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: Kieran Gleeson

Terry Wogan, Early Days of Badminton in Listowel and G.A.A. success for Listowel in the early seventies

Cumar Dheis this week

Photo; Kerry Climbing on Facebook


The saddest Corner of Town Today

My photo shows,  on the far right, Casa Mia, once the bar owned by Kerry footballing great, Tim Kennelly. Beside it is the old creamery, once the gathering place for country people, where stories were told and news and gossip exchanged. Next is the building that was once Walsh’s Ballroom , The Las Vegas where Sive was premiered and where many a romance began. And then The Classic Cinema, which Kieran Gleeson loved and nourished.

Kieran passed away yesterday, February 16th 2016 after a short spell with that cruelest of neurological diseases. MND. May the sod rest lightly on the gentlest, the kindest and noblest of souls.

My photo from 2012 shows Kieran doing what he loved best, promoting a local film maker;

L to R: Kieran Gleeson of Listowel Classic Cinema with Rory Kirby, filmmaker and Eddie, Mary and Catherine Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum.


Terry Wogan Compered The Rose of Tralee

My information comes from the festival history on The Rose Of Tralee website

“Rose Selection has been compered by Kevin Hilton, Joe Lynch, Terry Wogan, Brendan O’Reilly (RTÉ sports), Michael Twomey (‘Cha & Miah’), Gay Byrne, Kathleen Watkins, Derek Davis, Marty Whelan, Ryan Tubridy and Ray D’Arcy.”

and this is what it said in the paper about him

Kerryman  Saturday, 28 March, 1964; Page: 3

APRIL is almost here once again and with it come the glamour and excitement of the Rose of Tralee dances.

BACHELOR GAY Terry Wogan, the gay, bachelor compere of T.E,’s “Jackpot,” is known to thousands throughout the country. Those without, T.V. will have heard, him news announcing on Radio Eireann for the past three yews. He is probably one of the most, popular television personalities on T.E,.—proof of this lies in the number of Valentine cards he received, on February 14 last—130. Terry hails from Limerick and was a bank official before joining R.E.,


R.E. is Radio Eireann

gay meant cheerful or happy go lucky)


Junior Griffin recalls the early days on Badminton in Listowel

His colleagues in Listowel Badminton honoured Junior on his 50 th. year promoting the sport in town.

Here Junior writes about the early days of the club.

BADMINTON was invented long ago; a form of sport played

in ancient Greece and Egypt.  Badminton came from a child’s game

called battledore and shuttlecock, in which two players hit a feathered

shuttlecock back and forth with two tiny rackets.  The game was called

POONA” in India during the 18th century, and British officers stationed

there took the Indian version back to England in the 1860’s. The army men

introduced the game to friends, but the new game was definitely launched there

at a party given in 1873 by the Duke of Beaufort at his country place, “Badminton”

in Gloucestershire.  During that time the game had no name, but it was referred to

as “The Game of Badminton” and, thereupon, Badminton became its official name.

Until 1887 the sport was played in England under the rules that prevailed in India.

They were, from the English viewpoint, somewhat contradictory and confusing.

Since a small army of Badminton players had been recruited, a group formed itself

into the Bath Badminton Club, standardised the rules, made the game applicable to English ideas and the basic regulation (of England) was formed to take over the

authority of the Bath Badminton Club, and the new group made rules, which now

govern the game throughout the world.

The sport seems to have come to Ireland almost immediately. It is known that

Badminton was very strong in Dublin, Wicklow, Coleraine and Ballymoney

in the 1890’s which resulted in the Badminton Union of Ireland been formed in 1899.

Indeed, the world’s first ever International Badminton match was played between Ireland and England in Dublin in the 1902/03 season and, except for the

two world wars, became an annual fixture alternately home and away until 1971/72.

So, as one can see the sport of Badminton was in its infancy when it came to Listowel.

Regretfully, except for the dance card found by Jim Halpin, there is no other record pertaining to that time and, unfortunately, there are no names listed as to who was involved in the founding of the club.  Hopefully, if those founding fathers came back today they would be proud to see the club they started in such a strong position one hundred years on.


