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: Armstrong

Tanavalla House, Tennis and a Hugeonot prisoner with a Listowel Connection

Curtain Call

Molly likes to sit on the window sill and keep a close eye on what is happening both indoors and outside.


A St. Valentine’s Day (though a bit late) Treat

Listowel/North Kerry branch of MS annual St Valentine’s Day Coffee Morning on Saturday next, February 16th 2019 at Tomáisín’s. 11.00am – 1pm. Come along and catch up with the neighbours as Spring approaches. Delicious home baked treats and great raffle prizes. 


Tanavalla House

John Buckley found this old photo of Tanavalla House and Dave O’Sullivan looked up what happened to it.

The original house was destroyed by fire in the 1820s and rebuilt in Regency style. The Elliotts owned the property until the 1870s after which it was the occupied by the Cooke family. It was burned in 1920.

It was burned at the same time as the old library on Bridge Road as local republican forces believed that both buildings were to be occupied by the British military. In his  witness statement in1955 Patrick McElligott stated that  Information had been received locally that the library and Cooke’s mansion in Tanavalla were to be taken over by the British military. He issued orders for their destruction by burning.”


Some Tennis Players in Action

Here are some sweet photos from Danny Gordon of Listowel youngsters playing tennis in 1987. Lots more to come in the next few days.


Armstrong Sweet Factory

On the far right in this lovely Fr. Browne photo you can see the Armstrong, North Kerry sweet factory.

Dave O’Sullivan enhanced the image of the two garsúns but I don’t suppose we’ll ever know who they were.

This is an old sweet tin. There are still a few about.

Because an Armstrong descendant, Patrick McCrea, has been contributing to our blog, I have become very interested in this family who once upon a time had a strong Listowel connection.

Patrick’s latest email sheds light on an illustrious ancestor of his and considerably broadens the reach of Listowel Connection.

“Gabriel Mathurin was a 17th century ancestor of Kathleen Johnson who was married to Tom Armstrong .

Recently a genealogical research showed that she was descended from Gabriel

Mathurin who was a Hugeonot Protestant priest locked up for 25 years in solitary

confinement on the Island Political Prison just off Cannes .”

If you are following the story of the Armstrongs here you will remember that Tom was the owner of the sweet factory and he married Kathleen who was the daughter of the local bank manager.

Here is the story of the famous ancestor;

Scullys, Armstrong Wedding and spectators at Juvenile Tennis finals in the 1980s

Then and Now


Armstrong Marriage

This handsome couple are Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Armstrong of Gurtinard House, Listowel. Theirs was the society wedding of  March 7 1905 and the whole thing was reported in The Kerry Evening Post.


Watching the Tennis

When he was photographing the juvenile tennis tournament in the late 1980s, Danny Gordon turned his camera on the spectators who were engrossed in the action on the courts.

Veronica Corridan, Una McElligott, Maurice O’Sullivan, Josephine and Paul Henry and three children whom I can’t name.

Anne Cogan, Helen and Alice Moylan, Mary and Clíona Cogan and Maureen and Denis O’Connor.


Look Up

When you look above street level, sometimes what you see shocks you and sometimes surprises. Pictures taken on Church Street, Listowel in January 2019

William Street, Bridie Gallagher and The Armstrong family of Gurtinard House

Then and Now

William Street


A Big Night in Town

Liam O’Hainín on Facebook


North Kerry Sweet Factory

Dave O’Sullivan found this in the old newspapers

Before he opened the sweet factory and gave employment to so many “respectable girls’ Mr. Armstrong had not been in favour with the local community. Before he bought Gurtinard House, he lived in it as a tenant of Lord Listowel. 

During his tenure he closed the demesne (now the town park) to the local people who during Lord Listowel’s time were free to roam it at will.

The Armstrongs, a short time after opening the factory suffered a tragedy with the death from T.B. of Armstrongs young wife .

Dave discovered on that Mrs Katherine Armstrong was only 38 when she died, and, contrary to what is stated in the newspaper, she is registered as having died in Dublin.


Greenville, January 2019

Work has begun at this site on the Greenville Road.


Listowel Man Features in Off The Scale, Ireland’s Leading Angling Magazine

Fisheries Officer:  Darren Halpin

From:  Listowel, Co. Kerry

River Basin District (RBD):  Shannon River Basin District

How did you become a Fisheries Officer? 

I was always fishing as a young fella. My uncle was in fisheries for over 30 years so I was always intrigued about what he did. He was a good influence in my life and I followed his footsteps right into my career.

What does an average day look like?

I go into the office in the morning, meet the Assistant Inspector and go through any emails that have come through. Then we plan out our day and what we’re going to do – it might be a spawning patrol, estuary patrol or coastal patrol.

What is your favourite part of the job? 

There’s a lot to be said about getting up in the morning and wanting to go into work. You’re outdoors, out walking, you’re allowed work on your own initiative a lot of the time, too, which is great.

I’m interested in nature and wildlife. I love walking the banks of the rivers just to see the fish and wildlife along the river. There is such variety in the job – you could be doing boat patrols, estuary patrols, jet ski or kayak patrols. There is always something different.

What is the most challenging thing about the job?

Sometimes dealing with the public can be challenging. You could be dealing with a pollution incident on a farm – one farmer might be very accommodating and there is no issue and then another farmer could be argumentative or confrontational. You have to be able to handle that.

You do a lot of unsocial hours, too. But you get used to it.

What do you think are the most important skills needed for the job?

Communication skills are important. You are dealing with the public all the time. Every situation can be different – there are different ways in how you communicate and react to situations.

Teamwork is also a big thing, you are working as a team all the time so you need to be comfortable with that.

What would you say to someone considering a job in fisheries?

If you’re really into the outdoors and fishing, then it’s definitely the job for you. You will get as much out of it as you put in.

Source; Off the Scale Magazine online

RTE DJs, The Armstrongs of Gurtinard House, Rev. Robert Ronayne and Writers Week at The Rose Hotel

The Base at Listowel Community Centre in 2019


This Rte Guide cover from 1984 appeared on Twitter to mark Larry Gogan’s move to RTE Gold. Can you name all the Radio 2 DJs? I can’t.


Old Photo of Gurtinard House

This house which is now a guesthouse was once owned by the Armstrong family who ran the sweet factory by the river.

Patrick McCrea who is the grandson of the Armstrongs who lived here sent us this photo of the house and the following photo of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong of Gurtinard House, Listowel.

This is an old postcard with the sweet factory on the right.


An illustrious Corkman who married into the Sandes family


Great New Initiative by Listowel Writers’ Week

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