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 2 of 21

A Forgotten Corner of Town

Convent Street


Slua Hall Corner

Casa Mia and Morkan Tiles


Slua Hall


An Eviction

An incident from the life of Mick O’Callaghan in Gorey

Mousey Post  Box

I must say that I love going to the post-box because it is full of surprises and variety. It can present me with bills, birthday cards, appointments, and disappointments and quite often also a blank vacant box. This vacuous space contained within the 12x8x4 is a snug little space and keeps all our post dry and secure until we open it to collect mail.

Imagine my horror when on one morning lately I went out to collect the post and I saw the flap had been left open. I imagined that any post would be damp and sodden but instead of this I was confronted by the sight of several little mice staring up at me and being attended to by mother mouse. The flap had obviously been left open, and the pregnant Mrs Mouse had crept in to deliver her mischief of little mice into the world.

Little mice are my biggest fear, and I am totally allergic and panicked by them.

I was like stout Cortez when he stared with eagle eyes after he had discovered the Pacific.

I had been about to insert my hand, but discretion beat valour when I realised that my six. new tenants were not going to be evicted too easily or mother might not take too kindly to me disturbing herself and her mischief. They probably had some tenancy rights under some rare, outdated mouse protection act with no immediate eviction allowed.

Senior management was waiting for mail and called from on high to see if we had gotten any post that morning. I plucked up the courage to tell her that someone had left the flap open and that we had newly arrived tenants in the post box. She immediately shouted down that I could just hush out the spider and close the flap and then I gave her details about the mischief of newly arrived tenants. 

Well, you never in all your days heard such eeing and ahing and get rid of them. I am constantly telling you that this could happen if you let a lid or door ajar. I plucked up enough courage to tell her that I had not collected the post the previous day, so the decibels were lowered, and a solution had to be found.

We thought about mouse poison but that was shelved. I suggested getting some traps and catching them but that was ruled out as they were too young. Then I had my Tom and Gerry moment when I suggested that we bring our cat Whiskers down and release them to her mercy, but I was reminded that some could escape into the garden.

Following that I thought about Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Early Purges”. He was six when he first saw kittens drown, Dan Taggart pitched them. It was about throwing kittens  into a bucket of water as 

“cruelty talk cuts no ice in towns 

but on well run farms pests had to be kept down.”

That suggestion was quickly dowsed down on cruelty to mice grounds, and we were now getting desperate for a solution when I had my lightbulb moment with my environmental protection and sustainability hat on.

I suggested that we take down the post-box, seal it with tape and place it in a large, tied plastic bag, bring it out in the car to a large field remote from houses and release our newly acquired mischief of mice and let them take it from there which we did. We procured the necessary wide tape, a secure strong white, hole free plastic sack and we were ready for action.

Major subterfuge was required for this delicate transportation and evacuation sortie in north Wexford.  We had to decide whether to do it under cover of darkness or in the evening.

We finally opted to depart at dusk. We pulled in at a gate into a huge field and operation mother mouse was quickly performed and the front-line mouse disposal troops were stood down. We brought bag and post box back home where it is now safely attached to the wall again with a suggestion that we spring load the flap.

Please don’t rat on me.    It was only a mousey little job.

Mick O Callaghan


Enjoying Listowel Connection in Australia

Every now and again I will be approached by someone who recognises me and knows lots about me even though we have never met.

This happened in Listowel Garden Centre on Saturday October 21 2023. The man who recognised me is Jackie Leyne. Jackie reads Listowel Connection in his home in Australia. He left Listowel at age 18.



Lovely Sunday morning stroll with my weekend visitors


A Fact

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal driving route in the world.


Ballylongford and Ballybunion

Listowel Town Square early morning in September 2023


Mary Young, the biggest donor towards the building of St. John’s church in Ballybunion sits (frozen) outside the church she helped to build.

St. John’s is almost a cathedral in terms of size and splendour.

The magnificent chancel window

Beautiful windows donated by local families.


Ballylongford Active Retired Group

Ballylongford ladies at their weekly meeting on September 29 2023.

I interrupted their Bingo session.


When Harvest was a Critical Time

Traditionally harvest was the time, stores of food were laid down for the winter. In the days before all year round vegetables and fruit, people worried about bringing home a good harvest to see everyone over the winter.

Jer Kennelly found this great account of the panic to secure winter food supplies in the troubled post war years.

I wonder does anyone remember this time or remember hearing older people tell of it.

Rush to save Irish Harvest before October 1st 1946

(from New York NY Irish American Advocate, September 28 1946)

Most critical week in the nation’s battle to win the harvest opened .Sunday, Sept. 15. With the nation’s food supply still in danger it is imperative in the next few days that the energy and effort of the country be stretched to the limit.

Listowel farmers, taking full advantage of the dry spell, saved most of the wheat and oat crops. At the Masses in Listowel church appeals were made for more volunteers. 

The party of 25 French Scouts camping near Listowel are taking part in the local harvesting operations.

The 4,100 volunteers who left Dublin yesterday for the county areas and South Meath were not sufficient to deal with the work available.

All Sports Postponed for critical weeks of harvest.
Over 200 harvest volunteers were despatched yesterday from the offices of the Cork Co. Committee of Agriculture—76 from the Army, 41 members of the F.C.A., and about 90 others of Military. City firms and a number of motorists provided transport.


For the Diary


A Fact

The first mention of tennis in an English sporting magazine was in 1793


Ballybunion and Other Places

Greenway mural Sept 2023


Iconic Ballybunion

Certain images say Ballybunion to us all; the castle, Virgin Rock, Nine Daughters Hole for instance. Uptown there are some unique local identifiers too.

trompe d’oeil cottage

Joyce’s, the post office

Mary Young statue seated outside St. John’s


Listowel Races 2023

I only went to The Island on one day and it was Ladies Day. This year, the celebrity designer judge, Don O’Neill, brought a New York frisson to the occasion.

Some of the style on show

Danny Russell put his millinery skills to work. He made this magnificent hat to match Norella’s silver pants suit.

My old friend and a faithful Listowel Races attendee, Mary O’Halloran was there with her daughter, Louise, both looking very stylish.

Photo: John Kelliher

The very popular winner of the top prize was local lady, Kathleen Flaherty, in a classic blue crochet suit. The judges recognised timeless style when they saw it.


I Remember, I Remember

This is my mother’s family home. It is no longer in the family but I paid it a visit on a recent trip home. If those walls could speak they’d tell the story of my beloved Uncle Bernie and Aunty Eily. Eily planted those flowers.

This tree was planted by my grandfather. He lives on in it and the memories it evokes.



I never knew, until someone shared this online, that Kerry schools once had their own approved catechism. Does the line “a general catechism for the kingdom” actually refer to Kerry or The Kingdom of Heaven?


A Fact

The phrase “rule of thumb” comes from an old English law which forbade a husband to beat his wife with anything wider then his thumb.


Ballybunion Lady Captain’s Day 2023

Feale Sculpture in August 2023


Ballybunion Lady Captain’s Dinner

I don’t play golf. Ballybunion golf clubhouse is not where you would usually find me. I know and love this year’s lady captain. Catherine Moylan, whom I regard as one of my family. So I got the golden ticket, an invitation to Catherine Moylan’s Lady Captain’s celebratory dinner and presentation of prizes on August 26 2023.

The dinner was a delicious one. I am assured that the golf was super enjoyable as well with a welcome goody bag at the start and refreshing cocktails at the half way point.

Catherine has joined a prestigious list.

Anne Cogan/ Darby, me and Catherine’s proud parents, Eddie and Helen Moylan at the prosecco reception in the clubhouse.

Norma Mullane, Betty Doolan, and Maria Lyons, just a few of Catherine’s many friends there to support her on her big night.

Catherine with her book club friends

Some golfing family members, uncle Jim Noonan who won the guest prize, aunt Tess Noonan, Mary Noonan and Eddie Moylan. Eddie also played in the golf competition but without success.

Illness including Covid kept a few people away.

Creating a welcoming ambience as we gathered was John McKenna on the piano, always a treat.

Patricia Boyle and Lady President, Norma Browne, with Catherine

The Lady Captain’s prize 2023 was some beautiful jewellery by Claddagh Design. The lucky winner, Josette O’Donnell, was delighted with her prize.

There were lots of prizes, including John Rahm’s balls… balls that Catherine had the foresight to ask him to sign when she met him on a visit to Ballybunion this summer.

Photo from Ballybunion Golf Club on Facebook

It was a great night for chatting and socialising and catching up. It went on late into the night.

I think I’ll forget pickle ball. Golf looks attractive.

Owen Barrett with Catherine

Margaret Scannell and Norma Browne chat with friends after dinner.

Helen shared a laugh about a funny anecdote from the time these two last met at an opera in Dublin.

Nóirín Galvin, Catherine and Anne were in school together.

The Cork, Dublin, Listowel and Tipperary cousins were chatting ’til late.


Drama with a Difference

Seán Moylan was a legend in my neck of the woods. Michael Patric has brought him vividly to life in this one man show which I saw in St. John’s on Sunday August 27th.

Patric was brilliant in the role of Moylan. He also wrote the script. Growing up I had heard of Clonbanin, Moll’s Bridge and other local places where ambushes were set and soldiers were captured. I learned from Patric that it was only their guns and ammunition that the boys were after and usually the soldiers were freed unharmed. The same cannot be said for Republicans captured by the soldiers. It wasn’t always the notorious Black and Tans who did the killing. It was as often as not trained and supposedly disciplined soldiers.

The show is a triumph. Even if you are not from North Cork and even if your mother’s first cousin is not one of the Men of the South you will enjoy this performance from an actor at the top of his game. If you get a chance to see it, grab that chance. You won’t regret it.


What a Picture!

Philip O’Carroll has very generously opened his photograph album for us. This precious photo below was taken in 1951, according to Philip the only occasion on which all the O’Carrolls were together.

Philip has named the people in the photo for us.

The year is 1951, the only time that the O’Carroll Clan was ever assembled in one place.So, let me name the family starting from right to left:

Philip (me!) Born 1948

Gerard, who was a prominent and controversial detective

Joseph, who is a priest in Manchester

Michael, retired from the World health  Organization, now living in Nicaragua

Gene, deceased

Eleanor, deceased

Dympna, deceased

Liam,  deceased

Denny, alive and well at 88

Vincent also alive and well and about to celebrate his 90th

John, who was always known as Bob, deceased

Tom, the eldest, deceased

Mother, Mary Ellen Moloney deceased

Louis, in mother’s arms, deceased

Father, James, long deceased

And finally, my grandmother, Kate Moloney 

In the background is the family’s rick of turf, fuel for the winter.

Philip remembers days spent in the bog.

We had a bank of turf in Coil Bui, a few miles from Cahirdown.  At one time or another we all paid our dues cutting the turf.  There was a wonderful stillness to the bog, so quiet you could hear people talking hundreds of yards away.  The curlew’s cry only accentuated the stillness.

The turf was cut by the man on the slean, usually a man of some heft, whose reputation depended on how much turf he could cut in a day.  A pike man tossed the heavy bricks to the youngsters who spread it out to dry, footing it and re-footing it into little stacks and then ever bigger stacks until it was time to bring it home.  The milk and the porter (in bojonters) was cooled in the bog water until it was time for the tea.  The tea tasted of the bog but it was sweet and strong.  And the sandwich! I have dined in Michelin star restaurants across the planet but nothing has ever rivalled the taste of the bog sandwich.

When the turf was home and stacked, “There was great comfort in looking at that great mass of turf.”


A Fact

The Cairo Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1970. The Cairo fire station was located inside the same building.


Listowel and Ballybunion

Listowel Town Square, August 2023


Quirky Sights in Listowel

At the back of Brosnan’s pub.

On the wall at Pierce and Fitzgibbon


From the Newspaper Archives

(thanks to Jer Kennelly)

Kerry Evening Post Wednesday, 01 December, 1897; Page: 4


One of the most successful concerts ever hold in Listowel was the grand evening entertainment which came off in the Hall of the Total Abstinence Society, Listowel, on Wednesday evening. From every point of view the concert was a most pronounced success. The fact that the entertainment was held under the auspices of the society, and in aid of the funds of the organisation, fully accounts for the large and fashionable attendance ; but the enthusiasm of the audience can be accounted for only by the fact that the various contributions were performed in the most capable and finished manner. The programme was varied and interesting in character, judiciously drafted and calculated to appeal to every taste. In addition to local artistes, a number of other ladies and gentlemen also contributed to the programme.

The vocal items were rendered in fine style, and did not fail to draw enthusiastic plaudits from the audience; but the success of the entertainment must, to a great extent, be attributed to the recitals by the Misses Rahilly, and the instrumental contributions, which rank amongst the finest performances ever witnessed at a local concert. Every one, of course, expected that Miss Florence Rahilly would sustain her widespread reputation in a department which she has made peculiarly her own; but the excellence of the performance of Miss Tessie Rahilly, on the occasion of her first public appearance, took everyone by surprise. Needless to say, her reception was of the warmest character. The instrumental items: particularly the contributions of the Misses Creagh, were rendered in a style which betoken splendid musical ability and an appreciation of the composer’s work as admirable as it is rare, at a local entertainment, and which reflects infinite credit on local talent, which never showed up in better form than on Wednesday night.

The arrangements left nothing to be desired with the result that, though the hall was crowded to its utmost capacity, no inconvenience was caused. A special word of praise is surely due to Mrs Fitzpatrick, to whom, in a great measure, the success of the entertainment is to be attributed. She conducted the practice meetings with a degree of success, which only wide experience and splendid abilities as an instrumentalist and vocalist rendered possible. It is to be hoped, she will be long associated with our local entertainments.—Correspondent.


A Gift of Ink….Update

Philip O’Carroll is sorted. Many people have offered him digitised versions of the LP . Philip and his family are remembered with great fondness in Listowel and many of his old friends were only too willing to help him. Thank you everyone who offered to source the album for him.



Aspects of Ballybunion

The Beach Mission, always a reliable on the beach in August is back this year.

Signage on the beach has greatly improved. Clear flagging of areas of rip current means that the beach is now safer for everyone.

A Feature of the beach in recent years is beach art. It is a lovely way to send greetings for a birthday, wedding other celebrity occasion.

Seats are often memorials where a visitor can rest and remember someone who loved this spot.


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