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: Florida Rose 2017

From Tanavalla to Pittsburg, O’Connell’s Avenue and Gapo’s

Photo: Chris Grayson


Down Memory Lane in The Seanchaí

Jimmy Deenihan gathered some old Tanavalla neighbours, a few cousins and assorted GAA friends to meet and greet Mary Kay Marince, daughter of Tom O’Donoghue of Tanavalla and Pittsburg. Tom was a great GAA supporter and a friend to any Irishman who found himself in Pittsburg and called into The Blarney Stone. Mary Kay was in Kerry with her two daughters for the Rose of Tralee Festival 2017.

Old friends, Peggy Brick, Junior Griffin and Kathleen McCarthy.

Mary Kay remembers her father and his love of Kerry in general and Listowel in particular.

Junior regales the Florida Rose with tales of her card playing grandmother.

Elizabeth meets the next generation of old neighbours, the Sheahan family of Listowel.

Elizabeth Marince with James Sheahan.

Elizabeth with Nora Sheahan, who lived beside the O’Donoghue’s in Coolnaleen and who visited them in Pittsburg.

Elizabeth’s Rose escort was a Donegal man. He came to Listowel to be part of her homecoming.

Elizabeth with her cousin Mossy Molyneaux.

Lots of Cousins and friends


O’Connell’s Avenue 1961  or ’62

Noel Roche shared this one a while ago.

Included in the photo are:

Noleen Reidy, David Roche, Giggs Nolan, Pat Galvin. Seamus Fealey, Timmy Nolan, Sheila O’Connor, Jeremiah O’Connor, Mikey Hayes, Paddy Gunn, Anita Gunn. 


Gapo’s of William Street

This restaurant has been doing business in Listowel for a while now. 

Recently it was featured in Listowel Food Fair’s Facebook page and here is what they wrote.

“From one of the world’s most ancient nations, to a North Kerry town at the heart of rural Ireland. The journey for Gapo’s begins far away in Armenia where Head Chef Artur Gabrielyan comes from. Born and raised near the country’s capital Yerevan one of Europe’s most exuberant and endearing cities, Artur was born into a family steeped in food culture. All family both immediate and extended were involved in cooking, his grandmother Nvart was the head village Cook, the lady who villagers called on whenever there was a cause for celebration; birthdays, christenings or weddings. Nvart would gather her crew, usually several other village women all great cooks they would get together and feed the party. Creating hearty feasts of their country, sharing dishes and great times. Having grown up in this environment, it’s not surprising that Artur chose a career in food, although it didn’t begin that way. 

Living in Yerevan in the late 1990s, Artur closed the business he was running largely due to the unrest around him, the city had remained in turmoil since its break from the Soviet Union in 1991. He felt a life away from his homeland was the best option for his future. Initially planning on heading to Sweden with his friend, this didn’t work out and he found himself in Ireland. His first experience of Irish culture was watching Riverdance while still living Yerevan, the iconic dance performance captured his imagination and planted Ireland in his conscious. 

On arriving in Ireland, he first came to Dublin and shortly afterwards arrived to Listowel. It was here he found his feet and began taking English classes that were being offered at the time to residents in the town looking to learn the language. While doing these classes, a local woman Sue McKenna who noted his talent for food, introduced him to Mario Del Alessandro who took him on as a chef. And so, began a 16-year career at Casa Mia’s Ristorante further up William Street. 

Not only did he find a job, he also met his wife Liene Druka who worked as a waitress at the restaurant. Liene had arrived on a gap year from college with her friend, a native of Tukums Latvia, she spent a year at Casa Mia’s before returning to college to complete her studies. Once her studies finished, she was back in Listowel and remained working at Casa Mia’s until the birth of their first son in 2007. Following on from that she worked locally in both Ballybunion and Listowel until 2016 when the couple decided to open their own restaurant. Spotting a demand for something different in the town, while also having the opportunity to create Armenian style dishes, Artur and Liene took over the property on William Street formerly known as Mai Fitz’s. Opening on May 11th, 2016 they have made their mark as giving a unique dining experience in the town. While there are several Lebanese style restaurants located on the east coast, close to Dublin, to find an Armenia exclusive restaurant is tough. So, it may be possible that Listowel has the only Armenian Restaurant in Ireland! 

The creations at Gapo’s are uniquely Armenian with a reference to European cuisine. Artur and Liene offer an experience for their guests by taking them on a journey through the different countries by using food as their vehicle. The main characteristics of Armenia Cuisine are a reliance on the quality of the ingredients, the use of wheat in a variety of forms, of legumes, nuts, and fruit as a main ingredient as well as to sour food, and the stuffing of a wide variety of leaves. The Tabule dish for just €6 served as a starter on the evening menu is a great way of trying out the cuisine. 

And what does the name Gapo’s represent? Gapo is the name of Artur’s grandfather who without doubt would be very proud of the success his grandson has achieved here in Ireland. 

We have had a real adventure this week with Gapo’s and would like to thank Artur, Liene and their two beautiful sons Gabriel and Mikael for having us and sharing their Food Story.”


A Killarney Celtic Cross

This magnificent Celtic Cross is situated in the town centre opposite The Haha in Killarney.

Adare, Ballybunion, a chance meeting on a Dublin bus and some people up for the match

Photo; Ita Hannon


Upper Church Street in Summer 2017



Recently, on my way home from Limerick I decided to stop to stretch my legs in the beautiful village of Adare, County Limerick. Adare is a martyr to traffic congestion. That is perfectly understandable as it is one of the prettiest villages in these parts. I met the two lovely ladies below in the local café. They are volunteer Adare ambassadors. They just chat to visitors and answer any questions you might have. They were very welcoming and friendly. Every town should have ambassadors like these.

