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: Kingdom County Fair 2016

Baking, Wedding Dress Shopping and some Listowel men, May 11 2016

Ita Hannon snapped this thrush as he was having a light  snack.


Baking on Display and a Baking Display at Thee Kingdom County Fair 2016

When I had finished looking at entries in the bakery competition, my mouth was watering. Luckily the organisers of The Kingdom County Fair had anticipated that and they had laid on a free cookery demonstrations (with tastings).

Frank Moynihan showed us how to make a tea brack. One of the ingredients is cold tea and Frank uses cold tea in lots of dishes. He told us that it adds flavour to gravy. 

He had a brack whipped up in jig time and he had one he made earlier ready for us to sample. It was absolutely delicious.


Wedding Dress Shopping in Listowel

On Saturday May 14 2016, I set out with the bride-to-be, Clíona, and her two prospective bridesmaids, Darina and Anne, for our appointment in Finesse.

An hour and a half later, after much trying on, patient advice and endless untiring adjustments and enhancements, she said yes to the dress.

One happy customer pictured with Liz in Finesse on May 14 2016.

My verdict; 10 out of 10. Wedding dress shopping in Finesse, Listowel is a stress free, unhurried, enjoyable experience. They stock a huge range of dresses and are really knowledgeable about what suits a bride. Cliona bought her dream dress, which was in many respects not at all what she had dreamt. Happy days!


Listowel Men at the Showing of John Lynch and Charlie Nolan’s films about Listowel

Kieran Moloney, Paddy Keane, Michael Guerin and John Pierse


Another oldie

Sheep and Cows at Kingdom County Fair 2016, People on the street and a triumph of a Kerry film

This unusual photo of Ballybunion was taken by Denis Carroll


Winner with a Listowel Connection

Mike Laffan who works for Kerry Group poses with his prize cow at

The Kingdom County Fair 2016. The man on the left is the judge.

There was lots of fine livestock on display in Ballybeggan.


Sheep at the show


A Quick Lesson in Irish surnames on Church St.

Donal Kennedy looked up the variants of the Halpin name and found that it was really half penny. all of our common names have hundreds of variants, it seems.


The Uncountable Laughter of the Sea

A still from the film

Last week I went to see the most gorgeous film. It is called The Uncountable Laughter of the Sea and it was the most beautiful, thought provoking and awe inspiring film I have ever seen.

It is just 54 minutes long and it is set around An tAth. Padraig OFiannachta and his love for and reverence of Nature as experienced in West Kerry.

Father O’Fiannachta is a Tibetan monk type character and the only other character (they are not really characters as they play themselves) is Patrick O’Neill who also directed the film. He plays a kind of Jesus type role, strolling barefoot through stunningly beautiful Kerry places.

The film is shot using drones and a helicopter. The landscapes are breathtaking and the music and singing soulful and moving. It is a triumph of the editors’ craft.

If you get the opportunity to see this in the cinema, grab the chance. It needs the big screen to do it justice.


Calling our Washington Diaspora

(source; Mark Holan’s blog)

Kennedy Center “Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture”

by admin

The global celebration commemorating the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising takes center stage (several stages, actually) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 17 May to 5 June. The “Ireland 100” festival includes dozens of performances from some of Ireland’s best contemporary musicians, dancers, and theater companies – along with other events ranging from a literature series, documentary screenings, installations and culinary arts.

1458168864-Ireland-100-tickets.jpg (288×192)

Fiona Shaw is Artist-in-Residence for the three-week festival, performing and conducting workshops with aspiring actors. Among the festival’s theater offerings are works by Irish playwrights Seán O’Casey (The Plough and the Stars) and Samuel Beckett (the radio play All That Fall), an adaptation from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wakeperformed by Olwen Fouéré (Riverrun), and a performance installation by Enda Walsh (A Girl’s Bedroom).

“The United States and Ireland share a special relationship based on common ancestral ties and shared values,” Festival Curator Alicia Adams said. “The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts bears the name of our 35th President, who is especially revered by Ireland as a favorite son.”

Kennedy’s Pet Farm, The Kingdom County Fair and a few photos of town

Some Aspects of Town

Cherry tree by the river near the racecourse bridge

 Spire of St. Mary’s

 Door into The Seanchaí

2 Jack Russells in The Living History park at Listowel Military Tattoo 2016


Can you imagine a lovelier place to live?

