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Tarbert ESB, Listowel Food Fair 2019 and proposed Food Hub and John Relihan

Winter 2019


Do you Remember this?


Opening of ESB Power station, Tarbert

Glin Historical Society found these photos in the Kennelly Archive from

19th June 1970.

The official opening of the ESB power generating station at Tarbert by An Taoiseach Jack Lynch. Most Rev. Dr. Eamonn Casey, Bishop of Kerry, performed the blessing ceremony.


More from the Sunday Fair at Listowel Food Fair 2019

Frances O’Keeffe designs and knits the most amazing tea cozies. They are all just beautiful.

Frances’ attention to detail is astounding.


Down the street at The Seanchaí there was a great children’s fair going on.

It was Remembrance Sunday and the wreath laying was taking place at the memorial plaque.


North Kerry’s Own Celebrity Chef

I ran into John Relihan and his mom, Maryanne, in The Square. John is always so friendly and approachable despite his fame in the culinary world. He is now an executive chef which means a little less cooking and lots of globe trotting, last week in London, next week in Florida.

John and his mom were in Listowel for the food fair and they ran into Jimmy Deenihan who has done so much for the food business in Listowel. He is the driving force behind the new food hub which it is hoped will being jobs and prosperity to our region.

What is a food hub?

I asked the same question when I first heard of it and here is the answer from last week’s Kerry’s Eye:

A tale of St. John’s clock, a few Listowel photos and John Relihan at Fifteen in London

Great Hunting Weather

Duhallow Hunt       Photo; Willie Nunan


A Tale of Protestants and Catholics United by a Clock

 My story started with this old postcard. I posted it here a few weeks ago. On the same day as it appeared I was on Radio Kerry giving my Just a Thought. Just a Thought is a minute’s reflection broadcast on Radio Kerry on weekday mornings. It is broadcast first at 7.30 a.m. during Kerry’s Full Breakfast. One of the presenters of this programme is Elaine Kinsella. Elaine heard my “Thought” and realised that it was her old teacher whose blog she now follows. So Elaine opened the blog and the first thing she saw was this old picture of Listowel Town Square. “I wonder,” says she, “when this photograph was taken.”

Later on the same day, I met my friend Junior Griffin. Junior didn’t know when exactly the photo was taken but he was sure that it was before the 1940s because he had observed that the numerals in the St. John’s clock were illegible and he knew all about their being repainted.

Junior is a great man for a story and he didn’t let me down on this occasion either.

The man second from left in this photo (kindly given to me by Patsy O’Sullivan) is Archdeacon Wallace and he was the last Protestant rector of Listowel parish. Junior remembers him as a great community man and on the very best of terms with his Catholic neighbours.

One of these Catholic friends was Junior’s dad, John Griffin. Now John was the local expert at mending clocks and watches. So it was to Bridge Rd to the Griffin house that the archdeacon came to get his clock seen to.

Junior remembers the whole undertaking well.

In the 1940s it was forbidden for a Catholic to enter a Protestant church. Mending the clock would not involve entering the church as there was no access to the clock from the church. To solve this problem John Griffin constructed a kind of primitive cherry picker. This contraption was a kind of cage that he would enter on the ground and using pulleys and ropes he would hoist himself up to the clock in order to access the movement of the clock.

Junior’s mother was worried sick that some harm might come to her husband in this makeshift hoist so she sent Bert and Junior to the Catholic church to light candles and to pray that no harm would come to their dad.

Bert, R.I.P. and Junior

Mr. Griffin repainted the numerals and he brought the two huge hands home to paint them. Junior remembers that the big hand measured five feet and the small hand was 3 feet long.

There remained one final problem to solve but John Griffin was a dinger at solving problems. If he couldn’t do something himself, he knew someone who could.

The last piece of repair work needed was the vital pin that held the hands in place and allowed them to turn as well in order to tell the time. This was a job for an engineer and John Griffin knew just the man, his friend Michael Graham. Michael lived in Dublin but he had a Listowel connection in that he was married to a North Kerry woman.

Michael made the vital pin. The clock was in working order again. 

Now there is a lovely postscript to the story, Junior told me that Michael Graham, the man who made the vital pin was married to Canon Declan O’Connor’s aunt.

Canon Declan with Jimmy Hickey.


Listowel Arms from Convent Street


St. Patrick’s Hall, Listowel


Star Pupil

Fifteen Graduates is a Facebook page for graduates of Jamie Oliver’s apprentice programme. This is what it says about our own John Relihan

“Great to see graduate John Relihan at Fifteen today. John has become a Food Ambassador for Ireland and he has been busy travelling all over the world in that role. For St Patricks Day on the 19th of March this year John will be back cooking in Trafalgar Square again – we will send an email out soon as he will be looking for other graduates to come along and cook with him on the day as well. Keep up the great work John “

Christie Hennessey winner, Tullamore school and Duagh chef to open Cork restaurant

A Break in the clouds over Ballybunion captured by Jason of Ballybunion Prints.


This is Mide Houlihan from Clonakilty. She recently won the Christie Hennessey song writing competition. I think we’ll hear more of her.


Listowel people at Ardfert Camera Club’s exhibition

Dillon and Mary Boyer with Anne Cox at the official opening of Ardfert Camera Club’s annual exhibition in Tralee Library recently        (Photo: Tralee Today)


Tullamore School…..the girls

Recently I posted some photos from Tullamore school. I remarked that they seemed to be all boys. Well, no better man to supply me with the gender quota than Vincent Carmody. He sent me this photo and the names. Vincent’s mother and his aunts all attended Tullamore.

Ciss O Shea ( Teacher), Sara Madden, Mary Ann Mulvihill, Nora O Shea, —-, —–, —–, Lena Walsh, Pollough ( my aunt, older than my mam, she married Paddy Buckley ( cooper), lived at 26 Upper William Street), Mary Bridget Walsh, Pollough (my eldest aunt, she trained as a teacher in England, lived in Leeds, married to Victor Kilbride, a civil servant, had 2 daughters, Angela, a doctor, and Helen, an actress who was attached to The Old Vic.),  Lil Carmody, Mrs Julia O’Shea.

Middle row, 

____, ____, _____, 4th, Kitty Lynch, ____, ____, 6th, Eileen Shanahan,

Front row,

____, _____, 3rd Catherine Mulvihill, ( she married Paddy White of Bedford), 6th, Josie Walsh, Pollough ( my mam, went to England, like her other sisters to secondary school, then trained as a teacher, taught for some years, then came back and married my dad John F. Carmody), Margaret (Maud) Walsh, Pollough, ( younger than my mam, she also went to England, also trained as a teacher, taught over there for a while, she returned to Ireland in the early 30s, anxious to continue teaching she went to Ring to do Irish, while there she met the love of her life, Thomas Murray, he was over the Helvick lifeboat, they got married and she stayed down there teaching) . 

Vincent was also able to help in naming some of the boys

My uncle Patrick ( b.1900) is in the boys photo, somewhere. 

Apart from Master Roger O Shea. who is standing on the extreme right. He ( he came from the Rathmore area) and his wife Julia ( nee Scanlon) were outstanding teachers, they also had a daughter who also taught there at this time (1910) 

There are 3 O’Connor brother’s from Shrone ( Gale Bridge)

Thomas (Tom), is second from right extreme back row.

Edward (Ned) , is third from right, second row (back)

James (Jimmy), is forth from right, front.

It is possible to get the  names who attended the school at this time, unfortunately it is impossible to fit names on faces  however, Sheila O Connor could  point out her dad and his brothers.


In the Real Capital of Ireland

Recently, I was “doing Pana” or, to put it in Irish, I was ag spaisteoireacht. I was mooching around on Patrick Street, Cork musing over what had changed since my last visit.

I strolled into Dunnes Stores and they have given over their new product corner to Paul Galvin’s latest collection. It looked very clean and pared down and there were very few items on display. Think TK Maxx, well, this is the opposite. The clothes looked just like what I would expect from Paul Galvin. I think he must have been designing his own clothes for some time because these look to my untrained eye like the clothes he has been wearing for a while now.

Across the road in Brown Thomas they had created a teaser display for their Christmas windows.

As I headed up towards Patrick’s Bridge who did I run into but North Kerry’s own celebrity chef, John Relihan of Duagh and London. He is now, for a short while, John Relihan of Duagh, London and Cork. He was in town to choose tableware for his new restaurant which, I can exclusively reveal to readers of Listowel Connection will be in The Mardyke. So, in a few weeks time, if you find yourself in Cork and you are looking for a great meal, remember to support our own.


I Saw Brooklyn….the movie

It was great. Saoirse Ronan should definitely get an Oscar. She was superb in the part. I think this story was meant for the big screen. It is so much better than the book. I was never in a Brooklyn boarding house but I was there on Tuesday night. Much more familiar to me though was the claustrophobic Irish town, the dullness and drabness of life in the 50s and 60s. Everything in New York seemed so much brighter and more colorful but the message came across, loudly and clearly; It’s not places that matter to us, it’s people.

I’d give Brooklyn 10 out of 10.

Straw Boys, John Relihan and more from Listowel Races 2015

Ballyduff Farmer in The Farmers’ Journal

John O’Regan, Dairy and Tillage Farmer, Ardoughtar Cross, Ballyduff, Co Kerry celebrating National Potato Day            Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan


Strawing In

This photograph of straw boys in Milstreet, Co. Cork was posted on Facebook by Tom Healy.

I googled straw boys and this is what I found.

“Whenever they started, the Straw
Boys seem to have survived in modern Irish life – at least in the western
counties of Ireland where they almost certainly originated. They’re most often
described as an exceptionally odd bunch of party crashers – young men who
appear suddenly at a wedding, possibly uninvited, and dance with the bride and
groom before departing as swiftly as they arrived. The only thing that
’s consistent in all the stories about them is the way they
conceal their identities behind stylized hats made of straw.

Still Dancing

Many present-day accounts say that
the Straw Boys still appear at weddings from the Achill Island area (northwest
county Mayo) on down through the middle west. They’re familiar enough, in fact,
that some wedding planners offer Straw Boys as a feature you can choose, along
with champagne and chocolate cake, from the standard event menu. For about
$250, you can apparently have a group of 4-5 of these fellows enter the dinner
room, accompanied by a fiddle, dance around the tables for a few minutes, and
then lift the bride from her chair and carry her out to the dance floor to
begin the “Ceili.”

According to Jane Fitzgerald,
speaking on a wedding website, “they were boys who rustled cattle. After the
job, they
’d avoid capture by dressing in
straw hats and sneaking into a wedding. They
’d drink and dance but never talk. Eventually they got to be a
sign of good luck. It
’s called “strawing a wedding.” Another wedding planner advertizes Straw Boys who “dance around the bride and groom to protect them from evil
” But many traditional accounts say
the boys don’t appear at the wedding at all, but at the bride
’s house before the wedding. Several other writers say that in
olden days, weddings were usually for family members only, and that the Straw
Boys led a delegation of friends into the town square to welcome the bride and
groom home from their honeymoon.”

My memory of straw boys is not of this hired entertainment but of local lads who came to the house of the newly married couple when they returned from their honeymoon and demanded a party. They were usually half expected and the singing and dancing went on all night.


Coming to a Screen near You

Look out for John Relihan from Duagh  cooking up a storm with Jamie Oliver on Top Secret BBQ. Coming to our TVs in January…..especially for those who love meat!


More from Ladies Day 2015


Book Recommendation for You

Jason of Ballybunion Prints took this photo of Mike Flahive at his  beloved Bromore Cliffs.

Mike is one of the contributors to this book of 50 stories of growing up and living in rural Ireland. The book was launched at The Ploughing Championships 2015.

People at the Fleadh in Listowel in 1986 and Crazy Golf in Ballybunion in 2015

Sunset in Ballybunion

(Photo; Ballybunion Prints)




Crazy Days with the Grandchildren

I had a great day out a few  weeks ago with my two lovely boyeens at Ballybunion Crazy Golf

Ballybunion Crazy Golf is situated on the road to the real golf course in the grounds of Ballybunion Holiday Homes.

Despite a few arguments, the boys enjoyed playing Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy for an hour or more.

The “course” is beautiful, featuring many well known Ballybunion landmarks. Here the boys are resting on a feature modeled on a Ballybunion street scene.

When they tired of golf they played a game of chess, outdoors and with giant chessmen.

I do not know the rules of chess so I could settle no arguments but there were surprisingly few in the boys’ game.

The little café on the site is called Checkers. You can see why.

The boys enjoyed the picnic we brought. This recharged the batteries for the next activity.

This is Football Pool. There is a big outdoor pool table/ pitch. The boys knew the rules of pool and these are the same for this game except instead of poking the balls into the pockets with a cue, you stand on the “table” and kick the football to hit the coloured balls.

The boys had a great few hours entertainment in Ballybunion Crazy Golf. I would definitely recommend it. It is also surprisingly inexpensive.


Meanwhile in Dublin

John Relihan and his mother MaryAnn from Duagh were enjoying the very successful Big Grill in Herbert Park. John was one of the headline chefs at this food festival and his proud mother was enjoying the festival.


Still Painting

Emily  and Kerry are still manning Olive Stack’s gallery in Main Street.

 One of their new best friends is Mary O’Flaherty of Chic. She was in the gallery when I called and I persuaded her to pose with her portrait painted by Emily (on left)


Heritage Week

This is Heritage Week so a great time to visit Listowel Castle or to take a tour of the writers’ museum at The Seanchaí.

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