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Art Exhibition Continues, Listowel Badminton Club in 1924 and Coolard Memories

 Photo of Ballybunion on a March night in 2016 is by Jason of Ballybunion Prints


Exhibition Continues

The Red Door Gallery is located in The Square Newcastlewest. It is a beautiful Arts space. The current exhibition is the varied and intriguing Colourful Spirits show. Below are a few last photos I took at the official opening on March 3 2016. It is well worth a visit.

 Billy Keane with some of the pictures.

 Two Billy Keanes: the younger Billy ( on the right) is a talented singer.

This fascinating artwork started life as a photograph.


Listowel Badminton Club in 1924

(Junior Griffin)

In its early years
Listowel Badminton Club was a mens club only and Eddie Faley, Mortimer Galvin,
J. Farrell and others were members at that time.  Ladies applied to be admitted but to no
avail.  It is said that Eddie Faley
considered the females to be “A bloody nuisance”.

However he was
prevailed upon to admit the ladies and grudgingly condescended,  and in his first ever mixed doubles game his
partner was one Aileen Cronin, and lo and behold, she became his life partner
for many years to follow.

Indeed, it leads
one to ponder on the seemingly unending number of romances that have blossomed
through Badminton, and one feels that that the figure of Cupid should be
depicted with a racquet and shuttlecock and not with the customary bow and

Listowel is very
fortunate that yet another dance ticket  was found in an old Library Book giving
details of yet another dance ball but more importantly for the benefit of
historians, the officers and committee of that time was listed.

This dance, known
as a wireless ball coupled with a fancy dress parade, was held also in the
Gymnasium on Saturday March 1st 1924 .

The committee
listed are as follows;

President; Mr
Seamus Wilmot;

Hon Sec; Mr. P.V.

Hon. Treas; Mr.
R.I. Cuthbertson

Committee; Messer’s
C.Tackberry, M.Hannon, T.Moore, J.Farrell, M.Naylor, J.O’Sullivan, J.Medell,
J.Walsh and T.P. Cotter.

It is interesting
to note the data on this card such as the admission price where the men had to
pay an old shilling more than the ladies, 8/6 pence compared to 7/6 pence.

There is  nice line stating that “Mr. Dunne’s Orchestra is
personally conducted”

The back page
gives information on the Wireless Concert. (To the young people of today a
wireless is now known as a Radio).

It states that “Subscribers
will be entertained to a programme Broadcasted from the following stations;
London; Paris; Bournemouth; Manchester and Glasgow.

Detailed Programme can be
seen in the Irish Independent of Saturday March 1st.

The set is fitted with the
latest and most up-to-date-Loud Speaker”

With the IT
technology that is available today the world has certainly come a long

way since those
updated loud speakers of 1924.

It is interesting
to note that whilst Listowel had a wireless on March 1st, some days
later, on March 6th, 1924, that Pope Pius XI had a wireless
installed in Rome for the first time.

One wonders did he
have some contact in Listowel who told him about this new form of
communication, and did he, per chance, purchase it from McKenna’s of Listowel?

Who Knows?


The Old Order Changeth Yielding Place to the New

March 4 2016


Maurice O’Mahony, Principal of Coolard Primary School

Maurice O’Mahony launched his memoir and history of the school where he has been principal since 1973. When he took to the stage in St. John’s on March 5 2016 the tale he had to tell was an extraordinary one.

Maurice came to the school in 1973, aged 20 years. He must have been one of the youngest principals in the country at the time. When he came, Coolard had no running water, no electricity and no telephone. It must have felt more like 1873.

Maurice is still at the helm today and the school has all the modern trappings, internet, white boards, SNAs, a secretary etc., etc.

When the principal of his old school, Ballydonoghue rang him one day to ask him for the names of all the teachers who had taught in Coolard, he undertook a search and discovered that, while all the pupils names were recorded, some of the teachers’ names were in danger of being forgotten. Thus began the long years of research to gather together as comprehensive a history of the school as possible. The culmination of that research is a magnificent magnum opus which will be treasured by local historians and everyone who has a link with the school.

The school has been through many trials and strifes and has seen much success, Thankfully we rarely hear about school boycotts nowadays but Coolard had one in its history and it lasted for 15 months. It is not as famous as the boycott in Drimoleague which is still not talked about to this day. It had at its heart though the same cause, i.e. the appointment of a principal.  You can read all about Coolard’s strike in Maurice’s book.

The local community has resisted any efforts to amalgamate their school with the other Primary school in the parish and under Maurice’s stewardship it has gone from strength to strength.

I’d advise you to go out and buy yourself a copy of A History of Coolard School 1846 to 2016. It will soon be a collector’s item. An interesting feature of the book is that it contains the name of every pupil who was ever on the roll there.


Fuinneoga Gleoite

Listowel Florist


Tae Lane Store


Another successful performance

photo: Listowel Drama Group

Listowel Drama Group cast and crew with adjudicator at the North Cork Drama festival where high praise was given to their  stellar performance again last night.

Final run last night March 14 2016 in Hollycross in North Tipperary.


Flying the Flag for the best of Irish Food

In London they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early, on Sunday March 13 2016. Chef John Relihan was there cooking up the best of Irish beef on the best of Irish turf.

Farran Wood and Art in Newcastlewest and an artist’s sketch especially for Listowel Connection.

Art and Artists in Newcastlewest in Spring 2016

Billy Keane, who opened Colourful Spirits’ art exhibition in Newcastlewest on March 3 2016 reminded us that North Kerry and West Limerick are really a close unit. We sound the same, we are equally creative and we have a mutual understanding. West Limerick people opened their doors to Kerry artists on March 3 2016 and they turned out in numbers to view what their neighbors had to show them.

This is one of the great pictures on display in The Red Door. It’s called Human Nature. It was among my favorites on the night.

 Susan Hitching is one of the artists in Colourful Spirits. Her friend, Vincent O’Brien, was on hand to lend his support on opening night.

Jim Dunn can surely capture the rapture of a musician engrossed in his art.

 This picture was inspired by Liam Brennan’s memories of being an altar boy in St. Mary’s, Listowel.

Artists and friends listen to Billy Keane in The Red Door Gallery, The Square Newcastlewest .



Roger Casement is a man who will be commemorated in Kerry as one of the biggest heroes of The 1916 Rising. Mike O’Donnell has written about and sketched Roger Casement for some time now. He sent me this super study of Casement which he sketched especially for Listowel Connection.

Muskerry Local History Society will hold the below lecture in Ballincollig Rugby Club on Monday March 21 2016

Monday, 21 March,Casement and the Aud

A talk given by Philip Johnston who
has dived on the wreck of the Aud for the past 20 years. The talk will include
Casement’s trip to Germany, the transport of 25,000 guns for rebellion and the
arrest and scuttling of the Aud on its approach to Cork Harbour.


Farran Wood

If you have ever gone to Cork through Macroom you will have passed a sign for Farran Wood. Farran is one of the woodland areas that Coillte have developed as a visitor attraction.

It’s early in the season yet so the zip wire attraction which lets you swing like a monkey from tree to tree was not yet in operation for 2016.

A trip to Farran is a walk through woodland and by the lake and the river. It has a playground and picnic area and the place is alive with animal life and birdsong.

A walk in the woods

 Many of the attractions are made from recycled materials and wood.

 Hang in there, Róisín.

 Skimming pebbles

The picnic area


At Listowel Races

Photo; Shannonside Annual

TV reception in Listowel in 1970, Listowel artists in Newcastlewest, a last concert in The Tinteán, Ballybunion and Coolard school memories

T.J. MacSweeney


The Kerryman 1970

This TV critic wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is… I think she was a Listowel viewer.

What’s My Line is not having very auspicious beginnings on R.T.E. The
formula is old, tried and true and more than likely it’s currently
doing the rounds of world television stations. The two men who devised
and copywrited the idea have probably  made a small fortune out of it.
All that has been proven, however, is that the formula can be a
success but, to bring it to life, it needs a panel brimming with
contrasting personalities and a chairman to match. 

What we’ve got is a
chairman, Larry Gogan, who rushes the programme though like a man
trying to finish a pint in a minute to closing time; a  panel which
for the most part is  trying so hard to be bright that, it’s painful;
and competitors with such way out occupations that one would have to
be a mind-reader to even get started on them. If everyone calmed

down, and stopped trying so hard, the programme might get off the


By the way I’ve only just discovered, that viewers in Listowel
who use a Cork aerial, are blessed with a second, channel which is not
of their own choosing. This is caused, by the radio-telephone which
operates, between, the hospital and the ambulance. It, comes over loud
and clear on these sets and is so powerful that it actually cuts out
the programme completely. Not alone is the ambulance driver alerted
but the curate who is on duty in the presbytery also gets timely
warning of a possible sick-call. Nobody I have asked seemed to be able
to explain away this extraordinary happening but, happen it.
does.—I’ve seen, and heard it!


Now and Then


Art at The Red Door

Listowel was well represented among the artists and attendees at the Red Door Gallery in Newcastlewest on Thursday March 3 2016.

Billy Keane performed the official opening of Colourful Spirits’  Show and he took us on an impromptu tour of the pictures and sculptures.

Billy posed for me with his very artistic former William Street neighbour, Rebecca O’Carroll. He reminded those present that it was Rebecca’s father who produced the first and best stage performance of Sive.

Liam Brennan, formerly of Listowel and his wife, Maura had some of their artwork on display.

Lisa Fingleton is not from Listowel but she spends a lot of her time here so we can claim her as our own.

Jim Dunn is the man among the ladies here. Jim’s artwork will be familiar to followers of this blog as he is the artist responsible for Athea’s  much admired murals. He is not from Listowel either but he is chair of the Art committee of Listowel Writers’ Week so that makes him an honorary Listowel man.

On the far left is Maggie Donald of Duagh whose ceramics are selling like hot cakes in Craftshop na Méar.

Next to Jim is his wife, Elizabeth Dunn, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week and, on the right, is my good friend, Helen Moylan of Listowel.


Goodbye to The Tinteán

The magnificent Tinteán theatre in Ballybunion is closing at the end of the month and the furnishing and fittings are to be sold off.

photos from Facebook

This was the stage on Friday evening last, March 4 2016 as we gathered for a fundraising concert for Lisselton School. The concert was organized by Claire Keane Fennell, a past pupil of the school and she was joined on the night by past pupils Bryan Carr, Anna Connolly and the Foley Family. Her friends from John B.s, Mickey MacConnell and Paddy MacElligott also did a turn and Billy Keane was the very entertaining M.C.

Marc OSé made a special guest appearance and there was much banter about local star, Jason Foley taking his place on the Kerry team, a move that appeared to be popular with the local audience.

 Claire and Anna on stage

 Bryan Carr


Coolard Memories

At the launch of Maurice O’Mahony’s book on the history of Coolard National School, Joe Murphy, past pupil of Coolard and administrator of St. Johns for the past 26 years, relived for us some of his memories of his education there and in St. Michael’s, Listowel

Cáit Baker, his former teacher, was in the audience with her husband Tomás and her friend, Sr. Margaret  to hear Joe tell us of her valiant efforts to teach him to sing “Kelly the Boy from Killane” despite his being a préachán.

Joe remembered the days bringing in the turf to the school and the hours spent ‘weeding the grotto”. This, he told us was a task you could stretch to a whole afternoon by the simple ruse of taking the handful of weeds across the road to the glasha and bringing them back again rather than throwing them in.

Only one other pupil from Coolard went on to St. Michael’s with Joe and he described the secondary school in the 1960s as a very intimidating place for a country boy. When the results of the Christmas test were posted he gained in confidence as he saw that he was smarter than many of the townies who were so vocal in class.

Joe, like me and many more who were present on the night of the book launch, did his Primary Cert in Irish, English, Arithmetic and Mental Arithmetic. I was transported back to my old classroom in Kanturk and the daily mental arithmetic tests.

To much laughter, Joe reminisced about the man who went to town and spent half his money in one shop, a quarter of what he had left in another and he came home with 1/6. The question was how much did he have leaving home.

It was no laughing matter back then!

Four generations of the Murphy family have attended Coolard National School. Joe remembered the numbers and makes of the teachers’ cars and he remembered the makes of all the various tractors he could see through the school window. Happy days!

One man present recorded Joe’s speech;

Joe Murphy remembers his school days

William Street Upper and an Art Exhibition at The Red Door in Newcastlewest and a few Coolard Memories

Christopher Burke’s photo shows the master and hounds of the Duhallow Hunt out and about last week


Coolard…an Exceptional School

Two of Coolard’s old boys, Robert Bunyan and Joe Murphy took us on a trip down memory lane on Saturday, March 5 2016 as they helped their friend, Maurice O’Mahony launch his book full of history and memories of the school.

Robert remembers a time when the boys and girls were segregated by a high wall, which he compared to the Berlin Wall. He was warned that, like the Berlin Wall, if he attempted to climb it he’d be shot. Undeterred the bould Robert climbed it and lived to tell the tale.

He told us about the day he was put in charge of the class while the teacher was on an errand. Even then football was a subject on his mind and, spying a ball of wool one of the girls had brought for knitting, Robert decided to try a kick in the style of one of his heroes, Paudie O’Donoghue. Unfortunately for Robert, the master chose that moment to re-enter the classroom.

That was the last time Robert Bunyan was put in charge of the class in Coolard.

Robert’s dad was also a past pupil of the school and he contributed many of his memories to Maurice in the course of his research, memories that are now there forever to be treasured by his family and the wider diaspora of Coolard.


William Street Upper

Bernard O’Connell shared this old photo on his Facebook page. Bernard grew up on this street in the house with the TV aerial. The two donkeys on the way home from the creamery are probably waiting for their owners to pick up a few messages in the nearby shops. The railings and wall are part of the railway bridge that used to be over that part of the street.


A Tale of two scamps

26 May 1877 Freeman’s Journal

CLEVER ESCAPE FROM A BRIDEWELL. An incident of a novel nature occurred
at  Listowel on Monday, in connection with the cleverly planned
escape from the bridewell. A lad named Mulvihill, aged 13 year, had
been convicted about five months ago at Tarbert Petty Sessions, of
stealing a dog, and sentenced to five years in the Upton Reformatory.

On his removal, after leaving Tralee gaol, he succeeded in giving the
gaol officer the slip, and managed to elude the police until last
Saturday, when he was apprehended at Ballylongford, and lodged in
Listowel bridewell preparatory to being sent back to the reformatory.

His younger brother, aged about 11 years, visited him on Monday, and
while in the cell with him the prisoner exchanged clothes with him ;
and thus disguised, he was allowed to pass out by the official, who
naturally believed he was the brother who had passed in some minutes

The mistake was of course soon discovered.  but the escaped
culprit had a good start, and has not been recaptured. The brother is
kept in custody, having been remanded to next petty sessions.


Colourful Spirits Art Exhibition Opening Night

Craftshop na Méar was well represented at the launch of Colourful Spirits’ latest show in the beautiful Red Door Gallery in Newcastlewest on Thursday evening March 3 2016. If you are in the West Limerick area do drop in. There are some really intriguing artworks there.

Maggie and Malcolm Donald with Eileen Fitzgerald.

Viveca Amato showed us that she is also a culinary artist. Her food displays on the night were works of art. They were the big talking point of the launch.


Operation Transformation Thought for the Day

Commentators through the ages have come to the same conclusion.

” The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like and do what you’d rather not.”  Mark Twain

“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” Woody Allen

Listowel statues, Listowel men and a meeting to set up a Limerick Kerry Railway line

Some Listowel Public Sculptures

This artwork in The Square depicts the River Feale which runs through the town and a ring fort or lios from which the town takes its name.

A constant reminder of the contribution of nuns to the  the town.

Bryan MacMahon, Údar agus Oide, a Patrician, whose influence is still felt in Listowel and further afield.


Two Men I met on the Street on Friday

Denis Walsh of The Advertiser has a busy day on Fridays, delivering his very popular publication to North Kerry businesses.

Denis took a minute to pose for me with his friend, Martin McCarthy, star of Widows’ Paradise.


Then and Now

Some places change and some stay the same.


From The Tralee Chronicle of 1879……the start of the line

A meeting of the Directors of the Limerick and Kerry Railway Company
was held at Mr M’Elligott’s Hotel, Listowel, on Tuesday last, the Earl
of Devon presiding. Other Directors present   George Sandes, VC, Major
Crosbie, F Sandes, George Hewson,Edward Curling, Messrs Michael Leahy,
Newcastle West; Denny, Tralee, Solicitors to the Directory;Mr
Barrington, CE, and Thomas Nunan ?, Secretary, were also present.

The meeting was chiefly for the disposal of preliminary business and
to organise the taking of shares, for which purpose local committees
were appointed. Lord Devon headed the share list, and subsequently
paid the usual deposit on same into the bank. It was stated at the
meeting that if the people most interested in the project subscribed
at once for the shares on the favourable terms they are now offered at
the Directors would be in a position to invite tenders from
contractors on favourable terms so as to allow the contractors of the
line being at once proceeded with. It was also said that a large
number of shares had been subscribed for. Among the most prominent
shareholders is Lord Listowel, from whom a letter was read expressing
regret that he was unable to attend the meeting. After leaving the
meeting Lord Devon in passing through Abbeyfeale, came in for an
ovation, the inhabitants turning out en masse to greet him, headed by
the local brass band.


Colourful Spirits at the Red Door

I was in Newcastlewest on Thursday last for an Art Exhibition by our local art group, Colourful Spirits.

The opening night was really well attended. I’ll bring you more photos in the next few days.


The Drama Group are on the Road

Listowel Drama Group made a great start to their festival tour in Knockaderry on 

Friday Mar. 4 2016. 

They posted a few photos of the scene backstage on their Facebook page.

Taken from the wings before curtain up

The stars are in make up

Chief cook and bottle washer, John Kinsella, gets a rare moment of relaxation.

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