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: Jet Stack

Christmas in Kerry

Christmas Greetings

Listowel artist, Olive Stack’s beautiful Christmas card

A Very Happy Christmas to all my blog followers and collaborators. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who helped me during the year by sending or giving me photos, stories, encouraging emails and helpful suggestions. I am grateful to everyone who interacts with me about the blog but I also appreciate all the “followers” who just use the blog to stay in touch with Listowel. 

This is the last blogpost for 2014. I look forward to getting back to work in 2015. Do remember that I can’t do it without help so keep rummaging in those old photo boxes.


People love to hear this old Bryan MacMahon poem at this time of year



I am
standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,

For ‘tis soon I’ll see the
moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay. 

So behind me, then, is London, with the
magic of its night,

And before me is a window
filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory
that came down from heav’n on high,

And whenever I recall it,
there’s a teardrop in my eye.

By the mountainside at
twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,

There my true love sits
a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf
fire; soon our arms will be entwined,

And the loneliness of exile
will be lost or cast behind,

As we hear the Christmas
greetings of the neighbours in the night,

Then our hearts will beat
together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving
westward, so God speed its racing wheels,

And God speed its whistle
ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,

For I’m dreaming of an altar
where, beside my Breda bright,

I will whisper vows of true
love in the Kerry Candlelight.


More Innocent Times    


This Christmas story comes from a Listowel emigrant who remembers happy times growing up in Kerry…

Now the tradition of Christmas and
Santy Claus evidently is different in every house, but in the Stack house it
was, is and always will be a big deal.

When I was a little boy Santy Claus
personally delivered my presents every year. That didn’t happen to all the boys
in my class . And despite the strict criteria for the year of not being naughty
and being nice,  which I might not always
have adhered to, he never left me down. He would always call between 9 and 10
on Christmas Eve.

We would have all been washed and
have the new Christmas outfit on and most years about 7 the whole family would
take a drive and see all the lovely Christmas lights , That is a lovely single
white bulb in the every window of every house and the odd posh one might have a
red bulbs.

We would return home and instead of
going to the living room we would retire to the sitting room  which we used to migrate to for the two week
Christmas holidays. The rest of the year it was reserved for priests, guards or
water bailiffs ( nothing to do with me) . 

We then would chose what to watch on
TV1 or 2 but we were always a little anxious as we knew a special visitor would
be calling. At some point either my mother or father would say “Be quiet. Was
that a knock ?”  We would all freeze ,
then turn down 1 or 2 and listen and we might hear a faint bell or another
knock this time much louder. We would run to the door, turn on the outside
light and see large bags of presents spread all over the lawn. When we were
very young Santy would be by the door and as we got older, I suppose he was
getting older as well he would be further away each year until I remember him
being at the front gate waving . While we were always grateful, as children we
were normally more interested in the contents of the bags on the lawn than
Santy himself.

Christmas 1983 the world changed
forever. Despite several doubts there was always an explanation ! , Santy would
always come to our house on Christmas Eve but people on our road could be
Christmas Day. Santa doesn’t use roads !!

At 6 o clock that Christmas Eve my
father said he wanted to talk to me.

I was curious as we walked down the
hall , to see what I had done wrong cos I’d usually pull up a couple of weeks
before Christmas . We sat on my bed and he told me Santy wasn’t real . Reeling
from the shock as a 12 year old would I enquired was I still going to get
presents this year. He said yes. That made me feel better and when I enquired
who was the fellow calling to my front door banging windows and ringing a bell
for the last few years he just said JET.

That was when Christmas began. As I
had a younger brother and sister still not in the loop Santy was expected as
usual. My father and I sneaked out of our house and went next door to Jet’s
house , where it was like the The North Pole with bags of presents for different
houses within a 10 mile radius.

