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: John R.’s Page 1 of 2

Doodle Dinner, Milano Fashion, a Rugplan rug and a Star ballad

One of the two in the bush photographed by Chris Grayson.


Listowel Men at a Doodle Rally

Paul Murphy, formerly of Church St., sent us this. We need help with the names.


Facelift for Chute’s Stores


Do You Remember Rug plan?

Kathleen McCarthy is brilliant at all crafts. She has the patience of a saint and she loves to learn a new skill. Recently she made this pure wool rug. Only those of you who have ever made a rug plan rug will appreciate the skill involved here.


Ballad for Star

Kieran Donaghy has retired from Kerry Football. I found this ballad online. Aplologies to the poet whose name wasn’t with the poem online.

He hailed from the kingdom of Kerry,

A Rocky who played for the Stacks,.

He lined out up front for his county,

And tormented the very best backs.

They pulled, they dragged and they tripped him,

But the ball it was already there,

For the star had very good vision,

To get the ball to the man with red hair.

Manys the day he did save us,

And pulled the win out of the fire,

But time has come for the big man,

To hang up his boots and retire,.

He speaks of O’Connors and Fitzgeralds,

And all of the Donaghy clan,

Well proud they are of this young boy,

Who grew into one talented man.

On behalf of the fans of the Kingdom,

Who came out with the green and the gold,

So sorry to bid you farewell,

But for years your stories be told.

Good luck in the chapter that awaits you,

You owe nothing to the jersey you wore,

But we all wish once more we could see it,

That pass to young Clifford’s score.

What do you think of that Joe Brolly?


John R.’s Race week window

Many local shopkeepers put in a great effort with their window display for Race week 2018. Here is Pierse Walsh’s Church Street window.

River Feale, Fr. Kieran O’Shea and the Demolition of the old Neodata Building

By The Banks of The Feale


A Memory

The late Fr. Kieran O’Shea from Bridge Road was ordained a priest on June 18 1961. Junior Griffin treasures this photo of his good friend giving him his blessing on that day. Apart from family, Junior and John B. Keane were the only two Listowel friends that Kieran invited to share his day. Junior appreciated very much the honour of being asked.

One of those ordained on that day was Bill Murphy who went on to be bishop of Kerry. There were 72 priests ordained on June 18 1961.


Neodata is Demolished

This was the old Neodata building. For a while it was home to Kerry County Council offices. Now it has been demolished and we are being consulted as to what we would like to see in its place.

The tinsel among the rubble suggests that once there might have been Christmas cheer in these offices. Any one like to share a few memories?

All that was left after the demolition was this pile of steel. And even that was being cleared away on Sunday November 13 2016


No Panto this Year

Oh yes, there is.

Oh NO, there’s not.  Pity!


Saturday’s Food Trail

This weekend November 12 and 13th Listowel’s annual food fair was in full swing. It was a great success with huge crowds at the various events. On Saturday there was a food trail around the hotel and restaurants of Listowel with free samples everywhere. We were late joining the posse so we missed the hotel but we went to the next stop which was Gapos. There was some lovely Armenian food and wine and the big crowd of samplers enjoyed a feast.

`Then it was across the road to Lizzy’s Little Kitchen where Lizzy, herself had soup and savouries ready and waiting for us. If you know Lizzy’s you’ll know that space is tight at the best of times. On Saturday it was full to overflowing.

Since my merry band included a babe in a pushchair and a tired toddler, we decided to call it a day, resolving to do it all again next year.

My visitors thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Listowel on the day of the  food fair. They’ll be back.


John R.’s pop up restaurant at Listowel Food Fair

On Saturday evening, when the babe and toddler and their parents had gone home we joined a discerning group of diners to enjoy a delicious dinner at John R.’s This restaurant was for one night only and was booked out almost as soon as it was announced. Emer and Paula were among the lucky few to get a booking . We enjoyed a great value varied menu accompanied by one of Pierce’s good wines.

My dining companions were my daughter and her fiancé. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Walsh family pulled out all the stops to give us a lovely meal in  intimate and cozy surroundings.

Listowel in The Fall, Christmas Shop and John R.’s accommodation

The Garden of Europe in Autumn

It is lovely to walk through The Garden of Europe at any time of year. It is particularly beautiful in Autumn. You have heard of Vermont in The Fall and how it attracts so many visitors. Give me Listowel any day.


Your Daily Dose of Christmas Goodies

If your Christmas theme calls for white decoration, Listowel Garden Centre has them in abundance.


Luxury Accommodation in Listowel Town Centre

A family prepared to invest in the future of the economy in Listowel is the Walsh family who have traded on Church Street for generations. They have converted their accommodation offering to a top class bed and breakfast option for visitors to Listowel.

The business is located next to and over John R.’s and Café Hanna.

 Marion gave me the guided tour.

 There is a literary theme throughout. At the top of the stairs is this limited edition John B. Keane picture, a present from the Keane family.

These framed posters celebrate local and national stage performances.

An old fireplace is cleverly adapted as a showcase for souvenir Writers’ Week brochures.

The ultra tasteful tea and coffee nook is kitted out with this beautiful vintage tea set.

The three bedrooms are tastefully furnished.

There is a charming mixture of the vintage and the modern.

This sofa space in the communal area invites you to sit and read or just get away from the family for a while.

 This beautiful Dresden lamp is one of the many luxurious touches here.


Namir has given a home to this lovely little kitten…..soon to be named as soon as sex is determined.


Nice Gesture

A bunch of flowers was left at the door of Listowel Garda Station last week. It was a thoughtful token of support for the Gardaí who are still mourning the death of Garda Tony Golden who was murdered as he went about his duty in Omeath.

John R.’s changes to self service in 1965,

Ballybunion yesterday

(photo: Ballybunion Angling and Coastal Views)


Lartigue and Panissiére

Above is a then and now image of Listowel’s monorail, The Lartigue.

People who know about these things will know that there was only one other working monorail built and that one was in Pannisiére in France.

A friend recently came across a book of photos of yesteryear in this little French town.

The book had these old photos of the monorail.


A friend was browsing through old newspapers when he came across this interesting piece of social history. There was a time when a shopkeeper took your shopping list and filled it himself from the shelves. He chatted to you, made recommendations and even reminded you if you had forgotten something you usually bought. 

It would appear that John R.’s made the transition to self service in 1965.

Since that date the number of businesses adopting that DIY method is increasing daily. We all know the trials of DIY banking, airport boarding cards and baggage check in and don’t talk to me about FAQs. Find the solution to every problem yourself is a mantra for 2014.


Self Service at Walsh’s Listowel 31 July 1965

Edited from the Kerryman

THE OLD-ESTABLISHED firm of J. R. Walsh, Church
Street, Listowel are opening today (Friday) as a self-service store. The firm,
which was established as a grocery and bar by the late Mr. John R, Walsh, a
native of West limerick prospered during his management. The late Mr. Walsh was
69 when he died in 1946 ( passing over the management of the business to his
son, Joseph, who took over two years later.

In his younger days the late Mr. J. R. Walsh
managed Ballylongford and Newtownsandes creameries. In 1907 he decided to enter
into business in Listowel and it was then that he established the present firm,
at a time when stout was about 2d. per pint and whiskey about. 3d. per
glass  far away from today’s prices but of course at that time a £ was a
£. By 1919 one ounce of tobacco could be had for 8d. and a bottle of whiskey
was 16/- as compared with about £2 today.

The old shop had high wooden counters which
were lowered in later years. The bar was compact and always did, a big trade
with country people, especially on fair and market days.

The late Mr. Walsh was a colorful figure. He
was interned in Ballykinlar, Co. Down for his LR.A. activities. He was a good
footballer and an enthusiastic follower of the game and was very interested in
athletics. Among his many achievements may be noted the fact that he was a
vice-Chairman and a founder member of Listowel Race Company.

There were very few coursing meetings that he
did not attend. On the opening night of Ardfert greyhound track he won a race.
He was a very popular figure in the town of Listowel .and had a large family.

His son, Joseph, took over management of 
the business in 1948, in which year he also married Miss Hannah Pierce
from  Ballybunion. They have six children. Joseph is very interested, like
‘his, father before him in G.AA. activities  and sport in general.

Mr. Walsh told me, “I keep a few greyhounds at
one time I had a big string of  them. I attend the track meetings from
time to time. I also attend race meetings in Mallow and  Limerick

Since 1948 Mr. Walsh has expanded the grocery
business until today  the firm, stocks all lines of foodstuffs.

“1 was the first family grocer in Listowel
to sell poultry and we do a big bacon business today as well,” he
said  . Mr. Walsh has for a long time been, contemplating
further expansion of his grocery business. “Our grocery trade was
getting to the stage,” he said, “where we found it difficult to carry
on with the available floor space. It was then that I decided to extend the
premises considerably. Only last year I decided to convert to
self-service.” A completely new bar and lounge were built at the rear of
the grocery shop. The floor area of the new self-service store is about 500 square
feet. The bar and lounge are spacious. 

When Mr. Walsh decided to convert his original
shop to self-service he also decided to join Mace, a national organisation with
some 5,000 retail members in Great Britain and Ireland. It is the biggest
buying group in Great Britain and Ireland. The grocer who joins Mace continues
to remain independent and continues to own his shop, but he can also call on
his Mace wholesaler for expert advice on shop planning  and 
layout. Messrs Punch and Co, Ltd, Cork, operate Mace in the Munster area.

Mr. Walsh’s original shop offered counter
service and, as I have said, had a bar adjoining the premises. He called on the
Mace shop consultant and together they designed a very efficient self-service
store. The grocery department is tastefully laid out with a simple but
effective colour scheme.

The grocery section has a white ceiling. Over
the wall shelving the colour is midnight blue, while the check-out counter, a
Formica top is in hydrangea blue. Over the bacon counter at the rear the wall
is tiled 

Mace is the biggest independent buying force in
Great Britain and Ireland. In 1959, nineteen wholesalers joined together
to form a voluntary group. Since then seven further wholesalers have joined
them. The buying power and strength of these twenty-six wholesalers is
considerably greater than that of those in any other national group. Together,
they constitute a unique and powerful force in the wholesale grocery field.
More than 5,000 independent grocers in Great Britain and Ireland, have already
joined together under the Mace sign. These grocers remain independent and
continue to own their own shops, but they gain the benefits of special
terms. They can thus trade on a competitive  basis with  the
multiple or chain-store.

An important adjunct to the new
self-service store in Church  Street are the new bar and  lounge,
which have a separate  entrance from the street.

There is a good entrance lobby to both lounge
and bar. This Lounge has comfortable built-in seating on three walls.

 The Ladies’
toilet accommodation has a wash basin, dressing table, mirror and is finished
in an attractive pale pink. The main bar is approximately 12 by 24 feet in
size. The bar obtains its daylight through a perspex roof light and large end

This difficult conversion was carried out by
Mr. Thomas O’Gormam building contractor, Asdee, Ballybunion.


Michael Kennelly R.I.P.

The late Michael Kennelly, travel agent and scoutmaster travelled widely. He was responsible for many a Listowel boy seeing parts of the world, and parts of Ireland as well that he otherwise would never have had the opportunity to visit.

The above picture shows Michael with some local boys in Bale, Switzerland in 1952.

John Kennelly has very kindly shared some of Michael’s photographs with us and I will be bringing them to you over the course of the next week. If anyone reading this has any memories of scouting trips or of Michael’s famous pilgrimages to Knock, Lourdes or Lough Derg we’d love to hear them.

Listowel Races, the 2014 All Ireland Football Final

Ballybunion Sunset

Another stunning sunset captured by Mike Enright



Happy members of the Listowel Tidy Town Committee who travelled to Dublin to collect their 7th gold medal.


Lots to look forward to

Only a few more days wait and we will be off on our annual pilgrimage to The Island.

Tuesday’s mass seems to be working


John R.’s has this salutary warning in the window

A racehorse is an animal that can take several thousand people for a ride at the same time…..too true!

And then….

 The bunting is up for the All Ireland Football Final.

Craftshop na Méar has favors, hats and mascots in Kerry colours

 Shops and businesses are getting behind the team.


Lest we forget

Today is Sept 11th


To get you in the mood for next week, here is John B. Keane on The Late Late Show talking to Gay Byrne about Listowel Races

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