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: Kanturk Page 2 of 7

John L. Sullivan, Kanturk Fair and an old Pres. Staff Photo

Phot; Jim MacSweeney in Killarney National Park


Old Telephone Exchange in October 2021


From Shannonside Annual 1956

John L’s Irish connection was with Abbeydorney from where his parents emigrated to Boston.


Kanturk 1900

In these days of calls to reduce the national herd by 30%, I was amused to see this old picture of Strand Street in my native Kanturk on the mother and father of all fair days in 1900


A Nostalgic Poem from a Local Poet


Some Presentation Secondary School staff

Sometime in the 1970s or ’80s is my best guess.


Relihan’s pub, Horses and a Holocaust Poem

Skerries by Éamon ÓMurchú


Home on the Range

On my recent trip home Mr. Jiggs and Tana came for a chat.


Upper William Street

I posted this photo of Sheahan’s on Facebook and it prompted Gerard Leahy to share the below photo of his grandmother, Mary Ann Relihan at the door of her pub which used to be next door to Sheahan’s.

This is what Gerard said “I don’t have any photos of the inside but great memories. The concrete floor, the “grocery ” part of the shop in front, dry goods: sugar, tobacco, snuff, flour etc. and the little pub counter next to it and the dining room and kitchen further back. Outhouses in the back and the gate to the backway close to the creamery.

My grandmother was a butter maker at the creamery for years and her husband Jack was the creamery manager in Coolard, it got burned down. Jack went to America and spent most of his adult life in NY. He used to come back on visits. Mrs. Quirke would send a note up to Mary Ann to say he was back. He would stay there until invited up to Pound Lane !!!

Donie Finnucane bought the place around 1976-77 after she passed.


Wild Flowers on the Pitch and Putt Course

I think this is a nice idea. They have planted wild flowers around the base of the trees. Another lovely feature of the beautiful course.


Lest we Forget

Auschwitz (Sixty Years On)

by John McGrath


Even the word is bitter

in this godless place.

No happy endings here,

only the ghosts of

poets, peasants,

doctors, lawyers,

fur-coated frauleins;

their single crime,


Children plucked from mothers,

snuffed like kittens in a sack.

Brick and barbed wire

mock survival for a few,

screams in striped pyjamas

dying time on time

before the works of death

are stilled forever.

Silence then

and silence now.

After the speeches

and the flickering candles,

after the ashes of a million dead

are scattered in the snow.

Old women, old men,

hold each other close,

look for answers

in each other’s eyes,

find only



Tralee Mercy Sisters, Records Destroyed and A Trip Home

It’s still safe to visit us.


Mercy Sisters First Tralee House


On this Day; June 30 1922

June 30 1922 was the day that future genealogists’ and family researchers’ hearts were well and truly broken. On that fateful day, the biggest explosion ever seen in Dublin destroyed records of Irish administrations from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Earlier damage had already been done during World War 1 with the pulping of census returns for 1861, ’71, ’81 and “ 91.

What was lost in the explosion of 1922?

Census returns for the years 1921, 31, 41, and ’51

One thousand Church of Ireland parish registers

Wills and deeds and land transactions

Court Reports

Military Records

Was this explosion an accident?

Sadly, no.

The public records office was housed in The Four Courts in Dublin. 

On April 14 1922, anti treaty rebels under Rory O’Connor occupied this building.

Pro treaty forces of the Free State government under Michael Collins attempted to dislodge them.

On June 30th the rebels in The Four Courts, now under Ernie O’Malley surrendered.

The arsenal of ammunition and explosives the rebels had stored in The Four Courts was torched and thus was lost a millennium of official Irish records.


Going Home

I made a trip to Ballincollig recently to catch up with some of my family. Clíona and Seán were on their way home to Kildare from a wedding in Kinsale. Their happy event is due in early August and I’ve hardly seen them for the whole 9 months.

The boys are boyeens no longer. They are as tall as their dad now.

On my way home to The Kingdom I called to my family in Kanturk.

This time there were 3 horses to greet me in the field near the house.

This is Woody, the newest of the three. The two well established ones were bullying him out of my picture.

This noble looking fellow was the boss on this occasion.

Just to spite them I’m putting a picture of Woody all by himself in all his chestnut beauty.


Ireland’s Love Affair with the Kennedys

Of all the American presidents, Ireland held a special place is the heart of JFK and that love was reciprocated. The combination of his youthful good looks, his superb speechmaking and declared love for this “green and misty isle” of his ancestors on both sides, meant that on his visit here shortly before his death, he was feted like a film star and world leader rolled into one. The photograph printed in a Sunday newspaper of President and Mrs. Kennedy was displayed in many Irish homes side by side with The Pope.

So I was not surprised when a local man shared with me an album of photographs and newspaper cuttings that an Irish American nun had put together for him.

The album included autographed photographs of JFK and Jackie.


Lovely changes in The Small Square

The green awning and wind shelter at Lynch’s are an enhancement to this corner.


Kanturk, A Champion Frog and A Plea from Ard Chúram

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


An Accident in Kanturk

This is the ancient inscription on the Bridge over the River Dallow in my native Kanturk. My Latin is very rusty but as far as I can make out the bridge was erected by the worthies of North Cork in the 18th century. Clearly it was never intended for today’s heavy traffic.

On Friday, May 14 2021, a lorry carrying a load of pouring concrete, broke through the parapet and ended up in the river. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. The County Council and emergency services had restored the road to a functional condition when I visited on the Saturday after the excitement.


A Cairn in Lixnaw

(From The Schools’ Folklore Collection)

In Gurthenare also in the farm of Mr. Quilter there are still to be seen the remains of a monastery called Kilcara, built by St. Carthage. One of the monks (Franciscans) belonging to that monastery was murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers and tradition has it that he was buried in “Mickey’s Field” in the farm of Wm. Dowling of Kiltomey bounding Gurthenare and Kilcara. A pile of stones was raised over the grave and up to forty years ago everyone, old and young, threw a stone on the pile when passing so strong was the tradition then. Three people, two of whom are still living heard stones rattling there late one night as they were going home from a friend’s house. The noise was such as would be made when emptying a load of stones out of a car.

Told by Michael O’Connell, aged 65


Ard Churam Needs Your Help


Guhard Man and Frog

David Kissane has penned a lovely essay about a living legendary Guhard man, Mossie Walsh and his exploits. He posted the essay on Facebook. Here is an extract.

…But Mossie became nationally famous as a coach also. He coached a frog to European championship glory in 1970. Where did this happen? Well, it happened in Listowel where anything creative can happen! At the Listowel Harvest Festival of that year, Noel Driscoll from Milltown Malbay in Clare brought a European champion jumping frog to challenge all-comers. Just picture this. Market Street in Listowel during race week. Around 9pm on the second night of the Festival and the street thronged with men, women and children. The ancient autumnal celebratory atmosphere and the smell of chips, crubeens and porter (lots of porter) circulating. Music and steam rising from the amusements in the marketplace nearby and that “heaven-is-here” feeling in the hearts of all. A big Kerryness all round. A big stage and a throaty announcement “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we invite all comers to challenge the European champion frog jumper…Who can produce a frog that will jump higher or longer than this fabulous creature from Clare?” and the announcer pointed to the green gungy throbbing muscular amphibian proudly sitting in the arms of Noel Driscoll from the Banner. Big cheeeeeeeer!

Mossie was among the crowd and watched five or six people appear with various sizes of frogs. Five or six shades of green. Some with wide froggy eyes and wondering what all the excitement was about. As the excitement grew, a friend came up to Mossie with a box and said shyly “Mossie, I have a good frog here but I have a sore leg and can’t climb up and I was wondering if you would go on stage and let him jump in the challenge?”Mossie looked at the frog. The frog looked at Mossie. Mossie saw the potential in his geáits. He was tidy and dark green in colour. The frog looked at Mossie and smelled the porter from him. His aura was good.

Man and frog went up onstage, the new coach giving the frog a short rub on the way and a whisper in his ear. Up lined seven frogs. European title at stake. Nobody queried the facts or figures or records of the Clare jumper. The procedure was that the frogs were put on a line drawn on a sheet of plywood. The coaches stamped the board behind the frogs and the frogs jumped. One, two, three. Stamp. Huge roars from the crowd and frogs jump. Which they did. Except the European champion from Clare. His frogginess departed him in the Listowel headiness. Stage fright. The more his coach stamped, the less he jumped. Wild cheers as Mossie’s adopted frog leaped like Bob Beamon to the winning line. The Ballydonoghue Hare had coached a winning frog! Listowel went wild. Mossie had the winning touch. The stamp of a winning coach.

A bit of commotion as the frog jumped off the stage and hid under a woman’s skirt and a do-gooder got a left uppercut from the same woman as he tried to retrieve the frog! “What’s the new champion’s name?” John B Keane asked from the centre of the crowd?”“Guhard Man!” Mossie answered with the confidence of a Dubbie Holt, as he was presented with a prize by the winner of “The Darling Girl from Clare”.

And further glory was to follow. One evening a few weeks later, a posh car drove in to Mossie’s yard. Out came a posh-looking man. “My name is Oliver Donohoe from RTE” he said. “We would like your European champion frog to jump on the Late Late Show on Saturday night!”


Church Street Ladies in Ballybunion in 1946, Kanturk Tricycle Memories and Frank Murray R.I.P.

Photo of Malahide Marina by Eamon ÓMurchú


The Scholars Return

Two of my little girlies returned to Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin yesterday. A semblance of normality is restored.


Summer 2020

We’re keeping a distance of 2 metres from each other. Meanwhile the Feale is in full spate after weeks of wind and storms.


Listowel ladies on a trip to Ballybunion in 1946

Maisie McSweeney, Kirks O”Flaherty, Josie Flynn(Madden), Babe Jo Wilmot

Photo from Eileen Sheridan


Tricycle Memories

 This lovely old photograph is from the Danny O’Sullivan archive. It was taken during a carnival in Kanturk when every young fellow who had a tricycle was invited to take part in a tricycle race with tickets to some of the rides as prizes.

On my recent visit home I spotted this old relic in The Square. I wonder if it is one that took part in the famous tricycle race.

Another bicycle used for decorative purpose at the bridge.


Imithe Romhainn ar shlí ne Firinne

Frank Murray was laid to rest in his adopted Dublin this week. Frank, whose family lived and traded in Main Street, Listowel was very proud of his Kerry roots. He was one of that cohort of boys (some girls, but mostly boys) who grew up in Listowel in the 1950s and 60s and went on to form a tight old boys network in Dublin.

News of his death was brought to me by a fellow teacher who had fond memories of him.


Hi Mary,

My first Principal when I started teaching in St Mark’s Community School, Tallaght was Frank Murray. His funeral is tomorrow in Knocklyon, Dublin. He was a wonderful, inspirational person and had a huge influence on so many people. The tributes that are on indicate that. Many of the tributes are from People from Listowel where Frank was from. I thought of you and wonder if the people of Listowel realise the wonderful person that Frank was. His legacy lives on. 


Thanking you,

Enda Timoney. 


( Enda also sent me the picture of the funeral leaflet at the top of this piece)

I went to and I’m producing here just a few of the many tributes to Frank.

I have known Frank since he marked me as a tenacious half-back on the Listowel Emmets Minor Football Team in 1960 and 1961 when I played for Ballylongford O’Rahillys.. We became firm friends in UCD and was a great help to me later on as a Department of Education Official whenever I had a problem during my time as College Principal. I always enjoyed meeting him in Croke Park. He was always a loyal Listowel and Kerryman. 


I have known Frank from our days back in Listowel. A gentleman and good friend to a lot of people


I was a pupil at St Marks in the 1980s. Mr Murray was absolute gentleman. I have very fond memories of him giving some inspirational talks during assembly. His wisdom and words have influenced my life to this day. An inspirational school principal. A passionate kind and caring teacher. Sincere condolences to the Murray family.  May rest in eternal peace.


To Barbara and family: I’m sure you can take some consolation in the fact that Frank reached into so many people’s lives, in so many ways. He was a huge support to me in my nervous early days as a Principal. He always had time for people. He imparted wisdom and wit. He lit up every room he walked into with his banter and his brilliant smile. At a time when education needs all the leadership it can find, we must mourn the loss of a brilliant man, a natural leader, a wonderful warm human being.



Sincere sympathy on Franks sad passing to his wife Barbara and Michael, Catherine and Conor. To his sister Pat , Tom Muldoon and the extended Murray family. Frank was always a proud Ashes, Listowel Emmets and especially a staunch Kerryman. May the sod rest lightly on his gentle body. R.I.P. Vincent Carmody.



Our deepest sympathies to Barbara, to his children Michael, Catherine, Conor and to the extended Murray family at this very sad time. My great memories of Frank go back a long time and to his native town of Listowel. His contribution to Irish education was considerable at school level, at management level and in the Department of Education and Skills. Frank was a hard worker, a great listener, a sound adviser and was always friendly and warm, both personally and professionally. He loved the GAA and Croke Park was his second home for many years. Kerry playing in Croke Park was icing on the cake for Frank. It was always great to be in Frank’s company and it was a great privilege for me to be one of his close friends over so many years. A real gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Kathleen & Eamon Stack


Frank was a true gentleman whether it was as a Headmaster, in the Department or in Croke Park. His ready smile and bit of “banter” always lifted any gloom that might be hovering around. Ni bheidh a leithead aris ann. 


Mr Murray as I called him was my headmaster in St Marks Community School back in the early 80’s. I have many fond memories of Mr Murray, he was so passionate about making the school and his students realize how important it was to work together. He was a good man who was very fair and fought hard for so many of his students he was way ahead of his time. I am not just saying this because he has passed I have always felt he helped me and many of his students, he lead by example. I consider myself very lucky to have benefited from all his hard work. He was a good man and a gent.


Ar dheis Dé  go raibh a anam dílis.

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