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

Tag: 1960

Listowel Town Square, Washday in 1960, Ballybunion’s New Toilet

Feale Sculpture with St. John’s in Listowel Town Square in June 2020.


Jim and Betty Beasley out for a walk in June 2020


A Poem for our Time


Progress Report from Danny McDonnell

Public toilets are closed at the moment for health and safety reasons. Meanwhile Ballybunion’s new convenience is coming along nicely.


Did your house have one of these?

Servis Supertwin twin tub washing machine, mid-1960s.

‘I can always remember my mother saying, “this is heaven, this has to be heaven…because it took the drudgery out of the hard work people had to do. – Maureen Gavan, Interviewed February 2017

The first phase of Electricity Supply Board’s (ESB) rural electrification programme began in 1946 and ran until 1965 with a post-development phase running into the 1970s. Although many rural women worked in offices and shops, as well as on the farm, the marriage bar and prevailing cultural attitudes meant that many women’s experiences of rural electrification were at home, where the kitchen was the focus of domestic work.

Kitchen Power: Women’s Experiences of Rural Electrification – National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Castlebar, Mayo.



The new regulations allow us to travel anywhere in our own county. My first trip outside the 5km. limit wa to Ballybunion.

As I walked along the cliff walk I met my friend, Mary Moylan, and two of her friends taking a welcome breather from their roles as front line nurses in KUH.

It is very hard to see mobile home parks cordoned off in the height of the tourist season.

The Cliff House is preparing to open  for what’s left of the season.

Listowel Children in the 1960s, A Holy Well and Armistice Day Centenary Commemorations in Listowel

The River Feale behind the Listowel Arms; Photo: Charlie Nolan


Old Pals

“Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.”

Bernard O’Connell who lived in Upper William Street Listowel and now lives in Canada posted to Facebook this picture of his childhood friends.


A Holy Well

From the schools folklore collection at Dúchas

Tarbert School collection. Nora Scanlon, Dooncaha.

Our Holy Wells

There is a well in Tarmons known as St. Senan’s. It is in the corner of Buckley’s field in Ballintubber.

This well is not deep and a stream flows out of it. Always in the month of May people pay rounds at this well on every Saturday of the month.

This is how people pay rounds. People pick up seven pebbles out of the stream and then kneel down at the well and start reciting the Rosary. Then they start at the right hand side of the well and walk slowly all round reciting a decade of the Rosary while going round. At the end of each decade they throw one pebble away. Then when the seventh round is paid they kneel down and finish the Rosary. Then they take three drinks out of the well and wash their faces at the stream. Then they usually tie a piece of cloth on an overhanging bush. It is said that according as the cloth wears away the disease wears off the patient.

It is called St. Senan’s well because it was St. Senan who blessed its waters. From the well you can see the ruins of seven churches and round tower in Scattery built by St. Senan.

There are no fish in the well and the water is not used for household purposes. Once a woman went to fill her kettle at the well. She forgot to bring a vessel with which to fill her kettle. She left her kettle at the well and went back for a saucepan. When she returned the well had disappeared and the bush with it. It went from the top of the hill to the side where it is now.


A Thought

As Asphalt and concrete

 Replace bushes and trees,

As highways and buildings 

Replace marshes and woods

What will replace the song of the birds?

Tony Chen


Only in Ireland

Photo; Random Cork Stuff


People at the Armistice Day Centenary Commemoration in Listowel

On a cold showery Sunday a good crowd turned up to commemorate the men who endured appalling hardship in the most awful of wars. Cold and rain were nothing compared to weeks spent in wet trenches with rats for company.

Carmel Gornall was there with her brother and two sisters in law.

Carmel’s sisters in law had grandfathers who served in The Great war.

Great to see Jim Halpin brave the cold to be part of it. Jim has done more than most in North Kerry to make sure that the names of the brave men who fought will be remembered.

Local history lovers and retired military men turned out in numbers to remember.


One to Watch

 Bánú nó Slánú:  Thursday TG4  9.30p.m.

This documentary looks at the small town way of life that is dying a death in Ireland, as illustrated by a visit to once thriving towns in Kerry and Leitrim. Ballylongford in north Kerry has seen its mill, creamery and many businesses close over the last 30 years. In 2017, no new children started in the national school for the first time in living memory and its post office is now under threat.  One of the last small farmers in the village, Donal O’Connor, who’s in his 70s, sums things up: “I’m the last of the family. There are no small farmers anymore.”  Kiltyclogher in north Leitrim made the headlines when it launched a media campaign to attract people to move to the village. Six  families made the move, helping to save the local school  – but one year on, how does the future look? Did the newcomers stay? And have they done enough?

(Photo and text from Irish Times TV Guide)

Irish College 2015 style, some ads and memories of a fleadh cheoil long ago.

Coláiste Bhréanainn, Baile an Buineánaigh

All’s changed, changed utterly from the Irish college experience of old. There are still claisceadail and ceilithe but now the young people get to go surfing, Tae kwando, zumba, limbo, crazy golf and a historical tour of Ballybunion. Judging by Coláiste Bhréanainn’s Facebook page learning Irish has never before been such fun.


New Playground in Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork

Well worth a visit if you are lucky enough to spend some time in the real capital of Ireland.


Listowel businesses in 1960


More of Betty Stack’s old cuttings

This picture accompanied a story about Listowel’s introducing a Seachtain Cheoil in the week of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. The idea was taken on board and is now an integral part of the Fleadh. In the photo are Muriel Dowling, Geraldine Dowling and Gerard Buckley.


