Listowel Connection

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

In Ballybunion and Tralee

Road from the library

Ballybunion, A visitor’s Angle

Text and photos from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry DavidThoreau.

This is a ‘mantra’ that I repeat continuously to my charges on school history tours.  Looking is a passive, surface-level act; seeing is an active process of interpretation.  But, due to aggressive modern ‘landscaping’, they would be forgiven for not noticing that the iconic castle overlooking the beaches in Ballybunion was built on the site of a much earlier coastal promontory fort. 

These forts, generally assigned to the Iron Age, consist of promontories connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land and defended elsewhere by steep cliffs. On the landward side they are defended by earthen banks and fosses.

In Ballybunion the path from the beach seems to pass through the fosse between the two outer banks, before bursting through the inner of the two into the castle green itself. There is a much eroded third bank nearer the castle. The few that have been investigated show that they were not permanent occupation sites. Probably only used in times of trouble. Check it out the next time you’re in BallyB.

The castle was built in the early 16th century by a branch of the Geraldines. They placed a Bonzan family there as caretakers. Bonzan-Bunyan, Bunion- this family gave its name to the place.

Flowers in Tralee

A Poem


There is little joy in growing old, some maturing people say

As they get stressed with the ageing process, trying to cope

With health, death of partners, accommodation

And who will look after their daily needs as they age

Their household and personal requirements

Finances, health issues, nursing home facilities

Or maybe they want to keep their own independence

Will family members pop in and assist with household chores

Will they be able to cook and mind the house

With assistance from home help and meals on wheels

What family member has space in their home where they can live for a while

Will they be able to get respite care when they need it.

Decisions, decisions, mostly out of older peoples’ control

They are really difficult decisions to be decided

Which put a strain on family relations

This can result in arguments and bitter feuds

Which are sometimes nasty and deeply wounding

Often caused by some simple silly remark

Or misrepresentation of some retort

Which should be ignored by sensible  people involved

Sadly, this does not happen on a regular basis

Forgiveness is often forgotten about

I am sorry, I regret what I said or why can’t people say

Sorry I misunderstood what you said or did

Instead of prolonged shouting and arguments

Followed by legal advisers and costly court cases

These bitter family feuds can go on for years and years

Causing more stress, anxiety and tears

This is so sad when a family member dies

And some other members refuse to attend

Wakes, reposing, masses, funerals or cremation services

Tensions are unfortunately unnecessarily risen

There are stern stressed looking countenances

When feuding members meet socially or on the street

Scowling and frowning and attempting avoidance

Eyes down, looking in the other direction

With every facial and body muscle tensed and stressed out

When a simple hello how are you?

Or warm embrace or a hug or handshake

                                                      Could soothe and resolve the nastiest of rows.

In my life I have seen family members excluded from wills

Court cases ensuing, arguments, fights and injuries

Even death and murder most foul

Caused by not getting a few acres of land

A bit of financial endowment or house in a will

And mental and physical stress continues to the grave and beyond.

Mick O Callaghan. June 2024

I love the chorus line of Ken Dodds song  ‘Tears’ written in 1930 that goes ‘Let’s forgive and forget
Turn our tears of regret ,Once more to tears of happiness’

Or as the American journalist, author and world peace advocate, Norman Cousins [1915-1990] said ‘Life is an adventure in forgiveness’.

’What a great country we would have if we could have more forgiveness and less tears and regrets.

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

barometer n. an ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.

A Fact

In 1908 the morse code signal …—… became the worldwide standard for help.


Looking Forward to Revival

Up the Rebels!

Photo; Ryan Byrne; inpho

Áras an Phiarsaigh

Revival 2024

Saturday’s line up

…and listen

From the Newspaper Archive

April 1930 Irish American Advocate

Whilst crossing a Meld in Drumcunnig, Abbeydorney, a few days ago, Maurice Hayes, a youth, was attacked by five greyhounds and a Kerry Blue. It is stated that though young Hayes sustained injuries to both his legs and arms, still they are not of a serious nature.

( I haven’t heard the word meld used like this before. Is it still in use?)

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

bait n. a preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.

A Fact

In 1698 the British engineer, Thomas Savery, patented the first steam engine.


At a Cost

Kerry Writers’ Museum in June 2024

Revival 2024

This will be a good one. The lineup looks special. Get buying those tickets.

Our Beautiful old Coins

These beautiful animals were once in everyone’s pockets. As we move ever closer to a cashless economy, let’s take a minute to see how beautiful these pre -decimal Irish coins were.

Another Find at the Library

You can borrow these “age friendly” tablets from the library for 10 weeks at a time. They are ideal for an old person who has to go into hospital or for respite or even in their own home.

Once you have a gmail account they are relatively easy to set up and they are programmed for local regions. They have a calendar and diary, links to the webpages of the local newspapers, links to local churches so you can “attend” mass if that’s your thing. You can take photos and chat to friends. I think they are a “try before you buy” option for someone who likes to stay in touch. On these Acorn age friendly tablets you can use Borrowbox, the free library online store of books , papers and magazines. When you hand it back, the library staff will wipe all your stuff off it before the next borrower.

What I’m Reading

I usually have a few books on the go at a time. This one won this year’s Writers’ Week Kerry Novel of the Year. It is very very good.

Piece of serendipity in the IWA charity shop this week…expect some great weird and wonderful facts from this source.

Squashed In

I just love the names of flowers and plants

Like the lovely Sauce Hollandaise daisies

Conjuring up images of summer salad days

Or that adorable Butternut Squash

With images of butter and nuts

Being squashed together

To make a tasty nourishing mash

I first became aware of this lovely vegetable

In the year of two thousand and ten.

I was just retired from teaching

And was embarking on a new way of living

Health matters were now a more pertinent issue

Weight loss and exercise became a focus for me

With aspirations to become a slimmer, fitter, healthier me

So, I betook myself off to a healthy heart course

With the emphasis on eating meat dishes demoted

                                            And using vegetarian dishes was promoted

For their beneficial effects for healthy living

We had carrots, lettuces, cous cous and coleslaw

There were melons, oranges apples and bananas

We tried shepherdess pies, Moroccan tagines

                                           There was tofu with ginger and broccoli spears

Then we were introduced to special soups and dishes

With butternut squash being the new one to me

We made butternut squash soup

We roasted it in the oven, skin and all

It tasted yummy and delicious 

Leaving my taste buds with a yearning for more

We made risottos and curries

I really liked eating them all

Because it was such nice nutritious food

Also, on our menu we had 

Quinoa with stir-fried greens

There was wheat grass and juices

Energy balls and sprouts

Diet plans and meal plans

I got used to living a more spartan lifestyle routine

Shedding kilos of weight and waistline inches

Reducing my cholesterol and blood pressure levels

 My energy levels increased appreciably

I just loved my expanded healthy menu choices

With my new friend, my delectable butternut squash

 heading the nutrient field for me

In my newly acquired style of healthy living routine

 Mick O Callaghan June 2024

A Fact

Octopuses have three hearts. (You know where I got this one.)


Hungry July

Greenway photo by John Kelliher

Hungry July

July is the month before the Harvest comes in. In the days before copious imported produce, farmers and housewives worried about making last year’s stocks last through to harvest time.

Here is what Kevin Danaher’s The Year in Ireland has to say. This account is from 1841

This year, 2024, we’ve had a poor summer after a wet winter and spring. Fodder for cattle and grains and vegetables for us all are a cause of concern.

If we think we’re badly off we need to take a look at our poor forefathers in the years before it all went so disastrously wrong for them in the 1840s.

A Few More from Ard Churam

Some singers and audience on June 27 2024

A Definition

From The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

auctioneer n. someone who proclaims with his hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue

A Fact

In 1568 the Catholic Church condemned the entire population of The Netherlands to death, for heresy.


Glin Castle

Lavender at Listowel Courthouse

Some People I met at the Ard Chúram Performance

A Fishtank

This tank with its very colourful fish is in Ard Chúram Day Centre.

A Poem

This poem by Seamus Redmond will forever be associated with Micheál ÓMuircheartaigh who recited it so beautifully.

A Hurler’s Prayer

With strength of arm and speed of limb 
Unerring eye for the flying ball 
And courage to match whate’er befall
May my stroke be steady and my aim be true
My actions manly and my misses few
No matter what way the game may go
May I rest in friendship with every foe
When the final whistle for me has blown
And I stand at last before God’s judgement throne
May the great referee when he calls my name
Say, you hurled like a man; you played the game.
Seamus Redmond

Glin Castle

Glin Castle was featured in a Discover Ireland post and the proprietors were delighted. Here is what they posted of Facebook.

Thank you to Discover Ireland for featuring us in their article “How to plan a Taylor  Swift-inspired short break in Ireland” 

Article reads:  

” Back in 2018, Swift and Alwyn spent Christmas in Glin Castle, the luxurious country manor on the edge of the Shannon Estuary. The castle is the ancestral home of Catherine FitzGerald, who runs the historic pile with her husband, the actor Dominic West.  

Once again, it was an Instagram post that tipped off followers, who identified the backdrop of Alwyn’s photo as the Knight’s Walk, a 3km loop that weaves through the grounds to the highest point of the Glin Demesne, with great views of the water and the castle itself along the way. And the good news is you don’t need to stay at the castle to do the walk yourself, as it’s open to the public. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the occasional open days held at Glin Castle, so you can have a look around the impressive 18th century features in the house where they stayed. 

Swift and Alwyn also reportedly stopped for a pint in O’Shaughnessy’s, where she bought a raffle ticket for the local GAA team. This charming country pub was a good choice – it’s just outside the walls of the castle, with antique whiskey jugs on the shelves, a roaring open fire and cosy armchairs.”

A Fact

Human saliva contains a painkiller called opiorphin. It is six times more powerful than morphine.


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