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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: Irish Water

Phoneboxes, McKenna’s/ Walsh’s Corner and Replacing the Water Pipes in 2020

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Phoneboxes

 I read recently that  they are going to remove all public phoneboxes from our streets. With them will go a link to my childhood and the  childhoods of many of us who grew up in Ireland in the 1950s and 60’s.

We had no phone at home. Back then if you wanted to be connected to the telephone network, you had to pay for the poles that had to be purchased to bring the line to your house.  That cost was beyond our means.

When we did eventually get a phone it was because the neighbours banded together to split the cost of the line.

In the meantime, I was familiar with the workings of the public phone. There were lots of public phones available, on streets, in public houses, and often in private house where the neighbours could come to make a call.

You came armed with a supply of coins. To contact the telephonist you merely lifted the receiver and waited. When she answered you told her the number you wanted to ring. She did all the work and rang you back when she had the other party on the line. It was all very slow, uncertain and labour intensive.  Happy days!

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 McKenna’s Corner

It started with this. I posted it on Facebook last week and memories came thick and fast to some of our readers. Apparently it used to be known as Walsh’s Corner. That was back in the day when payment for goods was by cash and capsule and pulley system sent the payment to the shop’s office. If you have never seen this system in action, you’ve missed a treat. I remember the system well for they had it Cronin’s Stores in Kanturk as well as some of the big department stores in Cork.

Sales assistants didn’t deal with the money end of the business. There were no cards, Revolute or Google Pay or any of that caper. Cash was king. When you bought your goods, the sales assistant wrote out a docket with a description of what you had bought and he enclosed this with the cash you gave him in a little wooden cup. He screwed the cup into a holder on a wire. He pulled a pulley and the cup whizzed across the store to the office which was on a raised dais and visible to all. The cashier took the docket and cash,  wrote up the sale and returned the receipt for your payment and your change in the cup.

Talk of Walsh’s Corner spurred me on to ask Vincent Carmody, our local historian to tell us something about Listowel’s Corners. I’ll bring you that tomorrow.

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Water, Water Everywhere


This will no longer be the cry when our pipe system is replaced. The huge job of replacing all the town’s pipes is underway now. No more burst water mains

for us.

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All Gone

I found a memory key of stuff from 2015. In December of that year these lovely shops were flourishing in Church Street.


Burst Water Main May 2020, Salted Bacon, and Pullitzer Prize for Son of Writers’ Week Chairman

 Pastures Green

Cows grazing peacefully at Coolageela, Kanturk photographed by farmer, Michael O’Sullivan

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Burst Water Main


I was on my permitted exercise last week when I spotted  more going on than usual these days outside Carroll’s Hardware.

The gardaí were directing traffic and Irish water was repairing the fault.



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Rationing in 1942


Bless them all, bless them all, 

The long and the short and the tall,

God bless De Valera and Seán MacAntee

They gave us the black bread and half ounce of tea….

During the war certain commodities were rationed. This is why  these two in the photo, who have just killed and salted two pigs put this sign on their barrel for the photo.

Spelling not a strong point with Jack Brosnan and his first cousin. Dan O’Callaghan, both first cousins of my mother’s

The sign , in case you can’t read it, says, No Tay, Plenty Mate.

I grew up in an Ireland where killing and salting a pig was part of how we lived. It was all done as humanely as possible. We, children were never allowed to see.

I found the following pictures on the internet. Some people may prefer not to look at them.

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A Pulitzer Prize winner with a Listowel Connection




Photo from Limerick Leader

Malachy Browne who was recently awarded the Pullitzer Prize for journalism is the son of David Browne, chair of the Board of Directors of Listowel Writers’ Week.

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A Covid Poem from John McGrath




Covid Sonnet

The world has pinned us with a warning glance,

the kind our mothers gave us long ago,

the look that was designed to let us know

that this might be our last and final chance.

So grounded, we can only hope and pray 

as, day by day, we inch beyond the fear

and tiptoe towards a future far from clear

our wounded planet showing us the way,

that voices raised in ignorance and greed

may yet be drowned by kindnesses and care,

together we can rise above despair,

united we will find the strength we need

as, all for one, we reach beyond the pain

and dare to dream tomorrow once again.

