The Late Mary Keane, Listowel nee O’Connor, Knocknagoshel

John B. and Mary Keane pictured at home in Listowel. ©Photograph:  John Reidy  22/7/1993
John B. and Mary Keane pictured at home in Listowel. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22/7/1993

The death of Mary Keane of Knocknagoshel and Listowel has just been announced. It’s Pattern Day in Knocknagoshel and what a day for a native to bid farewell to family and friends.
For Mary O’Connor had a deep grá for Knocknagoshel and equally so for Castleisland. During my time working at The Kerryman office in Listowel I had occasion to call into John B Keane’s Bar from time to time. Mary would always ask for Castleisland and for the few people left here whom she knew as an apprentice hairdresser in the early 1950s.

My memories of Mary and her oft expressed love of Castleisland will always remain with me. Mary served her time to Mrs. Pat Hannon and she was a lovely woman to work for – according to Mary.
On quiet days, in the spacious salon,  the boss and staff members played Badminton – Mary told me once.
That Mary Keane had a team of regular, non-drinking callers to the William Street pub in the mornings and that there were cups of tea put down in front of them reveals its own insights into the woman.
She always asked about people here and with genuine affection would say: “A great town.” I photographed Mary in the pub when it marked its 55th anniversary in 2010.

One February evening in 2009 on my way to the post office in Listowel I dropped in to wish her a happy anniversary. It was 50 years to the day that her late and beloved John B Keane’ play Sive was first staged at Walsh’s Ballroom. The building was still there but was being used for another purpose by then.
I walked in the great man’s footsteps that evening from his bar to the ballroom – without the few, very understandable, nervous diversions he made. It was a strange experience as I had just finished reading John B – The Real Keane shortly before and felt that, as I was in Listowel, I’d retrace his steps that evening.
I called into the bar on my way back and told Mary what I’d done and she laughed – but understood.

She recalled some of the magic of that amazing time while pointing to various photographs on the walls of the bar. When I got back to the valley that night I re-read the passage of the book which covered that evening from 50 years before and felt I had paid my own tribute to the great man. May God be good to both of them now.
The arrangements are as follows:
The death has occurred of Mary Keane (née O’Connor) 37 William Street, Listowel, Kerry.

Mrs Mary Keane (nee O’Connor), 37 William Street, Listowel, Co. Kerry and formerly of Ahaneboy, Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry (widow of the late John B Keane) in the loving care of the Sisters and staff of the Bons Secours Hospital, Tralee.
Reposing at O’ Carroll’s Funeral Home, Listowel from 4pm to 7pm on Sunday followed by removal at 7pm to St Mary’s Church, Listowel. Requiem mass will take place on Monday at 11.30am with burial afterwards in St Michael’s Cemetery, Listowel.
She is survived by her children Billy, Conor, John and Joanna; brother Teddy, daughters-in-law, son-in-laws, brother-in-law, sisters in law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. No flowers please, donations to Aras Mhuire Nursing Home, Listowel. House private.
Date Published: Saturday 15th August 2015. Date of Death: Saturday 15th August 2015