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: Eugene Brosnan

Sport and an Entertaining Story

Draghunt in Ballyduff….Photo: Bridget O’Connor


An Edwardian Pillar Box

Edward V11

This pillar box in Tralee was put there sometime between 1901 and 1910. It’s at the corner of Day Place. These old postboxes are a valuable part of our history.


On the street for the Garda Centenary Celebrations

November 30 2022


My All Time Favourite Christmas Short Story

The Christmas Coat   

Seán McCarthy  1986

Oh fleeting time, oh, fleeting time

You raced my youth away;

You took from me the boyhood dreams

That started each new day.

My father, Ned McCarthy found the blanket in the Market Place in Listowel two months before Christmas. The blanket was spanking new of a rich kelly green hue with fancy white stitching round the edges. Ned, as honest a man as hard times would allow, did the right thing. He bundled this exotic looking comforter inside his overcoat and brought it home to our manse on the edge of Sandes bog.

The excitement was fierce to behold that night when all the McCarthy clan sat round the table. Pandy, flour dip and yolla meal pointers, washed down with buttermilk disappeared down hungry throats. All eyes were on the green blanket airing in front of the turf fire. Where would the blanket rest?

The winter was creeping in fast and the cold winds were starting to whisper round Healy’s Wood; a time for the robin to shelter in the barn. I was excited about the blanket too but the cold nights never bothered me. By the time I had stepped over my four brothers to get to my own place against the wall, no puff of wind, no matter however fierce could find me.

After much arguing and a few fist fights (for we were a very democratic family) it was my sister, Anna who came up with the right and proper solution. That lovely blanket, she said was too fancy,  too new and too beautiful to be wasted on any bed. Wasn’t she going to England, in a year’s time and the blanket would make her a lovely coat!. Brains to burn that girl has. Didn’t she prove it years later when she married an engineer and him a pillar of the church and a teetotaler? Well maybe a slight correction here. He used to be a pillar of the pub and a total abstainer from church but she changed all that. Brains to burn!

The tailor Roche lived in a little house on the Greenville Road with his brother Paddy and a dog with no tail and only one eye. Rumours abounded around the locality about the tailor’s magic stitching fingers and his work for the English royal family.  Every man, woman and child in our locality went in awe of the Tailor Roche. Hadn’t he made a coat for the Queen of England when he was domiciled in London, a smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales and several pairs of pyjamas for Princess Flavia.

The only sour note I ever heard against the tailor’s achievements came from The Whisper Hogan, an itinerant ploughman who came from the west of Kerry.

“ If he’s such a famous  tailor,” said Whisper, “why is it that his arse is always peeping out through a hole in his trousers?”

Hogan was an awful begrudger. We didn’t pay him any heed. Tailor Roche was the man chosen to make the coat from the green blanket. Even though it was a “God spare you the health” job, a lot of thought went into the final choice of a tailor.

The first fitting took place of a Sunday afternoon on the mud floor of the McCarthy manse. The blanket was spread out evenly and Anna was ordered to lie very still on top of it. Even I, who had never seen a tailor at work thought this a little strange. But my father soon put me to rights when he said, “Stop fidgeting, Seáinín , you are watching a genius at work.” Chalk, scissors, green thread and plenty of sweet tea with a little bit of bacon and cabbage when we had it. A tailor can’t work on an empty stomach.

The conversion went apace through Christmas and into the New Year. Snip snip, stitch, stich, sweet tea and fat bacon, floury spuds. I couldn’t see much shape in the coat but there was one thing for sure – it no longer looked like a blanket. Spring raced into summer and summer rained its way into autumn. Hitler invaded Poland and the British army fled Dunkirk, the men of Sandes Bog and Greenville gathered together shoulder to shoulder to defend the Ballybunion coastline and to bring home the turf.

Then six weeks before Christmas disaster struck the McCarthy clan and to hell with Hitler, the British Army, and Herman Goering. We got the news at convent mass on Sunday morning the Tailor Roche had broken his stitching hand when he fell over his dog, the one with the one eye and no tail. Fourteen months of stitching, cutting, tea drinking and bacon eating down the drain. Even a genius cannot work with one hand.

Anna looked very nice in her thirty shilling coat from Carroll Heneghan’s in Listowel as we walked to the train. Coming home alone in the January twilight I tried hard to hold back the tears. She would be missed.  The Tailor was sitting by the fire, a mug of sweet tea in his left hand and a large white sling holding his right-hand. I didn’t feel like talking so I made my way across the bed to my place by the wall. It was beginning to turn cold so I drew the shapeless green bindle up around my shoulders. It was awkward enough to get it settled with the two sleeves sticking out sideways and a long split up the middle. Still, it helped keep out the frost. Every bed needs a good green blanket and every boyhood needs a time to rest.

The ghosts of night will vanish soon

When winter fades away.

The lark will taste the buds of June

Mid the scent of new mown hay.


A Bit of GAA History

I dont usually stray into the realms of the GAA but when you live in Kerry….

Here is a piece from Monday’s Irish Examiner.

Wow, just wow!

The Advertiser this week was full of local footballing history.

2022 North Kerry champions, Listowel Emmetts and mentors.

Winning teams of the past….


Lilac Time

Mary Nolan sent us this photo from 1979. We had no names. But Dave O’Sullivan scoured the papers for us and he found 2 accounts of the operetta.

This from The Kerryamn

Maybe someone kept a programme!


A Plug

If you are in or around Clonakilty at Christmas, the cousin, Eugene Brosnan, is in de Barra’s on St. Stephen’s Night


Knocknagoshel Church, Book Launches and A Trip Home

Sitting on the fence

A blurry Kanturk robin taken through a window


Dates for the Diary

It’s that time of year when concerts, plays, craft fairs and book launches are happening thick and fast. Here are a few upcoming events.

The craft Fair is on December 1

Sun 1st


Remember someone special this Christmas by purchasing a ribbon to tie on the special Remember Memorial Tree outside St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre.  Remembrance Tree Ribbons and Cards are available in the Theatre in addition to many shops around Listowel. The Ceremony will take place at 5pm.  All are welcome.


Knocknagoshel Church

There are some lovely stained glass windows in this beautiful church. Some churches have veery richly coloured windows, which in themselves are lovely but can serve to darken the interior. This church has a happy mix of coloured and clear glass so the church is cool and bright. Here are some of the lovely windows.

The church has many generous benefactors who are commemorated in the windows and in plaques on the walls.


The Kanturk Launch of A Minute of Your Time

This is my sister-in-law, Breeda’s, kitchen in the afternoon of the Kanturk launch.  I joined the testers who are out of this shot. A big thank you to my Kanturk family who pulled out all the stops to make this night such a success.

Cora and Aisling helped their dad to sell the books in the Edel Quinn Hall. Róisín took the photos.

My cousin, Eugene Brosnan returned to his Kanturk roots to provide the musical entertainment. He was a big hit with the audience.

One of the great parts of the night was meeting up with old friends, most of whom told me that I have grown into my mother.

My nephew, William, introduced me with such a glowing speech I hardly recognised myself.

Tony and Joan pictured here with my brother are frequent visitors to Ballybunion. I hardly recognised them in their winter clothes and on home turf.


Presents of Mind

Presents of Mind is just one of several Kanturk shops stocking A Minute of Your Time

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