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: Knockanure Page 2 of 4

Knockanure, John B. on Coaxiorum, A Fan Letter and Milk Stands

Corran Tuathail by Chris Grayson


Knockanure 2006


Coaxiorum by John B. Keane

SONNY CANAVAN assures me that the love potion known as Coaxiorum exists and is still in use not far from where he lives. Others have told me that same thing. Willie Finucane and Jack McElligott were offered doses of it but declined to take it on the grounds that natural love was better than artificial. I asked Canavan if he knew what the formula was. He had a rough idea but could not come up with the identity of one ingredient.

“All I know,” said Canavan, “is that it grows in the bog and it’s like a water leaf but it isn’t a water leaf.”

He told me that Coaxiorum was very common when he was a boy but that its use had declined altogether since the Second World War.

“I seen a man to cycle from Carlow on a false account,” Canavan told myself and Professor Phil Deane, who came to see Canavan about bodhráns. Apparently it was 1940 and one evening a man on a bicycle appeared in Dirha West. He asked the whereabouts of a certain woman and he was taken to her. He produced a five pound note, a lot of money in those days, and offered it to her for a dose of Coaxiorum but when she learned he wanted to use it on his master’s wife, she cleared him from the place. So much for Coaxiorum. Maybe some of my readers will have a word or two to say about love potions.

John B. Keane


Warming the Cockles of my Heart

This is the Braden family of Chicago.

I have been overwhelmed recently by the supportive mail and personal approaches I received from people far and near who read the blog. I’m printing one representative one but I am deeply grateful for them all.

Brigid Braden gets the accolade for the best email. I’m posting it here with a big thank you to Brigid for making my day.

Dearest Mary,
Almost every night before I go to bed in Chicago, your email from Listowel Connection pops up in my in-box, and I get the biggest smile on my face. I love to happily check in on Listowel before I go to bed.  Tonight after reading your post with “Unwelcome Letters” I could not go to bed before sending you off a note. 

You bring such joy, to so many.  And the ones with joy sure don’t let you know it enough I’m sure because I should be writing to you every other day to tell you about how a story touched me and made me dwell for quite a time in a happy place.  Not to mention how many times a sister or brother would contact me the next day and say “Did you see (insert story) on Listowel Connection” and want to talk more about it.  

Mary, you are doing wonderful work!  I love the John B. response you put up there.  And don’t you know, I’m sure my siblings will be calling me tomorrow to talk about it.  I will be talking to my young kids as well about it, because it is the world around us we are living in.  Don’t we know about it in the USA for sure now.  The crazies almost feel to outnumber the sane, but in truth they are just shouting the loudest for a time. 

Just know, you are a shining light to many and bringing out the best of us and in us.  Thanks a million.  We love you!! And keep up the fantastic work!  


Brigid Braden
Ps.   I owe you a lunch next time I’m in Listowel. We were coming in with a big family group in July 2016 to Allos and you fell ill.  I’m sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, but have a feeling our paths are sure to cross. Three Cheers!!
A few of your Chicago fans::


Milk Stands

Last week I posted this photo of the milk stand at my old family home in Kanturk, little suspecting what fond memories it would evoke for so many blog followers.

Love the milk-stand-and building- all nicely cared for and painted. Where I come from, milk-stands were often located at crossroads and the farmers would bring their tanks there. The lorry would travel a main route and collect all the tanks at junctions with minor roads.”

When I travel the Nadd road from my home in Kanturk to Cork I pass such a crossroads. It has a sign saying Welcome to Donoughmore beside a piece of roadside art depicting two milk churns on a milk stand. I searched the internet for a photograph of this. I didn’t find it but I did find another piece of roadside art along the same theme.

This photo by a lady who blogs as Irish American Mom is in Kildorrery in Co. Cork


Boyeens No More

My beloved grandsons all grown up and off to secondary school.

Knockanure, Charles Street friends, Fr. Roger and Doran’s Pharmacy, Church Street

Photo: Chris Grayson


Knockanure parish church in May 2018


First Communion, Knockanure May 2018


Boyhood Friends

Martin Griffin gave me this old photo to share with you.

In front;  Billy Dore, Dominick Scanlon and Richie Chute R.I.P.

Back Buddy Jones and Frank Chute


Convent Chapel May 2018


R.I.P.   Fr. Roger Duggan

Last week I attended the funeral mass of Fr. Roger Duggan in St. Mary’s Listowel. It was a small funeral, because, in the words of Fr. John Fitzgerald who celebrated the mass, Roger had become a Kerryman only recently.

Fr. Roger was far from “unknown” and during his life he had travelled and served and sang and had many adventures.

As was fitting for a man who loved music his funeral mass featured some of the most heavenly music I have heard in St. Mary’s, Listowel.

So who was this gentle holy man?

Fr. Roger Duggan was the only brother of Una Hayes, whom I have come to know through our both belonging to the  Knitwits knitting group.

Una and Roger were born in Wales to Irish parents. They moved to Birmingham and it is here that Roger and Una grew up.

Roger worked in Wales, in England and eventually in Australia. His cv is very diverse. He worked in taxation, in sheep shearing, in the hospitality industry and in railway building.

Eventually this very intelligent and well read man decided on a life in the religious order of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.  He was ordained in 1993 and spent his life in ministry in Australia.

When he retired, he relocated to Cork. He took up a new role as chaplain to the local convent and he helped out with the work of the parish.

When he fell into ill health it was decided that he would be happiest nearer to his beloved Una and her husband Liam and so he spent his last years being well looked after in Oaklands Nursing Home.

May he rest in peace


Doran’s Pharmacy, Listowel opening

I disturbed Norma and staff as they put the finishing touches to her new shop. Outside, the final brush was being put to the paint.


Things ar Hotting up in the Writers’ Week office

All hands on deck, shoulders to the wheel and noses to the grindstone. Writers Week 2018 is 2 days away.


Nathan Carter meets a Star and her husband

Another Anniversary, St. John’s Window of Reconciliation and Paddy Drury Remembered

This shrine to St. Teresa, who’s feast day occurs in November. It is in the Church of St. John In Ballincollig.


November is a time for remembering our loved ones who have passed to their eternal reward. I am going to share with you a piece from a lovely book  called Irish Stories of Love and Hope which was produced a few years ago to raise money for the Irish Hospice.


Peter Fallon

You turn

Hearing the joy

Of football

In the yard

You yearn

For the footfall

Of the lost

The scarred.

Again and again

And again

You feel the sten-

Gun attack

Of that “What if?”

And that, ‘What

Well then he’d be
a boy

Who’s ten.


St. John’s, Tralee, new Window

This is the Window of Reconciliation and it was blessed by Bishop Ray Browne on October 27 2017

My photograph does not do it justice so you’ll have to go to see it for yourself.

The window was executed by Thomas Denny who is a descendant of the Dennis of Tralee.

It is in three panels, each panel evoking reconciliation. The central panel depicts the prodigal son as he is embraced on his return by his delighted father. The right hand panel is inspired by Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah.

In the left hand panel, St. John, patron of the parish sets forth filled with The Holy Spirit.

I took this information from a leaflet I picked up in the church. It also told me that this is the first new stained glass window in the church in 60 years.


A Few Photos I took on the day of the recent performance of his Tom Crean Show by Aidan Dooley

Rose Wall with Aidan

Eilish Wren bought Aidan’s book

Elaine Kinsella with Tom Crean actor and writer, Aidan Dooley


John Griffin Again

This is the very competent O’Sullivan team who were looking after the sound and lighting and the media content on the day of The Young Adult Book Fest in Listowel Community Centre. On the right is John Griffin whose mother is originally from Listowel.


A Paddy Drury Story as remembered by Jerry Histon

When Paddy came home from his war work in Scotland after the 1914 1918 war, he had, of course, some money spared. After hitting Listowel he met two cronies and took them in for a few drinks. At the time drink was very scarce and it was suggested that certain publicans were not above eking out the supply of drink with materials that never saw the distillery. Anyway, Paddy asked the lady inside the bar for “three glasses of whiskey”. When those were downed, Paddy called the woman again “Mrs, give us three more glasses of nearly!” The lady was puzzled”What nearly?” she asked. ” nearly water, ma’am,”  Paddy shot at her, to her consternation.

A missioner, giving a retreat Moyvane, asked Paddy: “what is the difference between God’s mother and your mother?” I don’t know, but I do know there was an awful difference between their two sons!” Was Paddy’s humble reply.

Paddy hired with a local farmer and one of the conditions was that he should be home for The rosary each night. The man of the house generally offered up the rosary for “myself and my four and no more!” One night the farmer asked Paddy to offer the rosary. Paddy had a few drinks on board and was, anyhow, getting tired of the farmer, So his offering was “I offered this rosary for  myself and no more!”

<<<<<<<< An Important Correction re Drury Knockanure Satire >>>>>>>>

This correction is provided by a Knockanure local and the correction of the correction by Vincent Carmody. Thanks.

“The Rhyme about Knockanure was written by John O’Sullivan.  John, from Charles Street, was a reporter for the Kerryman. His daughter May Kathleen followed in his footsteps.  She was also married to an O’Sullivan. May Kathleen’s uncle was the famous journalists, T F. O’Sullivan.

( Eamon Kelly’s father in law was. Michael O Sullivan, from the Beara Peninsula, he was an Irish teacher in St Michael’s. He had nothing to do with the O’Sullivan satirised in this rhyme.

Drury wrote about John O’Sullivan.

In Listowel Town, there lives a clown, 

who would sell his soul for porter,

Sullivan John is the man,

 a dirty mean reporter.”


This Knockanure Local also had a photograph of Paddy Drury


A Wedding in the Behan Family

I took these photos of The Horseshoe window on November 17 2017

May Day, The demise of the Cuckoo, Athea and Tracey Grimes’ Hair Extensions opens

Peggy O’Brien of Mallow Camera Club is the photographer


John B.’s Annual Visitor

By summertime many of my
readers will have heard a particular cuckoo. It is possible that substantial
numbers may have heard the same cuckoo. If this is so console yourself with the
fact that just as no two cuckoos are alike so also are no two notes from any
one cuckoo alike. The cuckoo’s voice changes from day to day and fades away
altogether after a week’s residence in his summer home.

Recently I read a distressing
story about the decline in numbers of cuckoos visiting this country during the
summer. Despite the fact that the same applies to featherless visitors from
America and England should not make our concern for the cuckoo any the
less.While man multiplies all over the globe, the number of birds, particularly
cuckoos tends to decrease. The chief reasons for this is that man requires more
room and sacred retreats where cuckoos once advertised themselves are now
housing estates and factories. I am not arguing against these. What I am trying
to do is warm readers against a time when we will hear fewer and fewer cuckoos.
A time will come when certain luckless individuals will wait in vain for that
magical call which  is part of the fabric
of every summer. This is sure to give rise to shock and distress among the more
susceptible of readers and it is only fair that they should be warned against
the likelihood of summers without cuckoos. Personally I dread the thought but I
have long since insured against it and I would strongly advise others that they
should do the same. In the event of cuckoo failure in the not too distant
future we should be on the lookout for other signs of summer.

It takes a long time for
summer to establish itself. For a week or two it’s no different from its
predecessor. Gradually, however, it takes hold. More flowers appear and birds
grow excited. The sting dies in the wind and all the cows are calved. There are
many manifestations and each of us has his own special means of confirming that
the season is well and truly launched.

For me summer comes with the
arrival of a sixty year old balding Clare man, a chap of roving eye and rosy
cheek. For many years now he has presented himself at my bar counter at this
precise time. He is as constant as the cuckoo or, if you’re that way inclined,
as the Northern Star.

On each visit he brings a
female companion of far tenderer years than he. Yesterday, which was Sunday he
presented himself for inspection at 12.30p.m. He had with him a stout lady who
might have been twenty five or thirty. He seated her and called for a drink.
Two brandies with the barest tint of port wine in each if you please and where
would we get a good lunch, nothing too exotic.

I shake hands with him and he
introduces me to his girl of the moment. This is pure exhibitionism. He wants
to show me what a randy womanizer he is.The girl smiles demurely, adjusts her
buttocks and pulls an inadequate tweed skirt affectedly over fat red knees…….

John B. Keane


Athea Revisited

I had little visitors during the school holidays. Athea is a place we all love to visit. Jim Dunn had told me that he has resumed work on his masterpiece and that he has refurbished his other mural so we headed for County Limerick at our first opportunity.

We were in luck. As we drove into the village we spotted him. Artist at work.

The girls were fascinated to be part of the village history. If they pass through Athea as adults with children of their own, they will point out Jim Dunn’s mural and say, “We were there when that was being done. We saw the brilliant artist paint a small piece of this magnum opus.”

Isn’t this lovely? I think Jim should definitely paint himself into the picture. As he poses here to show us how one of his characters will look, I think he fits in perfectly with this rural idyll.

We proceeded along down the street to view the upgrading work on the old mural. It has taken on a whole new lease of life. Jim has got an art  student from UL to help him for a while and she and he have restored this local scene to its former glory or, in actual fact, a state exceeding its former glory. Below is some of the detail from this magnificent artwork. All the characters, both real and mythical have local significance.


Jim Beasley’s Engineering Works in O’Connell’s Avenue in April 2017


Brand New Business Opens

Tracey Grimes has done a great job with the old Moriarty’s Drapery. She has transformed it into a luxurious and inviting hair extensions salon. I hope she is successful in her new venture. She deserves to be.


Mayday, Mayday!

Today is May 1st. There are many traditions associated with May Eve and May Day. Here are a few from the National Museum of Ireland’s website

As in much of northern Europe, May Day in Ireland, was a celebration and welcome of the summer.

The May Bush

The May Bush was a decorated bush, which in rural areas was left outside the house. In towns, it was erected in a communal place.

May Poles

Originally tall trees were used but later these were replaced by formal poles erected in the town centre.

May Flowers

May Flowers were picked on the evening before May Day and this was often done by children who went garlanding for flowers. 

Bonfires & Dancing

Dancing was a feature of May bonfire celebrations. It also featured around the May Pole or where communal May Bushes were burnt.

Marian processions 

Much of the traditions associated with May have been incorporated into the Marian processions found throughout the country.

Butter stealing

May Day was especially associated with butter stealing: the stealing of the butter profit of the home.

Divining & Forecasting

May was also a time to study the weather and weather in the month of May would forecast what was expected to follow in the summer.

Closer to home people always visited the holy well in Knockanure on Sundays in May


I’ll miss David Davin Power

To mark his retirement, RTE shared an old RTE Guide cover featuring David with his colleague David Hanley in the early days of Morning Ireland.

Writers Week team, Horans and The Brogue and a wet day on Church St.

 The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow

And what will the robin do then, poor thing?

He’ll hide in a barn and keep himself warm

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.


The power behind the throne at Listowel Writers’ Week 

Maria McGrath,  Éilish Wren and Máire Logue show off their new reading mittens as they work away in the basement of The Seanchaí , putting together another great programme for June 2016.


Down Memory Lane

John Keane with the late Gerard Relihan a few years ago  (photo; Ita Hannon)


Horan’s was a Great Venue in its Hayday

Historical Tralee shared this old one. The Horan Centre is here in Tralee today. Gone but not forgotten by many.


Kirby’s Tralee, Maybe a Tad Overdecorated for Christmas 2015?


A Wet Morning stroll in Listowel, early December 2015

Come with me down Church Street in early morning, December 4 2015. Storm Desmond is on the way and the streets are wet and empty. The Christmas lights are trying bravely to add a bit of festive cheer to the scene. This was to be the day we switched on the Christmas lights and partied in The Square but that was all later cancelled due to the usual spoilsport; the weather.


Change in Main St.

A new sign….a new tenant?


photo: Scoil Realt na Maidine

Junior and Senior Infants helped Mrs. Sheehy with on the Christmas lights.


A Collectors’ Item

A message from Knockanure Parents Association:

“Scoil Chorp Chríost Parents Association 2016 Calendar. Our fundraiser for this Christmas. €10 per calendar. Loads of pictures from 1966 onwards. School will be 50 years in September 2016. Celebrations ahead! 
For Sale in School (9.30 – 12.30 from secretary), Flynns Bar, Knockanure, Holly’s Gala, Moyvane, The Parish Office, Moyvane, The Flying Saucer, Cafe, Listowel or enquire from Parents’ Assoc Committee members.”

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