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: Ballybunion Page 1 of 22

Emigrants and Descendants of Emigrants

Bill Clinton statue in Ballybunion, May 2024.

A Returned Emigrant and friends

Many of Nora Griffin’s classmates are scattered around the globe. She probably meets more of them in New York, where she lives, than in Listowel, when she returns home. But she took the opportunity on this visit to have meal out with her lovely, mom, Mary, and her old school friends, Siobhán Brassil and Linda Grimes.

Nora caught up with Sheila Scanlon as well.

North Kerry Themed Schools’ Show

The curtain call for a the talented young people who entertained us on Monday. I was at the first of their two shows. It was an honour to be part of this project.

Below are some of the visual art works created during the project. We saw paintings, drawings, pottery and sculpture.

A Man with a Listowel Connection

Tim McCrohan send us this email from Florida;

Hello Mary, 

I came across your website, while I was searching for some history of my grandfather, James J. McCrohan Sr., whose family grew up in Listowel.  

My wife and I visited there in June 1983.  For a bit of history, my father, James J. McCrohan, Jr was an only child (born in Syracuse, NY) after his father emigrated to the US sometime in the late 1800s.  My grandfather came from a family of 8 children (who lived in Listowel), one of which was Timothy F. McCrohan ( who I am named after).  

I wanted to share a story with you about Dr. John Walsh. For some history, we know that my uncle (Timothy McCrohan) was cared for Dr. Walsh during his last year of life.  He was cared for at a nursing home back in 1955, which was called the Kennedy Private Nursing Home, I believe. When he died in 1955, my father sent some money for his burial. With that information, we set out to visit Listowel for the day, (while on a tour of Ireland for our honeymoon in June, 1983). 

Upon arriving in Listowel via bus, we searched for and found Dr. Walsh’s office. We knocked on the door and when I introduced myself as ‘Timothy McCrohan”, his jaw dropped as if he’d seen a ghost.  He immediately told me he knew my Uncle well and explained how he had cared for him during the last year of his life. The sweet man then closed his practice and insisted upon taking us around Listowel to share where our family lived and then to where my uncle was buried. He shared with us a story about when his own time was to to come, he wanted to be buried on a hill under a tree in the same cemetery.  Not sure if this ever happened, but I wanted to tell you that we were so comforted and appreciative that he took the time to share with us the history of our family who grew up in Listowel.  Every time we talk about our Ireland adventure to people, we always focus on how nice the people there are/were, and especially we relay the story of Dr. Walsh who closed his practice the day we visited there.  We hope that he ultimately received his wish to be buried in the place he discussed, because he was certainly a gentleman. Here is a picture from June 1983, we have of him. 

Thanks for sharing your website with us

Tim and Karen McCrohan

Jacksonville, Florida

I forwarded the email and the photo to Eleanor, Dr. Johnny Walsh’s daughter and she shared it with the family and she wrote back to Tim.

Here is Eleanor’s reply;


Thank you so much. Brought tears to my eyes! Dad’s nursing home was called ‘Greenlawn’. He didn’t sell it until 1961 when it became the Kennedy. I used to go with Dad as a child and it had this extraordinary Nissan hut  out the back where there were patients! 

I will email Tim McCrohan 

Your blog is amazing at keeping people in touch, keep up the good work! 

Eleanor x

( more on this story next week)

A Fact

Denmark’s current flag design was first used in 1219. No other modern country has used the same flag design for so long.


Ballybunion, Listowel and Kanturk

Ballybunion in early summer 2024

A Friday Laugh

In Kanturk

This premises in Kanturk is now the home of Yumm café but when I was growing up it was the home of Sarah and John O’Connor. This couple were the salt of the earth, Sarah, in particular, was involved in everything in town. She was in the Legion of Mary, Comhaltas, every play and show in the Edel Quinn Hall, the youth club, the bible study group and more.

Importantly, in the days before internet, emails and Zoom, Sarah typed up a twice yearly newsletter that was eagerly anticipated and much appreciated by Kanturk people who lived far from home. England was far in the days before cheap air travel. Sarah gathered all the news of births, marriages and deaths and anything else of interest . She was journalist, typist and post woman.

Whenever I met Sarah away from Kanturk she was always good for the “stand”, a selfless generous saint of a woman. May she rest in peace.

By the way the 1900 over the building signifies that it was a national school, the first in Kanturk.

From 2007

The Farmers Market was busy on Fridays in 2007

Dillon Boyer R.I.P, Pat and the late Mrs Walsh met up with Junior Griffin.

Nettle Soup

Yesterday I told you that it is recommended we eat nettle soup twice a day in May. Yesterday too I met up with my friend, Liz Dunn, and she had a story for us about nettle soup.

Liz and Jim watch Clarkson’s Farm. This TV programme which they watch on Amazon Prime follows Jeremy Clarkson’s adventures on his farm.

One of the workers on Jeremy’s farm is Lucca Allen, son of Rachel Allen. Lucca, one day, made nettle soup for Jeremy and it is now a staple on the menu on Clarkson’s Farm.

A Fact

The San people of southern Africa use a set of tools that dates back 44,000 years.


In Ballybunion

One of the lovely welcoming park benches in Childers Park Listowel

Church of St. John, Ballybunion

St. John’s in Ballybunion is one of the most magnificent churches in the Kerry Diocese.

Mary Young, whose seated statue is placed facing the church was one of the main benefactors.

Mary has left us all a spectacular legacy.

This beautiful window is above the main altar.

Water Safety

I don’;t fully understand it either, but it sounds nice.

Nettle Soup

Pic and text from

Here is something that many of you will have heard already – eating nettles in May. My grandmother would always have one feed of them cooked up with the bacon and cabbage. I’ve heard others who say that you were meant to have three feeds of them. Good for the blood apparently – full of iron. I make nettle soup with them and you’d never know they were in it once mixed with other vegetables. 

Text: Michael Fortune

A Fact

Nelson Mandele’s name at birth wasRolihlahla which means troublemaker.



Just like that they’re 18.

Was it not yesterday my boyeens were on their Kerry holidays, making memories with their Nana.

Making pancakes in Kerry on a bygone Shrove Tuesday

Sean and Killian on a trip to Kennedy’s Pat Farm, always a highlight of holidays in Kerry.

Tempus Fugit!

Tomorrow is St. Brigit’s Day

Photo: Moss Joe Browne…St. Brigid’s well in Knapogue Ballyduff.

According to Ballyduff Past and Present on Facebook, this well is known as Tobar a Leighis and is the only holy well in Kerry dedicated to St. Brigid. The saint visited there when she was in Kerry. The water from this well is thought to heal the mind as well as the body.

St. Brigid’s window in St. John’s Tralee

St. Brigid window in Ballybunion

O’Connell’s Avenue Neighbours

Facebook threw up this memory, a Maria Sham photograph of her old neighbours which she shared with us in 2016.

A False “Fact”…Sorry!

Image source; Barn owl from Wikipedia

When a retired eye surgeon tells me that my fact about owl’s eyes is incorrect, I have to sit up and pay attention.

Firstly let me tell you where I sourced the fact. I heard it on Countdown. It wasn’t from Susie Dent who is often the source of word related facts but from Colin Murray who was celebrating some kind of Things you never Knew day. I actually thought it was a bit strange so I googled it.

“You know how we (humans) have eyeballs? Well, owls don’t. They have eye tubes or cylinders, rod-shaped eyes that do not move in their sockets as eyeballs do. Instead, owls have to move their bodies or heads in order to look around.”

So I felt safe enough until I heard from a real expert. Patrick Corridan, formerly of The Square knows a thing or two about eyes. He has just retired after a long career as an eye surgeon in the UK. Here is what he says…

“Just a small point about the owl. He does have eyeballs. Quite big ones in fact but he doesn’t have the muscles around his eyes to move them like humans can. Hence the big neck rotation ability.”

In fairness I think we are all on the same page here. The owl’s eyes do not have moving eyeballs like you or me. They have what looks like an eyeball but is in fact a completely different seeing mechanism.

In fairness to Patrick, he didn’t write just to contradict my fact. He wrote a lovely complimentary comment, which is much appreciated.

Today’s Fact

A cat can make up to 100 vocal sounds. I think I heard half of them last night when some local moggies were on the prowl.

Feral cats make less sounds than domesticated ones, which suggests that pet cats have adapted their purrs, hisses, growls and meows to make their feelings clearer to us.


After the Frost

Market Street in January 2024

A Rescue Dog

Cork Cogan’s rescue dog, Reggie, out for a frosty walk in Ballincollig last week.


Young people will have no idea what these are. Mending threads were to be found in every house once upon a time. These were for mending stockings.

Mending stockings!

Deserted Playground in January

From the Archives

Kerry Sentinel Wednesday, 19 June, 1895

BALLYBUNION. Important AUCTION of Licensed/House Property. Situated at BALLYBUNION, TO BE SOLD AT THE Listowel Arms, Hotel, On TUESDAY, 25th JUNE, INST., At the hour of ONE O’Clock.

MES. ELLEN KENNELLY, Market Street, Listowel, has instructed Subscribers to put up and Sell by Public Auction us above, her Right, Title and Interest in the TWO LICENSED HOUSES, situate in the Main Street, Ballybunion, in as large and ample a manner as same is held by Lease from and under George Hewson, Esq., for a term of 999 years from the 29th of September, 1883, at the small Yearly Ground Rent of £6 15s. The frontage to the public street is 54feet, keeping the same width from front to rere for 86 feet.


The above valuable property consists of Two Large, Roomy, Licensed Houses, situate in the main street of the Town, both let to most respectable tenants, who keep the property in first-class repair and condition, and pay their rents satisfactorily. The are tenancies are yearly. Mr. Shortis  Annual Rent (payable half-yearly), .£26- 0 -0. Mr. Scanlon’s Annual Rent (pay 1st every month), … £20- 0 -0

The business situation of the premises cannot be excelled. The Tenants have most attractive houses, do a thriving business, and entertain lodgers during the Summer months, having already made good business connections, and have large interest in their holdings.

Ballybunion, as a seaside resort, is progressing rapidly. During the season the principle complaint is scarcity of Lodges, and every other year suitable buildings are rising to meet the requirements of the many who resort this well-known and appreciated health resort. The Lartigue Railway System has done wonders for its progress, in connection as it is, with the Limerick and Kerry Line at Listowel in 40 minutes.

The Houses and Premises will be put up for Auction singly.  in the first instance, each subject to half existing ground rent, £3 -7s. 6d., the vendor reserving the right to sell both in ONE LOT, should the biddings for the entire exceed those offered for the Two Lots, separately. For further particulars and conditions of sale apply to MRS. ELLEN KENNELLY, Market Street, Listowel; MESSRS. JONAS BLACKALL & SONS, Solicitors, 93, George St., Limerick; or to McELLIGOTT & SONS, Auctioneers, Listowel.

A Fact

The founders of the Mattel toy company named two dolls after their children…Barbie and Ken.


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