Now at 12 I got to see Santy face to
face. First he had granny’s pinkish dressing gown on with a big pillow inside
and a mask that was more like Freddie Kruger than Santy but a big red hat,
plenty lipstick on the cheeks a bit of white paint for a beard . He was perfect.
Unless there was a full moon then you’d want to stay well back from the front
door. His first call that night was our house and after that I had the job of
riding shotgun on Santa’s  sleigh, a Renault  9 at the time, of
calling to about 9  or 10 houses in my locality, where there was small
children waiting for Santy .

Years later after Jet , one of his
neighbours and someone Jet had played Santy to, revived it and did a great job
for a few years and when he went on to have his own family he roped some of his
friends into the position . 


A relative of Jet Stack 


Christmas in Clounmacon

(Photo;The Advertiser)


Fungi at Christmas

His friends at Fungie Forever visit the Dingle dolphin almost daily so be sure to check in with them over Christmas.

A day out in Fota, Junior Griffin and Listowel sailors

It was Fathers’ Day 2014.

Three happy little girls decided to treat their Daddy to a trip to Fota Wildlife Park.

Some of the fabulous animals and birds we saw up close and personal in Fota.

Fota has recently added a tropical house and a Tiger Garden.  If you haven’t been for a while,

these are well worth going for.

You can actually watch butterflies hatching out and learning to fly.

For obvious reasons I had to photograph the tiger through a fence.


These blocked up windows are in the premises at Leahy’s Corner, now Punjab Spice Indian restaurant.

The reason for the blocking up of windows is explained in Wikipaedia thus;

The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed or reglazed at a later date), as a result of the tax. In England and Wales it was introduced in 1696 and was repealed in 1851, 156 years after first being introduced. France (established 1798 – repealed 1926) and Scotland both had window taxes as well for similar reasons.


St. Mary’s is a building site this June 2014. The work is projected to take 2 months.


One of Listowel’s most genial and knowledgeable gentlemen, John (Junior) Griffin with his trusty bicycle.


A Life on the ocean waves for Listowel father and son team

Derek and Conor Dillon

and son duo from Listowel in County Kerry are taking on the double-handed
challenge in this year’s Round Ireland
Yacht Race
. The pair Derek Dillon and son Conor, a 19–year–old
Univesity of Limerick student, will race the family Dehler 34 ‘Big Deal’
that is based on the Shannon Estuary.

The Foynes Yacht
pairing have been racing together inshore for over
 ten years, and have competed at numerous ICRA’s, Cork Weeks and Calves
Weeks. The pair are sponsored by leading marine supplier, Union Chandlery.

recently made the move into offshore racing, enjoying recent success in
multiple ISORA Qualifying

look forward to the competitive adventure associated with doing such an
endurance race, double- handed’, father Derek told

The pair also
plan to compete in the Volvo Cork Week
double-handed and compete fully-crewed in Cork Dry Gin Calves Week, in which
they have finished first in class in the past two consecutive years.   



In response to Monday’s post, a friend sent me this short poem by Jet Stack for all the carers

Writers’ Week, Dan Keane and Maureen Beasley and a return to the sky garden

Three of Listowel’s great unsung heroes of The Arts; Jet Stack R.I.P., Maureen BeasleyR.I.P. and Jimmy Hickey. These three have played their parts in preserving folk traditions in music, verse and dance and have all done North Kerry and its literary heritage a great service.

Another of the great stalwarts of the North Kerry literary tradition is Dan Keane. He has left us a legacy of poems, ballads and stories and some great memories.

This poem by Dan is a tribute to his friend, Jet Stack:

Mr. Garrett Stack 

If you are out to learn dancing

Take a tip from me,

Go through Listowel and Greenville

Until you reach Scartlea,

Go all the way to Scartlea Cross

Then count two houses back,

There you will find the maestro

That’s Mr. Garrett Stack.

That is his Baptismal title

But he’s never used it yet,

He is no way sanctimonious

He is always known as “Jet”,

He will make you very welcome

With tea and home cooked ham,

And if he is scarce in sugar,

He will give you plenty jam.

He will quickly come to dancing,

It will only take a while,

To show you reels and figures,

In every kind of style,

He will show you steps and polkas,

Like jewels from days of yore,

And he will even demonstrate

He is tasty on the floor.

Now if you ever doubt me

I have witnesses to prove,

That even first class dancers,

He can tutor and improve,

He is not the slightest selfish,

His glory’s greatest crown,

Is his patriotic willingness,

To hand his dancing down.

He is also a musician

And in case you might not know it,

He is good at prose and poetry

A writer and a poet.

He is witty and good humoured,

And a joke he’s good to crack,

So don’t forget three cheers for “Jet”,

That’s Mr. Garrett Stack.

By Dan Keane

I think the lines “His glory’s greatest crown is his patriotic willingness to hand his dancing down.” sum up what Writers’ Week is all about….handing on the torch to the next generation of writers. Who knows? a future John B. or Bryan might be in our midst here on the streets of Listowel this week.


Another old photo from Writers’ Week of times gone by


Mardyke Garden

Do you remember that I went to Fitzgerald’s Park last week to view the Diarmuid Gavin sky garden? This garden cost over a million euros. Well, it took just one week for the children of Cork to wreck it.

Children taking turns climbing on the giant stainless steel spheres.

The plants in this section never stood a chance.

These paths through the garden were lined with blue stepping stones last week.

Yet again, the café couldn’t cope with demand.

The lovely rose beds of old are gone. The colorful roses are replaced by dull drab green plants.

Dead and damaged plants abound.

Dotted throughout the park are lovely gems, like this Oisín Kelly dancer.

In defense of Cork’s children let me say that there was no sign to say that this garden was to be looked at and admired, not treated like a playground. Those big silver sphere’s are far too tempting and they do look like the sort of thing you might see in a playground. I don’t know if the garden can be saved and replanted.  As it stands, it’s a disaster.


D Day is near…. Saturday May 31 2014

Eileen Moylan of Claddagh will launch her beautiful creation in Craftshop na Méar at 7.00 p.m.

Listowel Military Tattoo 2014, Castleisland, Frank Greaney and a poem from Jet Stack of Greenville

As part of Listowel’s Military Weekend 2014 Listowel (Caen) was captured by German forces on Saturday and the citizens arrested and taken off to await execution on Sunday.

On Sunday we were all back in The Square to see what would happen.

The Germans have taken over and moved their tank into a defensive position.

The prisoners are led out to their doom.

A huge crowd has gathered to see the action.

A troop of French Canadians arrive to the rescue.

The fog of war was a phrase that referred to the difficulty of making decisions in the midst of the smoke and the din of the battlefield. The fog on Saturday was real as well as metaphorical.

We are deafened with firing and blinded by smoke.

Germans are falling fast. Some are surrendering and being taken prisoner.

The French and Canadian flags are raised. It’s all over.

Great stuff! Well done everyone!


Some of those who organized the tattoo

Jim Halpin, Damien Stack and John O’Sullivan


Tirelessly keeping Listowel tidy

Mary and Joe were out bright and early setting up huge bins and trying to keep the town litter free. 


Something completely different

In my searching through the internet to bring you things that might be of interest, I recently came upon a page from Castleisland Race Walking Club. It had these great old photos of Castleisland.

Confirmation Boys, Castleisland 1971


All for charity

This is Frank Greaney. Frank is a kind of one man fundraiser for the Nano Nagle school. Frank has seen at close range the great work that the school does and he has decided to do what he can to help them out financially. Frank is appealing for old phones or old coins. The old phones can be exchanged for iPads for the pupils and the old coins can be turned into cash at the Central Bank.

If you have old unwanted phones or coins you can leave them into the Nano Nagle school or give them to Frank anytime.

While I was chatting to Frank, he told me of an interesting Greaney he has recently been in touch with. This man is a more famous Greaney. He is Mark Greaney a thriller writer who has co laborated with Tom Clancy as well as writing books himself. 

While Mark’s Irish ancestry came from Cork rather than Kerry, he might still like a visit to this literary town someday.  Writers’ Week take note!


