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

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Grugs, Rabbits, Town League 1950 and North Kerry; the Swedish connection and National Poetry Day 2018

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon Part 5 

 ….Early I learned that in Kerry the ‘accounts’ that are so prominent a
feature of the social structure of the county are distinct (but not completely
so be  remembered) from financial
statements or debts unpaid. Ramblers have no affinity with the tinkers but are
the Kerryman’s word for loose stones on the road. To be taken up in the bones
may baffle any doctor outside of Kerry. The complaint seems endemic to the
county-  tribute to its mists maybe and,
so far as can be gathered medical treatises are silent on the subject. It is
doubtful too if a medical man can state with certainty the location of his grug
on which a Kerryman sits betimes.

It was in the
townland of Trieneragh near Duagh where the land falls away in eye-soothing
sweeps towards the river Feale, that I met a young man who was a specialist in
the art of indirect approach. I had made my way slowly towards the road from
the inch by the river, burdened with a rifle and a bunch of rabbits when I met
him. Eyeing the bag from time to time as we chatted he at length observed
reflectively, “If my mother met you now she would ask you for a rabbit.” Adding
somewhat unnecessarily that she was terrible fond of rabbit. I thought a brace
of graziers but a small fee to pay for this delightful example of Kerry tact.
In any event, I had been shooting over my young friends fields……


Town League 1950

This old photograph from Vincent Carmody’s Living history popped up again recently on Facebook.

The occasion is the Ashes team for the Listowel town league of 1950.

The players are

Front Row. D.Prendeville, John B., Toddy Enright (holding mascot, Frank Pierse) Jim O Neill, Mick McAuliffe, Jimmy Harris, Mick Cotter.
Back Row. Timmy Walsh, Michael McGuinness, Jim (Roddy) O Sullivan, Mick Barrett, Micheal Quigley, J.Ryan, Jim Deveraugh, Tom Finucane.


Spotted on My Walk

A blackbird, a dry wall and a ruin


A Swedish Influence in North Kerry

A few months ago I had Vincent Carmody’s story of Lars Larsson and how his relatives came to St. Michael’s graveyard to seek out his grave.

On the foot of this story, Jim MacMahon wrote to tell me how it came about that a Swedish man was buried in Listowel.

Sweden was a big dairying country and companies like Alfa Laval had trained many technicians and engineers.

A far seeing creamery manager in Ballyheigue, a granduncle of Jim MacMahon’s, advertised in Sweden for some operatives with technical experience to work in Ballyheigue Creamery. Three of the men who came were our friend Larsson, Nielson and Monson. Larsson was killed in an accident but Nielson and Monson went on to marry local women and their descendants still live in North Kerry or else visit often.

The Monson descendants have a jewellery business.

Monson Irish Jewellery


Did you do Your Leaving Cert in St. Michael’s in 1968?

A 50 year reunion celebration is being planned for this class and the organisers are encountering some difficulty in rounding up the last few old boys.

Here is an extract from Ned O’Sullivan’s email:

A group of us are planning a reunion weekend on the 7-9 September 2018. It entails a social gathering plus hopefully a nostalgic return to the school, photo exhibition, and some other things finishing with a day at the Races on the Sunday. We have established contact with most past colleagues but we are in the dark about a few. 

It’s possible that some of them read your blog and we would be v thankful if you could put it out there for us. 

Committee members are Michael Moriarty NT., Teddy Murphy, John Moloney n Christy Sheehy. 

Many thanks Mary

Ned O Sullivan. 

Ned has given me his phone number in case anyone of his classmates is reading this and wants to get in touch.


Healys of Convent Street and their Neighbours

Cathy Healy sent the photo to her uncle Pat in England and he confirmed that the young boy is Mike Healy, Cathy’s uncle. The lady in the hair rollers is till a mystery.

Common sense says that she would not be going too far from her home in rollers, I’d say she was a neighbour of the Healys and of John Hannon who took the photo, so we’re looking for someone from the Gleann area to put a name to a face. Liam Healy R.I.P. would have remembered her name and as Cathy said he’d have the dog’s name as well.

We miss them every day.


National Poetry Day 2018

Poetry Ireland decided to celebrate National Poetry Day 2018 on April 26 2018. Listowel Writers’ Week went to town on it, literally. They took to the streets and they gave everyone a poem in their pocket and challenged everyone to read at least one poem on Poetry Day.

