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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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

St. Michael’s, Ballybunion, St. Mary’s in Lent and a Covid 19 poem

Peppercanister Church, Dublin

Eamon ÓMurchú took this great photograph recently


“All you that have your eyeballs vexed and tired

Feast them on the wildness of the sea”   Keats

Marie Moriarty took these photos in Ballybunion yesterday


St. Michael’s staff 1979

This photo was published a commemorative book to celebrate the centenary of the school.

May all of those who have passed away rest in peace.



While we are in partial lockdown due to the global pandemic, Covid 19, people may not have been visiting the church as much as usual. Here is the lovely display for Lent 2020.


Hard Times in North Kerry in 1881

Kerry Sentinel 06.05.1881, page 3 (Edited Version)

Important Meeting of Lord Ormaithwaite’s Tenantry in the parishes of, Listowel, Ballydonoghue, Newtownsandes, Lixnaw, Irremore and Ballybunion were at a meeting in the Land League Rooms in Listowel. They decided that 25% over Griffith’s valuation was a fair rent. Mr George Sandes the landlords agent refused the offer and offered an abatement of 15%, he agreed to meet Lord Ormaithwaite and let them know his reply in a few days.

The cases of the eviction in Gunsboro of Broder and Kissane, who were uncharitable put out on the road at the end of their working life, had the sympathy of all tenants.

Priests in attendance Rev. M O’Connor , P.P. Ballybunion; Rev James Burke, P.P. Newtownsandes, Rev James Casey C C. Listowel; Rev F Cremin, C.C. Lixnaw; Rev. M. Godley, C.C. Ballybunion; Rev F. Carmody, C.C. Newtownsandes, and the rev B. Scanlon, C.C. Duagh.

Priest of the Listowel Deanery held meeting and deplored the evictions on the property of Mr. Gunn Mahony and absentee, a dying man, father of large family was flung on the roadside without any shelter. North Kerry was tranquil, but it is with horror they contemplate the future, if  the evictions of law abiding and industrious people, continues.


An Ode to St. Patrick in This Time of Crisis

St Patrick’s Day 2020

By Mary Mc Elligott

Please come back St Patrick

And bring us loads of bleach,

Soap and disinfectant

And sanitizers, yes, one each.

Back then, we thought snakes were bad,

For the Irish, a pure curse

But now in the year we have

The story is much worse.

Corona is the reason,

A scary dangerous Virus.

It’s in all the Televisions,

The papers and the wireless.

It spreads with a cough or sneeze

Or even talking to a person

And forget about a handshake.

It will only make it worsen.

If you can bring supplies,

Include some kitchen rolls

Don’t bring any toilet paper

As we all have loads and loads.

Also to be safer,

Leave your cloak and staff at home.

We’ll provide a set of scrubs

‘You’d get destroyed in bleach and foam.

We’re not out this year

But we’re not too far away.

We’re indoors and we’re praying,

That you’ll kill the bugs with spray.

We’ve even closed our Pubs,

Paddy’s day, a disaster

But we’re willing and we’re able,

If the Virus goes much faster.

You saved us many moons ago.

You’re held in high esteem.

Irish eyes will all be smiling,

When we’re out of quarantine.

We’ll be dancing and a lepping,

Down the streets, with marching bands.

Oh, a little reminder when you’re coming,

Don’t forget to wash your hands.

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