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Music, Ball Alley Art, a Ballybunion Sculpture and Brendan Kennelly Essay

Clochar strand by Éamon ÓMurchú


Irish Music at the Ball Alley

These three pictures celebrate a very important part of Irish Culture; traditional music.


Unseasonal Poem


A Rare Brendan Kennelly Essay

The late Brendan Kennelly wrote an introductory essay on North Kerry parishes for Vincent Carmody’s North Kerry Camera. Vincent has shared it with us.


A Fact

In Kentucky there is a fundamentalist Catholic theme park. The centrepiece is a replica of Noah’s Ark. It is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. In 2017 and 2018 there was really really heavy rain in Kentucky.

Landslides at the theme park damaged the ark and the company who ran the park sued for rain damage.


Mary Young

I took my recent visitors to see the incongruous sculpture of a lady dressed for a ball sitting in front of one of the most magnificent churches in the diocese.

Here is the answer;

A mark of respect for Mary Young


December 09 2017 12:00 AM

The Killahenny Heritage, Historical, and Arts Society commissioned and recently unveiled a statue of Mary Young (née O’Malley), in honour of her significant contribution to life in Ballybunion.

Born in Kilconly, Ballybunion, she was unable to find work near home, and after finding employment in Clare, she met her husband John Young, an English tea-planter.

After John’s death, she returned to Ballybunion, living at her home on Doon Road for some 12 years. Upon a return to Dublin in the early 1880s, she wished her home to be used as a school; there, the Sisters of Mercy established a convent on the back of her generosity, and they would continue their involvement with St Joseph’s School for over 100 years.

“On her return from Dublin, Mary built a house on Church Road, which later became Dr. Hannan’s house,” Catherine Hayes told The Kerryman in the days following the momentous events.

“Returning from Dublin, she had another house built on Church Road which would become Dr Hannan’s house. After meeting with Fr O’Connor, she proposed the building of a new church to be named St John’s in memory of her husband. 

“She died on August 19 1894 and is buried  in Kilahenny Cemetry.  We the Killahenny Heritage, Historical and Arts Society wished to publicly honour Mary Young and acknowledge her immense contribution to Ballybunion,” Catherine added.


Ballybunion, A Ball Alley Poem and a Fact

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú in Howth



I have often seen this mural on my way into Ballybunion. Last week I stopped to have a look around.

I think the welcome sign is probably best seen by a drone.

Do you remember the Irish Open of 2000? I was there in a different life.


As a kind off post script to the handball alley stories, here again is John Fitzgerald’s lovely paen of praise to the alley and four of its best players. The foursome mentioned in the poem are Junior Griffin, Tom Enright and Dermot Buckley from the Bridge Road and John Joe Kenny from Patrick Street.

The Ball Alley

A poem by John Fitzgerald

The Alley

Standing on the dead line

I face the pockmarked wall,

it hides the bridge above me

fond memories I recall,

the side walls mark the theatre,

the concrete floor the stage,

four players take their places

the finest of their age.

The cocker’s hopped and hardened,

Junior’s feet fix solidly

he contemplates the angle

of the first trajectory.

His swinging arm begins the game

the ball’s hit low and fast,

a signal to John Joe and Tom

this will be no soft match.

Dermot standing by his side

sees his neighbour win first toss,

a simple game to twenty one

no ace is easily lost.

I watch them from the grassy mound

behind the dead ball line

 hear the cries of older boys

cheer each one at a time

and in the space of half an hour

the ball has weaved its way

through every nook and cranny

in this battlefield of play,

the long ball to the back line

the close one to the wall

the deadly butted killer 

seemed to hit no wall at all

and in end the four of them

take leave just as they came

and beckon us to take our place

and learn more of their game,

the game that gave such pleasure

the game I got to know.

when I was young and full of fun

in the Alley years ago.

(The cocker was the name they had for the ball)


The Friday Market is very small these times


A Fact

Tikka Masala

Where does Tikka Masala, which is Britain’s most popular take away curry, originate from?

No, not Bangladesh or any other Middle Eastern country.

The answer is Glasgow.

This is the story according to my Fact book.

Chicken tandoori began to feature on restaurant menus in the mid 1960s.

A Glasgow restaurant served it to its customers. A diner asked for extra sauce. The chef improvised a sauce of tomato soup, spices and cream.

Masala means a mixture of spices. Tikka Masala contains cardamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, fenugreek and chilli among other things.

Turmeric is the spice that gives it its bright yellow colour and a synthentic dye tartrazine is what causes it to ruin your clothes with an unremovable stain.


Mill lane, Raceweek Donkey Races and World Record Breaking “Golfer” and Listowel Ball Alley Project

Mill Lane

These buildings are in Mill Lane. They look to me like an old grain store. I remember horses and their carts pulling up outside such buildings and bags of grain being lowered to them from small upstairs windows.


Donkey Derbies during Raceweek

I’m sorry this is so small because its great and well worth reading. If you dont know how to make the font bigger, do, as one blog follower told me he does, and read it using a magnifying glass.

Another world record for the Browne family


Listowel Ball Alley Art Project

The volunteer artists have made a start on redecorating the Ball Alley.

On the day I was at the ball alley I was delighted to see someone using it to practice ball skills.


How to Behave in Church during a Pandemic


Another Green Flag for Childers Park

A well deserved award for our local park thanks to all the hard work of David Twomey and his team gardeners, the outdoor staff of Kerry County Council and Listowel Tidy Town Volunteers.


Feale, Childhood Friends, Rose of Tralee 2019, a holy well and Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel

River Feale, November 3 2018


Childhood Friends on Facebook

Bernard O’Connell of Listowel and Canada posted this great old picture on Facebook.

far left Mary Brosnan, Katrina Lyons, Myself, Noreen Holyoake, Mary Lyons, Mary Carmody, Maura Moriarity


Big Year next year for the Rose Festival

(Photo and text from

NEXT year is a very special one for the Rose of Tralee International Festival as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

It’s already been announced that there will be no regional finals and centres will put forward a Rose every two years (apart from Kerry, Cork and Dublin) resulting in just 32 Roses coming to Tralee next year for the festival.

Now, in another change, it’s been decided that the Festival will move back a few days. It will start on Friday, August 23 and the  2019 Rose of Tralee will be announced on Tuesday, August 27.

For the past number of years the Festival has started slightly later than mid-August (this year it began on August 17), but next year will bring it closer to what it used to be years ago, with the winner announced closer to the end of the month.


Holy Well in Tarbert

from the Dúchas folklore collection

There was a blessed well in Jim Woulfe’s field and one day they washed clothes in it and that night the well changed out to Tom O’Connor field which was two fields away. People used go there on Sundays and especially Sundays of May. Some people used go there to get cured from some disease they had and they would leave a piece of cloth of the bushes round the well. There used also around the well three times to every rosary they would say. It is called Sundays Well. If you were to be cured at some wells you would see a fish.
Eileen Shine
Gortdromasillahy, Co. Kerry


Armistice Day Centenary in Listowel

On Sunday Nov. 11 2018 the Listowel History Society organised a moving commemorative ceremony to honour all the North Kerry men who served in WW1. In the church, after an evocative memorial mass, local school children read out the names of men from their area who had died in the Great War.

I dont know if other people saw something very poignant in the sight of this drummer boy. 

Drummer boys were part of armies as far back as history goes. They were originally tasked with ensuring soldiers marched in time. By the time of WW1 these young boys (they were not actually soldiers as they were usually under 18) were more like regimental mascots. But young and all as they were, they went into battle alongside their regiment and many of them died.


Wreath laying Ceremony at the war memorial stone.

Sunday November 11 2018

Wreaths were laid.

The tricolour was lowered and then raised again.

The bugler played the last post.  We stood for two minutes silence and we played the National Anthem.

And we remembered.

John Stack shared with us this photo of those who were part of the Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel on Sunday, November 11 2018


The Ball Alley Today

A blank canvas

Killarney House, the ball alley , Pilgrim Hill and Armistice Day 2018 in Listowel

Dahlia blooming in October


Beautiful Killarney House and Gardens

If you haven’t already visited Killarney House, do put it on your bucket list. it’s a really excellent visitor attraction with something for the historian, the gardener, the art lover and now for the children as well.


Upgrading the Ballalley

Charlie Nolan was in the area when they started work on the ball alley. He took this photo before they plastered over the last of the graffiti.


Holy Well near Pilgrim Hill

From the Dúchas folklore collection

Old Ruins, Kilmorna . Collector- Máire Bean Uí Catháin,

Informant Kathleen Brosnan(1) Gallán standing alone 3 1/2″ by 3″ by 1 1/2″ situated in the property of Mrs. Nora Brosnan, Lacca East, east of Kilmorna. It was an old burial-place.

The hill, on which this stone is situated, is called Pilgrim Hill.
According to the old people engineers, who visited the place fifty years ago, said it was the second oldest Church yard registered in Rome.
There is a well in the recently called an tobar mór and it was regarded by the old people as being a “blessed well”.
Beside the well there was a big mound of earth.


North Kerry’s WW1 dead remembered

After a very moving mass of remembrance this wreath (crafted by Amazing Blooms, Listowel) was laid at the memorial stone in Listowel Town Square.

Listowel’s memorial plaque to the fallen is located at the rear of St. John’s Arts Centre in The Square.

Colour Party leaving St. Mary’s church after mass prior to marching across The Square for the wreath laying ceremony.

Pipers and drummer lead the dignitaries across The Square.

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