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

Bolton’s Cross and Ball Alley poem

In response to a query about the Boltons after whom the cross was named. Michael Lynch, County Archivist  has done a bit of searching and he has come up with the following;

“In relation to Bolton’s Cross, I had a look at Griffith’s Valuation, and found that for Skehanerin Lower, the Knight of Kerry is listed as being occupier of 4 plots of plantation land (i.e. forested land) in this area, 3 strips of which border the road leading to and from Bolton’s Cross.  The immediate lessor is given as Robert Bolton.

The Tithe Applotment Book (1830) for Listowel parish lists “Mr Bolton’s Demesne” and “Mr Bolton” as holder of the same land, along with another plot listed to 2 other men (Mulvihill and Horan).

As to who these Boltons were, it is not easy to say!  The “Kerry Evening Post” (22 May 1833) gives a marriage of Robert Ellis Bolton, youngest son of John Bolton, Prospect Lodge, Listowel, to Christiana, 3rd daughter of Mr Haycroft, Doneraile.  This couple seems to have moved to Doneraile, as subsequent records show a Robert Ellis Bolton L.A.H.D. (I don’t know what that set of initials stands for!) buried there on 23 April 1890, aged 77 years & 10 months.  Christiana was buried at Doneraile on 9 July 1886 (aged 71).

I tried for a “Prospect Lodge, Listowel” in Valerie Bary’s “Houses of Kerry”, but no joy there either.”

Thank you, Michael. That sheds some light on the matter for us. I googled L.A.H.D. and got nowhere. I wonder if any reader has any idea what those letters stand for.

The original request for information on Bolton’s Cross came from Jonah McKenna Moss. In a follow up letter he said:

“The Justice family was a large wealthy Anglo-Irish protestant family), with two branches which resided in Kerry, and Mallow area in Cork. All the various family trees agree on the point that the daughter of John Bolton and Mary Justice, Julia Bolton married one of the Mallow Justices (my ancestor), uniting the two families again. The Mallow Justices married into the Allens, Ashetons, Barret, and Holmes families as well. One branch converted to Catholicism and moved to Boston and Melbourne Australia. 

Essentially, I am trying to figure out why there is a place in Listowel called Bolton’s Crossroads, and which Boltons it was named for, since there is a high likelihood that they might have been connected to mine. “


John Fitzgerald penned this poem about a memorable joust in the old ball alley. He says

Was delighted to see the piece relating to the artwork generated on the old ball alley. Sad to have seen it neglected for so long especially since it was a great gathering ground for young and old when I was growing up..

The attached is a piece I wrote relating to the one of the many great games we were privileged to see in the 1950’s. At that time youngsters had to apprentice on the outside wall of the alley facing towards Bridge Road on a mud floor until they were good enough to mix with the masters in the alley proper.

The foursome mentioned in the poem are Junior Griffin, Tom Enright and Dermot Buckley from the Bridge Road and John Joe Kenny from Patrick Street.

Alas.only Junior survives, and, by all accounts, is still hale and hearty.”

I know the poem will bring back many happy memories for Junior and a few more who were young in Listowel in the 1950s


Standing on the dead line

I face the pockmarked wall,

it hides the bridge above me

fond memories I recall,

the side walls mark the

the concrete floor the stage,

four players take their places

the finest of their age.

The cocker’s hopped and

Junior’s feet fix solidly

he contemplates the angle

of the first trajectory.

His swinging arm begins the

the ball’s hit low and fast,

a signal to John Joe and Tom

this will be no soft match.

Dermot standing by his side

sees his neighbour win first

a simple game to twenty one

no ace is easily lost.

I watch them from the grassy

behind the dead ball line

 hear the cries of older boys

cheer each one at a time

and in the space of half an

the ball has weaved its way

through every nook and cranny

in this battlefield of play,

the long ball to the back line

the close one to the wall

the deadly butted killer

seemed to hit no wall at all

and in end the four of them

take leave just as they came

and beckon us to take our

and learn more of their game,

the game that gave such

the game I got to know.

when I was young and full of

in the Alley years ago.


I met Junior recently and I asked him who won the handball match. He told me that there were no winners or losers because as soon as you won one game you were challenged to a rematch. 

There was usually a little wager on the game. Money was scarce enough so the bet was small but once Junior was on the winning side of a 2/6 (a half crown) bet. He went double or quits until the money was astronomical, and no body had any hope of paying it.

In those days the glory of winning was everything. People did not expect medals or trophies. They were happy just to win.


Some very interesting stuff here on post war Irish in Australia.


A picture by John S. Doyle of Neil Armstrong, Saul Bellow and Robert Lowell, TCD 1976, posted on Twitter by Rosita Boland.


Military History: the killing of D.I O’Sullivan


Emigration, Luzveminda O’Sullivan and golfers


  1. JohnF

    Anne Collis was the daughter of Robert Collis and Anne McDonogh, you can find her being baptised at Tralee in February 1780.

    Robert can be found as a witness to a 1767 deed where he is referred to as an apothecary aged 30 or more. The deed refers to lands formerly leased by Thomas Collis from 1733 and his wife (both deceased) for the lives of their son William (now a doctor) and his eldest son Thomas.

    John Collis who matriculated at TCD in 1781 aged 15 was the son of an apothecary called Robert.

    Robert had a brother Thomas, his daughters were beneficiaries of Thomas' son's 1832 will.

    Going further back requires a few "probably"s. Robert's father was probably the Thomas who was probably the third son of Thomas Collis of Tawlaght and his wife Bridget Haman.

  2. Unknown

    RE Bolton and Justice families….. of Kerry
    I too am searching this line as it is my husband's family….. I am not near my resources so will need to elaborate this post…
    BUT am very excited as I can shed light on some of the questions raised….LAHD (refers to being a licensed pharmacist – approximate is Licentiate of the Apothocary's Hall, Dublin)… his middle name was COLLIS from his mother; Ann Collis of Tralee;Robert Collis is my husband's 2xgreatgrandfather.
    looking to make the connection (among others) of John Justice Bolton as being the John Bolton of Mount Gale who married Anne Collis and that they were the parents of Lucy Bolton who married Richard Silles (of Ballinvoher, Kerry) and of our Robert Collis Bolton.
    I rarely (as in "hens' teeth") use the email address listed here –
    please communicate via Marjorie Schurman

    (Bryan Belfont born Catt in London England; grandson of Kathleen Dora Bolton; gret-grandson of Robert Henry Bolton of Doneraile, Surgeon Major (buried Kandahar) & Julia Rosa Walker

    Any one here done DNA that can be compared with my Bryan's????

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