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: knitting

Outdoor Dining, Knitting, a Mural and a Limerick

Bridge to Listowel Racecourse


Outdoor Living in Summer 2021

Flanagans of Church Street with a well co ordinated outdoor on the pavement seating area.


Some Premises getting an upgrade


Knitting is having a Moment

An English newspaper caption writer came up with the best one for this. Olympics 2020 when Tom Daley came out…as a knitter.

He may have won a gold medal for diving but he has won even more plaudits for his knitting. While waiting between dives, Daley chilled out by knitting himself a cardigan.

We were ahead of the curve in our family. Here I am eleven years ago teaching Killian, aged 4, to knit.


A Laugh

There once was a man of Bengal

Who was asked to a fancy dress ball;

He murmured “I’ll risk it-

And go as a biscuit.”

But a dog ate him up in the hall.



Update on the Mural

The latest mural in the Listowel Characters project is on Mill Lane. The quotation is from Maurice Walsh. The final piece of the quotation seems to me to say that Kerry is a small place too.

I returned later yesterday and this is how it looks now.

The artists, Mack Signs, were putting the finishing touches to the letters.

“and you can put your finger on the village and the river, if you are able.” I’m still puzzling it out.

You can see the remains of the doodle grid. That will all be covered up in the end.

This gives you an idea of the scale of the mural in situ.


The influence of Irish in Kerry English and a trip to Castleisland

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

…..As the years pass
one insensibly makes many of these phrases one’s own. There is a gay
inconsequence about your Kerryman’s talk. Rabelasian at times, he is impatient
of the restraints of a pseudo culture that would seek to shackle his ready
tongue. Conscious of the inadequacies of English, he rifles the rich store of our own tongue to add colour and imagery to his talk. Someone is classified as a
mean bacach and we have him in focus at once. He will refer with feeling to the
shortcomings of a cabóg and we share his impatience with the bosthoon. The
average Kerryman is close to the soil and we are one with him there with this
difference, that his sense of values gives him pride in his background.

Words, accents,
idiom, what a fascinating field for him who delights to listen. In individuality
of speech Kerry is perhaps more rewarding to the observer than any other county
of the thirty two. Listen to the salty arguments of dealing men in fair and
market., to the caustic asides of crusty old lads drowsing over pints in deep
cavernous pubs; to the helpers paying the comhar at the threshing; to the
passionate vociferations of those followers of the green and gold as their
heroes rise with elan to tear balls out of the skies in Croke Park; and listen
again wherever Kerrymen foregather to pay the last tribute to their dead.


Then and Now

John Hannon took this photo of Mrs. Mann at the door of her shop in Main Street.

The same corner of town today


I was in Castleisland

There is lots of history on Castleisland’s Main Street. I was struck by the irony of the name of the pub on  which I saw the above plaque.

The great Con Houlihan is well remembered.

The above three pictures were on display in a shop window.

I have no idea of the era of the post box.

This landmark building was unoccupied last time I was here. I was delighted to see it back in business.

You all know how much I love a charity shop. I met a lovely lovely lady, Nora, in the Vincent de Paul shop but it was in the NCBI shop that I discovered these.

I do a spot of knitting so I know how much time and effort went into these creations. The green and pink doll are one doll.  You turn her over and you have her alter ego. They call her a topsy turvy doll.

The lady who knits these is Jan Wesley and she is 88 years young. She sells her knitwear in aid of the NCBI, so this shop in Castleisland is well worth a visit. The dolls are a snip at €10 and the tea cozy was €12.


Craftshop back in Town (temporarily)

Until June 3 2018 there will be a craftshop in Galvin’s Off licence premised in William Street. Why not pop in and take a look a these Craft Makers wares


Style with  a Listowel Connection

This is Niamh Kenny from Listowel at Punchestown Ladies’ Day last week.

This is the piece in Saturday’s Irish Times. Niamh and her friend, Mary O’Halloran caught the eye of a journalist. Competing at Ladies Day is part of the fun and enjoyment of a day at the Races for many ladies. It’s worth the investment. The prizes are big. As Mary says, “We’re gambling on ourselves.”

The Council of Dirha, an old photo and a new jumper

A camelia in The Garden of Europe


A Photo from the Johnny Hannon Archive

Junior Griffin to whom I  went to ask for help in  identifying these people wrote;

The best known name here of course is Sam McGuire. Not sure of the man on the left but he may be Walsh from O’Connell’s Ave as the other3 are from that area of town., namely Tom Lyons, Mick Carey and “Gigs Nolan, who sadly died just a few months ago. Mick Carey was known as the doyen of the Gleann street league football and knew the game inside out.


