This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at email@example.com
The very last of the exhibitors at the BOI Enterprise Town event
December 2017 Nightime in Listowel
<<<<<< Christmas in the 1920s by Eamon Kelly Concluded
.....The hearth was the
friendliest place in the house. The place to talk, to sing and to listen to a
good story, to hear the conversation of the grown-ups and to let on not to hear
little bits of gossip or some scandal our elders seemed to take an unlaughing
pleasure in. The hearth was the place where the mother read out the American
letters from Aunt Margaret, Aunt Mary and our Aunty Bridgie, and counted out
the dollars they, and Aunt Liz, had sent us. We would all repeat the American
address where our aunts lived to see who’d remember it best. It was Ditmar’s
Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, Long Island, New York. The hearth was the place
where we knelt before the supper on Christmas Eve for The Rosary with the
trimmings we thought would never end.
When it was time
for us all small lads to go to bed we’d hang up our stockings along the mantle
shelf and on the crane to make sure Daidí na Nollag wouldn’t forget us. Even if
was only a new penny it would be welcome. A penny was a great treat in those
days when you would get five bulls eyes for a half penny and two peggy’s legs
for a full penny. In the end we would have to be hunted to bed we would be so
lazy leaving the warm hearth. But the promise of driving in the pony and trap
through the dark to early mass in the morning would finally shift us, but we
weren’t gone yet. We’d all have to stand at the front door to admire the
bunches of lights in the houses down along the valley and up the rising ground
to Rossacrew, all the little lights winking and blinking through the dark
until, as the man said, the earth below looked like a reflection of the starry
The Listowel Arms is looking very festive
<<<<<<<, The Catechism
Boy did people remember this! I think the following email sums up most of the feedback I got .
Hi, Mary, The Catechism had 'all the answers' - and was all black-and-white! No grey areas! O tempora O mores!
In my young days - 50s and 60s - religion was terrorised into us- often accompanied by a bit of pummelling, just to concentrate the mind!
Even to this day, churches can inspire an atavistic dread of hell-fire and damnation. We must only trust that there is something better in store for us. We shall see...
The most-remembered thing about the Catechism for me is the phrase concocted from reversing its letters: Master Sits In His Chair Each Time At Catechism. (Except when he rises to cuff home the message of love and forgiveness!).
Not exactly Rudolf but a red stag in Killarney last week. Photo by Chris Grayson
Well, I never
I thought you might be as surprised as I was by this fact from Durrus History
While reading the evidence before a parliamentary enquiry into land tenure taken in Bantry in 1844 I came across a reference to a tenant paying his landlord with a £3 note. I never came across this before, I do remember the old orange 10 shilling note.
When I checked it out the history was interesting. Ireland apparently joined sterling in 1825 (currency fluctuations are not new) and the Bank of Ireland was given authority to issue notes. Included was the £3 and 30 shilling notes.
In 1844 a farm laborer was lucky to get 8p. per day and the salary of a Resident Magistrate started at £300 per annum. If you took a laborer now at a low €75 a day that would give the value of £3 at €6,750 or the pay of the modern equivalent of a Resident Magistrate a District Justice at €123K then the value of £3 would be €12,300. Obviously the differential between £1 and £5 was too much hence the £3 note!
The Last of the Enterprise Town photos
Christmas in Kerry in the 1920s
This account by Eamon Kelly of his childhood Christmas is from a book called Christmas in Ireland by Colin Morrison
....It was the quality
of the candlelight, too shy you’d say to penetrate into every nook and corner,
and giving the kitchen the appearance of an old oil painting that I remember
from Christmases long ago. I remember too all the work that went into making
the house ready forthe feast -bringing
in the berry holly to deck out the kitchen, fixing the candles and cutting the
log, Bloc na Nollag, and placing it in position in the hearth lying flat as it
fell, we were told, and the sods of turf standing as they were cut. It took the
block some time to take fire but when it did the chairs had to be moved back,
even the cat had to shift herself when the little jets of steam and sparks
making loud reports came from the log. In the wider circle, we, the small lads
sat on the floor with cups of lemonade and sweet cake after the Christmas Eve
supper of ling, white onion sauce and laughing potatoes. And we made room for a
neighbor or two while my father uncorked a big earthenware jar and landed out a
few healthy taoscáns of the dark liquid and it was“Happy Christmas, Merry Christmas everyone”
reechoing what was painted on the mottos pinned to the chimney breast.
This is a great
poem about the secularization of Christmas. Christ is taken out and the Xbox
takes his place centre stage. <<<<<<< It's That Time of Year North Kerry Harriers met in the grounds of Glin castle on December 3 2017. Local Limerick photographers, Liam Downes and Estelle O'Donoghue, took some photos to record the occasion.
Estelle O'Donoghue took this fabulous photo.
<<<<<<<<<<< A Relic left behind from our Youth
Call it brainwashing if you like, but I and my school fellows had the answers to the questions set out in this green book so dinned into us in school that most of us could, to this day, with just a little prompting, reel off all those answers. This copy turned up among the National Treasures collected recently. I'm sure the very sight of it will send shivers down a few spines. <<<<<<<<
Some More People at BOI Enterprise Town Evening
<<<<<< Christmas Long Ago
Christmas for us
Small Ladsby Eamon Kelly
Christmas for us
small lads growing up in the 1920s was a pool of light in the inky darkness of
the winter. A soft amber pool of light which came from three sources- the big
log and turf fire, the oil lamp with the hairpin straddling the glass chimney
and the stately white candles, one in every window, spreading their light out
into the yard and road and showing the way, the old people told us, to Mary and
Joseph should they be passing in search of shelter on Christmas night.
Although my father used to say that if they happened to be passing our house
the blessed pair would have strayed a tiny step on the road to Bethlehem.
In the month of
December there was no road darker than the road outside our house, for we were
living in the depths of the country, and as yet the ESB poles had not come
marching down the valley bringing a brighter but a harsher light. And it cuts
me to the quick today when I hear that instead of the old tallow candle there
is a new garish electric imitation lighting in many of the windows I looked on
as a lad.
(Continued tomorrow) <<<<<< Ballylongford at Christmas 2017 They switched on their Christmas tree lights in Bally on Saturday December 9 2017 and Ballylongford Snaps took lots of great photos. Here are a few and there are lots more HERE