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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Listowel Connections

This Made my Day

I receive a good few messages from grateful blog followers. I do love a word of thanks every now and again. In terms of words of thanks, Eileen Herman, formerly of Brosna, went the extra mile and An Post deserves thanks as well. Who needs eircodes?


One I missed while I was ill

John Carpenter came and went while I was indisposed but he sent me a few photos of his visit. John’s Listowel ancestral home is in Upper William Street where his cousin still lives.

John’s late mother, Mary Elizabeth was born a Moore in New York City to William Moore of Port Henry, NY and Johanna Buckley of Listowel.  Johanna was the daughter of Laurence “Lar” Buckley and Ellen Kearney.  Johanna and William Moore had 4 children, William, Mary, George and Regina.  Only George and Regina remain.  Both Johanna and William died relatively young and both had passed by the end of 1940.  Mary Elizabeth was predeceased in 2001 by her beloved daughter Mary.

John with his Irish relatives at The Horseshoe

Taking a dip with his family in the icy waters at Ballybunion

Bill Keane gave him a lesson on how to pull a pint.


Some things change, some stay the same


Back Lane opposite the offices of the Revenue Commissioners

Now Tan.N.Go


Ballyduff felt a bit neglected in 1899

Kerry Evening Post , Wednesday, June 21, 1899



Mr Flavin asked the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether he was aware that a petition largely signed by residents in the Ballyduff postal district of the County of Kerry was presented to the Postmaster-General praying for a Sunday delivery of letters, a money order office, and either telegraphic or telephone facilities; and would he explain why, seeing that all the surrounding villages are in the enjoyment of those benefits, the application of the memorialists of the Ballyduff district had been so long delayed from getting equal facilities in post office affairs?

Mr Hanbury—A petition we have received early last year asking for a Sunday delivery of letters and a money order office, but there is no trace of any application for the establishment of telegraphic or telephonic facilities. A money order office was established at Ballyduff under guarantee a year ago, but a Sunday post could not be sanctioned, because the existing service on week days was found to be remunerative, and additional expense for affording a Sunday service is therefore not warranted.

Straw Boys, John Relihan and more from Listowel Races 2015

Ballyduff Farmer in The Farmers’ Journal

John O’Regan, Dairy and Tillage Farmer, Ardoughtar Cross, Ballyduff, Co Kerry celebrating National Potato Day            Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan


Strawing In

This photograph of straw boys in Milstreet, Co. Cork was posted on Facebook by Tom Healy.

I googled straw boys and this is what I found.

“Whenever they started, the Straw
Boys seem to have survived in modern Irish life – at least in the western
counties of Ireland where they almost certainly originated. They’re most often
described as an exceptionally odd bunch of party crashers – young men who
appear suddenly at a wedding, possibly uninvited, and dance with the bride and
groom before departing as swiftly as they arrived. The only thing that
’s consistent in all the stories about them is the way they
conceal their identities behind stylized hats made of straw.

Still Dancing

Many present-day accounts say that
the Straw Boys still appear at weddings from the Achill Island area (northwest
county Mayo) on down through the middle west. They’re familiar enough, in fact,
that some wedding planners offer Straw Boys as a feature you can choose, along
with champagne and chocolate cake, from the standard event menu. For about
$250, you can apparently have a group of 4-5 of these fellows enter the dinner
room, accompanied by a fiddle, dance around the tables for a few minutes, and
then lift the bride from her chair and carry her out to the dance floor to
begin the “Ceili.”

According to Jane Fitzgerald,
speaking on a wedding website, “they were boys who rustled cattle. After the
job, they
’d avoid capture by dressing in
straw hats and sneaking into a wedding. They
’d drink and dance but never talk. Eventually they got to be a
sign of good luck. It
’s called “strawing a wedding.” Another wedding planner advertizes Straw Boys who “dance around the bride and groom to protect them from evil
” But many traditional accounts say
the boys don’t appear at the wedding at all, but at the bride
’s house before the wedding. Several other writers say that in
olden days, weddings were usually for family members only, and that the Straw
Boys led a delegation of friends into the town square to welcome the bride and
groom home from their honeymoon.”

My memory of straw boys is not of this hired entertainment but of local lads who came to the house of the newly married couple when they returned from their honeymoon and demanded a party. They were usually half expected and the singing and dancing went on all night.


Coming to a Screen near You

Look out for John Relihan from Duagh  cooking up a storm with Jamie Oliver on Top Secret BBQ. Coming to our TVs in January…..especially for those who love meat!


More from Ladies Day 2015


Book Recommendation for You

Jason of Ballybunion Prints took this photo of Mike Flahive at his  beloved Bromore Cliffs.

Mike is one of the contributors to this book of 50 stories of growing up and living in rural Ireland. The book was launched at The Ploughing Championships 2015.

Art in St. John’s, Travellers and another lovely Listowel paint job

Must See Exhibition, Mórtas Áite Dhuchais, at St. John’s

On Friday evening last I attended the opening of Micheál Kelliher’s latest exhibition. The show is a tribute to Listowel.  And what a tribute!

Micheál’s style is now big and bold, full of colour and vibrancy.

Listowel is Micheál’s muse. All the images are about love and pride and Micheál’s own love of Listowel, Listowel people in general and his own family in particular, the music, sport and traditions of North Kerry shine out from every image.

It’s a pity to sell and break up the collection because it works best, as it is now; the story of Listowel in pictures.

I say about listowelconnection that it is my take on Listowel. Well, this is Micheál Kelliher’s take on Listowel. It is hanging in St. John’s until August 4th 2015. Don’t miss it!

Here are a few pics I snapped on the night of the opening.

 Micheál  Kelliher is congratulated by Ann Fitzgerald.

P.J. and Joan Kenny enjoyed the paintings.

Billy Keane who, in his own witty style, launched the exhibition, chats to Karen Trench.
A Trench duo entertained us.

Eileen O’Connor and her good friend, Eileen Kelliher, proud mother of the artist.

Micheal’s old teachers from Listowel Community College


Style is in the Genes

Maria Stack and her niece, Leona at Tipperary Races



In the 1970s Travelers regularly stopped in Ratoo, Ballyduff on their way to Killorglin for Puck Fair or to Tralee for The Rose of Tralee Festival.

Martin Browne posted these photos of one such gathering on his Facebook page.


Looking Good

John Kelliher photography,Convent closure and Ballyduff O’Donoghues

John Kelliher took these great photographs of the final mass in the convent chapel. When he posted them recently on Facebook they brought back many memories of another era when nuns and convents were part of everyday life in Ireland. Alas, no more.


Photobombing giraffe got  this great photo from a Dublin couple whose photo was photo bombed by a fellow with a hard neck.


Ballyduff O’Donoghues

If you have Ballyduff O’Donoghues on your family tree this is a great blog to follow:

Ballyduff O’Donoghues


On the street

I met Mary Sobieralski in Main Street with her German visitors, her son, Mark and his girlfriend, Sabrina


Something to Look Forward To

The  Kissane Gathering weekend is planned for 7th, 8th and 9th August. Jerry Behan who is a Kissane descendant is opening a new gallery at the Horseshoe in time for the event. A Photographic Exhibition of Black and White Kissane photographs will be displayed in the Gallery the week leading up to and including the Gathering weekend. This exhibition is being prepared by Eamon O’Murchú formally from Listowel. Eamon’s mother was a Kissane.  Some of these photographs are from as far back as the 1880’s. The Launch of the Photographic Exhibition will be the weekend before the Gathering. 

Everyone is welcome to walk in and view the photographs as the Gallery will be open everyday from 12 o’clock.


That Match!

Great match, shame about the result.  John Kelliher was there and he got some great photos. Here are just a few. View the rest on his page by following the link above.

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015 and Listowel Food Fair 2015

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015

It was Saturday afternoon, May 2 2015 and we were all in the square for the best bit (in my opinion), i.e. the parade of veterans and soldiers, the laying of wreaths and the flypast. It is a lovely dignified, solemn ceremony and organized with a precision that does the local organizers proud.

This is the local Army Reservists’ flag party.

The Wixted and Nolan families were out in force at every event of the weekend.

Clíona Cogan and our Kildare visitors for the weekend, Seán, Mary and Tony McKenna from Newbridge.

The dignitaries in place before the wreath laying.

All day we had real soldiers and men dressed up as soldiers meeting and mingling. I got this great photo of a real vicar meeting and mingling with a pretend vicar.

These two happy gentlemen told me that they were “catching up”.

The Bunyans were there to enjoy the parade.

( If I took your photo at the weekend and it hasn’t appeared here yet, don’t despair. I still have loads to get through yet.)


Looking forward to Listowel Food Fair

No sooner is one festival over than we are thinking of the next one. The next one for Listowel is the great Writers’ Week. I’ll talk about that next week. Today I want to entice you to Listowel for The Food Fair, to be held this year at the earlier time of June 18 to June 21 2015.

This lady is the late Kathy Buckley of William St. She is pictured in the grounds of The White House in Washington. She was cook to three presidents. Listowel Food Fair have decided to honor her at this year’s festival.

This is a promotional photo of some of the organizing committee, Aoife Hannon, Asya O’Callaghan, Mary Coleman and Audrey Galvin.

We are so lucky in Listowel to have great chefs and great restaurants.

This year’s festival will be opened by Paolo Tullio and as well as the usual competitions and tastings will feature  the first ever All Ireland Craft Beer Competition. There will be a food trail and enhanced Farmers’ Market as well as demonstrations and tastings.


Devastating O’Connell Street, Limerick fire of 1959

On Tuesday, 25 August 1959, at 11am, a fire was noticed and reported in Todd’s building.  Todds and the neighbouring buildings was quickly evacuated. By 12:30 the entire block was a blazing inferno. The cause was a fuse box in the basement of the drapery store which had burst from the wall.

The story in pictures;   O’Connell Street Fire


Friday Clean up

Listowel Tidy Towns posted this picture of the girls from Pres. Secondary School. Listowel with their teacher, Margaret Daly, on their weekly clean up around the town


Progress at Lidl


First Holy Communion in Ballydonoghue

Lovely souvenir photographs from John Kelliher


Something for the weekend

If you are an active person over the age of 50 you must head to Killarney on Sunday or Monday. There are over 80 stalls and you can investigate anything from how to research your family tree to  investing your pension nest egg.


Student Business “Oscar” for Young Ballyduff Man

In the Mansion House in Dublin last night, May 7 2015,  Pádraig O’ Connor of Ballyduff was presented with his award for An Post Smart Student Marketing Campaign of the Year by Paul Cooke of the Sunday Business Post.

Pádraig is currently studying in Pace University in New York, He returned for a short visit home to accept his prize.

Padraig with his very proud parents, John and Bridget.  This is a young North Kerry man with a very bright future ahead of him. Well done, my friend!

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