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: Lartigue Monorail Museum Page 1 of 2

June Races, Ladies Day 2022

Dublin’s Temple Bar from a website Ireland of the Welcomes


Listowel Races, June Weekend 2022

Sunday was Ladies Day on The Island and John Kelleher took these photos of the style winners.

These were the 10 finalists for the best dressed lady competition.

The judges had a hard job. On the left is the runner up, Denise Jeffers. The winner is in the centre off the photo, Grace Flynn. Winner of the most fashion forward hat was Denise O’Connor on the right.


People on Opening Night June 1 2022

Vourneen Kissane and Margaret Reidy
Maureen Hartnett, Carmel Hartnett and Aileen Scanlan
Bernie McAuliffe and Michael Enright
David Browne and Michael Enright


Lartigue Monorail back on track

The O’Neill family were first on board for the 2022 season. I hope they all have a great season as I know funds were running low for this unique Listowel visitor attraction. This might be a good year for Listowel folk to take a trip.


A Poem

Local poet, Pat Given, launched his latest anthology, A New Day, at Writers’ Week 2022

Pat with his wife and family on the night of the launch

One of Pat’s charming poems.


A Tumbling Paddy

I remember being fascinated as I watched my father working with this piece of equipment. I haven’t seen one in real life for years and years. I must be remembering it from 1955 or early 56. My father died in 1957.

The tumbling paddy was attached to the horse and he pulled it along while my father guided it through the hay row. The purpose was to gather the hay into piles to be made into wynnds. The skill involved tumbling the pile of hay. My father used to put the reins over his head for the act of tumbling. He would then upend the paddy and tumble out the pile of hay. This meant for a few seconds letting go of the shafts. He then skilfully circumnavigated the pile of hay, retook the shafts and the reins and continued on hay gathering. It was hard skilful work. The paddy had no moving parts. All the work was done by man and horse working in unison. It is one of my most vivid childhood memories.

The photograph was shared by Dan Hartnett on Facebook. Thank you, Dan.


Update on the Cinema

The campaign to save our cinema has unfortunately, not been successful.

This is the latest post from the brave committee who tried their best to save the cinema. They have bowed out gracefully.

Yesterday we were informed by the auctioneers that the Classic has been sold to a “retail investor”. There is a detailed update on the GoFundMe page (link in bio) but we’d just simply like to thank everyone on here for your support. It’s been a real pleasure.

Thank you

Friends of Listowel Cinema


Childers Park in Autumn, Fitzgeralds in the U.S. and new memorabilia for the Lartigue Museum

Photographer in the Park

Deirdre Lyons took these lovely autumnal photographs in Childers Park, Listowel in early Autumn 2018


Proud of his Kerry Roots

I’ve been writing this blog now for 7 years. There are over a million posts now out there in cyberspace. Every now and again someone googles something or someone and finds his way to an old blog post, This is what happened to Robert  Fitzgerald when he looked online for information about his ancestors.

He sent an email;

Good Evening:

I recently came across your blog post Farmers and gardeners from Tuesday, 3 January 2012.  The man that you talk about (Thomas Fitzgerald) turns out to be my great, great, grandfather.  I am only recently starting to find out more about the heritage of my family and it is my knowledge that Thomas came to Beaver, Pennsylvania to start a floral business and the many, many descendants of this Listowel gentleman have remained in the same small town for over 5 generations now.  Thomas had a son John (my great grandfather), who had a son John Lee (my grandfather), who had a son James (my father), that led to myself, Robert.  There are of course many other children involved as our family has grown quite considerably from the small Listowel roots. 

I am quite uncertain of any relatives still living in the Listowel area or the entirety of Ireland for that matter, but it is my intent to make the trip out there sometime in the near future and see for myself the humble beginnings of Thomas Fitzgerald and what is now a massive family here in the US. Browsing through some of the more recent posts on the blog, I see that the local area is quite beautiful and certainly full of history and tradition.  

I want to thank you for putting that information out in the blog as I was able to really uncover a lot of family history and learn a bit more about the small Irish town that my family descends from after many generations and what was thought to be lost history.

Very Respectfully,

Robert Fitzgerald

And here is the blogpost he is referring to ;

Here is a man I found on the internet. He has a Listowel connection but I wonder if he is related to any Fitzgeralds who still live around here.