This made my Day

Last week I received this. Well done, An Post, and thank you, Philomena.


Errors Corrected and Clarifications Given

In my story from Junior about repairs to the clock in St. John’s, I stated that Archdeacon Wallace lived in Gurtenard House. Junior pointed out to me that the Archdeacon never lived in Gurtenard. The last clergyman to live in Gurtenard was Canon Adderley.

My little fun fact about the days of the week in February was not in fact a fact at all. A man who deals with figures and who notices such things pointed out to me that every February has 4 of every day of the week. 2016 is a leap year so it has 5 Mondays.

Now to the G.A.A. photo which Junior gave me;

What he gave me was a print of a photo with the names underneath. Junior did not in fact write the names himself so he takes no responsibility for any mistakes here.

Margaret Dillon thought that the priest in the photo looked more like Fr. Gerard Dillon. She remembered that Fr. Dillon was a great step dancer and participated in many concerts with her.

As usual with Junior, one story calls up another memory and he has a story to tell. He says

“My memory of Fr. Dillon, a lovely priest, was of a man with a fine bushy head of black hair. The one thing I know is that Fr.O’Sullivan would have been a curate in Listowel much earlier than that,in the early or middle 40s I would say. Could tell you a small story about him saying the 8 o’clock Mass one Sunday morning. He became P.P. of Duagh after that but was a man that was very much involved in golf.

Around the time that photo was taken the clergy in Listowel were Canon Peter O’Sullivan, Fr. Matt Keane and Fr.Gerald Dillon.  A great team of priests. The house keeper was Mrs. Kearns and I became very close friends with her son Olly and I spent a lot of my time in the Presbytery and knew the priests well. Olly’s son Liam is the well known inter County football manager, with Tipperary at the moment”

( I’ll have to go back for the 8 o’clock mass story.)

Such is the beauty of the internet that one memory shared leads to lots of other stories and the above photo was no exception. 

The man in the front row is second from left is the late Roly Chute who ran a famous chip shop at the corner of Ballygologue Rd. across from the sports field.  Vincent Carmody shared  the following memory of the late Roly on Facebook;

“Whatever about the merits of Roly’s smart bow tie and dapper dress sense, nothing could compare to his wonderful chips, peas, and Donnelly’s skinless sausages, then washed down by a glass of milk. 

In 1972, when I first became secretary of Listowel Emmets, training was at a low ebb at the start of the year . I had an idea that we should adopt a professional approach, and offer a meal after training.

Firstly, I went to Roly Chute and asked him, what would he charge per player for chips, peas and sausages. He thought for a minute and said,  “One shilling and sixpence and for an extra threepence, I’ll throw in a glass of milk.”

 Next, I spoke to the chairman of the club, Mikey Kennelly, (father of the great Tim). I told him of the idea and Roly’s quote. Always a man for a new idea, “Right,” he said, “if you think it will work, go ahead.”

 Agreement got, I went to Michael Collins and asked him to type a letter which we distributed to all the players. First night of training after that, 36 players turned up, not counting away players. Afterwards as Mickey and myself watched them all troop over to Roly’s cafe to be fed, he turned to me and said , “We will break the club, but we’d better go over as well, as I hear they’re great chips.”

 As the training nights went by, the numbers settled down and each night less and less went over to Roly’s. The training bug had caught on. That year, the senior team won an unprecedented treble, County Junior Championship, North Kerry League and Championship. 

Shortly after winning the replayed league final, Andy Molyneaux gave me a copy of the missive which I had given to the players and he declared, ‘”Thanks to your idea and Roly’s chips, peas and sausages, we have the best year ever in the club’s history.”

Listowel Emmetts Junior County Champions 1972

Back, E O Carroll, R.Chute, D. Stack, B.Galvin, S O Donavan, T Fitzgerald, T Leahy, J Leahy, G Leahy, P Lynch, J Guerin, B Walsh, V Carmody, T Moriarty, J Hannon, M Kennelly. 

