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: Castleisland Page 1 of 3

The streets of Castleisland, Faction fights in the 1800s and John Coolahan remembered

Tidy Town announcement;

President Michael D. Higgins is coming to unveil the Tidy Town Plaque on Saturday May 25 2019.

the Tidy To

Kingfisher by Philip Blair for Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


Tarbert Honours One of It’s Own

Last weekend at the start of the Cuckoo Walking Festival the people of Tarbert came out in force to the unveiling of a memorial plaque to the late great educationalist, John Coolahan



Castleisland …a Town in Transition

I saw more than one of these signs on my walk around Castleisland

Charity shops in prime locations are usually an indicator that rents are cheap. Castleisland has a lot of charity shops.

The irony! the tricolour flies at The Crown Hotel.

There are some lovely well kept shops side by side by so many derelict buildings.


Faction Fights (from the schools folklore project)

On the 13th of May fair in Listowel some time previous to 1830. some Magheragh men (Ballyduff, Causeway, Ballyheigue, Killanhan, etc) were selling potatoes. A discussion arose as to the comparative merits of the potatoes between the Magheragh men and the cúl-na-lín (Culeen near Listowel) men. The discussion ended in a fight, where the Magheragh men got off the worst as they wouldn’t have the backing in Listowel that the others had. At the Whit Monday fair in Ardfert the fight was renewed. Practically every man in North Kerry took one side or another and for years after whenever people assembled at fair or market on Sunday after mass the fight was renewed.

The biggest fight of all took place at (Ballyduff) Ballyeigh on the 24th June 1834. The North Kerry race meeting was then held in Ballyeigh Strand (opposite the Cashen School) but was eventually transferred to Listowel (1870). The races were held on the

right hand side of the River Cashen on the strand where the school is now and when some of the combatants tried to escape by crossing the river in boats and swimming, they were attacked by their opponents with stones, bottles, stick and so on at the left side of the river. A terrible fight ensued in which about thirteen people were drowned and very many injured.
As far as I know there was only one man arrested for it, a well to do man named Leahy of Ballinorig near Causeway. Many others went on the run but were never arrested. He was tried and sentenced to be transplanted to Freemantle.
For threequarters of a century afterwards the people in this district and in North Kerry generally recorded events from the year the boat was drowned” or from the night of the big wind”. After the tragedy the faction fight slackened and died down and the famine helped to put an end to it altogether.
Even some old people take pride in the fact that their ancestors took one side or the other in the faction.

Murtie Dowling
Denis Lawlor
Causeway, Co. Kerry



Castleisland, McAuliffe Plasterers, the benefits of dewand Last Week’s “Thoughts” from Radio Kerry

A Feral Goat by Neil T. Halligan, photo finalist in the Irish Widlife Trust photography competition.


Old Chapel Lane

On the day I was in Castleisland this road would have been better named Mart Lane. Every car that went down while I was there had a trailer of cattle behind it,

When you have a really wide footpath you have room for some lovely trees without interfering with the flow of traffic.


Listowel MacAuliffes, Plasterers extraordinaire 

A great grandson of Pat MacAuliffe who contributed so much to Listowel’s unique streetscape put the above picture together for us. Warren Buckley, in the course of his family research discovered that many of  his family had distinguished  careers in plastering. It’s not just Listowel that has been enhanced by McAuliffe plasterwork. We share that distinction with Jamaica, New York, Havana and Boston.


In the Early Morning Dew

Apparently there was a May custom in Ireland of collecting dew. The following account I found in a website called  Our Irish Heritage in a blog by Mike Rendell

The collecting of dew would take weeks of preparation. In April, May and into June the girls would get up before the dawn, go to the green fields (wheat was best) and harvest the dew – either with their bare hands, or more especially by spreading a sheet out over the moist grass, and then wringing it out and collecting it in a glass jar. This would be topped up every day, and for the whole year would sit in the sunlight by a suitable window. Every few days the concoction would be purified by carefully straining off the water so as to leave behind any sediment, dirt, or other impurities. And so, after nearly a year in which the freshest of fresh waters was imbued with sunbeams, it could be splashed on the face! Dr Boate’s book opined “The dew, thus thoroughly purified, looketh whitish, and keepeth good for a year or two after.”

The distillation was at its most powerful if applied before sunrise on 1st May, and in an age when we consider it beneficial to rub avocado extract into our hair, or spread unmentionable products over our skin to prevent wrinkles, who is to say that a spot of early morning dew water is not just as magical in its properties?

The practice gave rise to the riddle

I washed my face in water

That had neither rained nor run,

And I dried it on a towel

That was neither woven nor spun.

The answer lay in the fact that having washed your face in dew you always allowed it to dry in the fresh air – you would hardly go to all that trouble and then wipe it off afterwards!


Just a Thought

Last week I was the “preacher” on Radio Kerry’s Just a Thought. My Thoughts are


Castle Island and Beautiful Beach art at MOYA Ballybunion

Irish Widlife Trust’s Photography Competition

Chris Grayson’s study of a Kerry stag is a finalist.


Down by the River side

Daisies and dandelions by the Feale


Castle Island

I love Castleisland. After Listowel, it’s my favourite Kerry town. I had occasion to spend a happy few hours there last week.

This building J.K. OConnor’s dominates the wide Main Street. It now houses NEWKD repurposed and rejuvenated furniture shop. I saw some lovely things there.

This statue is in the grounds of  the primary school.

Castleisland has one of the widest main streets in Ireland. The footpaths are also very wide. Many of the shopkeepers take advantage of this to display their wares.

 In Castleisland a pharmacy is situated cheek by jowl with a kind of alternative pharmacy, a health food shop.

Their Credit Union has an atm.


MOYA Beach Art

HelenaMacMahon’s beautiful beach art….

Listowel Town Park, Old Ballybunion and a quaintly different Abbeyfeale shop

The Last of the Daffodils


A Walk in the Park

This walk is in Gurtinard beside The Garden of Europe and down to the Feale and the Big Bridge.


Gasworks are Ongoing


The Bord na Móna Tapestry

Photo and text from Bord na Móna Living History

In 1979 then Bord na Móna Managing Director, Lewis Rhatigan, commissioned Louis le Brocquy to produce a tapestry to celebrate what was then felt to be the midpoint of Bord na Móna’s life span.

The eight square metre tapestry was finished in 1980 and le Brocquy reduced it to a simple theme which showed the energy derived from the turf itself which is expressed in the sun like form in the centre and the colour scheme representing the gradual transition from bogs to pastureland. All over this are the masses of people traversing the time and space of this journey. That is how Le Brocquy described it himself.

When it was unveiled in our former Head Office in Dublin, Rhatigan asked one of our porters what he thought of it. He said it looked like souls trapped in purgatory. Today it hangs in the lobby of our head office building in Newbridge.

If you would like to be notified of when we post our blog, please enter your email address in the bottom right hand side of the page. 


Old Ballybunion

Photo and caption by John Keane on Facebook

“It’s the remains of my grandfather’s house at the bottom of the glen. It burnt down. This picture was taken in June 1929. The gable of the wall is all that’s left. You can still see bits of the floor in the old car park.”


A Shop in Abbeyfeale

Every time I pass this shop, Greyhound and Pet World in Abbetfeale I am fascinated by the display on the forecourt.

It is all about Irish and particularly rural Irish values, Catholic saints, animals, leprechauns and gnomes, Disney characters, children, birdhouses etc. etc. I love it!


Special Day at the Lartigue Museum

May 5 2018

A special  commemoration event will take place at the Lartigue Monorail Museum from 

1-2pm this Saturday May 5th to acknowledge the 130th anniversary of the opening of the Lartigue Railway in 1888. 

The event will include a brief overview of the history of the Lartigue Railway System, the reason why it was used in North Kerry and a demonstration of how it worked. The Railway has become a very important part of world monorail history and has entered into the realms of railway folklore.  

Over 4,000 tourists  from all over the world visited the project in 2017 and were very happy with the experience. The committee is  confident that there will be a further increase in visitor numbers this year.   


Another Accolade for Listowel

Listowel Writers’ Week won the prize for best Irish Festival at last night’s Irish Hospitality Awards. Liz Dunn and Eilish Wren collected the prize.

The influence of Irish in Kerry English and a trip to Castleisland

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

…..As the years pass
one insensibly makes many of these phrases one’s own. There is a gay
inconsequence about your Kerryman’s talk. Rabelasian at times, he is impatient
of the restraints of a pseudo culture that would seek to shackle his ready
tongue. Conscious of the inadequacies of English, he rifles the rich store of our own tongue to add colour and imagery to his talk. Someone is classified as a
mean bacach and we have him in focus at once. He will refer with feeling to the
shortcomings of a cabóg and we share his impatience with the bosthoon. The
average Kerryman is close to the soil and we are one with him there with this
difference, that his sense of values gives him pride in his background.

Words, accents,
idiom, what a fascinating field for him who delights to listen. In individuality
of speech Kerry is perhaps more rewarding to the observer than any other county
of the thirty two. Listen to the salty arguments of dealing men in fair and
market., to the caustic asides of crusty old lads drowsing over pints in deep
cavernous pubs; to the helpers paying the comhar at the threshing; to the
passionate vociferations of those followers of the green and gold as their
heroes rise with elan to tear balls out of the skies in Croke Park; and listen
again wherever Kerrymen foregather to pay the last tribute to their dead.


Then and Now

John Hannon took this photo of Mrs. Mann at the door of her shop in Main Street.

The same corner of town today


I was in Castleisland

There is lots of history on Castleisland’s Main Street. I was struck by the irony of the name of the pub on  which I saw the above plaque.

The great Con Houlihan is well remembered.

The above three pictures were on display in a shop window.

I have no idea of the era of the post box.

This landmark building was unoccupied last time I was here. I was delighted to see it back in business.

You all know how much I love a charity shop. I met a lovely lovely lady, Nora, in the Vincent de Paul shop but it was in the NCBI shop that I discovered these.

I do a spot of knitting so I know how much time and effort went into these creations. The green and pink doll are one doll.  You turn her over and you have her alter ego. They call her a topsy turvy doll.

The lady who knits these is Jan Wesley and she is 88 years young. She sells her knitwear in aid of the NCBI, so this shop in Castleisland is well worth a visit. The dolls are a snip at €10 and the tea cozy was €12.


Craftshop back in Town (temporarily)

Until June 3 2018 there will be a craftshop in Galvin’s Off licence premised in William Street. Why not pop in and take a look a these Craft Makers wares


Style with  a Listowel Connection

This is Niamh Kenny from Listowel at Punchestown Ladies’ Day last week.

This is the piece in Saturday’s Irish Times. Niamh and her friend, Mary O’Halloran caught the eye of a journalist. Competing at Ladies Day is part of the fun and enjoyment of a day at the Races for many ladies. It’s worth the investment. The prizes are big. As Mary says, “We’re gambling on ourselves.”

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén