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: Eisteddfod

Halloween, Jimmy Hickey story continued, Daisy Kearney honoured and Santa in Patrick, Street, Cork in October 2016

(photo; Chris Grayson)



This year Halloween has taken on a sinister aspect with these prank killer clowns popping up unexpectedly. I preferred it when we prayed for the salvation of the souls of our dead relatives at this time of year.


North Kerry, Cork and Limerick Dancers and Musicians at the Eistedfodd

It is often claimed that
Riverdance first introduced Irish dancing to a world audience. It did not. 

Jimmy Hickey
of Listowel had already made that introduction.

This is a postcard of the lovely village of Llangollen where the annual Eisteddfod takes place.

One year at the Eisteddfod,
while they were waiting to perform in the marquee, Jimmy and the troupe put on
a performance in the local square. The local people loved it and the prolonged
applause echoed all over the town square. These open air performances became a
feature of the Irish visitors schedule as did visits to old folks homes and
schools, reaching an audience who would not otherwise get to see the show. The
directors of the festival were very impressed with this.

The whole purpose of the Eistedfodd was to introduce the countries of the world to each other’s cultures and in this way to promote peace and understanding. When Jimmy and his dancers were there there were 42 other nations taking part. In 1993 BBC Wales decided to follow the preparations of three of the participating countries. Ireland was chosen.They sent a camera crew to North Kerry and they filmed the dancers preparing, the late Mary Doyle, Kathleen McCarthy and a group of women making the costumes, a cross roads dance and a feis in Ballybunion.

The camera crew filmed the dancers dancing at Finuge crossroads and then in the programme this footage came first and then cut to the same dancers dancing in a pub in Wales.

Jimmy and his dancers appeared several times on RTE in the Bibi Baskin show, on the Late Late Show with John B. Keane and in numerous foreign television channels.

.Jimmy Hickey and his dancers at festivals and on TV


Daisy Kearney

The special guest at this year’s Gary MacMahon Singing Festival was storyteller Daisy Kearney.

Daisy Kearney tells a story


Santa Has Landed

Where else but the real capital of Ireland, Cork. I just hit Pana in time to see his arrival at Brown Thomas for his photo shoot.

This lanky fellow who could be straight out of Dickens was offering us all mince pies.

HOYS, Mumming and broadband in Ballyduff

Gurtinard Wood; Early Autumn Morning



The Horse of the Year Show is called Hoys by everyone in the know. It is the pinnacle of achievement for a show horse. I was there last week at the NEC in Birmingham to watch the lovely Sonny Bill make his debut in the big arena, under lights.

These are the old owners: my brother Pat and his daughter Elizabeth with the new owner, Jane Collins. Jane is an MEP but she took annual leave to watch her new Irish hunter perform.

This is the big moment when Sonny Bill made his entrance into the big time. It’s a long way now from hunting with The Duhallows in fields around Kanturk and Kilbrin.

Jane and her daughter, Rebecca had organised VIP seats for the visitors.

There were 22 horses in his class and the judges placed Sonny Bill 8th. This was a very satisfactory outcome for his first time in the big time. I’ll let you in on a secret. Sonny was wearing hair extensions in his tail. It’s all about appearance in showing….a kind of beauty pageant for horses.

Elizabeth was delighted with her rosette from HOYS. Sonny is still showing in her name even though he is no longer hers.

Pat and Elizabeth with Sonny Bill’s new English friends.

Sue Walker and her husband Nigel run the yard where Sonny is liveried. Here Elizabeth is showing them the horse she intends buying next.  They approved.

Hoys is a huge show with 250 retail stands. Unfortunately most of these were equine. There were some really entertaining shows in the arena. One of these was the Clydesdales.

This man was selling  a Mojo. He had them for horses and humans and they are meant to cure all aches and pains. A few of our party fell for his patter. If there is a huge improvement in horse or man I’ll let you know.


Listowel Square with St. John’s


Have you ever Heard of Mumming?

At the moment I am continuing my research on Jimmy Hickey’s life in dancing. One of the unusual things that came up was mumming. Jimmy Hickey and his dancers attended the Welsh Eisteddfod on several occasions. The only other representatives of Irish traditions was a group of Wexford mummers.

This is Sheila O’Connell’s photo of the Wexford boys. Sheila was one of Jimmy Hickey’s Sliabh Luachra dancers.

Mumming is an ancient Irish folk dance. The dancers hold sticks in their hands and clash the sticks as they perform the figures of the dance. The tradition is a bit like our wren boys and was often performed at Christmas time. John Kinsella, who hails from Co. Wexford remembers his father mumming.

This is Sheila O’Connell of Ballydesmond in her traditional Irish costume chatting to one of the mummers. Sheila is wearing the traditional hat worn by the mummers. That black one was the leader’s hat. The rest of the dancers wore green and gold and their hats were a bit like a bishop’s mitre.

 The mummers were also accomplished musicians. Here they are giving an impromptu performance while cooling off in the river.

This is Mary Doyle R.I.P. cooling off as she listens to the music. She is wearing a tr.aditional Welsh bonnet which many of the Irish contingent bought as souvenirs.

This is Jimmy Hickey and the Sliabh Luachra dancers. The box player is a very young Liam O’Connor


The March of Time

These photos are from the Ballyduff Facebook page. The first is rural electrification in the 1950s. The second photo is the laying of fibre optic broadband cable in 2016.

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