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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Local faces at WiM 2016, Lectures and a Visit to Asdee and Finuge Freewheelers

Early morning in Ballybunion photographed by Mike Enright


I met some local people at Women in Media


Military Weekend Coming Up

There are some really interesting history lectures planned for this weekend :

Wednesday April 27 8.00p.m.

Ardfert Witnesses at the Trial of Roger Casement by Helen O’Carroll

Saturday April 30 at 7.30 

Irish Spitfire Legends by Paul Beaver

Sunday May 1st. at 7.00

The Architectural Design of the Early Spittfire by Diarmuid Walsh


News from Downtown Asdee

With my friend, Helen Moylan I visited Fr. Pat last week. I found him in very good spirits and looking forward to witnessing the changing season in his beloved Asdee.

You can read his account of life in rural North Kerry among the bluebells and the wild garlic in his uplifting blog Between the Hills and the Sea


Old Cork

Patrick J. O’Shea shared this old photograph of the No. 3 bus passing under Brian Boru Bridge in Cork


Finuge Freewheelers had a fun run and John Kelliher took the photos

More photos HERE

Listowel Castle, new Garda Station in Castleisland and success at Newcastlewest Show

Beauty on our doorstep

Ita Hannon took this haunting picture of Littor Point, Asdee.


Back in the Saddle

Johnny Joy and Finuge Freewheelers out for an evening spin.


Daniel O’Donnell on Tour

Daniel O’Donnell is on a tour around Ireland for a TV show he is making. Here he is having a game of draughts with his Donegal neighbor, Hughey Sweeney who is 104.


Listowel Castle

May Langan pictured earlier this summer at Listowel Castle.

The castle is open every day to visitors. It is one of the many great Listowel attractions that every Listowel person should visit at least once.


Song of the Sea

Have you ever heard of  a selkie?


Well, they are mythical creatures who are women on land and seals at sea. Song of the Sea is a film all about selkies. It is a lovely Irish made animated full length family film.  The dialogue is lovely and you will recognize many familiar voices, the animation is simple but forceful, the pictures are lovely and the music superb. You will never look at a seal again without wondering.

What’s not to love about Song of the Sea?

 Bring the whole family.


CastleIsland have a new Garda Station

On Ftiday last, July 17 2015 Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Minister for The Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan opened a new Garda Station in Castleisland. The following photos are from the Garda Síochána Facebook page.

members of the Garda band at the opening
Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan
Minister Deenihan inspects a guard of honour


Latin in Kerry Catholic church registers

Above is a link to Kay Caball’s site. It has a translation of some of the most common names as they are entered in Latin in Kerry parish records. This is very useful if you are researching online through the old registers now available at National Library of Ireland Catholic parish registers


Newcastlewest Agricultural Show 2015

I had a great day out last Sunday at Newcastlewest Show. I took lots of photos. Here are a few. When news is in short supply next week I’ll post a few more.

This minion, created from 2 round bales and tyres greeted us on arrival.

My brother, Pat and my niece, Elizabeth won the champion’s cup for the best ridden hunter with their horse, Sonny Bill.

There is always a Listowel connection. I met Mike Laffan of Kerry Group and his wife, Margaret supporting their local show by showing a bullock.

Listowel lady, Kelly St. John had a beautiful array of crochet goods for sale.

Listowel Writers’ Week Opening Night 2015

Writers’ Week Opening Night 2015

 Only in Listowel!  Paul Durkan making his way to the festival.

Pascal Sheehy and Anne Enright were having a right good time at their interview. Anne was the guest of  honour this year and she told us a great story in her slot as official opener of the festival. Her first visit to Writers’ Week was as a workshop director and she remembered vividly one of the participants in her workshop. She remembered her because she had such a great story to tell. Anne gave here every encouragement to write and publish her story and she was very proud to relate that that amazing story did see its way into print but only in the weeks before its author passed away. The participant in that workshop and the writer who got her story into print was Marie Fleming. Marie became well known to us for her court battles for her right to end her own life when her MS became unbearably painful.

The music was setting the tone for the evening.

Liz Dunn, Writers’ Week vice chairperson was first up. She did not put a foot wrong on her debut performance.

 Seán Lyons, this year’s retiring chairman will be a hard act to follow. He is thoroughly relaxed behind the microphone. He was his  usual witty, self deprecating self. He recalled his first year on the stage and his mispronouncing the name of one of the prestigious guests. Seán has had many great moments as chair of Writers’ Week but he chose to gloss over those and to concentrate instead on a litany of thank yous.

The crowd on opening night

I have lots and lots of photos to share with you later.


A puffin photographed by Jim McSweeney


The Famine in North Kerry

If you want to learn more about this painful time in our history, then this is the walk for you; tomorrow  May 28 2015 as part of the Listowel Writers’ Week walking tours programme.


An evocative walk in the footsteps of our Listowel ancestors who lived and died
here during the Famine 1845-1852

Led by Vincent Carmody, the definitive authority on Listowel and its people, you will
be taken by bus initially to Presentation Convent where Kay Caball, a past pupil, will
relate to you the history of the founding of the Convent and the heroic efforts of the
Presentation Nuns to feed their starving students, described so vividly by John D.
Pierse in his book Teampall Bán.

Next stop is the Chapel on the site of the former Workhouse. Kay will give you an
overview of thetrue story of 117 Kerry girls sent to Australia in 1849/1850 from Workhouses

in Dingle Kenmare Killarney and Listowelunder the auspices of the Earl Grey ‘Orphan’
scheme. The majority of these Kerry teenage girls were not in fact ‘Orphans’ as many had oneparent alive. An insight into some of these resilient, spirited and feisty girls generates pride
in the survival instincts of those who have gone before us.

Our final stop is at Teampall Bán, where John Pierse will remind us why this graveyard has
come to symbolise the Famine for the north Kerry and Listowel areas.Described as a paupers’graveyard, opened in 1850, records show that 2,641 people died in the Workhouse, of whom
1,504 were children of the age of 15 or younger.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Relevant books on salein Flavin’s Bookshop,30 Church St.,Easons,9-11, Church St.,Woulfe’s

Bookshop,7, Church St., andThe Seanchai Writers Centre,The SquareListowel: Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850-1950,Vincent CarmodyThe Kerry Girls: Emigration & The Earl Grey Scheme,Kay Moloney Caball

Teampall Bán, Aspects of the Famine in north Kerry 1845-1852,John D. Pierse


Lovely Piece on Writers’ Week in yesterday’s Examiner

Jim Kennelly


Listowel Tidy Town’s Clean up crew

The town is looking superb thanks to the hard work of these people.


Finuge Freewheelers on their Poker Run last weekend


Book Launch in Craftshop na Méar

Hilda McHugh is almost one of our own. She is a regular attender and supporter of Listowel Writers’ Week. This year she is launching her very own book. Hilda was too late to be in the official programme but she is delighted to find an ideal place to launch a book about family heirlooms. Everyone is welcome to come along on Friday 29th at 5.30


Jim Halpin’s Before and after

(Photos; Jim Halpin)

Liam Healy , Knocknagoshel and some local people I met

Another great Fungi and friend photo from Fungie Forever


Healyracing’s Father Figure

I took these photos of Liam Healy on Listowel Racecourse, a place where he is truly at home. For years I watched from my perch beside Jim on the wheelchair stand as Liam went about his work. Liam always had a kind word and a bit of banter.  He never had a tip though!

I took this photo of a chance meeting on the street in October 2009. Jim loved to run into Liam when we were out and about. He was always good for a chat.

Now back to my story of Liam’s early life and his awakening interest in photographing horses and horse racing.

Liam is a self confessed hoarder. As a young boy, as well as the photos he
got from the newspapers Roddy O’Sullivan in Moriarty’s Betting Shop gave him, he used to go to the “quarry hole”
in search of old papers so as to cut horse pictures from them. The quarry hole
was the local name for the town dump, now The Garden of Europe. Paddy Kennelly,
Paul Kennelly and Paddy Hartnett were the men on the dump horse and cart in
those days. When they saw him rummaging around in the refuse, they volunteered to
keep him any newspapers they came across.

Cutting out photos of horses, sorting them and keeping them
became Liam’s hobby. All very
innocent but we must remember that Liam lived in a 2 bedroomed house with no
spare storage for his hoard of papers. Again his Convent Street neighbours came to the rescue. Bridge Joy, a
neighbour and a widow gave Liam the use of her shed to store his stash. He was
now spending precious hours in there cutting and sorting his pictures. His
father became concerned that he was doing this when he should be studying. Liam
had loads of ability for schoolwork but he loved the horse pictures more than

His father took the drastic step of confiscating and burning all
of Liam’s treasured cuttings.
Such is the mature Liam’s
generosity of spirit, that he holds no grudge against his father for this act .
His father was trying to rear his family as best he could in difficult
circumstances. He believed, as many parents do, that education holds the key to
unlock a better life for his children and he did what parents did in those
days. He got rid of the distraction. Liam understands fully.

Liam has happy memories of school. His favourite teacher was
Frank Sheehy who he can quote and mimic with the accuracy of a sharp
memory. Mr. Sheehy’s nickname was The Bulldog. He remembers
“Tháinig longó Valparaiso….” The first poem he
learned in Frank Sheehy’s
class. He remembers the ash plant which was used more as a threat than a
punishment. Bryan MacMahon, who Liam describes as “a great encourager” also
taught Liam and he remembers marveling at the mathematical abilities of one of
his classmates, Patsy Browne who still lives in Ballygologue Park.

Liam’s father,
Paddy Healy worked for Kantoher/Castlemahon Creameries. He went around the
country buying eggs for them. After that he had his own business selling goods. Paddy was a good father and he tried to instill good manners and a good
attitude to work in all his children. Liam remembers that he always put his
left shoe on first. When Liam asked why he replied that life is a dance and a
man always leads with his left foot.

Paddy remarried, Babe Lynch from Cnoc an Óir. They had 3 daughters, Geraldine, Elizabeth and
Catherine and they became one happy family. His father bought Number 9 and
extended their house. Babe’s
sisters because aunties to the Healy children and the two families blended

As his family were growing up and could help with the
business, Paddy took on an agency for newspapers. Liam remembers going to the
station to meet the 6 o’clock train. Then he ran down William Street and all
through the town to the Bridge Road delivering the papers as he went. The
newspaper then cost one anda half or two pence. People in town usually ran up a tab and paid
at the end of the week. When he had delivered to the Bridge Road, Liam came
back and collected another bundle and sold these door to door in O’Connell’s Avenue.

Liam liked this run better because the people paid for the paper
as they got it and so they came out to chat. 
( Even back then Liam loved to chat).

His father had another string to his enterprise bow.  He bought fish from Finbar MacAulliffe and
sold them on Thursdays and Fridays. Before Vatican 2 changed the rule that
forbad the eating of meat on Fridays, everyone ate fish so there was an opening
for someone to bring fish to the outlying areas. People did not come to town
everyday but they did come to the creamery. So, on Thursdays and Fridays Liam
used to stand at Lisselton creamery and sell fish to the farmers. He also sold
fish in Ballylongford and on fair days in Athea. All of this enterprise meant
that Liam was frequently absent from school. Despite this, Bryan MacMahon felt
that he was good enough for St. Michael’s and encouraged his dad to send him there. Liam’s brother Pat was already in secondary
school. There was a fee of £12 per annum in those days plus books and other
school related expenses. Liam says that his dad just couldn’t afford it. Liam stayed on in national school as
one of the last 2 boys in 7th class in the old boys national school.
7th class was for those who were not going on to secondary school
but were too young to leave school altogether.

(continued tomorrow)


Arise Knocknsgoshel

Recently I had occasion to visit the picturesque North Kerry village of Knocknagoshel.

Main St.

Knocknagoshel post office
the parish pump
an older parish pump
old milk churns
the school


Duagh Sports Centre

very impressive


Hardy Fundraisers

Anna and Cáit braved the elements to collect for The Irish Heart Foundation. Liz Dunne stopped to buy a badge.


Snapped in Bank of Ireland

Joe Murphy was doing his banking as I was hanging out with my camera.


Are you a cyclist who loves a card game?

If you answered yes to the above question here is Saturday next, May 23 2015 sorted for you.

“A great fun event – cycling 65KM purely at leisure through the rolling North Kerry countryside – collecting playing cards from 5 locations – returning to McCarthys Bar in Finuge for BBQ, refreshments and good banter and more importantly handing in those cards – the one with the best poker hand wins. A day of fun to raise money for MS Ireland and great preparation for the Ring of Kerry, The RoNK (Ring of North Kerry) – perfect for beginners/ leisure cyclists.”

Make your way to McCarthy’s Bar, Finuge at 3.00p.m. and away you go.

Nun’s Grave, Lusitania, school folklore and The Kingdom County Fair 2015

Lovely capture of windmills and gathering clouds over North Kerry by Johnny Joy of  

Finuge Freewheelers


Gravestones Restored

I was in St. Michael’s Graveyard on Sunday May 3 2015. I was absolutely thrilled to see that the headstones which were smashed in the storm of February 2014 have been replaced. The gentleman in my photo is Jim Buckley from Behins and he told me that when he is in the graveyard tending to his family grave he pops by and removes any litter or weeds from the nuns’ plot. Isn’t that kind?

 The grave plot looks lovely now.

This is one of the smashed headstones in March 2014


Luisitania Remembered

These  photographs from the National Library Collection are part of exhibition of photographs currently on display in Cobh. They depict two scenes from the  Cork town in May 2015. The middle picture is of local men digging graves for the 145 victims of the sinking who were never identified or named and below is their funeral procession.

It is generally agreed that this atrocity was utterly avoidable and a similar result, i.e; jolting the U.S. into the war  and recruiting at home could have been achieved without so much loss of innocent lives.

The Lusitania was a British passenger ship but it was also carrying munitions so the German UBoats torpedoed it as a legitimate target. Almost 1,200 lives were lost, some of them US citizens. Cobh opened its doors to the shocked and dazed survivors and the story of the rescue and recovery mission is etched into the folk memory of people of the towns of Queenstown, now Cobh, Coutmacsharry and other villages along the south coast forever. Bodies were washed up all along the south coast and westwards as far as Mayo.


Schools Folklore from 1937

Do you remember how I went to the Tralee Archive to read some of the submissions to the Folklore Commission’s school’s project in 1937. Now I have great news for you. You don’t have to go to Tralee. It’s all on line Here


Kingdom County Fair 2015

This event in Tralee on Sunday May 10 2015 was a complete wash out. I braved the deluge to photograph my niece’s lovely horse, Sonny Bill, who was having his first outing to a show. He did really well, considering the conditions, pelting rain, colorful umbrellas all round and one man even led 2 dogs by the ring. Sonny Bill watched everything, took notice of all these new sights but stayed calm and looked regal. He will go places yet!

My poor camera!

 The handsome, Sonny Bill enjoying his first big day in the spotlight.

His supporters braving the downpour to watch him.

One of the most nerve racking parts for the owner is the element of the judging where the judge rides your horse. He has to canter and trot in response to the judges prompt. Sonny Bill did really well on his first go.  He thoroughly enjoyed his day out. On now to Bandon next week. His season is launched and he will go on now to success in more shows throughout the summer.


More photos here from The Kingdom County Fair 2015

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