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 2017 Page 1 of 2

2018 Here we come

Brent Geese in a Wintry Beale

Photo; Ita Hannon


Snow in December 2017

We saw very little snow in Listowel. The snow pictures were taken at the home of my brother in Kanturk.

There was a lot of snow in the Kerry mountains and Kerry Mountain Rescue were very busy over the holiday season. The below picture is taken from their website. They were out nearly every day over Christmas and thanks to their dedication, all the stranded and lost climbers made it home.


The traditional Crib is alive and Well in Kerry

During the holidays I made an effort to visit a few cribs in local towns and churches. I was heartened to see that while the holly and the ivy is gone, the candle in the window almost gone and Christmas food changed out of all recognition, one tradition is still very much alive; the Christmas Crib which tells the story of the first Christmas.

Here are a few local ones

This lovely nativity is in Ballybunion

The crib in the cathedral in Killarney is on a grander scale as befits its location.


The Dandy Lodge is 20 years in the park.

During my recent break I had a very welcome email from Barry O’Halloran. He sent us this photograph with the following story;

“You have often blogged about/taken photographs of The Dandy Lodge. I came
across a photo of The Dandy Lodge which was taken just before the project to
move it, commenced in 1997. The people behind it (which included my late
father Tom O’ Halloran), showed great vision and tenacity in getting the
funding and labour to complete such a difficult project. Each stone was
individually marked prior to knocking the Dandy Lodge and before carefully
re-constructing it, in The Cows Lawn.

The people in the foreground are Vincent & Julianne Moloney, with Mick
Barrett and Joe Dillon, nearest the old phone box.

One of the first events held in the re-located Dandy Lodge was a double
christening party in June 1999, for my daughter Maeve O’Halloran and her
first cousin, Liam O’ Connor (Sydney) – son of my sister Marie O’Halloran
who lives in Sydney.”


In the way these things happen, just a day later, Denis Carroll who has resumed posting photographs and memories of Listowel on Facebook posted a photo and a Youtube video

Denis’ photo shows the newly widened gateway to the park with the Dandy Lodge on the left.

Here is what he has to say about the relocation of this, the first house in Listowel;

“The gates into the Community Centre have been widened, fantastic job by the council. The “Dandy Lodge” in the photo was dismantled block by block and numbered then brought into the town park from across the road where it originally was on the main road into town. This can be seen on Youtube on my “fealegood007” youtube channel, the clip is called “Dandy Lodge”. I was there with a video camera for that. Here is the link


A poem from an Ambassador

Some embassies serve up Feraro Rocher. The Irish embassy in the U.S shares out much more exotic fare. The ambassador, Dan Mulhall, loves poetry and history and he regularly shares (on social media) little nuggets of both. Here is an extract he chose from a poem called The Dreamer and it was written by a poet who escaped from Australia, to where he had been deported. He settled in Boston where he edited The Boston Pilot which published the early work of W.B. Yeats.

I would fly to the woods’ low rustle
And the meadows’ kindly page.
Let me dream as of old by the river,
And be loved for the dream alway;
For a dreamer lives forever,
And a toiler dies in a day.

John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890)


What a Picture!

January 3 2018; Valerie O’Sullivan took this photo of Storm Eleanor at Valentia Lighthouse.


The Feast of the Epiphany…a French tradition

The Journey of the Magi

by T.S. Elliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

January 6th celebrates the coming of the three kings to visit Jesus in Bethlehem. In France they have a tradition I had not heard of ’til January 6th 2018 when I celebrated this feast with the French branch of my family.

According to tradition, the woman of the house bakes a cake called Galette des Rois

This is a delicious confection in which almonds are the main ingredient. Into this cake the cook places a figurine. This figure is usually a man or woman dressed in traditional local attire. It can be a king but doesn’t have to be. Ours was a peasant..

The figurine in the upper picture is the one we had. The lower one is a porcelain “king” that has been in my daughter in law’s family for years.

When the cake is cooked it is brought to the table where the family are gathered. The youngest child hides underneath the table. The lady of the house cuts the cake into slices and the youngest announces from under the table who is to get each piece. Then the family eat carefully as the danger of breaking a tooth or swallowing the miniature charm is great. The person who gets the trinket is the king for the day and gets to wear the crown.

All hail, King Killian!

A Robin, a smile, new windows at Listowel Garda Station and the Christmas parcel from America remembered

A Kerry robin in a Christmassy setting photographed by Chris Grayson


This Spike Milligan poem is doing the rounds on Twitter.


A Card and a Caption from the National Library’s Collection

Nat Library Ireland @NLIreland  59m59 minutes ago

An example of a 1918 Christmas card An example of a 1918 Christmas card for you today, issued by the Royal Army Medical Corps, [Great] Northern Central Hospital, for a Christmas social evening. The front of the card reads “Keep Smiling in Ardus Fidelus”- some sound advice!”. you today, issued by the Royal Army Medical Corps, [Great] Northern Central Hospital, for a Christmas so

<<<<<<cial evening. The front of the card reads “Keep Smiling in Ardus Fidelus”- some sound advice!”.

Listowel Garda Station, Christmas 2017

Notice the lovely new windows in the same style as the old ones to fit in with Listowel Garda Station’s status as a heritage building.


Christmas in Rural
Ireland in the 1950s…….The parcel from America

from Jim Costelloe’s  Asdee  A Rural Miscellany

I remember when
the first sign of the festive season was when the letter from my Aunt Nell in
New York arrived with the news that she was posting a “package” to us. The
parcel was being sent by “ordinary mail” and would take about 6 weeks to
arrive. It was being posted on the same day as the letter which was sent by
airmail. When the package arrived there was great excitement as we waited
patiently to see what each one had got. The label read “old clothes” and the
ritual of opening the parcel kept us in suspense as himself very carefully
opened the knots in the twine, so that none of it would be wasted.

He had a habit of
keeping everything that might come in useful so the twine was carefully made
into a ball and put in his waistcoat pocket. The brown paper which wrapped the
parcel was folded and put away before we might see what was in the package. We
all got some items of clothing. These were duly allocated by my mother. Some
articles were rejected because they were not suitable for wear here and people
would know they were American. The anticipation of what would be in that parcel
was the start of the excitement of Christmas in my youth.


Meanwhile in Germany 

Philomena Moriarty Kuhn now lives far from her native Listowel. One of the differences this loyal follower of Listowel Connection will experience this year is a white Christmas.


Slán Tamall

I’m signing off for 2017. I’ll take a short break to recharge the batteries. 

See you back here in 2018, le cúnamh Dé

Xmas, North Kerry Harriers, The Catechism, more Enterprise photos and Christmas in Ballylongford

Gurtinard Wood in Winter 2017


A Modern Christmas Poem

Xmas by Wes Magee

Not a twig stirs.
The frost bitten garden

Huddles under a
heaped duvet of snow.

Pond, tree, sky
and street are granite with cold.

In the house
electronic games warble;

Holly awaits the
advent of balloons

And the TV set
glows tipsy with joy.

This is a great
poem about the secularization of Christmas. Christ is taken out and the Xbox
takes his place centre stage.


It’s That Time of Year

North Kerry Harriers met in the grounds of Glin castle on December 3 2017. Local Limerick photographers, Liam Downes and Estelle O’Donoghue, took some  photos to record the occasion.

Estelle O’Donoghue  took this fabulous photo.


A Relic left behind from our Youth

Call it brainwashing if you like, but I and my school fellows had the answers to the questions set out in this green book so dinned into us in school that most of us could, to this day, with just a little prompting, reel off all those answers.

This copy turned up among the National Treasures collected recently. I’m sure the very sight of it will send shivers down a few spines.


Some More People at BOI Enterprise Town Evening


Christmas Long Ago

Christmas for us
Small Lads    by Eamon Kelly

Christmas for us
small lads growing up in the 1920s was a pool of light in the inky darkness of
the winter. A soft amber pool of light which came from three sources- the big
log and turf fire, the oil lamp with the hairpin straddling the glass chimney
and the stately white candles, one in every window, spreading their light out
into the yard and road and showing the way, the old people told us, to Mary and
Joseph should they be passing in search of shelter on Christmas night.
Although my father used to say that if they happened to be passing our house
the blessed pair would have strayed a tiny step on the road to Bethlehem.

In the month of
December there was no road darker than the road outside our house, for we were
living in the depths of the country, and as yet the ESB poles had not come
marching down the valley bringing a brighter but a harsher light. And it cuts
me to the quick today when I hear that instead of the old tallow candle there
is a new garish electric imitation lighting in many of the windows I looked on
as a lad.

(Continued tomorrow)


Ballylongford at Christmas 2017

They switched on their Christmas tree lights in Bally on Saturday December 9 2017 and Ballylongford Snaps took lots of great photos. Here are a few and there are lots more HERE

Our Christmas Tree ,a sad Christmas poem, BOI Enterprise Town event, some brave women and a change at Scribes

Listowel Town Square


A Christmas Poem (This is a heartbreaking one)

Christmas at Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;

The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;

The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;

And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;

But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.

We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,

And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.


All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;

All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;

All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,

For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;

But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:

So’s we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,

And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;

The good red fires were burning bright in every ‘long-shore home;

The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;

And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;

For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)

This day of our adversity was blessèd Christmas morn,

And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,

My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;

And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,

Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,

Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;

And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,

To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessèd Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.

‘All hands to loose top gallant sails,’ I heard the captain call.

‘By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,’ our first mate, Jackson, cried.

… ‘It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,’ he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,

And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.

As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,

We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,

As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;

But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,

Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.


Some photos from Listowel Enterprise Town evening


Life in Cork in 1836 was tough

This story comes from the Durrus History Society. Durrus ia a small town in west Cork

1836 Evidence of Father John Kelleher, Early Statistician, to Poor Laws (Ireland), Enquiry.

 Muintir Bháire There are in these parishes about 50 and at least that number of individuals who endeavour to make out a livelihood by buying eggs here and taking them to Cork where they are bought for the English market.  These individuals are generally young women of blameless morals and great industry the distance they have to travel barefooted with such a load as 300 eggs in a basket on their backs is to many no less than 50 miles.  Some will take so many as 350 of these eggs others not more than 200 they generally bring as heavy a load back from the city. And make ten or a dozen such journeys each year.  The time devoted to such a journey is generally a week, their profits are inconsiderable perhaps about £3 in the year.


Where Age is no Barrier

Friends, Lilly and Maureen knitting with Knitwits in Scribes


Here is the link to the Girl Guides Camp in Dromin in 1992 as recorded by Michael Guerin

Listowel Girl Guides 1992


Scribes is changing hands

Brigita, on the left is taking over from Namir in Scribes in Church Street. We will miss Namir’s genial presence and invariable good humour and wit.

Brigita will be very different but a good different. She is a lovely genial lady, a great cook and immensely talented. I wish her the best of luck and I look forward to many more happy hours in Scribes.


Winner Alright

You all know Chris Grayson from his beautiful Nature photographs which I love to share with you. Chris is not a native Kerryman but he is the next best thing, an adopted one. He loves his Kerry home and he celebrates it often in stunning photos.

Chris has another string to his bow. He is a dedicated runner. Last weekend he won the Clonakilty marathon. Congratulations to a great friend of Listowel connection. May you go on to many more such successes.

St. John’s, BOI Enterprise Town event, a few more Christmas windows and Eoin Hand on Nationwide

A Photo from Mallow Camera Club’s Blue Challenge

Photographer; Neil O’Mullane


St. John’s in Winter

The flags are down and the tubs of flowers stowed away for the winter.


Is Paul Costello the new St. Bernard

I have some very old clothes in my wardrobe!

Do you remember when St. Bernard was the only brand at Dunnes Stores and St. Michael at Marks and Spencers?


Listowel, Enterprise Town


Listowel Christmas 2017

Galvin’s window

Woulfe’s Bookshop

Kay’s Children’s window


Some of Listowel’s More Famous Residents with Anne Cassin of RTE

If you missed Eoin Hand on Nationwide you can catch the programme HERE

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