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Tag: Beef Tea

A Robin, Beef Tea by John B. Keane and Fr. Danny Long and Maisie McSweeney

Closeup of a Robin

Photo: Ita Hannon


Garden of Europe Update

This corner of our lovely town is looking very bare these days.

signs of spring


A Fruity Poem  by William Cole  (from For Laughing Out Loud)

I thought I’d win the spelling bee

And get right to the top.

But I started to spell “banana”,

And I didn’t know when to stop.


Bridge Road

This is the old Neodata site. It looks like it is going to be a car park, for the foreseeable future anyway.


Beef Tea  (concluded)

by John B. Keane

….There was another
man in the street at the time, a notorious rogue albeit a likeable enough
fellow. He was greatly addicted to all forms of intoxicating drink and as is
the case with such people he often found himself with an insatiable desire for
meat. He would insist, on his arrival home from the public house, that his wife
did not look at all well. As it happened, she was something of a hypochondriac
and liked to hear such things.

“I haven’t been
feeling well all day,” she would agree.

“What you need,”
he would say,” is a nice mug of beef tea. If you have a shilling or two handy
I’ll go down and knock up the butcher and get a pound of the finest round.”

All beef tea
consisted of, by the way, was the water in which the beef was boiled.  As soon as she started to partake of the beef
tea our friend would start to partake of the beef. It was a good ruse and it
kept both of them in good health for many a year.

Nowadays there is
no talk of beef tea and more’s the pity because I might not be here at all only
for it. There were occasions when it was supposed to have brought people back
from the very mouth of the grave. Under no circumstances was the fat of beef to
be used. A nice lean cut off the round was the very man for the job.

People may look
askance at it now but in my boyhood it was held in reserve to the very end much
like a crack battalion in time of battle. Then when all seemed lost the beef
tea like the battalion would be unleashed on the enemy, the battalion upon the
opposing army and the beef tea upon the harbingers of human extinction.


Fr. Danny Long and Maisie McSweeney

Billy McSweeney writes;

Fr Danny Long was President of St. Michael’s College from Sept 1954. I
remember him fondly, not only because he was a relief to all the
students from his predecessor, but also because he had a sharp sense of
humour. His arrival at St. Mike’s on my first year definitely saved me
from an ‘uncomfortable’ 6 years.

In my memory we have a story of when Danny Long visited the Library and
asked my mother for ‘Dr Zhivago’ by Boris Pasternak. This was out new at
the time and was all the rage. There was a long queue of borrowers
waiting their turn to read it.

Danny was insistent that she put him at the head of the queue, which she
rejected and refused to do as it would be unfair! She told him so!

“You know that I could turn you into a goat!” says Danny. (To non-native
Listowel readers this was a well-known piseog of old!)

“BeGod Father, if you do I’ll puck you,” was the reply.

He had met his match!

Trees in the town park, Beef Tea, a poem, and Anew McMaster in The Plaza

Photo: Chris Grayson


Trees in the town park, February 2018

We are very lucky to have a great variety of trees in the town. I have noticed much new planting being done in the park.

 These really tall trees look fairly vulnerable to me. I’m glad to see that new trees have been planted in front of them, to replace them when the inevitable happens.

These are the new trees. They are just inside what remains of the old stile, pictured below


Beef Tea           by John
B. Keane

I am certain there
are many people who have never heard of beef tea much less drank it. When I was
a gorsoon there was a famous greyhound in my native town who was once backed
off the boards at Tralee greyhound track. He was well trained for the occasion
and specially fed as the following couplet will show;

We gave him raw
eggs and we gave him beef tea

But last in the
field he wound up in Tralee.

Beef tea in those
days was  a national panacea as well as
being famed for bringing out the best in athletes and racing dogs. Whenever it
was diagnosed buy the vigilent females in the household that one of us was
suffering from growing pains we were copiously dosed with beef tea until the
pains passed on. The only thing I remember in its favour is that it tasted
better than senna or castor oil.

I remember once my
mother enquiring of a neighbour how his wife was faring. Apparently the poor
creature had been confined to bed for several weeks suffering from some unknown
but malicious infirmity.

“Ah,” said the
husband sadly,” all she is able to take now is a drop of beef tea.”

She cannot have
been too bad for I have frequently heard it said of invalids that they couldn’t
even keep down beef tea. When you couldn’t even keep down beef tea it meant
that you were bound for the inevitable sojourn in the bourne of no return.

Of course it was
also a great boast for a woman to be able to say that all she was able to
stomach was beef tea. It meant that she was deserving of every sympathy because
it was widely believed that if a patient did not respond to beef tea it was a
waste of time spending good money on other restoratives. It was also a great
excuse for lazy people who wished to avoid work. All they had to say was they
were on beef tea and they were excused. No employer would have it on his
conscience that he imposed work on someone believed to be on their last legs.

On another
occasion, as I was coming from school, I saw a crowd gathered outside the door
of a woman who had apparently fainted a few moments before.

“How is she?’ I
heard one neighbor ask of another.

“They’re trying
her with beef tea now,” came the dejected response. The woman who had asked the
question made the sign of the cross and wiped a tear from her eye.

(more tomorrow)


The Millennium Arch and Bridge Road


Here is another poem from a great anthology I picked up in the charity shop. The book is called  For Laughing out Loud.

Someone said that it couldn’t be done

Anonymous author

Someone said that it couldn’t be done –

But he, with a grin, replied

He’d never be one to say it couldn’t be done –

Leastways not ’til he tried.

So he buckled right in, with a trace of a  grin;

By golly, he went right to it.

He tackled The Thing That Couldn’t be Done!

And he couldn’t do it.


Church Street “Entertainments” Remembered

Billy McSweeney writes;

I remember Anew McMaster’s visit to Listowel very well. I actually
managed to be in the audience in the Plaza cinema, (today the Ozanam
Centre), across the road from my home, to see him play McBeth. I was too
young to really understand it but I vividly remember McMaster in his
stage makeup. The sight was frightening to a child. My mother felt that
I was too young to see some of his other amazing offerings from the pen
of Shakespeare, so I was warned to stay away. This was definitely in the
Plaza and not the Library. I also remember the yellow posters pasted to
the walls of the derelict library in Bridge Rd. (as written by Eamon
Keane). The latter was a common occurence.

My belief is that it was McMaster’s visit to Listowel that was the
inspiration for the ‘local’ lads to put on their later ‘entertainments’
in the Carnegie Library. It would have been a much cheaper venue than
Trevor Chute’s Plaza. That, in turn, was the inspiration for my brothers
and sisters to stage our entertainments in our back-house for the local
Church St children during the Summer holiday months when the remaining
sods of turf in the building were used as seats and concrete wooden
shuttering from my father’s workshop was fashioned as a stage. We wrote
the scripts ourselves; but the quality of the writings was not up to the
standards of our illustrious predecessors!

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