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 firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the entrance to Listowel Town Square from the Tralee side. Some of the old names have been lost but older residents of the town know that this is Canon’s Height leading to the Custom Gap, so called because on fair days Lord Listowel’s agents exacted a toll from people entering the Square to see cattle or produce. The Square was the market place on market day. Once, on a walking tour with Vincent Carmody, I learned that the corner on the right of the picture was also know as Collopy’s Corner as the building on the corner was a hotel owned by a family called Collopy.
Santa is back on The Lartigue
Another Listowel Writer
Noel Grimes who now lives in Killarney is another Listowel historian and writer. He has produced this book detailing the devastation wreaked on the people of Killarney by The Great Hunger. There were 7 burial sites in Killarney and at one stage the cathedral was used as a workhouse.
A Faithful Restoration
This house on William Street is so beautifully restored I just love to stop and admire it. It’s hard to see in my photo but there are two parallel bars across the lower window that I remember from my childhood as serving to keep cattle from damaging the window on a fair day. Some shops had bars that could be removed and erected on the morning of the fair when the cattle were bought and sold on the street.
On Church Street I met Martin Chute who was planning his sign for Lizzy’s Little Kitchen and with him is Mr. O’Mahoney who is opening his tattoo shop soon. Martin is doing that sign too.
A few days later I observed that the sign was done. Cool!
Lizzy’s is a great addition to Church Street The paintwork and colours are perfect and the sign is everything a sign should be, artistic, clear, well proportioned, uncluttered and tasteful. Well done all.
Dominican Church, Tralee
This is the corner stone on this magnificent edifice. Below is what it says about it on the Dominican website.
The builder is named as Mr Arthur Crosbie and the cost at about Â£6000. The cornerstone of the building was laid on 15th August 1866, the Feast of the Assumption, by Mrs Anne Jeffers, wife of the Benefactor.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same….
End of an Era
Junior finishes his story for us;
By the 1970s a new generation of handball lovers had come on the scene. Some of these that Junior remembers are Denny O’Connor, Eddie and Mike Broderick, Charlie Nolan, Tony Stack, Jer Loughnane, Con Gorman, Tony O’Neill, Jimmy Canty. There were many more in this new cohort too. The building of the Community Centre in the mid 1980s drew away from the old alley and handball ceased to be played there.
The new centre had an enclosed 40ft. by 20 ft. court. This was used by handballers but with no club structure it never really took off. Then the community centre courts became squash and racketball courts before they were eventually utilised for other purposes.
By 2008 Junior Griffin was the only surviving trustee of the old handball club. No committee had been formed for years. Junior took advice from former members and from solicitors. He decided to sign over the alley ground, which was purchased by the handball committee in 1962 to the safe keeping of Listowel Town Council. One proviso in the deal was that if ever a handball club was formed in the future, the council would facilitate that club in building a new handball alley.
We are very grateful to Junior for preserving and sharing all of this valuable information about the story of handball in Listowel.
Many handballers spoke to Caoimhe Coburn Gray for her Coiscéim project. If you are interested in handball at all, especially if, like Michael Enright, it was a big part of your life, you will love reading and hearing handball stories from around the country. You will be struck by the similarities, e.g. Sunday was the big day. Nobody taught you how to play handball. You observed and learned. Rivalries developed into life long friendships.
“Now we’ve two buildings in Ireland that are vernacular to Ireland you will not find them anywhere else – the round tower and the handball alley!”
Here is the link to the marvellous Coiscéim project
Jimmy gave me this photo from his box of treasures. Some of the people in it are Philomena Chute, Mrs Joe Broderick, Anna Moore, and Jerry O’Flaherty
Back; Mikey Fitzgerald (a tailor from Charles Street) Seán Grogan, Mr. Prendeville from Castleisland.
This old letter was given by Owen MacMahon to Jimmy. The quality is poor as it’s a copy of a copy but it’s worth the effort to read it. It is a letter from Bryan MacMahon, then Príomhoide of Listowel Boys National School to Canon Brennan, the school manager. He is reporting an accident in the school grounds in which Jimmy broke his arm. Jimmy had his arm in plaster for his First Communion.
The tone of the letter tells us a lot about the relationship between the Canon and his parishioners who, by all accounts, lived in fear and dread of him.
Hi Ho, Hi ho as off to work we go
It’s always a pleasure to meet cheerful happy people when I’m out and about. I met Peter and Anne Marie on their way to work bright and early on a Saturday morning.
This lovely old stile is on the John B. Keane Road.
Listowel Squash Club
Sean Tracey, Charlie Nolan, Billy Galvin, John McGuire, and Sean Comeford at a squash tournament in Tralee.
Charlie, who gave me the photo, doesn’t remember the year.
Ballygologue Entrance in June 2021
Residents of Ballygologue Park always take great pride in their estate. It was lovely to see wild flowers like daisies, buttercups, vetch and clover allowed to bloom alongside the cultivated flowers and shrubs.
In The Magic Hour
Brightening Air was an initiative of The Arts Council. Between June 11 and June 20 2021 Coiscéim Dance Studio brought us ” Ten days of incredible Arts experiences in surprising locations nationwide.”
Listowel was chosen to be part of the project and In The Magic Hour was presented to us in The Handball Alley. It was live-streamed on the following evening. I presumed that that video would be left up but I cant find it now. So this is what happened.
I called by earlier in the afternoon of June 18th. The ball alley looked the same except for the presence of 20 chairs. I was relieved to hear that we would be seated for the performance.
I’m back at 9.30 p. m. for the performance. The Magic Hour is dusk which they estimated would be 9.30 to 10.30. It was later on this particular evening so we had to wait until 9 50 to get the show on the road.
Above are some of the lucky people, socially distanced, who got tickets. I’ll tell you about the magic tomorrow.
Olive Stack’s stylish Gallery is clearly a very colourful artistic shop.
Today I continue Vincent Carmody’s tale of Listowel ballad makers
…In February 1983, when I was secretary with the Listowel Emmets, the
club was asked at short notice to host a Kerry/Mayo National League game. As
was the custom in hosting games, I was requested, to put together a suitable
programme as a memento of the game. With both Bryan McMahon and John B in our
ranks, an interesting and always original contribution was always guaranteed. For
extra material I approached the then Manager of the Bank of Ireland, Mr. Denis
McSweeney. My reason being, Denis, steeped in Gaelic football, a native of
Tralee and a former John Mitchels stalwart, had spent much of his banking life
up in Mayo and Roscommon, so who better to give a thoughtful insight to the men
from the west. It is worth recalling that Denis’s two sons, Danny and David, both
played inter-county minor championship, for Roscommon and Mayo, and of course,
his grandson Shane Enright has won senior honours with Kerry.
As I was away for the week preceding the game both Bryan and John B said
that they would deliver their pieces to Donal O Sullivan of Castle Printing in
good time. I got back on Friday and when I collected the programmes I found
that both writers had written on the same theme, Printing and Ballad Writing,
Bryan choose to write about ballads and the man he called ‘The Ballad King’,
printer Bob Cuthbertson, while John Bs piece lamented on the lost art of ballad
writing, saying that when he was growing up, most events, sporting or otherwise
would be recorded for posterity.
( more on Monday)
The Old Library
This old photo of Billy MacSweeney’s mother and his grandparents reminded Denis Quille that he had a photo of the old library.
This library was located at the Canon’s Height/ Bridge Road
Hard to believe it’s only a week ago
This was my apple tree a week ago on March 2 2018
When the snow was almost completely cleared on Sunday, I went for a walk with camera.
People were running
I met several people walking dogs.
Some people had to work.
This statue commemorating the contribution of the nuns to Listowel was unveiled in the midst of a snow event in 2010.
The Square was almost empty so I snapped a rare picture of St. John’s without too many cars in the way.