Jet Stack, dancer, musician and poet

This is a poor quality image of the late Jet Stack who wrote the poem I feature today.  If anyone has a better picture, I’d be glad to post it.

Banks at Sweet Scartlea

sky is clear, a gentle breeze. 

sun is in the west.

furze in bloom, a pigeon cooing.

peace and rest.

the river side, where swallows glide.

beauty there I see.

I take a stroll on an eventide.

the banks of sweet Scartlea.

thrush on the hawthorn bush 

so loud and clear.

blackbirds flutter through the briars.

warning notes of fear.

river Feale, flows gently

 on its way
to join the sea.

I take a stroll on an eventide

the banks of sweet Scartlea.

music of the water

 as it ripples on
its way.

rabbits coming out to feed.

smell of new mown hay.

fragrant scent of woodbine.

hum of a bumble bee.

I take a stroll on an eventide.

the banks of sweet Scartlea.

graveyard in the distance,

 its walls of
whitish grey.

old man climbing o’re its stile.

some poor soul to pray.

otters paddle through the ford,

trout and salmon spree.

I take a stroll on an eventide.

the banks at sweet Scartlea.

sun is set, the grass dew wet,

stars begin to shine.

air is pure, the blind bat lure.

morrow will be fine.

boys at the crossroad gather

hearts light and carefree.

I take a stroll on an eventide.

the banks of sweet Scartlee.

darkness falls there’s peace for all

moon of a reddish brown

the east appears above the hill

overlooks the town.

stars they twinkle brightly

more that I can see.

I take a stroll on an eventide.

the banks at sweet Scartlea.


Youth Theatre

It’s great to see Listowel’s young thespians tackling this demanding play. They deserve support.

Greyhound Racing, A poem by Jet Stack and more

Gone to the Dogs

We had a great night at The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium on Friday May 2 2014 at the fundraising night for Pres. Secondary School, Listowel. I managed to make a few bob despite my lack of greyhound knowledge (or maybe because of it!)

Organisers, Eileen Keane and Lisa Whelan

The scene on the second floor. The real doggy people were downstairs and the VIPs upstairs.

Some of the greyhounds getting ready to enter the track for their race.

Fivestar Fantasy, winner of the ‘Presentation Listowel Tech. Graph & Arts Dept 525’, pictured with winning connections along with Brian Coffey (2nd from left) and Eileen Keane (4th from left) of Presentation Secondary Listowel. 

Bridget O’Connor, Breda Ferris and Theresa Deenihan

( All photos: Pádraig O’Connor)


What a shame!

The garden at the old Kennedy Nursing Home is going to wrack and ruin. Pity!


By way of contrast….

The well maintained old rectory


New shop in Market Street



Duagh Sports Complex is nearing the finish line.


Another poem by Jet Stack, this one in praise of a local stream

Little Curragh Stream

a soft and purple water

in that winding stream.

there through Time and ages.

mentioned and unseen.

the bog and by the meadow

the sally’s sunlight beam

the soft and purple waters

that little Curragh Stream.

its source in famed Clounmacon

helpless towards the sea

‘round each hill of challenge

gently through the lee.

the rush and through the fern.

it stops, as sometimes seem

the soft and purple waters.

that little Curragh Stream.

through Bedford’s glens and valleys

th hillside gather speed

that old and silent graveyard.

the gillcock stately reed.

through Curraghatoosane and Curragh.

the watercress so green.

the Cordal, through West Dirrha

softly ‘round Gurtcreen.

the road, beneath the mountain.

Saint Crossan’s blessed well.

and rapid through the toilery

the river Galey swell.

we are gone as those before us

that land beyond supreme

will flow the purple waters

that little Curragh Stream.


Preparing for the Military Tattoo


Ballybunion’s Happy

Warning: This catchy tune will be in your head all day. It’s a great video and a great promotion. Have fun spotting well known Ballybunion people in this great clip;


Kerry Crusaders ready to undertake The Limerick Run     (photo: Mary Toomey Roche)

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