Middle, J Croghan, T Kennelly, T Shanahan, P Flaherty, J Hartnett, E O Connor, J Driscoll, G Galvin. Front, K Fitzgerald, P J Browne, T Dalton, P Horgan.

Ashes 1962;

Ashes Team, (c) 1962. 

Front, J Keane, J Griffin, M Cremin, M Cotter, F Chute, T Ashe, M McMahon, R Farrell.

 Back, B McMahon, B Shanahan, G McMahon, B O’Shea, F Murray, J Flaherty, M Ryan, R Chute.

Tidiest Small Town, Convent girls and David Bowie with The Johnstons

Listowel Tidy Towns

At a ceremony in The Listowel Arms on Saturday evening January 17 2016 the regional winners in the Tidy Towns Competition 2015 were presented with their prizes. Listowel was proud to accept the accolade for the regions tidiest small town.


Words of Wisdom from Vincent Carmody

The holy well photograph, sometimes I think for the benefit of good photographs, many of the old tourist board, John Hinde ? etc, photographs were staged. As regards the colourful shawls, my view is that travelers sisterhood, due,  to the nature of their travels around the four corners, would have possessed some of these exotic technicolor dream coats!!, a more upmarket name for a shawl.

 I barely remember my mother, I think, on one occasion wearing a black shawl, It may have been around the time of her mother’s death, 1950, It might have been something to do at her funeral. A neighbour across the street, Tessie Buckley, a sister of the cook’s, I remember wearing a black shawl going back to early Convent Mass.  Then it was 7.00 am on Sunday7.30 am on weekdays.

 I served inside the altar at the convent, around ’56/57.   Following family tradition, my dad and his two brothers in the early 1900s and my brother Moss in the 1940s, .served as altar boys there as well. When I was there, a man from down the street, where Jumbo’s is now, Ned Gleeson ( he was a stepbrother of Lar Buckley, father of the cook ) and his wife Annie, who was blind, used attend Mass every morning, come hail or shine. 

Years later, when I started to become interested in local history, I found out that this man, Ned Gleeson, gave the address of welcome on behalf of the Town Commissioners to Charles Parnell before he spoke in the Square. That was on Sunday 13th September 1891. So in a way, as someone who held a paten under Ned Gleeson’s chin, I was in a way attached to Parnell’s spirit !!!.

 I have often thought that people don’t open their mouths often enough and ask questions. Imagine me at that time having an interest in history and being in a position to ask questions, “Now tell me, Ned, what did you say to him?

 Did you ask him how he thought he would do in the next election?  

Do you think marrying a divorced woman will effect you reelection chances? 

How do you see Ireland 100 years down the road?

Some years ago, I was fortunate to have been able to do an adult education course at the Community College. During this, as part of the local history module we were invited to write about something of historical importance which happened locally. 

I choose Parnell and his visit.   For that I was able to use Fr. Gaughan’s book as reference, also there is an eyewitness account of his visit given by Maurice Browne. This is in one of The Shannonside Annuals. I also have an unpublished diary (written on the day)  which gives an eyewitness account of his visit, the size of the crowd, reception, welcome and hostile. 

The two accounts are totally different, an account of something written 70 years after it happened is, I think, often written from the personal viewpoint of the writer. This is why I also am sceptical of some (not all)  of the War of Independence witness statements which were written 35 years after it happened. I have read one in particular and you would swear that you were reading about Robin Hood. Not alone did the man write about facts, figures, time and place, but mentions specific times of day and night, I think he may have mentioned the make of one of his brother’s bikes.

I sometimes have trouble in trying to recall what I watched on the TV the night before. 


Back in the Schoolyard

This is Maria Sham’s old photo. These are the names she remembers;

 Doreen Stack, Joan Slemon, Siobhan Loughnane, Bernie Hurley, Joan Dillon, Zeta Hickey. Beta Mahoney, Frances Horgan, Greta Walsh

Does anyone else recognize themselves or someone they know?


Paul Brady shared this

1970. Nobody believes me but it’s true. He was solo on a 12 string and sang Space Oddity to muted disinterested applause. We followed and sang The Curragh Of Kildare and The Traveling People.


John B. Keane and Listowel Emmetts

John B, besides being a great Listowel man was an ultimate Emmetts man. Whenever called on, without question would put his shoulder to the wheel and a lot more as some could testify. Here is a copy of a letter which he drafted in response to a request from Stephen Stack, (Chairman of the Frank Sheehy Park Development Committee) in support of the fundraising.


Billy Keane’s Tribute to Kieran Gleeson Irish Independent Jan 25 2016

Gleeson’s eyes lit up as he explained the background to the film he was
showing, and you could see he was excited – excited about sharing all he knew
with his audience there in his three-screen cinema in a small country town.

There was
always an introduction before his cinema club films on a Thursday night. This
was his night, the night when he got to choose the films he loved. Kieran spoke
as all the knowledgeable do – in simple, easy-to-understand language.

Kieran has been in love with the cinema ever since he stood up
on the piled-high metal boxes that were used for storing magic reels. There, he
was the spellbound kid looking out through the porthole in the projectionist’s
room with his dad and grandad in their country cinema in Cappamore, County
Limerick. Afterwards, he would be full of excitement and full of talk.

Kieran ‘the man’ is still ‘the boy’ in the projection room.
Often, we would be kept on after the crowd had gone home for a discussion about
the movie he was showing. He knew his stuff, did Kieran. There was no showing
off, just teaching and sharing. The soft, gentle but passionate voice, hoarse
from too much talk, is gone for good now.

Kieran’s life is a silent movie. He breathes with the help of a
machine. Our small town hero’s chest rises and falls with every breath. It’s as
if he’s a marathon runner at the end of a gruelling race. Kieran Gleeson – who
rescued, owns and loves our local cinema here in Listowel – has advanced Motor
Neurone Disease.

But he’s still communicating. Kieran writes a little, but only
with great effort. He sends text messages, nods in agreement or moves his eyes
towards something he wants you to read.

Kieran writes ’29’ on a sheet of paper and hands it to his wife,
Teresa. Did you ever notice it when two people feel and read each other’s
thoughts? They seem to instinctively know what the other person is thinking.
The bond has to be strong, but there’s more than just tuning in. The two must
share the dream.

The 29 refers to January 29, 1987 – the day the cinema in
Listowel reopened under Kieran’s management.

The cinema had been closed for two years. Kieran was driving by
one day with his mother and he noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign up over The Astor
Cinema. There and then, he made up his mind to buy the rat-infested wreck. A
local businessman told Kieran he was “absolutely mad” – and maybe he
was. Small town cinemas were going the way of small shops. There are only a few
independent cinemas left in Ireland. The prophesy of failure made Kieran all
the more determined to succeed. He worked day and night and, bit by bit, the
cinema began to pay for itself. His mother helped out every Sunday when the
cinema was at it’s busiest.

Kieran opened three screens and he had the best of films showing
at the same time as the big cities. He was one of the first to embrace
digitalisation and encouraged Jimmy Deenihan, the then Arts Minister, to
provide grant assistance to a number of cinemas.

Hard-up parents were given deals. Kids who didn’t have enough
money were never refused. Kieran often declined the big money-making movies if
he felt they were bad. He never overcharged for tickets, sweets or popcorn.
Director Ger Barrett – who is now about to release his third movie, ‘Brain on
Fire’, later this year – was allowed in for free. Ger premiered his last movie,
‘Glassland’, in Listowel – and the night was turned into a tribute to his
mentor and friend. Actor Jack Reynor came along and Kieran was so buzzed up
that the illness was put into remission for a night. It was like the football
coach who sees the player he trained as a kid step o collect an All-Ireland

I was only three, but I remember being brought to The Astor for
‘Summer Holiday’ by Bernie Buckley – who was babysitting me then, and still
does. Dad and I cried when Davy Crockett died at the Alamo. It was here I had
the first lip-kiss in the back seat.