FITZGERALD:   John Fitzgerald and Mary Conway Fitzgerald, of County Kerry, Ireland saw their second son, Thomas off  to Canada in 1862.  Thomas, who was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, came from a long line of gardeners and had worked at this since he was a boy in Ireland, managing the grounds and hothouses of Lord Colliss, of Tarbert township, County Kerry, Ireland and for 15 years an estate in Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Thomas was leaving his beloved land to earn enough to bring his intended over and get married.  After 3 years of work in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he was successful and brought Mary Healey, his intended over and they married.  Their first child was Patrick, born in 1865.  At this time Thomas and his family moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where he worked as a gardener on a nearby estate. While in Pittsburgh, Mary and Thomas had seven more children; John, who became manager of the Plumbers Supply Company in Erie, Pennsylvania; Thomas M., who was sent to study in Ireland for 3 years, and returned to open a large florist business in Beaver, Pennsylvania; James F.; Annie; Mary Catherine; Edward, who married Catherine Conville and was sent to Erie with his four children to help his brother John with the business in Erie; and William.  Thomas and Mary later moved to Beaver to help in their son Thomas M. Fitzgerald’s greenhouses.

Two published biographical sketches provide great insight into the life of the Fitzgerald’s of Allegheny and Beaver County Pennsylvania

Update: 10.00a.m. Vincent has looked him up and this Fitzgerald gardener is from Tarbert. He was married in Ballylongford on July 24 1832.

So if you are a Tarbert Fitzgerald and you think you are a relative, do drop an email to Listowel Connection.


Lartigue Museum Received Fascinating Donation

Recently the Lartigue Museum have put on display some lovely old postcards and photographs donated to the museum by Catherine Kenton

Cherry Blossom Time the park, The Lartigue commemorated and Living History in Bridge Road

This lovely tree grows in  Listowel Pitch and Putt course in the town’s park.

What a great amenity this park is. The people of Listowel are truly blessed.


Listowel’s Lartigue Railway is celebrating 130 years since it First Ran

To coincide with Listowel History Festival, the good people of Lartigue Museum held a remembrance ceremony to commemorate 130 years since this unique train first ran between Listowel and Ballybunion. Steve Kelly was the official photographer and these lovely photos and lots more are available to purchase from him.

 Some of the volunteers with Jimmy Deenihan. Jimmy has always held this project dear and has supported it in every way he can, including donating the proceeds of his memoir.

Local historian, Michael Guerin, who spearheaded the effort to preserve everything to do with The Lartigue and the mainline railway in Listowel.  He played a huge part in the restoration project and making sure that this valuable part of Listowel’s history is never forgotten.

The beautifully constructed replica locomotive and carriages. A trip on this train should be on every Listowel person’s bucket list.

As part of the commemoration, the local writing group read some of their compositions. Mary McElligott very kindly shared her poem with us.


Closing my eyes to the whistle,

A door, bangs towards the back,

My train’s moving off slowly,

To a tune, yes a clickety clack.

It’s five o clock in the morning,

I dream as I sit half asleep,

I start to think of all travellers,

Worldwide, as they smile or they weep.

People travel for reasons,

After weekends, returning for work,

Commuting, often long journeys,

From Tralee, Belfast or Cork.

People travel for reasons,

To Dublin ‘Up for that test’,

No one suspects that they’re worried,

As they hold that fear in their chest.

On trains, before, people chatted,

Some people talking nonstop.

Now they’re all on their I Phones,

Or clicking away, on laptops.

Ear phones are strung from both ears,

As music, goes direct to the brain.

Sadly, I can’t change their channel,

As I suffer their ‘beat’ on my train.

I continue to doze and reflect,

On the men who laid all these tracks,

Of lives lost stretching our travels,

Duffy’s Cut and those graves with no marks.

As Amtrak worked near Philadelphia,

They unearthed a history untold,

Irish workers off on their travels,

What happened, a story unfolds?

It is thought, their conditions were dreadful,

As they slaved and starved and got sick,

Cholera swept through the encampment,

Halting them there, on that trip.

Buried, their deaths unreported,

Their families, in Ireland not knowing,

Tracks lead away from their graveside,

As the wheels of that train kept on going.

I can remember Tubrid School as a child,

The tracks ran directly out back.

C.I.E. ran a train for the races

Oh the excitement to see a train on that track.

Listowel, didn’t have trains anymore,

Obsolete, long replaced by a bus

But that week, that journey re enacted,

Oh the style, all the glamour and fuss.

I reflect and remember the stories,

Of the Lartigue and how people would go

To Ballybunnion, their ‘city’ stopover

And how uphill, their train went so slow.

