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

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Ballinagare, St. Patrick’s Day, The Square in 2005 and some Memories and another Covid Cartoon

Ballinagare near Ballyduff in May 2020

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Football Memories from 1959

The late Michael Sheehy grew up in Main Street, one of a family of very talented brothers. He sent us this a few years before he died. I’m sharing it again now, especially for the cocooners.

I remember the town league as if it was yesterday. What great games between the different streets!

I remember playing with The Ashes around 1960 and the Ashes winning. I still have the medal but it says 1957 which would have made me 12.

We had guys like the McMahons, Toddy Enright, Junior & Bert Griffin, Frank Murray etc.  What great times they were just to have the bragging rights for a year.   Now as I think of the places that made up the “Ashes” I doubt if you could field a team. How sad it is. Now as I think in the Small Square the only person to live there over the last many years was Mrs. Scully.r.i.p. Everyone else closed their business and lives somewhere else.


An Old St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Don’t know the year. If you recognise yourself let me know.


Troubled times


The Square 2005


Old Railway Bridge on Ballybunion Road in May 2020


Mike O’Donnell at his Most Incisive

Mike captioned this “Boris paints coffins blue in support of healthcare workers” . The tide has turned against the British government which is now presiding over Europe’s most catastrophic Covid 19 pandemic tragedy.


Darkness into Light 2020

The usual big walk through darkened towns did not go ahead this year but many still found a way of “walking” into the light.


Thunderstorm in Lyreacrompane

Story and pictures from Joe Harrington on Facebook.

Saturday May 10 2020 was the hottest day so far this year.

Joe Harrington recorded record high temperatures at his glasshouse in Lyre.

Then this happened.

Lightening hit the power pole in The Glen  near the old schoolhouse.

Within the hour help was at hand.  ESB Networks removed the damaged pole and erected a new one.

Power was restored to this little piece of Heaven in The Kingdom.

The Beamish Family Memorabilia in Listowel, Kennedy’s Pet Farm and NCBI official opening

Greenfinch at Beal

photo: Ita Hannon


NCBI Official Opening

The lovely ladies in the NCBI shop on Church Street threw a party to mark their official opening.


Summer on the Way!

The days are getting finer. I enlisted some help to prepare my summer transport.


Pet farm Revisited, Sunday April 24 2016

I love visiting here so much that the Kennedys are now our friends.

 The setting is absolutely idyllic.

Mrs. Hen was brooding in the midst of it all.

Bambi feeding from Sean’s hand.

 Christmas is months away.

 This is one of the many cocks I saw. They seem to live and let live at Kennedy’s.

They had a nice young pot bellied pig.

 All of my boys loved the guinea pigs.

Cupboard love; Bambi is following Killian everywhere not because he loves him but he is watching for an opportunity to steal his food.

 Carine loves the puppies best.

 All of the animals at Kennedy’s live in harmony.

Sean tried his hands at the milking.

Posing with a rabbit

 Posing with a goat

They had an 8 week old litter of puppies on the day we visited.

It’s always hard to say good bye to Kennedy’s


Presentation Secondary School, Listowel

Photo taken on Proclamation Day and posted on Twitter


Beamish Exhibition in The Seanchaí

An event that happened at Listowel Military Tattoo 2016 was the display in The Seanchaí of the sporting and aviation memorabilia of the Beamish family of Dunmanway.

Here are just a few of the exhibits I photographed. The artefacts are on permanent display in Britain but were kindly brought by the family to Listowel for the Tattoo


Darkness into Light

Next Saturday is the morning when all of Ireland walks into the dawn of a hopeful new Ireland without the pain of suicide and self harm.

Billy Keane is doing his bit to promote the walk by persuading all of his celebrity visitors to try on the T-shirt.

Actor, Patrick Bergin

Rugby player, Jonathan Sexton

Brosna, Behans of Bunaghara and Syracuse and Darkness into Light 2015

Setting potatoes in April 2015

( Jim McSweeney documenting country life in North Cork)


Death of Another Rural Village

“Jerry’s report on Kerry Today this morning on the decline of small villages. Brosna GAA club are the All Ireland Club Junior Football Champions but last week the village’s last shop, Fay’s, closed. Brosna once had 13 shops and nine pubs; now it just has four pubs.”

(Photo and text from Radio Kerry)

Since Radio Kerry covered this story there is hope that the post office might expand its range into groceries as well.


Behans of Bunaghara

Recently I have been in email contact with Andy Ross of Syracuse, N.Y . This is what he wrote: 

“My name’s Andy Ross and I only just discovered your “Listowel Connection” blog this evening.  Hey, I’m proud to say I have a connection!  🙂

My great-great grandfather, John Behane, born 1822 in Bunagarha, Co. Kerry, to William Behane and Catherine (Enright) Behane, immigrated to Syracuse, NY during the famine, leaving a large family behind (brothers William, Thomas, Michael, and sisters Mary, Margaret, and Catherine – I think there was more too).

He worked in the salt industry in my native city of Syracuse NY (Syracuse is still referred to as “Salt City”) back in the 1850’s and was the grandfather of my paternal grandmother, Margaret (Carney) Ross.

I’m sincerely fascinated with genealogy, especially with our Irish ancestry.  There’s a “Behan/Callahan” plot in St. Agnes Catholic Cemetery, just down the road from my Grandmother Ross’ house in Syracuse NY, where John Behan and one of his younger sisters who also immigrated from Bunagara, Julia, are buried (both Behan siblings married “Callahan’s”, my great-great grandmother, who were from North Kerry as well).  Syracuse was very much a mini-NYC with immigrant families being identified with specific parts of town (the Famine Irish were typically northside Syracuse). 

It’s amazing with technology today, we can actually pinpoint exactly where John Behan’s family lived off R523 in mid 19th century, the size of the parcel, who lived there at the time, who the landlord was, etc.

I’d love to stop by Listowel on my next trip to Ireland (probably when my kids get old enough to appreciate it), it looks beautiful and any Yank appreciates a connection to a town in Ireland, regardless how distant.  🙂

Just to prove that the “North-Kerryman-DNA” lives on in the States, I hope you don’t mind me sharing a photo of my siblings and I (it’s from my wedding years ago but unfortunately, I don’t have any more recent).  From left to right, it’s my sister Kate, brother Dan, myself, brother Doug, brother Stu, and Mom, Kristin.”


Huge support for Darkness into Light Walk for Pieta House

Listowel Tidy Towns
Ballyduff GAA
Beale GAA
Listowel RFC
Moyvane GAA

Photos: Darkness into Light, Listowel


Lidl On Tuesday Last


Give your paintwork a Facelift

Easter 2015

Easter Sunset in Ballybunion

(photo:  Mike Enright)


Darkness into Light

Organisers of the fundraising walk for Pieta House are delighted with the response. Here are a few photos from their registration day on Easter Saturday 2015. Photos from Darkness into Light, Listowel

Listowel Emmetts
Tarbert GAA


Duagh Bell Restored

Some people hold a raffle, others push a bed but Duagh set a new standard for fundraising with a marvellous food festival that set The Mall and half of North Kerry talking for a memorable weekend in Summer 2014. All in aid of their church bell.

A proud son of Duagh and master chef, John Relihan assembled a band of chefs, barbecue specialists and assorted volunteers and they provided a festival that will be talked about in North Kerry for many a long day.

John Relihan, Fr. Pat Moore and Nina Hayes

Amateur chefs taking part in a hilarious “Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook style cook off.

Ta Dah!  Behold the newly restored bell!


Party, Party, Party

Two Listowel businesses celebrated in style on Easter Saturday April 5 2015

Listowel Garden Centre opened their awesome new store with a party for the town. Listowel Garden Centre is a family affair for Nick and Liz Roberts. Here are some photos of this very enterprising family who have truly enhanced our town with this beautiful new centre.

McAuliffes were out in force to support Liz and Nick. At the door I met Barry, home from the U.S. for the occasion. He was celebrating the grand opening with one of his cousins. Inside I met Nick and the entire Roberts family, busily serving customers. Barry’s family were also there  in numbers. I missed the big moment when Mrs. McAulliffe, Liz’s mum, cut the ribbon but Kelly McAuliffe kindly sent me her photo of the family at the door.

Listowel Garden Centre has passed a great vote of confidence in Listowel’s economy. Everyone wishes them well in their new venture.


Perfect Pairs

The other party on Saturday was in the always stylish premises of Perfect Pairs on Church St. where Mairead and Martina were celebrating ten years in business.


Easter Hope

Billy Keane has written  poem for our friend Fr. Pat Moore.


The morning’s light

Was cueing outside

The black -out blinds

And men with cows milked,

Broke bread for a second time.

The sad choir sang the song of despair

But Our Moore’s prayers

Are the daily resurrection.

“We must peel life back to the essential,”

Of love and hope, the love of our time”

And the hosts of the Easter light

Shine through

In wafer lines.

Soon enough, they’ll be spraying our friend again.

He’ll be tired then from the rays of the gun,

But Our Moore knows as surely as anyone,

Even among the thorns and weeds,

Small flowers sing a te deum.

Billy Keane.

Old Creamery, folklore and a paen to motherhood

Old Creamery

This photo is in Vincent Carmody’s book,  Snapshots of an Irish Market Town. It is the old McKenna’s Creamery in Listowel.


Listowel Folklore

Here is some more wisdom from the folklore archive gathered by Listowel children in 1937/38

These accounts refer to food.

Peggy’s Leg

Kevin Sheehy of Church St.
interviewed Dan Broderick also of Church Street.

Dan remembered a woman called
Peggy Carey who used to make a confection called Peggy’s Leg. It was made from
sugar and “farmers’ butter.” Peggy also sold seagrass. Peggy used to sell her wares at “Listowel Cross out in
Newtown”. ( I’m presuming this refers to Moyvane. )  The Peggy’s Leg cost  two

Another local confectioner
was Bridge Conway. She used to sell penny bars which she made herself.

A man from Moybella,
Lisselton whose name was William Diggin used to make porridge from “yellow
meal, salt and creamery milk.”

Hand Savage of Lisselton also
had a story about William Diggin. Mr. Rice from Moybella had several men
digging potatoes. He promised a quarter of tobacco to the man who would produce
the biggest potato. William Diggin was one of the men digging the spuds. He dug
a big potato and cut it in half. Then he got another potato and quartered it and
he tied the two potatoes together with string to make one enormous potato. He
won the quarter of tobacco.

It was the custom not to give
a workman his breakfast until he had paid for it in work. A labourer often
worked for two hours on an empty stomach.

People killed a goose at
Michaelmas and on St. Martin’s Eve.

The stories told to the
children were full of hearsay and inaccuracies but also laced with gems of
wisdom. A D. Bunyan of Market Street wrote what he heard about the Famine. He
wrote about a mill on the banks of the river which was full of corn and
surrounded by soldiers guarding it. The local people used to go down to try to
get the wheat but the soldiers prevented them. Finally the wheat rotted and had
to be thrown out.


Jim MacMahon set me straight on this one.

He wrote;

“The Sciath was a half moon shaped basket  made from scallops . It was originally a shield in olden times , hence the phrase … buailim  sciath ..meaning a braggart or one who struck the shield of a chieftain who hung his shield outside his castle thereby calling him out to fight .
Re Tae Lane  there used to be a shed there with a curved wall at the right hand side going down. Tim Hannon from Ballybunion told me his father had a cinema there in the very early days of films.”


Celebrating the century

The extended family of Stacks of The Arch Bar now Stack’s off licence dressed in period costume on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their 100th  year in business.

These celebrations were tinged with sadness a short week later, with the passing of Mrs. Máiréad O’Connor (née Máiréad McGrath) of Market St., on March 24th. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.


Celebrating Mothers

The following was read at masses in Tarbert on Mothers’ Day.

This is for the mothers who
read The Three Little Pigs, The Billygoats Gruff and Little Red Riding Hood
every night for a week. Then a little eye would open and a little voice would
ask, “Please Mom, will you read it again?”

This is for mothers who take their children to football matches and basketball games, who sit in the car and watch
and wait or stand on the sideline and when your child says,” Did you see my goal,
mom?”proud as punch you answer, “Of course, love, I wouldn’t have missed it
for the world.”

This is for mothers who run
car pools and bake birthday cakes and sew Halloween costumes and for mothers
who don’t.

This is for mothers whose
patience runs out when their two year old wants ice cream before dinner and
whose four year old says, “I’m bored. I want to go home.”

This is for mothers who
taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they went to school and for
mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

And for the mother who bites
her lip til it bleeds when her fourteen year old dyes her hair green and puts
seven earrings in each ear.

This is for mothers who don’t
sleep a wink, wondering and waiting and hoping all will come in. Now all safely
home and the lock on the door, she turns over and says., “Thank God for the end
of another weekend.”

This is for mothers whose
children have gone astray and can’t find words to reach them and all they can
do is pray.

This is for all the mothers
who cook, launder and clean, wash up all the dishes and never complain,

This is for all the mothers
who turn automatically when they hear a little voice say,”Mom” even thought
they know their own are safe at home.

This is for the heartbroken
mothers who put flowers and teddy bears on the graves of their children, who
hold precious and fond memories of times past and wonder today, what they would
look like or how tall they would stand.

This is for the mothers who
have gone home to Heaven themselves. If we had them today we would treat them
and spoil them but instead we pray for them and look forward to meeting them in

This is for young mothers who
are learning and mature mothers who are trying to let go, for working mothers
and stay-at-home mothers, for young mothers and old.

Can I say, “Hang in there. We
need you. You are rarer than gold. God bless all mothers. May they never grow


Alexandra Park

Some people live near really beautiful places, e.g. Alexandra Park London


Darkness into Light, Saturday May 9 2015

Below is the link for online registration if you would like to take part in the first Listowel walk

Pieta House Darkness into Light


That show on a lovely June day in 1953

John Murphy sent the following

“This is  in response to the picture dated June 29,1953.

I believe this is me the seventh person seated from fence on right and I believe Sean Cahill is seated immediately on my left  as you view picture  and that is Junior Griffin standing to the left  and behind  Sean Cahill as you view picture.

It sure brings back some great memories of that show.

Keep up the great work you are doing keeping us informed while faraway from lovely “Listowel”.

Yours Truly,

John F. Murphy ”


Listowel Community Centre is planning a refurb and is looking for ideas.

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