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: Kerry cow

First Post of 2023

Kerry Cow; Photo Mike Flahive


Christmas Mail

While I’ve been absent from here I have been receiving some very interesting emails. The first one I am going to tell you about involves this handsome Kerry cow.

A Dublin lady with a Kerry mother is writing a book about Kerry. Mary Trant is hoping to include a chapter about the Kerry cow and her search for a photograph brought her to Listowel Connection.

The photograph wasn’t mine. It was Mike Flahive’s of Bromore who is dedicated to preserving this breed. I put Mary in touch with Mike. Now we can look forward to her book before too long.

I have other mails as well, a soldier of The Great War whose photo is sought for a project in Belgium, and an American with Moyvane and Athea ancestors looking to connect with her Irish family before her visit. Watch out for these stories in the next few days.


A Sad Farewell

Listowel lost a good few friends over the Christmas break. A big shock to everyone was the untimely passing of Fr. Donal O’Connor.

Fr. Donal passed away at his home in Rathmore on January 4 2023. He was very popular during his stint as a curate in Listowel. Many people have fond memories of him. May he rest in peace.


An Artist of the Future

It is lovely to receive a hand made card. This unique artwork from 6 year old Sadhbh is my favourite Christmas card of 2022. I am keeping it until she becomes famous and I’ll have a rare early example of her work.


Something to Look Forward to


The Legend of Kiltomey

From Dú , the schools folklore collection

A little boy, the only son of a widow, was caught one day picking sticks for fuel (called here brosna) in the earls’ orchard. The earls at this time had large and extensive orchards and fruit gardens around Lixnaw. They made cider of the apples which they stored in vaults (which still exist underneath an old ruins called the Hermitage). When the boy was caught, the earl of the time ordered him to be slung up on a tree and hanged which was done.The poor widow having heard of the death of the boy became frantic with rage and despair for the loss of her only son and proceeded in her rage to curse the earl.

She came before the door of the mansion her hair hanging in disorder down to her waist and the earl seeing her became afraid of her curse, and so came out to placate her as best he could. To do so he was obliged to grant her a whole townland of his property and a rich one at that. This was the townland of Kiltomey, about a mile from Lixnaw, which she finally accepted though it did not, as she said, compensate her for the loss of her son.

The townland of Kiltomey was afterwards sold and was, up to the time of the Land Purchase Acts, in possession of a different landlord. A large portion of this property of the the earls passed over to Lord Listowel at the time of the confiscations, but the townland of Kiltomey though in the midst of this property remained in different hands, a separate property, thus in some measure proving the truth of the legend of the widow and her son.

Ballincloher School, Teacher; Seán Leahy


Copper Beech, Presentation Girls, tennis and Kerry cows in America

In Listowel’s Pitch and Putt Course


Old Girls

Photo: John Hannon Any help with names or date would be appreciated


Standing Outside the Wire

When the local Sinn Féin food committee ploughed up Lord Listowel’s lawn during the food shortage of WW1 they left the tennis courts. These were eventually taken over by the people of the town and Listowel Lawn Tennis Club was set up. Since then the lawn tennis has become tarmac tennis and this is how the courts look today.

Prompted by all the talk of the Cows’ Lawn recently Cyril Kelly sends us this lovely nostalgic essay about times past in the tennis club.


Every year, when the Wimbledon circus rolls round, still vivid recollections came churning up from deep in the corduroy folds of memory. Far from the sophistication of strawberries and cream, these memories have a mossy redolence rising from Feale river stones, smells of fehlerstrom, buachalán buí and crusty cow pats, all the embalmed odours of the Cows’ Lawn, that commonage on the edge of town where the Listowel Lawn Tennis Club had its two grass courts, plus a dilapidated railway carriage which went by the exotic moniker of The Pavilion. The tennis club was like an exclusive compound of the Raj; it was enclosed by a chicken wire fence which separated the lower caste, namely urchins like myself, from daughters of merchants, bankers and ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, in such a setting, togged out in durable brown corduroy jacket and short corduroy pants made by my redoubtable milliner mother, pubescent infatuation was incapable of negotiating an invulnerable passage through the layers and feverish strata of puppy love. 

In the nineteen fifties, mothers possessed an infallibility which was every bit as dogmatic as  that of Pope Pius XII. And if a boy had the temerity to question this God given right, such a heresy could always be dealt with by use of the wooden spoon, an implement of enlightenment which was often administered with ecclesiastical zeal. So, if a mother decreed that the local tennis club was off-limits, needless to mention, an explanation was neither asked for nor offered. The ball alley was fine, and fishing for white trout was also deemed a healthy pastime, but the tennis court, where gorgeous young ones in tennis whites might be loitering, was, for mysterious maternal reasons, not granted an imprimatur. 

Therefore, on this particular evening, as I stood at the perimeter fence of the local den of iniquity, clad in my corduroy get up, I felt the giddy pleasure of the miscreant. My eager little heart was going pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat as I stood there, my face meshed to the chicken wire while I watched Patricia, the Maria Sharapova of the day. A year older than myself, Patricia had that prepossessing, pouting beauty which playfully clawed young boys’ hearts, toyed with them, and then, with feline disdain for their wellbeing, cast them aside. 

Imagine that same eager little heart when, out of the blue, Patricia called me into the enclosure and thrust one of her friend’s tennis racquets at me. 

Now, she called over her shoulder as she swaggered to the other side of the net. Love all

And tossing the white fluffy ball into the air, left hand tapering gracefully aloft for a split second, right hand coiled behind her, blonde hair uncurling loosely onto her shoulders, she was a veritable Venus, poised on the opposite baseline. But then, with what seemed like satanic intent, she unleashed a swerving serve that flashed past my despairing lunge. 

Fifteen love, she piped that precious word once more as she sashayed to the other side and served again. 

How I scurried around, like a manic mongrel, trying to return her shots which were whizzing past me. Unwilling to cry halt, I persisted until, panting and perspiring, they invited me into The Pavillion. As Patricia towelled her temples daintily, her Pekinese bitch snooped around me, sniffing my sandals disdainfully. 

I like your style, Patricia said and suppressed laughter tittered from her friends. Standing there awkwardly, I admitted that it was my first time playing tennis. 

I don’t mean your tennis, she scoffed, pointing. I mean your trendy trousers

Amid an eruption of laughter, I looked down and noticed, for the first time, the chocolate brown bands of corduroy where my pragmatic mother had let down the legs of last years faded pants. 

I never ventured near the tennis court for the rest of that season. 

And this year again, as I set my television aversion aside and tune in for Wimbledon, I know that as I watch some  poor bewildered bloke scrambling to retrieve a viciously sliced backhand cross-court lob, I will suddenly be waylaid once more by  the memory of those mortifying moments from the summer of fifty five, when the Sixth Commandment, with all it forbade and all it decreed, sat severely aloof on the umpire’s chair. 

(Interestingly Junior Griffin tells me that the pavilion referred to was an old carriage from The Lartigue railway.)


Believe it or Not

Last week I brought you the story of Mike Flahive and his work to preserve the Kerry cow breed.

A fan who tells me that I am her ‘favorite blogger in the world” writes the following among a list of things she learned from a recent blog post.

“Second, I hadn’t heard of Kerry cattle before. I’ve been very interested in heritage breeds in America so I immediately had to check out Kerry cattle. As it turns out, the nuns of Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery on Shaw Island off the coast of Washington state raise them. So, there’s actually a place fairly close by where I can go meet a Kerry cow in person! (Of course, it would be on a green, lush island where they’d feel at home.)”

Moyvane, War of Independence and Peter Robinson Settlers

Photo Chris Grayson


Moyvane Concert


Moyvane People

Sorry, I have no names and no provenance for the picture.


Ireland’s War of Independence

Denis Quille found this in a family album. The man on the right is his granduncle, Martin Quille. He doesn’t know who the others are. The women are more than likely members of Cumann na mBan and the men the IRA.

It looks like a Sunday or Holy Day, judging by the clothes. I’d say the guns were brought out as props for the photo rather than any serious intent at the time.


Farming Life

The following article appeared in an online journal, That’s Farming

Michael Flahive farms a herd of pedigree Kerry cattle on the 180-ft Bromore Cliffs in the Kingdom. Kerry cattle, one of Ireland’s oldest breeds has always had a strong affinity with the Flahive family.

Michael Flahive farms a herd of pedigree Kerry cattle and a commercial suckler enterprise comprising of Limousin and Charolais-crosses along the picturesque 180-ft Bromore Cliffs, one mile north of Ballybunion, Co. Kerry on the Kerry Wild Atlantic Way. Kerry cattle, one of Ireland’s own rare native bovine breeds, a native of the Kingdom has always had a strong affinity with the Flahive family for as long as Michael can recall.

“I was born and reared on the farm where I am based now and we always had Kerry cows. When I returned back to farming over one decade ago, I re-introduced Kerry cattle to the farm.” Michael Flahive told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.

Michael, who is a member of The Kerry Cattle Society of Ireland now counts approximately twelve Kerry cattle, making this one of Ireland’s largest herds of Kerry cattle. It is believed that there fewer Kerry cows in the world than Giant Panda, with less than 1,000 beloved Kerry cattle dotted around the world. 

It is in the interest of Michael and other candidates to continue their efforts in a bid to conserve one of the world’s oldest and indigenous bovine breeds, as exemplified by their continuous interest in this field. 
“When REPS was first introduced, the breed was in a more positive position, as this increased the national and worldwide herds.In recent years, this has slipped back slightly in more recent times.” Michael explained.

“There is a subsidy of €120 for every Kerry calf born, but in order to qualify for this, you have to breed them pure and the calf has to be registered with The Kerry Cattle Society of Ireland.” Michael outlined.

Michael’s selective breeding policy incorporates the retention of replacement heifers which calve down at thirty-six-months, while the bull calves are sold to dedicated customers. A stockbull is retained on the farm until he celebrates his third birthday and an alternative bull carrying new blood is selected thereafter, however; Michael is currently utilising the best Kerry genetics available through A.I, with a belief that this practice will push the breeding programme to great heights this season.

“Our farm is located here on the cliff and it is fairly exposed. We opened up the farm six years ago for cliff walks and in order to offer this unique opportunity we established Bromore Cliffs.” Michael explained.

“They are a very docile breed and are very easy to manage. Kerry cows can calve up to 15-16 years of age, with ease, so they are very suitable for our farming system and geographical location.” He added.

“Occasionally, if the A.I fails or if other circumstances arise, we cross a Kerry cow with a Charolais bull and they calve without any intervention or assistance.Kerry cows produce calves within a 365-day calving interval; are excellent mothers and have strong maternal qualities.” Michael highlighted.

Looking forward to the future, Michael is satisfied the current size of both the pedigree herd on the home-farm and the commercial sucklers on the out-farm, with an objective to maintain quality, with no expansion plans stirring in the pipeline.

“There is great demand for milk produced by Kerry cows – the fat globules are smaller and it is easier to digest, making it suitable for people with certain food allergies. There is a demand for hand-milked Kerry cows, but they are very difficult to locate.” Michael explained.

“I have always had Kerry cattle and we will always have them,” Michael concluded.


Costello(e) Relatives Sought

Have you ever heard of the Peter Robinson Settlers?

If the answer is no, here is a quick History lesson.

Who were Peter Robinson Settlers? 

They were Irish people who relocated to Canada under a trial emigration scheme to relocate Irish “paupers” to underpopulated Canada.

When did this happen?

There were two waves of these settlers, one in 1823 and one in 1825.

How were these people chosen?

“Most of the emigrants were chosen from the area north of the Blackwater River in Cork from the estates of a few landlords though a number of Kinsellas, presumably from the southeast of Ireland, also went. Eight land owners chose 239 families with 37 other landowners picking the remaining 68 families. Emigrants were required to be peasants, and Roman Catholic although several Protestant families were chosen. No person over the age of 45 would be accepted. Each emigrant was to be given 70 acres which would be subject to a payment of an annual quit rent to the Crown, to be paid every six months at 2 pence per acre. 

Lord Listowel was one of the landlords who sent families. As well as families from his estate in Co. Cork he sent several families from among his Listowel tenants. Many of these are from the Ennismore area.

Where in Canada did they settle?

Mostly in Ottawa.

Where can I find out more?

Just Google Peter Robinson Settlers and you will find everything, ships manifests, names and dates etc.

Why am I writing about them today?

A descendant of one of these families called Costello is going to visit Listowel this week and he would love to meet up with his Irish family. 

Edward T. Costello living in Arlington, Virigina is visiting Kerry  ( May 13-25) to search for information on his  gt gt grandfather Michael Costello.

Michael Costello (1782-1826) and his family, reportedly from the Listowel area in County Kerry, left Ireland for Canada in 1825 as a member of a group of some 600 Irish families that were resettled in Ontario, Canada under the leadership of Peter Robinson (the Peter Robinson Settlers).  Each adult member of the family was given 100 acres of land and equipment and supplies to assist in settlement.  The immigration plan both reduced land pressure in Ireland and helped settle sparsely populated areas of Canada. Descendants of the original group (who settled in Ennismore Township) of Peter Robinson Settlers can be found both in Canada and the United States. Any information or insights concerning the Michael Costello family would be appreciated to 086-8269870. 


I met the lovely lady from the photograph

On Sunday, May 6 2018 at the craft fair in The Seanchaí I met Mary Dunne (Née Corridan) with Frances O’Keeffe and Aine Guerin.

We all saw a younger Mary in John Hannon’s Convent Street photo.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén