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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Nostalgia and More

A Robin by Criostóir Grayson

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Got it!

Gerard Stack was anxious to see a photo of the scene in Walsh’s toyshop at Christmas time long ago.

Mike Moriarty had just such a photograph

Here is Mike’s email;

In response to Gerard Stack’s post re Toy Shop at Walsh’s I have attached a photo from those days. At the back on the left is yours truly, centre is Marie Keane Stack (mother of the Brogans) and on the right is my brother, Tom. At the piano is Mary Sheehy(nee Shaughnessy). At her left shoulder is Mike McGrath and in the centre is your correspondent, Gerard Stack. We were all neighbours, such a contrast with today where there are no children growing up in William St.

Rgds., 

Mike Moriarty.

Dave O’Sullivan found some great old ads in The Kerryman. Walsh’s had a Toy Fair complete with film show in 1950.

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Another Regular at Christmas Time

At this time of year I like to include familiar seasonal pieces of excellent writing. This is one of my favourites.

A Kerry Christmas Childhood

Garry MacMahon

Now I cannot help remembering the happy days gone by,

As Christmastime approaches and the festive season’s nigh.

I wallow in nostalgia when I think of long ago,

And the tide that waits for no man as the years they ebb and flow.

We townies scoured the countryside for holly berries red,

And stripped from tombs green ivy in the graveyard of the dead,

To decorate each picture frame a hanging on the wall,

And fill the house with greenery and brighten winter’s pall,

Putting up the decorations was for us a pleasant chore,

And the crib down from the attic took centre stage once more.

From the box atop the dresser the figures were retrieved,

To be placed upon a bed of straw that blessed Christmas Eve,

For the candles, red crepe paper, round the jamjars filled with sand,

To be placed in every window and provide a light so grand,

To guide the Holy Family who had no room at the inn,

And provide for them a beacon of the fáilte mór within.

The candles were ignited upon the stroke of seven,

The youngest got the privilege to light our way to Heaven,

And the rosary was said as we all got on our knees,

Remembering those who’d gone before and the foreign missionaries.

Ah, we’d all be scrubbed like new pins in the bath before the fire

And, dressed in our pajamas of tall tales we’d never tire,

Of Cuchlainn, Ferdia, The Fianna, Red Branch Knights,

Banshees and Jack o Lanterns, Sam Magee and Northern Lights

And we’d sing the songs of Ireland, of Knockanure and Black and Tans,

And the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wran.

Mama and Dad they warned us as they gave each good night kiss,

If we didn’t go to sleep at once then Santa we would miss,

And the magic Christmas morning so beloved of girls and boys,

When we woke to find our dreams fulfilled and all our asked for toys,

But Mam was up before us the turkey to prepare,

To peel the spuds and boil the ham to provide the festive fare.

She’d accept with pride the compliments from my father and the rest.

“Of all the birds I’ve cooked,” she’s say, “ I think that this year’s was the best.”

The trifle and plum pudding, oh, the memories never fade

And then we’d wash the whole lot down with Nash’s lemonade.

St. Stephen’s Day brought wrenboys with their loud knock on the door,

To bodhrán beat abd music sweet they danced around the floor’

We, terror stricken children, fled in fear before the batch,

And we screamed at our pursuers as they rattled at the latch.

Like a bicycle whose brakes have failed goes headlong down the hill

Too fast the years have disappeared. Come back they never will.

Our clan is scattered round the world. From home we had to part.

Still we treasure precious memories forever in our heart.

So God be with our parents dear. We remember them with pride,

And the golden days of childhood and the happy Christmastide.

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Advertisements from another era

Sent to us by Mattie Lennon

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So Much has changed

Knitting group in Scribes in 2012

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Listowel Christmas 2021

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My Christmas Reading

I loved my Woodford Pottery jug and vase so much, I went back and bought the mug to match.

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‘Twas the Night before Christmas 2021

By Mary Conlon

Twas the night before Christmas, but Covid was here,
So we all had to stay extra cautious this year.
Our masks were all hung by the chimney with care
In case Santa forgot his and needed a spare.
With Covid, we couldn’t leave cookies or cake
So we just left Santa hand sanitizer to take.

The children were sleeping, the brave little tots
The ones over 12 had just had their first shots, 
And mom in her kerchief and me in my cap 
Had just settled in for a long summer’s nap.
But we tossed and we turned all night in our beds
As visions of variants danced in our heads.

Gamma and Delta and now Omicron
These Covid mutations that go on and on
I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t get better,
I’ll soon be familiar with every Greek letter”.

Then just as I started to drift off and doze
A clatter of noise from the front lawn arose.
I leapt from my bed and ran straight down the stair
I opened the door, and an old gent stood there.

His mask made him look decidedly weird 
But I knew who he was by his red suit and beard.
I kept six feet away but blurted out quick
” What are you doing here, jolly Saint Nick?”

Then I said, “Where’s your presents, your reindeer and sleigh?
Don’t you know that tomorrow will be Christmas Day? “
And Santa stood there looking sad in the snow
As he started to tell me a long tale of woe.

He said he’d been stuck at the North Pole alone
All his white collar elves had been working from home,
And most of the others said “Santa, don’t hire us!
We can’t work now, thanks to the virus”.

Those left in the toyshop had little to do.
With supply chain disruptions, they could make nothing new.
And as for the reindeer, they’d all gone away.
None of them left to pull on his sleigh. 

He said Dasher and Dancer were in quarantine,
Prancer and Vixen refused the vaccine,
Comet and Cupid were in ICU,
So were Donner and Blitzen, they may not pull through.

And Rudolph’s career can’t be resurrected.
With his shiny red nose, they all think he’s infected.
Even with his old sleigh, Santa couldn’t go far.
Every border to cross needs a new PCR.

Santa sighed as he told me how nice it would be
If children could once again sit on his knee.
He couldn’t care less if they’re naughty or nice
But they’d have to show proof that they’d had their shot twice.

But then the old twinkle returned to his eyes.
And he said that he’d brought me a Christmas surprise.
When I unwrapped the box and opened it wide,
Starlight and rainbows streamed out from inside.

Some letters whirled round and flew up to the sky
And they spelled out a word that was 40 feet high.
There first was an H, then an O, then a P, 
Then I saw it spelled HOPE when it added the E.

“Christmas magic” said Santa as he smiled through his beard.
Then suddenly all of the reindeer appeared.
He jumped into his sleigh and he waved me good-bye, 
Then he soared o’er the rooftops and into the sky.

I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
“Get your vaccines my friends, Merry Christmas, good-night”.
Then I went back to bed and a sweet Christmas dream
Of a world when we’d finished with Covid 19.

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More Handball Memories and Listowel is opening up again

Listowel’s Community herb fruit and nut garden.

The above garden is now located beside the side wall of the ball alley. This wall, now covered in ivy and cut off by trees was once the alley where boys who couldn’t get a game in the alley proper practiced their skills.

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Don’t Touch!

Sign of the times; Even if you’re tempted, refrain.

During Covid restrictions, people were put to the pins of their collars to find polite ways of saying Behave yourself, remember we’re in a pandemic situation. This was just one of the many signs that appeared in shops.

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Handball Memories

One of the stars of Listowel Handball was Brendán ÓMurchú. Here he is being presented with his cup for winning the Lee Strand competition. John Fitzgerald is on the left, John Joe Kenny on the right.

Breandán has framed this photo of himself and Junior. Breandán is being presented with the shield for winning the town league on November 17 1961. Below the photo is the congratulatory note signed by Bryan MacMahon. Brendan brought handball with him to Dublin as did another Listowel man, Michael Enright.

This newspaper cutting from 1976 tells of the two Listowel men keeping the game alive in the capital.

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Getting Ready for Reopening

The Star and Garter on Church Street is getting a Facelift

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A Safe Place to Visit

During this pandemic the Council and the Government have wasted so much money on ill thought out initiatives. This is just another. Such is the nature of Covid 19 and its unpredictable course that a safe place to visit today is quite likely to be the very worst place to visit tomorrow. Will these signs go the way of those bollards and pavement overtaking bays that blighted our streets at the beginning of the lockdown?

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From Saturday’s Examiner

I enjoyed this so I’m sharing

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Childers’ Park and Brian Cowen in town in 2008 and more new Covid signs


Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú

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Listowel 


Upper William Street in July 2020

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In Childers’ Park in Early July 2020


John and Dolly Stack were taking their two lovely Jack Russells for a walk when I stopped them for a chat and a photo.

Council staff were doing some pruning and tidying up.

 

The Pitch and Putt course was busy.

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Summers’ Past!


When Brian Cowen, then taoiseach, came to town all and sundry came out to greet him. 

Tom Fitzgerald sent me a few photos



Group of the Fianna Fáil faithful


John Hannon, Dan Kiely and Ned O’Sullivan


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Everywhere looks better with Flowers



Sheahan’s XL, Upper William Street


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Here a reminder,

Theres a reminder

Everywhere a reminder.



If reminders of the pandemic would make it go away we’d be out the gap.



A whole new set of notices have arrived now  to add to the signs on the pavements, the bollards marking off street widening areas and giant 2Metre signs.

I think Listowel has got the message. Covid 19 hasn’t gone away.

Cork, Listowel Sports Field, a New Business Opens and Covid precautions at local level

Photo: Róisín Darby

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On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee


Cork on Sunday June 21 2020

My visit involved a trip to The Bon Secours Hospital. This is the lovely chapel there.

I also called on my brother who was repairing a fence.

It’s always nice to visit my old home.

These two are good friends and were curious to see what was up. Visitors are rare these times.

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From Minutes of the Board of Guardians 1986

A SPORTS FIELD FOR LISTOWEL


Mr. M. O’Connell, said—Gentlemen—I have great pleasure in moving for your adoption a resolution which needs only to be mentioned to meet with your unanimous approval.


Listowel, and, indeed, North Kerry in general, has been sadly handicapped in the past for want of suitable grounds for the many branches of sport, and the resolution which I intend to propose, if passed by you, will probably have a determining influence in remedying a very undesirable state of affairs. I am sure that when it is forwarded to Lord Listowel and his agent that his lordship will be prepared to act as owners of the soil have acted in other portions of the country. With these few remarks, gentlemen, I beg to propose the following resolution:—
Resolved—”That we, the Guardians of the Listowel Union, hereby heartily approve of the efforts which are being made by the North Kerry Cycling Club to procure a Sports Field for the town, which shall be open to every branch of sport, and that our Clerk be requested to communicate with Lord Listowel and his agent, Mr. J. D. Crosbie, J.P, with a view to getting his lordship to accede to the application which will shortly be made to him for a suitable ground, and, that furthermore, we consider that such a ground would have a very beneficial effect on the trade of Listowel, which at present badly needs the stimulus.
Mr. M. O’Connor, in seconding the resolution, said that the ground would undoubtedly have a good effect on the trade of the town. He was certain that Lord Listowel would act generously in this matter.
The resolution was unanimously adopted.

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New Business Opens

Grub Time is at Leahy’s Corner. Good to see this sign of hope amid all the economic gloom.

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Yellow is the New White


Is yellow the official colour for Covid signs? Our new ones are yellow and don’t mention 2metres. Could it be a sign that we are reducing to 1 metre?

Apropos the pedestrian lay-bys, apparently that was a decision made by Council management under Emergency legislation.ie

“The area between the AIB and the Listowel Arms was identified as being a busy pedestrian area with a narrow footpath.”

Therefore this

Covid Signage, Kevin’s and Behan’s Prepare to Reopen

Castle and Seanchaí closed to the public in June 2020

Viewing platform by the river in June 2020.

The level of water in The Feale was very low before the deluge of Sunday June 15 when we had thunder, lightning and flash floods.

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Covid Signage at Spar in Market Street



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Kevin;s is being repainted before reopening.

Meanwhile across the road Behan’s Horseshoe has been beautifully painted.

I even persuaded the painters to pose for me.

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Ard Churam Dementia Day Centre

Photo: John Kelliher

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In Connemara in 1959


I dont know who took the photo but it looks a bit posed to me.  Brendan Behan is not exactly dressed for a day in the bog.

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