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Tag: Behan's

Closure of a Beloved North Kerry Business

Listowel Town Square March 2023


Deireadh Ré

End of an era in Lisselton

(Pictures from Bridget O’Connor)

Behan’s Lisselton

On Sunday evening March 5 2023 Behan’s of Lisselton closed the shop door for a final time and held a final hooley for family and friends (a.k.a. customers).

The till is silent, the meat hooks are empty, the shop coat is hanging limply. An old way of life, a Lisselton institution, is no more.

My association with Behans goes back to when Jeremiah ran the shop in the 1980s. We had a family to feed and we did something that was so common then. We bought a chest freezer and filled it with food, mainly meat.

Behan’s offered a bespoke butchery service like no other. When the meat had been slaughtered and hung, I would go to Lisselton and stand at Richard’s elbow while he cut the joints of meat to my requirements and I bagged them for freezing. I learned so much in those bagging trips, for, if truth be told, while I was there to tell Richard how I wanted the beef cut, it was in fact Richard teaching me the best way of organising my meals. and Richard was always full of good advice. He was the most patient of shopkeepers.

As you can imagine, this operation took a few hours so meanwhile the business of the shop went on in front of us. The meat counter was at the back of the shop.

The shop was like a rambling house. Everyone knew everyone else. Jeremiah was always up for a chat and positively encouraged customers to hang around and swap news and pass away a bit of the day. The atmosphere was just so warm and welcoming. You could get a tip for a horse or a hound. You would learn the state of the bog and the situation with cutting or footing. The price of cattle and news from The Mart was exchanged.

Jeremiah always read the newspaper and was well up in global news so he held his own on many topics. The health of neighbours was a regular topic as well as local marriages and deaths.

Then Mrs. Behan would bring the cup of tea and the slice of cake. The tea was always presented in a china cup and I was made to feel like a VIP guest rather than a customer.

Getting the meat for the freezer at Behans was never a chore. It was a trip to be looked forwarded to and enjoyed. It was part of a way of life that is now just a memory to me….a lovely few hours in the company of lovely people.

My family have grown and flown.  The chest freezer is banished to electrical recycling heaven. I have not been to Behans for years. A new generation of Behans has grown up in the intervening time. And now the door has closed on that happy place.

The affection of their many customers and friends is evident in my friend, Bridget’s, photos which she so kindly shared with us.

Forgive me if I shed a tear for those happy bygone days when I was privileged to be part of a retail legend. Behans were a  rare breed of business people when the customers were treated like a valued friends.

I wish Richard and Geraldine a long and happy retirement with plenty of family time to enjoy.


The Murder of Seán O’Brien

This very unusual grave memorial in St. Michael’s cemetery, Listowel has an interesting story behind it. According to people who know these things, Sean O’Brien’s remains are no longer interred here but have been removed to his native Cork.

Here is the story from Mike Mc Grath in last week’s Corkman.

Seán O’Brien

One hundred years ago this week Charleville man Seán O’Brien was murdered by Crown forces at his hardware shop at Main Street Charleville in a reprisal attack. Here local historian and genealogist Evelyn O’Keeffe, who is chair of Charleville Heritage Society, researched the details and recalls the terrible event, and its aftermath.

‘Terrible Fate of Well-known Charleville Shopkeeper’ was the headline 100 years ago this week when Sean O’Brien, a hardware merchant was murdered. 

Sean died from his wounds as his wife and young daughter bore witness to his terrible end.

‘At 8.30pm there was a knock on the door. The Tans came into the town looking for blood that night, a Volunteer attack earlier that day on an RIC patrol in Charleville had maddened the Tans.

‘They went to the home of Seán O’Brien. The Tans knocked at his door, and Seán, without opening the door, enquired what they wanted, and the Tans’ reply was to fire several volleys through the door and they also threw some grenades through the fanlight. It was an extremely brutal murder, for his body was ripped asunder. He died seven and a half hours later.

‘Seán was president of the local Gaelic League and was a committed Irish-Irelander. He was elected in June 1920 to the Urban District Council on the Sinn Féin ticket and was the unanimous choice for chairman.

Funeral of Seán O’Brien

O’Brien’s funeral prompted an ugly scene. During his funeral procession on 4th March 1921 ‘two military officers approached the clergy, who were in front, and asked them were they not aware of the fact that the Republican flag which covered the coffin was not permitted in accordance with official regulations. One of the priests pointed out that the ensign was wrapped around the remains and secured to the lid, and that the coffin should be opened if they insisted on having the flag removed. After some controversy the military officers decided not to interfere further’.

‘Seán took an active interest in all aspects of life in Charleville and the turnout at his funeral was huge, being a member of the Kilmallock Board of Guardians, Cork County Committee of Agriculture, and was always ready to volunteer his services to resolve labour disputes. He enjoyed the respect and esteem of all classes in the town, including those who did not coincide with his political views.’

May he rest in peace.


Now and Then


The Northern Tour Ends the Road Trip

Listowel Garda Station in August 2022


In Teampall Bán

I took my granddaughters, Aisling and Cora to soak up a piece of history at Teampall Bán

The little chapel has the history of some of the worst statistics from The Famine on its door.

Listowel Tidy Towns have recently placed a commemorative plaque remembering one of its’ volunteers, Eileen Worths, who loved the little cemetery.

Across the road from the entrance to Teampall Bán I saw that great progress has been made in the construction of the bypass.


Barbara Heads North

A brief summary of the 2nd tour:    Places we visited:

Listoke Distillery-story of the distillery and the Gin School.   

Belfast City:  Panoramic Tour of the Fall and Shankill Roads to learn of the effects The Troubles had on the city and the entire island.   Titanic Quarter-learning everything about the legendary RMS Titanic, from standing in the shipyard it was built all the way to its maiden voyage.  That evening  we went to The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn, a quaint town north of Belfast City.  This restaurant was built in 1614.  A delicious dinner was had by all.  A real treat for us.   We got to see how truly beautiful Belfast City really is and how it’s a booming city now.   Lots of construction everywhere.  Definitely up and becoming for Belfast City.   

Giant’s Causeway and Derry CIty all in one day.   We headed north along the Antrim Coast for a visit to the famous Giant’s Causeway.  We made a stop at the Glenariff Forest Park at the Glenariff Teahouse for some tea and scones.   Giant’s Causeway is definitely a sight to behold and one that will leave you in awe when you do.  This is my 2nd time seeing them and each time, it definitely leaves you in awe.    We headed to Derry City, the historic walled City.   This was the last walled city to be built in Ireland and the only city whose walls remain completely intact in the country.  We were met by a local tour guide and embarked on a walking tour  of the city to learn all about Derry’s turbulent past.  We were supposed to stay a night in Derry City, but had to head to Donegal Town instead.   

I was delighted with the switch.   My room had a view of the Donegal harbor.   The next morning, we made our way to Irish House in Donegal where we saw a demonstration of how tweed sweaters were originally made as we watched the threads weave in and out on the old wooden loom.   We headed to Sligo Town for lunch.   We couldn’t see Ben Bulben because it was covered in clouds.   We went to WB Yeats grave and church.   Then we headed to Roscommon to Kilronan Castle one of Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels and stayed the night at the castle.   It was a real treat on beautiful grounds.  We had a beautiful dinner being our last night with this tour group of 14!  

Then the next day, we headed to Arigna Mines where we got to experience a unique perspective into what coal mining life was like in Ireland from the 1700’s all the way to its closure in 1990.  Once above ground, we head to the ancient village of Kells.   This olden village was where the famous Book of Kells was written and protected for over 800 years before being moved to Trinity College in the 17th Century.   I learned that this quaint village is part of the reason Ireland is referred to as the Land of Saints and Scholars.  After touring Kells, we made our way back to Dublin to end this amazing tour.  

The title of this tour was WILD ATLANTIC EXPERIENCE:  10 DAY TOUR Premium Sightseeing Tour with ROYAL IRISH TOURS.   I highly recommend this tour!!  We were in a small coach with 14 people on each tour.    What better way to see Ireland-you get to sit back, relax and let someone else do the driving.    Ireland is simply a beautiful place which I will always come back to visit.    18 days wasn’t enough, but enough to recharge my batteries for the next school year!!!!  Hopefully it won’t be another 6 years for my next visit!  


A Gaslight

When street lighting was introduced it was powered by candlelight, gas or oil. Eventually electricity replaced other sources of power and the old lampposts were removed and replaced with less decorative but more functional lamp standards.

The lady who is commemorated on this park bench is the reason that we still have one old street lamp left outside Behan’s. Bibiana lived in The Horseshoe when it was Foran’s and she prevailed on the town council to leave the lamp outside her home.


A Fact

Image; Wikipedia

The African baobab tree can have a circumference as large as 100 feet. One such tree in Zimbabwe is so wide that the hollowed out trunk serves as a bus shelter. It can shelter up to 40 people.


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