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: Footprints

Listowel in the 1950s, Church Street, Hannah Keane and Ronan Wilmot in St. John’s

Main Street, Listowel 2015

The Small Square; looking good in summer 2015


The Advertiser

The Advertiser is running a great series on old Listowel and North Kerry. Denis Walsh is doing a great job and his free publication is flying out of the shops as soon as it hits the shelves on Fridays. Here are a few photos from an issue on Church St. You can read the full magazine by clicking the link above.

This is taken in front of Larry’s butcher’s. The house was then owned by Mr. Keane.

Like Flavins, this business is still trading on Church Street.


Hannah Keane of Church Street

On August 2 2015, Conor Keane posted this photo and tribute to his grandmother.

Today, the Keane, Klaben, O’Connor, Schuster and Purtill families celebrate the memory of the late Hannah Keane, nee Purtill, who died on this day in 1989, aged 88. 

Hannah Keane was a remarkable Kerry woman who was threatened with summary execution by the Black and Tans for the daring role she played with her late brothers in Ireland’s successful battle for independence from 1919 to 1921. Like many of her generation she rarely spoke about those days, instead preferring to look to the future.

She raised an exceptional family with her school teacher husband Bill (William) who pre-deceased her in 1963; their offspring in turn raised some amazing children who I am proud to call friends first, but cousins also.

And now another generation of Keanes, Klabens, O’Connors and Schusters are on the go – all great friends and great grandchildren of Bill and Hannah Keane of 45 Church Street, Listowel, County Kerry.

Here’s to my grandmother Hannah Keane late of Listowel and Ballydonoghue, affectionally know as ‘Hanny honours’ by her numerous grandchildren who loved her dearly.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam


Liz Chute shared this Church Street memory

 Church Street was a wonderful Street filled with interesting people . Over thirty years ago Mr Lawlee got a heart attack and was obviously in hospital . A few days later my own wonderful mother had a heart attack herself and believe it or not within a few days Michael Quille had one .  These houses were within 500 yards of each other . One evening whilst all three were in hospital a client of Allos hopped the ball that he had better watch out but Allo quick as ever responded ” not at all lads ‘ tis going in the other direction !!

And from Maurice O’Sullivan

I agree with Liz. Church St. was a wonderous place to grow up with so many characters or oddballs. Molly Flaherty shared Hannah Keane’s interest in leaving cert results or “d’onours”. Hannah had a massive opposition in the McMahons across the road. It didn’t matter that she had such successful children Eamon and John B. d’onours were still paramount. I suppose never in history had so many characters lived in such close proximity. Moll Troy, Dillon (who hated dogs) Lina Mullally, Ginny with the lame step, Nora O’ Grady, Short Pants the harness maker, John Joe Dillon, captain Shanahan, Mickey and Delia Kearney, Ina Collins. This is only a fraction.


Summer Walk 2015

Bobby Cogan and his sons, Killian and Sean walking on William Street, August 2015.


Ronan Wilmot in St. John’s

(photo:Flickr images)

Ronan Wilmot is the son of a Listowel man. He was back in his father’s hometown to give us three nights of excellent theatre in The Tailor and Ansty.

For people who don’t know the story, the tailor was Timothy Buckley of Guagane Barra in Co. Cork. He was a well known seanchaí and with his gentle wife, Anastasia, held open house for all who wanted to come to listen to his stories.  Tim was a well travelled Kerryman and he had married in to the Buckley holding; a cottage with the grass of one cow. He was a very witty man and had a way of turning a phrase that made him much sought after in the 1940’s as a colorful character and storyteller.

The acclaimed Cork stone sculptor, Seamus Murphy. made a bust of him  and Eric Cross a Cork journalist, wrote a book about him, full of stories and anecdotes he had collected from him.

It was this book that brought ruination down on the heads of Tim and his wife. The book was banned by the Censorship of Publications Board because of its ribald content. A delegation of 4 priests came to the tailor’s house and forced him to burn his copy of the book.

The poor couple were devastated, disgraced in the community…”read from the altar”. Their neighbours shunned them. No one came to hear Tim’s stories any more. They were ruined.

This is the story that was brought to life for us by Ronan Wilmot and Ena May of the Dublin Theatre Company. It was a great night’s theatre. Both actors had their subjects to a T. The tailor was lazy but eminently entertaining, a witty, larger than life presence who had an abundant store of stories and observations which made him great company. Ansty, his long suffering wife, clearly loved him and took pride in his great store of learning. Their uncomprehending acceptance of the injustice visited on them was poignantly portrayed in the final scene where they close the door as they realize that their usual nightly visitors are not coming and they settle down to their other nightly ritual, The Rosary.

1942 Ireland is hardly recognizable to today’s young people. The closest we come to it today is the Taliban of Afghanistan. Important plays like this make sure we never forget.

100 Tommies, School around the Corner 2014, Footprints and some lovely ladies

Doomed Youth

100 photographs of Tommies before they went over the top at the Somme are HERE

The British Independent is trying to identify them.

The title Tommy for British soldiers came about because the sample enlisting form was filled out in the name of Tommy Atkins


The School around the corner’s not quite the same


‘The school around the corner’s just the same,

The school where we were taught to use our brain,

Where is Dublin on the map?

Put your hand out for a slap,

Oh, the school around the corner’s just the same.’

In January 1964 Paddy Crosbie arrived in Abbeyfeale to record an episode of ‘The school around the corner’. Sheila Prendeville, St Ita’s Terrace performed a Skipping Rope Dance and received a prize of a school bag. She has the bag to this day and uses it to store all the important documents she has accumulated over all the years since. On Saturday night, August 30 we are going to recreate ‘ The School around the Corner’ at Fr. Casey’s GAA Clubhouse, follow it with a school sports day, enjoy a visit from the Fit Ups and finish the night with a school Hop to music by DJ Jeremiah Roche. Light refreshments served so no need to bring lunch. School uniforms optional. Reverend Mother armed with her measuring tape will be at the door checking that pinafores are a suitable length. There will be a prize for the student – male or female – with the hairiest legs, the student who brings teacher the blackest driest sod of turf, brown hairy sods will lead to a spell in the Bold Corner, the student who can recite the 12 tables and much more. Admission €10.


Well protected grave

This photograph of a grave in Ballyphehane in Cork appeared on The Apparently this measure was taken to deter bodysnatchers.


A Corner of Town Now and Then

(photo: Footprints on Facebook)

This premises was a bakery run by the Kerins family, then by John Cahill (father of Siobhan, who
played the grandmother in the original version of Sive, Maurice (R.I.P.) who was
married to Peggy Devereux, Cahirdown, and John, who played the part of
Carthalan in the play and is still hale and hearty, living in Cork with his
lovely wife Mary (JD) O Mahoney.

After the Cahills it was run by the
Beechinor family as a fruit and veg. shop.Then it was bought by John Scanlon
(Ballybunion) who ran it as a restaurant called The Spinning Wheel. Now it is
a shoeshop, Footprints. 

(Information from Vincent Carmody via the internet)


Looking Lovely

These lovely ladies are Deirdre, Aoife and Eileen Kelliher. I took the photo shortly before Aoife set off on an adventure to Dubai. I predict that she’ll be back next year as the Dubai Rose.


Michael Kelliher, Artist

If you are in town with a few minutes to spare do drop in to the Seanchaí to see Michael’s exhibition. He has some lovely copper work in the style of the late Tony O’Callaghan. Most of these are sold but they are worth viewing while you can. It  is lovely to see a talented local artist exhibiting his work in his native town.


Ruby, don’t take your love to town

Tracy is holding on tightly to the returned Ruby and pugs. Good police work by the local Gardaí and masses of support from the public saw all of the dogs happily returned to Kennedy’s Pet Farm. The birds are still missing.

 The family who run this tourist venture are absolutely thrilled to have their animals back. This is not just a business for Kennedys. Their animals all have names and personalities and are treated as part of the family. The family have all received a great lesson in how much they are loved and appreciated by all who know them and who visit the farm. We are all delighted at the happy outcome.

A few changes

What a motley crew?

A group of priests, a bishop, County Council engineers, Garda
Superintendent and BnM staff on a visit to Mountdillon bog in Co. Longford in 1951.


I received the following email from Karen Semken is Sydney

Hi there,

I’m involved with the irish orphan memorial in sydney. In relation to your questions i can advise the following:

A Margaret Stack arrived on the Thomas Arbuthnot but records have her from Innestymon, Clare. I have some information on this orphn by a descendant. She also had a sister Mary who came out in 1858 (but not part of the Earl Grey Scheme)

Mary Griffin arrived on the Thomas Arbuthnot – not the Tippoo.

Please check the database on our website for more info.

We are currently in the process of preparing a lot of ‘stories’ from descendents for upload to the site.

Regards, Karen

( I’m looking forward to reading the stories.)


ESB Networks are digging up outside the church. I don’t know what it’s all about though.

Meanwhile here are a few developments inside the church.

It’s November, that time of year when we remember our departed loved ones.