Sometimes, when our kids were young, we’d be there at the
pictures and, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kieran standing in the
aisle at the back, taking it all in. He was enjoying the kids enjoying the
picture show. The light flickered over his smiling face and, if ever there was
man who was happy at work, well, it was him. There and then, and always. After
all, he gave up his studies in accountancy to help run the family cinema in
Cappaghmore when his dad died suddenly from a heart attack.

There have been tough times and, last year, thousands of euro
were stolen from the safe by heartless thieves. Teresa is trying to get to
grips with the details of running a cinema, but she’s learning fast. Best of
all, she and Kieran are determined to keep the cinema going. “Our staff
have been so good to us,” she says.

Kieran had been checking out the possibility of live streaming
concerts and sporting events. He had big plans.

The kids come in from school and Kieran gets a smile out.
Teresa, I know, struggles to come to terms with how it is that such a decent
man suffers so much. She is loyal to him as a full-time carer on a break from
her job in the civil service, and loyal to his vision for the family-run
cinema. Such is the practicality of true love and mutual respect.

Teresa sent me a link to a Radio Kerry interview with John
Herlihy, where Kieran speaks of his love of the sounds of the old cinema
projection room with the 35mm reels. “We treasure that now,” she
says. “It’s all we have of his voice.”

He shuffles in his wheelchair to attract my attention. He shows
me the screen on his phone. This week, Kieran is showing ‘The Revenant’ and
‘Creed’, as well as kids’ movies. Still promoting his cinema as he fights for
every movement. There is such a powerful, undefeated will within him. As I
leave, I kiss my friend gently on the head and thank him for all he has done
for all of us.

Irish Independent

Kieran is a lovely kind man. His screen 3 is the only one which is wheelchair accessible. Kieran offered to show any film which normally was showing in One or Two  in Screen 3 on a Monday night, just to suit Jim Cogan. All we had to do was ask.

It was an offer we never took him up on but we greatly appreciated the kind gesture.

A Friday Miscellaney

I was in the cinema last night. I saw Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s brilliant Stella Days with Martin Sheen in the main role. I was back in the 1950’s of my childhood. It was a moving, beautifully executed film. A must see.

Before the main film, Kieran showed a short film of The Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum, beautifully captured and edited by Rory Kirby. It was difficult to go indoors on such a balmy night but it was an effort that was well rewarded.

Kieran Gleeson of Listowel Classic Cinema with Rory Kirby, filmmaker and Eddie, Mary and Catherine Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum.


New Spotlight May 25 1967. The Irish model with him is Liz Stack. Any Listowel connection, I wonder?


In the interests of clearing my backlog of random pictures from the internet, here is that photo of the “art” installation at Brown Thomas, Dublin last week.



Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets is 22 years dead.


Now to some more relevant photos.

1961 in Solengen, Germany; Michael McElligott, P.J. Shaughnessey, John O’Connell

 John Enright R.I.P. at the back


Today I spoke to Weeshie Fogarty on behalf of NKRO. He is going to do his “In conversation with….” programme with us on July 11. Note that in your diaries although I will remind you again.

Weeshie gave me an early preview of his forthcoming autobiography. Remember you heard about it first on listowelconnection!


The book is gone to press, Collins Presss and hopefully will be ready for a September launch.

It includes an account of : 38 years working in a hospital starting in 1962


Growing up on the side of a street in Killarney, New St

Round the world with Kerry in 1970

A new life in the media and winning an All Ireland PPI award as Sports Broadcasterof the Year

and 70 photographs of Weeshie’s life experiences. 

I predict it will be a bestseller.


Ah! the good old days


The fine weather had me out and about in town yesterday. Here are some photos I took.

Jim Beasley was off to Cork to welcome home a new granddaughter.

Ever friendly, Nicky and Peter O’Loughlin recognized their old teacher, Jim Cogan and posed for a photo. The reason for their trip home from Australia, where they now live,  was not a happy one. They came home to visit their dad who is ill in hospital. We wish him well.

End of an era as The Man’s Shop is being rebranded. It will soon open as the Sue Ryder Thrift shop.


Finally a big apology to two friends of Listowel.

Theresa and Kate are not mother and daughter. They are sisters. Sorry girls!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén