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: Larry Cunningham

Pat Leane, sporting hero, Showbands and a Trip to Youghal, Co. Cork

Great capture by Timothy John MacSweeney


A Little known Irish Sporting Hero

I heard about the man above when I visited the Lartigue Monorail recently. Junior Griffin alerted me to the exploits of this little known (in Kerry anyway) sporting great.

Helen Lyons who was volunteering on the day I visited, told me the story.

This is Helen Lyons at the visitors desk in The Lartigue Museum.  Pat Leane, Olympic athlete, is her uncle, her mother’s brother. He is still alive and well in Australia.

I asked Helen for the story and a photo. She was as good as her word.

Here is what she wrote to accompany the photo of her uncle, Pat, in his Olympic blazer.

“Pat Leane represented Australia in the Olympic Games at Helsinki, Finland in 1952 and Melbourne, Australia in 1956.  He competed in the decathlon (10 events – 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres, 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 metres).  

He held the position of best long jumper and high jumper in Australia for many years.

He is Mum’s (Nellie) brother and his parents emigrated from Finuge in the 1920’s.  He lives in Melbourne.

In an Australian newspaper article he was asked because of his Irish heritage “if he would be a world beater at the good old game of hurling, he replied with a grin “that’s one game at which I would draw the line”

So Pat is first generation Irish, and a hugely successful athlete in his native Australia. If his parents had remained in Finuge we would be naming roads and roundabouts after him.


Remembering Stars of the Showband Era

Joe Harrington is a great lover of country music. He shared this photo on Facebook. Our combined memories still leave three of these heroes unnamed;

Dolan, Dickie Rock, Brendan Boyer, Derek Dean, Brendan O’ Brien(Dixies), Butch
Moore,  Tom Dunphy, Larry Cunningham.
Can’t place the other 3. 


Youghal, Co. Cork

This is my friend Aileen (Hayes) Scanlon at the top of the clock tower in Youghal.

This is me on the street with the clock tower in the background.

This is the view from the top.

The old clock tower has stood in Youghal since 1777.  It is now restored as a visitor attraction. I’d recommend a visit if you are anywhere nearby.

Youghal was once a prosperous port town  and this room showed us all the goods that were traded through here. The tour guide, Shirley, was really good and kept us all engaged all the time.

The gatehouse was originally used a s prison. The fairly primitive conditions were replicated for us. Overcrowding, hunger, smelly living conditions with lice and vermin in abundance were the prisoners’ lot.

At every level there are great view down over  Youghal’s main street. The clock tower gate divided the town into the poorer east quarter and the richer merchant west side.

On the next floor was a working replica of the clock. It was fascinating.

The family whose job it was to look after the clock lived on the next floor and we got a good insight into their cramped and very poor living conditions. There is still a man alive in Youghal who was born into the last family to live in the tower. He spoke to us on video recalling the harsh overcrowded conditions of his childhood. He now realises that he is part of history and he is proud to have lived there.

Ah, the famous washboard. I just had to take a snap. (There was no prohibition on photo taking, which was welcome.)

This extraordinary cooker runs on gas. You take off the oven to reveal the cooking rings underneath.

This is a cobbler’s last. People did a bit of their own shoe repairing once upon a time.

I was fascinated with the view down over the houses. Next week I’ll share with you some more of the artefacts we saw in the tower.

Debs 1991, Ballybunion and Newmarket

Jim MacSweeney’s photo of a sparrow hawk won him a prize at the Rebel Cup photography competition.


St. Michael’s Debs 1991

This photo was given to me by James Scanlon and he did the best he could do with the names.  James, whose family owned The Spinning Wheel  had left Listowel as his family went to live in Limerick before the Debs but he came back for the night out.

Included in the photo are Liam Kelly, Gerard McGuinness, Don Keane, Evan MacAulliffe, Shane Comerford, Mike Carmody, Seán Pierse, Eddie Bolger, John O’Riordan, Berkie Browne, Frank Quilter, Aidan O’Connor, Shane Hartnett, Michael Mann,Victor Sheehan, Donny O’Connell


Ballybunion by the Sea

I’m going back to Kerry, From the Land of Liberty, 
To my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea,
To walk along the old Slip Road, Where the breezes softly blow, 
And to get out to the ocean, Where the tides of memory flow.

To walk along the beach, Down below the Castle Green. 

Up to the lovely Cliffs of Doon, The likes you’ve never seen. 

From Listowel to Ballylongford and back into Tralee.
There’s no place else in Ireland like Ballybunion by the sea.

I’ll take a walk down Main Street, And see my friends from home, 
Go tell my own true sweetheart, I never more will roam,
Go tell the lads I’m coming back, That’s where I want to be,

 In my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea.

In my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea.

This song was written by Pecker Dunne and recorded by Larry Cunningham  Here


Newmarket, Co. Cork

Newmarket is one of the small towns you pass through if you take the Rockchapel road to Cork. Let me tell you an interesting fact about Newmarket. It has three public statues and they are all women.

Alice Taylor is a very successful writer of novels, short stories and memoir. Her first runaway success was a memoir of growing up in Newmarket called To School Through The Fields. Her gift for nostalgia and vivid descriptions of a way of life that was dying caught the mood of the time and following their first success she has gone on the write numerous books describing village and parish life in her adopted Inishannon. She is a frequent visitor to Listowel Writers’ Week.

 Sarah Curran is a less down to earth heroine. She defied her family to allow Robert Emmett to court her and is seen by history as a tragic romantic figure.

 This doorway beside the statue of Curran struck me as a little odd. Did you ever see a padlocked door leading to a Main Street?

The third lady commemorated with a statue is Our Lady of Lourdes whose grotto stands at the east end of the town.


“The French are on the sea and old Ireland will be free”

Ita Hannon photographed this French Navy training ship in the Shannon estuary last week.


Circle of Friends

Lyreacrompane Development Association posted this photo to Facebook. It shows friends of  the late Fr. Pat Moore  circled around Mario Perez sand art tribute in Ballybunion on May 11 2017.

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