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

Tag: John Fitzgerald Page 1 of 2

Ballybunion, A Ball Alley Poem and a Fact

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú in Howth

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Ahafona

I have often seen this mural on my way into Ballybunion. Last week I stopped to have a look around.

I think the welcome sign is probably best seen by a drone.

Do you remember the Irish Open of 2000? I was there in a different life.

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As a kind off post script to the handball alley stories, here again is John Fitzgerald’s lovely paen of praise to the alley and four of its best players. The foursome mentioned in the poem are Junior Griffin, Tom Enright and Dermot Buckley from the Bridge Road and John Joe Kenny from Patrick Street.

The Ball Alley

A poem by John Fitzgerald

The Alley

Standing on the dead line

I face the pockmarked wall,

it hides the bridge above me

fond memories I recall,

the side walls mark the theatre,

the concrete floor the stage,

four players take their places

the finest of their age.

The cocker’s hopped and hardened,

Junior’s feet fix solidly

he contemplates the angle

of the first trajectory.

His swinging arm begins the game

the ball’s hit low and fast,

a signal to John Joe and Tom

this will be no soft match.

Dermot standing by his side

sees his neighbour win first toss,

a simple game to twenty one

no ace is easily lost.

I watch them from the grassy mound

behind the dead ball line

 hear the cries of older boys

cheer each one at a time

and in the space of half an hour

the ball has weaved its way

through every nook and cranny

in this battlefield of play,

the long ball to the back line

the close one to the wall

the deadly butted killer 

seemed to hit no wall at all

and in end the four of them

take leave just as they came

and beckon us to take our place

and learn more of their game,

the game that gave such pleasure

the game I got to know.

when I was young and full of fun

in the Alley years ago.

(The cocker was the name they had for the ball)

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The Friday Market is very small these times

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A Fact

Tikka Masala

Where does Tikka Masala, which is Britain’s most popular take away curry, originate from?

No, not Bangladesh or any other Middle Eastern country.

The answer is Glasgow.

This is the story according to my Fact book.

Chicken tandoori began to feature on restaurant menus in the mid 1960s.

A Glasgow restaurant served it to its customers. A diner asked for extra sauce. The chef improvised a sauce of tomato soup, spices and cream.

Masala means a mixture of spices. Tikka Masala contains cardamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, fenugreek and chilli among other things.

Turmeric is the spice that gives it its bright yellow colour and a synthentic dye tartrazine is what causes it to ruin your clothes with an unremovable stain.

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Shops and Signs, A Poem a Recent Snap or two and a To Let Sign

KDYS /Old Carnegie Free Library

This lovely old building is at the top of Church Street where it joins Dowd’s Road

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Listowel shops and their signs during Lockdown 2020

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Carroll’s is Open

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At the AIB


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Carroll’s Yard


The River Walk

After a long dry spell the level of water in the river is very low.

There was a funeral in progress in the church.

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The Dawn above the Dark


John Fitzgerald has written a poem for those who have forgotten what a pulled pint is.

The Dawn above the Dark

Out of a gold grained silvered font the dark stream seeks the light The gargoyle bows its ugly head To flow it out of night

Into a steady downward plunge that surges up the dawn
and takes it o’er the ticking glass to let the pint take form.

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Snapped in Town



Jimmy Deenihan was having a socially distant chat with a friend.



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First Covid Business Casualty ?



I am so sad to see a To Let sign on one of my favourite coffee shops.

Clean shops, Stag employees in Germany , A Clown poem and a photo of 2 clowns

Photo; Liam Downes

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Our Shops were never so clean






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Stag employees trip to Germany with Dan Moloney T.D.


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Tralee clowns, Ronaldo and Giogo Fanzini meet Michael Lynch during Listowel Writers’ Week a few years ago

The Clown

by John Fitzgerald



John has another circus themed poem for us today.

The Clown

Who is this one I call the clown, 

Comes in and out of every town? 

You take a child of tender years, 

Fill with laughter, touch with tears. 

You live inside a sawdust ring,

A peg on which the circus clings; 

A whited face, a button nose, 

What is beneath, who is to know. 

A comic look of tragedy?

A tragic look of comedy?
Wise enough to know the fool, 

Kind enough to not be cruel;
A mask that ever hides your face, 

A shining light, a saving grace?

Who is this one I call the clown,
Comes in and out of every town?
Who is this one, what is your role,
When touching hearts, you touch the soul?

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A Spiral Staircase


That which we call a spiral staircase is not actually a spiral at all. It is helical. A spitral is two dimensional, a helix is three dimensional.

At a rough estimate, 10% of the population are left handed solo called spiral staircases were usually designed to favour right handed so that a deciding swordsman could fight off right handed attackers. Listowel castle has such a staircase.

There is a chateau in the Loire valley in France which has a double helix staircase so that people coming down dont bump into people going up. Sounds like good sense to me.

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A Covid Listowel Limerick


During Lockdown diversions we seek,

Of Zoom and of Facetime they speak.

On Liveline, a prude, while Trump talks of Jeyes Fluid.

And worse, no Listowel Writers’ Week 

Mattie Lennon.


Lost in Lace, The Ball Alley and Royal Ascot




Photo: Chris Grayson

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Lost in Lace


This was one of the loveliest of the exhibitions that was on view during Writers’ Week 2019. The exhibition was opened by Madeleine O’Sullivan in The Seanchaí on Thursday May 30 2019.

The lace pieces on display were all the work of local lacemaker, Nora Moriarty. Nora, who passed away in 2018, was a native of Listowel. She lived in Church Street before her marriage to Tadhg Moriarty. When Nora retired from teaching she pursued her dream of a life in craftwork, particularly lace making.  She studied at Mallow College of Design and Tailoring. She received a City and Guilds Diploma in Dress Design. Carrickmacross lace was her passion and she became a member of the Guild of Irish Lacemakers.

Mary Shields from that guild told us a bit about lace in general and Carrickmacross lace in particular. Two of the characteristics of this lace are its scalloped edge and its shower of hail design. Nora was a master craftswoman and took great pains over design and execution of her lace projects. She produced a huge body of lacework in her lifetime. On display were dresses that could be worn from the cradle (a Christening gown), a wedding dress and many handkerchiefs and presentation pieces.

Nora’s son, Eugene told us of the family’s pride in his mother’s work. He drew our attention to some of the pieces that told the story of Nora’s involvement with local organisations. She was the first honorary secretary of Listowel Writers’ Week and she belonged to three different drama groups. She was a member of the Listowel Singers and the church choir. Members of all of these groups testified to Nora’s generosity in making logos, pin cushions and keyrings for them.

I brought my friends to view the exhibition on Saturday. Friends and neighbours of the late Nora helped the Moriarty family to mind the displays. When we visited, Joan and P.J. Kenny were the caretakers.

Many friends of Nora’s came to the launch of the exhibition.

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The Ball Alley



This is how the ball alley looks today.

This is how John Fitzgerald remembers good times in The Alley

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Listowel well represented at Royal Ascot 2019




Edaein O’Connell wearing a stunning Aoife Hannon creation at Royal Ascot this week.

Photos from Aoife Hannon on Facebook


Childers Park in Autumn, Fitzgeralds in the U.S. and new memorabilia for the Lartigue Museum

Photographer in the Park


Deirdre Lyons took these lovely autumnal photographs in Childers Park, Listowel in early Autumn 2018

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Proud of his Kerry Roots


I’ve been writing this blog now for 7 years. There are over a million posts now out there in cyberspace. Every now and again someone googles something or someone and finds his way to an old blog post, This is what happened to Robert  Fitzgerald when he looked online for information about his ancestors.

He sent an email;

Good Evening:

I recently came across your blog post Farmers and gardeners from Tuesday, 3 January 2012.  The man that you talk about (Thomas Fitzgerald) turns out to be my great, great, grandfather.  I am only recently starting to find out more about the heritage of my family and it is my knowledge that Thomas came to Beaver, Pennsylvania to start a floral business and the many, many descendants of this Listowel gentleman have remained in the same small town for over 5 generations now.  Thomas had a son John (my great grandfather), who had a son John Lee (my grandfather), who had a son James (my father), that led to myself, Robert.  There are of course many other children involved as our family has grown quite considerably from the small Listowel roots. 

I am quite uncertain of any relatives still living in the Listowel area or the entirety of Ireland for that matter, but it is my intent to make the trip out there sometime in the near future and see for myself the humble beginnings of Thomas Fitzgerald and what is now a massive family here in the US. Browsing through some of the more recent posts on the blog, I see that the local area is quite beautiful and certainly full of history and tradition.  

I want to thank you for putting that information out in the blog as I was able to really uncover a lot of family history and learn a bit more about the small Irish town that my family descends from after many generations and what was thought to be lost history.

Very Respectfully,

Robert Fitzgerald

And here is the blogpost he is referring to ;

Here is a man I found on the internet. He has a Listowel connection but I wonder if he is related to any Fitzgeralds who still live around here.

FITZGERALD:   John Fitzgerald and Mary Conway Fitzgerald, of County Kerry, Ireland saw their second son, Thomas off  to Canada in 1862.  Thomas, who was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, came from a long line of gardeners and had worked at this since he was a boy in Ireland, managing the grounds and hothouses of Lord Colliss, of Tarbert township, County Kerry, Ireland and for 15 years an estate in Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Thomas was leaving his beloved land to earn enough to bring his intended over and get married.  After 3 years of work in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he was successful and brought Mary Healey, his intended over and they married.  Their first child was Patrick, born in 1865.  At this time Thomas and his family moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where he worked as a gardener on a nearby estate. While in Pittsburgh, Mary and Thomas had seven more children; John, who became manager of the Plumbers Supply Company in Erie, Pennsylvania; Thomas M., who was sent to study in Ireland for 3 years, and returned to open a large florist business in Beaver, Pennsylvania; James F.; Annie; Mary Catherine; Edward, who married Catherine Conville and was sent to Erie with his four children to help his brother John with the business in Erie; and William.  Thomas and Mary later moved to Beaver to help in their son Thomas M. Fitzgerald’s greenhouses.

Two published biographical sketches provide great insight into the life of the Fitzgerald’s of Allegheny and Beaver County Pennsylvania

Update: 10.00a.m. Vincent has looked him up and this Fitzgerald gardener is from Tarbert. He was married in Ballylongford on July 24 1832.

So if you are a Tarbert Fitzgerald and you think you are a relative, do drop an email to Listowel Connection.


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Lartigue Museum Received Fascinating Donation


Recently the Lartigue Museum have put on display some lovely old postcards and photographs donated to the museum by Catherine Kenton



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