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: Listowel Races Page 1 of 3

Prince Monolulu

Tim Doody; Mallow Camera Club

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A Corner of The Square in 2022

The green area is the designated car parking spaces for electric cars while they are on charge.

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Lidl

Our Lidl store is going to get an upgrade. The shiny new store will be on the site of the old one so we’ll have to do without for a while.

Lidl have purchased the nearby derelict Dowd’s cottage. This will be demolished and that site will become part of the new superstore.

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Prince? Monolulu

Alice Walsh shared this great old photo recently on Facebook. It was taken at Raceweek 1961 at the opening of Walsh’s Super Ballroom.

In the centre of the image surrounded by Mick Delahunty band members is a beloved visitor to Listowel Races, an eccentric tipster known as Prince Monolulu.

He wasn’t a prince and his name wasn’t Monolulu and he wasn’t an African chief as he claimed.

In Listowel in the 1950s and 60s a black man was a rare enough sight. A very tall black man dressed like an Ethiopian chief with a monstrous ostrich plume on his head and a lion’s tooth around his neck was bound to attract attention.

He was a regular on racetracks in Britain. When not at the races he was a “Lion tamer, fire eater, street dentist, preacher, tribal chief, boxer, prisoner of war, and entertainer.”

“He was married six times.”

When Spion Kop won the 1920 Derby at odds of 100-6 (about 16-1) Monolulu won a reputed £8,000 (worth around £400,000 in today’s money). 

This was all part of the myth that surrounded this man. But like most “facts’ about this character we have to take everything with a pinch of salt.

Monolulu was American. He came to England and soon discovered that a life as a showman could be quite a good living in the early 20th century.

He plied his trade on racecourses until his death in 1965 on Valentine’s Day. The story goes that he choked on a strawberry cream from a box of Black Magic. Like everything else about him, this too sounds a tad implausible.

On his trips to Listowel he would visit The Island armed with a handful of sealed envelopes. “I got a horse to beat the favourite.,” was his cry. He sold you the tip sealed in an envelope and urged you not to share it so as not to upset the odds.

He must have been successful as he came back year after year. He was part of the colour that was Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing.

Another of Alice Walsh’s photos shows Monolulu on the stage.

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Writers’ Week Committee 2012

Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Committee 2012

Doesn’t feel like 10 years.

Catherine Moylan, Simone Langemann, Liz Dunn and Jim Dunn

I took this photo of some of today’s Writers’ Week people at the launch of the Amateur Drama Exhibition in Kerry Writers’ Museum on May 7 2022.

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Soap, a Bridge and a Ferry

Photo: Jim McSweeney, Mallow Camera Club

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When Soap was Soap

If you remember this, you are as old me. This was ‘household soap”. It was manufactured by Lever Brothers in Port Sunlight outside Liverpool. it was used everyday for hundreds of jobs. If anything, and I mean anything, needed washing this was the go-to soap.

Scrubbing the doorstep, indeed scrubbing floors generally, was an activity undertaken by some on a daily basis. The scrubber knelt on the floor and with scrubbing brush and soap scrubbed every inch of the floor, mopping off the excess moisture with an old rag. These poor women (they were always women) ended up with a condition known as “housemaids knee”.

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We’ll go racing again

We’ll cross this bridge again in 2022. I was delighted to see the sign advertising a June meeting and The Harvest Festival of Racing for September has been erected at the River Feale entrance to the racecourse.

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Old Tarbert Ferry Postcard

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From Pres. YearBook 1990

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A Well Travelled Trip Adviser

(From RTE on the internet)

A Kerry man has made it into the review history books, as he’s named the best-travelled reviewer on Tripadvisor.

The review site has published a break down of its stats, as it reaches a milestone of publishing one billion reviews and traveller insights.

User @damienstack, from Listowel in Co. Kerry, Ireland, was revealed to have posted reviews for 176 different countries. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he has actually visited all 193 countries in the world!

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1959 Donkey Derby

Sunrise on Galway Bay by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Donkey Derbies

Donkeys in Race Week 1959

I saved the following poem years ago. Unfortunately I never noted the name of the poet. If you wrote it or you know who did, will you let me know and I’ll credit them.

Listowel Donkey Derby 1959

The weather being fine, being fifty nine and the races drawing nigh

To win the donkey derby sure our hopes were very high.

So we called on all the donkeys that might win cup or bowl

And we started preparations for the derby in Listowel.

The donkeys came in dozens, some were fast and some were slow,

But sure that’s the way you’ll find them no matter where you go

But we put them through their paces and we raced them past the pole

And twas all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

We had Nixes grey and Driscolls bay, she showed a little blemish

John Joe brought our camera in case of a photo finish

When Lady Barney won the second race, Dan Riordan scratched his pole

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Nedeen Buckley came with Sad Dust and Nellies Morning Dew

This was a kind of challenge race and t’was left between the two

Then Margaret came on Forge Road Lad, He’s the sire of a foal

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

When Shanahan’s Stamps came winning home, the crowd they gave a roar

They heard it back in Coolagown and down through Ennismore

Bob Stack got so excited, he ran up the winning pole

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Scortlea’s Hope when going well, won many a thrilling race

He ran his best to half a length and that was no disgrace

But when Casey down from Dromerin,  said he couldn’t run with goats

Sure his feeding was substandard, it was small Kilarda oats.

When Phil arrived on Gurtinard Lad,  Sean’s donkey gave a wink

He started like a bullet and gave him no time to think

Our jockeys rode like professionals both fearless and bold

And there’s one thing I can vouch for; a race was never sold.

The crowd grew larger every night, they came from far and near

Elsey , Kit and Minnie came the winners home to cheer

We had Bertha , Paul and Bridie, sure they played their usual role

And t’was all in preparation for the derby in Listowel.

Eileen came with Kathleen and Bridge came running fast

Sure Mary nearly broke her neck in case she might be last

Ginette was there from London oh my heart she nearly stole

And t’was all in preparation for the Derby in Listowel.

So then when the fun was over and we picked our chosen few

We raced them down Church Street where we met our Waterloo

But such is life, there is always strife in trying to reach your goal

Still our hopes are high for another try at the derby in Listowel.

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Ferry at Rest

Breda Ferris took this photo of the Tarbert ferry. This is what she wrote about it when she posted it on Facebook;

‘Shannon Breeze’ Ferry leaves Tarbert and sails to Kilimer without any passengers. It is a terrific service when you consider the cost of doing this. Wonder should they have a booking service only during winter. Would surely save some money

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John Lawlor’s Tragic Death in 1921

(From Glin Historical Society)

Kerrys fight for Freedom 

John Lawlor was born on May 3rd 1903. His father was Listowel’s parish clerk and the family lived in Convent street. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers and at the time of his death was studying for the priesthood.

In November 1920 John’s father refused to ring the bells of Listowel church to mark armistice day and he was subsequently threatened and lived in fear of the RIC and Black and Tans.

A month later John was home on holiday from his clerical studies from All Hallows College, Dublin. On New year’s Eve as he was going to church he was accosted by a group of Black and Tans on William Street and brutally assaulted. This unprovoked attack was in response to his father’s refusal to comply with the request to commemorate Armistice Day. 

John Lawlor died from his injuries on New Year’s Day was was buried in Listowel cemetery. He was 17 years old.

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Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival 2022

BBF 2022, our local bardic festival will take place this year

– March 24th to 27th.

The committee are currently making plans today for workshops.

Closing date for entries to the writing competitions is February 28 2022.

For full details of the festival click on this link.

Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival 2022

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Races 2021, Baby Joy and more photos from Ballylongford

Listowel Races 2021 by Bridget O’Connor

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Just another Working Day

Pat Healy of Healyracing working on The Island on Monday.

Gordon Elliot, trainer, back in Listowel for another year.

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Welcome Baby Aoife

What a blessing! I get to hold the hand of my newest granddaughter.

(The painted nails are the remains of the wedding.)

Aoife with her Mammy, Clíona Cogan McKenna. Aoife is 2 months old.

Aoife has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger already.

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Ball Alley Transformation

Listowel Ballalley has had many makeovers. The latest is a series of lovely murals by local artists. Paul (not so local), Erin and Eimear were hard at work when I visited at the weekend. The murals are a work in progress and we should have the grand launch soon.

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Old Post Box

At Kelly’s, The Six Crosses

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We all grow into our mothers eventually

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Last few from the Blacksmithing Festival

There was lots more than smithing going on in Ballylongford on Saturday September 25 2021. There were pony rides for the children, a wandering musician, stalls with vintage stuff for sale and other side shows.

This “lord and lady’ were dressed in period costume, sword and all.

Indoors I met my friend, Dan Hartnett, with lots of vintage tools, cutlery and miscellaneous stuff.

Another seller had these colourful tin signs.

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Races, A Poem, a Postbox and Smithing in Ballylongford

In The Garden of Europe

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Listowel Races, Sept`. 2021

Listowel native, Niamh Kenny won a prize for her beautiful hat. It complemented her outfit perfectly.

Wllie and Jackie Mullins in the winners enclosure.

The ever stylish Mary O’Halloran was one of the Ladies Day finalists. She did a moving interview with Celia Holman Lee. Mary loves Listowel Races and comes every year.

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Talking Poetry

John Given and Jimmy Deenihan are finalising plans for the publication of John’s father, Pat Given’s, next book of poems.

Here is a poem from Pat’s last anthology. It was reproduced for Poetry Town.

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Post Box on College Road, Cork

This lovely post box is on College Rd. Cork near the junction with Highfield Road.

I had occasion to be in the Bons. The paper shop in the hospital was closed. I made my way to what in my day used to be Flirty’s shop and post office. It is now a Daybreak. There I made a discovery.

Students don’t buy newspapers. I was in the shop at 8.30 a.m. and there was only a handful of papers available.

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A Tinsmith at Work

At the Ballylongford Blacksmithing Fair Sept. 25 2021

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