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

Tag: Berkie Browne

Mill lane, Raceweek Donkey Races and World Record Breaking “Golfer” and Listowel Ball Alley Project

Mill Lane

These buildings are in Mill Lane. They look to me like an old grain store. I remember horses and their carts pulling up outside such buildings and bags of grain being lowered to them from small upstairs windows.


Donkey Derbies during Raceweek

I’m sorry this is so small because its great and well worth reading. If you dont know how to make the font bigger, do, as one blog follower told me he does, and read it using a magnifying glass.

Another world record for the Browne family


Listowel Ball Alley Art Project

The volunteer artists have made a start on redecorating the Ball Alley.

On the day I was at the ball alley I was delighted to see someone using it to practice ball skills.


How to Behave in Church during a Pandemic


Another Green Flag for Childers Park

A well deserved award for our local park thanks to all the hard work of David Twomey and his team gardeners, the outdoor staff of Kerry County Council and Listowel Tidy Town Volunteers.


ballads, Black and Tans and Browne’s Bookmakers changes hands

The very modern shopfront of Mobi4U in Main Street


Vincent Carmody remembers Listowel Ballads and Balladmakers

(This is the final Instalment)

While I was doing research for the book Listowel and the G.A.A. in the
early 1980’s, I asked Greenville native and well-known balladeer Sean McCarthy
to write a piece, he did so, and included in it wrote a lovely poem of younger
days, when he recalled playing a game with a homemade ball of cloth and string.

The Ragged Ball,

Yes, I remember the lazy days, and the love light in your eye,

The scent of heather on the breeze that graced the summer sky,

The dusty lane, with twisted names, soft twilight stealing through,

Leaping tall, for the ragged ball, in a meadow kissed by dew.

The smell of pandy on the wind, as the night came closing down,

A maple tree, where birds sang free, bedecked in crimson gown,

The ragged ball, by the turf shed wall, it’s playing life near done,

With cloth and string, it will rise again, to soar in the morning sun.

Yes, I remember the drowsy eves, when youth was on the wing,

A thrush at play in the mown hay, a church bell’s lonely ring,

The haughty pose, of a wild red rose, that burst into autumn flame,

And the hillside green, where we picked the team to play the football

In his piece for the book, Sean recalled memories of an uncle, his
mother’s brother, James (Salmon) Roche. Salmon, by which he was known, was
fondly remembered for his witty sayings and was well regarded as a local
balladeer, unfortunately with the passage of time most of which have lost. The
following are some of Sean’s memories of his uncle.

My father’s (Ned McCarthy) livestock, consisting of one hungry goat,
didn’t escape the Salmon’s caustic pen either:

Arise up Ned McCarthy and sell that hungry goat,

Then buy yourself a fancy cap and a yellow swagger coat;

Brave Sandes Bog is on the march from Sweeney’s to Gurtreen,

To cheer the men from field and glen, the gallant Greenville team.

Joe Stack’s cow and his lazy hens figured in the Salmon’s odes too, to
the delight of the ramblers.

Come on Joe Stack, get off your back, the boys are set to play,

Forget about your pregnant cow and your hen that will not lay,

The Greenville team are on the green, so strap the ass and car,

And we’ll drink a toast to victory in the snug of Scanlon’s bar.

Then there was his ode to Tadeen (Finucane) who hated referees and
regaled them from the sidelines.

Tade Finucane, he roared out, “I will shoot the referee,

The Boro goalie fouled poor Moss, sure ‘twas plain to see,

Come on my Greenville Grenadiers and play it nice and cool,

And kick their arse on this sacred grass and to hell with Queensbury

Salmon’s first verse of his 1937 tribute to Boro and An Gleann final

As I sit and write this poem, my thoughts they steal away,

To a night in June in ’37 for an hour I let them stray,

An hour of thrills, an hour of spills, a battle for the crown,

The vanquished were the Boro and the victors were the Gleann.


There were others too that put pen to paper, much of which has been
lost. The work of two more, Sean Ashe and Patrick O Connor from Kilsynan, thankfully,
were at the time either published in local newspapers or on Ballad sheets.


A Convent Street man, Sean Ashe, was a local reporter for the then,
Kerry Champion newspaper, Sean loved his native street, An Gleann, and has left
some lovely pieces written in memory of the street and the footballers who
represented the street in the local town league, his street memory, of 12
verses was called, ‘The place we call, The Gleann’, here we recall the first

I now retrace the path of years

And see a picture bright.

No faltering step or memory lapse

Can dim that pleasing sight.

No wind of change can disarrange

The thoughts I first penned down

Of happy days and boyhood ways

In the place we call ‘The Gleann’

Ah! There’s the lengthy line of homes

Along the riverside

Across the roadway many more

Line up with equal pride

The white washed wall of one and all

And the thatch of light-hued brown

Bring picturesqueness to the scene

In the place we call ‘The Gleann’

Two of Ashe’s football ballads would be regarded as classics. The first of
8 verses, his recall of the 1935 Town League final, between Boro Rovers and The
Gleann, is sung to the air of “She lives beside the Anner”

The world and his wife were there to see the contest played

The ploughman left his horses and the tradesman left his trade

Excitement spread, like lightning flash through every house in town

The night the Boro’ Rovers met in combat with The Gleann.

The father and the mother, yes, the husband wife and child

Were there in great profusion and went mad careering wild

Said the young wife to her husband “Sure I’ll pawn my shawl and gown”

And I’ll bet my last brown penny on the fortunes of The Gleann.

 In 1953, again between Boro
Rovers and The Gleann, Ashe had a beautiful 5 verse tribute, the first two
verses went.

T’was the thirteenth of August and the year was fifty-three

And the bustle and excitement filled expectant hearts with glee

So, we all stepped off together to the field above the town

To see those faultless finalists, Boro’ Rovers and The Gleann

The game began at nick of time, the ref was Jackie Lyne

The whistle held in master hands was an inspiring sign

It was a hectic struggle and to history ‘twill go down

An eventful, epic final twixt the Boro and the Gleann.

Patrick O Connor from Kilsynan who wrote under the pseudonym of ‘PC’ was
a regular contributor of poems/songs/ballads to several local papers in the
1930s. He later contributed material to the Meath Chronicle when he was
domiciled in that part of the country.

By profession he was employed as a groom at various stables. He worked
in the employ of the world-famous horse trainer Vincent O Brien when he had
stables in Collinstown. I included his piece (8 verses) Camogie at Listowel,
1934 in ‘Listowel and the G.A.A.’, the following verse, the first of eight I
reproduce here.

Camogie at Listowel (1934)

Listowel v Tralee

Listowel’s Brilliant Victory.

In glorious sheen, the white and green, the colours we hold dear,

Shone brightly through a game of skills, the greatest of the year,

For victory in the balance hung, for fifty minutes strong,

But then Listowel, from goal to goal, to victory swept along,

And as I heard their camans clash, and watched them chase the ball,

Old scenes, old fights, came screaming back, what games I could recall,

My heart was beating loud and fast, my thoughts were gone amok,

I’m normal now, so I’ll review the winners’ dash and pluck.   


The Bad Old Days

This photo from Denis Quille shows the Black and Tans arriving into town. They are motoring down Church St.


End of an Era on William Street

Photo and caption from Healyracing

“Today marks the end of an era for our great friends, The Browne Family with their selling of “Browne Bookmakers Shop” to Boylesports. Pictured outside shop on last day of trading are Mary & Eric with son Berkie and his children Daithi & Darragh. Fair play to ye lads….”


Generosity of the Choctaw Nation acknowledged

This is your blogger at the Choctaw memorial in Midleton. On his St. Patrick’s Day visit to the U.S. our taoiseach visited the Choctaw nation in person to say thanks for all their help during Irelands darkest hour, The Great Famine of 1845 to 1852.

Facelift for Listowel racecourse, A Polish Soldier Bear and a great old memory shared

“Tis the last rose of summer…..”

In the park beside the ball alley

Walking through the park is a joy in autumn.

I don’t know why the bark has peeled from this tree in this strange pattern.

And still one more rose.

Bridge Road :November 2015


A Listowel Memory 

Berkie Browne, father of Eric and grandfather of Berkie, pictured here with his 2 pals, died at a very young age.

Owen MacMahon remembers the night he died well for it was the very night that Listowel Players won The All Ireland Drama Festival with John B.’s Sive.

He died in Dublin and was brought by hearse back to Listowel for burial. The hearse stopped at St. Michael’s and the coffin was shouldered from there down Church St. to the church. There was no one way system then.

Owen remembers it as the biggest funeral he ever saw in Listowel. He remembers Church Street black with people, thronging the streets and the road to pay their respects.


A Soldier Bear

This picture was posted in Edinburg Spotlight online. 

“Saturday 8th November 2015 saw the official unveiling of the Wojtek Memorial in West Princes Street Gardens. Wojtek, the “Soldier Bear” – was adopted by Polish troops in 1943  and helped them carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino.”

Wojciech survived the war and lived out his retirement in Edinburg Zoo where he died in 1963. The picture above shows the last surviving soldier to serve with Wojciech  who travelled from Poland for the unveiling.

Above is a picture of the wall that surrounds Alan Beattie-Herriott’s stunning sculpture. If you are in Edinburg, you should make your way to West Princes’ Street Gardens.


Listowel racecourse is getting a refurbishment job done

All photos are by John Kelliher


A Chance Meeting

I met Paud Pelican on Courthouse Road last week. A certain blog follower in exile will be glad to see him looking well. 

William Street neighbours, Visiting Artist in Olive Stack’s and more from Athea

Photo; Mike Enright


A Photo from Paul Murphy’s Album

This photo, which Paul Murphy sent to me, was taken on William Street outside Murphy’s Butchers

Tommy Murphy, on the right, and  Berkie Browne, in the centre, were both butchers who had shops next door to one another and Danny Kelliher on the left, worked in Murphy’s. Tommy, judging from his attire, wasn’t working on this occasion.


Deb Aldo is Excita and Delira to be in Listowel

Deb Aldo is a mosaic and landscape artist, who is currently in residence in Olive Stack’s Gallery in Main Street. When I called into the gallery she was chatting to Kathy from Gurtenard House.

My photos are of some of Deb.’s work in Olive’s window. She is blogging her trip at Excira And Delira

Deb took this photo outside the gallery on Friday. The Cinderella carriage was on its way to a wedding in St. Mary’s.

 Deb followed it and managed to get a short spin. You can read all about this, her trip to Gurtenard House and lots more in her really interesting blog.


Athea’s Fairy Trail

Since I was last in Athea someone has put a commemorative plaque to Con Colbert and Bobby Sands near the entrance to the Fairy Trail.

My boys thought the place looked very bare since last time. Back then the trail was very overgrown.

 We are always anxious to see if there is anyone in residence in the bug hotel.

 Yipee, this is the first time we spotted a bug on holiday in the Bug Hotel in Athea.

The boys did not have too many worries to leave behind with Cróga but they posed for my picture all the same.


Lest we forget

Today on November 11 2015,  100years on from WW1, we remember all those who died in conflicts everywhere.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

May the sod rest lightly on all their souls.

The Lartigue, Pride of Place and a date for the diary

Lovely Listowel

Dr. Halketts on Church St. is getting a lovely paint job done.

Scoil Realt na Maidine decked out in Kerrys’ green and gold


A Journey on The Lartigue in 2015

When I was in The Lartigue Museum on Sept 1 I met two lovely railway enthusiasts. This lovely friendly couple were from Canada and they, like so many visitors to the museum, had come to Listowel especially to ride on this unique train. They were full of admiration and praise and they thoroughly enjoyed their train journey and couldn’t wait to tell them all at home about their adventure.

 They posed on the running board for a photo.

Two local visitors shared the journey with us.

The locomotive has to be turned manually.

 The visitors were intrigued by this procedure.

Now the front is the back and vise versa so the guard had to bring a lateen to the rear of the train.

Every citizen of Listowel should take a ride on the Lartigue. It is a trip back in time, full of history and romance.


Last Photos from Pride of Place 2015

Listowel’s love affair with Racing was recognized in this welcoming display.

Tech Space was showing what one can do with computers.

Máire and Liz were manning the Writers’ Week display. They presented a gift of words to the judges.

World champion dancer, Seán Slemon waiting his turn to entertain the judges

The best of Irish step dancing was on display.

The judges chatted to everyone and took an interest in every exhibit.

Maire Logue, Jimmy Moloney, Liz Dunne and Mary Hanlon at The Seanchaí

The judges were interested and appreciative.

Mary Anne O’Connor, chair of Listowel Active Retirement Group, Cara Trant of Kerry Literary and Heritage Centre, Maire Logue, Festival Manager, Listowel Writers’ Week, Joan Byrne, Listowel Tidy Towns and Liz Dunne, Vice Chairperson Listowel Writers’ Week.

Eddie Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum shows some of his artifacts to the judges who had never seen a gramophone horn in real life before.

One final Dance an Doras and they were away to see some Living Literature upstairs.


Slack Day, Sept 15 2015

Jerry Hannon took this photo of Pat Healy and Berkie Browne enjoying a rare day off during Listowel Race Week . It’s business as usual for this pair again tomorrow, Weds Sept 16 2015.


Friday Night is Culture Night

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