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: Bord na Mona Page 1 of 5

Christmas Memories

John Tangney somewhere in Eastern Europe


Christmas Past

Bord na Mona workers Christmas 1944. These turfmen, and they were all men, came from all over Ireland in the 1940s and 50s to harvest turf in the midland bogs. The work was backbreakingly hard, cold, wet and inhospitable. They were accommodated in hostels where they stayed for the season.

From 1942 to 1944 any men who stayed on for the winter were brought into Edenderry and Newbridge Hostels for special Christmas events. They usually arrived on the 24th and stayed until December 27th. St Stephen’s Day activities were usually football games and other sporting events. In 1945, due to falling numbers the event was confined to Newbridge. This photo comes from Newbridge Hostel in 1944.” Bord na Mona Archive


All Ireland Winners

Tim Kennelly, Tony McAuliffe and Gary MacMahon

R.I.P. All Ireland Football medal winners from Listowel


Cold Turkey by Cyril Kelly

Christmas in Church Street in the 1950s


If You are in any way squeamish, DONT read this great Christmas essay by Cyril Kelly.

I warned you. If you read it despite my warning, you may be sorry.


Happy Times in School

I have no date for this but it is a Staff versus Pupils End of Term Match. These were always great fun. R.I.P. Cliff, in school uniform.


Listowel , Sound Town

Today fm has declared Listowel Ireland’s Soundest Town 2022. They hit town on Saturday to kick off the start of the Christmas Season in Listowel.



Slea Head

Photo credit; Graham Davies on This is Kerry


If today you are complaining about your job, take a look at this turfcutter. Bord na Mona employed men on a casual basis to harvest the turf. They were paid, not by the day or the hour, but by the amount of turf they cut. I don’t know if this man was in Lyreacrompane. I doubt he was as most of the photos seem to come from the bigger bogs in the midlands where there were villages of Nissan huts set up during the turf cutting season and the men (there were no women allowed) slept and ate in these huts and spend every waking hour turf cutting.

Men of the Travelling Community used to come to Lyreacrompane for the turf season and these men were a significant cohort of the Lyre workforce.

This photo, also from the great Bord na Mona Archives shows a mountain of turf in the Phoenix Park Dublin sometime during the war. Turf was exported to Britain, as there was as s shortage of coal due to the war.

Supernatural Happenings in Beale, Cleaning up at St. John’s and my visit to Mount Lucas

Irish Wildlife Photography Competition Finalist

Peacock butterfly by Dick Glasgow


A Scary Story From Ballybunion Convent School in Dúchas Collection

Sheila Sheahan 

Beale Middle

Co Kerry

There is a fort in Beale and it is supposed to be the principal resort of the fairies. One day as two men were drawing hay from Slios near Caill na Talmhain, one went through the fields as it was shorter than to go by the road, and his brother drove the horse by the road to Slios. As he was passing this fort, a little boy came out of it and ran after the car and sat into it. When they were gone a short distance he offered the man some sweets but he refused to take any. None of them spoke anymore until they arrived in Slios. Again the little boy offered the sweets to the second man who went through the fields. But his brother went behind the little boy’s back and grinned at the other man not to take the sweets, because he was about to take them. At this the little boy went into the fort and they saw him no more.


Tidying Up

This is why Listowel is Ireland’s tidiest town. I met Joe Murphy and Liz McAuliffe on the morning after the international drama festival. Despite a long week of hard work and late nights Joe was out with his mop and bucket making sure his posters were clearly readable and Liz was clearing out the old cardboard.


Bridge in St. Michael’s in 1994

A trip down Memory Lane with The Kerryman


Facing into the Future

My son-in-law works on the Bord na Mona Wind Farms. He recently brought me on a visit to Mount Lucas. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a Saturday so the Park Run had just finished. Mount Lucas was once a bog so the area is now covered in 100% organic trees and other vegetation. It has just grown from seeds that have literally blown in.

Each turbine (they call them towers in Bord na Mona) is massive. I didn’t honestly think they looked ugly and they certainly weren’t noisy. We could hear the birds singing happily on a lovely sunny summer day.

The visitor centre was not open on Saturday but if you visit on a weekday you can have a tour and see for yourself.


A Table of Poets

Eileen Sheehan is the writer in residence at The Kerry Writers Museum. I spotted her in the hotel in the  company of some local poets. They had just participated in Eileen’s workshop.

Left to right; Barbara Derbyshire, Vincent O’Brien, Eileen Sheehan and Susan Hitching

Here is a poem by Eileen Sheehan I found on the internet. I know someone just like her father. I was in his house last week and the was feeding crows.


My father,
a most gentle man,

fed the leavings of the table
to nesting crows
that screamed and whirled
in a nearby stand of trees.

From a branch of sycamore
that overhung
his newly-planted drills,
he suspended
by its gnarled legs
one dead crow;

for weeks
the wind-jigged carcass
swung there
in a crazy parody of flight.

My father,
a most gentle man,

appeasing the dark gods,
their appetite
for sustenance,
for blood.


Nearly There

It’s all hands on deck to get the Square finished in time for the First Holy Communion

Ard Churam, Bord na Mona in Lyreacrompaneand more Listowel street names

Ballybunion Golf Club in Association with Ard Cúram


Bord ns Mona in Lyracrompane

Tony McKenna posted this photo on Facebook in January with this caption.

