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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Colcannon

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course in October 2022

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Putting it back as you Found it

Martin Chute restored this piece of old wall art to look exactly as it did for decades.

In case you were wondering the premises of which this is the gable used to be a pharmacy.

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Colcannon

This traditional Irish dish is usually eaten at this time of year. Mattie Lennon tells us all about it and gives us the recipe.

COLCANNON.

By Mattie Lennon.

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

CHORUS

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.

And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,

And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

   It’that time of year again. Post- Autumnal Equinox. (I feel sorry for the Americans, since they call it the “fall” they can’t use a word like “Autumnal”.) Anyway we have less daylight than darkness.  Kerry has won the All-Ireland football final, the Liam NcCarthy Cup is safe and sound in Limerick and the shops are stacked with masks, and all the grotesque trimmings of Halloween. This time of year conjures up images of scooped-out pumpkins, trick-or-treat and silhouettes of a witch on a broomstick partly eclipsing a full moon surrounded by wispy clouds. It is the time  when, in bygone times, the veil between this world and the next was believed to be lifted. It replaced the old Celtic festival of Sámhain. Sámhain was the Celtic god of death.

If, like me, you grew up in the rural Ireland of the ‘fifties and ‘sixties you will be aware of different regional Halloween customs. However the one constant and nationwide feature  was Colcannon. Yes, I know . . .if you Google Colcannon you will get info on a ballad group in Denver, Colorado with Mick Bolger as their lead vocalist.

   I wondered where they got the name from so, I contacted Mick who told me; “We got our name back in 1984. The band had been rehearsing to apply for a position as house band at The James Pub and Grille, in Boulder, Colorado. As the only native Irishman in the band it fell to me to make up a list of possible names. Colcannon was one of those names and we decided on it because it sounded Irish and was easy to pronounce. We eventually got a trademark on it since we were getting pretty well-known and didn’t want any complications. Turns out we had some complications anyway but having the trademark helped “.

   But the Colcannon of which I write is a simple and delicious dish of few ingredients and no need for lessons from a celebrity Chef for its preparation.    Cál ceannann – (white headed cabbage) is a food made from mashed potatoes  and cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper.

. In Atlantic Canada (especially Nova Scotia and Newfoundland), a local version of the dish is popular among those raised in rural communities,brought to the provinces by Irish and Scottish settlers.

The Welsh call their leek soup  “cawl cennin”, but I’m told there’s no connection.

Did you ever take potato cake in a basket to the school,

Tucked underneath your arm with your book, your slate and rule?

And when the teacher wasn’t looking sure a great big bite you’d take,

Of the creamy flavoured buttered soft and sweet potato cake.

I witnessed the cooking and consumption of Colcannon on rather large scale once.  At a charity event, in the Wicklow mountains, Martin Byrne was faced with the task of feeding 1,500 people (no, that’s not a typo) with Colcannon. What did he do? Well, I’ll tell you. He manufactured a stainless steel trailer 8ft by 4 ft and mounted it on “ground-engaging” metal wheels which he salvaged from a defunct agricultural implement. He fitted a large valve in the rear panel; more about that anon. He then procured a half ton of spuds and the relevant quantity of green cabbage.  After diligent preparation and the addition of appropriate seasoning the ingredients were put into the “trailer-full of water”.

The whole assembly was driven in over an already blazing log fire. They say “a watched pot won’t boil” but this one did. When it had reached the correct consistency Martin opened the aforementioned valve and the steaming   H2o was released onto the ground. Then came the mashing. For this job he had designed and constructed  a “two-man masher”. Himself and his assistant Harry Farrington, on either side of the trailer, using plenty of elbow-grease converted the white and green load into appetizing fare. With a number of brand-new shovels one and a half thousand people were fed on Baltyboys hill.

The “loaves and fishes” of the Bible came to mind.

If you don’t have 1500 people for dinner, at Halloween, and you want to try it on a smaller scale here’s the recipe;

  • 4 lbs (1.8kg) potatoes, or about 7-8 large potatoes (‘old’ potatoes or russet potatoes are best, waxy potatoes won’t do)
  • 1 green cabbage or Kale
  • 1 cup ( 7 fl oz, 240 ml) milk (or cream)
  • 1 stick (4oz, 120g) butter, divided into three parts
  • 4-5 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

Did you ever go a-courting as the evening sun went down,

And the moon began a-peeping from behind the Hill o’Down?

As you wandered down the boreen where the leprechaun was seen,

And you whispered loving phrases to your little fair colleen.

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Greenway Official Opening

As well as the throng of politicians who headed our way for the opening of the 10kms.of Greenway from Listowel to Abbeyfeale, there were many local people present on that lovely morning in October 2022 to welcome this long awaited amenity.

Jimmy Deenihan with Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton.

The Caballs from Limerick, who are keen walkers, had already walked the greenway before its official opening.

The Fitzgeralds from Knockanure welcomed this new walkway.

I spotted Joan Flavin in the crowd. Joan is a keen cyclist. She will surely be cycling here shortly.

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Pitch and Putt, The Early Days

Dave O’Sullivan did a bit of searching for us in the newspaper archives.

The Kerryman of May 22 1971 gave a bit of the background to the location for this recreational facility.

Kerryman April 1 1972

The course opened first with 9 holes and a further 9 were later developed.

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At the Food and Craft Fair

Sunday October 30 2022

The Fair is a celebration of local food produce. I photographed a few local food producers.

Brona Chocolates is a family run high end artisan producer of delicious treats.

The one of the family who was on duty on Sunday was a credit to his parents, charming, chatty, knowledgeable about his product and willing to share his involvement with his family company. He is incentivised to work in the business with the chance to earn a few bob for Christmas spending.

Jean Louie is a great example of French diligence and industry. He produces honey, beautiful wooden crafts and beeswax candles under the brand Trieneragh Honey.

He told me that the bees had a great summer, unlike those in his native France who suffered in the heat. Trieneragh honey is delicious, and very few “food miles”. It is available in lots of local shops.

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Michael O’Connor, Illuminator; Update

Listowel Town Square

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Kerry Writers’ Museum; Great News

This is the late Michael O’Connor who was born and reared in No. 24 The Square, the house that now houses Kerry Writers’ Museum.

In the above picture Michael is looking at the Book of Kells. He is not just looking, he is studying the work of the masters of the art he loved so much.

Michael was a calligrapher and illuminator and his work is now acknowledged to be on a par with the work of the monks who created The Book of Kells.

“No one is a prophet in his own land.” according to the bible. Not so in the case of Listowel’s Michael O’Connor. In collaboration with Bryan MacMahon, he produced Christmas cards, bookmarks and other commissions for the local market. Far and away the largest of their Listowel projects was a big illuminated picture with words by Bryan MacMahon and calligraphy by Michael O’Connor which was commissioned by the Race Committee to commemorate its centenary in 1958.

On the right is Thomas O’Connell, chairman of the Race Committee with Michael Kennelly, Michael O’Connor, Dan Moloney T.D. and Dr. Bryan MacMahon on the occasion of the handover of the work to the race committee during race week 1958

The Stokes family, descendants of Thomas O’Connell who have kept this important piece safely until a home was found for it, handed over the picture to Jimmy Deenihan, representing Kerry Writers’ Museum during Listowel Races 2022.

Pictured at the handover of the piece to Kerry Writers’ Museum on Friday September 23 2022 are Olive and Oonagh Stokes with Owen MacMahon and Jimmy Deenihan

The O’Connor family, children of the calligrapher/illuminator have many pieces of their fathers work in their possession. They have agreed to donate these to Listowel’s Kerry Writers’ Museum. Stephen Rynne, who has been co ordinating this round up of the work of our most famous artist has also located many more pieces and he has also agreed to donate work in his own possession as well.

Now the good news….Kerry Writers Museum has secured funding to mount this important exhibition. Very soon we will all be able to see and admire these beautiful examples of Celtic Art.

People who study celtic art will flock to Listowel to see these national treasures.

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Ladies’ Day, Listowel Races 2022

Ladies Day is always a big Day on The Island. It is also traditionally the day the students come as its Friday and the start of their weekend.

Not so many students this year but lots and lots of ladies.

There was music and prosecco in The Square to get everyone in the mood.

Martin McCarthy was giving out roses and glasses of bubbly.

Classy’s bus was shuttling people to the racecourse.

Sharon and Anthony were waiting for the shuttle bus.

The very dapper veterans were taking up a collection from racegoers in The Square and at the gate.

I took shanks mare by the river. There was strict searching for alcohol and drugs at the entrance. They didn’t bother me. Old age has some perks.

(more tomorrow)

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A Fact about a Genius of our Time

This was shared on line by Janice Williams and Simone Langemann

“Alan Turing ended his own life on June 7, 1954. He bit into an apple laced with cyanide and ate a bite of it. He did it because the British government chemically castrated him, humiliated him, and prosecuted him for being gay.

For that reason there is a bitten apple in the Apple logo… In honor of Alan Turing. He invented computer science and using his early designs cracked the Enigma code – the encrypted machine that the Nazis and the German Army used to communicate secret commands to each other during world war – thereby saving millions of human lives and bringing us to the modern computer age.

Pride month isn’t just about dancing on floats in gold shorts and waving a rainbow flag. It is about remembering that everyone has the right to be happy, to love who they want to love and to recognize the outstanding contribution that everyone can make in a society free of fear or prejudice.” Vía: Alejandro Jodorowsky/Samira HM

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Races, A Poem, a Postbox and Smithing in Ballylongford

In The Garden of Europe

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Listowel Races, Sept`. 2021

Listowel native, Niamh Kenny won a prize for her beautiful hat. It complemented her outfit perfectly.

Wllie and Jackie Mullins in the winners enclosure.

The ever stylish Mary O’Halloran was one of the Ladies Day finalists. She did a moving interview with Celia Holman Lee. Mary loves Listowel Races and comes every year.

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Talking Poetry

John Given and Jimmy Deenihan are finalising plans for the publication of John’s father, Pat Given’s, next book of poems.

Here is a poem from Pat’s last anthology. It was reproduced for Poetry Town.

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Post Box on College Road, Cork

This lovely post box is on College Rd. Cork near the junction with Highfield Road.

I had occasion to be in the Bons. The paper shop in the hospital was closed. I made my way to what in my day used to be Flirty’s shop and post office. It is now a Daybreak. There I made a discovery.

Students don’t buy newspapers. I was in the shop at 8.30 a.m. and there was only a handful of papers available.

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A Tinsmith at Work

At the Ballylongford Blacksmithing Fair Sept. 25 2021

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Bernard Brogans Book, Outdoor milking, a Golf Photo and Tralee Community Garden

 Footballers and their Books

If there had been our usual book launch for Bernard Brogan’s book, Jimmy Deenihan would have been the man doing it.

There was a kind of mini launch anyway and Jimmy sent me two photos. The first is placing Bernard’s book among the poets and literati.

I think Bernard Brogan is more at home in the Sports biography section. I’m not really the target market for sports biography but I did read Jimmy Deenihan’s which he published to raise funds for the Lartigue restoration project. I’d highly recommend it  to even non football fans like myself. Some great stories there.

According to tales on the Late  Late Show and elsewhere, it was Jimmy who “made the match” between Bernard’s parents so he has a lot to answer for to Kerry fans. If you have any football fans on your Christmas list, Bernard’s or even Jimmy’s books would be a sound bet.

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Cow Time

This photo popped up in a Facebook page called The Irish in London. She must be the quietest cow in Ireland. no halter, no spancel, no stall. Patience personified.


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An Old Golf Photo


Patsy O’Sullivan gave me this photo a good while ago. I posted it a while back with a request for names.

Nicholas Leonard sought the help of his old friend and colleague, P.J. Houlihan, hurler turned golfer. P.J. with the help of a few friends came up with all the names except one.

Here they are;


Back row L to R. Mike Holly,  Tom O’Donnell, Willie Enright, Danny Lyons, Sean Sullivan, Patk. O ‘Sullivan, Brendan Stack, P J.  Houlihan, Colm O Callaghan, John  Molyneaux, Dan Sheehan. 

Front row L to R., J B O’ Shea, Michael Barrett, Patsy O Sullivan, Frank Pierce, Didgie O Connor, Jerry Brick, unknown.

Now we only need the name of the man on the far right in front and a year and occasion for the photo.

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Season of Mists and Mellow fruitfulness


Tralee Community Garden 2020

Old Killorglin Postcard, Halo Health, Some Bog Pictures and a Feared Princely Visit in 1885

Photo: Tom Fitzgerald

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Yarn Bombing



Marie Moriarty spotted this intriguing piece of craftwork in Listowel Town Park.

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Charles Street Neighbours


Dermot Mahoney shared this photo on Facebook.

The ladies are Maggie Stack holding Edward Grimes and Kitty Mahony holding baby Dermot.

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William Street Upper



Halo is open.

Work has begun on Dress to Impress.

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On Church street

I met Jimmy Deenihan, Donal O’Sullivan and Charlie Nolan.

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A Very Old Killorglin postcard


Judy MacMahon found this old postcard during her Covid  clearout.

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2020 A Good Year for Turf

Photos; Bridget O’Connor

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The Prince of wales  was Not Welcome in 1885

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