Lovely Day for a Wedding


+ Tragic Death of Benny Collins +

“The death has taken place of Benny Collins, son of Mary Ellen and Denis Collins, Templeathea.  He was living in Swansea, Wales and died on the 28th of July 2015. Survived by his wife Mel, son Harry, parents and brothers Denis, John, and Leo, sisters Catherine and Helena.”

The story behind the news 

“A brave dad drowned while saving his son after he was caught in a rip tide at a holiday beach.

Physiotherapist Benny managed to save Harry, nine, from drowning at popular beach – which has no lifeguard cover.

But he was pronounced dead following the seaside tragedy at Three Cliffs Bay in Gower, South Wales on Tuesday.

Irish-born Benny had been the captain of Gowerton rugby club in his home city of Swansea, South Wales.

The team played tribute to their former player.

A spokesman said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our former captain Benny Collins.

“A true gent in every sense, will be missed by all.”

The dad and son were pulled from the sea by fellow-swimmers at on Tuesday afternoon and flown to hospital.

Benny was pronounced dead while Harry was treated at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, where his father worked, and was later released.

Benny’s friend John Knox paid tribute to him, saying: “A wonderful husband and father. Benny Collins will be with the angels.”

Another friend, Chris Mason, said: “Devastating news about Benny Collins. Loved playing with him for Gowerton RFC, such a great bloke will be missed by so many people.”

His wife Melanie, 42, was being supported by specially trained police officers.

Brave Benny is the latest fatality at the beach which is part of the Gower Peninsula – designated as the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

(Irish Mirror online)

Con Houlihan, a Listowel connection

Last week I wrote about Con Houlihan, the art critic. Today I’ll address Con Houlihan, the book reviewer.

According to his obituary in Saturday’s Irish Times, Con”s first article in a national paper was a review of Solzhenitsyn’s novel, The First Circle.

” When the review appeared, I couldn’t have been more excited if I had won The Nobel Prize or been voted captain of Castle Island RFC.” he wrote later.

As a journalist, Con was a bit of a Jack of all Trades and he did the occasional review. His classical studies and his wide ranging general knowledge made him the ideal man to assess a play or a book.

One book that he enjoyed reviewing was our own Vincent Carmody’s North Kerry Camera.

Here is what he wrote in The Evening Press on Saturday December 8 1990:

“The fair town of Listowel has produced yet another book. The
perpetrator is a young man called Vincent Carmody – and the new arrival is
christened “North Kerry Camera”.

   It is a loving
chronicle of Listowel and its outback between 1860 and 1960. Over the last 20 years or so we have become
more and more aware of our heritage. The reason is clear, our country in those
two decades has been changing at a mighty rate of knots. Our awareness of this
change has led to us appreciating more keenly the value of our heritage.

  Vincent Carmody has
done the state some service; his book – both in pictures and in words – is an
invaluable contribution to history. The picture on the front cover will be
familiar to many. It shows two beshawled women riding high ona donkey-and-cart
as they pass Galvin’s pub, otherwise The Central Hotel. The words are contributed by John B. Keane,
Brian Kennelly, Eamon Keane, Bryan MacMahon, John O’Flaherty, Fr Kieran O’Shea,
Ned O’Sullivan, John Molyneaux and Sean McCarthy. Eamon Keane and Sean McCarthy
are no longer with us; I was privileged to have enjoyed their friendship.

  I love especially
the photograph of The Square on a fair day. I know that Square very well
indeed; I bought and sold Bonhams there in my wild youth. The fairs are now
almost a thing of the past – and I am not being sentimental in regretting their
passing. I am not indulging in a pun when I say that, unlike the marts, they
gave the small man a fair chance.

  Of course sport is
not neglected; it plays a huge part in the culture of Kerry. There is a grand
picture of Tommy Stack being almost mobbed as he came back after winning a
historic Grand National on Red Rum in 1977. Tommy is my neighbor on the other
side of the great moorland. – I shed a few tears in Aintree on that famous day.

  All on one page
there are pictures of four north Kerry immortals – Con Brosnan, Denis Moran,
Tim Kennelly and Jimmy Deenihan. Denis Moran is not really a son of north
Kerry, except by residence. His dear departed father was a native of
Cahirciveen; his mother, my sweet departed friend, was a daughter of

  Jerry Kiernan, that
deer in human form, figures too; we see him winning a marathon somewhere in
America, 2.12.48. We see Willie Sexton with oval ball in hands making a break
in the light-blue of Garryowen. And we
see my old friend Pat Mulcare, the great golfer, swinging a wood on some
unspecified course.

  Humour puts up its
crazy ead, especially in a piece by Fr. Kieran O’Shea. He tells the story of a
certain Mr. Doodle who stood for a Dail election a way back in innocent years.
By now you will have guessed that Doodle was not his registered name, but who

  Like all
politicians he excuded promises; they included a factory for shaving
gooseberries in the town of Listowel. He also promised to give leprechauns the
right to vote. Now, two generations later they still lack the franchise. He
also threatened to plough The Rocks of Bawn. You will be saddened to hear that
he didn’t make it to Leinster House.

  Vincent Carmody’s
splendid book is published in a limited edition and as far as I know is not on
general sale. “


Unfortunately Vincent’s book is long since unavailable to purchase but rumour has it that another and even better one is on the way.


The year is 1979 and this is the cast of Presentation Secondary school’s musical.  Jer. Kennelly found the photo  but we have no names. No doubt it’s stirring a few memories so maybe someone will remind us of the musical and maybe someone will even have kept a programme with the names.


This picture from the national archives was taken in Dublin in 1960. Notice the cyclist, the nun and the window cleaner, familiar sights on the capital’s streets back then.


Old Ways

Harvesting silage; 1995


Well done all AND Cian O’Connor of course.

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