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: Kay O’Leary Page 1 of 2

NKRO, Pavilion in Ballybunion, A Young Danny O’Mahoney and Listowel Streets

This sculpture stands in Listowel Town Square. It represents the river Feale and the fort or lios which gives its name to the town. It was designed by local artist, Tony OCallaghan. Tony was a teacher in Scoil Realta na Maidine. He was a skilled artist in copper. He was also a town councillor.


NKRO Back in the Day

Local historians at one of the early meetings of NKRO

Vincent Carmody, Cara Trant, Joe Harrington, Mary Cogan, Ger Greaney and Kay O’Leary


A Long Shot

Every now and again someone who is browsing the internet finds their way to Listowel Connection. Sometimes they contact me to see if I know any more about who or what they are searching for. Sometimes I can help or I know someone who can.

But this one has me stumped. The below message was left as a comment on an old post about showbands. The commenter did not leave a name or any means of knowing who it is.

I’m printing it here in the hope that the person who posted the comment or someone who knows them will be in touch.

“I’m an old friend of the late Buddy Dalton from 1962 when he played with his Dad in Ballybunnion We were Mc Faddens Stage Show and showed there all that summer 1963 I would love to get his C.D don’t know where to look If you can help please it would mean the world to me Thank you”


Bumpers at the Pavilion in Ballybunion

I love the nun and child in the centre car. This photo will bring back happy memories for many. It was shared on a Ballyduff Facebook page.

I came across this photo of Danny O’Mahoney on the same page. He hasn’t changed a bit.


Stay 2 Metres Apart Please

Hopefully these will soon be replaced and we can draw a little nearer to one another. When the story of the pandemic, Covid 19, in Listowel is written, these photos will tell their own story.

NKM Strike, MS Coffee Morning and Denny Factory is No More and some early spring flowers in Lyreacrompasne

Abandoned House; Photo; Chris Grayson


Employment Unrest in Listowel in 1922

NKM on the banks of The Feale was going along nicely until 1922 . A strike at the factory caused the owners to relocate their business to Dublin leaving many in Listowel disappointed. Dave O’Sullivan did the research.


There it is….Gone

Photo: Seán Lyons

The old Denny factory in Tralee has been levelled and the site cleared.


North Kerry MS Coffee Morning

On Saturday February  16 2019 the North Kerry branch of MS Ireland held a very popular coffee morning in Tomáisíns in Lisselton.

I was there enjoying the fare and taking a few photos.


Road Signs

At the junction of Charles St. and Courthouse Road


February 2019 in Lyreacrompane

The green fingers  and the photographs are those of Joe Harrington and Kay O’Leary. Doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart to see such beauty and such promise of Spring?


Looking for Love Second Time Around

Tune in to First Dates Ireland  on RTE 2 tonight, February 28 2019 at 9.30. Pamela Behan, formerly of Listowel, is one of the ladies looking to find love.

Spillane’s of William Street, Listowel Arms Hotel Then and Now and More Tennis Players

Photo: Chris Grayson


Clay Pipe

When Kay O’Leary was doing a bit of gardening in Lyreacrompane she came upon this artefact. She was curious to know where Spillane’s shop was. 

Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of a Market Town has the answer.

“David Spillane came from Limerick in the mid 1860s to manage a store for Hugh Kelter. In 1876 David married Johanna Enright from Listowel. With the demise of the Kelter’s business in the 1880s, the Spillane’s took over the running of the shop.”

From the evidence in Vincent’s book it looks like Spillane’s stocked everything from a needle to an anchor.


Then and Now


A Trip Down Memory Lane to 2004


A Listowel in Exile Remembers Listowel.

Liz Chute in far off Canada read the piece about Pat McAuliffe’s works from Ireland of the Welcomes. She was moved by the final paragraph which is the anecdote about Bryan MacMahon and the Clare painter.

Here is Liz’s email;


You have brought a lump to my chest and a tear to my eye . My father had once painted a ceiling  In the cafe/ house I grew up in . I don’t remember it but I remember my mam saying Bryan would  bring visitors from America over to see it .

Bryan or Master McMahon as I always called him was a GREAT and DEAR friend to me . He looked after me well growing up and I have countless references , cards , notes of introduction etc from him that I treasure . He wrote a short story about a pebble that David picked from the river and gave to me when we were 16 . Years  later David took the same pebble without my knowing and brought it to a fancy jeweller in Calgary 

turning it into a pendant . When I was looking for a name for my business a doctor here in Halifax  a man who had a huge appreciation for music , literature and who’s wife was a friend said 

“But Liz,  it has to be The Pebble ‘ that’s your story” . Twenty years later I still feel enveloped by Bryan  and hold myself to a high standard because of him and also my own parents . 

The  Pebble has been number one on Trip Advisor in Halifax for fifteen years ! 

You do tremendous work that is greatly appreciated ! 


The Pebble Guesthouse


Juvenile Tennis in 1987

More action shots from Danny Gordon

Ballylongford, The Price of a Bodhrán, Crubeens, Phone Boxes and Memories of Two Papal Visits

Ballylongford by Ita Hannon


Lyreacrompane Honours Kay

Pat McCarthy, Duagh and Dublin, makes a surprise presentation to Kay O’Leary, who initiated the Dan Paddy Andy Festival twenty-one years ago, for her role in the community, especially for her work in building the Festival over the years.

Photo and caption from the Lyreacrompane website


The Price of a Bodhrán

The late, great John B Keane was a Limerick Leader columnist for more than 30 years. This column first appeared in the edition of November 24, 1973

Awful price

“SEVENTEEN pounds is an awful price for a bodhrán,” writes Drummer of Sirand, who does not want his name mentioned but is a familiar face at wrenboy competitions all over Limerick and Kerry.

The remark was prompted by Sonny Canavan’s statement in last week’s Leader that he was charging £17 apiece for homemade bodhráns.

“I can walk into any shop,” Drummer continues, “and buy a span new drum for twelve pounds, a drum that will last.”

I showed his letter to Canavan and asked him to reply.

“Tell him buy the drum,” Canavan countered, “and let them that wants bodhráns buy bodhráns.


Cork Heritage

Cork is doing its best to hang on to its distinctive vocabulary.

On August 18 2018 I had a langerload of Cork heritage.

This is a statue to the shawlies in The Coal Quay. The Coal Quay is the Moore Street or Covent Garden of Cork. It’s nice to see the tradition of outdoor stalls continuing although most of them were not selling foodstuffs or, if they were, they weren’t native Cork food stuffs.

One tradition The Cornstore revived for Heritage Day was the eating of crubeens.

They were serving them to us with a dollop of mustard sauce.

I did try one but there was nothing to eat, just skin, fat, gristle and bone.


In Cork, A Spire and Phone Boxes

I spotted this along the quay before the Clayton Hotel. It looks like a kind of a crooked spire.

There is an old fashioned phone box on the pavement outside the mobile phone shop on Patrick Street.

The streets were very quiet. It was early in the morning but I think this no traffic lark is biting a bit.


Knock Apparition

P. J. Lynch painted the mural depicting the apparition at Knock. Pope Francis visited and prayed there on August 26 2018.


Just a Thought

Here is the link to my most recent set of Thoughts for Radio Kerry.

Just a Thought


Listowel People who saw the Pope in Ireland

Lots of Listowel people went to Dublin to attend  the pope’s mass. Members of the Listowel Folk group went to sing.

Eileen, Catherine, Mary, Tina and Mike were in The Phoenix Park in August 2018

But Junior Griffin was in Limerick in 1979. He took these photos as the pope landed by helicopter at Limerick Racecourse and took a jaunt in his popemobile before saying mass.

This concludes the catalogue of Lyre woes for the moment

In 1881 the following evicted tenants applied to the Listowel Board of Guardians for outdoor relief – Michael Nolan, Denis Scanlon, Timothy O’Donoghue, Patrick Quill, Michael Ahern, John Ahern, Mrs. J Dillane, Michael Dillane, Michael Ahern Snr., Pat Sullivan. Each family was given 2s 3d a week per head. When Pat Quill, Glashnanoon, was called before the Board he stated that he was evicted not because he refused to pay his rent but because he refused to pay a rise of rent. On being evicted he had sold his stock. Fr. Scanlon who was present enquired if he had given any money to Ms. Thompson. He replied, “Indeed I did not” and Fr. Scanlon declared he was perfectly right.

Garrett Fitzgerald paid Lady Locke £10 12s 6d. The Government Valuation was £20 10s. John Hurly had increased the rent to £43 and Ms. Thompson made a demand for an extra £6 per annum. 

At that time the Duagh Ladies Land League group which consisted of one hundred members contacted the central executive in Dublin through Miss Anna Parnell – sister of Charles Stuart Parnell. They were requesting help to build a house for Mrs. Dillane who had been evicted. Mr. Fitzell, treasurer of the men’s League gave a site adjacent to the house from which Mrs. Dillane had been evicted. A sum of money was sent to the group. The Ladies League enlisted the help of the Men’s League to build the house.

On Thursday 12th May 1881 at 10 o’clock in the morning twelve hundred people and about 200 horses and carts arrived on the site. In that vast assemblage there were masons, carpenters, thatchers and many of them had brought along stones, mortar, scraws, rushes and reeds.

As the building was being erected the Ladies League arrived on site carrying green banners with suitable inscriptions to the deafening cheers of the assembled workers. At five o’clock the house was built, roofed and thatched. Rev. B. Scanlon arrived with the Abbeyfeale Brass Band they received a most enthusiastic reception. They entered the house and played ‘Home sweet Home’. Fr. Scanlon congratulated the League on their bravery and determination and he said that “the house would be a monument to the principals of the Irish Land League”.


At a Land League meeting in Duagh the branch unanimously decided that any person grazing evicted farms would be considered grass-grabbers and would be expelled from the League. There were many grass-grabbers in the locality. In fact families and neighbours were often split because of grass grabbing. It was known to happen that one brother would take advantage of another brother’s misfortune by taking the land from which the former had been evicted. 

Boycotting was a defence mechanism encouraged by the Land League. The first farmer in the neighbourhood to be subjected to the system of boycotting was in Gortaclahane in 1880.

Farmers who took evicted farms were unable to procure servant boys. It was also impossible for them to sell their butter and milk on market day. A Bellman would caution intending buyers not to have anything to do with the grabber or his goods. 

In 1887 Brigid Joy, Knockalougha, the mother of seven children, with a half-acre of land was in receipt of outdoor relief when a neighbouring farmer objected to her getting the relief. He believed she was not in want of it as she had children working. Mrs. Joy denied she had anyone earning but she had to hand over her half-acre to the objecting farmer.

On a Friday morning in January 1887 three bailiffs from Tralee under the protection of about thirty policemen called to the farm of Mrs. Lyons, a widow of Knockalougha. They seized nine head of cattle and a horse in lieu of rent due to her Landlord Major Leahy Nash of Tralee, which amounted to £45. On driving the stock to the pound, the horse was tied by halter to the last car in the procession, upon which sat four policemen. The cattle were driven in front of the other cars by the bailiffs. A large crowd of people had gathered along the way. When they were within two miles of town a man in the crowd cut the halter by which the horse was tied to the car. Another athletic young man mounted the horse and galloped off toward Knocklougha, amidst the shouts and cheers of the crowd and to the utter astonishment of the policemen. The man who cut the halter was immediately arrested while two cars of police went in pursuit of the man on horseback. They failed to get horse or man. Mrs. Lyons holding consisted of fifty acres. She agreed a settlement with her landlord to purchase her holding over seventeen years and she paid him £15 to get her cattle back. Evidently Major Leahy Nash was aware that this was the best bargain he could possibly make because of the difficulties that existed with regard to the sale of cattle seized for rackrent.

Returning to Tralee one Friday Night after visiting some evicted farms in Lyreacrompane an attempt was made on the life of Lucy Anne Thompson at O’Brennan. A wire paling was put across the road to upset the vehicle she was being driven in. The horse was badly hurt and the driver was injured but Ms. Thompson was unharmed.


Michael Doran, Matthew Doran, Garret Fitzgerald, Pat Quill, John Ahern, Michael Moloney, Daniel McCarthy, John McCarthy, M. Dillane, John Dillane, Michael Molyneux, John Nolan, T Donoghue, D. Murphy, James Nolan, Con Nolan, Kate Nolan, Patrick Ahern, Michael Ahern, Pat Connor, John Moloney, John Brown, Robert Brown, Daniel Moloney, Jeremiah Moloney, Robert Joy, Daniel Brown, Timothy Quill, Maurice Connor

(Thank you very much, Kay)

 If you are seeing the name of one of your ancestors among these, spare them a thought today as we pray for our dead.

Date for the diary: Tomorrow, Friday Nov 4  NKRO’s next traditional night will be on in The Harp and Lion in Church St. at 9.30.  Prizes to be won!!!

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