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

Church St, Tennis in 1987 and 1955 and Tarbert footballers

Pride Comes Before a Fall

Paddy Power on Twitter at 6.31 on Feb 2 2019:

“Anyone know a company that can take a few big billboards down within 8 minutes?

Asking for a friend. “

Smug arrogance is never a nice trait. I hope Paddy Power has learned a lesson.


Signs of Spring


Now and Then on Church Street

Oyster ( a mobile phone shop) and Glamour (now relocated to the Square) are now a sweet shop and Kerry Wool Shop.


Hanging Out at the Tennis Courts

Photos; Danny Gordon

Listowel’s young people have always hung out at the tennis club. These youngsters in 1987 are watching a game in progress. Cyril Kelly remembers 1955 when the game wasn’t’t the only attraction on the courts.

Cyril’s essay was broadcast on Sunday Miscellany in 2018


Every year, when the Wimbledon circus rolls round, still vivid recollections came churning up from deep in the corduroy folds of memory. Far from the sophistication of strawberries and cream, these memories have a mossy redolence rising from Feale river stones, smells of fehlerstrom, buachalán buí and crusty cow pats, all the embalmed odours of the Cows Lawn, that commonage on the edge of town where the Listowel Lawn Tennis Club had its two grass courts, plus a dilapidated railway carriage which went by the exotic moniker of The Pavilion. The tennis club was like an exclusive compound of the Raj; it was enclosed by a chicken wire fence which separated the lower caste, namely urchins like myself, from daughters of merchants, bankers and ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, in such a setting, togged out in durable brown corduroy jacket and short corduroy pants made by my redoubtable milliner mother, pubescent infatuation was incapable of negotiating an invulnerable passage through the layers and feverish strata of puppy love. 

In the nineteen fifties, mothers possessed an infallibility which was every bit as dogmatic as  that of Pope Pius XII. And if a boy had the temerity to question this God given right, such a heresy could always be dealt with by use of the wooden spoon, an implement of enlightenment which was often administered with ecclesiastical zeal. So, if a mother decreed that the local tennis club was off-limits, needless to mention, an explanation was neither asked fornor offered….. The ball alley was fine, and fishing for white trout was also deemed a healthy pastime, but the tennis court, where gorgeous young ones in tennis whites might be loitering, was, for mysterious maternal reasons, not granted an imprimatur. 

Therefore, on this particular evening, as I stood at the perimeter fence of the local den of iniquity, clad in my corduroy get up, I felt the giddy pleasure of the miscreant. My eager little heart was going pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat as I stood there, my face meshed to the chicken wire while I watched Patricia, the Maria Sharapova of the day. A year older than myself, Patricia had that prepossessing, pouting beauty which playfully clawed young boys’ hearts, toyed with them, and then, with feline disdain for their wellbeing, cast them aside. 

Imagine that same eager little heart when, out of the blue, Patricia called me into the enclosure and thrust one of her friend’s tennis racquets at me. 

Now, she called over her shoulder as she swaggered to the other side of the net. Love all

And tossing the white fluffy ball into the air, left hand tapering gracefully aloft for a split second, right hand coiled behind her, blonde hair uncurling loosely onto her shoulders, she was, for one unearthly moment, a veritable Venus, poised on the opposite baseline. But then, with what seemed like satanic intent, she unleashed a swerving serve that flashed past my despairing lunge. Fifteen love, she piped that precious word once more as she sashayed to the other side and served again. 

How I scurried around, like a manic mongrel, trying to return her shots which were whizzing past me. Unwilling to cry halt, I persisted until, panting and perspiring, they invited me into The Pavillion. As Patricia towelled her temples daintily, her Pekinese bitch snooped around me, sniffing my sandals disdainfully. 

I like your style, Patricia said and suppressed laughter tittered from her friends. Standing there awkwardly, I admitted that it was my first time playing tennis. 

I don’t mean your tennis, she scoffed, pointing. I mean your trendy trousers

Amid an eruption of laughter, I looked down and noticed, for the first time, the chocolate brown bands of corduroy where my pragmatic mother had let down the legs of last years faded pants. 

I never ventured near the tennis court for the rest of that season. 

And this year again, as I set my television aversion aside and tune in for Wimbledon, I know that as I watch some  poor bewildered bloke scrambling to retrieve a viciously sliced backhand cross-court lob, I will suddenly be waylaid once more by  the memory of those mortifying moments from the summer of fifty five, when the Sixth Commandment, with all it forbade and all it decreed, sat severely aloof on the umpire’s chair. 


Footballers of Tarbert Comp.

David Kissane who trained this team posted the photo and caption on Facebook

Thirty years ago…The Tarbert Comprehensive School senior ladies Gaelic football team who won three county championships, two Munster championships and contested two All Ireland finals in the late 1980s. A privilege to have been your manager, ladies.


Lá ‘le Bríde, Harp and Lion, A Piseóg Hare, Crazy Prices and another Abbeyfeale Pub Closes


Moriartys, Handball Memories , Pres. memories and Listowel Brownies

1 Comment

  1. Unknown

    Mary, that story of the Tennis Court brought back a lot of memories. I don't know why the boy's mammies didn't want their little darlings going down there. I can assure him it was all innocent fun & lots of lads from Church St used to take their chances there & came to know harm – as far as I know. No boys from William St interestingly enough as far as I can remember. Your readers might be interested to know that the 'Pavilion' was actually a discarded carriage from the Lartique . I think they call that 're-purposed' now.

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