Listowel Connection

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

Some Old Things

Daffodils on Market Street in February 2024


Muskerry Local History Society meeting in February 2024

This artefact was brought by an American Irish man, Michael Loehr. It is a prison ring. It was made from a nail by his ancestor, a republican prisoner. Prison jewellery and ornaments are prized within families. This ring was taken to the US and now brought back home by a descendant.

Another republican artefact was brought by Bert Ahern. This flag draped the coffin of his ancestor. The name and details were embroidered on to the flag after his burial by 2 neighbours of Jeremiah. The flag is kept in the family and is put on coffins of Ahern descendants to this day. This was in keeping with a request by a sister of the dead man. She was anxious that he would never be forgotten and his senseless death at the hands of men who had fought by his side a few short years earlier would not be in vain.

Early Days of the Folk Group

You hear them at mass on Saturday evenings. Well, this is where it started. Matt Mooney (fourth from left in the back row) sent us this treasure.

Research is underway on putting names to faces. Check back here soon. I hope to have all the names.

New Kerry Logo

We’ll be seeing more of this

Looking Forward to This

Fake News

My Eurovision “fact” was not, in fact, true. Sweden has also won seven Eurovision competitions. Wikipedia needs to update its facts and I need to fact check better,

A kind blog follower gently corrected my misinformation. Thank you.

Photo; Irish Mirror

If Bambi wins we’ll regain our record.

A Fact

Every tweet the American people send is archived in The Library of Congress.


Geldof, a Bishop and a Butterfly

Doran’s Corner and Courthouse Road in February 2024

Live Aid, The Musical

I hadn’t thought about Live Aid for years until I mentioned it last week in the context of the old Pres. yearbook. And then, just like that, mention of it is everywhere.

Bob Geldof and his wife were among a slew of celebrities at the press night for a new musical based on the story of Live Aid.

Geldof, 72, who was lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, appeared alongside his wife Jeanne Marine at the Old Vic, which is where the production is being staged.  Just For One Day tells the story of the Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia on July 13th, 1985, which were organised by Geldof and fellow musician Midge Ure to raise money for the Ethiopian famine. The plot of the production, which takes its name from a line in David Bowie’s song Heroes, combines a behind-the-scenes look at how Band Aid and Live Aid came together with a love story inspired by real events.  The stage adaption of Just For One Day, written by British author John O’Farrell, premiered on January 26th and will run until March 30th.

It is directed by Luke Sheppard and features music by Bob Dylan, The Who, U2, The Police, The Pretenders, The Cars, Status Quo, Bryan Adams and Diana Ross.

(Source: Facebook)

Back Then…..

Way back then…

Thanks to Ger Greaney for the memory.

For the young people who never heard of this malarkey, I’ll explain.

It was Valentine’s day 56 years ago. The programme was The Late Late show. Gay Byrne had a married couple from the audience to play a “game” where the husband is asked questions about their honeymoon and then the wife is asked the same questions.

This account is from The Journal…

During the game, played with audience participation, a man was asked what colour nightie his wife wore on their wedding night. He replied that it was ‘transparent’, eliciting huge guffaws from the audience.

When asked the same question, his wife answered that she could not remember and that maybe she had worn none at all, a response which was to cause huge controversy.

Until the arrival of The Late Late Show, matters of such personal intimacy were virtually unheard of as topics of public discourse. Furthermore, the fact that the comment by Mr Fox on his wife’s ‘transparent’ nightie caused no public outrage manifests the gendered nature of Irish culture of the time.

In 1960s Ireland it was not entirely condemnable for a man to make comments, albeit unintentionally, of a sexual nature. Mrs Fox’s comments, however, were deemed unacceptable utterances from a woman, moreover a woman who on first encounter had appeared wholesome and content.

Fast forward to 2024 and we have Love Island.

A Poem

An Artefact

At the last meeting of Muskerry Local History Society we were treated to an interesting talk by Liam Hayes on Lighting without Electricity.

Liam took us from the candle, once only a source of light, now a romantic accessory or refuge in a power cut.

Before electricity there were three powers, divine power, horse power and candle power. All of that changed in 1946 when rural electrification came to the countryside. It was 1958 before it came to Clonmult where Liam lived. The ESB brought the power to the gate and the householder had to have it installed in the house at a cost per light switch and per plug socket. Most people took one switch and one socket.

We had tilly lamps for the house and storm lanterns for the yard.

Top right is a carbide lamp from 1900 and bottom right is a bicycle lamp.

A Fact

The Tailteann Games date back to the Bronze Age. The Tailteann Games were held to honour a goddess from the country’s pagan days. They were named for the Goddess Tailtiu, who was the daughter of the King of Spain who later married the High King of Ireland.


Hurling, Plumbing and Turf cutting

Church Street in Feb. 2024

A Star with a Camán

Pic. and text from Hurling Banter on Facebook

What a AMAZING performance by former Kerry and Ballyduff hurler Jack Goulding who scored 3-11 as London Beat Wicklow by 3-20 to 1-20 in Division 2b. Goulding a Real DASHING and a massive loss to The Kingdom -BE

Historical Artefacts

On my night at Muskerry Local History lecture I heard from Mary Oleary.

Her artefact was a certificate of indenture. Mary’s ancestor was apprenticed to a plumber at age 15 in 1891.

This apprenticeship sounded a bit like slavery to me. The master owned the poor lad body and soul. He was not allowed to frequent public houses or any entertainment. He couldn’t swear or court a young lady. He was to dress respectably at all times. He got no money until his third year and then it was only four shillings. The apprenticeship lasted 7 years. Mary’s ancestor survived the period of his indenture and went on to eventually set up his own gas and plumbing business.

Jerry Twomey from Kilgarven told us about his own experience of hand cutting turf using tools and skills handed down through his family.

Turf cutting usually began on or around St. Patrick’s Day. The first job was to soak the handles of the sleáns and pikes. After the winter the wooden handles would be dried out and loose. Soaking them swells the wood and means they are easier to use.

The top scraw was cut off with a hay knife. This was cut horizontally. It was a hard job and in Jerry’s family it was always done by his dad. V trenches were dug for drainage and then the work of turf cutting began. His dad also cut the first sod as this one was fibrous and needed a strong man to cut through it. The pike man stood in the trench and threw the sods to the spreaders. Children were often given the job of spreading the sods as they could carry the sods one by one away from the bank. The second sod was not quite so fibrous, so a less able man could be put on the sleán.

The best black turf was at the bottom.

Turf cutting is an age old tradition that connects us to our forefathers.

Listowel Lady on Today

Beautiful, talented broadcaster, Elaine Kinsella joined Dáithí on the orange couch to present the Today programme for two days last week.

She did a great job, relaxed and engaged…a natural.

Hayfield Manor

A little bit of heaven in Cork

Just a Thought

Reflections I gave last week on Radio Kerry

Just a Thought

A Fact

Bambi Thug has been chosen to represent Ireland in the 2024 Eurovision contest.

Ireland has won the European talent show no fewer than seven times (in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996). That’s more than any other country that has ever entered the competition!


Tales Old and New, Far and Near

Friday in The Square in February 2024

A Poem

Memories of Childhood.

We had neighbours one time,
That lived under the hill.
In my prayers I remember, 
And think of them still.
And sometimes I think, it was just yesterday. 
But it fact it is really, 
A lifetime away. 

Two brothers, two sisters, 
A dog and a cat, 
There was Katherine and Celia,
And Tomas and Pat.
All single, unmarried, 
Their name is long gone. 
And its sad there was no one, 
To carry it on. 

The sisters kept house, 
It was neat as a pin. 
And a welcome was there,
For whoever went in. 
The brothers they worked, 
On the farm every day. 
And at nightime together, 
They knelt down to pray.
While auld Ringo the dog,
By the fire lay quiet. 
Where himself and the cat, 
Settled in for the night.

Now Pat could play music, 
And Tomas could sing.
At parties in old times
Great joy they did bring.
Celia sang also, and Kate
In her chair, 
Read stories for children, 
From Kitty the Hare.

Old customs, old fashioned, 
Indeed this was true.
And the ways of today’s world,
These folk never knew.
No modern components, back then
In the day,
Their work was all done in the old fashioned way.
And I can remember when nightime would fall,
Their light it then came, from a lamp
On the wall.

With the turf from the bog on an
open hearth fire,
All the cooking was done, that your
heart would desire. 
And a fine soda cake, it was baked as a rule,
And left on the window sill, outside to cool.

To see this house now, it would make
Your heart sore,
For the weeds and the briars grow up
through the floor.
No windows or doors, and the roof has
Caved in,
Never more to be lived in, in this life again. 
A fine happy home, one time back in the day.
Taken over by time, as the years passed away.

God be good to them now, 
There all gone to their rest, 
To the place that the good lord
Reserves for the best.
But my memories of childhood, sometimes 
let me see,
The old ways of life, that one time used to be.
And sometimes I think back, 
And remember them still, 
Our auld neighbours one time, 
That lived under the hill. 

Martin O’Hara   © 12/9/2022

Elizabeth Stack and Mary O’Rourke

News from New York

“On Saturday , at a reading of JB Keane’s hilarious and sometimes poignant  Letters of a Matchmaker, are  Elizabeth Stack PhD  William street Listowel ,  and Mary ORourke  R.N.C  of  Church Street Listowel at the Irish Historical Society NY.

Elizabeth is the new appointed Executive director of the IHS and hosted a wonderful gathering.”

Interesting Artefacts

While visiting family in Ballincollig I attended a great night tripping down memory lane. Ten members of the society each brought an artefact and they got 5 minutes each to tell us about the item they brought.

A good crowd gathered for the meeting, mostly people of my own vintage but I did meet Niamh who had just done her Pre Junior Cert.

First up was Rod McConnell. Even though he is Scottish his family artefact was from Northern Ireland. It was a Repeal card. It dates back to Daniel O’Connell and the move to repeal the Act of Union in 1831.

Rod’s great great grandfather, James Gallagher, worked in a mill owned by the Leslie family. He said they were the same Leslies as the Ballincollig Leslies who lived in Wilton in an estate later owned by the SMA and now Wilton Shopping Centre. I wonder if they are the same Leslies as the Tarbert family of the same name.

Rod’s card had a map of Ireland on one side and some facts about Ireland on the other side.

Ireland had a population of 8.5 million people. It now has about 5.1 million so I don’t think we are “full” .

Ireland had 2.5 million acres of bog according to this 1844 artefact.

A Marian Grotto

Marian grottos are dotted all over the countryside in Ireland. This one is in the carpark of the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

A Fact

The population of Ireland is around 5 million. There are 80 million people around the world with Irish passports or Irish roots.


A Successful Emigrant and A Memory of a Success

The Square , February 2024

Elizabeth Stack, Listowel and the U.S.

Story from Kerry’s Eye, Joe OMuircheartaigh

Basketball in Pres. In 1986

Firstly I must explain why I keep posting the cover of the yearbook every time I post an extract from it.

Many people come to Listowel Connection through a search engine, some months or years after the post they land on was uploaded so, for them, I treat every post as if it was one off.

Unity Stone in Kanturk

Things to look forward to

I photographed these from The Advertiser

A Fact

The official name of Ireland is Republic of Ireland and the official name as Gaeilge is Éire.


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