I decided to take a stroll through the park which is in the heart of the village.

The site for the park was donated to the people by the Earl of Dunraven. Above, at the end of the path, you can see a gate into the Dunraven estate.

I’d highly advise a stop in Adare if you find yourself with a while to spare on the way to or from Limerick.


Ballybunion Sculptures

This lovely floral boat adorns the Doon Road in Ballybunion. It is the work of the Ballybunion Tidy Town’s Committee

Nearby this sculpture to past Doon families has been unveiled.


Well, be the hokey!

When I went to Dublin for the Horse Show recently I travelled to and from the show by public transport. I took a No. 4 bus from O’Connell Street to Ballsbridge.

On my return journey I again boarded the No. 4. Just to  be sure to be sure I was on the correct bus, I asked the lady beside me if the bus I was on would return me to O’Connell St.

To cut a long story short, this lovely lady turned out to be none other than Betty Given, a lady with a very strong Listowel connection. Truth is often stranger than fiction.


Up for the Match

John Kelliher was in Dublin for the match on Saturday August 26 2017. He wisely took his camera with him and here are a few of the great photos he shared on Facebook

Lovely day for the rematch

The hope before and the desolation afterwards well told in these two pictures.

Will you look who John caught on camera on their way to the match: None other than Jimmy Deenihan with Elizabeth, Sarah and Mary Kay Marince of Florida  AND could that be the Rose of Tralee escort still in attendance on the Rose?

Horse chestnut tree, Knockanure Vintage Day 2017, Ballybunion and the Florida Rose in Town

Lovely Kerry Bridge

Photo; Ita Hannon


Magnificent Listowel Horse chestnut Tree

This beautiful tree is located at the gate of Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail.


Knockanure Vintage Day 2017

Sunday August 20 was the date chosen for the annual Vintage Day in Knockanure. It must have been one of the worst days of a summer memorable for bad days. However a few brave souls ventured abroad and of these Elizabeth Brosnan and Jer took a few photos.


Hydrangeas at Coláiste na Ríochta


Upper Church Street

At the corner by Ballygologue Road

St Michaels’ College

I met these lovely girls after their summer camp in Listowel.


A Blustery Day in Ballybunion 

While I had my two lovely boyeens with me for their Kerry holiday we decided to brave The Cliff Walk on a day so windy it was fit for little else but walking.

The windswept boys viewed the incoming clouds.

We encountered a band of brave souls coming in the opposite direction. They were the U.S branch of the Kissane family who were in town for their clan gathering.

We could watch sea erosion at work before our eyes.

We briefly sheltered in this shepherds’ cottage.


Up the Kingdom

Elizabeth with her Rose of Tralee escort.

Elizabeth with her mom, Mary Kay and her sister Sarah

At a reception in The Seanchaí, Listowel on August 23 2017 Sarah and Elizabeth Marince, granddaughters of the late Tom O’Donoghue of Tanavalla and Pittsburg sang his favourite song

Up The Kingdom

RDS Dublin Horse Show 2017 and Tom O’Donoghue is remembered

Photo; Chris Grayson


I was at the Horse Show 2017

Here is the reason I was at the RDS on August 10 2017. This beautiful horse is owned by the Kanturk EPA stable. He is EPA Murray and he was making his first appearance in a big arena. He is ridden by Felicity Ward.

 I was there on Ladies Day but that was a coincidence. I would recommend if you are just going to the show for a day to see the stands or the horses or both, don’t go on Ladies Day. Ladies Day is not for the faint hearted. The place is mobbed. I was more interested in the business end of things but I had a lovely time in the main hall first of all. This is a retail and exhibition space and I’ll just bring you a small sample of what I saw there.

My photograph does not do justice to this beautiful cut glass harp which was among many lovely things on this stand.

The Irish beekeepers were there and you could buy honey or just watch the bees at work.

The craft fair was a sight to behold. Absolutely top class ceramics, felting, weaving and other crafts were on show. This was not a competition, just a display of the best.

There were artists selling their wares as well. Among them, Kerry equine artist, Tony O’Connor.

The Irish Deer Society was there and the Birdwatch Ireland. 

The Eircode people were there and they gave me a laminated card with my eircode on it and a luminous pen to mark all my precious goods with my eircode.

Of course there were lots and lots of retailers there. You could buy anything from a needle to an anchor at the RDS. I resisted the temptations all around me, even the show’s special offers.

Meanwhile in the stables, the crew were busy titivating Murray for his big gig.

Elizabeth is painting his nails. She opted for clear varnish this year. Last year black was more fashionable.

Felicity gets instructions on how to tie a tie .

I was told not to take his photo with his ears back but sure the poor fellow was half stressed out with all the fuss going on around him.

These were the judges

The competition

This fellow took out a measuring tape. I thought he was being a bit particular but it turns out he was measuring the stirrups to adjust them to the right length for the judges ride.

In Dublin, unlike the smaller local shows, both judges ride each horse. Murray gave them each an impeccable ride. They loved him.

He finished outside the medals but he got a lovely lilac participant’s rosette and all the connections were thrilled with how he did.

He is now eventing. Last weekend he came first in Kilguilkey. He is a dab hoof at dressage. So maybe eventing will be his métier.


Baby Barry Makes a Dramatic Entrance


Listowel Welcomes Home a Favourite Daughter

Jimmy Deenihan organised a reception with the family and friends of the late Tom O’Donoghue of Tanavalla and Pittsburg in honour of Elizabeth Marince, who was in town following her duties as the Florida Rose in The International Rose of Tralee Festival 2017. I’ll have more on this next week.

John (Junior) Griffin remembers the Rose’s great grandparents.

Two great women to belt out a song, Elizabeth Marince of Florida and our own Frances Kennedy of Listowel.

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