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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Irish Coinage, Poor Relations, Trees and a VIP guest for Listowel Food Fair

Restaurants in Church Street, Listowel

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A quick History of Irish Coinage


In 1926 The Irish Free State set up a committee to design and plan a new Irish coinage. William Butler Yeats who combined a knowledge of poetry, art and Irish history was an inspired choice to chair this committee.

The design chosen to be used on all the coins was the Irish harp,. The Irish harp is a 16 string model. The best example is the Brian Boru harp in Trinity College, Dublin. The reverse of each coin depicted an animal.

On Feb 15 1971 decimal coinage was introduced to Ireland. The new coins were designed by Gabriel Hayes

In January 2002 the latest iteration of coinage happened with the change from the punt to the euro and then today’s coins were minted. The biggest innovation of this move was the replacement of some notes by €1 and €2 coins.

Half pennies have gone and pennies were to be phased out with the introduction of “rounding up” in 2015. This does not seen to have caught on and there are still quite a few lower denomination coins hanging about.

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Poor Relations by John B. Keane



Part 2

I was in the kitchen of a farmer’s house
one time when a poor relation called in search of a substantial sum of money.
He required it to pay a fine and compensation for an offence committed while
under the influence. If the money was not forthcoming it was certain that he would
wind up in jail, which meant in his view that not only himself but his
relations would be disgraced in the eyes of the countryside.

“My friend,” said the farmer,” if I had
money you would have no need to call because knowing your plight I would hand
it over without being asked. Would you believe,’ said the farmer, extracting a
large cigarette packet from his pocket, “that this is my last fag. God only
knows where the price of the next one is to come from.

So saying he threw the empty box on the
floor, placed the cigarette in his mouth, bent over the fire, lifted a coal,
blew on it and applied it to the cigarette and was soon puffing contentedly as
he calmly awaited the next cue of what to him was a comedy, but to his visitor
a tragedy.

“You could sell a cow,” said the poor
relation. “You wouldn’t miss one and I swear I’d pay you back before the end of
the year.”

“Of course, I could se;ll a cow,” said the
farmer,”and if you got into trouble again I could sell another one. Word would
spread and anytime a relation was in trouble I could sell a cow but what would
I do when the cows were all gone? People would ask me why did I sell all my
cows when I asked them for help.”

The poor relation held hid tongue at this
rebuff while the farmer shook his head at the injustice of it all.

“I would have nowhere to turn,” he said,
with a tear in his eye.

I almost shed a tear myself as I listened.
At first I had been sorry for the poor relation. Now I was even sorrier for the
farmer. There was a contorted look of sheer weariness on his face. He looked
wanly into the fire before he spoke.

“I have nowhere to turn,” he choked as
though his cows were sold already. “ I have no well off relations like others.
All my relations are poor. They haven’t a penny to put on top of another. You
wouldn’t like to see me pauperized, would you? You wouldn’t want to see me with
a bag on  my back walking the roads?”

Here the farmer laid a hand on the shoulder
of his poor relation. He looked him in the eye for several seconds.

“of course you wouldn’t,” he answered in
the poor fellow’s stead, “ because you are not that kind of a man. You know
what it’s like to have nothing yourself and you wouldn’t like to see another in
the same fix, especially one of your own.

After the poor relation had departed the
farmer pulled out a large packet of Gold Flakes fro another pocket, ripped off
the protective tissue and extracted a cigarette which he lit from the expiring
butt of the first.

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Poems are made by fools like me

But Only God can make a tree.



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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner




It has been confirmed that this year’s Rose of Tralee, Jennifer Byrne will attend on Opening Night of Listowel Food Fair, November 9 2017

Listowel Folk Group, Allos and More from Ladies’ Day 2017

Chris Grayson on the Dingle peninsula

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Listowel Folk Group Stroll Down Memory Lane


The folk group pictured below on an away trip to Ennis, delved into the old photograph album and found these photos from their days in a Harvest Festival  fancy dress parade.



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Ladies’ Day 2017

This Tote mobile unit was a godsend. I love to interact with a human being rather than a machine.

Cliona was enjoying a spot of reminiscence. She used to sell race cards when they were only €1.50

Contender for the jazziest hat. Lovely outfit too.

