pitch and Putt and Athea Mural blown down

From The Irish Farmers' Journal


A Quiet Corner of Town undergoing renewal

This site has gone Sale Agreed so we await developments.

One is sold and the other is for sale

This is the area of Convent Street that is about to change.

These houses in Convent Street are boarded up too so it will be good to see life return to this corner of town.

And in another corner of town...

A little bird tells me that Iceland is coming to Listowel shortly.


Listowel Pitch and Putt Club

Dave O'Sulivan, a loyal follower and supporter of the work of your blogger replied to my appeal for history of the Pitch and Putt Club.

My photos taken at different times of the year show the variety and abundance of planting in the course over the years.

Here are the cuttings that Dave found for us;


Athea Revisited on January 19 2018

That was then

This is now

The high winds last week flattened the lovely mural with the whole history and mythology of the village on it. I have no doubt that the good people of Athea will see it restored to its former glory.


And the Winner is

The Dublin Kerry Association have announced their Kerry Person of the year

There was a goodly attendance on the night.

Colm Cooper was revealed as this year's choice and he got a standing ovation as he entered.

Colm was a very popular choice.

Colm Cooper with  Keelin Kissane of  Listowel, chair of The Kerry Association in Dublin

Friday, 19 January 2018

Dolores and Shane, Knockanure farmers and Scribes

Farming in Ireland

Sam Hendy brings in-calf cows in for the night in Ballymorris, Portarlington, Co Laois.  
Picture:  Irish Farmers Journal.


Who'd have thought?

 Two world renowned Irish singers, Shane McGowan and Dolores O'Riordan reached personal milestones  in January 2018. Who would have thought that in Shane's case it would be a big birthday and in Dolores' case it would be the end of the line.

Sméar Mhullaigh in Irish literally means the top berry, figuratively it means the cream of the crop. Dineen Dictionary on Twitter paid that tribute to Dolores, the top cranberry.

Cinnte b'í an sméar mhullaigh. Braithfimid uainn í.

 Dolores O'Riordan R.I.P. Jan 15 2018

 Shane MacGowan with Victoria Mary Clarke, Johnny Depp and President Michael D. Higgins at his 60th birthday party in January 2018.


Ah, will you look?

This photo is from The Irish Farmers' Journal. Farmer Maeve Murphy is using the age old method of heating up a weak new born lamb during this cold weather.


 Jack Leahy with his prizewinning bull at a show in the 1960s.

Tom Kenelly of Knockanure accepting his prize at a show in the 1960s.



Her name is Brigita so maybe she was destined to settle in Ireland. The new proprietor of Scribes is already making a name for herself for her delicious baking and friendly ambience in her revamped café. I look forward to telling you something more about this lovely lady next week.

Knitwits in Scribes

Homemade scones and confectionery in Scribes


Listowel Lady on Board of the Charities Regulator Authority

Máire McMahon (in the above photo, which I sourced on Facebook, Máire is on the left of her siblings, Brian and Aoife) has been appointed to the board of the Charities Regulator.

Máire is an excellent choice for this role.


Nearly There!

This is the Kanturk hurling team who are heading to Newbridge on Sunday to play in the AiB All Ireland Intermediate hurling semi final.

If they win on Sunday they will book their place in Croke Park on St. Patrick's Day.

I wish the very best of luck to everyone involved with this great team, especially my cousins, the three Fitzgerald brothers, and more especially my niece, Elizabeth, club vice chair and assistant PRO, and all her band of loyal supporters.

Ceann Toirc abú

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Shortis' Ballybunion, Vietnam and coursing in the 1960s

Blennerville in 2017

Photo: Chris Grayson


Shortis' Bunker Bar, Ballybunion

An Anglican priest, lecturer and writer called Patrick Comerford writes a great  blog here 

The below photo and story is from his January 8 2018 post.

William Shortis was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, in 1869, and came to Ballybunion around 1888 and worked for about a decade as the Ballybunion station manager on the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway (L&BR). This unique, nine-mile monorail ran between the two Kerry towns from 1888 to 1924, and was known affectionately as the Lartigue, after its French inventor, Charles Lartigue.

Shortis was a founding member of the nearby Ballybunion Golf Club in 1893, and he built Shortis’s bar and lounge around this time. Like many pubs of the day, the premises included a general shop, selling everything from groceries and hardware to shoes and clothing, as well as coal, iron and oil, and William Shortis also exported salmon to Harrod’s in London.

William Shortis married Annie Brown, but life took a sad turn for the family in 1905. Annie, died in childbirth on 7 June 1905, and William died five months later on 12 November 1905. Local lore suggests he died of a broken heart, leaving five children with no parents.

Annie’s sisters, Norah and Mary Brown, moved in to take care of the Shortis children.

By 1911, the eldest son Patrick Shortis, aged 18, was a theology student at All Hallows’ College in Drumcondra, Dublin, studying for ordination to the priesthood.

But five years later, Patrick Shortis died in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. He fought at the GPO in 1916 and was killed with the O’Rahilly in an assault on the Rotunda. His brother, Liam Shortis, was a Republican prisoner during the Irish Civil War, but was released in 1924 and became an eye specialist. Dr Liam Shortis died in the 1950s.

The pub on the corner of Main Street and Cliff Road in Ballybunion was renovated around 1930, and a render pilaster pub-front was inserted at the ground floor. The pub was extended to the rear to north in late 20th century, with the addition of a single-bay, single-storey flat-roofed return that has a dormer attic added. The shopfront has pilasters, decorative consoles and modillion cornice, and the painted rendered walls have decorative panels at the east gable end.

Today, the bar is also known as the Bunker Lounge, which is appropriate considering the role of William Shortis in founding the Ballybunion Golf Club around the same time as he was building his pub and shop.

A cut-stone plaque on the corner of this building reads: ‘To the memory of Lt Patrick Shortis born here in 1895, killed in action in the Easter Rising, Dublin 1916, erected by the No 7 Kerry Republican Soldiers Memorial Committee, 1966.’ 


Crossword Poems

I love poems and I love crosswords so, when I recently saw a book entitled Crossword Poems in one of my favourite shops, Second Time Around, Upper William St., Listowel I was intrigued.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old Time is still a flying
And that same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow may be dying.

This is an example of a crossword poem. 

Apparently in the years before WW2 British schoolchildren all followed a common course in English, so there was a corpus of poetry known to every child. The compiler of The Times crossword always had one clue that was a line from one of these well known poems with a word omitted.

People had a kind of sentimental attachment to these poems and in 2000, the people at Parsimony Press published an anthology of the well loved poems under the title
 Crossword Poems.

Here is another one;

The Lady Mary Villiers lies
Under this stone with weeping eyes.
The parents that first gave her birth,
And their sad friends laid her in earth,
If any of them, Reader, were
Known unto thee, shed a tear;
Or if thyself possess a gem
As dear to thee, as this to them,
Though a stranger to this place,
Bewail in theirs thine own hard case;
For thou perhaps at thy return
May'st find they darling in an urn.


Mike and Marie Moriarty were in Vietnam


Coursing Photo from the 1960s

You'll have to help me with the names


Storm Fionn at Skellig

Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan on Twitter

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Athea in the time of Cromwell and Now

Godwits at Blennerville in November 2017

Photo by Chris Grayson


Knitwits in Scribes

Brigita Formaliene, the new proprietor of Scribes in Church Street, did not forget her friends when she reconfigured the seating in her new café. She put Knitwits centre stage in a cozy intimate location.

Our numbers were down on Saturday January 13 when i took my photo but there will be plenty of room for us all when we are all back from our holidays and winter breaks.


A New Book of Newcastlewest History

My friend, Vincent Carmody, gave me a present of a lovely book last week.

Newcastlewest in close up is a sister publication to Vincent's splendid, Listowel, Snapshots of a Market Town. It is full of old photos, billheads, posters and history...another collector's item.


Athea in the 17th Century  (Continued)

as described in an account in The Kerry Reporter in 1933

.......During all this time (Penal Times in Ireland) the people were obliged to hear Mass secretly and by stealth, for if anybody was discovered openly exercising his religion, they were ruthlessly slaughtered on the spot. After some time, however, when the rigours of the penal laws abated somewhat. Bishop De Lacy managed to have a modest church put on that piece of ground where the national schools were afterwards erected. Up to this period, and ever since the burning down of the old church in Temple Athea, many years before, Mass was usually celebrated in the cave or hollow in Colbert's Hill, where a Mission cross now stands. Particular place was selected for the celebration of Divine Service, this sheltered position protected the Mass candles, and its elevation prevented the priest hunter from stealing unawares on the congregation. The church which Bishop De Lacy put up on the site lately occupied by the old schoolhouse continued to serve the people as a place of worship until the present very fine structure was put up in 1864. Bishop De Lacy's remains were interred in a tomb in the churchyard at Ardagh. Portion of the slab which guards the entrance to the tomb has been broken for many years, and through the aperture thus formed it is possible to see the coffin which encloses all that Is mortal of this, sainted and patriotic churchman.

Athea's fairy trail is in a wooded area beside Con Colbert Memorial Hall. The signs are all first as Gaeilge and then in English

In Bishop De Lacy's time, the people of Athea spoke only Irish, and it was this language that prevailed amongst them nearly right up to the middle of the last century. The village at the time was a very different place to what it is now, consisting as it did for the most part of a number of isolated thatched buildings, and shops, as we understand them at the present time, did not exist in the place. In the Gaelic tongue the name of Athea signifies the "ford of the mountains." As already stated, in former days the Gale must have been a much larger stream than it is today, and this appellation means that people were able to get across it at Athea without undergoing the risk of being swept away by the current.

Athea continued to be merely a collection of thatched houses until about the middle of the last century, when better and more pretentious buildings began to make their appearance, and gradually the place began to assume its present neat and somewhat picturesque appearance. The village is situated, as it were, in the lap of the mountains and lies at the base of a range of low, purple hued hills. During the past quarter of a century It has grown considerably in size and is now a place of considerable business importance in the district. Athea possesses concreted streets and asphalted footwalks, and has in addition, an abundant water supply. The houses and shops are well built, and there Is a plentiful growth of timber about the village, which imparts to it a very pleasing and picturesque aspect.

 People who visit the Fairy Trail may leave their worries behind with Cróga, the brave fairy who takes on board everyone's troubles.

 This footbridge runs beside the river and offers a great view of the native ducks and wild birds.
 To this day , the remains of the dense woodland of old can be seen around Athea.

One of Athea's most famous families, the Ahern brothers is commemorated in this sculpture.

One of today's most famous residents is Jim Dunn, whose stunning artwork is one of the main attractions in Athea today.