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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April horse fair 2014 and Listowel Anglers 1960s

April Horse Fair

Yesterday, April 4 2014 was the day of the April horse fair. There were a few horses on offer but there were also donkeys, goats, dogs and lots of fowl. Today I’ll bring you a few of the horses and next week I’ll bring you a few other animals and a few humans too.


Denis Carroll found this photo of an anglers protest at Listowel Bridge in the 1960s. I wonder if there is any better copy of this important photo in existence. 


This is Fr. Michael Morrison, S.J. and his story is HERE

I wrote about him a while back.

I have been contacted by Con McGrath from Tipperary who wonders if this brave priest has any relatives still living in Listowel of if anyone knows anything about him other than what is in the story told on this link.


 In advance of Michael D. Higgins’ visit to London The British Monarchy tweets as




Sonraí na Cuairte Stáit deimhnithe
ag Pálás Buckingham, chéad chuairt ar an Ríocht Aontaithe ag Uachtarán ar


5:36 PM – 27 Mar 2014


Happy New Year 2013

THE place to be on New Year’s Eve is Sydney Australia. They do the very best firework display. Julie Evans, friend of this blog lives there. She enjoyed the display and sent us these photos.



As usual, on the first Thursday of the year there was a horse fair on the streets of Listowel.

Jer took a video. 

and I took a few photos


Jer. was also at the Ballyheigue Races. 


I am slowly getting through listowelconnetion correspondence after the break and I will respond to all in due course. If there is anything that readers can help with, I will post it in the next few days.

The first interesting letter is from Brisbane

Hi Mary,

My name is Kath. I just came across your Listowel Connection
blog, with the Irish famine orphans to Australia. I noticed that you are
originally from Kanturk. My 4x great-grandmother, Catherine Fitzgibbon and her
sister Elizabeth, were from Kanturk. They were both shipped out under the Earl
Grey Scheme, on the Maria in 1850. Catherine was 18 and Elizabeth 19. Their
parents William and Judith were listed as deceased. Neither of them is listed
on any famine memorial, and I know little of their life in Ireland, having hit
the proverbial brick wall. I am wondering if you would be able to give me any
hints, tips, basically anything, that could help. I would be very grateful as I
would love to know more about these women and what their lives were like,
including the area they grew up in.





This is a great site for anyone researching Ireland during WW1:  lots of links and resources.


After a 50 year wait Duagh became North Kerry football champions yesterday. I don’t pretend to know anything about football so I’ll let my photos do the talking.

The sun sets on the 2013 NK Championship
the constant toing and froing to the shop.
The queue at half time
Small section of the huge crowd

cars everywhere
Every vantage point taken

nervous fag at half time
section of the stand

More horse fair photos

Faces glued to Tarrant’s window

This man had a lovely young donkey to sell.

Some Faces at the Fair

You could buy a dog kennel  at the fair.

 or a saddle for your horse.


I took this photo on Upper Church St. on Saturday morning as the council were doing an early morning sweep of our streets.

What odds? An interesting piece of graffiti on Ladbrokes’ shutter.


This man’s Listowel connection?

He is my nephew, Philip, former amateur cyclist now amateur marathon runner, who completed the Chicago Marathon in 3.38. I’m as proud as if it was Olympic Gold! Roll on New York.


I was very sad to hear of the passing of Tim Griffin. Tim was a Christian gentleman who loved nature  and was really knowledgeable about holy wells, grottos, convents, old dwellings and local history generally. May he rest in peace. He will be missed.


Some great examples of Hiberno -English from the new dictionary of same:

act the maggot, to / tə ækt d̪ə ʹmægət̪/ phr., (figurative) to behave in an irritating manner, perhaps resembling the wriggling of a maggot. O’Connor, Ghost Light, 78: “It’s not that any of us would want to be acting the maggot”.

bawsy /ʹbauzi:/ n., drunken, ill-mannered person. K. Bielenberg, Sunday Independent, 12 June, 2010, 5: “The same half-cut bawsies will discover a hitherto hidden passion for the mysterious Asian tyranny”. 

bejaysus /bɪʹʤe:zʌs/ int. (colloq.), from the exclamation of surprise “By Jesus”, with HE pronunciation of the letter e, as in tay/tea, /e:/ instead of /i:/. See JAYSUS. 

Bertie Speak /ʹbɛrt ̪i: spi:k/ n. phr., an idiosyncratic mode of speech practised by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, referred to on RTE Radio1, 2009: “The most famous example of which was his immortal statement, ‘it took Ireland thirty years to become an overnight success’ ”. 

blooter /ʹblu: t̪ər/ n. ‘a clumsy, blundering person. blootered exhausted; incapable of further exertion; helplessly drunk < Scots bluiter orig. obsc.’ (Fenton, Ulster-Scots).

blow-in /ʹblo: ɪn/ n., ‘a term meaning someone living in an area, who did not originate there’ (Brewer).

Bord Snip Nua /bo:rd snɪp ʹnuə/ n. phr., < Ir bord < E board; < Du snippen; < Ir nua < E new, slang term for the committee which reduced government expenditure, Irish Daily Mail, 21 July, 2009, 15: “Bord Snip Nua attitude towards state-spending is nothing new in politics”; Ross and Webb, Wasters (2010), 206: “This quango was also targeted by An Bord Snip Nua”.

circling Shannon /ʹsɛrklɪŋ ʹʃænən/ phr. pej. (colloq.), a euphemism for being unwell and incapable of action, arising from an incident which took place at Shannon airport in 1994 when the Russian President Boris Yeltsin was unable to leave the plane, while the Irish TAOISEACH, Albert Reynolds, waited. ‘Paddy was certainly circling Shannon that night’ (CS, Mayo).

conniption /ʹkʌnəpʃɪn/ n. (colloq.), hysterics, ‘She nearly had a conniption (fit)’ (SC, Wexford).

coolaboola /ʹku:læbu:læ/ adj., term of approval, derived from American slang ‘cool’ with boola borrowed from the second term in Ir ruaille buaille, ‘Everything is coolaboola’ (DD, Dublin). 

cow’s lick¹ /kauz lɪk/ n. phr., ‘when the hair in front over the forehead turns at the roots upwards and backwards’ (PWJ).

craw-sick /krᴐ: ʹsɪk/ adj., ‘ill in the morning after a drunken bout’ (PWJ) < MDu craghe, throat, gullet.

D4 /di: fᴐ:r/ n. phr., adj., (colloq.), a term used to describe the variety of HE that originated in the fashionable Dublin 4 postal district, but which has now become a phenomenon encountered throughout Ireland. It is on the one hand seen as a marker of social aspiration and alternatively derided as an affectation. The variety employs features of Home Counties British English and, latterly, American English. The phonetic alterations and vocabulary were humorously depicted by Paul Howard, in the speech of his alter-ego Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, in his popular Irish Times columns and series of novels, e.g. “cor-pork” (car-park), “roysh” (right), the quotative “like”, “I’m like, I’m sure I’ll bump into you again”, and the High Rising Terminal, which makes declarative statements sound like questions, “I think the whole economic thing may also have helped?” (Howard, Irish Times, 14/11/09). 

dogs in the street /dɑgz ɪn ðɛ st̪ri:t̪/ n. phr. (colloq.), used to refer to common sense knowledge or a collectively agreed opinion, George Hook, Newstalk, 13 November, 2009: “The dogs in the street know that”.

dose /do:s/ n. pejor. (colloq.), ‘a common pejorative HE term, meaning a ‘tedious or gloomy’ person: ‘She stayed all morning to complain and she’s a dose,’ or a person who looks gloomy, tired or sick: ‘You look a right dose today.’  The word also means a bout of illness such as flu: ‘I got a funny dose while I was on holidays.’  In all its senses it is often used with the intensifier ‘right’ ’ (Brewer).

drink taken, to have /t̪ə hæv drɪnk ʹt̪e:kən/ phr., ‘a phrase often used comically or euphemistically to mean really drunk, and featuring in rural courts as a plea for mitigation: ‘My client had drink taken, Your Honour’ ’ (Brewer)

dubes /du:bz/ n. (colloq.), Dubarry brand deck shoes, Irish Daily Mail, 8 July, 2010, p. 9: “Dubes are as much part of the South Dublin uniform as a Leinster jersey with the collar turned up and a Starbucks latte”.

Galway Tent /ʹgᴐ:lwe: tɛnt/ n. phr., marquee set up by the Fianna Fail political party at the Galway Races to entertain its supporters. 

ghost estate /go:st ɛste:t/ n. phr., unoccupied or unfinished housing estate, deserted because of the collapse of the construction industry as a result of the recession, graphically described by Michael Lewis, ‘When Irish Eyes are Crying’, Vanity Fair, March 2011, 112-131.

jaysus /ʹʤe:zʌs/ int., adj., a colloquial HE pronunciation of the expletive interjection, ‘Jesus’, demonstrating the HE preservation of the archaic Elizabethan English vowel, the ‘tay/tea’ variation, for which see TEA.  In HE, the word also has an adjectival usage. Joyce, Ulysses (1922) 9. lines 59-60: “She gets you a job on the paper and then you go and slate her drivel to Jaysus”; Behan, The Hostage (1962), p. 157: “So open the window softly. For Jaysus sake, now hang the latch”; McDonagh, A Skull in Connemara (1997), p. 105 (1999 Ed.): “Seeing as you’re as drunk as Jaysus”; McPherson, The Weir (1998), p. 33: “Jaysus, Jim. That’s a terrible story, to be telling”. The expression is sometimes rendered in HE asbejaysus /beʹʤe: zʌs/ ‘by Jesus’, as an interjection which serves the same function as the original, Behan, Confessions of an Irish Rebel (1965) p. 77 : “And be jaysus, not the first nor last of many apologies I’ve had to make subsequently”; Plunkett, Strumpet City (1969), p. 314: “ ‘Bejaysus’, one of the men told the group, ‘but it put the wind up me’ ”; Carr, Portia Coughlan (1998), p. 36: “And you’ve a tongue on ya, that if I owned ya, I’d mow the big-shot, stuck-up bejaysus out of”. The Slieve Bloom Hotel, Cavan which, set in a relatively remote location, dazzles passers-by when they catch sight of it because of its magnificent appearance is known locally as ‘the bejaysus hotel’ (GG, Dublin).

jig-time /ʤɪgʹ t̪aim/ n. phr., (colloq.), in the time it takes to dance a jig, i.e. briefly. ‘Will do it in jig-time’ (GK, Dublin).

marry in /ʹmæri: ɪn/ v., ‘the term used to describe the phenomenon whereby the groom moved into the bride’s house and took over the bride’s farm rather than vice versa, < Ir cliamhain isteach which refers to the man in such a marriage, from the same root as < Ir cleamhnas, match’ (Brewer).

peann luaidhe /pjaun ʹƖu:i:/ n., Irish for ‘lead pencil’, as used in polling booths. ‘He said “get rid of those stupid peann luaidhes and use the electronic machines instead”’ (JF, Dublin). 

sheep-shagger /ʹʃi:p ʹʃægər/ n. pejor. (colloq.), < OE scep sceacga, disparaging term for a country person (MK, Dublin).

stroke politics /stro:k ʹpᴐ:lətəks/ n. phr., HE term for political practice in which voters are coaxed with empty promises > OE stracian v., rub softly with the hand or an implement (ODEE).

tinkers /ʹt̪ɪnkərz/ n. (colloq.),  members of the Traveller Community, O’Connor, Ghost Light, 57: “You seem fond of tinkers”.

Tube in the Cube /t̪u:b ən d̪ə kub/ n. phr. (colloq.), idiosyncratic nickname for the new convention centre on the banks of the Liffey in Dublin, RTE 6.01 News, 6 Sept., 2010.

what’s the story /ʍᴐt̪s d̪ə ʹstᴐ:ri:/ phr. (colloq), ‘what’s the latest news?’ (MK, Dublin).

woke up dead /wo:k ʌp dɛd/ phr., HE, imaginative reference for sudden death.

yay-high /je: hai/ adj., equivalent to knee-high, in examples such as ‘When I was yay-high, I would walk to school’ (MD, Monaghan).

The Third Edition of the renowned Dictionary of Hiberno-English will be published by Gill & Macmillan on 28 October, priced at €24.99. Compiled and edited by Terence Patrick Dolan, the new issue covers such phrases as Bertie BowlBertie SpeakD4circling ShannonAn Bord Snip Nuachancer,dig-outdubes and ghost estate


Jer was at the All Ireland Ladies Football final and he shot this video

Commiserations to my past pupil, Louise Galvin and all of the gallant Kerry ladies.

October Horse Fair 2012

Thursday last was the local horse fair which was held in Market St. There were plenty of horses but not so many buyers. Most people seemed to be selling.

 This is an objective corelative for the state of the horse trade on Thursday.

The man who was selling farmyard fowl was doing great business. His lovely hens, turkeys and geese were in steady demand.

This customer was buying a few Rhode Island Reds.

Christmas is coming and…. Sshhh!!


Sign of hope?

This new interiors shop has just opened in The Square. When it gets a sign I’ll photograph it again, but I couldn’t  wait to bring you the good news.


This old photo is of a Saturday morning market in Cumberland St. Dublin. Markets like these were a feature of life in the inner city in the 1950’s and 60’s.

This is a photo of children playing in a school yard in inner city Dublin. They are in a sand pit.

July horsefair and other country matters

Jer Kennelly has put together a great montage of faces at the fair on Thursday last:


At one time much of the trading in horses and other livestock all took place on the streets of towns up and down the country. Here are a few pictures.

Market St. Listowel on a Fair Day.

Sheep Fair in Killarney

Fair Day in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick

The Square, Listowel on a Fair Day

Taking  pigs to the fair in 1905


Meanwhile in Pamplona!!


Jamie O’Connell’s trip to Listowel Writers’ Week is here:’-week-listowel-2012&wpmp_tp=0


A few Wednesday announcements

On Wednesday next I will be going with 3 of my friends from North Kerry Reaching out to Radio Kerry to chat with Alison Nulty. It should be Weeshie but Weeshie got a better offer and Alison got his Radio Kerry gig. On July 11 we will be chatting with Alison about NKRO, about our upcoming festival and other matters historical and genealogical. I’ll tell you all about it, with a photo, later on in the week.

Also on Wednesday our friends in Listowel Comhaltas will be continuing with their Seisiúin in The Listowel Arms. From 9.00p.m. you can enjoy the best of Irish music song and dance. If you have visitors on your hands, this is the ideal night out for them. If you are visiting North Kerry, be sure to drop into the Listowel Arms for the Wednesday seisiún on any summer Weds. night.

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