John McGrath  May 2020

Celtic Crosses and Racecourse Tipsters and Our Little Water problem

Photo; Chris Grayson

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The Celtic Cross

The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries, from the 9th through the 12th centuries.

A staple of Insular art, the Celtic cross is essentially a Latin cross with a nimbus surrounding the intersection of the arms and stem. Scholars have debated its exact origins, but it is related to earlier crosses featuring rings. The form gained new popularity during the Celtic Revival of the 19th century; the name “Celtic cross” is a convention dating from that time. The shape, usually decorated with interlace and other motifs from Insular art, became popular for funerary monuments and other uses, and has remained so, spreading well beyond Ireland.  (Wikipedia)

Some of the many celtic crosses in St. Michael’s Graveyard, Listowel

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The old Presentation Primary School is demolished



Photo by Denis Carroll: July 19 1991

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Racecourse Tipsters  by John B. Keane



(continued from yesterday)


Racecourse tipping
calls for little or no skill. A peaked cap and a well-worn raincoat is the
usual attire and while a pinched face is an asset, it is not an absolute
necessity. An air of confidentiality also helps. The first practicing tipster I
knew managed to give the impression that he singled out only certain people for
his favours. Before making a sale, he would first look about to make sure that
nobody would know what was happening., thereby convincing the customer that if
too many people knew the identity of the horse the odds would not be
worthwhile. He might also hint that he was a dropout from a racing stable and
was possessed, as a result, of inside information. Throwaways like, “He was
nobbled last time out,” or “He likes it yielding,” or “He’s off today,” never
fail to impress prospective customers.

Now let us look at
the trade’s accouterments. These are simple and few, I am happy to report.
First, one must be able to read and write. Secondly, a large stock of notepaper
and envelopes is essential.

Now let us suppose
that there are nine horses in the first race. Let the tipster write the name of
each horse on a single sheet of notepaper and indicate whether it should be
backed for win, place or each way. Obviously hot favourites should be backed
only for a win. Outsiders should, of course be backed for places or each way.
Place each sheet of notepaper in its own envelope and seal the envelope. Place
the nine sealed envelopes in a larger envelope and indicate clearly that it
contains the entrants for the first race. Follow the same procedure for the
remaining races. Tips should be sold for roughly a pound apiece.

When all are not
sold, the unsold envelopes should be given away for nothing as it is absolutely
vital that all the envelopes be distributed. This guarantees a winner and three
placed horses in every race, which has sufficient runners for place betting.
Let us presume there is place betting on six races on the card. This means that
you will have tipped six winners and twelve placed horses. It also means that
there will be a substantial number of satisfied customers.

During the races
the tipster might repair to a bar and partake of a few bottles of stout and a
ham sandwich. He should always vacate the bar before the last race and place
himself in a conspicuous position near the main exit. There are certain risks
involved. A punter who may have plumped on a loser recommended by the tipster
may well seek physical redress. There is also bound to be heaps of abuse as
naturally he will have tipped far more losers than winners but these are
hazards of the trade and who wants a trade without hazards.

On the credit
side, there is also a good chance that those who have backed winners will not
be unmindful of the man who provided them. Those who back winners celebrate as
a rule with intoxicating liquor and it is widely held that intoxication breeds
generosity.

Racecourse tipping
is open to both sexes. In fact it is a calling at which a presentable female
might excel more than her male counterpart.

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New 2 You




This new second hand shop has opened for business in Market Street. They have everything  from large items of furniture to children’s toys. They have an association with Neurofibromatosis Ireland.

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Water Crisis brings out the Best in us



On Sunday last Sept 3 2017, we had a small water crisis when a pump broke down at the Listowel reservoir. Irish Water and the County Council were on it like a shot. The disruption to supply was kept to a minimum and by Monday we had tons of free bottled water available as well as the water from the tanks that had arrived on Sunday. Everyone helped vulnerable neighbours and hospitals and schools were kept supplied.

Listowel Town Square Monday September 4 2017

In the carpark opposite Listowel District Council offices

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Just a Thought



Last week I had the task of delivering you a thought for the day on Radio Kerry.

In case you missed me and would like to listen while the thoughts are still available online, here is the link

Just a Thought by Mary Cogan

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