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: Christmas 2015 Page 1 of 2

My Christmas, Washday and a tragedy at Christmas

Some Christmas Memories 2015

Christmas is a time for family. I spent mine with my family, pictured below.

Even in this age of screens, and Santa brought lots this year, it’s good to play a game or two of cards. Below my younger daughter plays Uno with her niece, my youngest granddaughter.

Róisín is still reading.

On a Christmas visit to my home in Kanturk, the girls did a bit of horse whispering.

No cracker pulling session would be complete without the fortune telling fish.

This is the perfect gift for the horse lover. This Christmas tree is made from discarded horseshoes: a great way to keep the memory of a beloved horse alive at Christmas.

I was in Castlemagner to see the Duhallow Hunt ride out on St. Stephens’ Day. Despite the rain it was very impressive to see this centuries old tradition hardly changed a whit except for a few mobile phones.


Washday Memories

Some people were transported back to the Mondays of childhood by a recent blogpost about memories of the twin tub.

I remember a time way before the washing machine, when Monday was dominated by an aluminum washtub, a washboard, Sunlight soap, Reckitts Blue, starch made from flour and a clothesline held up by a forked pole.

Photo: Memories are made of this

Most women wore an apron, usually a wrap around dark coloured  one that covered all her good clothes and, most importantly, “didn’t show the dirt”.

Sunday best clothes were literally that. They were worn only to mass and then put away for another week. These were only washed once or twice a year.

Everyday clothes were washed more often but nothing like the excessive laundering we do nowadays. Men wore a shirt for a whole week, only changing the collar, if necessary. Most countrymen wore collarless shirts so the whole shirt went a week without washing.

Washday Monday began early with the boiling of the water in the Burko Boiler. This would be on the go all day for frequent changes of washing water. The water had to be brought in buckets to the boiler.

The washtub and board would be set up and then the washing started with the whites. These often needed an extra scrub. When washed they were put aside in a bucket of cold water to be rinsed, dipped in blue and, if needs be, starched. Starch was reserved for good table linen and sometimes for shirt collars. These would be the good shirts and, when starched, they would cut the neck of you. Starch (a paste made from flour and water and added to the rinsing water) was used very sparingly in our house.

The dirty water was thrown out, an operation involving two people, one to hold either side of the washtub. Washing was done outdoors whenever possible or if it had to be indoors it was done close to an open door. The tub was filled again and the coloured wash started.

If the housewife was lucky enough to have an assistant, mother, sister or daughter, this assistant would be hanging out the whites while the woman of the house got on with the coloureds.

Lest you think that hanging out the washing was an easy job, let me banish that notion this instant. I often was that soldier.

In our house the rinsing was always done in cold water, icy cold water…2 changes of cold rinsing water and the final rinse with a dip of the blue bag. 

Don’t get me started on bleach. If the white garment had yellowed a bit it required a third rinse, this time with bleach added. As I write I can smell it and I can feel the sting in my fingers. There was no mangle, no ringer, spinner or tumble dryer so you had to squeeze as much water as possible from the rinsed garments and then take them to the line. The line was usually a distance from the house on any piece of elevated ground where the clothes might catch any passing breeze. “Good drying” was the housewives’ dearest wish on a Monday.

Washing the coloureds was a doodle after the whites…no blue, no bleach and no starch.


A Cloud of sadness overshadows the GAA community

I took this photo in The Small Square on one of the days between the drawn game and the replay between Brosna and Listowel Emmetts in the North Kerry Football Championship. The Emmetts’ flag was flying in anticipation of the replay planned for January 3 2015. That game was postponed due to the tragic death of one of North Kerry’s finest young players, Paddy Curtin of Moyvane.

(The replay was played in Ballybunion on Saturday January 9. Listowel Emmetts fought a hard battle to win by 9 pints to 6.  )

The below series of photos was posted by MacMonagle Photography as a tribute to Patrick Curtin. The G.A.A.s loss is as nothing compared to the family’s loss of such a talented and promising young man.


John Stack’s photo of the winning Emmetts team


You Tube Gem

There are all sorts of things on youtube. Once in a while a little piece that is really beautiful comes along.

Below is a link to such a piece Denis Carroll made some years back. It’s a call to prayer called simply

 The Angelus

Watch out for some Listowel faces and places.

Laser Lights in the U.S, the Square at Christmas and Bord na Mona in the 1940s

A Long Way From Lyreacrompane

(photos; Liam Murphy)

As he enjoys his laser light display in the US, I wonder if Liam ever thinks back to paper decorations and a candle in a jam jar in Lyre.

Happy Christmas, Liam Murphy and family.

Viveca Amato saw this house in Orlando, Florida


In  Listowel


Duagh people in Cork

(photo; Doreen Buckley)


The Most Stylish Christmas Door

Last week I gave my vote for the best Christmas window display to Finesse.

Today I award my vote for the most stylish Christmas door to Griffins in Charles St.


Listowel, December 2015


Béal Strand in December 2015…… by Ita Hannon


Bord na Mona

Bord na Mona was a huge success story in the Ireland of the 1940s. It gave employment to men from all over the country. The work was hard manual outdoor work but there was great camaraderie among the workers. Some of these men lived in camps near the bog for long periods at a time. There are photos extant of men having their Christmas dinner in one of these camps which were often too far from the man’s home for him to travel there and back for Christmas.

De Valera was a great supporter of the turf industry. The above photo shows him trying his hand at water diving in a bog sometime in the 1940s.

A lot of the machinery used on the bog was purpose built for this terrain and this work. Apprentices were trained to maintain and service these huge machines. An apprenticeship with B na M was a great job in the 1940s and 50s.

Above is a photo of a machine loading milled peat onto a wagon on a train which ran along a track in the bog which was especially laid for that purpose.

This huge beast is a milling machine. You can gauge its size by the mechanic carrying out a maintenance job in a shed.

 This photo was taken at a training camp for apprentices and older employees. These sessions were called when a new machine was being introduced and men had to learn how to operate and maintain it.

It wasn’t all work and no play in the camps. Here a group of young men are being given instruction in how to play the mouth organ.

(All information and photos from Bord na Mona Heartland;  great source for  Bord na Mona history and human interest stuff)


Were You in the FCA/ Army Reserve?

Message for you below:

“A reunion of the 15th Batallion FCA, RDF, and PDF which was made up of A, B, C, D, E and F coy is planned. 

The get together will be held at the Listowel Arms Hotel on Saturday 30th April 2016 at 20.00 hrs. 

There will be a mass at 18.30 in St. Marys Church The Square Listowel for those of the 15th Battalion no longer with us. 

We will have a display of memorabilia/photographs etc. with some finger food/wine. Partners welcome. 

Please get the word out and share this event.”

(photos: Jim Halpin)

Lartigue at Teampall Bán, Floods of 2009 and posting letters in the rain.

All Roads Lead to Moyvane on Sunday


Nicole Landers is a professional photographer. Recently she posted this picture on Facebook and here is the caption she posted with it.


I was walking home from college not so long ago and i was stopped as i was dumping some wrappers from my lunch in the bin, by this very kind old county council man who asked me proudly could i take a photo of him working on the job. He said he was very proud to clean the streets of Limerick City and happy to see young people are making an effort to keep this city clean. The smile on his face tells a thousand words. I want everyone to appreciate the hard working people out there.

I can honestly say this man made my day smile emotico”


Listowel Folk Group

This photo of Listowel Folk Group was taken when they sang at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney earlier this winter.


That was Then; This is Now

Lartigue monorail, Teampaillín bán-

The Lartigue monorail, designed by the Frenchman Charles Lartigue was a single rail steam train that ran alongside the roadway from Listowel to Ballybunion was unique to Ireland, and apart from another example in France was unique to the world. It operated from 1888 to 1924 when it closed due to financial difficulties and being left behind when the railways in Ireland were consolidated at that time.

The Hunslet engines used were specially built with two boilers to balance on the track, and thus two fireboxes, one of which had to be stoked by the driver.
Loads carried had to be evenly balanced as the carriages were essentially cut in two like the engines, passengers sat facing out of the windows rather than looking up/down the train as is the norm.
If a farmer wished to send a cow to market, as an example he would have to send two calves to balance it, which would then travel back on opposite sides of the same freight wagon, thereby balancing each other. The same went for passengers, they had to balance evenly across the carriages.
When the line closed in ’24 everything was scrapped and disposed of but in recent years due to a superb voluntary effort a short replica line has been built in Listowel, and is well worth a day trip out to see it when it is open.
The pictures below were taken from the top of Teampaillín Ban overbridge, a rare surviving example of original Lartigue architecture, still in very good order just on the edge of Listowel town. The view is looking North West towards Ballybunion on what is now the R553 road. Note how much smaller the road is in the original photograph.

(Original photo Robert French/Lawrence either 1893 or 1913)

(Modern photo December ’15)

(Historical ref – mainly M Geurins excellent book)

(text and photos from Time Travel Kerry)


2009 was worse!

Junior Griffin’s photos from 2009 when the river walk was completely submerged show that 2015 hasn’t been our worst year ……..yet!


Remember this?

We lost this battle and now the post office is located in a corner of Super Valu. I rarely go there but last Saturday I went to buy stamps and to post my Christmas cards. It was then I discovered a huge loss to Listowel due to this relocation. There is now nowhere indoors or under any shelter to post a letter. I got drenched and the cards got drenched because the letter slot was absolutely dripping wet and I couldn’t slide them in without touching the wet ledge no matter how I tried.


More People I met a the Light Switching on December 6


New Role for Sarah Webb

Successful Irish author, Sarah Webb has been unveiled as the newly appointed adviser to The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers Week.

The children’s programme at Writers’ Week has grown into a huge festival and this year there are some really exciting things lined up. Put June 1 to June 5 2016 in your diary. All will be revealed shortly.

River Feale, some Listowel people, Flavins, Female T.Ds and an uplifting story

After Storm Desmond

I took the following photos on Sunday Dec 6 2015

The flood of Saturday had abated but there was still a lot of water in The Feale.

 I didn’t venture on to the walkway under the bridge.


 Some People I met on Sunday Dec 6 2015

Kieran Moloney was out for a Sunday morning stroll.

On Church St. Clíona and I met Liam and Anne Dillon chatting to Mossie Kelliher and Mrs. O’Sullivan.


Today’s blast of Nostalgia

photo;Irish Abroad

Does this take you back? This was the very first mixer tap, invaluable for shampooing the hair or washing the dog. This was back in the days before showers when everyone took a bath.


 Flavins of Church St.: A Family Business for Generations

Vincent Doyle sent me this cutting of Dan Flavin and his son, Michael, at the door of the shop . The photo was taken some time in the 1950s

When I popped in to my local newsagent’s last week, there were 2 lovely ladies to help me out. Flavins’, still going in 2015. Long may it continue!


Kerry’s Female T.D.’s

The first woman to be elected
in Kerry was Kate Breen in 1927. She was the first of five. Next to be elected
was Mary Crowley, nee Boland, who succeeded her husband, Fred. Fred Crowley was
fifty years in the Dáil. Mary served from 1945 to 1966 as a F.F. T.D in South
Kerry. Kathleen O’Connor Fitzgerald succeeded her late father, Johnny O’Connor
in a by election in 1956 and served as a Clann na Poblachta deputy until the
general election of 1957. Kit Ahern, nee Liston served as a Fianna Fail T.D.
from 1971 to 1980. She later served as a senator. Breda Moynihan Cronin
succeeded her father, Michael Moynihan, when he stepped down. Breda, a Labour
T.D. served in Dáil Eireann from1992 to 2007. 

(Source; Knocknagoshel Despatch) 

Will there be another name to add to the list in 2016?


I believe in God even when she is silent

photo; Michelle Crean

Fr. Pat Moore shared this great story that he found recently

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: 

“Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” 

– Útmutató a Léleknek

#Mother Mother Earth News


From 1868

Breda Breen posted this photo on Facebook recently


Christmas Baking

It’s that time again!

Christmas Tree Lighting 2015, Lucozade, Craftshop na Méar and Listowel Volunteers in 1916

Sunday December 6 2015 in Listowel Town Square

photo; Listowel Tidy Towns

Listowel partied last evening as the Listowel Tidy Town Committee switched on the Christmas Tree Lights. We gathered in The Square, we bopped to the music as we ate hot dogs, mince pies and goodies from Lizzie’s Little Kitchen. The children waved their balloons and munched sweets and treats from Spar Express and the adults drank mulled wine and mulled cider.  Santa and Mrs. Claus sauntered over from The Seanchaí where they had been working hard all day, Billy Keane did a great MC job as usual and the Listowel Marketing Group and Love Listowel people were justly proud of a job well done.

Storm Desmond had necessitated the postponing of the shindig from Friday night  but the word of the new date had got out and we had a great crowd and people were delighted to be outdoors on a balmy night in lovely Listowel.

I’ll have lots of photos for you in the coming days. Here is one to give you a flavor of the atmosphere and below it is a link to Denis Carroll’s video record of the evening.

Listowel Christmas Tree Lights 2015


A Taste of the Past

Photo: Irish Abroad

Do you remember this? Everyone who was ever in hospital in the 60s and 70s got lots of these. After the bag of grapes this was the favourite present of hospital visitors. I never figured the reason for the orange cellophane wrapping.

All good things come to an end and Lucozade too was rumbled. It really was no better for you than any bottle of fizzy orange and, in fact, was much worse for you than plain drinking water. The product is still around but gone are any claims that it has healing properties and gone too is the picture of the nurse from its advertising.


Christmas shopping

Bernie Carmody was minding the shop. Mary Boyer had called to drop off some hats and scarfs for the homeless. The other 2 ladies were on their way home to Annascaul from a badminton tournament in Moyvane when they popped into Craftshop na Méar for a spot of impromptu Christmaas shopping. They all kindly posed for me beside the Christmas tree.


East River just got easier to find


Sign in a shoe repair shop

Thank you, Liz Dunn for sharing this fromFred Nelson


Seeking information on Listowel people involved in 1916 Rising

Information is being sought on those from the Listowel area who were involved in the events of Easter Week 1916. 

A new book edited by Kerry journalists, Owen O’Shea and Bridget McAuliffe and Dr Mary McAuliffe of UCD, will feature details of over 150 Kerry men and women who were arrested following the Rising. 

These biographies will be accompanied, where possible, by photographs of the participants. The book, which will be published early next year, will contain essays by historians on Austin Stack, Roger Casement, The O’Rahilly, Thomas Ashe, Fionán Lynch, Thomas MacGreevy, Cumann na mBan, the Kerry GAA and revolution, the drownings at Ballykissane Pier, and the Irish Volunteers in Kerry. 

If anyone has information about, or photographs of, the following members of the Irish Volunteers, they are asked to get in touch with editors Owen O’Shea (087 7870070) or Bridget McAuliffe at

Pat Griffin from Listowel who worked in McKenna’s Hardware

Servelus Jones, a tailor from Listowel

Patrick (Paddy) Landers from Listowel, a blacksmith and footballer

Joe Mahony from Listowel, a solicitor’s clerk

James Sugrue from Listowel, who worked as a drapery assistant


Christmas Fun at The Seanchaí


Christmas in Ballybunion

This is Jason who brings us our daily pictorial update from Ballybunion on Facebook. Here he makes a rare appearance at the other side of the camera as he helps to erect Ballybunion’s tree in Super Valu carpark. They switched on their lights last night (Dec. 6 2015)

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