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

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Cork’s Denny Lane, Tarbert Bridewell and some Bird Stories from Dúchas

Summer 2019

Aisling and Molly in Ballincollig Regional Park in sunny June 2019


Cork’s Denny Lane

I spotted this on South Mall in Cork last week.

This is the elegant doorway to the Lane house


Tarbert Bridewell Relaunch

Here I am with another visitor and our guide, Mary O’Connell at the relaunch of the Tarbert Bridewell project on Saturday June 29 2019. If you want to give your children an easy history lesson or if you just want to find out something about rough justice in the 19th century this is a great place to come.

We follow the story of Tom Dillon who is accused of leaving his cow to trespass on his neighbours property. His defence was that the cow wandered through an open gate and he entered the field to retrieve her. The policeman who attended was having none of it and Tom was brought before the court sitting in The Bridewell Tarbert.

This is Dillon. Members of the local Tarbert drama group have recorded the story in dramatic fashion which we listened to as we went from room to room.

This is the maligned Mrs. Ahern whose grass Tom’s cow was eating.

The judge was a bit harsh I thought. You’ll have to visit to find out the sentence.

In another cell is this poor prisoner, emprisoned with her young baby.

Tarbert Bridewell visitor experience is located on the road to the ferry. It’s well worth factoring in a stop there if you are going to Clare. There is a lovely coffee shop and souvenirs as well.

Bird Lore from the Dúchas Folklore Collection

There was once a middle aged man who had little or no money. Then it was coming near Christmas his shoes became worn and he began to collect all his money a few days before Christmas she found he had twelve shillings so he went along the road to the nearest town to buy a pair of shoes. When he had gone little way he heard a black bird on a bush saying “Spend and God will send”. He went on and he heard a thrush saying “Be merry today to-morrow you die.” He went on to town and spent the twelve shillings on drink and as he was coming home he heard a wren saying. “Have it yourself or be without it.”

Some people go torching. They light a candle and having the bottom of a bottle knocked out, they put the candle into it. The lighting side of the candle should be stuck up the jowl of the bottle. You must follow the wind always. When you see a bird you must strike him on the head with a piece of stick and kill him. A stormy night is the best sort of night to go torchhing. The How pigeons build their nests. The hen goes into and box and the cock lungs straw in and the hen fixes it and after about two says the nest is made and in about a day or two the hen lays an egg and the next day she lays another egg. Then the cock hatches in the day and the hen hatches at night and about three weeks the young ones come out. Then you should get crushed corn and give it to the pair. Then the pigeons fill their craws and throw it up into the young pigeons mouths and in about three week they come out of the nest and in about five days they can fly.

Collector Pat Mc Elligott, Address- Bedford, Co. Kerry
Informant Tom Halpin- Age 27 Address, Bedford, Co. Kerry.


Lyre Concert

A fairy Trail, Rural Electrification and the 1916 Memorial Garden

11th Fairway, Ballybunion on New Year’s Eve 2018

Photo: Catherine Moylan


A Fairy Trail in Ballincollig

So many towns nowadays have their own Fairy Trail. The Ballincollig one looked a bit the worse for wear when I visited after Christmas.


Rural Electrification in Ireland in the 1940s

The ESB was established in 1927 but until The Rural Electrification Scheme of 1946, electricity was a luxury only available to a rich few.

When electricity came to rural Ireland it was like a revolution. Tasks which had been so difficult up to now were rendered doable. A whole slew of “instructors” were dispatched around the country to teach people how to use electricity. Many people were afraid of electrocution or of a fire caused by switches and plugs. It is hard to imagine how “backward” we were then. It’s only one generation ago!

This is a photo from my friends in Bord na Mona Living History and this is what Tony wrote to accompany the photo.

This photo dates from 1956 and shows how life was changing with the coming of electricity. The woman in the photo had only recently had electricity laid on and after the electric light her next thought was to get a radio which would work off the power. No more bringing batteries to town to be charged. There’s a  Sacred Heart picture on the wall, a flash lamp on the mantlepiece along with various tins for storage. The dog and the cat are warming themselves beside the turf fire, they had no interest in the electricity. 

The photo was taken in Connemara and appeared in a 1956 English magazine article on Irish Peat and electricity.

One of the ads in the magazine was for a 12 day all-in holiday in Switzerland for £25, although that was the fare from London. Definitely different times.


1916 Memorial Garden on January 6 2019

Early January 2019 and we were experiencing an extraordinary spell of crisp mild weather. I was walking in the park on Friday, January 4 when I spotted David Twomey and the outdoor workers busy at work in the memorial garden. I knew that when I returned on Sunday January 6th it would be looking its best. It was.

Listowel people, be sure to go and see it soon. It’s beautiful


Won’t be Long Now

This is a photo of a queue waiting for admittance to an event at a previous Listowel Writers Week. This year Writers Week will run from May 29th 2019.

Keep an eye on the website to see what great things are in store;

Listowel Writers’ Week 2019

Christmas in Ballincollig, St. Mick’s Classs of 78 reunion, A memory of Santa and a photo of Nelson’s Pillar

Listowel Town Square in January 2019


Yesterday was Little Christmas or Nollaig na mBan. Here is a hair raising story from the folklore collection;

The Big Wind, 1839

The Big Wind fell on Little Christmas night. A man by the name of Paddy Cronin who lived in Beal was in the house with his mother. The storm lifted the roof off the house. He took out his mother and tied her on to an ash tree, lest she would get hurt. While he was going back for some blankets to put around her from the cold, the tree was uprooted and there was not a trace of the tree or the woman to be found.


A Quick Look Back

My family plus dogs walking in Ballincollig Regional Park at Christmas 2018. It was that kind of Christmas. We had lovely mild dry weather so we were outdoors as much as possible.

 Santa came to those who were expecting him.

2018 was the year of slime.  I don’t get the attraction myself.

Santa brought Cora a massive gorilla. He is now part of the family.

At Christmas 2019 we had Listowel births, marriages and way too many deaths. 


Billy McSweeney relives a 1940s Christmas in Listowel

I remember one Christmas eve in the days of Ration Books and deprivation of the 1940’s. Darkness had fallen and the Santa tension was building in our house.

My mother was out shopping for some last-minute necessities, when she 

suddenly burst in the front door screaming “Santey, Santey. Come quick, 

come quick !”

My young sisters and I rushed out the door at the top of Church Street 

to clearly hear harness bells jingling and trotting hooves clattering 

off the road just past McAuliffe’s corner, barely 100 yards away but 

already out of sight.

“Aw, you just missed him!”

When a chasing charge was obviously forming in our minds we were told:  

“Get your coats on or you will get your death of cold!”

A riotous melee formed around the coat stand and a number of 

half-attired children took off down the street. Alas, by the time we 

reached McAuliffe’s Corner the sleigh with it bells and reindeer had 

vanished and we trudged home elated that we had nearly seen him but also disappointed that we had missed him.

My mother had a joyous smile on her face that her timing was impeccable.


Reunion at Christmas time 2018

Photo: Denis Carroll ; Names: Seán Healy

Front row LtR: Don O’Sullivan, Gerard Buckley, John Dowling, John Moynihan, Seán Healy, Johnny Mulvihill, Michael Mulcare, Dan Sheahan, John O’Sullivan, Patsy Ryan, Bernard O’Keeffe, John Lenihan, John Horgan.

Middle Row: LtR: John Beary, Eddie Relihan, David Dillon, Nick Roberts, John Lyons, Thomas Mulvihill, Richard Cantillon, Michael Curtin, John Kennelly, Patrick Flavin, Jim Furlong, John Purcell, Eoin Rochford. 

Back Row LtR: Seán O’Sullivan, Michael Casey, Séamus Given, PJ Kelliher, George O’Connell, Conor Keane, Pat Flavin, Tony O’Carroll, Denis O’Carroll, Declan O’Connor, Dan Mulvihill, Pat O’Brien, Brendan Nolan, Billy Stack


The View from Nelson’s Pillar in the 1960’s

Photos of Dublin


A Call to Action for 2019

(from our own John Keane in The Kilkenny People)

As 2019 begins, we have a request for the readers of The Kilkenny People newspaper.

As a new year’s resolution, would you commit to saying hello to everyone you meet?

A little nod, a quiet word, a smile, a touch on the arm, some kind of inter-action – as Bruce Springsteen asked: ‘Share a little of that human touch’.

December has been a bad month in the city and county with a number of tragedies.

We cannot fathom the depth of the pain for the families and communities involved.

Do Something Positive

What we can do is stop giving out about the glaring gaps in the State’s mental health service and do something positive.

So instead of cursing successive governments’ continual lackadaisical approach to mental health in this country and instead of getting upset over the huge waiting lists to access mental health services (particularly for children) do something positive yourself.

Walk down the street and engage, show empathy, give people that little bit of comfort by saying ‘hello’, ‘well’ or whatever cool salutation you can think of.

Little Kindness

It just might make a difference to the recipient; the little kindness they need to get them through the day; to know that there is light, there is hope in the depths of their depression or whatever demons they are fighting.

So as we look in horror as this government, like all the rest, turn a blind eye to the biggest killer in the State by refusing to adequately resource the services needed to address the issue, let’s do something ourselves.

And ask yourself, why is it that voluntary agencies like The Samaritans, Pieta House (Darkness Into Light) and Teac Tom are having to do so much of the work that should be shouldered by the State.

Ballincollig, Ballybunion Craft Fair and Honey from Duagh

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

(Robert Frost)


Guess Where I am

Ballincollig, Co. Cork.


Gum And Butts

It was in Ballincollig also that I saw these. Might be a good idea to solve the gum problem on pavements.


Ballybunion Craft Fair, November 4 2018

 The craft fair season has started so if you want to get that hand made gift or treat for yourself, keep an eye out for these fairs taking place all over the area. This weekend its the turn of Listowel.

These lovely ladies sold me some local honey.

 This Dude had some really cool mayonnaises and a great alternative to Worcestershire sauce, called Brosnashire sauce. It has no anchovies in it. I’m going to give it a try.

This man had some beautiful hand turned wooden products and honey from his hives in Trieneragh. I bought one of the pots of honey with a piece of the honeycomb inside….delicious.  I think I’ll be seeking out my French friend at future fairs.

These enterprising lads had some lovely Christmas ornaments which they made as part of a TY project.


Another Weekend, Another Listowel Festival

The Well, Coburg St. Cork, Beano and Storied Kerry

Main Street, Listowel


Water fromThe Well

The following extract is taken from Jim Costelloe’s great rural memoir of Asdee in the 1940’s and ’50s

In the days before group water schemes were introduced to rural areas, domestic water was sourced from wells and pumps. If the water supply lasted through the summer and into October it was the sign of a good spring. I well remember trips to the local well with a white enamel bucket and trying to move the green moss on the surface of the well water so that it would not get into the bucket and make the water in the pure white bucket appear dirty.

Getting clear water into the bucket was a skilful job, between trying to avoid the green moss on the surface and the “dirt” at the bottom of the well. How wonderfully cool and refreshing a mug of water was straight from the well. There was always a mug beside the well and we often drank from it during those warm summers that we seemed to get long ago.


Random Item

From Random Cork Stuff on Twitter

Incredible snap of Coburg St, Cork, with Shandon in the background, from 1905. (found by Joe Healy)
Random fact: Coburg was the old family name of the British royal family before they changed it to Windsor to make it sound less German.


When I Made a Little Girl’s day

Yesterday I told you about my child minding on polling day in Ballincollig and the find we made in the charity shop.

These pictures were taken when we got home with our haul.

Oh to be nine again!


Storied Kerry Meitheal Saturday October 27 2018

This man is Professor Joseph Sobol, professor of storytelling at the University of South Wales and, as far as we know, the only professor of storytelling . He was reluctant to claim that distinction as he sees everyone as a storyteller. He told us about story tellers who have influenced him and he told us how the story is centralised in all our lives.

At the seminar we were divided into eight districts to discuss where we go from here.

Mary Kennelly was the board member of Storied Kerry in charge of our North Kerry breakout group.

Here we are, ready to discuss the North Kerry story. We got a bit bogged down in the story of decline, pub, shop and post office closures, rural decline and rural isolation. We touched on the rambling house and festivals as a way of keeping the story alive. We decided on tourism as the most likely industry to keep our story going. we decided to meet again and to spread the word.

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