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: Fred Chute Page 1 of 3

Coolbane Mill, Chutes Painters and Handball Memories

Photo; Glentenassig, Martin Moore


A Journey back in Time

I love to read stories collected by school children and preserved forever in the Schools’ Folklore Collection in the National Archives.

This project “was originally to run from 1937 to 1938 but was extended to 1939 in specific cases. For the duration of the project, more than 50,000 schoolchildren from 5,000 schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were enlisted to collect folklore in their home districts.”

Many of these records are available online and make great reading for anyone interested in life as it was in the early part of the twentieth century.

It was in a Lismire schoolgirl’s account of old crafts that I learned of my great grandfather’s trade as a weaver and his connection with O’Shaughnessey’s Mill in Coolbane, Freemount.

Eddie Moylan remembered that mill too for he grew up in that part of the country and he remembered trips to the mill as a child. The owner was always sure to have a coin in his waistcoat pocket to give to the young visitor.

Inspired by these memories and their connection to our families’ histories, Eddie and I visited Coolbane Mill when Covid restrictions on cross county border travel were lifted.

Eddie with Eileen, the latest descendant of the O’Shaughnesseys to look after Coolbane Mill nowadays.

There is little enough left of the old Mill which was once a hub of activity, but Eileen is determined to restore it. She very kindly invited us to view the old mill and she entertained us with plenty of tea and chat.

Here is the old mill wheel. A stream flows behind those trees and that water was used to power the mill.

It was very moving to stand beside this old mill building and see what my great grandfather must have seen hundreds of times on his trips with his woven material to have it “tucked” here in Coolbane.

This second mill building is the old grain mill where farmers, like Eddie’s dad, would have brought grain crops to be crushed.

This building once housed a shop which was part of this thriving O’Shaughnessey enterprise.

Look at the beautiful stonework on this old building. Our ancestors were such skilled craftsmen.


Learning from a Master

I took these pictures in 2012 or 2013 of the late master painter Fred Chute and his nephew Francis.


Handball Memories

Noel Roche relived some happy times in the ball alley in the 1950s

Yes I have to say the Ball Alley was a huge part of my Childhood. It was not uncommon to see twenty or more kids waiting to play .We also use to play a Game called Rocky which was an elimination game so up to twenty could start the game and went on until there was only one player left. Monday afternoon was when the big boys came to play [ most places closed for half day Monday and we got to watch players like Junior Griffin [Bridge rd] John Keane [the avenue] Tom Enright [Bridge Rd ] play. They were some of the top players i remember. Among my age group the top players were Joe Moriarty, Denny Connor and Eddie Brouder.[all from O’Connells ave].Countless hours were spent in the Ball Alley for me as a kid and will always hold precious memories. Im delighted to see it will be used as an outdoor theatre in the future . What a beautiful setting for it.


Covid 19 cartoons, a murder and poem

Chris Grayson’s Killorglin

Old photo of Presentation Convent, Listowel


Preparing for Culture Night 2019

Paul Shannon, Sinead McDonnell and Aimee Keane


Mike O’Donnell’s Covid 19 Sketches


A Young Fred Chute and Friends

Thank you, Elizabeth O’Carroll for the photographs.


Lord Ormathwaite, a murder and the land war

The murder of a ‘land-grabber’ and the Land War in Kerry. By Mark Holan

A thunderstorm swept across Pittsburgh in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, 1923. Winds gusted to 35 miles per hour and dropped the temperature to 51 degrees before daybreak. The thermometer barely had reached 60 degrees as Nora Foran Scanlon set off for a notary’s office about a mile from her apartment in one of the city’s Irish enclaves.

It’s likely she was wearing her best Sunday morning dress as a sign of respect to the notary and in memory of her late father. Her purse would have been stuffed to bursting with letters and documents related to rectifying what she attested to the notary had been a “violation of justice” 35 years earlier along a rural road in County Kerry. Her sworn affidavit told the story: “My father held an evicted farm in the vicinity of Listowel, Coolaclarig. He was boycotted to the meanest extreme and finally shot to death.”

The murder of John Foran was one of over 100 killings associated with the Land War.

Nearly 100 agrarian murders occurred in Ireland from the start of the Land War in 1879 through the conclusion of the Parliamentary special commission on “Parnellism and Crime.” This story explores the viciousness of the period by looking at the case of one family. The murder of boycotted farmer John Foran caught the attention of newspapers and Parliament and echoed up to the founding of the Irish Free State.

The Foran family and 19th century Listowel

Nora Foran had grown up near the North Kerry market town of Listowel, about eight miles southeast of where the River Shannon empties into the Atlantic. Knocanore Hill, an 880-foot summit isolated from Kerry’s taller southern mountain ranges, is another area landmark. Then, as today, the district is dominated by farms and bogs.

The Foran family were from Listowel, north Kerry, where they farmed a 150 acre lease in the Tullamore townland.

Nora’s father, John Foran, had grown up there, too. He’d been in his early twenties when a potato blight and English indifference triggered Ireland’s Great Famine. He’d seen widespread starvation and death as Kerry’s population plummeted 18 percent between 1841–1851.

Property records for 1851 show John Foran (either Nora’s father or his father) was farming a 150-acre lease in Tullamore townland, about five miles north of Listowel on the east side of Knocanore. Foran leased the land from John Benn-Walsh’s estate of nearly 9,000 acres, which had been acquired from the 3rd Earl of Kerry in the early 1770s. The estate included another 2,200 acres in neighboring County Cork and holdings in England and Wales.

Benn-Walsh was a British politician and the first Lord Ormathwaite—taking the name from his County Cumberland property in northwest England. His North Kerry estate was larger than most, but dwarfed by a handful of others. Foran’s farm was among 1,900 acres in Galey civil parish, where Ormathwaite maintained his mansion Tullamore House and a smaller residence called Duagh Glebe, a few miles east of Listowel.

The Foran’s farm was a large sub-lease within the 1,900 acre estate of Lord Ormathwaite.

Omathwaite considered his purchase of Coolaclarig opposite Tullamore to be “a very good investment,” according to his surviving journals. In 1858 he hired George Sandes as local agent for his properties. Sandes was a North Kerry native and lawyer, but the agent position made him very unpopular among the locals……..

You can read the rest of Mark Horan’s account of the story HERE


Another Covid 19 Isolation Poem

Róisín Meaney

I ate my way through last week,

As I waited for covid to peak

I must try harder

To bypass the larder,

Or I’ll never regain my physique. 

A Christmas Candle, Craftshop na Méar and Kerry Writers Museum Craft fair

Listowel Arms at Christmas 2019


Another lovely Christmas window


Kerry Writers’ Museum Craft Fair

Here are some of the crafters I missed when I posted these last.

These lovely colourful mandalas all all unique. They would make a lovely display grouped together on a wall. Great value too from this really talented lady.

Eimear was at her first craft fair and enjoying the experience.

Mary and her friend, Angela were recycling and up cycling. They had lovely affordable Christmas decorations.

Kerry Writers Museum was just the place to start your Christmas shopping for 2019.


Looking back and remembering

This photo was taken at the opening of Craftshop na Méar on Church Street.  It shows some of the early crafters, Maureen, Mary, Una, Namir, Mary, Kelly, Mairéad and Mary with Miriam Kiely in whose old home the shop was located. Front left is the late Dan Green who died so tragically soon after.

The Craftshop verdict ; Sad its over but glad it happened.


A Candle Story from the Schools’ Folklore Collection

Long ago an old woman who lived in a thatched house before going to bed on Christmas night took her candles, quenched them and put them into a drawer in the table for fear that during the night the house might go on fire. She got out of bed early next morning to light the candles again. On opening the drawer to her surprise she found the candles lighting at both ends. She took it as a lesson that the Christmas candles would not burn anything.

Collector, Teresa Fitzmaurice- Address Beal Middle, Co. Kerry
Informant- Mrs H. Fitzmaurice, Age 42 Address, Beal Middle, Co. Kerry.
Location: Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry- Teacher: An tSr. Aodán.


