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

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River Brick, Listowel Fire fighters, an essay on Slagging and a Lyre Cuckoo

Bovine Reflection in the River Brick

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


John Kelliher’s Fire Fighters Photos

Fire chief, Anthony MacAuliffe and a very young John Kelliher outside Seán Scully’s

This is the old fire station. The library is now on their site.




                                     By Mattie Lennon

  A sense of humour keen enough to show a man his own absurdities, as well as those of other people, will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those worth committing.

                       Samual Lover.

  I’m getting a bit of a slagging lately (I won’t go into details) and it’s great fun. I’m not talking about offensive remarks or insults. I’m referring to good substantial, wholesome, slagging.

 SLAGGING : The delicate art of teasing someone in such a fashion that they look forward to it. 

  It is practiced widely throughout Ireland by all manner of people. Well not all manner; there are those, a small minority, who, through low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or some form of psychological abnormality cannot take a slagging. And they have a right to live too despite the fact that they could truthfully echo the words of the character in God of Carnage who said “I don’t have a sense of humour and I have no intention of acquiring one.” Will the humourless, however, admit to their condition? Almost eighty years ago Frank Moore Colby asked, “Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humour.”? (I once lived in a Dublin suburb of which it was said that one “would want to wash your words.”

   In the words of Erin Mack, “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.”

   Why can some people not take a slagging? Freud in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious points out that when we were children we had no need for jokes because all our fantasies were so immediate. “ . . . when we were ignorant of the comic, when we were incapable of jokes and when we had no need of humour to make us feel happy in our life.”

   Is the anti-slagging brigade made up of those who haven’t left their childhood? Who have not grown up and who, subconsciously or otherwise are without the need for a bit of craic? Or are they victims of their upbringing or education? One writer, with reference to French finishing schools says, “In a world where structure, order and logic are the master nouns, the room for nonsense and absurdity is limited.” 

   Or, as one journalist put it, “In Ireland, we’ve always tended to gift-wrap our positives somewhat differently. We do it by insult. The closeness of Irish friendships — particularly Irish male friendships — can often be measured by how egregiously the friends insult each other. Incompetence, ineptitude with the opposite sex, shortness, tallness, fatness, skinniness, hairiness and baldness are all highlighted to tighten the bonds of mutual affection. “  Of course it has been suggested that all Irish people can take a joke, based on the fact that we voted in the government that we have. 

 So, we have our own way of dispensing what Americans call “positive reinforcement.”

   There are people in these islands who have convinced juries that a graceful taunt was an insult. And they are living comfortably on the proceeds.

   In 1994 Jacob Hangaard, a Dutchman, stood for election as a joke. He was elected. His manifesto included “the reclassification of people without a sense of humour as disabled.”

   Should we change a culture to appease a small minority who are allergic to life? How do we deal with people who can’t distinguish between affection and rejection? I don’t know. How about a compromise? What if those who suffer from self-victimisation or hypersensitivity were obliged to wear some form of badge proclaiming, “I can’t take a slagging.” 

I have commissioned a mug for such people. Do you want one?


Super Photograph of a Super Moon

Ita Hannon took this photo last week.


Cuckoo in Lyre in May 2020

Photos by Mary Nolan

Listowel from John Kelliher’s Drone, A Poem from Noel Roche, 1992 panto in Pres. and Speed Cameras

Swans at Rattoo

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Listowel in Lockdown

Drone photos from John Kelliher


HMS Pinafore 1992

Presentation Secondary School, Listowel operetta


Another Poem from Noel Roche

This poem needs no words of introduction or explanation. Noel says it best in his own words. And remember he is 40 years sober this year.


Bet You didn’t know this

The speed camera was invented to speed cars up not slow them down. A Dutch rally driver and engineer called Gatsonides wanted to take corners faster. His first device was 2 strips across the road. The first strip started a stop watch. The second stopped it. Then he thought of adding a camera so he not only had a record of the vehicle’s speed, he also had a picture of the car. He could see how much extra speed he could squeeze out of a corner by approaching it along a different line.

His invention was called the Gatsometer and speed cameras are often still referred to as Gatsos. He realised its application in the detection of speeding offences when he replaced the pressure sensitive strips with a radar beam.

Of course the Listowel connection is our own Irish GoSafe speed camera network has its headquarters in Listowel.


“Oh, lest the world should task you to recite….”

Ursula Stack sent us this Covid fact.

Dame Judi Dench has tasked herself with learning all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets during Covid 19 lockdown


From Isolation -Inspiration

Thank you, Nan Bailey for the heads up on this marvellous resource.

This is an initiative of the Irish Embassy in London.

From Isolation – Inspiration involves a series of short videos posted on the Embassy social media channels which feature individual Irish artists currently in domestic isolation performing their art – a musician, singer, poet, novelist, actor etc. The videos are filmed by the artist in their home or garden and are designed to inspire and bring solace and cheer in these testing times.

Access the recordings    HERE


A (very late) Message from Listowel Celtic PRO

Our own Barbara Mulvihill is nominated for the Best Actress Award in the Kevin Rowe Events Oskars.  She is raising money for St. James hospital.

If you want to vote for Barbara here is the link.

Best Actress at Kevin Rowe Events Oskars

Martin McCarthy is up for Best Actor. He is raising money for the Mercy Hospital Foundation.

A vote costs €1

NNB Voting closes this evening at 5.00

Castleisland, Dublin phone boxes and lights in Listowel’s Childers’ Park

Deirdre Lyons took this photo recently in The Garden of Europe. Isn’t it beautiful?



Last week I had occasion to pass a few hours in Castleisland. It is a really interesting town. I sometimes feel that Castleisland people are closer to their rural roots than other Kerry people. I overheard these gems on the street;

” Let me tell you now while I’ve a holt of you…..”

“75? She is in her eye. She’s 85 and she looks every day of it.”

This great likeness of Con Houlihan, one of Castleisland’s most famous sons, stands in the town centre.

This premises is currently idle.

A native of Castleisland informed me that this landmark is called The Fountain. This confirms my belief that people are different in this town. To me this is a pump. I can’t see anything that makes this column a fountain but if Castle Island people want to call it a fountain who am I to differ?

A reminder of Castleisland’s dark history


Phoneboxes on Connell Bridge, Dublin in the 1970s

Photo: Stair na hEireann on Facebook


Lighting our Way through the park

If, like me, you were walking in the park on Thursday March 23 2017, you might have wondered why all the lovely lights that are such a great addition to the park in recent years were still on in mid morning. Wonder no more. On my way through the park I met Conor Moriarty whom I knew would be a likely man to know the answer. He did. It was he who had turned them on in order to identify which ones were faulty. They are all now in full working order.


A Wedding Video from 1962

Wedding of Tommy Murphy and Olivia Featherstone

Paul Murphy sent me this great old video to share. Here is his accompanying email:

My mother was manager of the Arms, hired by Joe Locke, got married in Dublin because she knew people up there.

Listowel people in the video include my Dad’s sisters, Mossie Walsh down the square, with his wife Kats who still lives there, other Walshs, the guy sitting next to the old lady is I think Stephen Stack, the  pharmacist, where The Gentlemen’s Barber is now.

The old lady is my Gran Aunt Ciss Perryman from Beale who ran Mountain View in Ballybunion up until the 80’s. Also from Ballybunion is my uncle Paddy Dowling, who is doing the toasting, his daughter mames was well known in Ballybunion, who died tragically in a freak accident a few years ago. Feel free to ask any questions.


In London on Friday last 

Nancy and Derry Kelly, both from Listowel, celebrated 50 years of happy marriage.


Wedding with Fireworks

John Kelliher just happened to be in The  Square on Saturday April 1 2017. He just happened to have his camera with him so he got a shot or two of the firework display which was put on to celebrate a local wedding.


Don’t Forget

John Kelliher photography,Convent closure and Ballyduff O’Donoghues

John Kelliher took these great photographs of the final mass in the convent chapel. When he posted them recently on Facebook they brought back many memories of another era when nuns and convents were part of everyday life in Ireland. Alas, no more.


Photobombing giraffe got  this great photo from a Dublin couple whose photo was photo bombed by a fellow with a hard neck.


Ballyduff O’Donoghues

If you have Ballyduff O’Donoghues on your family tree this is a great blog to follow:

Ballyduff O’Donoghues


On the street

I met Mary Sobieralski in Main Street with her German visitors, her son, Mark and his girlfriend, Sabrina


Something to Look Forward To

The  Kissane Gathering weekend is planned for 7th, 8th and 9th August. Jerry Behan who is a Kissane descendant is opening a new gallery at the Horseshoe in time for the event. A Photographic Exhibition of Black and White Kissane photographs will be displayed in the Gallery the week leading up to and including the Gathering weekend. This exhibition is being prepared by Eamon O’Murchú formally from Listowel. Eamon’s mother was a Kissane.  Some of these photographs are from as far back as the 1880’s. The Launch of the Photographic Exhibition will be the weekend before the Gathering. 

Everyone is welcome to walk in and view the photographs as the Gallery will be open everyday from 12 o’clock.


That Match!

Great match, shame about the result.  John Kelliher was there and he got some great photos. Here are just a few. View the rest on his page by following the link above.

More from Writers’ Week 2015

A Bit Unseasonal But Lovely

John Kelliher at his best


John Kelliher Takes us Down Memory Lane

The ESB headquarters where Aldi now stands.

Super Valu in Mill Lane


Big Win for  Good Charity

These are the volunteers and friends from Recovery Haven, a Tralee based charity which this week won the top prize for Rural Innovation sponsored by Dairymaster. Recovery Haven supports  emotionally and physically people who are on a cancer journey whether as patients or family of patients.   (photo and story Radio Kerry)


North Cork Ladies on tour

I met up with some ladies from my homeland last week as they were on a bus tour round limerick, Clare and Kerry. Their trip to The Seanchaí was a highlight of their day trip . They loved the drama and they had a delicious meal in the Listowel Arms afterwards


Local People at Opening Night 2015

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