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

Category: Ballybunion Page 2 of 8

Cinema Memories

Ballybunion Photo: Simple Snaps by Sharon

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Remembering

Paul Johnson shared with us a link to the wonderful film about the cinema from a few years ago

A Window in Heaven’s Gable

“A documentary about the love affair between a town and its cinema. The town realizes how lucky it is to have a cinema, as most small towns in Ireland have lost theirs. The Classic Cinema in Listowel is one of the last of the small family-run independent cinemas on this island. It is also the story of Kieran Gleeson, the man who rescued the cinema from dereliction over thirty years ago and ran it with love until his recent passing. In defiance of the odds, his wife and two teenage children continue to keep the flame of cinema alive in the town.”

Sadly, despite their trojan efforts the cinema has had to close its doors in January 2022

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Opening an Old Page

I discovered this old magazine lately. It’s like looking into another life. Here is one of the short articles written by the girls. looks like Listowel was vibrant with industries and festivals thriving.

<<<<<<<<<<<

A Man who Plants a Tree touches the Future

We’re getting a facelift down my way. David Twomey and the outdoor staff of Listowel Municipal Area of Kerry County Council are brightening up a little corner we used to refer to as the outside farm. We’re getting trees and shrubs on a pebble carpet. Lovely!

<<<<<<<<<

A Poem

In Ballyegan Bog

By John McGrath (In After Closing)

In Ballyegan bog the cuckoo’s tune

has changed to mark the turning of the year.

Through summer’s haze the lark sings loud and clear

and soars above the dancing ceannabhán.

Where lines of neat turf-teepees strut and seem

to mock neglected neighbours with disdain,

sad strips of black spaghetti wait in vain

for willing hands. The bog-land trampoline

beneath my feet springs back as I march on,

remembering those summer days long gone

when life was sweet as heather-scented air

and feet were bare and fleet as children’s are,

when time endured and even work was play

and skylarks sang the live-long, lark-song day.

<<<<<<<<<

Ballybunion and Listowel

Ballybunion at Christmas 2021

<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Neighbours and Friends

Cyril Kelly sent the photo to Eamonn Dillon and Eamonn sent it to me. It’s a picture of Church Street neighbours and shopkeepers, Liam Dillon (Eamonn’s father) and Mai Naylor (Cyril’s mother).

<<<<<<<<<<<

Sign of the Times

Lynch’s Coffee Shop is now reopened

<<<<<<<<<<<<

New Business on Leahy’s Corner

<<<<<<<<<<<<

A Poem of Hope for an End to This

Covid Sonnet

John McGrath (published in John’s anthology, After Closing)

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 away from 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 may 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.

<<<<<<<<<

The Holy Season closes in St. Mary’s, Listowel

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Memories of the Movies

News that the cinema has closed brought up some cinema memories for blog followers.

So sad to see the Astor closing . It was a huge part of growing up for me . Introduced us to a fantasy world where we believe we were Cowboys / Indians ie The Durango Kid, Johnny McBrown , The Lone Ranger or Tonto, Elvis movies always guaranteed a full house . I remember a Chubby Checker Movie where every one was on their feet doing the Twist. Peter Cushing , Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff scaring us to death. What a great time it was. Noel Roche

I accompanied my grandmother to the matinee every Sunday. It was her outing. But for me on Monday at school the question was who went to the cinema yesterday. I had to stand up then my hands were put on the desk palm side down and I got wacked with the bamboo across my knuckles. That was my punishment for watching Hoppalong Cassidy with my gran. Not good memories. Maria Sham

So sad I remember in my day it was a great meeting place and we did not have much else going on in Listowel at night. It is definitely a sign of the times. Frankie Chute Phillips

<<<<<<<<<<<

Long Ago Christmasses

Photo: Eamon ÓMurchú in Portmarnock in December 2021

<<<<<<<<<<<

Christmas in Ballybunion

From the Schools’ Folklore Collection 1937/38

Christmas Day
Christmas comes but once a year;
When it comes it brings good cheer,
When it goes it leaves us here,
And what will we do for the rest of the year.
When Christmas morning dawns everyone is up early and goes to early Mass, and many receive Holy Communion. When people meet on their way to Mass their salutes to each other are:- “A happy Christmas to you” and the reply is – “Many happy returns”. The children are all anxiety to see what Santa Claus has brought them.
When Mass and breakfast are over the children play with their toys while the elders are busy preparing the Christmas dinner.
The chief features of an Irish Christmas dinner are – roast turkey, or goose and a plum pudding. The remainder of the day is spent in the enjoyment and peace of the home, and the family circle.
Christmas customs vary from country to country but the spirit of Christmas is the same the wide world over. It is the time of peace, and it is also the feast for the children, because it was first the feast of the Child Jesus who was born in Bethlehem nearly two thousand long years ago.

Collector Máighréad Ní Chearbhaill

Address, Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry.

Teacher: Máire de Stac.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Some Christmas Windows 2021

Taelane Store
Coco for Kids
The Gentleman Barbers’

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Our Perennial Christmas Story

(I never tire of this one).

The Christmas Coat   

Seán McCarthy  1986

Oh fleeting time, oh, fleeting time

You raced my youth away;

You took from me the boyhood dreams

That started each new day.

My father, Ned McCarthy found the blanket in the Market Place in Listowel two months before Christmas. The blanket was spanking new of a rich kelly green hue with fancy white stitching round the edges. Ned, as honest a man as hard times would allow, did the right thing. He bundled this exotic looking comforter inside his overcoat and brought it home to our manse on the edge of Sandes bog.

The excitement was fierce to behold that night when all the McCarthy clan sat round the table. Pandy, flour dip and yolla meal pointers, washed down with buttermilk disappeared down hungry throats. All eyes were on the green blanket airing in front of the turf fire. Where would the blanket rest?

The winter was creeping in fast and the cold winds were starting to whisper round Healy’s Wood; a time for the robin to shelter in the barn. I was excited about the blanket too but the cold nights never bothered me. By the time I had stepped over my four brothers to get to my own place against the wall, no puff of wind, no matter however fierce could find me.

After much arguing and a few fist fights (for we were a very democratic family) it was my sister, Anna who came up with the right and proper solution. That lovely blanket, she said was too fancy,  too new and too beautiful to be wasted on any bed. Wasn’t she going to England, in a year’s time and the blanket would make her a lovely coat!. Brains to burn that girl has. Didn’t she prove it years later when she married an engineer and him a pillar of the church and a teetotaler? Well maybe a slight correction here. He used to be a pillar of the pub and a total abstainer from church but she changed all that. Brains to burn!

The tailor Roche lived in a little house on the Greenville Road with his brother Paddy and a dog with no tail and only one eye. Rumours abounded around the locality about the tailor’s magic stitching fingers and his work for the English royal family.  Every man, woman and child in our locality went in awe of the Tailor Roche. Hadn’t he made a coat for the Queen of England when he was domiciled in London, a smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales and several pairs of pyjamas for Princess Flavia.

The only sour note I ever heard against the tailor’s achievements came from The Whisper Hogan, an itinerant ploughman who came from the west of Kerry.

“ If he’s such a famous  tailor,” said Whisper, “why is it that his arse is always peeping out through a hole in his trousers?.

Hogan was an awful begrudger. We didn’t pay him any heed. Tailor Roche was the man chosen to make the coat from the green blanket. Even though it was a “God spare you the health” job, a lot of thought went into the final choice of a tailor.

The first fitting took place of a Sunday afternoon on the mud floor of the McCarthy manse. The blanket was spread out evenly and Anna was ordered to lie very still on top of it. Even I, who had never seen a tailor at work thought this a little strange. But my father soon put me to rights when he said, “Stop fidgeting, Seáinín , you are watching a genius at work.” Chalk, scissors, green thread and plenty of sweet tea with a little bit of bacon and cabbage when we had it. A tailor can’t work on an empty stomach.

The conversion went apace through Christmas and into the New Year. Snip snip, stitch, stich, sweet tea and fat bacon, floury spuds. I couldn’t see much shape in the coat but there was one thing for sure – it no longer looked like a blanket. Spring raced into summer and summer rained its way into autumn. Hitler invaded Poland and the British army fled Dunkirk, the men of Sandes Bog and Greenville gathered together shoulder to shoulder to defend the Ballybunion coastline and to bring home the turf.

Then six weeks before Christmas disaster struck the McCarthy clan and to hell with Hitler, the British Army, and Herman Goering. We got the news at convent mass on Sunday morning the Tailor Roche had broken his stitching hand when he fell over his dog, the one with the one eye and no tail. Fourteen months of stitching, cutting, tea drinking and bacon eating down the drain. Even a genius cannot work with one hand.

Anna looked very nice in her thirty shilling coat from Carroll Hengan’s in Listowel as we walked to the train. Coming home alone in the January twilight I tried hard to hold back the tears. She would be missed.  The Tailor was sitting by the fire, a mug of sweet tea in his left hand and a large white sling holding his right-hand. I didn’t feel like talking so I made my way across the bed to my place by the wall. It was beginning to turn cold so I drew the shapeless green bindle up around my shoulders. It was awkward enough to get it settled with the two sleeves sticking out sideways and a long split up the middle. Still, it helped keep out the frost. Every bed needs a good green blanket and every boyhood needs a time to rest.

