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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Sunday Morning in Listowel and photos from the Launch of The Personals and he Jimmy Hickey DVD

Rutting Season 2019



Photo: Chris Grayson

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Sunday Morning, Coming Down



” There ain’t nothing short of dying half as lonesome as the sound

Of the sleeping city sidewalks, Sunday morning coming down.”


The streets are quiet in Listowel too on Sunday mornings. It’s a good time to snap the streetscape. The light wasn’t great on the morning I took my stroll so the photographs are a bit dark.


Eileen O’Sullivan was coming from mass. She stopped to offer a few words of encouragement.

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Launch of The Personals

I have a few photographs for you from the launch of The Personals in Waterstones on October 3 2019

This book by RTE journalist, Brian O’Connell, is a look at the stories behind the small ads; the classifieds as we called them.

Brian bravely contacted the sellers of interesting items he spotted in his trawl through the small ads in the papers and on Done deal and he met with them and more often than not, got an interesting story.

The launch drew a a packed house with a few celebrities in attendance.

Seán O’Rourke told us a few tall tales of a great grandmother who regularly washed her burial shroud or habit and hung it out on the line to air it so that it would be ready whenever…. He told us of a mother who made sheets from flour bags, and he mentioned a few of the more unusual items for sale that Brian tells us about in The Personals.

The author, Brian O’Connell watching on as his book is launched.

Will you look who I met. Evelyn O’Rourke is a colleague of Seán’s and Brian’s. She remembered our time making a programme for TG4 with great fondness. It was she who presented the programme where Julie Evans came from Australia to research her gr. gr grandmother who had left from the workhouse in Listowel under the Earl Grey Scheme. Below is the link to the story which was picked up by the makers of the Tar Abhaile programme.

Earl Grey Story

Me in  between Evelyn O’Rourke and Sean O’Rourke.

Brian O’Connell signing my copy of The Personals. Look what he has in his left hand. I invited him to the launch of A Minute of Your Time. You’d never know. He just might come.

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Jimmy Hickey’s DVD



This DVD has been years in the making. It was a labour of love for Jimmy Deenihan and a few more and I’m delighted it got such a good reception in The Listowel Arms on Sunday last and I am so sorry that I couldn’t be there.

John Kelliher took some great photos on the night. These are just a few, click on the link for more.

The man himself enjoying his big night.



Jimmy in the company of his friends and fellow dancers with the North Cork music maestro, Liam O’Connor


Irish in Virginia 1900, A Poem and Launch of Jimmy Hickey DVD

Photo: Ita Hannon

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Let us not forget



( from Limerick History Gazette archive)

Th

Irish immigrants circa 1900 coming up from a 16-hour shift in the Virginia coal mines.

They were paid in company coins which could only be used in the company store and for company housing.

They were virtual slaves, but they kept their families together, went to church every Sunday, and sent their kids to school to be educated thus ensuring that future generations would live free and prosper.

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A Thread to hold on to in these turbulent times.

The Way it is



by William Stafford

There ia thread you follow

It goes among things that change.

But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it, you can’t get lost.

tragedies happen; people get hurt or die,

And you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

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Jimmy Hickey’s Life in Dance


Jimmy Hickey has led an extraordinary life. He has achieved everything he ever dreamed of in the world of dance.

Now his place in the history of Irish dance is to be celebrated in a DVD; Jimmy Hickey and his place in in the History of North Kerry Step Dancing.

The DVD will be launched by Fr. Pat Ahern in The Listowel Arms on Sunday, October 6 2019 at 7.00

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In Listowel Town Park



Community Centres and Dandy Lodge

Danny Hannon’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, Thurles train station and Munster Championships for Listowel

The Tidy Town corner of Listowel Town Square

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Danny Hannon Honoured at Writers’ Week 2019


Danny held his beloved Eileen’s hand at his big night at Listowel Writers Week, May 29 2019.

The Hannon family at the door of the family home as they prepare to take the short walk to The Listowel Arms for Opening Night.

Maurice escorted his mother while Joanna Keane, daughter of his great friend, John B. escorted Danny.

The night was filled with emotion, love,  pride, affection and a tinge of sadness.

The story of Danny’s contribution to the Arts was told as this very humble gentle man listened. There was talk of drama and books, of plays and playing and particularly innovation in the field of theatre. Many of Danny’s family and friends were there to celebrate him.


 V.I.P. guests Joseph O’Connor, Colm Tóibín and Carol Drinkwater listened enthralled.

And still Danny held Eileen’s hand. He later joked about the manicure.

The hall was packed. Danny has a long association with Mercier Press who co incidentally sponsored the trophy.

Danny and Eileen posed with Eddie and Helen Moylan, parents of Eileen who designed and crafted the beautiful presentation piece at her Claddagh Design studio in Macroom.

His good friend, Jimmy Hickey was on hand to congratulate Danny. He was just one of a long line of well-wishers.

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Joys of Free Travel

 I had a little rail trip last weekend and I took a photo of this Victorian post box in some train Station but I cant remember which one.

This is Thurles.

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Listowel Pitch and Putt


I was walking in the park yesterday when I spotted that the pitch and putt course was closed. There is a good reason. The hard working club members are getting the course ready for the Munster Championships at the weekend.

The always beautiful course is looking even more beautiful today.



Street Name Changes 1900 and Jimmy Hickey on St. Patrick’s Day 2019




Ballybunion sunset by Bridget O’Connor

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Proposed Name Changes to Listowel’s streets

Cork Examiner December 6 1900

(Thank you, Paddy Keane)

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St. Patrick’s Day 2019


When I wrote about St. Patrick’s Day stalwarts previously, I missed one man who is the heart and soul of the entertainment on St. Patrick’s Days in Listowel for as long as I am in town. That man is our own dancing master, Jimmy Hickey. This year his dancers were the highlight of the day at the St. Patrick’s Day mass in St. Mary’s parish church.

Another stalwart of St. Patrick’s Days in Listowel is Anne O’Connor/ Brosnan. Presentation Primary School marching band under her stewardship  has provided the musical colourful element to the parade. Her family have taken up the mantle  and over the years we have watched Mairead and Patrick entertain us from the stage.

This year Patrick’s stage was the step of the altar. This video is a joy to watch. Notice too his dancing teacher, Jimmy Hickey watching proudly from the wings as his star pupil struts his stuff.

Listowel, Ireland’s Tidiest Town 2018, Spoilt Rotten, Dancing in INEC and more photos from Listowel Races 2018


The last of the 2018 butterflies


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The Day after Listowel’s Big Tidy Town Win

The sun was shining so I took the camera and off I went. Here are a few of today’s snaps from Ireland’s tidiest town

 In the Square I met some tourists and I dragooned them into posing on the Tidy Town seat. They knew about our win  and they had just arrived in town and were beginning to explore.

Our community fruit and nut garden was looking smashing.

Nearly warm enough for a picnic, if one had a picnic.

This is a tad worrying. This apple tree is in bud…in September!

This man who had come to pick up the branches of a fallen tree posed for me with these lovely roses.

He helped out this granny on a mission to collect conkers for her Cork grandchildren.

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Jack McKenna at 100


Family, friends, McKenna’s retired and present staff, historians and  admirers came to the Kerry Writers’ Centre in Listowel Town Square on Sept 19 for the launch of Spoil Rotten, the memoir of a local business man, pioneer and philanthropist who has reached the age of 100.

Did you know that this man gave the site for the restored Lartigue railway AND he gave €250,000 to set up the Lartigue Museum?  In keeping with this spirit of generosity to his native town, his family took on themselves all the publishing costs of his memoir with all the profits from the sale of the book going to Áras Mhuire, the local retirement home.

 On the night of the launch Jack McKenna  signed copies of the book and even took the microphone to thank us all for coming and to wonder what he had done to deserve such a turn out.

At the top table were Jimmy Deenihan whose Kerry Literary Trust published the book and who is a friend and admirer of Jack McKenna, Jack’s daughter, Louise, who brought the whole project to fruition, continuing on a labour of love set in train by her late mother, and Fr. Anthony Gaughan who was the guest of honour who launched the book.

This book is an important piece of the jigsaw of Listowel’s history.


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Learning from A Master



This photo was shared on Facebook by Scoil Realta na Maidine. These little boys are taking their first  lessons in Irish dancing from Jimmy Hickey.

Among them maybe there is a Justin Walsh or a Patrick O’Mahoney. Both these men are former pupils of Jimmy’s and both have gone on to dance on the world stage.

As part of an ongoing project to produce a film documenting Jimmy Hickey’s life in dancing, Jimmy went to the INEC to see his former pupil, Patrick O’Mahoney dance the lead role in Riverdance.

Before the show, Jimmy got to show Patrick and some of the troupe a step or two and both Patrick and Jimmy were delighted to dance together on the INEC stage.

Jimmy and Patrick dance together on the INEC stage, Killarney in September 2018

Jimmy teaches Patrick a few steps.

Members of the troupe, who were watching in the wings, join in for a lesson as well.

Patrick thanks his former teacher for dropping in to see him. There is a mutual respect between these two men, both masters of the dance .

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 The Colour and the Winners at Ladies Day 2018


Waiting for the results of the best dressed competition

The judges, Aoibhinn Garrihy and Marietta Doran, interviewed one another for a bit first.

Then it rained.

David Moran, Kerry footballer, picked the best dressed grooms.  This lovely lad came second and the  groom below won. He wore a suit he had bought for a wedding and very smart he looked too.

This lady came second in a dress her family didn’t like but the judges loved. Her hat is by Aoife Hannon. I thought I was being a very clever photographer by photographing her face and keeping the full shot in someone’s mobile phone in the picture. Didn’t quite work.

I was too far away from the stage to get a full length shot of this second runner up but her hat was gorgeous .

And the winner is…..

And her prize is …€3000 and this car for a year.

This is the winner from the back. I didn’t actually get a good photo of her because I didn’t think she would win. That’s all I know about fashion!

Meanwhile the business of racing went on, Presentations were made in the parade ring, People watched the horses and the men had a chat.

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