Before getting to this month’s roundup, I want to thank the Irish Railroad Workers Museum in Baltimore and those who attended my 15 September talk on Ireland’s Famine Children ‘Born at Sea’. Also this month, year-to-date traffic on the blog surpassed last year’s total. Thanks for reading. MH
- September began with the 99th annual Dublin City Liffey Swim, a 2.2 K (1.3 mile) “towards the sea” race underneath a dozen key bridges.
- “A confluence of events has shunted unification on to the political agenda.” From Talk of a united Ireland is rife. But is it a fantasy?
- The four-volume Cambridge History of Ireland, published in April, received its American launch this month with events in Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston.
- For a few days early in the month it appeared that U.S. President Donald Trump was going visit Ireland as part of trip to Paris to mark the end of World War I. Within two weeks, the Irish leg was cancelled.
- “By almost every measure Ireland today is a more inclusive, progressive and safer place to live than it once was, and the oppressive control exerted by church and State have been dramatically lessened. People live longer, cars are safer, roads are better, homes – if you are lucky enough to have one – are warmer and food is better and cheaper than it was.” From Is Ireland a better place to live now than 20 years ago.
- The BBC reported on the dwindling number of iconic red telephone boxes in Northern Ireland, though some have been re-purposed as mini libraries, defibrillator kiosks, and information centres.
- Travel to Ireland increased by nearly 8 percent in the eight-months through August, compared to the same period in 2017, the CSO said.
- Listowel, in Kerry, the home of the late John B. Keane and the annual “Writer’s Week,” is this year’s All-Ireland Tidy Town, topping 883 entries in the 60th annual competition.
Continuing the Famine theme of the previous post, I’ve been reading and studying a new book: “Teampall Bán: Aspects of the Famine in north Kerry,” by John D. Pierse. As regular readers of this blog know, this part of Ireland is where my maternal grandmother and grandfather emigrated from (1912 and 1913, respectively) and is of great interest to me.
“The graveyard which has come to symbolize the Famine for the north Kerry and Listowel areas is undoubtedly Teampall Bán, located on the outskirts of the town off the Ballybunion Road, just beyond the old Lartigue railway overbridge,” Pierse writes in his Preface.
Back, left and front, right, of the book.
The Kerryman reports:
Seven years in the making, “Aspects of the Famine” focuses on the Listowel Union area comprised of the baronies of Iraghticonnor and Clanmaurice – encompassing pretty much all of rural Kerry north of Tralee. John along with his son Maurice, historian Kay Moloney Caball (My Kerry Ancestors), researcher Martina Flynn and former Institute of Advanced Studies Professor Pádraig de Brún painstakingly analysed as many records as they could find pertaining to the Listowel Workhouse, where so many perished, Listowel Presentation Convent and much else.
The book is to have its formal launch on 22 January in Listowel and will benefit the local Tidy Towns organization. For book orders contact Mary Hanlon at email@example.com.
My maternal grandmother and grandfather were both from North Kerry; she from Kilelton townland near Ballylongford; he from Lahardane townland near Ballybunion.
So I was excited to find the North Kerry Reaching Out heritage project, which is affiliated with Ireland Reaching Out.
The national effort is described as “reverse genealogy” and “entails the tracing and recording of all the people who left and seeking out their living descendents worldwide. Those identified or recognised as persons of Irish heritage or affiliation are invited to become part of a new extended Irish society.”
The Kerry effort focuses on people with ties to these villages: Listowel, Ballyduff, Lisselton / Ballydonoghue, Ballybunion, Asdee, Ballylongford, Tarbert, Duagh, Lyreacrompane, Lixnaw, Moyvane/ Newtownsandes, Knockanure, Finuge and Kilflynn.
Here’s the website’s Guide to North Kerry.
As much as I love all of Ireland, there something unique about North Kerry. I get a special feeling whether walking the beach at Ballybunion, hiking to the top of Knockanore Hilll or ambling through the narrow streets and books shops of Listowel. There’s something in my DNA that knows this is home.
Irish Volunteers on parade in Tralee, County Kerry, on June 14, 1914.
More than 1,700 witness statements, plus photographs, audio recordings and other documents from Ireland’s revolutionary period are now available online through the Bureau of Military History.
Here’s a news story about the release. Here’s a link to the BMH home page.
I’ve just started reading the witness statements, focusing on people and events around Ballybunion, Ballylongford, Listowel and other north Kerry communities, which were IRA strongholds. Here’s an example from the statement of IRA man Thomas Carmody about the February 1921 reprisal of the Black and Tans after the republicans killed two of their members at Ballylongford.
The next morning the Tans turned out of the barrack and, a short time after, were joined by lorry loads of Tans from other towns in the area. They looted and raided almost every house in the village. They filled the lorries with groceries, whiskey, cigarettes and anything they could lay their hands on. They then went from one house to another setting fire to each. The women were terrified and many of them threw their children from the top windows into the street. In all, 14 houses were completely burned out, while several others were partly damaged.
Keep in mind the witness statements were made in the late 1940s and early 1950s, more than 20 years after the actual events. The collection also falls short on material from the country’s civil war period following the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922.
The unique Lartigue monorail, shown above, operated between the market town of Listowel and the seaside village of Ballybunion from 1888 to 1924. The odd railway drew attention to north Kerry and became the focus of newspaper stories inside and outside of Ireland.
“It seems strange, but it is not less true that a remote village on the coast at Kerry should have been selected for the first experiment in a railway system which promises a revolution in the construction of our iron roads,” the Irish Times wrote at the line’s opening on Feb. 29, 1888, a leap year day. “The Lartigue system is about as different from all preconceived notions of railways as it is possible to imagine.”
The Lartigue figures prominently in a manuscript I have produced about late 19th and early 20th century Kerry, and some of its residents who immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pa.