Two stylish local couples


Some people made sure they would be noticed by the best dressed judges.

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My Favourite Restaurant


Allos of Church Street is my favourite restaurant, bar none. Recently it was the featured eatery in Listowel Food Fair’sexcellent Facebook page. (Photo and text from Listowel Food Fair)

Allos: The Food Story 

An established favorite in not just Listowel but throughout the Southwest region attracting diners from all around the Kingdom and West Limerick. 

The welcome in Allo’s is famous, greeted by Helen Mullane who without doubt is one of the finest host’s one could hope to meet, so attentive to each individual guest while ensuring a high standard service is delivered. A native of Newcastlewest she grew up on a farm where her mother Nell was an avid Gardener and cook who used the farming produce of Beef, Chickens, Ducks with herbs and vegetables to feed her family and any visitors who came to their Farm. 

When younger, Nell went to Drishane in Cork to learn the precise skills of cooking and maintaining a prim household, these skills she passed on to her daughter Helen who then applied to her own life. On leaving home Helen went to New York City, where she began her career at the Twin Towers in a Restaurant called Windows of the World which was the Tallest Restaurant in the World at the time. It was here she learnt the finer points of dining, front of house and fine wines. Arriving back from America, Helen worked with her brother Daniel Mullane in the famous Mustard Seed Restaurant at Ballingarry, Co Limerick.

It was while at the Mustard Seed that she met Armel Whyte. 

Like Helen, Armel comes from a family immersed in food that is quite simply from farm to fork. His mother who was born in Moyvane, grew up on a farm in Shanagolden, Co Limerick where they had an abundance of fresh produce. Armel’s grandmother was a wonderful cook and baker and from her Armel discovered the rearing and killing of fowl & animals to the cooking of them. Jams, Marmalades and also jelly’s from the orchards were another feature of their country life.

Armels paternal grandmother Peig lived in the heritage town of Fethard in County Tipperary, where the family ran a garage shop, and where she baked. So from every side food really was a constant theme running through his childhood.

While still attending Secondary School, Armel initially started doing bar work at the Shannon Shamrock in Bunratty, and during the summer worked in the kitchen at the Two Mile Inn, in Limerick. His first official start as a trainee chef was at the Greenhills Hotel, in Limerick under Head Chef Michael Kennedy, who had worked in a number of hotels in London. Following on from this stint he attended college in Galway before arriving at the Mustard Seed. He later then spent a year in Switzerland reading in a private hotel school. 

When he returned Armel & Helen decided to open a restaurant in beautiful South Kerry in Caherdaniel. The restaurant was called the Loaves and the Fishes, and during their time there, it picked up many accolades including a Michelin Red.

After six seasons, they moved to Listowel and Allo’s was purchased originally in the Sheehy Family whose uncle Alphonsus and wife Nora May ran it. Alphonsus was affectionately known as Allo so hence the name! A curiosity many people have pondered over. 

This Listowel Races will see the restaurant open 22 years making it Listowel’s longest running family run restaurant. No mean feat and the fruit of lots of fun hard work and milk under the bridge. The draw for this special place has never waned throughout all those years, due to the outstanding food served inside its four walls. The menu, inspired by the Irish countryside, nearby Atlantic and thus graced with fresh fish and meat including its 30 Day Dry Aged Beef. A general house rule is that the fresh produce must be sourced within 15 miles of the restaurant. 

Armel and Helen are keen to point to out that the success of Allo’s would not have been achieved without the long-standing members of staff Theo Lynch, Gerry McGinty, Diane Cannafin, Ciara Mulvhill, Sarah Mulvihill, Peter James and many more.

A jewel in the town, it’s accolades are many but foremost being: 

Restaurant Association Awards

Best Gastro Pub in Kerry 2017

Best Gastro Pub in Kerry 2015

Best Chef in Kerry – Theo Lynch in 2015

Georgina Campbell Casual Dining Restaurant of the year 2015 

M.S. Busking, Listowel for Writers Week 2017 and more from that wedding

With all the excitement of the wedding I forgot to mention that May 19th 2017 was the annual busking day in town. This event is organised every year by the local branch of the M.S. Society. It is a cause close to my heart but this year I only managed a few photos as I had other things on my mind.

Barbara Walshe and Bridie O’Rourke were collecting at Super Valu.

Batt O’Keeffe joined Noelle Hegarty and Bridie O’Rourke in The Small Square.

Jimmy Hannon has been playing on busking day for years.

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Preparing for Writers Week 2017


The ladders are out and painting is underway at several locations.

The welcome banners are hoisted.

Essential maintenance is going on.


Allos was painted recently and it is looking smashing.

Eason’s has a new sign and Woulfe’s Bookshop has got a complete new look.

We are all ready for Writers’ Week which opens tomorrow evening. I’ll be busy with that for a while so posts will be sporadic. I’ll be taking lots of pictures, so bear with me and all will be revealed in due course

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Some More tales from the wedding



Clíona had three of the most gorgeous flower girls ever in her three nieces. Here they are before their moment in the limelight.

Here they are again with their cousins dabbing at the church.

Róisín Cora and Aisling….butter wouldn’t melt……

Cliona with her brother, Bobby and his handsome family

My neighbours and great friends, the Moylan family played a big part in our wedding. Above is Mary Moylan who chose and sourced all of the music. On the big day, she sang all the songs accompanied by  Áine Murray. Mary’s mother, Helen Moylan made the wedding cakes which were scrumptious.

I’ll let you in on a secret. The “cake” you see here is not a cake at all but styrofoam iced to look like a cake. The real cakes were traditional wedding cake, a chocolate biscuit cake and a lemon drizzle cake. This way the real cakes were kept clean and safe and no one had to eat the plastic icing.

These two lovely ladies are Cliona’s good friends, Martina and Gillian. They played traditional tunes to accompany the communion reflection which was written and delivered by Sinead O’Neill, sister of the groom.

Sinead is on the right in this photo with her sister Aisling and brother Seán.

At the top table we remembered two men who would have loved to have been with us. We lit a candle to remember Cliona’s dad and we brought Fr. Pat Moore’s book with us. Before his final illness Fr. Pat was looking forward to doing the wedding. He had baptised Cliona in the Erinville hospital in Cork when she was only three days old and struggling to hold on to life. He told me that he was honoured to be there at the start of her life and it would have given him great pleasure to marry her. Alas it was not to be.

We remembered the words given to Billy Keane as he mourned the passing of his mother; 

When those we love and lose are not where they used to be, they are everywhere we are.

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Tomorrow evening May 31 2017 is opening night of Listowel Writers Week 2017. I’ll be busy taking lots of photos and helping out with events so I’ll be off the radar for a while.  Enjoy Writers Week, The Races or the Seán McCarthy festival. I’ll be back soon.

Community Centre public seats in Listowel and blue signs in The Square

Chris Grayson’s chaffinch…..super photo!

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Progress on the community centre




It’s coming along nicely. The new gym extension is looking great. It will be an asset to the town when it’s finished. I can’t help noticing the new trend towards employing a personal trainer. All this awareness of the importance of keeping fit must lead to a healthier population.

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Fealy’s Yard


This lovely old photo is attributed to Mike Hannon

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“A poor life this, if, full of care

We have no time to stand and stare.”


If, when in Listowel you just want to sit and rest a while or just sit and stare we are well supplied with public seating. Here are a few.

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Intrusive Signage




Is it just me or do other people feel that large colourful signs like these spoil our lovely square?

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Allos Thank their loyal customers




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Easter Monday sorted



Listowel Writers’ Week are delighted to present the Easter Monday Literary Walk for Cruinniú na Cásca, an exciting new government initiative supported by RTÉ and Kerry County Council. Cruinniú na Cásca will be an annual event, a day to celebrate & encourage creativity nationwide. 

Beginning at 11am on Monday 17th April from The Seanchai Centre in Listowel Square, the morning walk will take you around the beautiful and resourceful River Feale. You will see and hear some dramatised stories, poems and excerpts from the plays of Listowel’s literary giants such as Bryan MacMahon, John B. Keane, Dan Keane, Maurice Walsh, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Brendan Kennelly, Billy Keane and many more. 

The walk is free, and will begin with the opening of an open art exhibition by local artists both professional and amateur followed by a brief introduction to the walk. Along the walk we will be entertained with short performances by local actors. After the walk, we will return to the Seanchai Centre for complimentary tea & coffee. 

Feel free to bring friends. See you there!

The Old Woman of the Roads and a few loose ends tied up

World Poetry Day


Last week we celebrated World Poetry Day. To mark the day, Connemara Heritage and History Society posted a poem and a photo on their webpage.

The Old Woman of the Roads by Pádraic Colum

O, to have a little house!

To own the hearth and stool and all!

The heaped up sods upon 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 – house of my own –

Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

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In the Bandsroom


Vincent Carmody has been in touch to give us a few names for this lovely old photo which was first shared on Facebook by Mike Hannon and then on Listowel Connection.

Vincent is not sure if the competition was a Snooker or Billiards tournament but he knows the year was the early 1950s. He knows this for certain because his brother Maurice (Moss) is in the photo and Maurice emigrated to Australia in 1954.

The man at the table is John Enright and, if this was the final, his opponent was John (Chuck) Roche.

Included in the photo are Timmy Lawlor, Ned Stack (Ned was the secretary of St. Patrick’s Hall), P.J. Maher, Eric Browne, Kevin Sheehy, Seán Stack, Jeremiah Reidy, Stephen Kenny and David Roche.

Sitting in front are Matt Kennelly, Fr. Matt Keane, (Fr. Keane was the uncle of the great Moss Keane and Vincent remembers him as a very down to earth man who took off the collar and rolled up his sleeves to undertake a spot of painting with John Joe Kenny when the hall was being redecorated.) Maurice Carmody and Eamon Stack.

I know there are many blog followers who will be grateful to Vincent for identifying these young men and for reviving great memories of the bandsroom which for years was an institution in Listowel.

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More on Hurst Hess

A few weeks ago I shared Eily Walsh’s story of this photograph. Hurst Hess, a German boy made his communion while he was staying in Ireland during WW2.

Many people have helped me out on this one. It would appear that Hurst came to Ireland as part of Operation Shamrock.

Operation Shamrock was a plan to bring German children to Ireland from post-World War II Germany.[1]

Between 1945 and 1946, the Irish Red Cross‘s Operation Shamrock resettled over a thousand children from war-torn Germany, Austria, France, and England. Most of these children were later repatriated to their homelands, but some were adopted by their Irish host families.

On 27 July 1946 a group of 88 exhausted and bewildered German children arrived by boat at Dún LaoghaireCounty Dublin. Within months hundreds of German children had arrived in Ireland, some as young as 3 years. Some had lost their parents in the war; others had their homes destroyed. The children were placed with foster families then returned to Germany, though some stayed and were adopted by new Irish parents.

About 50 German children stayed in Ireland and married Irish partners. A fountain was donated by the German government at St Stephens Green in Dublin, marking Germany’s thanks for Operation Shamrock.

This is from Wikipedia and I am grateful to Rhona Tarrant for pointing me in the right direction.

This scheme was run by the Red Cross and we know that there was a very active branch of the Red Cross in Listowel in the 1940s.

Maura MacMahon sent me this photo a while ago of a Red Cross social in Listowel in the 1940s. Maura’s aunt Maureen was a very involved member of this vibrant society.

I got this email from John Murphy; 

 I went to school with a german boy who was brought to Listowel by Johnny Beasley who was married to a Horgan lady.

The boys name was Helmut Wald.

He and I became good friends and he returned to Germany and we never made contact again.

Best Regards,

John Murphy

There is definitely material in this story for a documentary or novel.

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Well done, Allos

Armel White of Allos proudly displays his well deserved award for Best Gastro pub in Munster.

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Last Few from the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


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The Taoiseach in Kerry


Enda was in Firies yesterday March 27 2017 opening Kerry Foodhub.

The Kerry Food Hub in Firies is now open for business! The Kerry Food Hub is a brand new custom built facility incorporating four food production units completed to a very high standard. … The facility is located on a green field site on the outskirts of Firies Village, Co. Kerry.


He met Listowel’s own Éabha Joans folk.

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