The ramp to the altar tells us something about the ageing profile of our clergy.


 This is how Bank of Ireland, The Square, Listowel looks now. The queue by the windows is for the 2 remaining tellers. The Express banking booths are how we do business for ourselves now.


Jer took his video camera to Moyvane festival a few weeks ago. His clip includes Vintage Day, the craft fair and rehearsal for the play.


On Tuesday last I was listening to Radio Kerry when I heard Mike Lynch’s “Footprints”

I thought that the piece was so interesting that I asked him if he would send it to me in print form so that I could share it with you. 

Here is the first extract.

Footprints for November 2012 (1)

1.         The
Irish Land Question – The Kerry Peasantry

(Kerry Evening Post, 24 November 1880)

The Land
Question was the burning topic of the early 1880s, and in order to better
understand the issues involved, the London Standard newspaper sent a
special correspondent to Kerry to see the issues involved.  As an introduction, the writer noted:

peasantry of Kerry posses all the best physical characteristics of the Celtic
race.  Tall, sinewy, and active, they
seem the class from which the pioneers of an advancing colony might be
selected.  Their women are comely and of
good physique, and are used to all kinds of laborious field work.  I know of no prettier sight than the children
of the national schools at play.  These
schools are dotted all over the countryside, and you can see from three to four
hundred boys and girls, bare-footed and often bare-headed, with clear, healthy
faces and blue eyes, scampering about the hills in this inclement climate,
forming a picture that lives long in the memory.”

He repeats
the well-known story of how turf was brought to school by the children, and
adds “One carries a piece of lighted peat, another trudges along, a turf under
each arm, and lastly comes the master, a sober, earnest-looking man, who will
tell you with pride how many of his pupils have taken places in the Civil

In relation
to the people themselves, “The peasants are, unfortunately, suspicious to a
proverb; they are averse to giving direct answers, but when asked a question
will reply by putting a hypothetical case, beginning with may be or it
might be
.  They are, finally,
much given to putting their condition in the worst possible light, if they
think to gain anything by it, and of displaying a certain aggressive demeanour,
if those with whom they converse express a contrary opinion”.

correspondent notes that a gentleman long-time resident in Ireland had said to
him that “nothing is so difficult to ascertain in Ireland as the truth”.  This motto came back to his thoughts as he
interviewed a raggedly-dressed young man who gave him a long list of
grievances, and told how he was close to destitution and forced to work on Poor
Law Relief Schemes just to survive.  The
correspondent’s driver informed him that the same man had almost £200 in the
banks at Killarney!

journeying on to Cahirciveen from Sneem, the writer was forced to stop at a
forge for shelter during a storm.  His
conversation with the smith (also a farmer) went as follows:

Writer:           Mr
D Corkery, who owns this property, is a fair landlord, I believe?

Smith:              May be he is, and may be he’s not.

Writer:           The soil doesn’t seem very fertile
about this place?

Smith:              Faith, a snipe couldn’t shelter on the most
part of it.

Writer:           What’s your rent and valuation?

Smith:            Me rint’s five pounds and me
valuation’s three pounds ten shillings. 
It’s a great dale too much rint we pay.

When the
correspondent put it to them that a small rent decrease would do little for
them, his driver said “These poor people, yer honour, could make a pound or two
go farther than you could make twenty”.



“Permission to speak ,sir?”

Don’t panic; don’t panic!

“When we was fighting the Fussy Wuzzies…..”

RIP a great comic actor, Clive Dunn.


Local news from councillor Jimmy Moloney

Maintenance works in place on the N69 form Ballygologue Cross to Tim Kennelly Roundabout. A new storm drain is being put in place and footpaths are being replaced on both sides of the road. Minor diversions expected. Works expected to last 6 weeks.


Route C has been chosen for the town bypass.

The bypass road will leave the Listowel Tralee road about a mile outside the town.

The new  bridge across the river  will be just at the town side of the dam, cross over behind Forge Rd  and onto the old rail tracks. It will join up with John B Keane Rd at McKennas Yard. There may be slight alterations when they do environmental studies ect.

You can view the map on Jimmy’s page

Buddy, can you spare me a dime?

Listowel has its own optional toll booth. It’s usually manned by a local charity. Yesterday was the turn of Exist@ance Youth café. Sorry, I could not find a link to the youth café. Located in Upper William Street,  the café looks after our young people and provides a centre for them to socialise in. It also organises many useful trips and projects.

The collectors stand on the traffic island in The Small Square and from there collect from passing motorists and pedestrians. I hope the young people did very well and made enough to keep them going for another while.

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