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: Duchas Page 1 of 7

Molly, Macroom, Hidden Treasure and Listowel Drama Group

Molly at Home

I haven’t given an update on Molly for a while. Here she is in her happy place with her Christmas toy. She has been to the groomers since and is looking even more handsome these days.


I was in Macroom, Co Cork

Last week I met a friend in Macroom for lunch. We ate in Granville’s and it was lovely, good food, friendly staff and cozy dining room.

I parked in the square just opposite this well named premises. It is truly a golden treasure, a throwback to the days of my childhood.

Once upon a time many shops had bars like these fitted outside their windows. This was in the days when fairs were held on the streets and shopkeepers needed to protect their very expensive plate glass. It’s lovely to see this one still in place.

Further down the street in this blue and yellow shop there was another of these fair day protectors. This one was removable but seems to be being left up permanently here.

Back to Golden’s and it’s old advertising hoardings… This one exhorts us to smoke a brand of cigarettes no longer available.

This place was certainly a general store, a virtual cornucopia judging by the goods displayed in the windows.

Among the mirrors and jugs was a jewish menorah and some various christian imagery.

It was not clear to me if these items were for sale or merely for decoration.

I was fascinated to see an old fashioned ring board and a skipping rope.

The sign inviting musicians to the monthly sessions had been updated since I was last here.

The Guinness toucan was on the wall and in the window was the old Guinness advertising slogan; Guinness is Good for You.  Are we allowed to make unsubstantiated claims like that nowadays?

Is that cctv I see beside the golden finial? The plasterwork depicts the oak leaves and acorns below some sheaves of corn, a rich harvest image for a lovely lovely old bar.


From the Schools’ Folklore Collection

A Hidden Treasure

There was a very old woman who lived in a small little house close to the village of Newtownsandes. She seemed to be very poor and the village people used to give her food. One day the priest said to her, “You seem to be always looking for charity”, and the old woman said, “Sure what else could I do. I haven’t a pig, a goat, or a man”. In a short time after, the old woman grew sick and was ordered to hospital. The neighbours went to her little house. As the ambulance came they were preparing her for the journey, and on no account would she allow them to take off a flannel skirt. So when she got to the hospital the nuns ordered the skirt to be removed, but the old lady screamed aloud and thought to hold on to the skirt. However they succeeded in removing the skirt. The nuns got suspicious and stood by after giving orders to two wardswomen to get a scissors and open up the skirt. To their surprise, there were nineteen sovereigns sewed in a tuck to the skirt. She lived for one week after, and during that time the other patients in the ward could not sleep as the old woman was all the time shouting for the flannel skirt.

Collector- Pat Stack- Informant- Nurse Stack- Age 62 Address, Newtownsandes, Co. Kerry


Listowel Drama Group

The curtain has come down for the last time on A Daughter from over the Water. This 2020 production by Listowel Drama Group entertained audiences  in the dreary evenings of early March 2020….great cast and excellent set, as usual.

Cast of Listowel Drama Groups production of A Daughter from over the Water

Sean Byrne, The Kerryman Mural and Listowel Marching Band

Strickeen Mountain

Sandra Johnson shared this fab. photo to This is Kerry


Kerryman Building 2020

 The Kerryman with Mike O’Donnell’s great paperboy mural


Listowel Marching Band 1987

Photo: Charlie Nolan


A Family Hero

From the Dúchas Folklore collection

Martin Leahy’s Story

A great man 

My Uncle who lives with me says the strongest man he ever knew was Sean Byrne. He says although he was very strong he was as quiet as a child. 

There was a policeman in Abbeyfeale and he said that he himself was a good man and that he was stronger than any other policeman in the barrack. It happened one day that Seánwas in Abbeyfeale and that he was drunk, this policeman saw him and to show off his strength went up to arrest Seán. When he came up to Sean he said “You are drunk.”

 “I am” said Sean. 

“You are” said the policeman “and I must arrest you.” 

Sean went along quietly with him for some time and when he saw his opportunity he threw the policeman into a pool of water that was near at hand. Sean went home and policeman went into the barrack and he was never boasting after that. 

I heard about that there was a son of his at Latchfords in Listowel and that he too was a very strong man.

Martin Leahy st.v

Dromore, 27 . 6 . 1938

Information from my uncle,

Edmond Leahy, Bromore, Ballybunion.

He got it from his grandfather.

James Carmody, An Upcoming Lecture and Faction Fighting in the nineteenth century

Photo; Lisa Egan


Date for the Diary


Faction Fighting in North Kerry

I haven’t read this book yet but it sounds fascinating. Here is a small section of a long extract that was published in The Irish Examiner;

“At Lisselton, on Christmas Day 1828, Maurice Flaherty was attacked by three men of the Mulvihills and a man named Fitzgerald, and ‘cruelly beaten’ with sticks and stones.

‘It appeared that a drunken fellow [,] one Fitzgerald, infuriated with whiskey, brandished his cudgel and halloed for one faction; he was instantly replied to, and a most bloody affray soon commenced.’

It was asserted that Flaherty was killed ‘under circumstances of the

most shocking and unmerciful cruelty’.

John Mahony Mulvahill, ‘a young man’, was convicted of manslaughter, and, seemingly based on the terrible nature of the killing, sentenced to transportation for life, ‘amidst the deafening shrieks and lamentations of his male and female friends’.

At Ballyheigue, on the evening of St Patrick’s Day 1839, a crowd of about 20 people, whom a policeman believed to be Cooleens and Lawlors, struck each other ‘as hard as they could pelt’.

At Beale, Ballybunion, the pattern day ‘was usually marked out for a faction fight between the two great factions then in North Kerry — the Cooleens and the Mulvihills’, said a later folklore interviewee.

A recollection of Beale fair, which was held on 21 September, written in 1928, stated: ‘It was the battle ground of the old faction fighters and next to Ballyeigh ranked as North Kerry’s biggest event. Many and sanguinary were the fights that took place there between the rival factions that held sway in North Kerry and old men still tell tales of broken heads and bones.’

The two parties also met at the pattern days held annually in Knockanure on 15 August.

In the earlier part of the nineteenth century this Pattern was the scene of many a faction-fight between what were known as the Couleens and the black Mulvihills; young and old assembled there to see the fight; the contending parties being armed with black-thorn sticks … Hard strokes were given and received, and many a young man was maimed for life.


An Unlikely Hero

I have heard that there was once a strong man in Beale. His name was James Carmody. One day he was forced to fight a bull and with the first blow of a stick he gave the bull he killed him. After that he was forced into a wrestling match with a strong man from Tarbert. When he got his hands firm around the man’s body he squeezed him to death. He was considered the strongest man for miles around and he was a famous man that lived around the locality at that time.

Patrick Mulvihill v.

Lensechane, Ballybunion.

June 24th 1938

James Moriarty, Hurler, Ultra Marathon Running and a Hurling Hero

Seat in The Garden of Europe


From the Archives

The Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : Wed 26 Aug 1874-Page 3

DEATH UNDER EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES.—The following extraordinary story (says

the Cork Examiner) is sent to us from our correspondent at Listowel, whom, we think it right to say, we have always found trustworthy and accurate:—

A young woman named Murphy aged about 19, the daughter of a farmer in the parish of Abbeyfeale, with a younger sister of about 17 years, had gone to the early Mass at Abbeyfeale, last Sunday, and, it is said, they both received the sacrament that morning. Having returned home, the sisters went out for a walk about twelve o’clock, and proceeded along the bank of a stream which runs adjacent to their residence. They had not gone far, when they observed four men bearing a coffin coming towards them from the fields, and as they approached where the sisters stood they deposited the coffin on the ground. The men then advanced, and attempted to lay hands on the elder sister, who, with a piercing shriek, retreated from them, but the men closed upon her and as they dragged her towards the coffin, she cried out in a piteous tone, ‘Oh leave me until I am better prepared.’ The younger sister ran home in a state of intense alarm. The young girl’s mother, on hearing what occurred proceeded at once with the younger daughter to the place where the latter had witnessed the struggle. On nearing the spot they observed no trace of the men nor the coffin but they beheld the form of the young woman lying apparently lifeless on the ground. On attempting to raise her, they found that she was dead and her features were so altered as to be scarcely recognisable by the bereaved mother.

 Such are the facts, as narrated by the surviving sister and the impression the story has made in the minds of all who have heard it cannot be well described. I have not heard that an inquest was held on the body, though one might suppose this was a case that certainly ought to be thoroughly investigated.


David Toomey and his Ultra Marathon

Many of us in Listowel know David best in his day job as our very talented town horticulturalist and planting expert. What you may not know is that David is also a very keen runner and his latest distance is ultra marathon.

At any time of year marathon running is not for the faint hearted but on the weekend of February 15/16 2020 with Storm Dennis battering the country, anyone with any sense would deem it a day for the fire. Not David Toomey. He was committed to doing the Gaeltacht Mhuscraí marathon.

Here is David’s own account, as posted on Facebook, of his adventure

Sorry about the long post but I felt I’d better share the epic journey of the Slí Gaeltacht Mhuscrái 2020.

We started the run at about 8.20 from Kealkil after a 1hr 30m bus journey. It was raining and cold at the start line. The first few miles went ok. It was actually warm and I felt I was over dressed.

I got about seven miles in when the calf started to play up. After another mile or two I was reduced to a walk with serious pain. At this stage I was gutted because there was nice running conditions, flat and downhill sections which I had to walk. I decided to take it handy, not panic and get to the checkpoint where I could assess the leg.

After arriving at the checkpoint, I think around mile 11 I took some painkillers and after talking with the support crew at the feed station I decided I’d continue to the next checkpoint at Ballingeary which was about 7 miles.

A tough slog over the mountain’s there was wind and driving rain but I got to Ballingeary. On arrival I told the lads my problem and fair play, one of them rubbed out the calf for me. It was very sore and swollen. A big knot had formed at the top of the calf. This was causing most of the problem. I asked them how far to Ballyvourney, the next checkpoint, and they told me about 19kms so I decided to plough on and hopefully make it. 

I had decided to call it a day at Ballyvourney because I was afraid of doing damage and there’s a long year ahead. I’ll never forget the next section. With all the rain the river had burst its banks and we had two crossings waist deep. Also the trail was flooded so we had to navigate that. At one stage I went to the chest in water. All I could think of is God help the lads coming behind us because the river was rising rapidly. The bog sections were very difficult, slippery, soft, wet and ankle deep rough going. 

Ballyvourney came at last. I felt lucky to have made it this far. A pit stop for tea,food and a little chat to myself. 24km to go. So I said I’d struggle now and walk if I had to.  Again tough going, mountain, bog, fire road and lots of water. Long story short I met a few lads on this section and we helped each other. The calf had loosened out a bit so I was able to jog/walk along. 

Finally got to Millstreet I couldn’t believe it when I could see the lights in the distance. The joy I felt is indescribable. I thought at seven miles I was going home, now I’m finished possibly the toughest race I’ve ever done. Thanks everyone for all the lovely comments, messages it really keep me going. Thanks to my love for keeping me going on the phone and finally to the MMRA crew for putting on a fantastic race support and volunteers. 

I’ll be back again on a better day. Storm Dennis no match for ultra runners. 

Ps if someone has a loan of two legs I’d be happy to take them.


The Guardian……A Listowel Connection

When you’re a freelance  photographer getting your photo on the front page of The Guardian is a triumph. This is just what happened to Cathal Noonan. His photo of the MV Alta, grounded off Ballycotton was chosen as the front page picture on Tuesday’s paper. Cathal has two Listowel aunts and many Listowel cousins.


A Local Beale Hero

From the Dúchas Schools’ Folklore Collection

The best hurler the oldest people ever remember was James Moriarty.He lived somewhere around Kilconly. One Saturday he and his wife removed to the border of the County of Cork. After going to bed that night his wife said it was better for him to be there than to be going to the “Moneens.” The moneens are in Flahives farm, Bromore. “What is in the Moneens”asked the man. The woman told him that she had received a letter that he should go and attend the hurling match which was to be held there. He made up his mind to go and jumping out of bed he went off to Bromore. When the ball was thrown up he was the first man that struck it and after striking the ball he leaped thirty three feet. There is a mark to this day on the place where he jumped. The place is pointed out above at Dan Flahive’s field of Bog

Nora Griffin vi

Beale, Ballybunion

June 24th 1938

Information from people at home.

Doodle, Diarmuid and Grania in Bromore and Bill Murphy of Lyreacrompane

Schiller in Listowel’s Garden of Europe in February 2020


From Lyreacrompane to the Streets of New York

Bill Murphy took up my invitation to tell us where he is now and how his life as an emigrant has been.

After mass at the church of the Sacred Heart  in Lyreacrompane, on Sunday January 31st 1965 I traveled to Shannon Airport, There I joined a Pan American flight from Italy to Kennedy Airport for my trip to  New Jersey, U.S.A.   

A young twenty one year, first time on a plane, there was two others from my area on their  way to Chicago. After about three hours flying there was quite a lot of air turbulence, the pilot announced fastened seat belts we are experience  ” some difficulties ‘ I was scared stiff and was on my way to the rest room when a attendant said “You are supposed to remain in your seat.” and I said “What is the difference where I am when this plane crashes. The attendant must have thought I was nuts.

Anyway some hours later I arrived safely in New York and traveled on to New Jersey. Worked a few different jobs until I got citizenship  and joined the Newark, N.J police force, where I served for twenty six years retiring as a detective in 1999. 

I am still living and enjoying my retirement in Ocean County N.J. Had three sons the youngest, passed away almost thirty years ago from Cystic Fibrosis. We have five G-Children.


A Bromore story from the 1938 Schools’ Folklore Collection

Dan Daly got this story from Dan Flahive of Bromore


The names of some of the fields in my townland are Lisheen Rúadh, the Fort field, and Léim na muiche. An important story is told about Léim ná Muiche.

In the time of the Fianna when Diarmuid and Grania were fleeing from the anger of Fionn there is a tradition that they passed by this field. There is a chasm in the cliff side of the field and, when they reached the chasm they found they could not cross. They got on a pig’s back, and suddenly the pig made a leap which took Diarmuid and Grania across to the other side of the chasm and ever since since that time the field adjoining the chasm is called Léim na muiche. The field called the fort field got its name from the fort which is in it.

Dan Daly 23 .6. 38 st.v

Bromore, Ballybunion

Mr. Dan Flahive, farmer, aged 72

Bromore, Ballybunion Co Kerry. (In whose land this field is.) got it from his own father.


An Unusual Election Candidate

Doodle promised to return when his country needed him. Could that time be now?


A Fact

Parrots can live for up to 80 years.

Page 1 of 7

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén