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: Jim Sheahan

More from Ladies Day 2022

Blennerville; Photo Graham Davies


More Photos from Ladies Day 2022


A Guest Remembers

I saw the following on Facebook shared by a lady who remembers Millstream House and Jim Sheahan. What a loss he is to the hospitality industry!

To my friend Jim.

This is how I will choose to remember you.

Not afraid to take the jacket off and jump over a locked fence while touring around Dingle one day in the late ’80’s. I cannot recall the spot where this photo was taken but I do remember sharing one of my first days back home since I was a young girl with you. We toured about the Ring of Kerry and the love of your country, history and people left an impression long after my first Guinness hangover had faded and the blue returned to my eyes.

Thinking of the kitchen in Greenville summons memories of Nora’s brown bread, apple tarts, coleslaw, salmon fresh from the Feale, and fairy cakes. It is here that I am reminded how to properly eat a good Irish potato: holding it with a fork in the left hand, peeling away the thin brown skin to expose the floury flesh bursting forth, slathering it with fresh butter, a dip of the tip of the knife in the salt bowl to spread on top, before a pop in the mouth while hot enough to blister! Years later, I inherited a little crystal salt cellar from my husband’s grandmother. I was so excited to set the table when you came to visit my home in Pittsburgh- I finally had a guest who knew how to use that thing! (And just because I know Nora loves to recall menus the way I do- we enjoyed a meal of veal chops, baby red potatoes, rutabaga, and creme brulee that night!)

But I also see you sitting at the table with the paper while the big brown Stanley keeps watch over all of our comings and goings. Jim, you were always ready to get up to turn on the kettle, set the table, or to run us into town knowing full well that none of us would be in any shape for driving home after a few pints at John B.’s. I would often make a very solid attempt to help, and you would scold, “No, no Tricia, you’ll make me redundant.” (For my American friends, this means that you might get laid off.)

Jim, I don’t think you could ever be considered redundant. I am honored to have known a man like yourself. A man who has no problem moving from the milking barn to the bank office with a quick change of jacket and boots. A man who is so proud of his family, his sons and their accomplishments, but never boastful. A man who joked about his wife being a boss, but secretly admired her hardwork and determination. A man whose eyes sparked with joy and a smile from ear to ear as he greeted you in front of the monkey tree in the driveway- always rushing out the door just as the car turned in. A man who authentically loved all the people he welcomed into his life.

And today, instead of Céad míle fáilte, we must bid our farewells to you and God Speed. We will cherish the memories.

Trish Cloonan Ridenour


Pres. Girls

Another photo from the classes of early 1960s


A Fact

The roar of an adult lion can be heard up to 5 miles away. The purpose of the roar is to warn off intruders and to gather scattered members of the pride


Dancehall Days Remembered and Listowel Races 2017 is upon us

Photo: Chris Grayson


My Good Friends, Jim and Nora Sheahan

Nora Sheahan and her son Noel and family with Sarah Marince in The Seanchaí recently

Jim and Nora Sheahan in their cosy welcoming home

 On a recent visit I encouraged Jim to tell me his memories of a different era in Listowel

Jim remembers the
days of the dancehalls.  Small local
dancehalls were dotted around North Kerry in the 1940s and 50s. These were the
main venues for entertainment until the advent of the big ballrooms and the
easy availability of transport meant the people went dancing outside their
local area.

There were two
dancehalls in town, Walshe’s Ballroom and The Plaza. The Plaza which was built
by Frankie Chute was a cinema but it held dances on big occasions like the

Walshe’s Ballroom
was first located upstairs in a premises in William Street. Sunday night was
dance night and older people remember long queues of young people waiting for
this hall to open.

When this hall had
to close when the floor collapsed, Vincent Walshe moved operations to a site he
owned opposite the Astor Cinema. He built a big luxurious state -of -the -art
ballroom with a sprung maple floor, a mineral bar and a cloakroom.

The Las Vegas, as
it was called had a mineral bar, with “catering by Diana.” The Diana in
question was Diana McElligott.

The cloakroom was
another luxury you didn’t have in the smaller crossroads halls. For a small fee
you could leave your coat in safekeeping for the duration of the dance. You
handed in your coat and the cloakroom attendant attached a ticket to the coat
and you were given the corresponding ticket stub. If you had no pocket you had
to keep the stub safely in your shoe until you came to collect your coat at the
end of the dance.

The Las Vegas also
had a resident band. Bunny Dalton was the band master. Jim Sheahan played the
saxophone with this band for 5 or 6 years. Other members of the band were Jerry
Scanlon, Mai Chute, who played the piano, John Moore of Mountcoal who played
the saxophone and Jerry Barry  on
trumpet. Tim O’Sullivan was Jim’s music teacher. For 1 shilling a lesson he
taught him to play the fiddle. Tim also played the saxophone and he spotted
Jim’s potential. Jim was already playing the tin whistle and the skills
transferred to the saxaphone as the notes were the same. Since he neither drank
nor smoked he had plenty of lung power and he took to his new instrument with
enthusiasm.  At one stage the band had a
vocalist, Johnny Cahill. This is the same Johnny Cahill who played Carthalawn
in the first production of Sive.

This was the era
of the big band and Vincent Walshe put together a band to rival the best in the
land. Bunny Dalton and his band played for the dancing on Wednesday and Sunday
nights. Occasionally, Vincent Walshe brought big names like Mick Delahunty and
Brendan Boyer to town. These were known as “all night dances’ and they went on
until 3.00 a.m. The big band would take a half hour break from 12.00 to 12.30
and the house band would play during this half hour.

People came from
far and near to the dances. Many of them came on foot or by bicycle. If patrons
were lucky enough to have a car there was ample parking in the vicinity of the

There were no
dances during Lent and local drama groups like Danny O’Donoghue of Lixnaw used
to put on plays in the hall.

Jim remembers
earning 30 shillings a night as a musician. This was good money in those days.

Occasionally the
band would play in other local halls. The Walshe’s had a van for carrying the instruments.
Most halls had a piano and if they didn’t Mai Fitz had her own piano accordion,
which she brought with her.

Jim remembers
great meals after dances in Hennesseys in Ballyduff and Doyle’s in Ballyheigue
or in Hegartys. Dancehalls in those days were often built adjacent to the
owner’s house.

This were the days!


Edel Quinn and Tralee

I come from Kanturk which is the hometown of Edel Quinn. Only last week I spotted this plaque on a wall in Tralee. I learned that she lived and went to school in Tralee.


The Longed For Week has arrived

Very soon the gate will open and the bridge will be thronged with people. Races 2017 is on our doorstep.

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