“We might have posted this a few years ago. It shows the tipper at Barna Bog, Co. Kerry. The caption states the photo was taken by Mr. E. Switzer in April 1948. However Barna didn’t officially start producing turf until 1950, so is it Barna or Lyrecrumpane? Switzer worked for BnM in the early days, he was reputed to have lost an eye in the first World War and the family had a shop in Grafton Street.”

Then in the comments some people with local knowledge helped him out.

This photo is of the Tip at Lyreacrompane as it stands today. I never remember it having steped walls at the sides as in the Switzer photo but I wouldn’t remember back beyond 1955. Perhaps it was altered. I will check with locals in Barna for any memory that might solve the mystery…

 Joe Harrington


Denis Lenihan wrote this 

“Definitely Barna, The truck is Cadbury’s Rathmore. At this time it was hand cut turf. Next came a spreader which was filled by hand before the bagger arrived. A brilliant quality photograph.”

And then this;

Interesting in a quiz, you know the answer instantly but given time doubts set in. Same here I withdraw the words definately Barna. The tiphead in Barna and Lyreacrompane were identical as far as I know and theres little background. There is another photograph of that truck taken from the side. The truck was new and was brown the Cadburys colour. It has a Cork Reg. and Cadburys factory is on the bank of the Blackwater but on the Kerry side of the river.The man with his back to the camera could be the manager Jerry o Leary, he was a slender man that always wore a hat. In the view from the side the embankment is Barna, much higher on the right than the left. Lyreacrompane is on flat ground.


Cad as Duit?

When is Church Street not Sráid an tSeipéil?

Answer: When it’s Listowel, Co. Kerry’s Church Street.

This Listowel solution to a Listowel problem has been puzzling a few people since I raised it here.

Will you look at this one? The Púca is the devil who would catch you if you were out late and not minding your own business. How come he shares a name with Convent Street.


Turf Cutting in the 1930s, The Square and other street names and The Acting Irish Festival 2019 in Listowel

In Listowel’s Garden of Europe in April 2019


Wing Sleán Turf cutting Competition

Information from Tony McKenna, Bord na Mona archivist.

The first All Ireland Turf Cutting Championship was held on 21st April 1934 at Allenwood, Co. Kildare. From the late 1600s to the end of the 19th century around 6 to 8,000,000 tons of turf were cut each year for home heating and sale. The industry in the 1800s mainly produced moss peat for animal litter and some briquettes. However by the early 1900s the amount of turf cut each year had fallen to around 3,000,000 tons. The turf cutting championships were organised as part of a campaign to increase the amount of turf cut and reduce the imports of coal. Eamon De Valera and other Ministers attended each year. The competitions ran from 1934 until 1939. When the war started everybody went back to the bog so the competitions were no longer needed. This photo shows the wing slean competition in 1934.

When Tony published this post on his Facebook page he received some interesting responses. Here are two;

On June 2nd in Ballyteague at the All Ireland turf footing championship we are commentating the 85th anniversary of this event all descendants of those who participated are invited we have done a huge amount of research and have a vast collecting of photos and memorabilia it promises to be a great day

Denis Linehan : I believe Christy Daly from Gneeveguilla Co. Kerry was the best turf cutter in Ireland. He came from a stone throw of Eamonn Kelly story teller.


Parnell Square?

I took this photo on April 24 2019

In Irish and English it’s just the plain old Square

I’m having a hard time convincing people that there is no Patrick Street in Listowel.

We have St. Patrick’s Hall with its big statue of St. Patrick but, sorry folks, no Patrick Street. Despite the proper name of the street being William Street or Sráid an Phiarsaigh many residents of the street give their address as Patrick Street.

Mike the Pies, probably the best known business on the street, is at 28 Patrick Street  and Casa Mia, a few doors down on the same street is at 38 William Street. Across the road Listowel Chitropractic is at 49 William Street and Halo Health is at 7 Upper William Street.

The length of William Street was originally known as Pound Lane. There was an animal pound where The Mermaids is now. For those who never heard of a pound, it was a place where animals which were found straying or which were confiscated were kept until the owner was found and any fines owed were paid.

Lord Listowel is was who changed the name to William Street. His own name was William and it is alleged he called the street after himself.


A Feast of Theatre

In the space of a few days last week you could have seen six excellent plays all performed by superb actors from the American continent. All of this was because 

Acting Irish International Theatre Festival 2019 was in town.

I saw three of the six productions including Long Day’s Journey into Night which blew the adjudicator away. She gave it all the big prizes.

This play was great.

Here is the cast. The two oder players played the parts of the younger ones 35 years later.

My theatre companions posed with Jimmy Deenihan who was part of the local organising committee.

I also saw Spinning but I took no photos. The actor who played Conor in this production was my pick for best actor but what do I know?

I also saw Long Day’s Journey. It was a tour de force of acting and I’m glad to have seen it but unlike several in the audience I wouldn’t go to see it more than once. One man told me it was his fourth time seeing the play. 

The play is three and a half hours long. It’s theme is beyond sad. It is three and a half hours of unrelenting misery, no uplift at all. However it is a classic and people who know so much more than me about these things think really highly of it.

If you want to see more about the festival, including more photos and an account of who won the prizes here is the link

Acting Irish International Theatre Festival 2019

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