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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: Bridge Road Page 1 of 3

Old Listowel and Old Ballybunion

Bridge Road in July 2022

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Down by the Riverside

Molly gave me a great incentive to get out and about more. She is posing for me in the lovely Tidy Town community garden. By the wall there are flowers as well as herbs.

( I’m having a bit of an issue with image resizing at the moment so you’ll have to forgive a few over compressed ones. All along I had been putting up files that were way way too big and I’ve used up all my allowed disc space. I’m awaiting tech help (my son) to hopefully sort it out for me)

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Happy House on Bridge Road Listowel in July 2022

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The Homecoming

This surely was the homecoming to beat all homecomings.

Denny Street Tralee on Monday July 25 2022
Photo: Elizabeth Brosnan
July 2022; Festival of Kerry lights up and victorious team in town Photo; Breda Ferris

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Old Listowel

These two old photos are from the Lawrence collection in the National Library. They have been colourised by Frank O’Connor and shared on Facebook. You will notice in the St. John’s photo that it once had a low wall surrounding the church. This wall was topped with a railing which was an ideal post to which to tether a horse. I’m told that Catholic mass goes used to tie their horses to this raining while they attended the church across the road on Sundays.

You will also notice a house, painted white on the right of St. Mary’s in the photo. This house was purchased by the diocese and knocked to extend the church

Te church, the castle and the sweet factory by the river Feale

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A Bank Holiday Read

Tadhg Coakley wrote this charming essay recently in The Irish Examiner’s Mo Laethanta Saoire series. He returns to Ballybunion, the holiday destination of his childhood.

Tadhg Coakley, Irish Examiner

Mo Laethanta Saoire: vital life lessons from Ballybunion’s surf, amusements and Bunyan’s shop

Cork author, Tadhg Coakley, recalls the logistics of getting eight children on holiday to Ballybunion — and the joy of the beach, the bumpers and trips with family

THU, 14 JUL, 2022 – 22:00

TADHG COAKLEY

You’re walking around the North Kerry seaside town of Ballybunion. It’s the summer of 2022. The day is blustery and sunny.

You’re thinking of the summer holidays you and your family went on — to Ballybunion every year from the 1950s to the late 70s. How everything has changed and how everything is the same.

Such a feat of logistics and emotional intelligence to transport all eight children from Mallow, year after year. But your mother and father managed it: sometimes with the help of John Mannix, transporting beds and a clothes drier on a Springmount Dairy van. Mary remembers stopping at McKenna’s in Listowel to rent a washing machine and a TV for the fortnight. How very 1960s.

One year, when you were three or four, you forgot to bring your imaginary friend, Chummy, with you. When you realised your mistake you went into hysterics. What did your mother do? Turned the car around. Now, if the car had been closer to Listowel than Mallow there might have been a different result, but Chummy had a great fortnight at the seaside.

When was the last time you were here? You can’t remember. In 2018 when you were at Listowel Writer’s Week and took a little pilgrimage out to look around? Or was it 2019 when your pal Mick Quaid invited you to 18 holes on the Old Course? A stunning golf links which you can no longer do justice, but that’s okay too. Time erodes everything, including golf swings.You walk out the Doon Road to the north of the town. Costello’s shop is long gone. What a magical place it was when you were a child. A cornucopia of wonder. A milestone when you were first sent to that shop on your own to get the messages. That mixture of pride and anxiety to have such a monumental responsibility. It helped that there was no money involved, Mrs Costello having a ‘book’ in which she totted up everything at the end of holiday, when your mother would pay up.

You call into Bunyan’s just down the road and when Liam tells you he still uses that system for regulars, you are heartened. The Bunyans have been trading there since 1957; some things are different, but some things stay the same.The Ladies Strand still seems as stunning to you after all these years. Especially since the tide is coming in and the wind is whipping up towering waves which crash against the jagged cliff. Even through your jaded eyes, it still seems wondrous.

Did you and your brothers and sisters really dive into that tumultuous surf when you were small children? Did you lay down rugs in gale-force winds? Did you leave your clothes and towels in the shelter and run down through the rain to the distant sea at low tide?

Was the sand as soft and golden as it is today? Was the coast of Clare so close? Were the white horses so wild? Was the sky so blue and the clouds so white? Was the wind whipping off the water so bracing?

Memory is fallible. Like sepia-tinted photos, it fades. It can hide blemishes and beauty alike. But the ice cream cones were sweet and soft, the flakes hard and crumbly underneath. The water in the pools by the cliff was warm. The caves in the cliff were magical. The walk over to the Black Pool was thrilling. The bumpers and the amusements were electrifying. The dinner was served in the middle of the day, piping hot with floury spuds and butter. The salads for tea were delicious. The forty-five in the evenings was great fun — your mother, especially, loved those card games.

