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: handball Page 2 of 4

The Beginning of the Pitch and Putt Club, O’Rahilly Family and Childers’ Park

Millenium Arch in summer 2021

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Handball Ups and Downs

During the 1960s the handball club grew from strength to strength. John Joe Kenny was chairman for most of this time.

In 1964 Listowel won its first County Championship. It was a Novice Championship. It was played in Listowel for the first time. Breandán ÓMurchú won the minor singles title and partnered Richard Galvin to win the minor doubles. Tom Enright and Junior Griffin won the senior doubles title.

Aidan ÓMurchú ran a National School Tournament in these years.

At the AGM in 1996 John Joe Kenny stepped down from the chair and Aidan Keane was elected chairman.

At this meeting arrangements were put in place to run a Town League. Teams were to represent Bridge Road, E.S.B., Garda, The Boro and The Gleann.

Membership dropped off towards the end of the 60s.

In 1970 a move was afoot to establish a Pitch and Putt club in town. Bill Kearney approached the Handball Club with the view to persuading them to allow a few pitch and putt holes to be placed on the Alley ground.

A Pitch and Putt Club was formed with John Joe Kenny, chairman, Bill Kearney, secretary and Junior Griffin, treasurer.

It was decided that the area around the handball alley was too dangerous for pitch and putt and an approach was made to the UDC to include a pitch and putt course in the town park. Permission for a 9 hole course was granted.

John Joe Kenny and Kevin Sheehy who had been stalwarts of the handball club went on to give sterling service to the pitch and putt club for years after.

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O’Rahilly Family of The Square

This house in Listowel Town Square once housed one of the most famous academic families in Ireland.

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From The Advertiser

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Childers’ Park

Childers’ Park wildflower meadow in June 2021

The council have helpfully mowed paths through the field. It is a joy to walk there.

Marsh Marigolds, Vetch, clover and scutch grass are all around.

I met a pigeon on my walk through the park as well.

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In The Magic Hour

Jo Jordan was helping get everyone seated for The Magic Hour show in Listowel Handball Alley on Friday June 18 2021. On the right of the photo is young bilingual poet, Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill who was to be the local interviewee.

We’re gathered on the slope opposite the handball alley and we are waiting for the promised incredible Arts experience. This man from Coiscéim is waiting to play his part.

This is local bilingual poet, Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill. She is also waiting to take part.

Now this is what happens. Your man (Sorry, I dont know his name ) interviews Siobhán. His questions and her answers are not broadcast to us. We are asked to observe her body language. He videos her responses. This video is broken into individual images and the troupe of dancers in the Dublin studio, observe these images and translate them spontaneously into dance moves. The video of their dancing is then projected for us onto the back wall of the alley by the magic of technology.

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Memories, Listowel People and Ballygologue Park

Canon’s Height, Listowel Co. kerry

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Jimmy O’Quigley Remembers

Jimmy gave me this photo from his box of treasures. Some of the people in it are Philomena Chute, Mrs Joe Broderick, Anna Moore, and Jerry O’Flaherty

Back; Mikey Fitzgerald (a tailor from Charles Street) Seán Grogan, Mr. Prendeville from Castleisland.

This old letter was given by Owen MacMahon to Jimmy. The quality is poor as it’s a copy of a copy but it’s worth the effort to read it. It is a letter from Bryan MacMahon, then Príomhoide of Listowel Boys National School to Canon Brennan, the school manager. He is reporting an accident in the school grounds in which Jimmy broke his arm. Jimmy had his arm in plaster for his First Communion.

The tone of the letter tells us a lot about the relationship between the Canon and his parishioners who, by all accounts, lived in fear and dread of him.

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Hi Ho, Hi ho as off to work we go

It’s always a pleasure to meet cheerful happy people when I’m out and about. I met Peter and Anne Marie on their way to work bright and early on a Saturday morning.

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This lovely old stile is on the John B. Keane Road.

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Listowel Squash Club

Sean Tracey, Charlie Nolan, Billy Galvin, John McGuire, and Sean Comeford at a squash tournament in Tralee.

Charlie, who gave me the photo, doesn’t remember the year.

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Ballygologue Entrance in June 2021

Residents of Ballygologue Park always take great pride in their estate. It was lovely to see wild flowers like daisies, buttercups, vetch and clover allowed to bloom alongside the cultivated flowers and shrubs.

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In The Magic Hour

Brightening Air was an initiative of The Arts Council. Between June 11 and June 20 2021 Coiscéim Dance Studio brought us ” Ten days of incredible Arts experiences in surprising locations nationwide.”

Listowel was chosen to be part of the project and In The Magic Hour was presented to us in The Handball Alley. It was live-streamed on the following evening. I presumed that that video would be left up but I cant find it now. So this is what happened.

I called by earlier in the afternoon of June 18th. The ball alley looked the same except for the presence of 20 chairs. I was relieved to hear that we would be seated for the performance.

I’m back at 9.30 p. m. for the performance. The Magic Hour is dusk which they estimated would be 9.30 to 10.30. It was later on this particular evening so we had to wait until 9 50 to get the show on the road.

Above are some of the lucky people, socially distanced, who got tickets. I’ll tell you about the magic tomorrow.

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Trees, Handball and Shops Then and Now

Listowel Pitch and Putt course with new flower bed June 2021

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Trees

Have you noticed how trees, woods and groves feature in place names and house names around Listowel?