This is Kennedy’s pet Farm and last week  I was back for my second visit of 2016 .

The puppies had grown but they were still seriously cute.

This lamb was only hours old and just finding its feet.

 The old wooden boats are still popular.

The calves are very tame and friendly.

Rabbits and guinea pigs were probably the most popular animals with my grandchildren.

It does my heart good to see the poultry roaming free.

The children went trip trapping on the “trolls’ bridge”.

 Then it was back to the animals again.

Scenes in Kennedy’s are reminiscent of a Turner painting.


Listowel Ladies doing business at The Kingdom County Fair

Dawn Thomas and another satisfied customer.


A Celebration of Listowel videographers

Weds May 11 2016 was a great Listowel night in St. John’s. We were treated to a feast of local memorabilia and wildlife.

This is Charles Nolan, Listowel’s answer to David Attenborough. The big difference is that Attenborough has a team of cameramen, editors and assistants to help him. Charlie is a one man show.

Charlie knows the River Feale like no other. He is really knowledgeable about the fish, birds, insects and animals of our local river. He has filmed them over months and has spend even more months editing the film, identifying the subjects and adding a soundtrack which is mix of birdsong and music. The result is a masterpiece and a triumph for this humble Listowel man whom we are so lucky to have in our midst.

John and Noreen Lynch

The second half of the show was devoted to the work of John Lynch, our own documentary videographer over so many years. One of the gems John has recorded is the late Joe Hickey making a boot. This skill, now almost forgotten, is preserved forever in John’s lovely film.

We also saw the Fleadh Cheoil of 1973, which was shot by John. He concentrated on the human elements and the life on the street and in the camping site.

It was a joy to watch this film in the company of Listowel people who were thrilled to recognise local people as they appeared. Unfortunately many of the these old folks are now gone from us. A huge cheer went up when Jimmy Hickey in his prime dancing in The Square appeared on screen.

All in all a great night and a very successful fundraiser for Kerry Parents and Friends.

John Pierse, who was the mastermind behind the venture, is pictured here with the musicians who did a great job in matching and recording the music. The original was filmed without sound.

Beal, Listowel Military Tattoo 2016 and Irish titles and winners at The Kingdom County Fair 2016

Ita Hannon’s Beal

Another stunning shot from Ita Hannon.


Cork Steam train

Photo shared by Patrick J. O’Shea


People I met at The Listowel Military Tattoo

 Tom McElligott and family enjoying the Living History Display

Trish Curtin was chatting to a soldier.

Joan and P.J. Kenny brought their weekend visitors, daughter Caroline and her fiancé, Tadhg Mulchinock to see the mock battle.

The Bombshell Belles were everywhere, joining in any high jinks.


Irishmen and their Titles

There has been much mention recently of The O’Rahilly. This set me to wondering why he was The One rather than all the other O’Rahillys. I have a slight interest here since I have a first cousin married to a Rahilly ( no O or The or anything).

Where did Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, Republican, get the title?

According to Wikipedia, he gave it to himself.

Traditionally the chief of a clan was called The…..

The following information is from the New Zealand Tablet, Volume XIX, Issue 41, 17 July 1891, Page 19

Southern Cross.)

The death of this gentleman removes
one of the ten “chiefs” who still retain ancient Irish titles. These titles are
recognised by the Crown and by patent.

 The O’Gorman Mahon inherited his title from
his mother, who was the only daughter of The O’Gorman.

The other gentlemen who possess the
right to a distinctively Irish address are as follows :

Prince of Coolavin The MacDermot,
Q. C, D.L., J.P., descended from the kings of Connaught ;

The O’Conor Don Right Hon. Charles
Owen O’Conor, D.L., J.P., descended from the kings of Ireland, and dates his
pedigree back to A.D. 366

The O’Donoghue— Daniel O’Donoghue,
descended from the kings of Munster.

The O’Donovan— Henry Winthrop
O’Donovan M.A., J P., D.L., chief of the ancient sept of O’Donovan;

The O’Grady William de Courcy O
Grady, M.A., descended from the princes of Limerick;

Knight of Glin— Desmond John Edmond

Knight of Kerry— Sir Maurice George
Fitzgerald, Bart.