Event Guide

If you want to know what’s on in Listowel over the holidays, has a great new page detailing everything that ‘s on.

Here’s the link

Events in Listowel


+  R.I.P. Martin Hickey  +

I took this photograph on Church Street in 2013. Fred Chute took time out from his painting to chat to his old friend, Martin Hickey.

Sad to say that Listowel has lost both of these old stock in 2019.

Martin has been absent from our streets for a while now and you’d miss him. He was a great servant to his beloved Listowel Celtic and they appreciated their “boss”, installing him in the well deserved office of president.

May the sod rest lightly on Martin’s gentle soul.


Christmas is a Time for Friends

I met Cathuy Mawe and Eithne Galvin in The Listowel Arms on Saturday Dec. 14 2019.

Carmody’s Corner, Cough syrup, some Weekend events and Freddy Chute R.I.P.

 Carmody’s Corner

This was always the pick up point for Listowel Celtic players on their way to a match. 

Across the street is Jerome Murphy’s now All Regions

Maybe its time to take down the sign for the golf club.


This will soften your cough

A blog follower checked this out and found that it is not all it was cracked up to be.

According to Neatorama, One Night Cough Syrup was the subject of a legal case from 1934 in which the FDA ruled the drug’s “claims of its therapeutic properties” were misleading — because, you know, most of its main ingredients are highly addictive, harmful substances.


Busy Weekend in Store

Ballybunion has the usual star studded line up of guests for Women in Media 2019


Over the road a bit in Lixnaw there is a great free local event

The Drama Festival continues in St. John’s


+  Fred Chute R.I.P. +

The radio has been silent for a while now. Today, April 26 2019,  we bury the radio’s owner. Fred was a familiar face on the streets of Listowel as he went about his business of beautifying our town and playing his part in making it the artistic gem it is.

I took these photos of Fred as he did one of his last painting jobs, when he was already ill.

Fred was my neighbour and friend. I had huge respect for his work and he had huge respect for mine. He loved my piece on him in my book and he loved to see himself on the blog.

He would drive slowly by me and roll down the window to tell me that he had heard me on the radio and he loved what I said. We were like Nancy Pelosi and Bono:  from different worlds but massive fans of one another. This is why I dared to interrupt him in his work to ask him to smile for his relatives in the U.S. who follow the blog.

Listowel is the poorer for the passing of one of its great visual artists. He has left a great legacy of colourful paintwork to Listowel. I hope that future generations will respect and preserve it.

I extend here my deepest sympathy to his devoted partner, Teresa, to Priscilla and Hunter, to my friend, Roly, Fred’s brother,  and to all who loved Fred.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Fred Chute at work on Jet’s, Bank of Ireland Refurb and Molly in Cork

Trees in Listowel Pitch and Putt course


Still Number One

I saw Fred on his ladder painting one of the many pieces of  individual wall art that grace Listowel.

A master at work.

Fred’s cousin, Liz, sent a request for a smile especially for her the next time I saw Fred painting. Here it is Liz, a smile especially for you from William St., Listowel.

In case any of the rest of you are getting any ideas, I can’t make a habit of going around town disturbing people at their work and asking them to smile at their cousins in America.


Bank of Ireland

I haven’t called for a few days. This was how it looked last time I visited.


Molly at Home

Molly is back in Cork with her family.

 Her girls are learning to touch type. Molly is waiting for them to get done and come and play.

She likes a walk and a little dip.


A legendary Ballybunion Piper

This is Ballybunion at nighttime. Once upon a time a lone piper used to walk these shores at sunset composing tunes.

According to local lore, Tom McCarthy, the famous Ballybunion piper, was born in 1799. His favourite playing spot was the Castle Green but he also was said to walk along the cliffs listening to the wild life and replicating the sounds of Nature in his music.

He passed away in 1904 after a lifetime of composing and playing music.

After his death, his pipes became the stuff of legend, one man claiming that they played by themselves with no musician about.

Finally the pipes vanished and nobody has any idea where they are to this day.

(I read this story in Danny Houlihan’s Ballybunion, an Illustrated History)

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