Here are some of the people they met with a poem.

Would you read a Poem on Poetry Day          by Mary Cogan

with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Would you read it in a shop?

Would you read it with a cop?

Would you read it in a car?

Would you read it with a jar?

Would you read it stuck in traffic?

Would you read if it was graphic?

Would you read with Sinead and Liz

Máire or Maria, gee whiz

Poetry Day brought to my mind

That Writers’ Week’s not far behind.

Listowel Writers Week and the National Children’s Literary Festival run this year from May 30th to June 3rd.

See what’s in store here

Listowel Writers’ Week 2018 programme

The Kerryman Unbuttoned, Healy Father and son, Listowel Community Centre revamp

Photo: Paul Tips, Mallow Camera Club


The Kerryman Unbuttoned, (Part 3) by Redmond O’Hanlon

The strange idioms of North Kerry speech

Nettles do no
stink in Kerry. They burn or scorch. A prick is a pinch and soup is called
broth. Leggings to the Kerryman are gaiters and it is only with difficulty he
conveys the distinction between boots and shoes. Shoes and low shoes mark
weekdays from Sundays. Mud is puddle and puddles are locks. The Kerryman wears
his short coat, indifferent to the stranger’s perplexity as to the whereabouts
of the counterpart. Surely, I reasoned, when I first heard the expression, there
must be a long coat in his wardrobe. This does not follow at all. With a
characteristic disregard for logic, your Kerry man, and still more your Kerry
woman and most of all your Kerry girl will speak of a half twin when they mean
a whole one, and a square of crackers hot from the oven when they mean a

Let us take a walk
through the fields. See the bullock “itching” himself against the gatepost,
when in actual fact he is scratching his hide. That horse standing at the fence
may be false and one has to learn that this trait has reference not to a
vicious disposition but to the animal’s uncertainty of foot while under a cart.
Admire the riot of saffron buchalawns proclaiming at once the fertility of the
soil and careless husbandry.  In early
spring one may get a malicious satisfaction 
from the Kerry farmers attempts to convey in words the distinction
between freshly springing oats, barley and wheat. He lables the lot grasscorn
and thinks you a purist if you insist that barley and wheat are neither grass
nor corn.

(more tomorrow)


Father and Son from the John Hannon Archive

 This is yesterday’s picture of Jimmy Browne with Paddy Healy on left.

On the right of this photo is a young Liam Healy, son of Paddy. Any ideas who the lady and child are?


Forget Clouseau, Poirot, Miss Marple and the No. 1 Ladies detective agency. When the Listowel Connection network gets working on the case they leave no stone unturned. Many people identified A.T. Chute and Violet McCarthy but the second man and the two ladies were a mystery. The grapevine has gone into overdrive and through the intervention of Beta Whelan, Junior Griffin, and the super sleuth when it comes to identifying Listowel people, Margaret Dillon, we can now say with certainty that the man behind on the right is Charlie McCarthy. His son, Danny, confirmed his father’s identity. The fact that he wasn’t wearing his glasses threw most people but not Margaret.


Listowel Community Centre Revamp

When I visited last week the front of the Community Centre was painted and there was scaffolding all round the side.

The reception area was gutted and the shop is relocated. I was delighted to see the same smiling face, Mike Molyneaux,  behind the counter .


Hard Working Tidy Town Volunteers

I was in The Square at around 7.00 p. m. last evening and I met this happy crew setting out on their weekly tidy up. Years of relentless hard work and dedication is what it takes to win a gold medal.


Nearing Completion

This corner of town is completely transformed. Listowel’s newest pharmacy is looking well.

Mid Term Break with na cailíní and Healyracing on Nationwide


Ita Hannon is a super photographer. This is her picture of Portmagee last week.


Mid Term Break

My little granddaughters made a welcome trip to The Kingdom during their spring break. If you have grandchildren who come to visit, enjoy them while they are small. All too soon they become busy with their own activities and there is less time for Kerry visits.

Aisling, Cora and Róisín are growing up fast.

When they are in Nana’s house they do Nana type activities like knitting and baking.

Aisling loved my old beater. She thought it was much better than a whisk for making pancakes. The above picture is of Aisling making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday and when she returned home she made her parents cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. (picture below)


Healyracing on telly

I have a cohort of Listowel people who have always welcomed me to Listowel and treated me like one of their own. They have shared stories and photographs with me and extended extraordinary kindnesses to me when I felt in need of “local” family. One of the first among these was the late Liam Healy. We shared a love of charity shops. While in search of a rare or beautiful pen, Liam would always take time to chat. He was a great man for stories, none more fascinating than his own life story, which was filled with tragedy but also with hope and success which came with making the most of talent and hard work.

There was never any mistaking that the most important people in Liam’s life were his family. He was enormously proud of all of them and there was no man more delighted to have them all around him and involved in the business he grew from humble beginnings in Listowel.

I am delighted that Liam’s memory is going to be kept alive with a Nationwide programme on tomorrow evening, February 21 at 7.00p.m. on RTE 1.


A Specialist for everything

Do you remember when we had a jack of all trades mechanic who could do everything your car might need to be done to it?


Listowel’s Lizzie Lyons on TV3

Lizzie of Lizzie’s Little Kitchen, Listowel, is forging a career for herself as a TV chef. Her easy relaxed style and clear instructions are endearing her to her Sunday morning TV audience. She has a great future ahead of her in the cooking business.

Ballybunion, Old postcards, Liam Healy R.I.P. and Poetry and Roses

Ballybunion at Night              Photo by Bridget O’Connor


A Wife or a Goat

Do you remember this old photo from last week?

An eagle eyed blog follower thought the cargo did not really look like a goat, so he did a bit of internet research. He found a colour version of the same postcard with the cargo identified not as livestock but as the farmer’s wife.

So Pat was in fact buying and not selling at all. He has his side rails on to transport home whatever farmyard animals he might purchase…quite likely pigs.

While he was researching this old postcard, Nicholas came across another interesting one.

This is what he says of this one:

“I also attach a postcard of a single? man going to the fair, but I fear that he is  only interested in the faction fight- he has his ‘dúidín’ in his gob and his  ‘Cleith ailpín’ under his oxter, well-seasoned in the chimney and in skull-cracking form!

(I hope the fair wasn’t too far away as that poor donkey looks very small to be carrying that big man any distance.)


Liam Healy R.I.P.

While I was ill I missed lots of happenings in Listowel. I never got to pay my respects to a man I greatly admired, Liam Healy, gentleman photographer who passed away in July.

I took this photo of Liam in one of the places he loved best, The Island a.ka.a. Listowel Racecourse. Meeting Liam at the Races was always one of the highlights. Even though he was working, he always took time to chat to the punters on the wheelchair stand.

Here he is chatting to Jim Cogan and I can tell you one thing he is not doing. He is not giving him a tip.

Jim loved to meet Liam on the street. He was always good for a chat. He always had something interesting to say. I would love to think that they have met up above and are having a good natter.

Here Liam and his friend, Pat Walsh are reading my book. Liam was supremely complimentary, ignoring all the photographical mistakes and poorly composed shots.

When Liam did something, he did it to the best of his ability. His first and greatest achievement is his family. He was immensely proud of all of them and he revelled in the joy of having them all around him. He looked after them well all his life and they took great care of him when care was needed.

Liam took the photographs but he always saw the person he was photographing. It wasn’t just a job to him. His subjects became his friends. When I saw photographs of Liam Junior shouldering the coffin of J.T. McNamara just a few short weeks after his own father’s funeral, I knew that Liam had passed on the qualities of compassion and loyalty to the next generation.

Liam Healy did nothing by halves. When he grew roses he grew every possible variety in his garden in Ballygologue. When he collected souvenir pens he had hundreds in his collection. He loved old things and I often met him in a charity shop. One day I told him that I was in search of a child’s abacus. I had this great idea that it would be useful as a row counter when I was knitting. I had searched a few shops without success. Two days later Liam arrived at my door with an abacus that he had picked up in some shop or other in Tralee. This kindly act, so typical of Liam, brought the words of Wordsworth to mind; “the best portion of a good man’s life, his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”

Liam Healy was one of Listowel’s most successful business men. He founded a business empire that other less humble men would be boasting about to anyone who would listen. Liam carried his success lightly. I feel honoured to have known him and it is with pride I call him friend.

May the sod rest lightly on his gentle soul.


In Listowel’s Garden of Europe

Patrick Tarrant’s innovative sculpture of John B. Keane is looking really well now that all the green foliage has filled in the outline.


Moses supposes his toeses are roses

But Moses supposes erroneously.

Do you remember this piece of doggerel from your childhood? Well, the organisers of The Rose of Tralee competition, have decided that poetry is old fashioned and not suitable as a party piece so the girls have been told that they are not allowed to recite this year.  “Bah humbug,” say I. Poetry is timeless. The good people in Listowel Writers’ Week are doing their best to promote poetry. To this end they have entered into a partnership with Irish Book Awards and this year Listowel Writers’ Week will be sponsoring a prize in a new category….poetry. Read all about it here 

Meanwhile the aforementioned Roses rolled into town on Thursday August 18 2016

They visited the Seanchaí, John B.s and The Lartigue. They had their lunch at The Horseshoe.

Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue and Healyracing’s tribute to A.P. McCoy

in Listowel Square


Signs Old and New on Courthouse Road


Look who I met in Changes

Jean Quille of Kerry Businesswomen’s Network with Norah Casey who was in town for Listowel Food Fair and Danny Russell of Changes who had just styled Norah’s hair.


Healyracing tribute to A.P. McCoy

One of the really nice local events on this year’s Writers’ Week programme was Healyracing’s photographic tribute to A.P. McCoy. I was lucky to be there. Here are a few photos I took at the launch.

Three generations of the Kelliher family
John Maguire, Kevin Sheehy, Maurice Hannon, Aiden O’Connor and John McAulliffe
Liam Healy with his granddaughters
Junior Griffin, Cathy Healy and Danny Hannon
John McGuire, Maurice Sheehy, John Keane, Kevin Sheehy and Junior Griffin
Old stock: Junior Griffin and Liam Healy
Liam with Mr. Carey
Sally O’Neill and Michael Lynch
Lisa Healy and son
Marion Relihan
Pat Healy
Liam with Owen and Maura MacMahon
Seán Lyons and Christy Walsh
Christine Dwyer Hickey and Máire O’Connor
Sean Lyons, Máire Logue and Joe Stack


Heroes All

Ballybunion Sea & Cliff
Rescue was founded in 1986 to provide a rescue service to the locality of North
Kerry and West Limerick.

The unit, manned by 35
volunteers, is situated on the Ladies Beach in Ballybunion and operates as a
declared resource to the Irish Coast Guard. BSCR operate on 7 minute readiness
for the D Class and 12 minutes for the Atlantic 75, always available on 24 hour
pager alert. As a declared resource we form part of a group of voluntary rescue
boats collectively called Community Rescue Boats Ireland. This is made up of 13
units around the country (listed below)

Although maintaining the name Sea
& Cliff Rescue, cliff rescue was taken over by the Ballybunion Unit of the
Irish Coast Guard in 1991 (then the Coast and Cliff Rescue Service). The Irish
Coast Guard unit based in Ballybunion is a separate organization and should not
be mixed up with BSCR.

Equipped with a D class
inflatable boat, & a new Atlantic 75 RIB, BSCR covers the coast and Shannon
Estuary from Ballyheigue, Co Kerry to Foynes, Co. Limerick, and inland to
Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. Having a declared night time capability also means we
overlap with neighboring services to cover that area in the hours of darkness.

As well as providing 24×7 Sea
& Cliff Rescue, the volunteers also provide First Aid and Ambulance
assistance at a handful of horse races and other events around the Ballybunion

We rely on public donations and
all year round fund raising to raise the €45,000 needed to keep the service
afloat each year. None of our members are paid and all give their time freely.

The crest of Ballybunion Sea
& Cliff Rescue Service is made up of an anchor in the centre, a ring buoy
around a figure of 8 (for climbing) and a plan view of a D Class boat, all of
which is outlined by a gold rope.

The words “Watch for ye know not the hour” is the units motto
and comes from Matthew 24:42. It reminds people to always be
careful…….because you never know when you may need us.

Photo and text from Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue 


An Gleann 2015 Scoil Realt na Maidine champions


Billy Keane’s great article about Limerick Tipperary rivalry on the field of play and a heartache closer to home is



We have a Winner

Maria Stack of Listowel (on left) was declared the best dressed lady at Cork Summer Show at the weekend.

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