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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The Black Valley

Listowel Town Square, June 28 2022


The Black Valley

The Black Valley is one of the most inaccessible places and also one of the most beautiful in Co. Kerry.

Recently a man, Michael Rodgers, posted some extraordinary photographs on Facebook. There are no people in these shots, just sheep and nature at its rawest.

These abandoned houses tell their own story.

There are some inhabited houses too, a church and a school, a community hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

Before they built Our Lady of the Valley church in 1955, people had to go to Derrycunnihy Church to worship.

“Long before the Lady of the Valley Church was built after quite a Battle to Build it the Black Valley Residents traveled from Lord Brandon’s Cottage, took a boat rowed by Teresa Tangney to a spot across the Upper Lake to a spot near the Derrycunnihy Church which was still a hike from the Dock which took a couple hours.” Michael Rodgers


Presentation Secondary School Yearbook 1991

The early days of football for ladies in Listowel…


President Clinton in Ballybunion 1998

Photo; Bert Griffin


Ring of Kerry Cycle 2022

Listowel’s Ard Chúram crew were out in force volunteering as stewards at the very successful cycle. Unfortunately the weather was fairly miserable but the mood was upbeat among the cyclists and volunteers.

Dr. Colm Henry HSE Clinical Director with Árd Charm chairman, Finbarr Mawe

Timothy Hurley, Cahirsiveen, with Finbarr and Kathy Mawe

Volunteers, Angela Quinlan and Anne Donegan at Kenmare Food Station.

At the Kenmare food station, Anne Donegal looking after AC cyclist Fergus O’Brien, Cork

Cathal Walshe, PRO of ROKCC with Listowel Árd Chúram volunteers, Mike Moriarty and Brenda O’Halloran on Friday evening at the registration desk


The Claddagh Ring, The Listowel Connection

Yesterday The New York Times’ Sandra Jordan did a story on the Claddagh ring

Claddagh Ring

Walt Disney, Queen Victoria, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Gabriel Byrne have all worn them.

200 Claddagh rings were recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers.

These are some of the great titbits I learned from the article.

When it comes to a modern take on the Claddagh design, the New York Times has this to say about Eileen Moylan of Claddagh Design

In 2013, the Overall Winner at Showcase Ireland, a national exposition presented on behalf of the Design and Crafts Council Ireland, was a minimalist version of the Claddagh ring. The design, which eliminated any detailing on the hands, cuffs and crown, was created by Eileen Moylan, a goldsmith with Claddagh Design.

Ms. Moylan said she was 8 when her grandmother gave her a Claddagh ring. “It was my first proper piece of jewelry and I adored it,” the 44-year-old said. But when she studied jewelry design, she found the traditional Claddagh ring too ornate.

“I was inspired by fede rings, lovely, simple things,” she said. “I didn’t want to remove the elements of the hands, heart and crown — my rings are still recognizable as Claddaghs.”

Ms. Moylan, who makes all her rings by hand, does sell traditional rings, but she said her contemporary designs, which start at 196 euros ($206), are her best-sellers. She uses only recycled metal: silver, white and yellow gold, platinum and palladium.

A lot of customers “like the simple, clean lines,” she said. “I sell a lot of men’s wedding rings, they are not ornate. And an awful lot of men are getting my Claddagh rings as engagement rings.”

In 2017,commissioned by Writers’ Week, Eileen made an extraordinarily beautiful presentation piece for Brendan Kennelly. Here she is pictured with him on Opening Night, Listowel Writers Week 2017.

All of Eileen’s work is exceptional. She deserves all the recognition she gets.


Ballybunion and Shannonside Journal 1996


Today’s reflection from Tralee’s Garden of Contemplation


Sit A While and Remember

There is a big surge in the popularity of commemorating people with seats in their favourite places.

I spotted these recently along the footpath looking out to sea in Ballybunion.


From the Cliff Walk

Virgin Rock


A St. Patrick’s Day Parade Back in the Day

Listowel ICA were great supporters of the Glor na nGael St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This is Noreen O’Leary in costume for one such occasion


Tom Fitzgerald found this old treasure. The photographs of the photographs didn’t come out great. But I’ll share a few over the next few days.

These girls were at Sports Day in Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail.

Virgin Rock, The Pilgrim Paths and Raceweek 2020

Ballybunion 2020


Kerry Already making the Headlines in 1972

New York NY Irish American Advocate

24 June 1972

North Kerry Milk Products—————–
Biggest factory of its kind in both Ireland and England and its finished product, which goes into edible foods, is being exported to the American Erie Casein Company of Illinois which holds a 15 per cent share in the North Kerry Company. Of the remaining 85 per cent of shares half are held by the Dairy Disposal Company and the balance by nine Co-operative Creameries. DYNAMIC MANAGER Young dynamic General Manager of the North Kerry Company is Mr. Denis Brosnan, M.Sc, a native of Kilflynn near Tralee, who said that there was 34 million gallons of milk in the North Kerry area last year which is as big an amount as in the areas of the other major processing groups. At this time about 11 million gallons of whole milk and four million gallons of skim milk were being sold while the remainder had to go back to farmers.



Pilgrim Paths of Ireland

( Photos from Martin Moore on Facebook)

Ireland has several penitential and monastic sites. Some of these are laid out now in several  Irish Caminos.

Martin Moore treked The Pilgrim Paths of Ireland and here are some of the sites he stopped off in on the way.


The Beauty of an Old Machine

This is a Wexford Pierce & Co. horse drawn finger bar mower. Shane McAuliffe of Parknageragh House refurbished it and shared the before and after pictures on Facebook.


A Very Different Raceweek

Local shops are doing their best to make us feel like its Raceweek.

This bookie themed window is at Broderick’s Pharmacy.

The NCBI shop are going with a best dressed lady theme.

Finesse Bridal has close ties to the horse racing world. It’s window is definitely a winner alright


Listowel’s First Picture House and Cowboys Remembered, Ballybunion RIC and Races on TV

John Kelliher’s photo of the empty racecourse in September 2020 says it all. The sun is setting on a forgettable summer.

Yes, there will be a race meeting this year, but it will be behind closed doors. We’ll have to be happy with watching the races on telly.

TG4 coverage will be hosted again by Seán Bán Breathnach with Mánus Ó Conghaile.  Race commentary comes from Mícheál Ó Sé and reporter will be Daragh Ó Conchúir.

TG4s schedule is as follows:

*Monday, September 21 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle’ @ 3:40pm.

*Tuesday, September 22 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The Edmund and Josie Whelan Memorial Stakes’ @ 4:30pm

*Wednesday, September 23 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The Guinness Kerry National’ @ 4:30pm

*Thursday, September 24 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The Listowel Printing Works Handicap’ @ 4:30pm

*Friday, September 25 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The Southampton Goodwill Plate Handicap Steeplechase’ @ 4:25pm

*Saturday, September 26 – On-Air @ 3:00pm

Five races live including the main race of the day ‘The M.J. Carroll ARRO Handicap Hurdle’ @ 4:00pm


Cowboys and Irishmen

Liam Dillon’s story of his mother’s frightening experience in Listowel’s first cinema prompted many cinematic memories for blog followers.

Mattie Lennon thought of Gene Autry, one of the biggest stars of the Cowboy genre.

Gene Autry was  a huge star of the silver screen and on Sept 7 1939 he and his horse, Champion, rode in parade near the theatre Royal. The crowd was estimated at 250,000. Autry was known as The Singing Cowboy. His many films were immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mattie remembers a line from  the late great Seán MacCarthy

Sean Mc Carthy said that when the first chipper was set up in Listowel two fellows came out of the cinema and bought two bags of chips. One of them said, “I  don’t care what anyone says, there’s spuds in them.”

Cyril Kelly remembers the first Listowel cinema as well. Here in his own inimitable style is his reminiscence…

My erstwhile neighbour, Liam Dillon, relayed a story about his mother’s scary visit to the first ‘cinema’ in the town. That reminiscence aroused a memory that I have of my own mother and her recollections of the same picture house, aka cinema, aka fleapit. In her accounts the pictures were shown in Cooney’s, a shed/lean-to/stall behind Nurse Donovan’s Nursing Home (next door to North County House) where all the hair-raising episodes seemed to be confined to the brass beds of the lying-in rooms at the front rather than any six guns blazing to the rear. Dickeen Daly was the anti-hero in my mother’s cinema tales (People may recall Dickeen, caretaker to the old Courthouse).


At any rate, during the showing of a picture, Dickeen’s job was to provide sound effects ….remember, this was the silent movie era. So when a new picture came to Cooneys, Dickeen was at the ready for the first few nights with his rattles and whistles and squeaks, plus pebbles and rocks in empty biscuit tins. But, inevitably, as the week wore on and as Dickeen became overly familiar with the latest western or who-done-it, flickering on the whitewashed wall, his stamina was sorely tested. And as Cooney’s ventilation system was not designed to cope with a packed and hyperventilating audience, the poor sound effects man was known to nod off. With the result, audience screams of Dickeen! Dickeen! rang out when the gunfight was at its most ferocious, when the fusillade should have been ear splitting. But by the time Dickeen was roused, and the biscuit tin and the rocks and the pebbles were primed, the soundtrack was merely providing rolling thunder and teeming rain for the victim’s burial on Boothill.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


North Kerry man is new CEO of Lee Strand 

Gearóid Linnane takes the next step in his very successful career as he takes up the role of CEO of Lee Strand


Burning in Ballybunion 

The 1920’s was a terrible time in Kerry with shootings, reprisals, burnings and brother pitted against brother in a bitter fight that has left scars that are only barely healed today.

John Keane shared this photograph of the RIC barracks in Ballybunion which was burned to the ground.

Feline Frolics, St. Michael’s in 1970, Ballybunion new toilet under construction and Rocky 103 on film

Down Came a Raven

Photo; Tom Fitzgerald


Cat Rescue in 2005

Listowel Firefighters are lucky to have  an onboard cameraman to record some of the more interesting tasks.

Here John Kelliher photographed the rescue of a cat in the Town Park in 2005. If it was your cat or if you remember the incident let us know. According to John the birds were trying to knock the cat off before the firemen got to him.

One life down. Eight to go.


Memories, Memories

Tommy O’Flaherty shared this photo on Facebook last week. I saved it and shared it on Listowel Connection. Then I got this email.

Good Morning ,

Imagine my surprise when I came across the photograph of the 1970 Class from St Michaels on your blog earlier this morning .  I cannot recall the photograph being taken nor who took it but the memories came flooding back . I am seated on the wall on the extreme right holding a camera . God only knows where the camera came from as there was none in our house . 

In those days St Michaels consisted of just the main structure and the outside shed, along the side wall at the rear , which was used for smaller classes . There was a pathway that led from the front gate to the main entrance with a patch of lawn ( bog more like ) on either side .

The main foot path  could only be used by the teachers . Students had to use the path at the left hand side and enter the school via the steps at the rear . I recall that , in a final show of defiance        ( probably on the same day as the photo ) , we all committed heresy by exiting through the main  front door and the centre path . That was a major crime  and there would have been some type of retribution. I can  recall being dispatched from class by Father Long ( then President) to educate some neanderthal  ( a new arrival in mid-term ) who had been detected walking into  the school via the centre path . Our classroom , in our final years, was on the left just inside the front door .

There are a number of luminaries in that photograph , former Minister Deenihan ( in white at the front ) , Gabriel Fitzmaurice ( squatting on the right at the front )  and a lesser known (but the brightest star then ), John O’Connell  ( An  All Ireland Colleges winning athlete , fourth from the left at the back ) . Tommy Fla represented the glamour being a drummer with the local pop band ‘The System’ before subsequently departing for a larger role on the Showband Scene . 

However I am surprised that there are some faces  that I cant identify  and some , who I do recognise , but have not met up with since 1970  . I would be obliged if , through your blog we can put names and whereabouts  to all the faces . I can set the ball rolling if you like and maybe Fla or some other reader can fill in the gaps .

It is indeed time for a socially distanced and hygienically pure  re-union .

Best Regards

Kieran Fitzgerald 

P.S.  I  am from Billeragh ( close to the  Six Crosses ) . My sister , Eileen O’Connell , lives in the former shop at the Crosses opposite the petrol station , My brother was Tom Fitzgerald , former teacher who lived in Upper Church St ,  and passed away in 2014 . You may know his wife , Marie , who is cocooned next door to the Plaza. 

(Look out for more from Kieran in the next few days)


May 18 2020

Photo; Kilcooley’s

Construction has recommenced on Ballybunion’s new public convenience.


Does anyone remember Rocky 103 -Your Station, and Mine?

Warren Buckley found this treasure when he was reviewing his old stuff during lockdown. It’s a video he and some more St. Michael’s Fifth Year students made in 1988. Eamon Carey was the young Brian Dobson doing a great job of interviewing the rising radio star, Francis Jones. Some neat camera work by Warren as well. The ads at the end are gas.

Rocky 103 interview

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