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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All Souls Day. Kefir, Dublin Footballers and some Australian tourists

Today is All Souls Day. Traditionally it is the day for visiting the resting places of our dead loved ones. It is a day for remembering those who have gone before us.


The Square, Listowel in Autumn 2017


New Local Health Product in Town

Elaine of Halo Health introduces customer, Carine Schweitzer of Cork to a new Moyvane product, Kefir Milk.

“What is Kefir ?” you ask

Wikipedia has the answer;

Kefir or kephir (/kəˈfir/ kə-FEER),[1][2] alternatively milk kefir, or búlgaros, is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus Mountains made with kefir “grains”, a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter.[3] It is prepared by inoculating cowgoat, or sheep milk with kefir grains.[4] Traditional kefir was made in goatskin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed.[5]

Its health benefits are numerous and if even half of the claims are true we should all be drinking it.


Something to Look Forward To


Australian People with a Listowel Connection

This is what Fáilte Ireland refers to as “the shoulder season” between summer and Christmas. This time of year is a popular time for our friends from down under to visit us. Last week I met two families who have grown to love Listowel and Ireland because of some lovely welcoming local people.

Berenice and Lionel came to Ireland first to trace family and to meet Jack McKenna who is a cousin. They stayed with Kathy Walsh at Gurtinard House. They had a great time. It was Race Week but Billy Keane found them a seat in his packed pub, John McKenna took time out to show them the family connected locations his mother Sue had told them all about in a long and productive visit. They fell in love with Listowel and resolved to return.

Gurtinard House on their first visit was a work in progress so they were anxious to see what progress Kathy had made. They were well impressed with the changes to the house and garden.  They came this time during Storm Ophelia. Kathy lit a fire and they sat around like old friends and reminisced. Their trip to Ireland took them to locations all over the country, including a visit to prospective in-laws in Mayo.

These Australian visitors whom I met with their friend and mine, Mary Sobieralski, in Scribes had also explored Ireland, North and South. They are Trish and her granddaughter, Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane is on her grand tour. She has been all over Europe (a spell in Turkey was her favourite) and then her Gran joined her for the last leg in Ireland.

Why Ireland?

They came to visit Trish’s friend, Mary . Mary and Trish met over twenty years ago when Mary and her late husband, Wulf, toured Australia. They have stayed in touch ever since and Mary visited Trish in Australia when she went there on a holiday with her son a few years ago.

These two stories are proof, if proof were needed, that lovely welcoming people like Kathy and Mary are our unsung tourism ambassadors.


Brogans Boys Before they were Famous

Well, maybe one of them was already famous .

Photo: Kieran Cunningham on the internet


KDYS Halloween Parade 2017

There was a greta turnout for this year’s Halloween parade on October 31 2017. The weather was perfect for it.

Should old acquaintance……

Christmas 2016

I spent a lovely Christmas holiday in 2016 in the bosom of my family. Below is a photo of us all taken on Christmas Day in Bishopstown as we embarked on The Goal Mile.

 Meanwhile in Ballybunion, Santa led out a big group of hardy souls for the annual Christmas Day dip in aid of the Sea and Cliff Rescue.

These photos were posted by Ballybunion Tidy Towns and Ballybunion Prints. Jason of BB Prints photographed his dog, Bella, who was snug and warm in her holiday attire.

Local piper, Danny Houlihan, piped the swimmers into the water.

Caoimhín ÓSé posted these photos of the annual Wrenboy celebrations in Dingle.

Bernard Brogan, who is a second generation Listowelllian got married and the big talking point was the bridesmaids’ jumpsuits.


A Strange New Year Tradition

This information comes from Ger Greaney who got it from Maura McConnell so its a bit of Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi  (hearsay).

Don’t forget the old traditions of Jan 1st. First Footing. The first person to cross your threshold should be a dark-haired, tall, good-looking, and it would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts such as a lump of coal and some salt.

Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck, and female first footers should be shooed away before they bring disaster down on the house. Don’t let them near your door before a man crosses the threshold.

The first footer should knock and be let in rather than unceremoniously use a key, even if he is one of the householders. After greeting those in the house and dropping off whatever small tokens of luck he has brought with him, he should make his way through the house and leave by a different door than the one through which he entered.

Nobody should leave the premises before the first footer arrives — the first traffic across the threshold must be headed in rather than striking out.

(I’m sorry that this information is coming a bit late in the day but maybe we’ll remember it for next year!)


Another Old One

The old people believed that anyone who died during the twelve days of Christmas had received a “cuireadh na Nollag” (Christmas invitation) . A soul receiving this special invitation goes straight to Heaven.


A new sign for an old club

Suddenly we’ve gone all american


Two Facts about the Irish language I learned on Twitter

The word order in Irish is verb, subject, object.  This means that ‘I thought I saw a bird’ would be translated as ‘Thought I saw I a bird’.  This word order is very rare as only 9 per cent of the world’s languages use it.

Gaeltacht Thuaisceart an Oileáin Úir (or the North American Gaeltacht) is the only Gaeltacht that exists outside of the island of Ireland.  Irish emigrants fleeing the famine settled here and managed to keep their language alive, eventually going so far as to declare themselves a Gaeltacht in 1994.


The Best idea for the New Year

A lady called Helen at Spread a Little Kindness posted an Advent calendar on the internet. It was so popular that she has made one for January

You may download it and print it for free from her website (link above)


New Year; New You

(photo: Love Listowel)

Saturday January 7 2017 and a fine crowd out walking and running the Listowel 5k park run

That Dublin Mayo Match, Hugh O’Flaherty Garden, The Ashes in 1960 and The Land War in Munster in 1886

It’s Conker Season


I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day

Fr. Vincent Sherlock, a Mayo priest, posted a great sermon on his website after his team’s heartbreaking defeat to Dublin last Saturday. I’m just reproducing a section of it here but you can read the full post at the link below;

The photos shows Andy Moran lying on the grass of Croke Park and his daughter sits on one of his outstretched legs.There’s something healing in that photo – something that says the Metal of Sam Maguire may be sought after but it’s cold comfort when compared with the flesh and blood you shaped, nurtured and nourish. The little girl sits with one who is not judged on which side he was on at the sounding of the final whistle but on one who is her “father”, provider and one who loves her unconditionally. The love is likewise returned. She is undoubtedly more crucial and cherished than a cup to be passed from hand to hand, team to team, year to year. In this child, in this picture, is life and all that is meaningful therein.

The second photo is of Bernard Brogan of Dublin reaching out to place his open hand on the top of the little girl’s head. Andy is now standing, smiling as he watches this gesture. To me, the Dublin man is saying “be proud, very proud of your father. I’ve given everything I have over the last seventy and more minutes to hold him back, to beat his team but you have a father to be proud of there.” I’d like to think that somewhere deep within, he might even feel a tinge of regret for Andy and his teammates but more than that, it’s a gesture that says when the game is over, life goes on and must be cherished. It’s moment that speaks of a respect between players, even when on opposite teams, maybe especially when on opposite teams.


Hugh Flaherty Memorial Garden, Tralee

This is a lovely memorial to the great man, Hugh O’Flaherty. It is situated at a very busy corner in Tralee. It is beside what I have heard described as a Kerry roundabout, you know the ones that everyone drives over rather than around. This roundabout is on the way to the Bon Secours hospital or the turn off for West Kerry.


Down Memory Lane with The Advertiser


 Stories in the Papers of The Land League in Munster   in 1886

Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 1886


The Dublin correspondent of the Times writes :
A gentleman who has been obliged to employ emergency men sent 23 or 24 cattle
into the  fair near Tralee a few days ago. They were of good quality, and
were sold without difficulty to a stranger. A local butcher, however, who saw
the  sale, got up on a bale, and, addressing the people, said the cattle
were  boycotted. The bargain was immediately broken off. The same butcher
lately took a farm on the seashore where the people  had been in the habit
of drawing seaweed, and his consistent patriotism has been shown in his refusal
to allow them to take any more  weed. 

Examples of this kind might be
multiplied by the score in every part of the  country where the League is
dominant. Its power is not exercised against landlords alone. It is now dictating
terms to the banks, and threatening to boycott them if they do not obey its

It was recently attempted in Listowel, in Kerry, in which a farmer who

borrowed from the  bank was pressed for
payment. He  complained to the local league that the bank demanded to be paid
in full, and it appears, from a report in the Kerry Sentinel of a
meeting,  which Mr. Sheehan, M.P., and Mr. Stack, M.P., were present, that
a deputation, to be headed by ‘Father Pat,’ was appointed to wait on the
manager and offer him one-half  his  debt. The result of this view is not yet known, but the  bank must borrow. 

No man can deal with his
workmen, his caretaker, or his servant as he  thinks fit. If they are
members of the League they can defy him. If he displeases the  League his
servants will be ordered to leave his employment, and he must submit or take  the consequences. There is nothing to mitigate or counteract the
tyrannical and treasonable influence of the League.

An extraordinary incident occurred in
connection with the meet of the County Limerick hounds at Rockhill, near
Bruree. There was a large meeting of horsemen, but before the hunt commenced
the Rev. Mr. Sheehy, of Bruree, who was arrested during the land agitation,
attended, accompanied by a large  gathering of the country people. The  Rev. gentleman went to Mr. John Gubbins, the master of the hunt, and
asked if he was prepared to settle with his tenants. Mr. Gubbins replied that
he had offered his tenants a reduction of 25 per cent. The Rev. Mr. Sheehy
re-joined that what was required was a permanent settlement. As a result of the
interview, Mr. Gubbins refused to be dictated to, and said he was not prepared
to refer the dispute to arbitration. The Rev. Mr. Sheehy threatened that until
Mr. Gubbins settled with his tenants  hunting would not be
permitted.  The crowd who backed up Father Sheehy cheered him
enthusiastically and  made  it was evident from their aggressive demeanour
that they would have offered violence if Mr. Gubbins had persevered’ in the
hunt. Some of the dogs were beaten off, and Mr. Gubbins, seeing the state of
feeling shown, wisely decided to return home.

 A man named Ryan, who had bought turf
from a boycotted farmer, was pursued into the chapel where he went to attend
Mass by an excited crowd, and had to seek the protection of the parish priest
from the violence of the  people. Before  leaving, the man promised
to return the turf on the following day to the obnoxious farmer, and the
neighbours accordingly attended for the purpose at the man’s residence to see
him carry out his promise. The turf was then stacked in a wagon, and  led
the horse in the direction of Mr. Griffin’s, the boycotted farmer’s house,
about a mile distant. The crowd, which numbered several  hundred, followed
the wagon. In passing through the  village of New Pallas, the procession
was further swelled by the  villagers and constabulary———–. On the
procession reaching Mr. Griffin’s  house, they found himself and his three
sons armed with guns and prepared to resist the return of the turf; but on the
police interfering with regard to the threatened use of the firearms, the
 Messrs. Griffin quickly allowed the turf to be placed in the yard,  amid
cheers from the throng.


Listowel Ladies RFC

(Photo; Listowel RFC on Facebook)

These ladies, members of Listowel Rugby Club, played on the Munster team who lost to Ulster on Saturday last Oct. 1 2016

Junior Griffin, Gunsboro, Listowel before election fever takes hold, a very old radio and a voice of morning radio passes away

Prize winning Photographer

From time to time I include a photograph here from my friend, Jim MacSweeney. So I am delighted to tell you that  at the Southern Association of Camera Clubs Photographer of The Year Competition Jim won a gold medal for this photograph. The  winning shot got 26 Marks out of a possible 27. 

Jim took the photograph in Killarney National Park during the rutting season in 2015.


Bíonn Siúlach Scéalach

Above is John, better known as Junior,  Griffin. I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of hours with him recently. Junior has hundreds of great stories to tell and he has a colorful and engaging way of telling them. He is great company.

I am going to share some of Junior’s stories with you over the coming days and then, I promise, I’ll go back for more.

Above is a photograph of Junior’s grandmother, Kate Hegarty Griffin. In this photograph she is bringing a beart (bundle) of reeds to the thatcher.

Junior reminded me of the lines from the song, Forty Shades of Green;

“…To see again the thatching with the straw the women glean

I’d walk from Cork to Larne to see the forty shades of green.”

Junior’s grandmother was one such gleaner.



photo; Historical Tralee

Gunsborough House, Listowel, Co.Kerry

Birthplace of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum.It was leased to Listowel Board of Guardians as an auxilliary workhouse. In 1837 Lewis records it as the property of Pierce Mahony who had recently purchased the estate. Bary writes that it had previously been in the possesson of the Gun family. It is now ruined.


Look, No Posters! ……. Yet!

The party faithful are only waiting for the word and they’ll be out of the traps faster than any dog at The Kingdom Stadium. Our lovely town will be littered with election posters. Do they make a difference?


A Really Really Old Radio….and a brand new one

John Griffin brought this radio all the way from Detroit to Knockalougha, Duagh  when he returned home to live in 1931. it was the first radio in Duagh and it made Griffin’s homestead into a kind of Mecca. The late Christy Downey of Knockalougha often told the story of how as a youth he remembered seeing droves of neighbours crossing the fields to converge on Griffin’s house. These people lit their way with torches which were lighting sods of turf held aloft on pikes. The reason for their journey was to hear on Griffin’s radio the results of the 1932 general election which saw de Valera elected to The Dáil for the first time.

Years later in 1951 Phillips held a competition during the agricultural show, pictured below.

The prize was a brand new Philips radio and the winner was to be the person with the oldest radio. Johnny Griffin was well ahead of the posse there and Junior remembers the delight when they brought the new radio home to Bridge Road.


Look Who Got  engaged!

and look where VIP magazine chose for the phooshoot to tell us the good news. Bernard Brogan might have proposed to Kiera in Turkey but I agree with VIP; he looks best with a Kerry backdrop.


Are you a past pupil of The Tech in Listowel?

If you answered yes to this question, read on because your old school has an invitation for you;

“As part of the 1916 commemoration, Colaiste na Riochta will commemorate the event on Saturday, March 12, at the school. We will also celebrate a special  anniversary of the school and open the school on that date to celebrate these two events simultaneously. We would appreciate if you could loan us any photos, articles, any form of nostalgia in relation to ‘the teck’ which you  or others may have in your archives and encourage people in your blog to join us on the day.
Any one who has anything of interest might drop them into the office to the Principal, Stephen Goulding or the Committee members, Ms. Iseult Glynn or Ms. Marion Sugrue.”


I Never Met Terry Wogan

I read his book. I listened to him on the radio and I watched him on TV. Like so many others I felt I knew him. That was his charism. He connected with us all. As my late mother would say, “You could take him anywhere.”

His British audience loved him. He embodied all of the attributes they prize. He was charming, witty, relaxed, self effacing, open, chatty and impeccably polite. He followed in a line of Irish entertainers the British have loved: Eamon Andrews, Des O’Connor, Val Doonican and I’m sure there are more I have forgotten. Dermot O’Leary is the closest of today’s bunch to that mould.

If you look at the three I have mentioned, they were all cut from the same cloth as Sir Terry. They were utterly competent and professional, full of stories and great company. They “walked with kings yet kept the common touch…” And of course there was the voice. Terry never lost his Irish brogue. He spoke the queen’s English with a lilt, a smile and always a hint of roguery.

In the tributes I have read so far, the word legend occurs often. We seem to have lost a lot of legends in 2016 already. He will be missed.

Leaba i measc na naomh is na naingeal go raibh aige.

Bernard Brogan, sod turf and a WW2 pilot

I snapped this brave or foolhardy man in Tralee last week.


Noreen O’Connor of Killarney was shopping in Listowel last week. She bumped into an old friend from her days in town, Peggy Hilliard.


Some local people in The Square for the switching on of the Christmas lights.


The last rake of sod turf into Portarlington before power stations went over to milled peat.


This is Paddy Finucane from Dublin, a WW2 pilot. With a name like that could there be a North Kerry connection?


We are part of the Revolution

Did you know that;

Social media has taken over from porn as the number one activity online.

Over 60% of smartphone users have their phone on and beside them for all but one hour in any day.

More people watch youtube than watch any one TV channel.

The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is the 44 to 55 age group.

These and other interesting facts I learned from an article by David McWilliams which I read in a hard copy of the Irish Times……Old habits die hard.

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