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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GAA and More

Listowel Courthouse and Library in July 2022


Planning Your Weekend?

Two local festivals are back in full swing next weekend. Here are the details.


The GAA is all about Family

Pic: Kerry GAA Fans Facebook page

There are some families that are steeped in GAA lore. Football is in the DNA of OSés, Griffins, Cliffords etc etc. But Pat Spillane’s farewell speech has to be the most poignant reminder of how much winning an All Ireland medal can mean even to families who have biscuit tins full of them under beds.

“My father never saw us play. The three sons have 19 All-Ireland medals and his two grandsons today, Killian and Adrian, have two more. He would have been a proud man, 21 senior All-Ireland football medals brought in to his house. It’s just a special day. A special day.”


Stephen Fernane in this week’s Kerryman tells us why he also remembers his father on Ireland final day.

Photo; BBC Sport

Ogie Clifford in the Sam Maguire cup with his father, David, and his uncle, Paudie in Croke Park on Sunday, July 24 2022.


Summers Past

“…Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand,

Or the sound of a voice that is still….”

This lovely photo is from The Irish Examiner archive. It was taken in a meadow in Wilton in Cork but it could be anywhere in Ireland in the 1950s and 60s.

I remember the gallon of tea and the sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper from a sliced pan.


Obituary to a Man who Kept Lartigue History Safe

by David Kissane for The Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine

The Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine was saddened by the death recently of one of its original members, Mick Barry of Ballingown. Mick was an advertisement for mental and physical vigour, with a curious mind and a challenging nature.Well into his 90s, he had a long and interesting life, spent mostly on his farm in Ballingown where his father had passed away when Mick was quite young.

He was well rooted in his own townland and parish, and knew every inch and every person in the locality. He fulfilled many roles in his long lifetime, from farmer to enginerer to mechanic to historian to taxi driver to husband to father to grandfather to philosopher to much more.

He was a fear iol-dánach, a man for all seasons of human life. He was a valued companion of his friend John B Keane, a writer who valued the Kerryness of Mick. Mick contributed this Kerryness to his work with Listowel Writers Week and the Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine. His creativity was displayed on many occasions in his membership of the latter, creating the concept of the photo-story where he took an old photo and generated an article about the people in it, the time it was taken and the latent emotive potential around it. In times of doubt and division at a meeting, he could unentangle the algebra of issues and cast light on the possible road ahead.

An hour spent in Mick’s company always became three hours as he had the ability and nous to draw one into the fresh pastures of his tales, memories and histories. He was also, of course a humorous man and a rogue when it suited! A twinkle in his eye at the start of a story meant that his listener was going nowhere fast.

He was inspired by many things in the parish around him, not least the sulphur green and the bottle green and the lime green and the sea green of the Hill that looked down on him sometimes under a cobalt blue sky. He had the sunny side of that Hill as his first vista every morning, drawing a deep energising breath as he indulged his eyes over its raw and changing face for over 90 years. It was under that Hill that he recreated a section of the Lartigue Train to relive the Lartigue experience of the late 1800s and early 1900s, to the amazement and delight of neighbours like Páidín Roche and Joe Kennelly.

To see Mick in the company of his late wife Sheila at a meeting or on a night out was to experience a team of two who worked well together. They added a colour and texture to many a Lisselton night. Together they rinsed the mundane from many a flat ordinary occasion and rendered it special with a half smile, a knowing nod or a ripened word.

The BPM offers its sincere sympathy to the Barry family.


Typhus Cork, The Cuckoo, Maurice McGrath and the origin of Street Leagues in Listowel

Photo: Liam Downes from the internet


Another Time, another Pestilence


First Cuckoo

 Photo and caption from David Kissane on Facebook

Welcome to Kilmoyley! This is possibly the first cuckoo in the Ardfert Kilmoyley region for 2020, photographed yesterday by Hubert Servignat who lives a short distance away. Tá an samhradh ag teacht!

Cuckoo (Neil Brosnan) 

I blame the parents more than the youngsters

Those most deceitful of our refugees.

Planners and plotters, ingrained imposters,

Covertly winging from far overseas.  

‘Shush,’ snaps the dunnock from under the sedge, 

The marsh warbler’s song cut short in his throat

Mute pipits cringe at the still meadow’s edge

As high up above resounds the next note. 

Tunefully perfect, evolved to enthrall

Proclaiming his realm; his objectives clear

Shamelessly calling from dawn to nightfall

Stark confirmation that summer is here. 

Have we ever heard this cuckoo before?

Will he return here – once, twice, or no more?  


Maurice McGrath

Vincent wrote this article two years ago on the occasion of the North Kerry Final.

The 1920s hurling team with Maurice McGrath

I cannot recall all the names, however I can name some, I wanted to show this one as it is the only one with Maurice McGrath

Back row,

 (1) Jim Henderson – (3) Brendan .McEnery- (5) J.J. Kenny – (6) Stanlish Kerins – (7) Tony Chute – (8) Maurice McGrath – (9) Brendan Nunan – (10) Brud Roche.

Middle Row,

(5) Ml (Ginger) Kelly- (6) Wm. (Jacques) Guerin – (7) Tommy (Tucker) Stack) (8) Martin Holly.


includes, Maurice McAuliffe, Bob Slemon, Jim Joe Buckley, Jack Harmon.

(Jim Henderson  was a Guard in Listowel and retired to Ballybunion, he was from Kilkenny, I think he was an uncle to the great Henderson’s of the  Kilkenny teams of the late 60s ,70s and 80s.)

Vincent came up with a few more names;

Back row, 

(2) John Nolan – (4) Paddy Allen – 

Middle Row,

partly covered, (1) Joe O’Carroll – (3) Eddie Flaherty – (4) Nelson McAuliffe – (6) Should read, Ned (Spud) Murphy ((not Wm Guerin) 


(1) Matt (Curly) Walsh – (2)  Moss McAuliffe – (3) Dandy Leahy (laying sideways)  – (4) Bob Slemon – figure in white ? (6) Jack Brown – (7) Jim Kenny  (with cap) (8) ?


The cup was bought for £15 by  Maurice McGrath and presented by him for National school league competition 

Following 1927,  the cup went AWOL, and remained so until 1987 when Vincent Carmody went searching and finally found it 60 years on from 1927. It is now a treasured piece of the Emmets historical archive.

Greenville, 1927, first school league winners of McGrath cup. Cup held by John Sayers.

(all photos and story from Vincent Carmody)

New York, Ballybunion, Red Cross and Turf

January 2018 in Midtown Manhattan

The temperature was -12 when Danny O’Connor, formerly of Gurtinard, took this photo.


Old Ballybunion

The Ladies’ Beach back in the day.


 Listowel Red Cross in the 1960s. Does anyone recognise anyone?


Turf Then and Now

These are stooks of turf standing drying in the bog fadó.

This is the scene in the bog at the end of summer as the turf is saved and ready to be bagged and brought home.

Machine cup turf drying in the bog.

Sods of machine turf.


My Own Micko Story

Dave O’Sullivan found this in The Kerryman archive from 1981

For those who don’t remember the controversy, it concerned commercial sponsorship of county . teams.

Kerry was one of the first counties to accept endorsements and to do media ads.

The reference to stripes is to the famous Adidas three stripes logo. 

The Mulvihill was Liam Mulvihill the then director general of the GAA.

Foynes Flying Boat Museum, “By Herkins” and the origins of Gaelic Football

Ripening apples in early autumn 2017


A Visit to Foynes Flying Boat Museum

I’ve passed through Foynes lots of times and I’ve seen the museum but I never imagined that it was something that would interest me. In truth I didn’t even know what a flying boat was. Then on the advice of a friend who had taken young people there, I decided to take my two young visitors to Foynes Flying Boat Museum. They and I loved it.

We learned so much about trans Atlantic aviation and a bit about the River Shannon and its importance. All this learning was done in a really fun and interactive way. We were lucky on the day we visited as the museum was quiet and the boys got lots of time on the interactive bits which they loved.

Foynes is a busy port with lots of sea traffic.

The boys were fascinated by the early communication devices.

You get to sit in a cockpit and land a plane…virtually.

In a trick of mirrors you can even shake hands with the pilot.

There is a replica of the flying boat which was very luxurious.

In the bar, using holograms, we got  to see how the first Irish coffee was made.

This is a long list of all the goods that passed through the port of Foynes in the 19th century.

There were lots of video snippets concentrating on delivering information in a lively and often hilarious way.

The museum is a tall building. When we got to the top we had a great view down over the town and out over the port. The boys loved the two telescopes and spent ages “spying” on people down below.


Help Needed

A blog follower would appreciate any enlightenment on this one.

I am seeking information on the meaning of the phrase, “By Herkins!”– an exclamation known and used in the past in the Castleisland area – and maybe in Listowel, too. 

It was said in circumstances where “By Jove!” would be used by a certain class, and approximates to a what  I often heard an old man in South Meath utter “Be the ‘Crass’ o’ Christ!” or “Be the holy Saint Patrick!” 

Or, as a nod to that wonderful West Cork-man, The Tailor Buckley:- ‘By the mockstick of war! There is a deal of difference between the world as it was then and the world as it is today.’ 

As Gaeilge, there was an ancient phrase which runs as “Dar magairlí an diabhail!” – which was not  a reference to orchids in the devil’s garden…


The Origins of Football

( by Con Houlihan)

There was a kind of football in Ireland long before the coming of the GAA. It was especially strong in North Kerry. It was a primitive kind of game. The ball in use was mostly straw wrapped in leather. You couldn’t kick it far and you couldn’t kick with any accuracy. A man whose name is forgotten revolutionised football, not only in Ireland but all over the world. He was a Belfast veterinary surgeon who, one day, got tired of seeing his small boy trundling around on a tricycle with rubber tyres. It dawned on him that rubber could be filled with air and this discovery made most of our modern field games possible…..

(Readers of this blog will know that this inventor’s name is not forgotten at all. It is John Boyd Dunlop.)


Hi Ho, hi ho it’s back to school we go

Summer’s over for another year. With heavy heart we grandparents wave our children off for another year at the chalkface.

My lovely boys, Sean and Killian have to leave Helios behind as they head back to Scoil Barra.

Aisling, Cora and Róisín are back in Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin .

Meanwhile in Tralee, Tadhg and Caoimhe, twin grandchildren of Vincent, Kathleen and Anthony head out to school on their first day. Their brother Jack is between them in  the photo. He is starting 6th class.

A Bronx Garden, Football Fans in 1963 and Deidre Lyons goes to Gleninchaquin

Montbretia on the John B. Keane Rd. Listowel July 2017


An Emigrant photographer

Robert O’Shea grew up in Charles Street, Listowel. He has lived in New York for 34 years but he still loves Listowel and gets back often. He enjoys keeping in touch with what’s happening at home through Listowel Connection. Recently, in response to my request to tell me more about his Listowel connection,  he wrote;

“I am not just a listowel man more importantly I’m a Boro man (Charles St ) where I grew up and started my first job after leaving school I worked for 3 years in Jerome  Murphy’ Bargain Store and 5 years in Jack Mackenna’s before coming to American. Growing up in Charles St the fire station was our soccer,football rugby pitch & handball ally as we got older it was replaced by the Astor cinema, St Patrick’s hall and the FCA hall and of course the Arms Hotel dance hall,we’ll I hope that gives you some insight sorry I don’t have any old pictures but I would love to know if anyone has any pictures of the FCA during the mid 1970 I do remember sitting for them. I will email you some pictures I took lately at the Bronx Botanical Garden it features works by the artist Daley Chihuly.”


Kerry Football Fans in 1963

This photograph from This is Kerry shows passengers at Tralee Station waiting to board a train to Dublin for the Kerry Galway All Ireland Football Final. The year was 1963.


Gleninchaquin by Deirdre Lyons

These stunning photos of a very beautiful corner of The Kingdom were taken by Deidre Lyons as she trekked with a group led by John Lenihan.


Classical Musician with a Listowel Connection

Paul Carasco is making a name for himself as a classical pianist

Listen to him HERE

Who is Paul Carasco?

Vincent Carmody has the answer.

Paul Carasco,  from Sydney and is my first cousin, Roselyn Carmody’s son. 

Her father was my uncle Vincent, my dad’s brother. A good number of years ago, Peter was doing the Australian thing, seeing  the world.  He stayed with us for a weekend, during which he told me that his mother had warned him if he came to Listowel, I would have to take him back to see the Presentation Nuns as his grandfather had served as an altar boy back in the Convent as a schoolboy. 

So I took him back and, during his visit, hearing that he could tickle the ivories, the nuns invited him to play a tune or two, thinking, Danny Boy or the Rose of Tralee. Paul, unaware of the good nuns’ tastes  launched into, it was pointed out to me, a most serious piece by Rachmaninov, I would say, even any nun with hearing difficulties, that night must have thought that their hearing had been cured.


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