The Mac- Gillicuddy of the Reeks
Denis Charles MacGillicuddy. descended from lords of Tipperary

Chief of Hymaine Cornelius J.
O’Kelly, J.P., DL.

It may be mentioned that these
gentlemen usually reside in Ireland, where they have estates which they manage
excellently. On the recent visit of the Lord-Lieutenant to the South of
Ireland, the village of Glin was prettily decorated, and the Knight of Glin
accompanied his Excellency on part of his tour. The O’Conor Don is a Privy
Councillor, and The MacDermot was Solicitor-General for Ireland in Mr
Gladstone’s two last administrations. The Knight of Kerry is an Equerry to
H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. To those interested in the matter Burkes Landed
Gentry and Peerage will give particulars in regard to ancient Irish titles.
These works are to be found in the Public Library.


Success for Listowel ladies at The Kingdom County Fair

This is Kelly Saint John. She alone made all of these crochet products to sell.

Kelly was very excited when I met her because she had won first prize for her beautiful colourful crochet throw.

Above is a close up detail of Kelly’s magnificent creation.

The apple did not fall far from the tree. Michelle Sommers, Kelly’s mother, won first prize for this beautiful quilling picture.


Would you like to try some Armenian Cuisine?

Now you can, right here in Listowel. You will have to travel no further than William Street. 

A new restaurant has opened in the old Mai Fitz’s. According to the sign it will serve Armenian and American food.

These young men were helping out on the opening day, May 11 2016.

A Boeing 747 sails up the Shannon, Vintage Cars and The Living History Display 2016

A baby Robin

Photo: Chris Grayson


May 6 2016 and a Boeing 767 sails by on The River Shannon

Photos; Ita Hannon

This is a story straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. This Boeing 767 that you see in Ita’s photos as it passes beside Beal is on its way to Enniscrone in Co. Sligo.

A funeral director called David McGowan of Ballina. Co. Mayo has decided to turn his hand to a new venture…glamping  (posh camping to you and me).

He was not happy to have pods like everyone else. He decided to invite people to pay him to sleep in a converted aeroplane.

The idea was quirky and strange and certainly had novelty appeal. But a few obstacles stood in the way of its coming to fruition.

Buying the plane was easy peasy. It was a snip at €20,000. A Boeing 767 has never been sold to a private individual before. But the plane was in Shannon and was not air worthy.

David considered bringing it by road to Sligo.

The plane is 159-foot long, weighs about 70 tonnes and has a 140-foot wing span.

To bring it by road he would have had to lift 126 ESB wires and 26 sets of traffic lights. These and a few other logistical issues meant that this plan bit the dust.

Plan B was then implemented. A barge was brought from Liverpool and the cargo floated at the next high tide.

I found all of this information on the internet and I saw on RTE News that it has now arrived safely in Enniscrone.

Interestingly, other means of transport like buses, trains and taxis are also to be converted into novel glamps for this holiday park with a difference. The theme of the park will be Transport.

As the seanfhocal goes; Is ait an mac an saol. It’s a funny old world.


Vintage Cars at The Listowel Military Tattoo 2016


My Trip to The Living History Park

These two were very welcoming to visitors to the Living History Display at Listowel Military Tattoo 2016.

There is a great history lesson to be learned from this kind of experience.

This early Irish settler was weaving a primitive cord.

These men had all kinds of military stuff for sale and they appeared to be knowledgeable about their wares.

Everywhere fraternising was going on between all kinds of age old enemies.

A vendor with a sense of humour

Boys and their toys!

A feast fit for king.

This lady was knitting without needles.

This man, like so many in the park, seemed to fit perfectly the character he chose.


All the Fun of the Fair

I was in Tralee on Sunday May 8 2016 for The annual Kingdom County Fair. I had a great day and I took lots of photos which I shall share in the next few days.

I was late and Chabal was finished his show jumping and was back in his box when I met up with the homies. He came third and gained his first few points for qualification for Dublin. Everyone happy.

This is my niece, Elizabeth Ahern who part owns the horse with her dad and Brian Coleman who rides Chabal at the shows and events.

Above are some vintage tractors which were on display.

Tractors have grown a lot bigger over the years.

I have no idea what this machine is for, turning silage maybe?

Michael Healy Rae was even later than me . He officially opened the show at 1.15p.m. Unlike me I’m sure that he came at the time he was told to come.

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