Here are a few I observed on my walks

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Handball Tournaments

(Information from Junior Griffin and Charlie Nolan)

In 1963 Listowel Handball Club lost two of its stalwarts, when Joe James and Frank Sheehy passed away.

At the AGM that year it was decided to purchase a shield in commemoration of Joe James and his huge contribution to the game in Listowel. There was already a shield in honour of Frank Sheehy.

And thereby hangs a tale. The shield was only played for once and it was won by Charlie Nolan. He still has the shield and the smaller replica he got to keep.

Charlie has many many happy memories of good times in The Alley. If you haven’t listened to him talking to Caoimhe from Coiscéim here is the link again

Handball memories in your own words

Máire Logue of St. John’s, Charlie Nolan and Caoimhe Coburn Gray of Coiscéim in Listowel handball alley in summer 2021

Charlie showed us the hooks on the wall of the bridge that he and other youngsters used to climb up on to the road to retrieve a ball.

Like Junior, Charlie found that skills learned playing handball transferred to other sports, in Junior’s case badminton and in Charlie’s Squash.

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Some Listowel Shops Then and Now

Ladbrokes was Acc Bank

O’Hannáin is Glamourous

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Outdoor dining, Pitch and Putt and some places then and now

In Childers” Park, Listowel

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Listowel Pitch and Putt Club

It’s people like Pa Carey who are the backbone of Listowel Pitch and Putt Club. I met him early one Saturday morning turning on the sprinklers to keep the greens in tip top condition.

While a pitch and putt course is by its nature cultivated, LP&P have allowed patches like this to grow wild.

This is a more cultivated flower bed. There are many being developed all around the course.

This lovely bridge is a new development as well.

When I saw this bridge I was reminded of Harrington in Carnoustie in 2007 when he nearly lost The Open. I hope this lovely bridge doesn’t trip someone up as that other little one did Padraig on that day.

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Outdoor Dining

Although we dont really have the weather for it, Listowel is adapting to outdoor dining for 2021.

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Then and Now

Changes at 97 is now Listowel Physiotherapy Clinic

Blue Umbrella is now The Taelane Store

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Ownership of The Alley

(information from Junior Griffin)

Lord Listowel had given permission for the handball alley to be built on the banks of the Feale but it was a fairly loose arrangement and ownership of the alley was unclear. At the AGM in 1962 and a subsequent committee meeting it was decided to clarify the matter.

Mr. Joe O’Mahony, the local representative of Lord Listowel informed a deputation from the club that Listowel Handball Club had no legal right to the land on which the handball court was situated. It belonged to Lord Listowel. He agreed to give the club first right if they decided to purchase the property. The members present bought the site for £140.

Then trustees were appointed on the legal advice of Paddy Fitzgibbon (senior) who advised that the club had no legal standing without trustees.

The 5 trustees were Tom Enright, Andy Molyneaux, Michael Keane, Brendan Macauley and John Griffin.

At a subsequent meeting Tom Enright withdrew his name, Mr. Fitzgibbon retired as chairman for personal reasons. He was replaced by John Joe Kenny.

(to be continued)

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In The Magic Hour

I had a front row seat at this very different Arts experience on Friday 18 June 2021.

It was Listowel Ball Alley but not as we know it. A small audience of socially distanced 20 people were here to witness a very avant grade dance, mime and other media event.

It was one of those modern performances that look more enjoyable for the performers than for the audience. I must confess that this audience member was a bit lost.

However it was lovely to be outdoors and part of an audience again.

I’ll tell you more about it and put up a link when I download the photos I took with my camera. You will be able to see for yourself then.

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Trees, Handballers Fundraising for an upgrade

Carrigafoyle Castle by Breda Ferris

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Trees

Listowel is home to hundreds of beautiful trees and this leafy environment is reflected in many of the housing estate names. Here are two.

Cluain Doire literally means meadows of oak.

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A Carpet of Daisies in Listowel’s Garden of Europe

Our new awareness of the role of wild flowers has led to sights like this, hundreds of daisies and buttercups among the grasses.

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If we only had a four walled court

(Junior Griffin)

Scoil Realt na Maidine as we know it today was opened in 1959 and Halla Bhriain Mhic Mhathúna, the school hall. was built on the site of the old school and opened in 1961.

The Handball Club was one of the first customers to use the hall. They ran a series of Whist Drives on Sunday nights. They also secured a Sunday night to run a “monster” whist drive in Walsh’s Super Ballroom during the season of Lent. The committee of those years was very active in fundraising with the burning aim of raising sufficient funds to build a four walled handball court in Listowel.

Between 1961 and 1965 the club held 27 meetings and 5 A.G.M.s. They also held one EGM.

The one recurring theme in all of these meetings was the hope and ambition to build a a four wall championship handball alley in Listowel.

The minutes of these meetings record many details of fundraising, deputations to the the local government T.D. , a meeting with Listowel UDC, letters to the National Handball Organisation and to the GAA.

Promises were made and encouragement given but the heartfelt dream of a new alley for the members of that time was never realised.

The sale of membership cards to player and “social” members continued.

In 1961 124 cards at 2/6 each were sold, 77 in 1962, 103 in 1963 and only 63 in 1964 as the dream of ever achieving the championship court was fading.

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Greenway Bridge

Emma O’Flynn took this photo for us of the new bridge at Kilmeaney.

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One to Ponder

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