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: Aidan O’Connor

The Corner Shop, The Dandy Lodge, a waste collection at Listowel mart and 2017 Food Trail at Mike the Pies

Top Oil hold a photograph competition every year in order to choose photos for their calendar. All of the photos are absolutely excellent and the calendar is always a treasure to keep. This year the above photo is the winning shot. The photographer is a someone called Walt Hollick and this is his dog.


When you are old and grey by W.B. Yeats

Photo of W.B. Yeats in the National Archive

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, 

And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 

And loved your beauty with love false or true, 

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 

And loved the sorrows of your changing face; 

And bending down beside the glowing bars, 

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled 

And paced upon the mountains overhead 

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 


The Dandy Lodge in Listowel Town Park

In response to a request, here is a little more on this curious little house that many who pass through the park wonder about.


This explains the long queues last Saturday

A record number of farmers – 525 in total – travelled to Listowel, Co. Kerry, with their hazardous waste last Saturday (November 4).

Speaking to AgriLand, the EPA’s Shane Colgan stated that 200 would have been a good number at a collection; 300 would be very busy; but 525 was a record.

The resource efficiency manager added that 20t of engine oil and a full lorry of veterinary medicines were collected on the day.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are three main reasons why farmers are keen to get rid of their waste. These include: safety; keeping the farmyard clean and tidy; and cross compliance.

Colgan continued to say that there are three drop-off points located at each collection centre – electrical, waste oil; and chemicals and medications – and most farmers tend to stop at all three points…….. (source:


Sad News from Foynes

When my grandchildren come to me for their Kerry holidays, I love to take them to local visitor attractions. This summer I ventured a bit further afield with Sean and Killian. We went to Foynes’ Flying Boat Museum. It was one of our best days out. I am so sad to hear that it has been destroyed in this weekend’s floods. I hope it can be restored but we will be without it for a while.

I’m reproducing a few of my photos from our day in the museum.


Lament for The Shop

We all knew of local shops that sold everything. They were the original “convenience shop” They often stood at a crossroads and they were a lifeline in the days when people only got to town once a week, if that. They are mostly gone now and with them a way of life.

Rte’s Liveline recorded Seamus O’Rourke’s lament for such a local institution. Please listen. Its a gem. Radio at its best.

Seamus O’Rourke   The Shop


Listowel Food Fair 2017….Food Trail Saturday November 11 2017

On Saturday November 11 2017 I took part in the food trail that has become part and parcel of Listowel Food Fair. I ate more than was good for me and I snapped a few photos along the way. I’ll bring you the bulk of the photos later on but today I’ll just tell you my highlight. It was eating home- made meat pies in Mike the Pies

Mike the Pies is a Listowel institution best known for music, comedy, sport, a memorable mannequin challenge and craic. Notice that there is no mention of food. That is because Mike the Pies does not serve food 


Colette O’Connor (on the left) who organised the Food Trail hit on a brilliant idea and the O’Connor family were up for the challenge.

Mike the Pie’s got its name from the meat pies that were a speciality of this house and many many houses in town during Listowel Race Week. The story goes that many housewives knowing they would be very busy during race week made a batch of mutton pies in advance and the family ate them every day during the festival. Many Listowel families still eat these delicacies during the big week in September.

Aiden O’Connor (in the centre) our genial host told us the story of Kathy Buckley who lived next door to the pub and whose meat pies were legendary. Every housewife had her own recipe for her pies but the basic ingredients were the same, lots of really tender mutton cooked in a pastry case and served floating in the broth in which the mutton bones were boiled. Kathy went on to be a cook for three U.S. presidents. History doesn’t relate if she served them mutton pies in the White House. Kathy lived in the days when cooks kept their recipes in their heads and she left behind none of the recipes that saw her headhunted for the White House kitchen.

But all of that is history. Back to Saturday, November 11 2017 and Aiden is faced with about 50 food trailers and a bar full of loyal customers to feed. He was ready for this as he is for every challenge. He had roped in the troops. The O’Connor women had spent the morning making pies and boiling bones and there was a bowl of meat pie and broth for everyone in the audience. This dish was mouth watering. This simple Listowel fare more than held its own with the haute cuisine we had sampled on the way.

The O’Connor family with Jimmy Deenihan and Collette O’Connor, organisers of the Food Trail

I loved this stop on the trail because it combined good food with a warm welcome, history and a great sense of family. Well done all.

Liam Lynch R.I.P. and Aidan O’Connor’s speech on Kerry Stars

A Stranger to Darkness

+  R.I.P.   Liam Lynch +

Liam Lynch of Knocknagoshel, who passed away last week was an extraordinary human being. As a young man, he lost his eyesight and so began his new life as “A Stranger to Darkness”. This is the title of his autobiography in which he gives an account of a life well lived. He gave all the proceeds from the sale of the book to his beloved charity, Irish Guide Dogs Association. Liam travelled widely, acted in a play, gave talks on coping with blindness and remained to the end a great scholar and student of Irish history and literature. May the sod rest lightly on his gentle soul.

The following extract from The Irish Library News of 2007, kindly sent to me by Jer. Kennelly, gives you an idea of the measure of the man.

Kerry County Library

Taken from Irish Library News April 2007

Kerry County Library was recently given a donation of some newspapers relating to the early part of the 20th century.

The donor was Knocknagoshel  native, Liam Lynch and among the titles were copies of

An Phoblacht(1916) and The Irish Volunteer(1920).

At the presentation in Tralee Library, Liam also donated copies of his recent autobiography A Stranger to Darkness. In his book, Liam writes about his life experiences, both before and after his sight loss, and explains how he regained his independence through mobility training and partnership with his guide dog, Yale.

Liam is very kindly donating the proceeds of the book to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and he is well on his way to his fundraising target of €35,000 which is the total cost of a guide dog

partnership (the breeding, training and support of a dog throughout its working life). Liamʼs fundraising efforts on behalf of IGDB have been so successful that a new guide dog puppy was named Kerry, in honour of Liamʼs home county. The book is available from Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, on lo-call 1850 506 300.

Here I am pictured with Liam  when he visited Presentation Secondary School, Listowel to talk to a group of students who were fundraising for Irish Guide Dogs.

 Liam and his dog, Yale with Sr. Nuala who, sadly, passed away just days before Liam.

 Some of the students at the handover of the cheque from their sponsored walk.


You must read this

Aidan O’Connor gave one of the best speeches ever at the Kerry Stars awards. Here it is in its entirety. I challenge you to read it without a tear. Even if you hate reading a lot of text, and some of my followers tell me they hate to see chunks of prose, please read this one;

“July 1998 was a warm month. I remember it
because I was living in Tralee and I had a tank of gas blow up in the heat at
the back of my house.

Next door in No.28 lived Hamdun – a gorgeous little
four-year-old boy with beautiful dark brown skin; the son of an Indian doctor
who worked at Kerry General Hospital.

Hamdun kind of did his own thing. For hours each
evening, he’d peddle his tricycle up and down the housing estate, talking out
loud to himself, Indian talk.

I guess you could say Hamdun was a bit of a loner.

It was a Tuesday in that July, and a crowd of kids
from the estate were playing ball on the green. As they do, like a shoal of
fish, they’d all run after the ball together, up and down, back and over.

I stood inside the sittingroom window, looking out,
and once they all chased the ball together to one corner of the field, I
noticed a lone figure standing in the middle of the green, all alone, hands
hanging by his side, just staring at the rest.

It was Oisin.

For the first time, in the four years of Oisin’s life,
it struck me like never before. That was the way it was then, and that was the
way it was always going to be. Oisin would always be outside, looking on;
always watching it but never part of it.

There would be Oisin, and there would be them. 
Hamdun, the dark-skinned Indian boy with no English, abandoned his tricycle
that evening to join the football match.

Even Hamdun, the loner, was now one of them .

I found myself in that funny place that every family
member knows. Every bone in your body wants to jump in and save the day, while
at the same time, you know you have to stand back too and let Oisin find his
own way.

Your head starts to fast forward and you wonder about
the day Mom or Dad aren’t going to be around anymore to save the day. What
happens then?

It’s that place where you wonder about the unfairness
of the hand of cards you’re dealt; that place where you’ve pity for yourself
and pity for the one you love most; that place where you’re angry at God and
mad at the world.

Why can’t every child just be the same. Why can’t one
mould fit all?

That Tuesday evening wasn’t the end of the world by
any means – not for me and not for Oisin. Far from it.

There are family members sitting all around you here
tonight who have had to deal with so much more than Oisin or Linda, his Mom, or
I. A physical or intellectual disability on its own is massive mountain to
climb. Both together can turn a family and their world upside down.

There isn’t a tablet you can take to make it all go

All around you tonight are family members whose lives
of loving and living with special needs is not easy. Anything but. There are
family members here tonight where serious and often life-threatening medical
conditions are part of everyday life; where tubes and drips and syringes and
medication are as common as the kitchen cutlery; where speech therapy and
physiotherapy and occupational therapy and trips to the doctor are all a
regular part of getting on with life.

Family members do all this – and go that extra mile –
because of one overwhelming reason. Love – the love they give and the love we

There’s something about Oisin’s love that I have
always struggled to describe.

It’s free, of course, and it comes in buckets. It’s
ever- present and it’s overpowering.

But there’s one thing. Above all, it’s unconditional
and non-judgemental.

It’s a love that says I’ll love you anyway, no matter
what. It’s a love that refuses to be influenced by position or dress, status,
wealth or title. And in a world where all of us have agendas and angles, that’s
an extraordinary thing.

Linda or I have never asked for special treatment for
Oisin. What we’ve always asked, and what Oisin wants most, is the help and
support – not to be the best – but to be the best that he can be.

Because it shouldn’t be about being the best or about
measuring up. 
Unless we throw away the measuring stick, neither Oisin or any
one of the Kerry Stars will ever measure up in the eyes of the state.

Oisin hasn’t failed. The state has failed him.

What government, what department, or what arm of the
state has the right to decide on Oisin’s happiness or well-being?

Who wrote the rules that say if you’re physically or
intellectually challenged in any way, life for you is going to be made harder
than it already is?

Why do special needs family members still have to beg
and bang on doors and shout louder than everybody else just to get basic

Is it because Oisin doesn’t need it? Is it because he
doesn’t deserve it? Or is it because, in the eyes of the state, Oisin doesn’t
measure up to what the state thinks Oisin should be?

I think we are lucky in Kerry to have the local
government and public representatives that we have. For all the criticism they
get, I believe they have been exceptional in their support for the club and all
of the lads. They have met them and come to know so many of them. They get it.

To Mayor Brassil and all the Oireachtas members and
councillors, this is my request to you.

Don’t give up. Lead the way. Stand up and be counted.
Double your efforts to help. All of us will meet you half way. Fight for Oisin
and all the lads. Don’t judge them as people. They don’t judge you.

All of us can do more. How different life would be
were it not for the coaches and volunteers in the Kerry Stars who have
literally changed lives. I know the athletes and all family members are
eternally grateful.

I didn’t think it could be done. I was a sceptic. When
Linda first mentioned the idea of Oisin joining Special Olympics, I recall
thinking to myself “Great, here we go again – another glorified babysitting
service where nice people give Oisin a nice pat on the head and tell him he’s a
nice boy”.

How wrong I was. It has been, without doubt, one of
the greatest game-changers in Oisin’s life. How glad I am that for that one and
only time, I Iistened to his Mom, and sent Oisin off to Kerry Stars.

Maybe one day, other sporting organisations like the
GAA will follow suit and adopt a real and meaningful approach to sport for all.

On my phone, I still have kept the countless texts
from Oisin that ask “Dad, when can I play for Rathmore”, “When can I play with
the minors”, “When can I play for the U-21s”.

I have never answered, because I know what the answer

Maybe one day, Liam O’Neill or the Croke Park
Executive will come to visit Oisin and give him an answer, an answer as to why
the biggest sporting organisation in this country does little or nothing to
promote and facilitate GAA for people with special needs.

Oisin has the jersey. He has the socks and the boots.
He has the belly for battle. All he’s asking for is a chance.

And when all is said and done, that’s what it comes
down to – a chance. A chance to be the best person you can be and have the best
life that can be lived.

That’s all it is for the athletes – no different to
anybody else.

I know that I speak for Linda too when I say that I am
privileged to be Oisin’s parent.

I know too that every family member here tonight will
understand that in being Oisin’s Dad, I have received far more than I could
ever possible give.

My eyes have been opened to seeing the world in a
completely different way.

I started out thinking I would be his teacher – yet I
was the one who had to learn.

All of us owe a tremendous debt to people with special
needs. Were it not for Oisin, I’m not sure I would ever have known what it is
to be loved that way. I doubt I would ever have come to know such kindness,
such compassion, such forgiveness and such downright good chat up lines for the

I owe you Oisin. Big time.

All of us must keep going, keep fighting the good
fight. And really, can we afford not to? If we don’t, what’s the price? There’s
always a price.

What is the price of a dream that is not dreamed? What
is the price of a word that is not spoken? What is the price of a voice that
isn’t heard? 
Most of all, what is the price of a life not lived?

Hamdun is studying to be a doctor now, just like his
Dad. I met Akiel, his father, about two months ago and he asked about Oisin.

He told me Hamdun gave up the football – said it
didn’t suit him. Hamdun doesn’t have the tricycle anymore either.

He said Hamdun is so happy and loves Ireland. Isn’t it
great thing, Akiel said, to be accepted in a place – just for who you are?

I said ‘Akiel, I couldn’t agree with you more.”

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén