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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Emigration in 1946

In Main Street

Taken a few years ago


Sr. Consolata’s Memories of life in Pres. Listowel (continued)


More Photos from 2022 Parade


Bord Gháis Theatre

Pre -concert photo by Éamon ÓMurchú


Piece of Family History

John Anthony Hegarty found this interesting piece of his family’s history.

He writes; My Mother Mary Kennelly (Hegarty), her sister Eileen Kennelly (Sr.Mary Angela) from Pallas, began from St.Michael Convent Newmarket -On -Fergus to Ville De Matel. Many others from Listowel lived there.

This is a record came across , 3 sisters made trip via SNN-LON-JFK to Houston County, Texas.
Eileen Kennelly was 22 from Pallas with  Mary M Clancy 20 BallyCashel, accompanied by St.Mary Cahill 48, Shanagolden .

Trained to be teacher, later returned to Mercy Convent Trim. Later she left nuns, and married Terence O’ Conor. She was teaching in a few places finally to Oughterard,Co.Galway. She is buried inBohermore Cemetery Galway City.
John-Anthony Hegarty 


The Cycle Path on Bridge Road is done


Irish in Virginia 1900, A Poem and Launch of Jimmy Hickey DVD

Photo: Ita Hannon


Let us not forget

( from Limerick History Gazette archive)


Irish immigrants circa 1900 coming up from a 16-hour shift in the Virginia coal mines.

They were paid in company coins which could only be used in the company store and for company housing.

They were virtual slaves, but they kept their families together, went to church every Sunday, and sent their kids to school to be educated thus ensuring that future generations would live free and prosper.


A Thread to hold on to in these turbulent times.

The Way it is

by William Stafford

There ia thread you follow

It goes among things that change.

But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it, you can’t get lost.

tragedies happen; people get hurt or die,

And you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.


Jimmy Hickey’s Life in Dance

Jimmy Hickey has led an extraordinary life. He has achieved everything he ever dreamed of in the world of dance.

Now his place in the history of Irish dance is to be celebrated in a DVD; Jimmy Hickey and his place in in the History of North Kerry Step Dancing.

The DVD will be launched by Fr. Pat Ahern in The Listowel Arms on Sunday, October 6 2019 at 7.00


In Listowel Town Park

Community Centres and Dandy Lodge

Emigration, Raceweek in the 1950s and Pickle Ball

A robin in Killarney National Park photographed by Chris Grayson


The Races

Bernard O’Connell, himself an emigrant on a visit home to Listowel, took this photo at the emigration memorial in Killorglin.

I receive many emails and comments from emigrants who testify to the truth of this sentiment. So many people reading this during Listowel Raceweek will feel that little tug on the heartstrings. They are settled and happy in the land that has welcomed them in and is now home to them and their families. Listowel race week and Harvest Festival is a gala week in town and every North Kerry person has memories of previous festivals that are awakened at this time every September.

This is a shout out to everyone worldwide with a Listowel connection, especially those who would love to be home for The Races.


The Week of The Races

Vincent Carmody shared these old photos with us. They were taken by Seamus Buckley during race week in the 1950s or 60s. I have no names for the people but someone might recognise them. In those days the town used to be decorated with bunting on poles especially erected on the kerbs and there was a radio station broadcasting to the town.

The Super Ballroom had some big attractions that year


Anyone for Pickleball?

Never heard of Pickleball? it may surprise you to hear that it is America’s fastest growing racquet sport.

As I understand it, it is ideally suited to people who used to love tennis, squash, badminton or any sport that involves running to the ball in order to strike it. If you feel you could still pack a good belt of the ball if you could only get to it fast enough, Pickleball might just be the sport for you. The game is slower. The racquet is a bat. The court is about half the size of a tennis court. There is no overhead shot involved. American retirees are loving it and it is now a regular feature in retirement villages.

It’s only a matter of time ’til we it catches on here.

e car as a symbol of Progress, Tasty Cotter, Writers Week Competitions and an Emigrant’s Tale

Listowel January 2016; an ecar fuels beside the Bus Eireann shelter in The Square. In the background is St. John’s.


Tasty Man about town

(photos and text; Vincent Carmody)

Tasty Cotter

Timothy Fitzmarshall Cotter was
also known as ‘Tasty’ Cotter. He was a well loved Listowel character. The
family had a shop at the corner of Main Street and Church Street, Timothy
worked with the Urban Council as a rent collector. He always dressed in style
and was a familiar figure at all events, be entertainment, sporting or

Tasty was a very efficient
Hon.Sec.with the Listowel GAA club in the early 1900s and as you can see from
this 1908 photograph of The Independents, he was a well turned out footballer
as well, as were the rest.

Timothy trod the boards and was a
prominent actor and performer with an early drama group, known as ‘Listowel
Dramatic Class’.  He also was a member of
The Listowel Musical Society and he is included in that Society’s rare and well
preserved programme from their Grand Opening Concert in St Patrick’s Hall on
Tuesday March 4th, 1930.

There was a story told once by
Bryan McMahon of a time when Maurice Walsh (of Quite Man fame), had invited a
number of his friends from Listowel; Bryan McMahon, Tasty and a few more to
attend an opening night in Dublin. Afterwards Maurice Walsh and his friends
adjourned to Boland’s, his local in Stillorglin for drinks. Here they were
joined by some members of the press. As the evening progressed those present
gave their various party pieces, Tasty sang his; an operatic number in Italian.
The press people in particular, were enthralled. One was overheard to ask, how
one from such a rural part of the country could have such clear diction in that
language. Hearing this, Tasty’s reply was spontaneous. He said, ” Friend,
if I had the benefit of a University education, like that lavished, like axle
grease on the heads of newspaper reporters, then sir, I would have become
Governor General of Hyderabad.”


Do you know a Young writer?

If you know a young person who loves to write please encourage them to visit The National Children’s Literary Festival.

The competitions are free to enter and the prizes are good.

There are competitions for adult writers too.


One Listowel Emigrant’s story

Junior Griffin and his late brother, Bert

Junior and Bert’s father’s people come from Knockalougha outside
Duagh. It was from here that Junior’s father emigrated to the U.S. in 1915. He
remembered getting off the boat and seeing a paperboy announcing the main
story; The sinking of the Lusitania. He found work in the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit
and he worked there under the first Henry Ford. They were manufacturing the
Model T.

John Griffin Senior experienced tragedy early in his life in
the new world. He married a lady from Tipperary called Sheridan. Their son was
very young when John’s wife died in the great flu epidemic of 1920. He brought
his young son home with him in 1926 and this boy, Jimmy, was raised in Fourhane
by Junior’s grandmother.

John married again. His second wife, Junior’s mother, was also
Griffin from Fourhane. They married in Detroit and their first daughter, Joan, was born there
in 1931. Junior’s maternal grandmother had 12 children, 11 of whom lived to
adulthood but the eleven were never under the one roof together. The eldest
two, Annie and Josie had emigrated to America before the youngest 2 were born.

When the Griffins returned from the U.S. they settled first
in Knockalougha and their eldest daughter, Patsy was born while they were
there. Her birth was well remembered in the family. Junior’s father had to
travel through two feet of snow to Duagh to fetch the midwife on February 25

Jimmy Griffin, Junior’s older half brother joined the army
and was one of Douglas Hyde’s official army drivers. After leaving the army he
settled in Limerick and he married a lady called Eileen O’Riordan, a grandaunt
of Dolores of The Cranberries. Jimmy has passed away.


Renovation Work Underway here

Hammering banging and clouds of sawdust are emerging from here recently. A big refurb job underway apparently.


Look Who Got the Golden Ticket

Bernard O’Connell, formerly of Upper William Street and his wife at the Bruce Springsteen concert.

Bernard took this picture as the stadium at the Air Canada Centre filled up.

Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork and the Sky Garden and an emigrant’s tribute to his Kerry father

Here comes summer!

Last weekend I took a trip to the real capitol. I took in a gymnastics display, a trip to Fitzgerald’s Park and a day out in Fota.

The display was in the hall of the local Ballincollig Gym club. Over 100 young people gave a world class display.


One of my favourite topics this summer is the Diarmuid Gavin designed Sky Garden in Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork. My regular followers will remember that I was there for the grand opening. I visited again a week later and found that the precious garden had become a playground and all the plants were trampled by children climbing on to the stainless steel globes.

 Now, not even a month after the fanfare that attended the official opening, we have bare earth where plants used to be and we have the big silver globe removed and replaced with a semi globe. 

You have probably noticed that there are no children playing in that space anymore. That is because the steel was hot enough to fry an egg on Saturday last.

In another part of the garden stands this feature.

That’s my granddaughter in front of it trying out her hurling skills. Last weekend there was a lot of talk of hurling in Cork. The three lovely and extremely talented young men from my home town, Kanturk, accounted well for themselves in Cork’s win against their old rivals, Clare.

 When in Rome…..even Rory McIlroy tried his hand at a spot of hurling while he was in Fota for the golf.  (photo; Indosport)

The sky pod of the original design has become a river pod and is very popular with young and old.


Last Sunday was Fathers’ Day. Niall O’Dowd of Irish Central wrote a lovely essay to his own father to mark the day.

The last time I saw him was from the
railway line that spanned the Boyne River in Drogheda. thirty miles from
Dublin. The year was 1978.

He was a speck in the distance,
standing in our small garden waving goodbye for the last time.

He was not an emotive man, but
incredibly protective of his children and the loss of another would go hard on
him. He would not cry, but go quiet, withdrawn for several days.

Moments later the train swept me away
to America, first to Dublin then an Aer Lingus plane across an ocean to a new

I wasn’t lonely, I was full of life
and piss and vinegar and anxious to get going. Life’s vista was opening up and
I was in a hurry to blaze my trail.

Like millions before America was
calling. His wish for me to stay home, stick to a teaching job, marry and
settle down, could never compete.

Now I wonder how he felt that long
ago fine June morning as he watched his third son disappear in the distance,
losing another son to emigration. He knew what it was to say goodbye.

He had grown up one of fourteen in a
three-room house on a small holding in Gaelic-speaking West Kerry. The kids had
scattered to the four winds as soon as they were able, but he had stayed home
and become a teacher.

He raised seven kids with my mother
and at one time five were away, scattered like his own family before him.

We spoke only once after I left
before he died. It was frustrating,he was quite deaf, and I knew he could
hardly hear what I was saying.

A few weeks after I left he was dead
of a heart attack, I was on a Greyhound bus to California at the time, unaware,
stopping off in many American towns on the way on a long mazy trip across

The year was 1978 and there were no
cell phones, only old-style landlines in Greyhound bus stations where calling
Ireland was impossible. I was uncontactable.

I reached a fork in the road in Salt
Lake City bus station. Los Angeles was one bus destination, San Francisco the
other. I felt him urging me to take San Francisco. It was the night he died.

Was he with me on that long journey
across the salt lakes, to the Nevada Mountains and beyond?

I like to think he was. He loved the
stories of the old West and here I was landing in the self-same territory
inspired with the same version of the American dream that drove so many Irish
before me.

Back home he had followed my progress
west on a map, living it vicariously. I wrote to him about Cheyenne, Wyoming,
the badlands and Tombstone City, places that fired his childhood imagination.
He did not live to see the letters.

He was a writer too, I took so much
from him, and today am lucky I can still hear his voice reading his short
stories in Gaelic on the radio long ago.

This Father’s Day I will put on one
of those CDs and for a moment the years will roll back as that powerful Kerry
accent and beautiful lilting Gaelic can be heard again.

Then I will raise a glass to the old
man, with the granddaughter he never knew and for a moment the world will be
full again.


Beautiful, beautiful Ballybunion

Sunset captured by John Kelliher…awesome!



Thanks to everyone who helped identify the people in this old photo. The man playing the harmonica is Jackie Faulkner and the boy is the late Ned Walsh. The photo was taken on the day before the first Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel in the 1970s. The place is Freezers. Ned Walsh passed away in 1989.

The photo stirred a good few memories. Thanks everyone.

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