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: farrier

My Trip Home, a Funeral, A Hunt and Kitchener is remembered by a “school chum”

Holly at the Bridge


Adventures on Returning Home in November 2016

Recently I went back to my roots for the sad occasion of the funeral of my Aunty Nun, Sr. Perpetua Hickey of The Convent of Mercy, Charleville, Co. Cork.  She wasn’t really my aunt at all. Her sister was married to my uncle, but all my life she was known to me as she was to all her nieces and nephews as Aunty Nun.

The Mercy sisters in Charleville are lucky in that they still live in their convent in the centre of town. Unlike so many sisters nowadays, they live in familiar surroundings among people they have lived with all their adult lives.

The wake in the convent chapel was like taking a step back in time.

The coffin of Sr. Perpetua was shouldered by relatives and friends the short distance from the convent that was her home to the nearby parish church.


Never a Dull Moment

I love to go home to Kanturk. My old home is a warm welcoming place always full of bustle, friends, family and incident.

One incident from this visit will not be forgotten in a hurry.

I was stung by a Kanturk wasp  on November 26 2016!!!!!

On a more pleasant note I got to see Duhallow Hunt gather for their meet in Kanturk and on Day 2 of my visit I got to see the farrier at work on EPA’s new acquisition who is called after Conor Murray. In case you are new to my blog, the Aherns naming convention sees all their horses named after rugby players.

That is my brother in his element, among fellow horse lovers.

These beautiful hounds waited patiently some distance away as the hunt got mounted and ready.

Their handlers know every one of these hounds by name .

They only leave their waiting spot when instructed to do so.

Here they are, heading out on the Greenfield Rd. ahead of the hunt.

It was a perfect day for riding out, cold, crisp and dry.


The Farrier

The forge is a thing of the past. The farrier or blacksmith now comes to you. Luckily, while I was still at home, C.J. called to shoe Conor. The horse behaved impeccably for his first experience with the farrier. 

“Thank you, Pat”


Kitchener… a friend’s account of him from the archives

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW ):

Wed. 5th July 1916




Mr. Michael Byrnes, who is now on a visit to Manly, was a schoolmate

of Kitchener’s

” It- is over 55 years ago,” says ‘Mr. Byrnes, since Lord Kitchener

went to the old National School at Kilflinn, Sweet County Kerry, which

I attended. It was half-way between Listowel and Tralee, and his

father, .(Colonel Kitchener), had a farm called Crotta Domain. My

recollections of the boy Kitchener are very distinct, although it is

so many yours ago. We were neighbours and playmates together, and

always ‘the best of chums. We were just about the same age, both

under 10 years, and we were both literature lovers and rambled about

the beautiful countryside in each other’s company. Although there

was nothing very remarkable about the boy in the way of cleverness

at school, yet I’vealways vividly remembered him through the long

years. No doubt he had a personality; He was a very strange boy in

many ways, very reserved, and studious. 

He preferred being by himself very often, not that he was stuck up in

any shape or form, and although not many of his schoolmates shared his

confidences, he was liked and respected by the. whole of them, and

enjoyed a popularity which was strange considering his studious moods

and attitude of aloofness. He never cared for footall or hurling, but

was passionately fond of horses. He was always happy on horseback, and

loved to follow the hounds. The sight of the huntsmen and the, dogs

and the sound of the horn, always woke him out of his usual

seriousness, and he used to get very excited and enthusiastic when the

meets were on.

At school he was not by any means a dull boy,  I said before, he

didn’t, to our minds at least, show any signs of cleverness. The

masters, however, thought a lot of him, and he always managed to get

through his lessons without difficulty.

Every summer we boys used to spend a month at a Strand, a little

watering place on the sea.Young Kitchener always came with us?  we

all stayed with uncles and aunts of mine. With all of my family he was

a great favourite and the womenfolk particularly were fond of the 

gentlemanly, quiet lad. Strange to say, he had  a dread of deep water

a big wave would always drive him back to shore, and he would never go

in any depth. The remarkable thing was that he was utterly fearless

in every other direction. Looking back on his extraordinarily boyish

fear of the deep sea, it appears uncannily, pathetic now that he has

found a lonely grave in the depths of the ocean.

There are some stories of the late Lord Kitchener that convey the

idea that he was official and unapproachable, but my experience of him

to me, on that memorable morning of his visit to Sydney,’ showed that

he was possessed of indeed very human qualities. 


What I’m Reading

Best :Loved Poems; This is an absolutely lovely book and perfect for a present for a lover of literature and pictures and perfect for a lover of Kerry.

The poems are introduced and curated by Gabriel Fitzmaurice and the photographs are by John Reidy,

The collection includes one of my favourite poems; 

Though there are Torturers by Michael Coady

Though there are torturers,

 There are also musicians


Though the image of God

 is everywhere defiled,

A man in West Clare,

Is playing the concertina


Cork Summer Show, Irish Clippies in Birmingham and Sonny Bill

The Old Order Changeth

I hope you are able to read the above letter. Even if you cant read it here, you will probably have heard its contents from mass goers in Duagh and Lyre. Fr Pat Moore is retiring from his post as parish priest of Duagh.  Fr. Pat is still very  confident of a return to full health but in the meantime, Bishop Ray needs to make arrangements for the future administration of the very big parish of Duagh and Lyrecrompane. The bishop spoke at masses at the weekend to explain how the new arrangement will work. Duagh Lyre will be part of a cluster of parishes sharing priests and administrative personnel.

I trust that Fr. Pat will soon regain his health and will continue as he has always done, to contribute to North Kerry life in so many ways.  Sláinte!


Cork Summer Show 2016

Saturday June 18 2016

Cork Summer Show has had bad luck with the weather in the past but this year the sun shone and, even though it clashed with a vital Euro match, people chose to spend Saturday in the open air at the show. There were the usual competitions for poultry and farm produce, needlework and baking. But these form a very small part of the show now and the word agricultural has been dropped  from the title. It’s actually a big sales floor, with a big stage for the continuous music, cookery demonstrations, best dressed lady competition and even a bit of jousting thrown in.

 John Spillane was giving it wellie when we arrived.

 A few drops of rain threatened as we were tucking in to our picnic but not enough to ruin a great day out.


That was Saturday. Twenty four hours later I was back at the show again. This time to lend support to Sonny Bill, my family’s horse. Buoyed by his recent success at Clonakilty he was coming to Cork with hopes high.

The weather did its worst. Rain of biblical proportions deluged down one us.

One of my favourite things to watch at the show was the farrier competition. This man below was my favourite. If he didn’t win I’ll eat my hat. He was an absolute perfectionist.

These are the judges inspecting how the hoof is prepared.

There are marks gained and lost at all stages of the process.

This was the first fitting.

Isn’t this clever? a magnet on the side of his apron holds the farrier’s nails.

Finally the shoe is fitted, nailed in place and everything filed smooth. It was fascinating to watch.

Now to Sonny Bill. You can see from my wet lens that he was showing in the worst of the bad weather. Showing is like a beauty pageant for horses and, as is the case with human beauty, not everyone sees beauty in the same way. In our eyes he was the most beautiful horse there but the judges placed him second.


Irish Girls who worked on the Buses in Birmingham

This photo and story surfaced in The Harp News in Birmingham recently and a friend sent it to Una Hayes in Listowel. Una is the lady on the far right of the photo. She is pictured with her fellow clippies on St. Patrick’s Day 1972. She was then Una Duggan. The photo was taken before she married Liam Hayes of Tannavalla.


Newcastlewest Pin In The National Museum

This 6th or 7th century bronze pin was dug up in Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick.


Sonny Bill Triumphs in Charleville

I chose to stay at home and watch the big match. You can see from the above that they could have done with a photographer.

Elizabeth’s message read…”Great day out today at Charleville Show. SonnyBill did the business in a very competitive small hunter class, followed it up with a win in the draught class and put the icing on the cake when winning the Champion Ridden Hunter of the show!!”

(Looks like red, white and blue were the colours of champions yesterday.)

Scouting in Listowel and the farrier at work

Prawn Sandwich anyone?

Some clever salesperson found a novel way of selling Roy Keane’s book. Photo: Twitter


Listowel Scouts in Donegal in 1946

bathing their feet in a mountain lake

 Swimming in Lough Swilly

 At the village shop in Glenveigh. Some of the boys have bought bags of sweets.

Michael’s caption on this one says “A rest with the famous black box” 

 Any ideas?


An extract from Fr. Anthony Gaughan’s Listowel and its Vicinity

Scouting in Listowel by Fr. Anthony Gaughan

4th Kerry/1st Listowel

During World War II and thereafter troops
throughout the country were no less active than those in the archdiocese of
Dublin. They instilled self-discipline and self-reliance and provided training
in outdoor and other skills. The extent to which troops enriched the lives of
boys both with regard to recreation and to useful activity can be gathered from
a pen-picture of any one of more than a hundred troops.  The success of
troops largely depended on the imagination, talent and commitment of their leaders.
Some were quite colourful. Few were more so than Michael Kennelly, of the 4th
Kerry and later 1st Listowel troop.

      Kennelly served
behind the counter in the “Cloth Hall”, a family drapery business. A
founder member of the Listowel Drama Group, he co-authored a number of plays.
The 4th Kerry was established in 1931 but within a few years was wound up when
its leader resigned. Kennelly reorganised it, registered it in 1943 and led it
until he retired from scouting in 1953. The troop never had more than thirty
members. At the weekly meeting there was drilling and preparation for tests for
merit badges: for cycling, first-aid, horse riding, interpreting and woodwork.
An army instructor occasionally took members for gymnastics and exercises with
Indian clubs. For some years members were instructed in boxing and took part in
a competition with members of other troops at Ballybunion, Killarney and
Tralee. Sunday hikes were organised to scenic spots on the River Feale.

    Kennelly was adventurous
when it came to planning the troop’s annual camp. At a time when others did not
venture much beyond county boundaries he took his troop further afield year
after year. In 1944 he took his scouts for a week’s stay in the An óige hostel
in Mountjoy Square. There were visits to the roof of Irish Independent house,
the top of Nelson’s Pillar, the Botanic Gardens, the Zoo and a football match
in Croke Park. In the hostel the troop had a sing-song with seven hikers from
the Shankill in Belfast.


The Forge

All I know is a door into the dark.

Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;

Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,

The unpredictable fantail of sparks

Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.

These lines are from The Forge by Seamus Heaney

The forge as we knew it is gone but the trade of the blacksmith is carried on in the noble art of the farrier.

I was at home in Kanturk last week when the farrier came to shoe the horses. This man is a third generation farrier and an expert at his trade.

There is no furnace or anvil now. The shoes come ready forged but he still wears the leather apron and still has to mould the shoes to fit the horse.

This particular farrier is also a world champion handballer.


Roly Chute

Roly and his dog posed for the camera on William Street yesterday.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén