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

Category: Schools’ Folklore

St. Patrick’s Hall, Lizzy’s Relocation and A Lixnaw legend

William Street in May 2021


St. Patrick’s Hall

St. Patrick’s Hall is located in Upper William Street, aka locally as Patrick Street.


Lizzy is on the Move

Listowel’s own celebrity chef is back on our screens on Sunday mornings. This extremely busy lady is also planning to move premises in Listowel. While she is not dropping the word from the brand name, her new café will not be so little at all.

Lizzy is moving from Lower William Street to Church Street into the premises until recently trading as The Nook.


Michael O’Leary’s Kanturk Connection

This old newspaper cutting from 1958 was posted by Trish O’Neill in a Facebook Group called Kanturk Memories. It is a photo of the wedding of Michael O’Leary of Ryanair’s parents. His mother was an O’Callaghan from Banagh outside Kanturk, down the road from my childhood home.


A “Pied Piper” in Lixnaw

Ballincloher pupils contributed many legends of the “Lords of Lixnaw” to the school’s folklore collection. This one seems to owe more to fancy than to fact. Reading the stories, it would appear that they need to be taken with a large pinch of salt as truth got well diluted by fantasy.

….The mansion and out buildings, which were many (some of the remains still exist and the place is called the Old Court) were at one time greatly infected with rats and were found very difficult to exterminate.

A strange man came along one day and offered to rid them of the rats. He ordered that a large building should be provided and fitted up so that no rat could escape out of it. This was done and the rat charmer, if such he may be called, went out in the courtyard, whistled a tune which had the effect of bringing all the rats from the surrounding houses and fields into the courtyard where the man stood. He continued the tune until all the rats were assembled around him, when he marched them off to the house which had been provided for them.

They all followed him into the house and then he shut and locked the iron door so that no rat could escape. He received the reward he had claimed and went his way.

On the following day a strange man riding a black horse drove into the courtyard and demanded the release of the prisoners which he said were locked in the building. The steward said he knew of no prisoners and the man in black pointed to the house where the rats were imprisoned and said he would rid him of them at once demanding to have the door unlocked. This was done and the man rode away with all the rats at his heels.


New Business in Church Street

Across the road from the former home of the man who gave us The Gift Of Ink another kind of ink business is opening shortly. We’ll soon have all the body art we can buy.

A Tattoo Parlour, I’m reliably informed.


Beautiful Kerry, Have a Book on Us, A Leprechaunand Some St. Vincent de Paul Volunteers

Photo: Martin Moore


Good Idea

If you felt like a read of something while on your visit to Ballybunion, here was your problem solved. This table of free books catered for a wide variety of tastes.


A Tall Tale from Clandouglas National School in The Schools’ Folklore Collection

Once upon a time there lived in the Parish of Ballygologue Listowel a man named Paddy Muldoon. Paddy was a bit of a ne’er do well, never settling down to any steady job but like McCawber always hoping for something to turn up. In that same district lived an old man named Johnny Sullivan. Johnny was great at telling yarns about ghosts, fairies, leprechauns, Headless Coaches, and so forth. Now Paddy having plenty of time because he did little work often visited old Johnny to hear his tales. But of all the stories the one he liked best was that about Leprechauns because that crock of gold would be no black eye to Paddy. However although he dreamed of crocks of gold, in his sober senses he gave the matter little thought. Paddy generally took a short cut to old Johnny’s abode. This path usual in country places skirted a Fort and on through a bog. One fine day in the summer time Paddy was sauntering along whistling gaily, when on raising his eyes what did he see right in front of him beside the Fort, but a wee little man seated on a stool hammering away at his shoe. A Leprechaun, thought Paddy, as he darted forward + seized the Leprechaun and shouted “I have you at last, where is the crock”. You have me all right, said the Leprechaun, but give us a chance, don’t shake the life out of me, and I will show you. The crock is in the bog beyond but the ground is very soft and you must tie your shoes very well. Look, one of your shoes is nearly off. Ah you old cock, said Paddy, that won’t do. You know old Johnny told Paddy that he should never take his eyes off the Leprechaun, for if he did the Leprechaun would vanish. Just at that moment another man Joe Cassidy came along the path, and when he saw Paddy holding the Leprechaun began to congratulate him on his good fortune. Both of them became so excited, that Paddy for a moment, took his eyes off the Leprechaun, who instantly vanished leaving Paddy standing there to mourn the loss of his crock of gold.

COLLECTOR Maureen Mc Elligott

NFORMANT Mr John O’ Halloran


Magnificent trees on Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


In Ballybunion


Return of the St. Vincent de Paul shop

My friends in Listowel St. Vincent de Paul shop are back in action and would welcome donations.

The shop is located on Upper William Street.

It is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 to 5

Some of the helpful volunteers who run the shop are Mary, Bina, Hannah, Nancy and Katsy. I love to drop in to them. They are always helpful and friendly.

You’d never know what treasure you might find there.


Kanturk, A Champion Frog and A Plea from Ard Chúram

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


An Accident in Kanturk

This is the ancient inscription on the Bridge over the River Dallow in my native Kanturk. My Latin is very rusty but as far as I can make out the bridge was erected by the worthies of North Cork in the 18th century. Clearly it was never intended for today’s heavy traffic.

On Friday, May 14 2021, a lorry carrying a load of pouring concrete, broke through the parapet and ended up in the river. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. The County Council and emergency services had restored the road to a functional condition when I visited on the Saturday after the excitement.


A Cairn in Lixnaw

(From The Schools’ Folklore Collection)

In Gurthenare also in the farm of Mr. Quilter there are still to be seen the remains of a monastery called Kilcara, built by St. Carthage. One of the monks (Franciscans) belonging to that monastery was murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers and tradition has it that he was buried in “Mickey’s Field” in the farm of Wm. Dowling of Kiltomey bounding Gurthenare and Kilcara. A pile of stones was raised over the grave and up to forty years ago everyone, old and young, threw a stone on the pile when passing so strong was the tradition then. Three people, two of whom are still living heard stones rattling there late one night as they were going home from a friend’s house. The noise was such as would be made when emptying a load of stones out of a car.

Told by Michael O’Connell, aged 65


Ard Churam Needs Your Help


Guhard Man and Frog

David Kissane has penned a lovely essay about a living legendary Guhard man, Mossie Walsh and his exploits. He posted the essay on Facebook. Here is an extract.

…But Mossie became nationally famous as a coach also. He coached a frog to European championship glory in 1970. Where did this happen? Well, it happened in Listowel where anything creative can happen! At the Listowel Harvest Festival of that year, Noel Driscoll from Milltown Malbay in Clare brought a European champion jumping frog to challenge all-comers. Just picture this. Market Street in Listowel during race week. Around 9pm on the second night of the Festival and the street thronged with men, women and children. The ancient autumnal celebratory atmosphere and the smell of chips, crubeens and porter (lots of porter) circulating. Music and steam rising from the amusements in the marketplace nearby and that “heaven-is-here” feeling in the hearts of all. A big Kerryness all round. A big stage and a throaty announcement “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we invite all comers to challenge the European champion frog jumper…Who can produce a frog that will jump higher or longer than this fabulous creature from Clare?” and the announcer pointed to the green gungy throbbing muscular amphibian proudly sitting in the arms of Noel Driscoll from the Banner. Big cheeeeeeeer!

Mossie was among the crowd and watched five or six people appear with various sizes of frogs. Five or six shades of green. Some with wide froggy eyes and wondering what all the excitement was about. As the excitement grew, a friend came up to Mossie with a box and said shyly “Mossie, I have a good frog here but I have a sore leg and can’t climb up and I was wondering if you would go on stage and let him jump in the challenge?”Mossie looked at the frog. The frog looked at Mossie. Mossie saw the potential in his geáits. He was tidy and dark green in colour. The frog looked at Mossie and smelled the porter from him. His aura was good.

Man and frog went up onstage, the new coach giving the frog a short rub on the way and a whisper in his ear. Up lined seven frogs. European title at stake. Nobody queried the facts or figures or records of the Clare jumper. The procedure was that the frogs were put on a line drawn on a sheet of plywood. The coaches stamped the board behind the frogs and the frogs jumped. One, two, three. Stamp. Huge roars from the crowd and frogs jump. Which they did. Except the European champion from Clare. His frogginess departed him in the Listowel headiness. Stage fright. The more his coach stamped, the less he jumped. Wild cheers as Mossie’s adopted frog leaped like Bob Beamon to the winning line. The Ballydonoghue Hare had coached a winning frog! Listowel went wild. Mossie had the winning touch. The stamp of a winning coach.

A bit of commotion as the frog jumped off the stage and hid under a woman’s skirt and a do-gooder got a left uppercut from the same woman as he tried to retrieve the frog! “What’s the new champion’s name?” John B Keane asked from the centre of the crowd?”“Guhard Man!” Mossie answered with the confidence of a Dubbie Holt, as he was presented with a prize by the winner of “The Darling Girl from Clare”.

And further glory was to follow. One evening a few weeks later, a posh car drove in to Mossie’s yard. Out came a posh-looking man. “My name is Oliver Donohoe from RTE” he said. “We would like your European champion frog to jump on the Late Late Show on Saturday night!”


Pitch and Putt, The Old Court and a request for Help

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course in May 2021


Spine Chilling Tale from Clandouglas School

From School’s Folklore Collection

When the Fitzmaurices were Earls of Lixnaw and in their hey-day, some of them were very cruel. One time it happened that a poor widow woman lived in the vicinity. She had one son whom she sent picking “brosna” firewood in a field called the “Big Orchard” belonging to the Court. The Earl came out and found the boy gathering the sticks. There and then he ordered the servants to hang him from the nearest tree, and they did. When the poor mother heard it she came and stood in front of the Chapel in the Court and cursed the Earl and wished that before long the Rooks and Jackdaws would build their nests in the Court of the Fitzmaurices.
It is said that from that time on a decline came.

Whenever the Earls expected an attack or invasion in Elizabethan and Cromwellian times they hid their gold and treasure in the bottom of Casks which they then filled up with tallow. The Casks were then passed over as unimportant and when quietness reigned again the Earls knew where to find their treasures.

Told by Mr. Michael O’Connell aged 65


Returning to Normal

I was delighted to meet my old friend, Peter McGrath in the Park last week


1921 in Listowel to be the Subject of a radio Documentary

I received this email seeking our help from John Murphy of BBC Radio.

Good morning,

My name’s John Murphy. I make radio documentary programmes for the BBC (usually BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service). I will be working on a project with Fergal Keane sometime later this summer. It’s focused on events in 1921 in and around Listowel (where Fergal’s family comes from), including the killing of James Kane in June 1921, by the IRA.

I am keen to track down any of his relatives or descendants. Might you have any suggestions of anyone who might be able to help me with that?

Many thanks,


John Murphy

BBC Radio Current Affairs

New Broadcasting House

Portland Place

London W1A 1AA

M +44 7740 818 135


Believe it or Not

Dolphins can stay awake for 15 hours at a time

(From 1339 Facts to Make your Jaw Drop)

Tralee Town Park in May 2021 and Handball Memories Sought

Photo credit; Bridget O’Connor


In Childers’ Park

Out and about with pets in Listowel Town Park


Schools’ Folklore, Clandouglas School

This story was told to the writer by William McElligott, a farmer of 65 years of age from Glenoe between Listowel and Tralee. He was bred and born there and still lives there. He told me that Gleann na Léime was so called from Finn Mac Cumhail who used to hunt in that district with his Fianna. It is said he jumped from one side of the glen to the other a distance of 500 feet and that he attempted to jump it back again but failed. He fell in the rocks between the two hills. His footprints are still to be seen six inches deep in the solid rock. He then threw a stone 2 tons in weight, and it alighted in a meadow 3/4 miles away in a field in Mr. McElligott’s farm. That meadow is still called Rockfield. The stone stands there still, five feet under and five feet over the ground.

There is another field in Mr. McElligott’s farm called “Andy’s meadow” . He always heard the tradition that in the time of the “White Boys” they used to practise drilling there. It is believed that guns were hidden there.

The same man, Mr. Wm. McElligott, Glenoe told me the following story which was told him by his father who died years ago.
One night he, the father, got out of bed to look at a field of corn as he was afraid the cows would break in to it. He found one heifer in the corn, and he set the dog on her. The dog drove the heifer out of the cornfield + followed her a circuitous route to the house, the man himself coming across the fields in the direction of the house too. When crossing one field he heard the galloping of horses and cracking of whips and he had to run to get out of the way of a number of horsemen. When he reached the fence he looked again and saw them steering their course for the wild bog and they were soon out of sight.
When the man reached the house, he found both dog and heifer in the yard. He tied the heifer in the stall and went to bed. In a short time after the heifer appeared outside the window of the room, bellowing. He remained in bed until morning, when he got out and dressed.

He went to the stall to see if the heifer was there. There she was tied, as he had left her earlier in the night.
COLLECTOR Margaret Shanahan

INFORMANT Mr William Mc Elligott


Changes in Town

Grape and Grain, Church Street
Number 18 Church Street


Remembering the Handball Alleys

I have been contacted by Caoimhe about this exciting new project. Below is her call out to everyone with any memories of Listowel Handball Alley. Maybe you have played there, courted there, took part in a decorating project there…any memory at all, Caoimhe wants to hear from you. She will be in town in the next few weeks. If you’d like to talk to her to share a memory drop me a line at


Do you have a handball alley tale to tell? 

Airy, natural, honest, unadorned – handball alleys are magical spaces full of stories – we’re creating a collection & would love to hear YOURS.  Get involved by contacting Caoimhe at with memories of your handball alley. We are welcoming stories in written form via email, but Caoimhe will also be visiting Listowel in the coming weeks so if you would like to tell your tale and have it recorded or transcribed – just let us know!

Find out more at or email for further details.

IN THE MAGIC HOUR is presented as part of Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh, a nationwide, ten day season of arts experiences brought to you by Arts Council Ireland. To see the full Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh programme, visit


Believe It or Not

The man who sent the world’s first email in 1971 can’t remember what it said.

(Source; 1339 Facts to make your Jaw Drop)

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