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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Jim Sheahan R.I.P.

Beal Sunrise photo by Ita Hannon


What an Achievement!

Story and photograph from Kerry’s Eye

This is Mary Twomey with her haul of running medals. This year’s London marathon will add to her over 100 races so far. Mary ran her 100th marathon in Tralee recently with her proud family an attendance.


Jim Sheahan R.I.P.

Another good one gone.

The symbols of Jim’s life that were brought to the altar by his beloved grandchildren at his funeral mass on September 29th 2022 were a Kerry jersey, a tin whistle, a newspaper and a rosary beads. The cover photo on his funeral mass booklet was Jim in Croke Park. Gaelic games, music, keeping abreast of the news and helping where he could, and his faith, were, along with his family, the pillars of Jim Sheahan’s 88 years on this earth.

I was surprised to hear that Jim wasn’t by birth a Kerry man. He was born in Knocknagorna, Athea, Co. Limerick. He came to Kerry at age 12, when he transferred from the local national school to St. Michael’s. He stayed with his aunt, Kate Dee and her husband, Jerry.

Jim and Nora in Millstream House

Jim was very happy in this house in Greenville, Listowel  and it was in this holding that he lived up to the time of his death.

Jim was a hard worker. After school he went to work in Niall Stack’s furniture business and afterwards in McKenna’s. He also ran a small farm, milking up to 20 cows before he went to work in the morning. He worked too as a part time musician.

At McKenna’s social in 1962, Jim won the door prize. Here is is being presented with a portable transistor radio by Mrs. McKenna. Mr. Jack McKenna is also in the photo.

A few years ago I visited Jim and Nora in their hospitable home and Jim told me about the good old days of the dancehalls.

In Listowel in the 1940s and 50s, nighttime entertainment consisted of card games, small local dances and, during Lent, dramas and variety shows.

Jim learned the tin whistle and the fiddle from music teacher, Tim O’Sullivan at a shilling a lesson.

He had a great ear for music. Recognising his pupil’s talent, Tim suggested the saxaphone. Since he neither smoked nor drank Jim had plenty of lung capacity. He had found his preferred instrument. He was mostly self taught. He told me that the skills he had learned on the tin whistle transferred “easily” to the sax.

In one of those happy co incidences of timing, Jim Sheahan mastered the saxaphone at the very time the the big band was all the rage and Vincent Walshe was bringing a whole new style of dancehall entertainment to Listowel.

The Bunny Dalton Band in the Las Vegas ballroom, Listowel

Jim became a regular in the Las Vegas house band, led by Bunny Dalton. Jim told me that this band rivalled any big band in the land. He played with them for 5 or 6 years. Their signature tune was Glen Miller’s In the Mood.

Bunny Dalton and his band played the Las Vegas on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Occasionally, Vincent Walshe took his band to an all night dance in one of the small local halls run by enterprising families near by. Jim told me that these dancehalls were usually situated beside the owner’s  house and the band members were always treated to a great meal after the dance.

Around this time Jim met and married the love of his life, Nora Broderick of Coolnaleen.

Of all the teams he followed over the years, far and away the best team was the team of Jim and Nora. They were happily married for 58 years.

When he retired from McKenna’s, Jim joined Nora in running their guesthouse, Millstream House. They were cut out for this job. Nora is the best cook and baker and anyone who has sampled her hospitality will know that if you come as stranger, you will leave as a friend. Her repeat business is the stuff of legend.

Jim with John Lynch at a function in St. John’s

Jim was a born storyteller. He remembered that when he was a child, Paddy Drury, the wandering poet, used to come to his house and settle himself in an armchair for the night. Jim, himself, was a worthy successor to the seanchaithe of old and his family, as well as visitors to the house, loved to listen to him telling stories.

In Michael’s funeral tribute, we heard of Jim, the much loved family man. He used to song to entertain passengers in the car in the days before car radios and Spotify. He took his four sons far and wide to attend matches. He would usually stand in his preferred spot behind the goal. He loved simple things, Kerry football, Limerick hurling. He volunteered with the local Saint Vincent de Paul Society. In this way he was carrying on the generosity and kindness that he had learned as a child. He often left his young family on Christmas Day to deliver a meal to a less well off neighbour. 