The ghosts of night will vanish soon

When winter fades away

The lark will taste the buds of June

Mid the scent of new mown hay.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

From the Top Shelf

Vincent Carmody has a new book out for Christmas. This one is a collaboration with Limerick historian, Tom Donovan. It is a must have for anyone with a Limerick connection. Even if you have no affiliation to the Treaty City this book is a valuable insight into trade in our part of the country in the recent past.

<<<<<<<<<

An Old Ballad, Ballybunion RIC and a Toyshop Raffle

Photo credit; Éamon ÓMurchú in Mount Usher Gardens

<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Old Listowel Ballad

from Shannonside Annual 1956

I’ve never seen this old song before. Does anyone have an air to it?

<<<<<<<<<<<

Ballybunion Old RIC Barracks

James Sherman’s photos shared with Glin Historical Society

We have no names for the policemen.

<<<<<<<<<<<<

McGillicuddy’s Toy Shop at Christmas

The late Jackie McGillicuddy and his son Seán …photo from Facebook

McGillicuddy’s Toyshop has been part of Listowel Christmasses for decades.

This year, Seán is holding a raffle with some sought after Christmas prizes. It’s all in aid of Crumlin Children Hospital.

McGillicuddys Crumlin Children’s Hospital Christmas Raffle

Raffle in store or online at https://www.idonate.ie/raffle/McGillicuddysRaffle

1st Prize Rainbow High Dolls House and Doll

2nd Prize Barbie Dreamhouse and Doll

3rd Prize €150 of Bruder Toys

4th Prize Wendy Dolls house

5th Prize Lego Hogwarts Express

6th Prize Hasbro Games Bundle.

This initiative is definitely worthy of support.

Footnote; Now might be a good time for some older readers to share with us their memories of Listowel’s iconic toyshop and its place in Listowel Christmasses past. Memories to listowelconnection@gmail.com please

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Christmas in Kerry Long Ago

From the Schools Folklore Collection in The National Archives

Photo from National Archives. Caoimhín ÓDanachair in Athea, Co. Limerick

Customs and Manners of Christmas.

The people of olden times, when Christmas used come, no matter how poor the people were they tried to honour Christmas the best way they could.

They used always kill a calf for Christmas day and some of them used have a goose roasted Christmas day.

When they used get out of bed Christmas morning they used take three drinks of water and bless themselves after each drink before breakfast. This was a cure for any sudden pain they used get for the rest of the year. There was another custom following it they used keep a piece of the Christmas candle that used be lighting in the kitchen and if they got the pain they used take three drinks and bless themselves as before and they used light the candle and they used make the sign of the cross on themselves with the candle.

They believed that the baby boy who would be born at midnight on Christmas night had a cure on his hand for evil sores by making the sign of the cross on the sores.

The old people said that the night Our Lord was born our Blessed Lady put her hand on the asses back and the ass has a cross ever since.

They brought the holy water from the chapel Christmas morning, because they thought the priest used give it a special blessing for that day. They used eat as much as they could New Years night or if they wouldn’t they wouldn’t eat enough for the rest of the year.


Oidhche Nodhlagh beagh oidhche na trí ríghthe creidhtear go ndeintear fíon de’n uisghe síoda de’n triopall agus airgheadh de’n ghreann.

( On Little Christmas night, the night of the three kings, it is believed that water is made into wine, ………..into silk and ……… into silver)

The child scribe wrote down what she heard. I couldn’t find triopall in the dictionary and greann means fun so maybe it was gcrann as in a tree or wood)

INFORMANT Cáit Bean Uí Shúilleabháin

Address Coad, Co. Kerry

The school is Bunaneer, Co Kerry

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Littor Memories

Taken on a rainy day in Mount Usher Gardens by Éamon ÓMurchú

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

In Gurtenard Wood in Winter 2021

<<<<<<<<<<

Staff of Presentation Secondary School in 1986

<<<<<<<<<<<

Tom Linnane’s memories of Fireside stories in Littor Long Ago

(From Shannonside Annual 1956)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Tae Lane

<<<<<<<<<<<

November, The Month when we Remember

Cyril Kelly’s poem remembers his parents, a devoted couple. and his mother’s inconsolable grief when, without warning, she lost her “heart’s best treasure”.

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Page 2 of 8

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén