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

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Lady with Bucket, Bob Boland’s Bees, Dominick Moloney in Market St and Crusaders on the Ring

Female Kingfisher

Photo: Chris Grayson


This picture is from the National Library. I don’t know who this lady is but I have known many ladies like her. The bucket is the giveaway. Country women in my day were often seen with such a bucket in hand. They were used for everything.


Bob Boland

I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted this out of print book in the Listowel St. Vincent de Paul shop. What a treasure!

Bob Boland was a Farnastack poet who passed away in 1955. He was well known as a rhymer, a storyteller and a great play actor and joker. He assumed the mock ascendancy title Sir Robert Leslie Boland Bart.

Here is one of his little gems. He wrote this poem in 1946 when sugar was rationed and a bad summer had left his bees in dire straights

A Versified Application for Sugar for Bees

to the Department of Industry and Commerce, Dublin


Pedal Power

Dominick Moloney cycles home on Market Street, Listowel Junly 2 2019.


Kerry Crusaders on Ring of Kerry Cycle

I dont know who took the photo but Ring of Kerry Cycle shared it.

Valerie O’Sullivan took this one of a Listowel cyclist and fitness fanatic with a well known supporter who doesn’t appear to have a bicycle but I could be wrong.

Listowel Endurance Festival, Ballybunion defibrillator, a St. Michael’s Reunion and Badminton has started

Seán Mac an tSíthigh shared this photo of An Fear Marbh on Twitter


This event took place in Listowel on the weekend of September 22 and 23. Athletes ran 3 hour, 6 hour 12 hour or 24 hour loops of Listowel Town Park.  Respect!

Photos from Listowel Endurance facebook page. And yes, that runner is barefoot!


Such a good Idea

This is Ballybunion’s newest defibrillator. Every town now seems to have several of these lifesaving machines which I am told are really easy to use. In Ballybunion they have built a concrete replica of an old phone box and put their newest defibrillator in it. It is a great idea to have it visibly accessible in case of emergency. I’m probably missing something, but it seems to need a code to open the door!

I took three pictures so you could see exactly where the box is.


1968 Old Boys Reunion

Michael Moriarty sent me a few photos from the recent reunion of the 1968 St. Michael’s class.

 “One of the photos is of our surviving teachers along with the present principal, Johnnie Mulvihill, all of whom were our guests at our dinner on Sat 8th Sept. We had a wonderful weekend. We met up for an informal “meet and greet” on the Friday evening (complete with name tags!). On Saturday morning we were in St. Michael’s where Johnnie Mulvihill gave us a guided tour of the college including the room where we attempted to sit in the same seats we had in our Leaving Cert year. We were also treated to a tasty reception in the college. In the afternoon We had a guided tour of the town led by Vincent Carmody which was very informative both to those of us who are residents of the town and the lads who are scattered throughout Ireland and beyond.”

At the door of Listowel Garda Station Vincent Carmody, their historian guide took this photo during their Guided walk around Listowel;

 Front row: Seamus O’Donovan, Willie Keane, Jerry O’Flaherty, yours truly, my younger brother Tom, Paul O’Brien.

 Second row: Christy Sheehy, Michael Moran, Michael Crowley, Teddy Murphy. 

Back row; Maurice O’Connell, Tadhg Leahy, Ned O’Sullivan, Liam Cummins, Pat Flaherty. 

Mike Moriarty kindly gave me a bit of information on the Listowel connection of the old boys;

Seamus O’Donovan is a brother of Stephen O’Donovan, Upper William St.

 Willie Keane is a brother of Norita Killeen.

Jerry O’Flaherty grew up in the house that was incorporated into Allo’s when that restaurant expanded.

Paul O’Brien is a brother to Carmel Harnett, whose daughter runs the creche at the top of Cahirdown.

Michael Moran is from Billerough out near the six crosses.

Michael Crowley grew up in the house that is now Doran’s Pharmacy.

Teddy Murphy is a brother of Margaret Murphy who works with Dr. Daly.

Maurice O’Connell is a brother of Thomas the builder and is married to Alice Gleeson who grew up where Jumbo’s is now.

Tadhg Leahy is a brother of John (taxi man) and grew up in Leahy’s Drapery in Market St. Tadhg and myself married two sisters!

Liam Cummins is a native of Ballybunion. Came in by bus each morning but had to thumb home. Retired guard now living in Abbeyfeale.

Pat Flaherty, an only child, grew up in the Red Cottages in Cahirdown and comes home frequently from Dublin.

Christy Sheehy of Listowel

Ned O’Sullivan…no introduction necessary

    So there were plenty drapers’ sons in the class; Tadhg Leahy, Ned Sullivan and the two Moriartys.

John Molyneaux Snr., Johnnie Mulvihill, John Flaherty, Billy  Eggleston, Maurice McMahon, Pat Given.

This is a photograph of the official photograph by Liam Kelly


Leave the Kids at Home

On Oct 19th in St. John’s Theatre, Listowel at 8.00p.m. Frances Kennedy will present her one woman show, The Scandal of the Parish. Expect songs, stories and adult humour.


You Know it’s Winter When……

Junior Griffin takes to verse to announce the beginning of the badminton season.

Listowel Badminton Club

Serving the Shuttle in Listowel since 1908

Looking to pass the Winter,

Hoping to seek your fame,

For skill, craic and friendship

Then Badminton is your game

              Jnr  Griffin

New Members especially welcome

Join us at 

St.Michael’s Gym

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 

8 ‘til late

Community Centre

Thursday 8pm. to 10pm.

                          Enjoy the worlds fastest Racket Sport

Coaching for Beginners    

                          Contacts; James; 087 7851260; Margaret; 087 9604361;      

                        Cindy; 087  1144802

Tom; 087 8568727. Mark; 087 2119172; Junior; 087 9107929

Christmas memories and more

1909 Christmas Card  

(From the National Library’s Collection)


Great Craic at Lyreacrompane Christmas Party

Fr. Seán enjoying the banter in Lyre at Christmas 2016


Memories of Christmas in Ireland in the 40 and early

By Marie (Canty) Sham

Maria grew up in O’Connell’s Avenue Listowel. Here she looks back on a very happy Christmas time


I remember

Going to the wood
to cut the holly which grew wild, and the moss to put on the crib.

Christmas Eve
cleaning the house, the excitement of setting up the crib filling jam jars with
sand and putting the candles in them, decorating them with crepe paper, putting
up paper chains, my mother would have made a large Christmas pudding in a
gallon and put it aside

The turkey or
goose was bought at the local market and plucked by our neighbour Bill Boyle. He
must have done it for everyone because the road would be covered in feathers.
The innards were still warm when it was cleaned out, that was all on Christmas Eve
so it was fresh.

We were not well
off but we were lucky as my father was always working, we were not short of anything.
At that time in Kerry there was a lot of unemployment.

The shops mam
shopped in during the year gave a Christmas box. One shop would give tea, sugar
and maybe a pot of jam. That shop was called Jet Stacks and it is not there now.
The butcher Murphy’s would send Danny to deliver us maybe a large piece of lamb,
of course it would be delivered by him on his bicycle with a basket in front

I can also remember
a donkey and cart outside the shops with a tea chest and all the shopping would
be put into it. These people would be from the country and would not come to
town again until after Christmas.

There was a shop
called Fitzgibbons and we would pay in whatever we could afford for toys or
anything else. I paid in sixpence a week for a sewing box and I still had it
when I got married. Mam paid every week for the Nativity figures for the crib I
have never seen anything so beautiful since.

The ham would be
on the boil and with the crib set up. The candles would be lit by the youngest
member of the house, I think at 7o clock

Our clean clothes
would be kept warm over the range ready for midnight mass.

Going out on the
frosty night and seeing all the windows with lighted candles was wonderful.

Home after mass a
warm fire in the range a slice of the ham or maybe a fry! Our stockings would
be hanging at the end of the bed. We did not get much; my dad was very good
with his hands and would make things for us. He made a scooter once and a
rocking horse.

My brother Neil
wanted a mouth organ and it was like the song scarlet ribbons, dad went to so
many shops until he got one for him. I was too young to remember that but mam
told that story.

Christmas morning
I will never forget waking up to the smell of the turkey roasting.

Up quickly and
look if Santa had come, our stockings might have an orange, we always got
something. I remember getting roller skates; I also remember getting a fairisle
jumper from Santa. The problem was I had seen my aunt knitting it. All the
children would be out in the Avenue with their new toys to show off.

Before dinner our
neighbour Paddy Galvin would come in to wish a Happy Christmas and mam would
give him a bottle of stout. I think that was the only time he ever called in.
We would have lemonade and stout in for Christmas.

Dinner was
wonderful, our Mam was a great cook. There was Mam Dad, Nelie, Paddy, Doreen
and myself. My brother Junie came along later, and after we would wrap up warm
and visit the cribs; one in each church, hospital, convent and St Marys and
bring home a bit of straw for our crib which I think was blessed.

More food when we
got home

Bed and looking
forward to St Stephens day and the Wren Boys, no cooking on that day we finished
up the leftovers.

What wonderful


Giving Back at Christmas

The man on the left is Michael McEnery. He comes from Causeway and now lives in Dublin where he is president of his local Fingal Rotary Club.

This Christmas he is putting his passion for running to use to help others. He is currently undertaking

Kerry Crusaders 200 miles to Freedom

running from Dublin to Kerry to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis and Cancer charities.

Harmonie Festival 1999, Listowel politics in 1910 and 1916 commemorative installations

The Bend for Home

This is the road out of town for Tralee or Limerick. The Millennium arch is on the left and the cars are on the Big Bridge.


Jimmy Hickey brings international honour to Listowel in 1999

The high point of Jimmy Hickey’s career as a dancer and dancing teacher was the winning of this magnificent trophy in 1999.

Here is the story

The HARMONIE FESTIVAL is a festival of
peace, friendship and international understanding.

It takes
place in Germany every six years. There are competitions for traditional
singing, dancing and music. Participation is by invitation only. To this day the
organisers are inviting Jimmy to come back, despite receiving hundreds of
applications from other Irish dancing schools to participate. I think he might
be thinking of having one last go at it. I hope he does. The next Harmonie is
in 2017.

Winning group Harmonie festival 1999

Back Ted Kenny, Mary Doyle, Michelle Mulvihill, Donncha
Quill, Jimmy Hickey, dancing master, Mary Ellen Quill and Ellen Quill


 Sarah O’Mahoney,
Fiona Twomey, Una Nolan, Lorraine O’Brien, Seán Browne, musician, Margaret
Prendeville, Jean O’Connor, Marion O’Connell and Helena O’Connell.

Harmonie Festival, Lindenholzhausen 1999

42 nations from all over the world each with their own
cultural dance.

Arriving back in Shannon with the trophy.

When the Kerry dancers went
first there was no competition, just exhibition and just five countries took part. When it developed into a competition Jimmy
Hickey’s dancers took first prize in 1999 and 2005. This was a huge honour,
which deserved wider recognition at home. They represented their country in an
international competition, competing against 42 other countries and came home with this unique and valuable trophy.
It depicts the town, Lindenholzhausen, where the competition took place. It has the symbol of the
competition and symbols representing the traditions of music and dance that
were celebrated.  Each dance group contributed one judge to the panel, so they
were judged by an international jury of their peers.


Kerry Evening Star 1902-1914, Thursday, January 13, 1910; 

An account of a fairly lively political meeting in Listowel in 1910

The famous George Sandes.  Mr. Flavin,  living in Listowel,

could not stand his conduct,  so he took off his coat, fought him

fearlessly and well, and beat him all along the line. He hunted him

from every public Board in the county, and from the Bench he disgraced

him, until finally he hunted him to his dishonoured grave, he having

died a broken-hearted brute.

 Again they found Mr. Flavin , when there was confusion in the Irish Party, he proved himself loyal

to the authority of the chair. They found him in Meath assisting

another honest Irishman, Michael Davitt. (Cheers). They all remembered

the testimony of Michl. Davitt to honest Michael Flavin—that if he had

the giving away of his seat in the morning, the one man he would

select as a fearless fighter, as an honest man, was Michael Joseph

Flavin. (Cheers). 

Fourteen years ago Mr. Flavin was selected by a

Convention In North Kerry, and he got a mandate then from this

constituency telling him to bear the Home Rule flag in the English

House of Commons, and Rev. Speaker asked them had he not proved

himself an honest man since then, practically attending to his duties,

fruitfully doing them and doing them well. (Cheers). 

He had given the

best years of his life in the service of his country, regardless of

the consequence to his health. They found him once brought to death’s

door by the strife and turmoil of the battle, and now he would ask

them was that the man they should change for this gentleman from

London town?—(cries of of “Never”)—a man they had never heard in

politics up to the present time, and who heard of now, Rev. Chairman

had no doubt, for a sinister purpose. (“BOO for Neville Stack.”) They

were passing through a critical crisis, perhaps one of the most

critical that had ever arisen in their country’s history. Home Rule,

the desire of every Irishman, was now within measurable distance of

them. The Cabinet Ministers were proclaiming from the platforms all

through England that if returned to power they had committed

themselves to the granting of a full measure of Home Rule to Ireland.


While the hands of the Irish people were stretched out for

that long denied measure of justice to this country, the right of

Irishmen to make their own laws had in their own Parliament,  Joe

Chamberlain issuing his manifesto the other day to the electors of

Birmingham, appealing to their prejudices as Englishmen, not to vote

for the Liberals, because if they were returned to power they would

give Home Rule to Ireland. (Cries of “Shame.”) While their hands were

stretched out, they had the Unionists of Ireland subscribing twenty

thousand pounds for the purpose of scattering foul literature and to

defray the expenses of every foul-mouthed ruffian that was willing to

go across to villify their country. They had seen where the Tories had

opened the war chest and had given generously of it to every renegade

Irishman who was prepared to go across and fight a constituency in

Ireland, and Rev. Chairman had no doubt that this Mr. Thos. Neville

Stack was there for that purpose.

 He was supposed to contest that

division of North Kerry. He did not do it with a hope of winning,

unless he was an unmitigated fool, because he had as much chance of

winning as Rev. Chairman’s dog, Macnab. (Cheers and laughter). But if

by any chance he was returned, what would that mean? It would mean one

more voice in the wilderness, away from the Irish Party in a position

to do no good, but a lot of mischief. (Cheers). 

He would give them an

idea of what a humbug this gentleman was. He had gone to Mr. Redmond

and had stated he was willing to submit himself to the Convention. He

had not turned up, because he knew he would not get a man to propose

him, and if he did he would not get a seconder. (Cheers). Then he

issued his manifesto telling Mr. Redmond that the Convention would be

packed, and that it was a bogus one—which was a lie—and that he would

go forward and fight as an independent Nationalist “morryeah,” laughed

Rev. Chairman, amidst cheers and laughter. He was to his (Rev.

Chairman’s) mind an independent humbug, and when the fight was over

and the battle won, and he thought he could trust the sons of the

patriotic fathers in North Kerry, the first district in Ireland that

struck a blow for Home Rule and the extinction of landlordism in 1872;

when the day came for the counting of the votes, that they would prove

themselves worthy sons of those patriotic fathers, and give to this

London Stageen such a whipping in the race that never again would he

have the hardihood of entering for the North Kerry “Cup.” (Loud and

prolonged cheering).

Mr. Flavin, who next addressed the meeting and was received with

applause, expressed his confidence in the support he would get if Mr.

Neville Stack had the impudence to force the electors. He (Mr. Flavin)

had no doubt about winning, but one he would like to have made clear,

and that was on the day of the polling, many of his supporters might

say, “Well what is the use voting  he is bound to win easily, and

voting won’t make any difference.” Well they should no give way to

such apathy, but  come up and record their votes  so that factionism

for all time should be  blotted off the map of at leaat North Kerry.

(Loud cheers).

A warm vote of thanks was passed to the Rev. Chairman to which he

suitably replied terminated the proceedings.


Listowel’s permanent 1916 memorial

David Toomey told me all about this when I met him at work in the park last week. The tarmac bit is in the shape of a Tara Brooch. It’s going to have commemorative plaques of the 1916 signatories in the circle of the brooch. All round the edge will be two rows of box hedge in different colours of green. It looks promising. I’ll keep you updated as it takes shape.


Dublin City Marathon

Kerry Crusaders were well represented at the Dublin Marathon this year. (photo:Tommy Commane)

This year too a special medal to acknowledge their participation in 25 marathons was presented to the Kerr family. They run with their son Aaron who uses a wheelchair. Two Listowel sisters, Rochelle and Tena Griffin, are part of the team of people who help them push the chair for some of the way


Moyvane 1916 Garden of Remembrance

Highlights of the ceremony to open the 1916 Garden of Remembrance and the village Vintage festival and dog show 2016


Team Kerr, Ard Churam and Rev. Thomas Griffin

Running with Team Kerr

 Team Kerr on the road on one of their many marathons.

Here is the back story as told to Fiona Bugler of Runners World;

Running enriches the lives of most who take it up. But for the Kerr family, from County Down in Northern Ireland, it has brought about a transformation – helping them through some dark times and creating many good ones.

David and Sandra Kerr’s 18-year-old son, Aaron, was born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, renal failure and a rare chromosome disorder. ‘His complex condition means his mobility and opportunities in life are restricted,’ says David. It also required Sandra, 44, to be at home as Aaron’s full-time carer – a tiring and challenging role that often left her feeling isolated.

In October 2010, Aaron, then 13, needed a kidney transplant to save his life. David was a match. ‘I didn’t even have to think about donating my kidney,’ says the father of two. (Aaron’s sister, Holly, is 20.)

Both David’s and Aaron’s operations were a success but it was a traumatic time for the whole family. ‘David and I have been married for 21 years and we have always had each other to lean on in difficult circumstances,’ says Sandra. ‘But this was very different. For the first time, I felt alone, with no-one to support me. I also felt bad that I couldn’t be there for David because Aaron needed me with him.’ (The two were in different hospitals for their operations.)

A year later, with Aaron growing bigger and his needs as great as ever, Sandra suffered what she says was something like post-traumatic stress disorder. ‘It was the lowest point of my life,’ she says. Her GP recommended she try the gym. ‘I found that I loved it, especially the treadmill. I’d put on music and switch off from the stress. I built up the miles quite quickly.’ She and David also swapped roles, with Sandra going back to work and David giving up his job as a courier to become Aaron’s full-time carer.

The rest of the Kerr story is on Runner’s World.

The short version is that both David and Sandra  got the running bug. They fundraised and bought a special chair for Aaron so that he could “run” with them . They met The Kerry Crusaders who were only too willing to help them push the chair some of the way. This partnership is proving enjoyable and beneficial for everyone. They are now all part of the inclusive running movement.

Team Kerr with some of their  Crusader friends in Listowel

 Running through Listowel town park during the recent Listowel marathon.

Everyone’s a winner


Some people who attended Ard Churam official opening


A Fr. Griffin from Listowel

Irish Examiner Saturday, 27 January, 1894; Page: 8

A KERRY Missionary. Among those selected by the Holy Father to go
forth during the present year to preach the Gospel in foreign parts,
is the Rev Thomas Griffin, a young Kerryman, who comes of a family
which have given many faithful and zealous servants to the Church.
Father Griffin, who is a son of Mr Jeremiah Griffin, formerly of
Listowel, and late of Queenstown, was educated at the College of the
Pious Society of Missions (to which Order he belongs) at Rome, where
be was ordained last autumn, and had a most successful collegiate
career, acquiring in addition to the indispensable classical and
theological curriculum, a thorough knowledge of French, Italian,
Spanish and Garman, which he speaks with fluency and ease. In addition
to his linguistic accomplishments, he is also a skilful musician, The
rev gentleman, whose family on the maternal side hail from Finuge,
Listowel, sails from Genoa next week for Monte Video, South America,
and will be absent from home five years. Lately while on a visit to
his parents in London, he did duty at the Italian Church, Hatton
Garden, to the congregation of which be endeared himself during his
short stay amongst them by his humility and gentleness.

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