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

What a Prize!

Listowel Fire Station; April 2024

Bravery in Action

Photo and story from Maine Valley Post

The Maine Valley Post

Ava Holly from Listowel and her boyfriend, D.J.Fealey from Cordal are taking on a ‘daretobebrave’ challenge by abseiling off Croke Park’s Hogan Stand on Saturday, April 20th in aid of Children’s Health Ireland. 

Cordal man D.J.Fealey and his Listowel girlfriend, Ava Holly are taking on a ‘daretobebrave’ challenge by abseiling off Croke Park’s Hogan Stand on Saturday, April 20th in aid of Children’s Health Ireland. 

“I suppose I brought D.J. into this world of Children’s Health Ireland after being an ongoing patient of Crumlin Children’s Hospital for over 20 years,” said Ava.

“It’s a foundation that is extremely close to my heart and we are both so excited to be taking on this challenge,” she said.

Daring to be Brave Every Day

“Children and parents alike dare to be brave every single day within the hospitals that Children’s Health Ireland makes up: Crumlin; Temple Street and Connolly,” Ava continued.

“Whether it be through daily/weekly/monthly checkups or staying positive whilst having lengthily admittance into any of these chosen hospitals away from family and friends and away from a normal childhood experience.

Facing our Fears

“The bravery of each and every person and child in these hospitals deserves to be admired, appreciated and praised beyond what words can possibly describe.

“This is why we are facing our fears and daring to be brave and we hope you can help us get to our final goal of €1000.00 between the two of us. Any donation big or small goes such a long way for such a worthy cause.

“We appreciate any help and well wishes sent our way,” said Ava in conclusion. Learn more with a click on the link here:

Huge Prize

Remember this from April 19 1930 New York Irish American Advocate that Jer Kennelly researched and I included here on Wednesday

James Duggan, N. T., Glin, member of Glin football team, was the lucky winner of first prize at Adare whist drive a valuable motor car.

I was very sceptical about this story as a car as a prize from something a trivial as a whist drive seemed incredible.


In a case of truth stranger than fiction, our other diligent researcher, David O’Sullivan found these.

Denis Hogan who came second must have been gutted. He only got £3.

David and I suspect the car may not have been brand new. A car in perfect mechanical condition in 1930 was still a substantial prize.

Riabhóg Days; April 1 to 12

The rough early days of April 2024 are explained in a post from

April borrows weather from March

There is a common story found around Ireland and also in the Irish communities in Newfoundland, that April borrows some days from March. Some people say 3 days, more 4 days, more 7 days, more 9 days and more 12 days.

Regardless of how many days, the general theory is the first few days April come with a warning and that they’d skin your cow (ie she’d get hammered by the wind, cold and bad weather if she was left out on the first days of April.)

I’ve recorded these stories all over Wexford, Mayo, Clare, Donegal and also Newfoundland.

Around the country they are known as the Borrowing Days, the Borrowed Days as well the Riabhóg Days and other variants of that.

In Ulster there are often referred to the days that would ‘Skin Branny’. Branny is a word used for a cow in Scotland and the north of Ireland. In parts of Ireland and Newfoundland they are referred to them as The Old Cows Days and in Clare I heard it said these cold days killed ‘Mrs Brown’s Cow’.

As I said, normally they say that the borrowed cold days would skin your poor cow but going by the consistent rain I’d say there’s a chance they’d drown her this year!

Lartigue Theatre Group

John Kelliher took some photos of the Lartigue Theatre Group’s recent production of The Patrick Pearse Motel. The play finished its run on Sunday.

A Trip Down Memory Lane Tonight

A Fact

In 2019 the capital of Finland, Helsinki went an entire year without a single pedestrian of cyclist fatality.


Things Remembered and Things Best Forgotten

In Childers’ Park in April 2024

The Way we Were

I saw this online and it took me back. Younger people will have no idea what this is and will be horrified when I tell them.

Once upon a time we bought loose biscuits. The different varieties of biscuit were displayed in these tins with glass lids. The shopkeeper, when you had chosen your order, would dive his (ungloved and unwashed) hand into the box and take you out a fistful. Biscuits, like many other commodities were sold by weight. My mother usually bought Marie biscuits, which we ate sandwiched with butter or ate singly with a layer of butter and jam.

I remember an awful confection called currant bats. These were dry flat crumbly biscuits with currants dotted on top. They were very popular. Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Creams were luxury biscuits, as were Jersey Creams and Fig Rolls. At Christmas we had what was called a half tin of Afternoon Tea or USA.

Maureen Sweeney Honoured

This is the new postmark with which An Post is paying tribute to the Blacksod post mistress, with a North Kerry Connection, who changed the course of history.

Maureen was born and raised in Knockanure. She passed away last year at the age of 100.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about her.

Maureen Flavin Sweeney (3 June 1923 – 17 December 2023) was an Irish postmistress. She grew up in County Kerry but moved to Blacksod, County Mayo, at the age of 18 to take up a position at a post office. One of Flavin Sweeney’s duties was to make weather observations that were reported to Allied forces during the Second World War. Blacksod’s position on the west coast made it one of the first stations to report westerly storms. 

On 3 June 1944, Flavin Sweeney made the first observation of a coming storm that threatened Allied vessels in the English Channel. Following her observation, US commander Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to postpone the invasion of France by 24 hours, from 5 June to 6 June. After the war, Flavin Sweeney took over the post office, running it until her retirement in the 2000s. She received recognition for her wartime role from the US Congress in 2021.

If you are planning an outing this is the perfect place to bring young or old.

A Fact

The Amazon rainforest has been in existence for at least 55 million years


Wet and Stormy

Bridge Road in April 2024

Thomas Galvin Memorial

The Creamery

This photo is from the Killorglin Archive online. The scene was replicated in hundreds of small branch creameries in the 1960s. Our local one was Bannagh, a branch of North Cork Creameries. Horses and donkeys laden with churns of fresh milk made their way to the landing every morning. A sample was taken, to be tested for butterfat content. Every supplier had his creamery book where his daily supply was noted. This was his record. The creamery also kept a record. Suppliers got a “creamery cheque” at the end of the month. The churns were often filled with skim milk to take home to feed calves.

The pace of life was slower then.

Upcoming Performance

Frances is performing nearer to her old home on Friday next.

Last week in the same theatre they had John B. Keane’s Rain at the End of Summer. According to my friends who attended it was brilliant.

Storm Kathleen

Last weekend’s storm brought out many photographers. Here are some great photos from Fenit that Graham Davies shared online.

A Poem

Here is another Padraic Colum poem we learned at school. There are no drovers any more. These men were jobbers who made a living by buying and selling cattle at fairs. They were shrewd judges of cattle and knew their market well. They were also amateur psychologists who could size up a seller in a minute, knowing well who had to sell and who could afford to bring his beast home to wait for another day.

A Drover

To Meath of the pastures, 

From wet hills by the sea, 

Through Leitrim and Longford 

Go my cattle and me. 

I hear in the darkness 

Their slipping and breathing. 

I name them the bye-ways 

They’re to pass without heeding. 

Then the wet, winding roads, 

Brown bogs with black water; 

And my thoughts on white ships 

And the King o’ Spain’s daughter. 

O! farmer, strong farmer! 

You can spend at the fair 

But your face you must turn 

To your crops and your care. 

And soldiers—red soldiers! 

You’ve seen many lands; 

But you walk two by two, 

And by captain’s commands. 

O! the smell of the beasts, 

The wet wind in the morn; 

And the proud and hard earth 

Never broken for corn; 

And the crowds at the fair, 

The herds loosened and blind, 

Loud words and dark faces 

And the wild blood behind. 

(O! strong men with your best 

I would strive breast to breast 

I could quiet your herds 

With my words, with my words.) 

I will bring you, my kine, 

Where there’s grass to the knee; 

But you’ll think of scant croppings 

Harsh with salt of the sea.

A Fact

Even though they are huge, blue whales feed almost exclusively on tiny krill. These are very small shrimp-like fish.


Garden and Garden Centre

In the Garden of Europe in April 2024

Listowel Garden Centre

Covid 19 wasn’t all bad. I was the recipient of much kindness during the pandemic lockdown. One of the kind gestures made to me was the gift of this plant from the kind people at Listowel Garden Centre. In the four years since, it was continued to thrive and give me pleasure every time I see it. Thank you, Nick and Co.

On their website the garden centre gang shared this Kerry’s Eye photo of the official opening 40 years ago.

Here’s to the next 40!

A Poem

Vincent Doyle sent us this email

I wanted to share this with you: An Old Woman of the Roads by Padraic Colum.

I remember learning this poem in Dromerin school and feeling sorry for this poor woman.

An Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house! 

To own the hearth and stool and all! 

The heaped up sods against the fire, 

The pile of turf against the wall!


To have a clock with weights and chains 

And pendulum swinging up and down! 

A dresser filled with shining delph, 

Speckled and white and blue and brown! 

I could be busy all the day 

Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor, 

And fixing on their shelf again 

My white and blue and speckled store! 

I could be quiet there at night 

Beside the fire and by myself, 

Sure of a bed and loth to leave 

The ticking clock and the shining delph! 

Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark, 

And roads where there’s never a house nor bush, 

And tired I am of bog and road, 

And the crying wind and the lonesome hush! 

And I am praying to God on high, 

And I am praying Him night and day, 

For a little house – a house of my own 

Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

This old poem has a new resonance today in our world of millions of homeless and displaced people.

A Listowel Lady Making a Name for Herself in the U.S.

Photo and text from the Providence College website

Dr. Elizabeth Stack Executive Director American Irish Historical Society 991 5th Ave., NYC February 2, 2024 Photo: James Higgins

(Providence, RI) – American Irish Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Elizabeth Stack will be the featured speaker at Providence College’s Third Annual Murphy/Healy Lecture in Irish Culture. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, March 1 at 6:00 p.m. in ’64 Hall on the Providence College campus. Free parking is available in the College’s Wardlaw Ave. lot, adjacent to Slavin Center, where ’64 Hall is located. 

Dr. Stack’s topic will be “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears: Ireland’s Immigration Story.” In this lecture, Dr. Stack will trace the changing patterns of emigration and how the diaspora has adapted to life in America. She will also look at how Ireland has coped with the exodus of her people, and how for the first time in her history, Ireland has recently received more people than have left. 

Dr. Stack was previously the executive director of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, NY and before that she taught Irish and Irish American History and was an Associate Director at Fordham University’s Institute of Irish Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Fordham, writing about Irish and German immigrants in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, as they grappled with the immigration restriction movements of that time. She has a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century from University College Dublin in Ireland.  

Originally from Listowel, in Co. Kerry, Dr. Stack sees a huge connection between her own experience as an immigrant, and the important mission of the Society to preserve and share Irish contributions to American history. 

The Murphy/Healy Lecture in Irish Culture series was founded in 2020 with an endowment gift from John M. Murphy, Sr. ’19. The lecture aims to bring together students, faculty, staff, and the broader Rhode Island community in a greater understanding of Irish history. 

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars. The Catholic, liberal arts college has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,100 students and offers degrees in 56 academic majors.  Since 1997, Providence College consistently has been ranked among the top five regional universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report’s“America’s Best Colleges.” 

A Fact

Japan experiences approximately 1,500 earthquakes every year.


Local, Personal and World News

Sunny day in The Garden of Europe in April 2024

Danny Hannon’s Bookshop

I posted this last week. Danny Hannon R.I.P. had a newsagents and book shop in Main Street where Glamourous is today.

Then in a piece of synchronicity, Aisling Neville sent me this bookmark that she found in an old book.

“Books on your doorstep by land, sea and air. All titles, all authors. The easy way.”

Danny was a great man for the grand gesture and the flowing phrase. He was ahead of his time. Listowel is the poorer for his passing.

My Niece, the World Champion

Adult Irish step dancing is increasing in popularity. If you have danced competitively as a youngster, you may miss the camaraderie of it all in adulthood. Christine has gone back to her childhood pastime with not a little success.

Christine and her two friends won gold in the World Championships for their three hand reel. The competition was held in Scotland.

Dancers and their teacher.

Jer’s Bits of News from the Archives

April 19 1930 New York NY 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 sad arms, still they are not of a serious nature.


The heaviest snow-fall for thirty-years was recorded in Cashel Saturday,


An anniversary Mass for the repose of the soul of the late Father J  Heffernan, a native of Killarney, was celebrated at All Souls’ Church in San Francisco.


The death in Chicago of Mrs. Ellen Cregan Wallace, a native of Glin, who emigrated about 40 years ago, is deeply regretted by her numerous relatives and friends.


James Duggan, N. T., Glin, member of Glin football team, was the lucky winner of first prize at Adare whist drive a valuable motor car.

( A car as a prize for a whist drive in 1930!!!!!! Something amiss here, I’d say)

A Poem

One for the Diary

A Fact

Paper recycling was first recorded in 1031. Yes, you read that correctly, 1031!!!!!! Shops in Japan sold repulped paper.

Source of this extraordinary fact: my fact a day calendar


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