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

Carrigaline Pottery

On the banks of The Feale in June 2024

A Listowel connection

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh has a fan in Paul Durcan who heard him – mid commentary – send Greetings to our Friends in Brazil one summer Sunday. Here’s Paul’s poem from Poetry Ireland’s Everything to Play For anthology which Mícheál selected & read at our event at Listowel Writer’s Week 2015.

Did you have this tableware?

Carrigaline crockery graced every table I knew in my youth. While I am not a collector, I enjoy being part of a Facebook group given over to the celebration and preservation of this Irish treasure.

Here are a few pieces from that Facebook page.

Ard Churam Choir

On June 27 2024 I was in Ard Chúram day centre to hear a great performance by the Ard Churam Choir. I’d love to post a clip of the singing but I’m running out of space on my hosting platform and videos are very space hungry. Sorry. Take it from me, they were a treat.

Here are some of the lovely people I met there

This man entertained us while we were waiting for the choir to finish their performance in the Fuchsia Centre

Eleanor and Brenda

Aras Mhuire guests

Fact Check

I was a bit dubious about yesterday’s “fact”. It said that babies at birth can only see in black and white.

Jeremy Gould fact checked it for us and here in a nutshell is what he found on Snopes…

What’s True

Babies are born with a visual acuity that is below the threshold for legal blindness …

What’s False

… but it isn’t true that newborns can only see in black and white. Instead, they are able to perceive some colors, in an extremely muted way.

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Architect, n. someone who drafts a plan of your house and plans a draft of your money

A Fact

The toothbrush was invented in China in 1498. The brush was made of boar bristles.

Micheál ÓMuircheartaigh Remembered

Lavender in a flower bed outside the library

Official Opening

The service users were the VIPs who officially opened the new Dóchas, St. John of God day centre at Upper William Street on Thursday last, June 27 2024.

“The new Dóchas Day Service is expected to play a crucial role in the lives of many, offering various programs and activities tailored to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. The service’s goal is to empower these individuals, fostering a sense of belonging and enhancing their quality of life through personalized support and community involvement.”

(St. John Of Gods Kerry Services website)

Mourning Mícheál ÓMuircheartaigh

(Text and photos from Dan Paddy Andy Festival on Facebook)

Apologies that the photos are not in correct order here.

The sad news reached us on Tuesday of the passing of the legend Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Mícheál became well known to us in Lyreacrompane, not just because of his riveting and unique style of commentating on football and hurling matches on radio and TV but because he graciously agreed to unveil the Dan Paddy Andy Memorial in 1998 and ten years later returned at our invitation to officially launch the Dan Paddy Andy Festival. We have great memories of those times as were recalled by Joe Harrington in an interview with Jerry O’Sullivan on Radio Kerry on Wednesday morning. To hear the interview, (which was by phone) click on the following link. The interview is right at the start and follows a recording of Micheál reciting a locally composed verse at the unveiling in 1998. The total length of the recording and interview is just over 7 minutes long.

We have also added some photos from the events all those years ago… Photo 1 includes Fr O’Connell PP, Dan Paddy’s daughter Mary and her son at the unveiling along with her brother Jimmy from New York and John B Keane with Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh addressing the crowd. Photo 2 shows two men who knew most about matches! Photo 4 is at the marker outside the house in which Dan was born, lived and died and which is owned by Michael and Sue Lynch who are in the photograph along with Committee members back then. Photo 5 is of Jimmy O’Sullivan and Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh at the Memorial.  In photo 6 Michael Mangan is making a presentation to Micheál who had returned ten years after he unveiled the Monument to officially opened the 2007 Dan Paddy Andy Festival.

Árd Chúran Choir

Brenda O’Halloran invited me to hear this lovely choir on their first public performance on June 27 2024. They sang in the lovely Ard Chúram Centre. The audience was made up of visitors from the nearby Aras Mhuire Nursing Home.

It was a special day. I was delighted to be there.

Shelby conducting the choir

Brenda and Shelby

Teresa and Mary

Irish Christian Names

Sean Carlson’s essay continued

All my life, people have mispronounced and misspelled my mother’s name, Nuala, with no evidence of mal-intent. Mostly, I’ve seen it written as it sounds, “Noola” or “Newla,” and heard it spoken as it looks, “New-ah-la.” She has been referred to as “Nyala,” like the antelope and “Nala” like the “Lion King” heroine. Her most recent Starbucks order was made for “Lula,” and a piece of mail once addressed her as “Koala.” Although Irish names may at first appear daunting, their linguistic logic is easy to understand — with a few pointers.

The dictionary’s blunder — amusing to some, aggravating to others — did have some underlying value: All it takes is a closer look at the perceived disconnects between spelling and pronunciation in modern American English to appreciate the rich tapestry of influences behind the many words in our language that come from others.

The word “alcohol” stems from the Arabic al-kuḥl. “Ketchup” likely comes from the Hokkien Chinese word kê-chiap or the Malay kecap, in reference to sweet sauces. A friend in Ireland reminded me that cappuccino comes from the Italians, which means that whenever we order two, we should, grammatically speaking, be asking for cappuccini.

During summer barbecues, we have German to thank for frankfurters, hamburgers, and sauerkraut. The French gave us camaraderie. Our khaki pants are the result of British colonialism, the word for such a dusty color originating from Hindi, by way of Urdu, by way of Persian. As for the value of having good judgment, the word “acumen,” like so many English words, traces back to Latin. And of course, the Irish have given us a lot as well, their go leor becoming “galore” in English.

In the aftermath of the Great Famine, or An Gorta Mór, the 19th-century Encyclopedia Britannica — Merriam-Webster’s parent company as of 1964 — published its eighth edition with an extensive entry on Ireland. It explained to readers that Ireland was considered an important colony of the British crown and that the “natives” clung to the Celtic roots of Eri or Erin, Ireland’s name in Irish, “with the attachment of veneration.”

Of course, that veneration was an attempt to preserve a language — and with it, the culture it helped sustain. Even today, though Irish is an official language of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, UNESCO classifies it as endangered alongside its Gaelic brethren, Scottish and Manx, the language of the Isle of Man.

The next time Merriam-Webster pokes fun at an Irish name, it might want to first refer to another helpful dictionary: Teanglann, a public project to create a free online library for Irish-language grammar and pronunciation, including audio recordings in each dialect. Not only is the tool indispensable for helping with Irish-language learning, but it also makes it simple to discover words like botún, the Irish for faux pas: “a gross mistake.”

Seán Carlson is working on his first book, a family memoir about Irish migration.

A Fact

Newborn babies can only see in black and white for a few months.

I got this “fact” from a calendar. It sounds implausible to me but maybe someone will fact check it for us.


What’s in a Name?

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course

An Oldie and a Goodie

Carol Broderick shared this newspaper photo of some Listowel greats.


I remember when I encountered names in book which I had never met in reality, I just made up my own pronunciation of them. We dont have to do that now as there are so many aids to help us pronounce unfamiliar names correctly.

You don’t want to hear how I used to mangle Yvonne and Penelope.

Here is the first half of Sean Carlson’s essay on the subject of Irish names in The Boston Globe

“What word has the biggest disconnect between spelling and pronunciation?”

The Merriam-Webster account on X, known for snappier and snarkier posts than are usually associated with dictionary publishers, recently managed to provoke some ire from the Irish by answering its own question with “Asking for our friend, Siobhan.”

Ah, Siobhán, a feminine equivalent of my own name, Seán. In the case of Siobhán (pronounced shiv-AWN), the obvious failure with the attempted zinger is that the name is conspicuously absent from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, since it is a proper name in the Irish language, not English.

Evan O’Connell, communications director for the French nonprofit Paris Peace Forum, countered Merriam-Webster with a volley of English surnames: “You had Featherstonehaugh, Cholmondeley and Gloucestershire right there.”

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a lawyer with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, posted, “Once more for the people at the back: Irish names *are* pronounced the way that they are spelled. In *Irish.*”

Siobhán O’Grady, the chief Ukraine correspondent for The Washington Post, agreed, pointing out that the accent mark known as a “fada” is used to elongate the “a,” in Siobhán (and in Seán, for that matter).

To be fair, most Americans are unfamiliar with the nuances of the Irish language. “Cillian Murphy pronunciation” is a top search request, and “Cillian Murphy speaking Irish” isn’t too far behind. In 2016, Stephen Colbert welcomed Saorise Ronan to the “Late Show” and held up flash cards of Irish first names — Tadhg, Niamh, Oisin, and Caoimhe — for her to read aloud. When they came to Siobhán, Colbert laughinglycalled it “ridiculous.”….

Greenway Milestones

These signs have appeared to help those going or coming on The Greenway.

Proof Reading

Reggie helping Bobby to check if I got his good side.

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Appeal; In law, to put the dice back into the box for another throw.

A Fact

The world’s oldest creature, a mollusc, was 507 years old when scientists killed it by accident.


Visitors and a Concert

Schiller in The Garden of Europe in June 2024

Welcome Visitors

My three children and some of their children in John Paul 11 cemetery last weekend.

It’s lovely to have family come to visit. My grandchildren are at the stage where tennis, horse riding, football, golf, weekend jobs and other activities get in the way of weekends in Kerry. Aoife, the youngest is freer than her older cousins.

Aoife loves the library almost as much as I do.

We met a local celebrity, Billy Keane, on our walk around town. Billy had just returned to work after nipping out for a packet of biscuits to have with his cuppa. He generously shared his snack with Aoife.

We rested on the Michael Dowling seat at Kerry Writers’ Museum.

We took photos at many of the landmarks.

Aoife was unwilling to get into the o of the Lios Tuathail sculpture. She will yet.

A Poem by John Fitzgerald

This deceptively simple poem probes the dilemma faced by many, the awful choice, to treat or not to treat.

“How precious is a single day,” indeed.

I was in The Marquee

Ireland seems to be concert central this summer. My gang are going to Taylor Swift this weekend. The bracelets are made already.

Three and four concerts in a week is not unusual for the big cities in summer 2024.

The selfie went a but awry but I was trying to show that we started with our preshow supper in the Marina Market. This was a first for me too.

This is a fast food hall that started with food trucks during Covid but has now expanded into a huge indoor and outdoor food court. There is a huge variety of fast food available. Anne, who is a sometimes visitor, has her favourites among the vendors. It was really busy on the Friday night we visited.

This is Anne at The Marquee, which is just a 5 minute walk from the Marina Market.

Mick Flannery on stage. He was fantastic. I’m more used to him singing soulfully on his own or with Susan O’Neill so the big sound he brought to this show took a bit of getting used to for me.

A small gripe from my first concert. My daughter, who was treating me, bought seated tickets but apparently people with seat tickets can choose to stand nearer the stage if they like. They can wander down to the standing area and back to their seats as often as they like. Also drink is served throughout the concert and of course liquid in, liquid out, so there is a constant trek to the bar and to and from the toilets. This is all part of the concert experience, I’m told.

A Bit of History

On the 25th of March 1923 Private Hayes of Óglaigh na hÉireann/National Forces was accidently shot dead when challenged by a sentry at Newtownsandes County Kerry. Hayes was a native of Killarney County Kerry.

A Fact

The strongest muscle in the human body is the masseter, the jaw muscle.


The First TV in Kerry

Looking into The Garden on Europe in June 2024

Remembering Paddy Fitzgibbon

Early Adoptors

(Pic and story from Facebook page Anyone from Ballyduff out there)

In the early days, Mr. and Mrs. Bridie and Liam Kearney embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, establishing their business in the quaint setting of Mrs. White’s old shop in Benmore. The very location that now houses Buds was once the hub where they offered an array of products, from new bicycles to battery-powered radios. On December 1, 1961, the Kearney’s achieved a significant milestone by receiving one of the first television signals in Kerry. Their innovative spirit also led them to introduce the first milking machines in the area and to install the pioneering oil-fired central heating systems in newly constructed houses. A captivating photo captures the moment when Liam and Bridie received the inaugural television picture in Kerry, marking a defining moment in the history of their business.

A Poem by John Fitzgerald

Death of a Legend

This photograph of the late Micheál ÓMuircheartaigh was posted by his nephew in 2018. In this snap Micheál is celebrating his 90th birthday by abseiling down Dún Síon.

Micheál was the ultimate professional commentator. His legendary witticisms and anecdotes were carefully crafted and memorised. He had a prodigious memory and capacity for instant recall.

He was a gentleman to his fingertips and loved by Kerrymen and Irishmen everywhere.

His will be the voice of commentary as Gaeilge forever.

Slán abhaile a Mhichíl

Go gcloise tú ceol binn na nAingeal go sioraí.

A Fact

This old man he played one
He played nick nack on my drum
With a nick nack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home….

This rhyme is thought to have originated in the time of The Famine. Irishmen, fleeing the Famine, ended up on the streets of England begging for a living. These beggars were often badly treated. The rhyme suggests that even the dogs were thrown something but not the beggar who was given a “whack” and sent packing.


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