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: Gaeilge

Killarney, an Oyster Drill and alas poor Gaeilge!

Birds at the feast   photo by Chris Grayson



I was at The Malton in Killarney to meet up with some old friends and I took a few photos while I was in that corner of the tourist capital of Ireland.

If ever there was a symbol of Killarney, it has to be the Jaunting Car.

“Jaunt” is a word that has fallen out of favour of late.

 This magnificent tree is at the entrance to the Outlet Centre.

 The Franciscan Friary is a beautiful church.

 I had never spotted this before. It is located opposite the Friary and just off the roundabout.

Look at the three very different architectural styles in this corner.

Killarney possesses great natural beauty but its built environment is a bit of a mish mash.


Interesting Fact I learned from Ethna Viney in Saturday’s paper

On the rock where I fish there were bairneach (limpet) shells with holes and the contents not fully eaten. I found out that the holes were made by the oyster drill. How long have these molluscs been living in Kerry?

Fin Broderick, Listowel, Co Kerry

The oyster drill is an alien, invasive species that came in to oyster beds with imported Pacific oysters, and is found all around the shallow parts of the bays of southwest Kerry.


A window display for the week that’s in it


Lost in Translation

There is a blogger who calls himself the Geeky Gaelgoir. He is amused to see the mess some people make of translating even the simplest of phrases.

This week our geek found a cracker. You have heard of the US slogan Black Lives Matter. It grew out of anger at what seemed like the undue haste with which certain police officers fired their weapons if the suspect was black.

A counter movement was started by the right wing and they called their movement Blue Lives Matter. I can only suppose that it is because so many US police officers are Irish American that someone thought it would be a good idea to have this slogan printed in Irish on a T-shirt.

The huge irony arises from the use of words to describe colour in Irish. For instance there are two words for green, glas and uaithne, glas is used for organic things like féar glas and uaithne for things like a flag, brat uaithne.

But our ancestors perception of colour was different to ours and the Irish for a grey horse is capall glas.

Gorm is the word for blue. We are all familiar with súile gorma.

But remember our ancestors different perception of colour, so black people in Irish are daoine gorma. Our friend with the blue line through his shamrock is actually supporting black lives.

Since his slogan is gibberish anyway, I dont think anyone will get it.


A Wet Sunday on the Island

Racing went ahead despite the showers and winds. This is Danny Mullins with Kylecue who won The Kerry Group Steplechase for the third time.

Clouds gather over a not too busy Bookmakers’ ring.

Solitary horse in the parade ring during a heavy shower on Sunday Sept 10 2017

Peig Sayers; a Listowel connection

This book has been much in the news recently. The co-author, Michael Carney, is the last person born on the Great Blasket, the only inhabitable one of the 6 islands, to write an account of life there. The Blasket islands have been uninhabited since 1953. Only 10 native islanders survive and all are very elderly.

Michael Carney was born on the island in 1920 and lived there until he was 16.

I read a review of the book by Darragh MacManus and that review has spurred me to read the memoir itself. When Mike was growing up on the Great Blasket , the island people had no post office,  no shop, no car, no electricity, no phone, no running water, no church, no doctor or nurse, no horse, no proper roads, no machinery and no pub .  They literally had nothing.

It was the tragic death of Mike’s brother, Séanín, which led eventually to the complete evacuation of the last remaining 22 citizens in 1953.  In 1964 just before Christmas, Seainín ÓCearna contracted meningitis. The weather was too bad and the sea too rough to get him to the mainland or to bring a doctor from the mainland to him.  His preventable death and the subsequent delay in getting to the mainland for a coffin was the impetus the islanders needed to put pressure on the DeValera government to relocate them.

Mike says ” Some people cannot get the island out of their system. I think about it every day and still dream about it every night. I am an islandman at heart and will be until the day I die.”


People often marvel at how Listowel has produced so many writers. Even more extraordinary is the number of writers produced by one small isolated island off the west Kerry coast. The Great Blasket at its peak  had only 176 inhabitants in 1916.

The most famous of the chroniclers of life on The Blasket was Peig Sayers.

This rare photo of Brendan Behan and Peig was posted online by a Michael Murphy.

Recently I discovered that a Listowel family have a close family link with Peig.

In her biography, Peig describes 2 periods she spent “in aimsir”,  i. e. working as a servant girl. The first of these tréimhsí was spent  with a family in Dingle. Peig describes her time in the Curran house with affection. The bean an tí, her boss, was kind to her and  she loved the children, particularly Seáinín.

Now for the Listowel connection. This Curran family is the family of Anne Moloney of Cherrytree Drive. Unfortunately, Anne has no photo of herself with Peig since she was very young when Peig died, but she secured from another member of her family this photo of Peig with them.

1936 approx.

Standing back L to R : Mary Curran ( Anne Moloney’s grandmother) , Ogie Mehigan ( Anne’s first cousin) Eileen Scully nee Curran (Anne’s mother)

Seated L to R: Fr Morgan Curran and his sister Sr Felicitas Curran ( Anne’s uncle and aunt)  Peig Sayers, “Auntie” Ciss Mehigan nee Scully

Front L to R : Gussie Mehigan, on Peig’s lap, John Scully ( known by Peig as Seáinín) ( Anne’s eldest brother)

We’re not sure who the boy with his back to us is!

Since Anne was not born when Peig was in her family home, her memories of Peig are as an old lady. Peig Sayers spent the last years of her life in Dingle hospital. We know from her own account that Peig had “galar an tabac” and was once reduced to filling her dúidín (clay pipe) with tea when she was gasping for a smoke and no tobacco was to be had. But our Peig was no saint. She was also fond of a drop. Anne remembers being sent up to the hospital with a naggin of whiskey that some kind benefactor had bought in Currans for Peig.

While the search for a photo of Peig with the Curran family was going on, Kay Caball, Anne’s sister in law, came up with a photo of Peig with the Moloney family of Listowel.

Back L to R

Micheal O Guithín, Peig Sayers, Dan Moloney

Front L to R

Unknown, Margaret Moloney

The photos were scanned and sent by Maeve Moloney, Anne’s daughter, and she tells me that she has been motivated to re read Peig’s story.

Maeve found the following interesting titbit in Wikipaedia:

The book was for a long time required reading in secondary schools in Ireland. As a book with arguably sombre themes (its latter half cataloguing a string of family misfortunes), its presence on the Irish syllabus was criticised for some years. From 1960 the Irish population was urbanising, a process that led to the “Celtic Tiger” economy in the 1990s, and Peig’s tales of woe in rural surroundings confirmed to many students that Irish was a language of poverty and misery, while English was considered the language of science and commerce.


Shortis, Ballybunion and a Flavin Costelloe family

Remember this?

Shop and Bar 1901 

Looks as if you could
buy almost anything from this shop and bar in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry at the
corner of Main Street and Cliff Road. It’s a pub now.

Our thanks to3.1415926535forthisandthis contemporary viewof
Shortis’s pub as it is now.

Thanks toDannyM8for doing some digging on the Shortis family in the
1901 and 1911 census.

This was theShortis family in 1901, with
father and mother William and Annie, both aged 32 and described as General
Merchant and Publican and Wife of a Merchant respectively.

Matters took a sad
turn for the Shortis family in 1905 however.DannyM8reports:
”Annie Died in Childbirth 1905

William Shortis,
Born: 1869, From Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, Married to Annie Browne Died:
1905, ‘Died of ‘Broken heart’, leaving 5 children with no parents. Occupation:
Manager of Lartigue railway. Exported Cashen salmon to Harrods in London,
England. Reference: He built Shortis’s bar and lodge in Ballybunnion, Co Kerry.
TheCensus of 1911sees
William and Annie Shortis replaced by Norah and Mary Brown, sisters and Aunts
to the Shortis children.

DannyM8also found out
that Patrick Shortis, aged 8 in 1901, was at All Hallows, Drumcondra, Dublin in
1911 aged 18, and described as aStudent of Theology Undergraduate(aka a priest in training?), and provides a follow-up to Patrick
Shortis’s story:
”Patrick Shortis and Daniel Scanlon both lost their
lives in the fight for independence and were honoured by the North Kerry branch
of Republican Sinn Fein.
Patrick Shortis fought at the GPO in 1916 and was
killed with the O’Rahilly on an assault on the Rotunda while Daniel Scanlon
lost his life in Ballybunion in 1917 while on active duty against occupied

stephen Kelleghanadded
further Shortis family information:
”There was also a Dr. Liam Shortis
from Ballybunion was in Tintown during the Civil war as a Republican prisoner,
hes mentioned in Mossie Harnetts book called “Victory & Woe” page
156, he was a brother of Patrick Shortis, he was released in 1924 became a eye
specialist and passed away in the 50s.

Really delighted thatslimdandywas inspired to
apply his artistic skills tothis photo. He said:
is what Heaven is to me. A dry goods store (because I can’t take anything with
me when I go), with a Bar in the back and a nice room upstairs. All needs met.

Date: Circa 1901

(All of the above comes from the National Library of Ireland)


Another woman with a Ballybunion connection is Peggy Flavin Knowlton. Peggy is a keen family historian and is very proud of her Irish roots. She has made one trip to North Kerry from her home in San Diego. She would love to come again but in the meantime someone might be able to fill in a few gaps in her knowledge about her Costelloe and Flavin antecedents.

Here is the church record of their marriage that Peggy found online. As you can see Denis Flahivan came from Tullamore. This could be the Tullamore near Listowel and we will presume that Catherine came from Ballybunion. 

Does anyone reading this have these people in his/her family tree?

Area – KERRY (RC) , Parish/Church/Congregation – BALLYBUNION


Back to search results

New search

Datee.g. 13/08/1710

Husband Wife
Occupation NR NR
Father NR NR NR NR
Mother NR NR NR NR

Further details in the record

Husband’s Father’s Occupation NR

About the record

Book Number Page Entry Number Record_Identifier
1 N/R N/R KY-RC-MA-6991

The church register page containing this record has not yet been imaged.

  • Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism


Elm Motor Works Limerick


Andrew and Michelle Woods at the official opening of their new post office in Tarbert.


A man called Joseph O’Loughlin took a road trip from Listowel to Tralee on November 6 last. He videod the journey and it’s here on You Tube:


Gaeilge; an official EU language: a luxury we can’t afford

When Enda Kenny (in his teal tie) began his opening address to the EU bigwigs assembled in Dublin for the start of our presidency, in the first official language of this state, one Brussels hack was heard to say to another, “Why is he talking gibberish?”

The reason that the journalists who cover the affairs of the European parliament are so unfamiliar with Irish is because, in the past two years, Irish has only been used 9 times in the parliament.

Is it time to re-examine the place of Gaeilge in the EU? Could savings which are now being made by cutting the allowance for panic buttons for the old and vulnerable and by reducing the respite allowance for carers, be made instead by dropping Irish from the EU scene along with all the attendant translation costs.

Just a thought!

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