People would get out to push then,

To give the old engine some help.

When passengers returned to their seating,

I can imagine how they must have felt.

Two calves were put in a side car,

Required to balance one cow,

 The calves travelling back, separated,

Or if together, offset by a sow.

Great thought went into each journey,

As it hung, in the balance that way.

Just think of the fun for those travellers,

But sure that was all back in the day.

Oh to fly Ryan Air to Dublin,

We’d be there in the blink of an eye,

Fasten seat belts on for the landing,

Not near Millstreet, ready to cry.

I decline an offer for coffee,

As catering, pass through the car.

I keep onto my money for Dublin,

Sure at this stage it’s not very far.

Once more I reflect on a journey,

Where trains travel into a hole,

Clipped under carriage for safety,

Transporting to all of us, coal.

But one image I have are those journeys,

Those travellers that never came back,

Packed into those trucks in huge numbers,

To a tune, yes a clickety clack.

Unknowing, they travelled for days,

With children often lost in the crowd,

Tracks leading into cold stations,

Soldiers, shouting out loud.

Their Religion marked them for travelling,

Tracks lead right through the gates

But St Peter wasn’t there waiting,

No Satan stood with his mates.

Auschwitz, Sobibor and Belsen,

Some of the names that we know,

Thousands and thousands of people,

Across Europe, all on the go.

Why did this ever happen,

How could one man pull along,

All his people and thousands of soldier?

How could they all get it so wrong?

As trains travel all the world over,

We hope that never again,

Will the horrors of history be repeated,

For wars that no one will win.

I think back to a time and I smile,

My son on his knees by the door,

Thomas the Tank running on batteries,

His tracks laid all over the floor.

How safe he was ‘on his travels’,

His world at home with his mom.

Why did those years go so quickly?

In a flash, life has moved on.

Our lives start off as a journey,

We roll on, keeping on track.

We may get derailed at some junctions

But the trick is to never look back.

We hope that we travel on safely,

With a ticket to get through the gate,

So book early online and then you’ll be fine

As tomorrow it may be too late.


Living History at Listowel Military Festival

On Bridge Road on Sunday May 6 2018, the flags flew and the sentry boxes were up.

 These three were manning the gate.

This is the last year that the Listowel Spitfire will be in Listowel before it travels to a more permanent home in a museum.

Dan Shine, an old FCA man, brought his grandchildren to see history exhibits.

These are some of the reenactors who were there.


Pres Girls 1950/51

 We’re still looking for old photos and memories of Presentation Secondary School.  Please hand them into the school or send them by email or post. The forthcoming publication will only be as good as you make it.

A Poem, Athea, old Cork and generosity personified at Christmas 2017

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Forget Elf on the shelf. Chris Grayson’s robins are up to morning adventures as well.

Ballylongford in Winter 2017     Photo by Ita Hannon


The Wind         by James Stephens

The wind stood up
and gave a shout

He whistled on his
fingers and

Kicked the
withered leaves about,

And thumped the
branches with his hand.

And said that he’d
kill, and kill, and kill

And so he will!
And so he will!


Athea’s Local Chronicler

Domhnall de Barra does his local district a great service by bringing them a regular update soon local happenings in his 

Athea and District News

Here is some of what he has to say in Christmas 2017

The Festive Season 

Domhnall de Barra

Christmas time is upon
us again and the buying frenzy has already started. In trying to understand
why, I googled Christmas and found a lot of information about the origins of
the feast and how it developed over the years. You can do this yourselves so I
won’t go into it except  for the following passage:

The celebratory customs associated in various
countries with Christmas have a mix of 
Christian, and 
secular themes
and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include 
gift giving,
completing an 
Advent calendar or Advent wreathChristmas music and caroling,
lighting a 
viewing a 
Nativity play,
an exchange of 
Christmas cardschurch services,
special meal,
and the display of various 
, including Christmas treesChristmas lightsnativity scenesgarlandswreathsmistletoe,
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known
Santa ClausFather ChristmasSaint Nicholas,
are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and
have their own body of 
traditions and
lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival
involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant
event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact
of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of
the world.

That passage sums
up  in a few sentences what Christmas is about but it does not tell the
whole story. With all the ballyhoo, the real meaning of Christmas can easily
get lost. It was created to  celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, an event
that is central to Christian beliefs. December 25th may not be the real date of
the Lord’s birth but it was chosen because it was the shortest day of the
year in the Roman calendar and marked the beginning of the longer days  to
come and more light. When people celebrate they often do so by eating together
so the Christmas dinner began. It was, and still is, a great family occasion
and a time for loving and sharing…..


Cork in 1920


A Heartwarming Story

This is Eunice Perrin of Duagh. Eunice loves to knit and every evening she knits little hats for premature babies as she watches her favourite TV programmes.

I met her in Scribes on Saturday where she was meeting up with another very generous soul. Namir Karim is closing down his craft shop in Church Street and he gifted Eunice twenty balls of knitting yarn for her charity knitting. Maureen Connelly agreed to be the liaison person to deliver the yarn and collect the caps.

Three kind people


Getting Ready for Christmas in Asdee in the 1950s

by Jim Costelloe in his book…Asdee a Rural Miscellany

Whitewashing the
dry walls around the house was one of the jobs that had to be done for
Christmas. The outer walls of dwelling houses had to be lime washed also. The
lime had to be prepared a few days beforehand and I have a memory of rocks of
lime in the bottom of a bucket being covered with boiling water as the mixture
stewed a combination of steam and lime into the air,  Some blue dye which was also used for
bleaching white clothes on washday was also added to make the lime wash brilliant
white. The yard and the bohreen near the house were also brushed and a general
clean up was done.

There were no
commercial;l Christmas decorations for sale in the shops, or, if they were,
they were not bought by most rural householders. Holly and ivy were the only
decorations I remember with the odd simple crib. We were aware before Christmas
of the holly with the “knobs” was as we would have been hunting and searching
the fences for plums and sloes during the autumn.


Well deserved Cultural Archive Award for Listowel’s Lartigue


The sea gives up its secrets

As Noelle Hegarty was taking her morning walk on Beale strand yesterday, she noticed that the tide  had washed clean the sand that usually covers the old slipway.


A Poem for Christmas 2017

sent to us by Mary McElligott

A Visit to the Lartigue Experience, Volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul shop and Caddying in Ballybunion

My grandsons posed for me on the comfortable Tidy Town seat in Listowel Town Square

on July 17 2017


Showband Stars Named

Yesterday I posted Joe Harringtons photo of some of the greats of the show band era. I posted Joe’s caption as he had it on Facebook.

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

Then Tommy O’Flahety came to the rescue. He wrote the following

Hi Mary. Great stuff on your page. The three missing names on the Showband picture are Art Supple of the Victors, next to Joe Dolan, and Declan Ryan of The Arrivals in front of Butch Moore and Tony Keeling of The Graduates to his left.


Deserted Kerry homestead

Chris Grayson is fascinated by old deserted houses. He took these photos somewhere in Kerry. They evoke another era when the house was cosy and warm.


A Visit to the Lartigue Monorail Museum

My grandsons were with me on their Kerry holiday as I visited this superb Listowel visitor attraction. If you have visitors, old or young, to entertain, be sure to fit in a trip here. It is excellent, a piece of history and a unique experience to be enjoyed by everyone.

We visited on a Tuesday and that is my friend, Junior Griffin’s day for volunteering. He had read my blog in the morning and it had brought back memories of Cleeves toffees and the good old days of his childhood when handball, the sweet shop and the pictures were the centre of his world. I recorded a snippet of his tale.

Junior Griffin at The Lartigue


The name Lartigue is not that rare in the Bordeaux region of France. There is even a Chateau. The late Bert Griffin brought back two bottle of this vintage and donated them to the museum.

It’s not just tourists who take a trip. I met a past pupil of mine with her lovely young family at the door.

This family were not local. Junior is the kind of unofficial photographer.

The whole affair s very leisurely for us the visitors. It looked like hard work for the volunteers, especially John McAulliffe who was  turning the train on the turntable.

Junior took our photo. Killian hooted the horn.

Killian is on the bridge where one crosses to the other side of the train.

This is us with the locomotive in the background

These are all our travelling companions on July 18 2017


St. Vincent de Paul Volunteers

On our way home down William Street we met my good friends who volunteer in the Second Time Around shop preparing for their summer sale.

The ladies in pink are Kay Landy, Hannah Mulvihill, Eileen O’Sullivan and Catherine O’Driscoll


The Barefoot Caddy

Forget The Barefoot Contessa. Once upon a time Ballybunion had its own barefoot caddy.

Photo shared on Twitter by Ballybunion Golf Club.


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