Jim’s way was a quiet way, never making a fuss, never once raising his voice: the gentlest of gentlemen.

Jim was immensely proud of his very successful family and it was clear on the day of his funeral, Sept 29 2022, that they are immensely proud of him.

Life for Nora will never be the same again but Jim will watch over her and the lovely family they reared will be a consolation and support to her in the years to come.

Guím leaba i measc na naomh duit, a Jim. May you hear the music of the angels eternally.


A Few More from Ladies Day 2022



Old Listowel

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú in Mount Usher Gardens


Old Listowel post card


Did you know?

Lord Listowel, who literally and figuratively “owned the place” once upon a time, insisted that all the houses in The Square should be three stories high. The Church of Ireland school, which was located beside St. Mary’s Catholic church could not afford to build the third storey. To comply with Lord Listowel’s orders they built a mock third storey with mock windows.


A Piece of Memorabilia

Violet Dalton shared this dance poster on Facebook. These dances which went on until the wee hours used to be locally known as All Night Dances.


New Shop on Church Street

Imara Edit began trading on Church Street on Saturday November 13 2021. It sells costume jewellery and accessories.


Another Emigrant Ballad

This ballad from The Shannonside Annual of 1958 seems to belong to a genre that was popular in this journal. Joe Harrington suggested that the air of My Eileen is Waiting for Me might be suitable for the last example I included.

Maybe they weren’t meant to be sung.


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like…..



All Night Dance Poster, Pat MacAuliffe, John Lynch and Kathy Greaney

Turf on Stack’s Mountain

Photo: Máire Logue


An Old Poster

Violet Dalton posted this poster for an “All Night Dance” on Facebook


Pat MacAulliffe’s shop fronts

During Writers’ Week and again during Visual Arts Week our attention was drawn to the unique and eccentric legacy of street art that is left behind by our very own Banksy, Pat McAuliffe.

Pat Mac Auliffe was a man with a wide range of knowledge, a smattering of several languages and a bravery  and flamboyance that is unmatched anywhere in Ireland’s streets.

Apparently a condition of employing him was that you gave him free rein and you accepted whatever he came up with. This appealed to his mischievous nature and he was not above the odd joke at his employer’s expense.

Seán Lynch is an artist whose work is influenced by the shopfronts of Listowel. He led our walking tour on the Friday of Listowel Writers’ Week 2018. He has made a detailed study of the work of Pat McAuliffe and he is knowledgeable and entertaining in his account of the streetscapes of our native town.

This detail over a door in The Square is modelled on worm casts.

 McAuliffe sisters learning more about their famous relative.

Listowel Travel is a good example of his craftwork, beautifully painted by the Chutes who are, in my opinion, the very best interpreters of his work.

Marvellous detail, beautifully painted at Listowel Travel.

 Lion’s were frequently depicted. This black animal might be a dog.

McAuliffe was wonderfully inventive. The nails in this horseshoe are actually bicycle tail lights. This detail is at Behan’s The Horseshoe.

Notice how the cctv camera is cleverly incorporated into the shopfront without taking from the artwork. This is a great example of how the work this local artist is respected and integrated.


A Listowel Film maker and family

I met the Lynch family out and about during Writers’ Week. John is a man who has covered years and years of historic events in Listowel. He is a great social historian and his films will be valued and treasured for generations.


From the John Hannon Archive

Kathy Greaney in Main Street, Listowel


Another  Evening, Another Sunset, Another Photographer

June 23 2018, Nuns’ Beach, Ballybunion, Bridget O’Connor

A Tan song, Listowel Convent now and some more Christmas window displays

A Blue photo

Mallow Camera Club held a very interesting competition. The only instruction was that the photo had to have something blue. This week I’ll bring you a photo a day from Mallow, all  with a blue theme.

Photographer; Chris Bourke


The Convent Now at the end of 2017

I took the photos from the secondary school yard

It is so sad to see a chapel and garden that were cared for and nurtured over so many years now completely neglected and derelict.


A Black and Tan Song from a dark era in our history

14th January 1950


“Cahirguillamore” is a song in which we learn of a terrible happening near Bruff on St. Stephen’s Night, 1920. An I.R.A. dance was in progress in Lord Guillaghmore’s unoccupied mansion when the place was surrounded by British forces in great strength. In the ensuing fight five I.R.A. men lost their lives. They were: Daniel Sheehan, the sentry who raised the alarm, Martin Conway, Eamon Molony, John Quinlan and Henry Wade. Here is a song that commemorates the tragedy. It was sent to me by Peter Kerins, Caherelly, Grange.  I have not learned the author’s name.


O Roisin Dubh your sorrows grew

On a cold and stormy night,

When Caher’s woods and glens so bold

Shone in the pale moonlight.

Within your walls where alien balls,

Were held in days of yore,

Stood many an Irish lad and lass,

At Cahirguillamore.

Did you not hear with fallen tear

The tread of silent men?

As a shot rang out from a rifle bright,

To warn those within.

The sentry brave the alarm gave,

Though he lay in his own gore:

His life he gave his friends to save,

That night at `Guillamore’.

I need not tell what there befell,

All in that crowded hall;

The Black and Tans worked quite well,

With rifle-butt and ball.

 Unarmed men lay dying and dead ,

Their life’s blood did out pour;

They sleep now in their hollow graves,

Near Cahirguillamore.

The commander of those legions

Would more suit a foreign field,

Where he would meet some savage foes,

His methods they would greet,

And not those laughing youths

Who were taught to love and pray,

And who received the body of Christ,

On that same Christmas Day.


Some of Listowel’s Old Patricians

Tommy Moore shared this photo on Facebook. All of these men who were familiar to us all in Listowel have now passed away

They are Bunny Dalton, Jimmy Moloney, Sean Walshe and Bryan MacMahon R.I.P.


Polar Express Christmas windows 2017

Lizzy’s train and little village is lovely at night.

Brenda Woulfe added a few carriages and some railway related books to her display.

Brendan Landy has a very stylish display and a very swish train…The TGV ?


A Winning Poem

Every year  Listowel Writers Week sponsor the poetry prize at the annual Bord Gais Book Awards.

This year, 2017 winning poem was called Seven Sugar Cubes by Clodagh Beresford Dunne.

On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed 21 grams.

When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died

ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother,

in a different hemisphere, in a different season,

do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer?

Do you grapple

with the journey home of the body of a man you have known

since you were a body in your mother’s body?

Does the news melt into you and cool to the image

of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate

in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle,

take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know

his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.

The poem is intensely personal but has that universal appeal that enables us all to put ourselves in the speaker’s place.

Listowel Writers’ Week will run from May 30 to June 3 2018

Heron, Listowel then, Killarney now and his friends celebrate the life of Fr. Pat Moore R.I.P.

This heron in flight was photographed by Ita Hannon


(Text and photo from Seán James Healy on Facebook)

Two great servants of Listowel Emmets GAA Club holding the Sam Maguire in the Square in Listowel in 1979/80…….no greater honour than to see one of our own (Tim Kennelly aka ‘The Horse’) lead Kerry to the ultimate honours the previous September. You can see their pride beaming from their faces as these two great men saw him grow from a boy to a man ….from a young lad playing club football to a leader of the greatest inter county team in the country.


William Street in the 1940s

Bill Hannon of Beale in town (Photo shared on Facebook by Bill’s grandson Liam O Hainnín)


in Killarney

Bridie Murphy took this lovely photograph


Ballybunion May 11 2017

As Mario worked away on his beach picture we gathered for songs, prayers and stories to remember Fr. Pat Moore

Fr. pat’s great friend, Sonny Egan told stories and even sang Fr. Pat’s song, Ballybunion town. A few short months ago Fr. Pat and himself had great fun giving us this as a kind of duet at the launch of Weathering A Storm

Ballybunion Town

Two of his loyal carers, Sr. Kathleen Quinlan and his cousin Debbie.

Donie, Mary and Trish were part of the organising team.

Sr. Kathleen read a poem he loved.

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