The days were as long and as full as days can be. You were never happier than on that strand with a ball at your feet or a hurley in your hand, your family all around you.

You walk out to the cliff-top chalets where ye rented in the later years. You are surprised they’re still here. Surrounded by ribbons of houses, now, and a plethora of mobile homes. The chalets look a bit jaded. All privately owned, these days, Liam told you. You’d forgotten how they all angled away from the central road. You think the final year for you was in 1977, in the last one on the left; could that be correct? You remember the shock at Elvis’ death and you know that happened when ye were on holidays, when you were 16. Padraig and Pauline went one more year with your Mam and Dad.Year after year, your mother and father managed to treat you all to that holiday, until — one by one — late teenage ‘sophistication’ eroded its wonders and other priorities took hold. How you were all nurtured and provided for so well for so long. It’s only now you realise that the nurture and provision never ended. Instead, it is being passed on to the next generation and the next one after that.

Tadhg Coakley in 1963 Irish Examiner

These days the holidays may be in the Cote d’Azur, or Noosa, or Hilton Head, or Gruissan, but the joy is just the same. You all learned how to have fun in Ballybunion — a vital life lesson.You check into the Cliff House Hotel, which was known as Bernie’s when you were a child. Your father would have approved of you forking out a few extra bob for a sea view. He used to have a pint there and tell Bernie (the legendary GAA man, Bernard O’Callaghan) what was wrong with Kerry football. Bernie must have enjoyed that. You remember when Pecker Dunne played there — how exotic that name to a 1960s child.

Later, you walk out to Nun’s Strand. There’s an old photo of you with a donkey along that path and you’re surprised there are no donkeys in the fields anymore. Some things change.

You meet a woman from Brisbane, her name is Catherine. You tell her about your niece, Una, living out there with Joel and Ronan. Catherine tells you she’s here to spread some of her mother’s and father’s ashes into the sea the following morning on the strand. Her father (Listowel) and her mother (Abbeyfeale) met in Montreal and then moved to Australia where she and her brother and sister grew up. They loved coming back to Ballybunion and now they will be reunited there again — this time, forever. She shows you a black-and-white picture of her mother taken at the very spot you are standing now — in the photo she is wearing a hand-knitted cardigan; she looks very like your own mother.You walk around the town. The amusements are open and you see children grouped around a shining noisy game. A boy passes you, hopping a football. Four American golfers cross the road. Some things stay the same.

On Church Road you can’t find the house you rented for a few years — the one with the big garden where Dermot took all those photos. You think it’s been knocked down to build a Celtic Tiger housing development. Some things do change.

In the morning you wake to the sound of the sea. Which was what you wanted more than the view. The sound is constant and is very like a distant wind. It’s the same sound you fell asleep to and woke up to all those years ago as a child on your holidays.

You chat to Maggie and Kevin at Reception as you check out from the hotel. You tell Kevin a story about your father and he tells you a story about his — the aforementioned Bernie. You turn the car left at the end of Church Road and head out on the straight road to Listowel and home. You think of Catherine’s mother and father and your own mother and father. You think of your brothers and sisters. You think about what William Faulkner meant when he said that ‘the past isn’t over; it isn’t even past’.

You wonder when your next trip to Ballybunion will happen, but in another sense, you know you’ve never left at all.

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Listowel

Church Street, Listowel

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Listowel in the 1930s

Main Street, Listowel

This photograph was taken by an unknown photographer in the 1930s. It is included in digital format in the collection.

Photos of Munster

In the great website, Tipperary Studies which has a huge collection of local history and memorabilia. Well worth a visit.

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Christchurch Cathedral

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú

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Dromin Well

From the schools folklore collection (Presentation Primary School, Listowel)

There is a Holy Well in Droman, some miles from Listowel. It is said a girl called Depra, who was deaf and dumb, was taken to this well by her parents and left there for three days. When her parents retuned, to their great joy she was able to speak and hear. She told them during their absence a beautiful lady appeared to her, and told her to drink from the spring. Depra did so and immediately she was able to speak and hear. The beautiful lady smiled sweetly on her, and disappeared.

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Bridge Road these times

In a few months time this will be a cycleway.

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Some St. Patrick theme Windows

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SACRED FOREST TREE PLANTING:  In Templeglantine beside the school Saturday, March 19.  Come and help us to plant Irelands first micro forest. 1,150 trees in a third of an acre with EcoSikh, Reforest Nation and Templeglantine Community Development.  Bring wellies and a spade!  Refreshments will be provided.

  1. Earth has more than 60,000 known species of tree.
  2. A tree thought to have went extinct 150 million years ago was recently discovered growing in a valley near Sidney, Australia For reference Dinosaurs like T. Rex died out 66 million years ago.
  3. Before trees earth had fungi with grew 30 feet tall. Ok not really a tree fact but so cool I thought I had to include it
  4. Trees in a forest can ‘talk’ and share nutrients through an underground internet built by soil fungi. Sometimes called the wood wibe web, each tree acts like a neuron in the human brain giving a forest intelligence.
  5. A large oak tree can consume about 100 gallons of water per day, and a giant sequoia can drink up to 500 gallons daily.
  6. Trees help us breathe — and not just by producing oxygen. Trees in city’s remove air pollution and save lives, each year 4.2 million people die each year from air pollution.
  7. Adding one tree to an open pasture can increase its bird biodiversity from almost zero species to as high as 80. Even more of a reason not to cut down fairy trees!
  8. Trees can lower stress, raise property values and reduce crime rates.   A large oak tree can drop 10,000 acorns in one year. So adopting just a few trees  will one day become tens of thousands!( Reforest Nation).

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Pitch and Putt, a Poem, and Bridge Road, Listowel

The Florist; Photo by Paddy Fitzgibbon

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Listowel Pitch and Putt Clubhouse

The clubhouse of the pitch and putt club is located next to the Dandy Lodge. Martin Chute has done his usual lovely job on the gable wall. I took the photo on a sunny day. Hence all the shadows.

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Contented Diner

Glass House

John McGrath

I must have ordered onion rings for two.

They’re stacked above my steak like lifebelts;

Pepper sauce and wedges on the side,

salad and a subtle Chilean Red.

Beyond the glass I watch the river rise

swiftly with the tide.  Swans

feed frantically, bottoms in the air.

Mine hugs lime-green leatherette.

The waiter smiles, tops up my wine

and leaves.  I watch his bottom too,

then raise my fork and stab my plate

like a Polynesian fisherman.

Out on the river, the swans swim on,

pedalling frantically against the tide, 

Diving, feeding, pedalling again.

I marvel at their weight-loss plan.

I put down my fork and sigh contentedly,

raise my feet onto the lime-green leatherette,

smile at the waiter as he takes my plate and muse

on why others choose to swim against the tide.

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A Mystery Procession

Éamon ÓMurchú found this marvellous photo among his late father’s things. It was unusual for Luaí ÓMurchú not to note the date and occasion on a photograph but, in the case of this one, he did not so we need your help.

Dave O’Sullivan tells me that the car on the right was registered in Dublin between January 1949 and June 1950. “I’d be 90% certain it’s a Vauxhall Wyvern LIX. They were made between 1948 and 1951. Top speed 62 mph from a 1442cc engine.”

Surely some petrol head will remember the car.

The girls faces are very clear. Someone must recognise them.

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Bridge Road 2021

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Bridge Road, Listowel children, A Christmas Stccking in the 1940s and a Fire at The Races in 1959

Millenium Arch and Bridge Road

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The Good Old Days?


From Patrick O’Sullivan’s A Year in Kerry

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Listowel Children


These are children  (and a few adults including Michael Dowling R.I.P. )  photographed by John Lynch at parades in 2003 and years after to 2007

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Christmas Lights in Dublin


 When I was in the Big Smoke to see the Haunting Soldier they already had their Christmas lights up even though it was only mid November.

And in Listowel

On Saturday Dec 1 2018, Listowel Tidy Town Committee switched on the very colourful lights on Listowel’s Christmas tree.  (Photo; North Pole Express 2018)

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Fire in the Stands



Do you remember this from 1959?

Photo from The Kerryman

Green Guide to Listowel 1965, Mosaics in The Garden of Europe and Bridge Road Then and Now

Listowel Town Square, July 2018

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More from The Green Guide



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Art Installations in The Garden of Europe

 Lovely pebble mosaics have appeared in The Garden recently. There is no artists credited with the pieces and there should be because they are beautiful.


Patrick Tarrant’s John B. Keane sculpture is looking lovely in Summer 2018.

The Holocaust Memorial is central to the Garden. Lest we forget….

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Sign Upgrading

This sign at the Millenium Arch was badly in need of a facelift.

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Bridge Road Then and Now




Photo by John Hannon



Photos by Listowel Connection

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