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: 1975

2 sad stories; Liam Tarrant and Fran O’Toole and new life in The Square

A Tragedy for Siamsa Tíre in 1974

Liam Tarrant, Dancing Master

This photograph is probably the last one taken of the great
dancer, Liam Tarrant. In this picture he is dancing on a stage in Carrig in
west Kerry at a ceremony to mark the turning of the sod on the site of the
second Teach Siamsa. He passed away shortly after the photo was taken.

Dancing with him on that day was John MacCarthy of Listowel.

Liam was one of the driving forces behind Fr. Pat Ahern’s
venture of a national folk theatre, Siamsa Tíre. From the start Siamsa had national
backing but in its early years and still
to this day it was very much rooted in
Kerry. The first Teach Siamsa was built in Finuge and Siamsóirí ns Ríochta was
formed. This was a troupe dedicated to  the “theatrical reenactment of the
occupational music, song and dance of the Irish countryside”

Liam Tarrant learned his steps from the great North Kerry
dancing master, Jerry Molyneaux. The crowd in Carrig that Sunday in October
1974 were privileged to witness the last stepdance of one of the great
exponents of the Jerry Molyneaux style of dancing.

A short year after Jerry was laid to rest in Gale cemetery,
Liam Tarrant was buried in Rath, in a ceremony Seamus Wilmot described as “a
funeral fit for a king.”

The hearse was flanked to the cemetery by Siamsóirí na
Ríochta and members of Comhaltas Ceotóirí Eireann. At the graveside, Liam’s
great friend, Fr. Pat Ahern played Slán le Cheoil and An Ghaoth Aneas on a
fiddle he played on so often to accompany Liam’s dancing.

Bryan MacMahon gave the graveside oration and the
blacksmith’s son from Glin , who died doing what he loved best , was mourned by
family and friends and by everyone who loved the dance.

Laoch ar lár!


Betty Stack gave me the newspaper cutting with the picture of Liam Tarrant and the account of his untimely death. I flicked through the other stories that were on the cutting from October 1974 and I was fascinated to read the following account of an up and coming show band singer, Fran O’Toole.

Only that same day I had read a Facebook post by Jim Halpin

“As you can see the Miami show
band were booked to play in the Central Ballroom Ballybunion on the Friday the
first of August 1975 and we all know what happened the night before. (sorry
about the poor quality) and thanks to Noel o Connor from Ballyduff Co. Kerry
for giving me the paper cutting.   Jim

The “what happened the night before” Jim refers to is that 3 of the band members, including Fran O’Toole were killed in a terrorist ambush as they returned from a gig north of the border. The Miami Showband was one of Ireland’s leading bands at the time and included in its  line up men from Northern Ireland and from the Republic.

They were a soft  target for the UVF whose plans to set the band up as IRA supporters carrying guns across the border went horribly wrong. The bomb the UVF was planting in their van as they detained them at a fake road block went off prematurely killing 2 of the terrorists and three band members and traumatizing and injuring the others.

The Miami Massacre was one of the worst atrocities of a bloody vicious campaign in Northern Ireland by UVF and IRA militants.

The Miami in 1984. Fran O’Toole is standing second from right.

Below is a link to the Belfast Telegraph article about the massacre

The Day the Music Died


An old house is being refurbished at Skeheneran. These interesting old outhouses and barn are now visible from the road.


Glamour has moved


New shop in The Square

I took the photo of this new dress shop on the day it opened, August 1 2015. It didn’t have a name. Maybe it has now.

Laundry for the Elderly, GAA 1975, soccer 1936 and rats in the trenches

I found an account of the girls’ involvement with the newly set up laundry for the elderly in the 1988 yearbook. Good to relate that this service is still going strong, even though the young girls no longer help out since it moved to its new location in The Family Resource Centre.

Listowel laundry service for the elderly (the early years)

The building that houses Listowel’s laundry service for the
elderly is neither pretentious nor imposing. Yet, for a large section of
Listowel’s elderly, it provides an invaluable service.

The service runs on a quite simple but efficient system. A
member of the voluntary group, with the use of a car, visits the homes of the
laundry’s customers to collect and deliver the laundry. The organisation
caters mostly for the aged living alone who find themselves unable to deal with
heavy house work such as washing clothes.

The laundry room itself contains four washing machines, a spin dryer and three
tumble dryers and a large hot press, It is operated by an able-bodied group of
volunteers recruited mainly from the secondary school, and from local obliging
housewives. Working on a regular rota each group is responsible for the
laundering, packing, drying, ironing of an allotted batch of clothes. Another
group take care of sorting and packing the clothing.

The board of management with Jim Stack, a local primary
school teacher, as chairperson meet regularly to discuss the running costs of
the laundry and its present and future service to the community in the Listowel
area. The whole venture depends and succeeds admirably on the care and concern
of almost a hundred volunteers.


In my favourite charity shop I found this treasure from 1975:

I photographed a few snippets for your enjoyment.


Mary Sobierlaski found this photo of a very interesting  old match programme.


Rats in the trenches were a constant problem during WW1. Here is a group of German soldiers after a good session of rat catching. Will you look at the size of those rats?

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