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: Coca Cola trucks 2016

Wren boys continued, a Christmas poem, the Clauses of The Seanchaí and people at the Coca Cola truck event

Abbey at Rattoo photographed a few years ago by Padraig O’Connor


A Very Sad Seasonal poem from Seán McCarthy


Wren boys in North Kerry by Wm. Molyneaux as reported in The Shannonside Annuals in the 1950s

Part 2

He (The Man from the BBC) asked me then what way we used to dress in the Wren boys. I told him we used dress in green and gold or any colour. I told him we had a Wren Cross (which we had in them days) and we had the Wren Cross painted in green and gold and we often took out two wrens in the morning and brought them back alive and restored them to liberty. I told him when we go in to a farmer’s house that we’d say those words to the farmer-the farmer’s houses where we’d expect to get a good reach the captain of the Wrenboys would address the man of the house by saying these words:

The man of the house is a very good men

And it was to him we brought the wran,

Wishing you a happy Christmas and a merry New Year

If you give us the price of a gallon of beer,

We’d continue on until we go to the next house-which was the landlady’s house. The captain addressed the landlady in these words

the wran, the wran, the king of all birds-

St Stephen’s Day she was cought in the furze;

although she be little, her family being great,

Rise up, landlady, and give us a trate;

Up with the kittle and down with the pan

We’ll thank your subscription to bury the Wren!

That’s the way the captain would address if he went into a big farmer’s house or into a landlady’s house.

(more tomorrow)



John (Junior) Griffn and Billy Keane at the launch of Billy’s novel some years ago.


The Seanchaí Claus family at the BOI Enterprise Town expo

Joe’s been a good boy.


Gala Christmas Sunday in Town

Eoin Enright’s photo gives a good idea of the scene in The Square as the light was fading on Sunday December 11 2016.

Here are some people I met at the Coca Cola truck on Sunday December 11 2016

October Stocktaking launch, Wrenboys Long Ago and West Limerick Journal

Millenium Arch and Bridge Road after Neodata


Pat Given’s Book Launch

It was November 3 2016 in St. John’s Listowel and a very popular retired teacher, Pat Given was launching a collection of poetry in aid of the North Kerry Literary Trust. In retirement, Pat Given is still contributing to the literary heritage of Listowel, a town he adopted when his family moved here from Mayo in the 1930s.

Pat and his wife, Lisha, are regular patrons of St. John’s so it was fitting that this should be the scene for the launch of  his anthology.

It was Jimmy Deenihan who encouraged Pat to publish another collection of his poems. Pat had previously published 2 anthologies but he had been silent for many years. Jimmy knew that he was still writing daily so he determined to help him to get back into print. The result is October Stocktaking.

Jimmy was the MC for the night and joining him on stage were four of Pat’s past pupils who had gone on to success in literary and dramatic endeavours.

Joe Murphy recalled Pat’s great Greek language and history lessons. Learning by rote was a feature of  education in the 20th century and Joe could still decline a Greek verb and rattle off the dates of Greek battles after a gap of nearly forty years.

Billy Keane was a pupil in later years and he remembered Pat with fondness. Pat and John B. Keane grew up as part of that great gang of boys in Church Street. Billy read the poem which gave the book its name, October Stocktaking.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice donned the old school tie and took us back to the heyday of St. Michael’s. He recalled inspirational teachers and memorable classmates. He indulged his love of sonnets by reading one of Pat’s.

Christian O’Reilly was there to represent the younger generation of Pat’s pupils who remember him more as a teacher of English than of the classics. Christian is a very successful playwright and TV and film screenwriter and he was happy to return to his native Listowel to celebrate with his former English teacher.

John Mc Auliffe, poet and Reader in Modern Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, is also a part pupil. He was not in St. John’s for the launch but he contributed a testimonial to the book as well.

We all know that St. Michael’s College was not a bed of roses for all of its pupils but it did provide a classical education to compare with the best schools in the land at one time in its history. These bright, successful past pupils form a very loyal old boys network and it was well in evidence on December 3 in St. John’s to thank and celebrate with a gentle giant of St. Michael’s academic history, Mr. Given.

Pat posed for photos with Lisha, Seamus, Peter and John and his extended family.


Humans of Listowel Bank of Ireland

Nov 25 2016 in Listowel Community Centre


What I’m Reading

Christmas time is a great time for annual local history journals. This one is new to the scene and is a great read…probably also a collectors item, a first edition

You will spot a few faces familiar to Listowel people at the launch of this magazine.

Photos posted by Eamon Doody


Christmastime in Kerry Long Ago

This account of Wrenboys is taken from an account by WM. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals.

With Tambourines and Wren

Wm. Molyneaux

I was questioned one time by
the BBC one night behind at Cantilons. 
They sent me word “can you 
come to Cantillons the same night to give them any information I had
about the Wren.  I promised I would.  I went back and They came.  There are just three of them come-one of them
was a publican inside in the town of Listowel, John Keane.  But I didn’t know the headman at all of the
BBC.  And that was the man that was
questioning me.  The way he questioned me
was-he asked me what I knew about the Wren. 
He asked me how long I was going with the Wren boys.  I answered him and I told him “I’m
going, sir,” says I, “from boyhood to manhood”.  “What were you doing,” says he,
“in the Wren?”  “I used to
tip, Sir,” says-“I was a drummer.”  He asked me what class of a drum-“was it
a big drum or a tambourine?”  I told
him I drummed either one or the other of them. 
He asked me had I got a tambourine. 
“No sir,” says I “I’m out of them” “well, we’ll
get you one,” says he they went and they searched the same night and they got
a tambourine for me as any case and the BBC man asked me what would I drum.  I told him I’d drum reels, jigs, marches, or
hornpipes.  He asked me what special tune
used we play going with the Wren.  I
answered him and told him it was the Wrens hornpipe.  He asked me could I hum it.  “I will,sir,” says I. There was no
music there but the tambourine.  I drummed
the hornpipe and it was taken down. 

(more tomorrow)


Coca Cola Trucks in Listowel

Niamh Stack snapped the Coca Cola truck being towed by  Listowel Transport tractor cab as it left town on Sunday night, December 11 2016. Apparently they needed the help of Listowel Transport as the big American tractor that was attached to it in the Square is not really great for manoeuvring it on Irish roads.

Damien Stack shared this photo on Facebook as Listowel bad farewell to the truck that brought so much excitement to town for one day only on Sunday December 11.

Damien O’Mahony is the local hero who made it happen. It was because of his putting of the case on 2FM for a stop in Listowel that the bandwagon rolled into town. 

From mid morning till nightfall families queued for a taste of the magical experience. We got a can of Coca Cola, our photo taken with the truck and a virtual reality sleigh ride, all for free. A Gospel choir set the atmosphere and 2fm broadcast live from The Square.

In the afternoon the Love Listowel activities kickstarted the street party. Traders mounted a Christmas Market, a céilí swung into life on William Street (which was temporarily reclosed for the party) and local actors played out a scene in McKenna’s window.

The town was jam packed with happy people, full of Christmas good spirits. The word I heard often was  “proud”. For one day everyone was proud of the town, the town’s people and everyone’s ability to put on a show.

All roads lead to Listowel and the Coca Cola event.

As dawn broke over Listowel on Sunday December 11 2016, people realised that, like a Santa in the night, the truck had arrived in town and had taken up position outside St. John’s in The Square.

At 12.00 noon Damien declared the show open and the first families stood on the plinth for their photo.

 While in the queue you could play ice cube Jenga.

When you got to the top of the queue, you stood on the step and obeyed the elves instructions to smile and pose. The snapper snapped and within seconds you had a lovely souvenir photo to take home.

Bridge Road in the forties, BOI Expo and Ballylongford remembered

Switching on the The Christmas Lights Event in Listowel Town Square Dec. 4 2016


Mike Enright’s photos of North Kerry, Late and Early

Sunset at Cnoc an Óir

Morning in Ballybunion


The Feale at The Racecourse Bridge

I went in search of the egret who lives here. He was not at home that day.


Bridge Road Pals

A very young Junior Griffins is surrounded by  ladies in this lovely old Bridge Road photo from the forties.

With him are Michael Behan, Seán OBrien, Bert Griffin and Rory Callagy. Junior tells me that Rory left Bridge Rd. in 1945.

The ladies with Junior are Maureen Moloney and ……….


Some shots from Listowel Community Centre at the Enterprise Town Night on November 25 2016

Liz McAulliffe had a great display.

John R.’s had a display of Christmas and everyday fare.

Institute of Technology Tralee

Muddy Paws brought along a satisfied canine customer.

Convent School Band were entertaining.

My friends at the Writers’ Week stand were offering chocolates and Christmas presents. They were also selling their absolutely beautiful journals. Buy one for €15 from the Writers Week office and you will find it will inspire you to write.


Ballylongford Memories

(photo: Forur Genealogy on Facebook)

Mike Horgan and Martin Heaphy, Well Road, Ballylongford buying and selling chickens from a Kantoher Truck in Ballylongford.


What I’m Reading

I took this photo in Garvey’s Super Valu as the gang from Aras Mhuire were promoting their great book. It’s called Striking a Chord. It costs €10 and it’s available in Scribes of Church Street.

I’m reading it in snatches and it’s absolutely lovely.

I am going to reproduce just one piece of writing here because it will resonate with many people. There is lots more like this in the book.

Tea Break

By Mary McElligott

At bedtime I would wash her.

Oh how she hated that.

I’d distract her as best I

Cajole with idle chat.

She’s tell me she was washed

From head to toe that day,

And what did I think I was

Sure she’d soon be washed

And how bad it was for her

To keep wetting it with

I’d reassure her and say who
I was.

“You, you’re not my daughter!”

With washing done

She would relax, happy to be

I’d be happy too, my task

God, sometimes her words were

I knew she couldn’t help it

As dementia took its toll,

But I often thought of Jesus,

As her feet went in that

I am Jeus as I gently soap

Her legs up to the knees.

I am Jesus as I speak kind

And put her mind at ease.

I am Jesus as I dry her feet

And rub in scented lotion.

I am Jesus as I ease her

And bring calm to her

Each night when she goes to

She offers up her prayers

“Jack and Jill went up the

I’d hear her from the stairs.

Dementia has changed her,

Yet she still can make me

Now I’m off to have a cup of

I’ll check her in a while.


To cheer us up after the Road Works…..

The big trucks will roll into town next weekend.

‘Holidays’ Are Coming” is the iconic jingle of Coca Cola’s great Christmas trucks ad campaign. Now thanks to Damien O’Mahony of Jumbo’s and Love Listowel the trucks are going to stop in Listowel next Sunday, December 11th.

The trucks will make 10 stops in all on their journey around Ireland, eight of these were pre selected and the final two were decided on the merits of a pitch made by members of the public.

Damien pitched on behalf of Listowel and below is the picture of him on the phone receiving the great news. Listowel is chosen.

So what will happen?

According to the Coca Cola website:  “At each stop, the public will have an opportunity to take a souvenir photo with the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck. People will have a chance to experience a virtual sleigh ride through the forest and to play Ice Block Jenga. The Dublin Gospel Choir will perform at each of the stops on the Tour to add to the festive spirit.”


Phew! We’re back to normal traffic flow

They came down at noon on December 3 2016.

Barriers packed for removal

Uncoupling the barriers at McKenna’s

Fixing the last manhole cover in place

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