A John B. Keane Story   (serialised )

Today I’m beginning another serialised essay of John B. Keane’s. He writes of a different era when Irish people were in the thrall of the church and fear of the wrath of God, as defined by the Catholic church, was ever-present.

The Council of Dirha       by John B. Keane

Good luck and
success to the Council of Trent

What put fast upon
mate but not upon drink,

(Overheard at a

When the above
couplet was conceived there was fasting on Fridays. Nowadays, Lent apart, we
may eat meat with impunity throughout the entire year. The church was quite
clear in its strictures regarding the consumption of meat and meat products on
days of fast and abstinence. Then in 1966 Pope Paul promulgated new laws for
Roman Catholics. Fast days, which had included all the weekdays of Lent, the
vigils of Pentecost, The Immaculate Conception and Christmas and the Ember Days
were reduced to two, i.e. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In the same decree
Pope Paul reaffirmed the laws of abstinence from meat. However, he allowed
episcopal conferences to substitute for abstinence with other forms of penance
especially works of charity and exercises in piety.

theologians of the time were known to smirk at the expression “works of
charity”. They deduced in their own indigenous fashion that to be charitable
one had to be rich. Since neither they themselves nor their associates were
remotely connected with wealth, they regarded themselves as being incapable of
charity. When it was explained to them that charity had other connotations such
as love of one’s fellow man they were quick to point out that because of their
innate worthlessness no one, save their own family, places any value on their

(more tomorrow)


Horan’s New Look


My Latest Knit

The story of a jumper that turned into a saga.

Handknitted by moi
with a little help from Woman’s Way’s Louise Finn

It all began with
Woman’s Way, “Ireland’s best selling women’s magazine”.

I spotted a knitting pattern and I thought “This has my name on it.” 
Simple pattern, easy peasy knitting and beautiful result down to the
beautiful colourful yarn. But…..

I went on line to
the two big online sellers of wool, Vibes and Scribes in Cork, my favourite bricks
and mortar craft shop but I knew they sold online as well, and Springwools in Dublin,
Ireland’s biggest online yarn retailer. Neither of them seemed to stock Tivoli
Colour Maze.

Feeling a bit
miffed I contacted Woman’s Way with my false assumption that they had published
an old pattern and the yarn was discontinued. Louise Finn, the lovely deputy
editor, who has become my new best friend in this venture, emailed back to say
that my assumption was wrong. It was  a brand
new pattern and the wool came into the shops in September 2017. She gave me the
phone number of Tivoli, the Cork company who market the wool and Anne there
told me that they had thousands of yarns and not every shop takes every one.
She couldn’t sell it to me because they don’t sell directly to the public. When
she found out that I lived in Kerry, she found that the nearest retailer to me
with that wool in stock was in Kenmare. I gave her a quick Geography lesson.
Kenmare is 100kms from Listowel.

I reported back my
lack of success to Louise. Now Louise didn’t get to where she is today by
giving up. She did a bit of research and she found a lovely shop in Midleton,
Karen’s Krafts. Karen had the yarn in stock and she was willing to post. Now we
were sucking diesel or so I thought.

I contacted Karen.
There were 8 colourways available and she didn’t have them all but she was
expecting a delivery. So the final outcome of my chat with Karen was that she
would text me when the wool came in and I would take a trip to Midleton on my
next visit to my family in Cork.

Meanwhile my
daughter is going to Midleton with her work on Monday, February 26 2018.
Spottting an opportunity I ask her to call to Karen to suss out my wool. I ring
Karen and now she hasn’t got three balls in any colour. (The pattern requires
three) but the delivery from Tivoli hasn’t come yet.

Delivery comes  and Karen texts me to tell me that the only 3 ball
stock that came in are grey or beige. Now remember I said that this is a very
basic jumper only made special by the colourful yarn. Let’s say grey and beige
don’t cut it with me in the ‘Colourful” stakes . So I decided to throw in the

Did I mention that
Louise did not get to where she is today…….?

When I told her
that I had accepted failure she was having none of it. She emailed back to say
that she had contacted a wool shop in Blanchardstown and they were willing to
order the wool and to post it to me.

And so they did.
The yarn arrived in Listowel and now all that was left for me to do was knit
the blessed thing. Then Louise emailed to say that she would like to see a
photo of the finished product for publication in the magazine.  No pressure then.

So voilà, me in my
beautiful new jumper just in time for the next cold snap.


Two Names

The two people on the left have been identified as Arthur Chute and Violet McCarthy. The search continues to identify the other three people.

Ballybunion and Kit Ahern and a dinner party with difference

Deirdre Lyons climbed Carrauntoohil.


Branding sheep in the old days


A Trip to Ballybunion in March 2017

 The sea was rough.

 The beach was fairly deserted.

Seats in memory of local people are located on the path on the way to the breach. They are a nice touch.

 The toilet building was completely redone last year.

My little girleen made a sand castle.

We were fascinated to see how well this three legged greyhound could get around.

The sea rescue building.


Passing on the Skill

This is my granddaughter, Aisling. She has been mastering the skill of knitting whenever she is on her Kerry holidays. The bad weather on her last trip meant that she had lots of time indoors. She spent much of this time knitting.

Here is Aisling with her sister, Cora in Ballybunion. Aisling is proudly wearing the snood she knit herself.

Róisín learned to knit as well but she still prefers to read.


Kit Ahern of Ballybunion

We remember the late Kit Ahern as a T.D. but here is an account of a young Kit starting out her political career with the ICA

  The Kerryman Saturday, April 15, 1961

MRS. KIT AHERNE, of Main Street,
Ballybunion, was elected national, president at the annual meeting of the Irish
Country women’s Association, in Dublin this week.

The high honour crowns many years
of keen activity in Kerry and Munster on behalf of the association which, is
the largest and most widespread women’s organisation in the country.

Mrs. Aherne, whose husband, Mr. Dan
Aherne, is a national school teacher, is president of the Ballybunion guild of
the I.C.A., a former president of the Kerry Federation and was National
Vice-President up to this week.

She has many interests as a member
of the I.C.A but her mai, one is lace making. During the past few years she has
visited lace making, areas in the six counties  and recently 
started, a class in Ballybunion for ten young ladies.

For the past two years she acted as
bean-a-tighe and teacher for Gaeltacht scholarship holders, and is looking
forward to doing the same again next month.

Mrs. Aherne also is interested in
An Club Leabhar, and her wish that some Kerry members would start a Ciorcal

“I work with the I.C.A. is because
it is the only movement in which women can do their share to hand on their
parish and, their country better than they found it,” .she told. The Kerryman

She also got an award for an essay,
called The ICA in my County.


A Lovely Dinner Party at Mully’s

This is the group assembled at David Mulvihill’s on Tuesday evening for  a masterclass  in cooking and a delicious meal to follow.

My photo does not do this justice. These little tosheens contained Jimmy Harris’ smoked chicken. They were served to us as we chatted on the window seats. The custom made serving dish was made by David.

These are the delicious samosas which David convinced us were easy to make.

This was our main.

David demonstrated how we could make a yummy Ferraro Rocher cheesecake.

Then out of the fridge he whipped the ones he had made earlier .

A great night with delicious food in great company, and a cookery lesson to boot.

Athea Mural, Little Lilac Gallery and Knitting

Athea Revisited

I love to visit Athea and I particularly like to see progress on Jim Dunn’s mural.

Recently, I had my Cork girls on their Kerry holidays and we were very kindly invited to visit the home of the artist. Before he took us to his home he posed for a photo with the girls.

A great blessing of advancing years is to live long enough to get to know your grandchildren. It is a blessing that has also been granted to Liz and Jim Dunn. They recently enjoyed having their two lovely granddaughters on their first visit without parents.

I asked Liz to take a few special photos for us in listowelconnection. Jim posed with Ellie and Kate, his granddaughters, beside their image, captured forever on a wall in Athea.

These little girls, because of the enormous talent of their grandfather, and his great contribution to his adopted home are now part of Athea’s history.


The Death of the Rural Parish

While we were in Athea we visited the parish church and we ran into Fr. Bohan, the last parish priest of Athea. He is soon to retire and he will not be replaced. This story is familiar today in rural Ireland as more and more parishes are amalgamating or just dying out.

Here Aisling listens, enthralled, as he tells us about his young days as a hurler.

He taught her a new word, a pullet.  He told us that he had visited a school and not one child in fifth class knew what a pullet was. He is determined to put that right and he is teaching every child he meets the meaning of the word, pullet. In case you don’t know, it is a teenage chicken.

I wondered if a future visitor to a class will ask, “What is a parish priest?” and be met with silence.


Little Lilac Studio

This is The Little Lilac Studio in Main Street. It is the most marvellous place to take children who like to do things with their hands. I took my grandchildren and they loved creating a special keepsake from their Kerry holiday.

First you choose your blank canvas, i.e. a ceramic plate, cup, vase, animal etc. This proved a tricky decision for my crew who wanted to paint them all.

Then you set to work painting your masterpiece. The lovely lady who runs the studio is infinitely patient and helpful, encouraging and cajoling the young ceramicists.

You can draw inspiration from some completed works on display, or you can just do your own thing.


Teach a child a skill for life

Colouring is a great creative activity for young people.

This holiday the two older girls learned to knit. They became so enthusiastic about their new craft that they wanted to do it all the time.

Aisling went home with a new jumper for her bunny, all handmade by herself.

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