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Tag: Liam Healy

Listowel, Old GAA Brochure and Writers Week 2015

Ireland’s most famous dolphin

photo:  Fungie Forever


Public Consultation

Last week, the Heritage section of Kerry County Council conducted a drop in consultative event in The Seanchaí . We got to tell the consultants what was good and bad about our town and we got to tell them of any opportunities we saw for improving our town for residents and tourists. I was there with my camera. Here are a few snaps I took on May 13.


Ads and images from 1960 GAA Brochure


Vincent Carmody and Jim Cogan R.I.P.

Vincent Carmody knows the history of Listowel and its people better than anyone.  This year, his morning walks during Writers’ Week promise to be the best yet. If you are in town, join Vincent and his  followers. You won’t regret it!


Date for the diary

photo; Writers’ Week

On May 31 at 12.00 in St. John’s


Poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice & musician Danny O’Mahony share a passion for the traditional music, song & poetry of their native North Kerry. Fitzmaurice and O’Mahony collaborate in this unique project to bring the audience on a journey, celebrating local masters and their legacy of poetry, music & song.


For The Young Ones

Judi Curtin will be in Listowel Community Centre on  Friday May 29th.with her Big Book  Quiz.

You don’t need too much book knowledge for this one. It’s a team effort for teams of 4 people.The atmosphere will be fun and relaxed. The prizes are super. Easons is sponsoring this event so goody bags of books etc could be on offer.

Suitable for book loving or not so book loving young people aged 9 to 12.


Coming up


Ladies Day

The hardest working lady in Listowel for the past few months has been Eilish O’Neill. She has organized a great event for Sunday May 31st. So ladies get your glad rags on. It promises to be a good one!



I posted these two photos on Wednesday to illustrate my great story about Liam Healy. I had asked Cathy for a photo of her father as a boy. She sent me these without caption, I presumed (wrongly) that the boys with Liam were his brothers. They weren’t. They were his classmates and the photo was cropped from a school photo.

Apologies to the boys, now men involved. Liam is the cute little fellow on the right and Tony Stack is next to him

Fungi, Liam Healy and progress at the Plaza

That dolphin again!  photo Fungie Forever


Listowel Writers’ Week opens on May 27 2015

Olive Stack’s image provides  the lovely cover for their year’s programme.


Kitesurfing in Ballybunion Last Week

Photo:Ballybunion Prints


Liam Healy Reminisces

Liam and his daughter, Cathy

After school, Liam went to work for Duggans, cutting turf. He
earned 15 shillings a week delivering milk for Jim Walshe. He worked from 6a.m.
to 6p.m. and he was only 15 years old.

One day on his way home from the bog he
met Eddie Lawlor who asked him if he would like a “proper job”. His father
consented to him going to work for Eddie Lawlor. Liam spent eight happy years delivering
minerals around North Kerry.

But the grass is always greener on the far side of
the hill. Liam saw men his age returning from England where they were working.
They had fancy clothes and fast cars and he thought that he would like a piece
of that action. He took the boat, only to discover that the fancy clothes were
bought on the never never and the cars were rented. In fact his life at home
was much better than most of the emigrants (AND there was a sweetheart in the
picture by now). Liam only stayed in England for 18 months and this is the only
time he has ever lived away from his beloved Listowel. He returned to Eddie
Lawlor and a new job as a salesman.

His late wife Joan is the love of Liam’s life. They knew each other all their
lives and Joan carried a torch for the young Liam for a while before he first
asked her to dance in Walshe’s
ballroom. Liam had another little job there. He used to work in the cloakroom.
There was an area behind the dance floor, behind the crowd of onlookers and
close to the cloakroom and there Liam and Joan put on a display of jiving. Liam
walked her home that night and they fell in love. They had a sort of long
distance relationship for a while because Liam emigrated for a time and Joan
emigrated for a spell as well but they kept the spark alive and eventually
married and had 4 children.

An early photo of Listowel Racecourse

By now Liam was interested in photography and he had never got
that early love of photographs of racehorses out of his system. He had a
half day from work on a Thursday and he spent every Thursday and Sunday
photographing horses at Race meetings & Point to Points. Liam returned home
every night, even if the race meeting was as far away as Dundalk. All this
travelling and working full time as well was taking its toll on Liam. He asked Joan
if she would mind if he took up the photography full time. He remembers Joan’s answer,“The first day the children are hungry I’ll tell you.” Joan joined Liam in the
business. Liam took the photos and Joan ran the office. Pat, his eldest son was
displaying a good eye for a good shot and Liam Jnr was also taking an interest
in photography.

Liam and his friend, Pat Walshe, reading my book shortly after its launch.

Everywhere he goes, Liam makes friends. He is very grateful to
one of these friends, Max Fleming from Tramore. He had the power to allow Liam
on to the race track to take his pictures. That was the beginning of the
business that today is Healy Racing.

In a horrible instance of history repeating itself, Liam lost his
beloved Joan and was left with 4 youngsters to rear. She had breast cancer for
3 years but it was a clot that killed her in the end, on November 27th.
1987, three days after her birthday
which she spent at home with Liam and her family. Liam still misses her but he
takes consolation in his family of whom he is so proud. He now has 6 grandchildren Kevin, Siún, Jack, Ruth,
Adam and Sean who also show great interest and love for what Healy Racing does.

Liam’s two sons were keenly interested in the racing photography
and came into the business with their dad. He sent the two girls to college and
they both did well and got good jobs. Such is their love and admiration for
their dad and their pleasure to be in his company that they have all chosen to
work for Healy Racing.

In Liam’s words, Pat is the face of the business, Liam is the engine, Cathy is the voice and
Lisa the mother figure in the background keeping the show on the road. There
is now a third generation of Healys with
an interest in photography coming along.

It was my great pleasure to talk to Liam and to hear his memories. I am very grateful to his
lovely daughter, Cathy for arranging it all and for supplying some photos. He
is a man I greatly admire, one of Listowel’s underrated great men.

I searched around for one word to describe Liam. I toyed with
honest, upright, kind, humble, talented, entertaining, generous etc. etc. I
finally chose loyal as the word to best describe him.

Liam is loyal to his roots.

He is fiercely loyal to his family who plainly adore him.

He is loyal to his hometown, Listowel.

He is loyal to his friends.

But above all Liam is loyal to himself and true to the values he
learned in his childhood home. He has passed these same values of generosity,
kindness and neighbourliness, hard work and humility on to his children who
have all done him proud.

Liam Healy is living proof of a fact I have always maintained
that there are qualities which will take you far in life which are a more
valuable asset than anything that can be measured in Leaving Cert. points.


Progress at The Plaza

The site is cleared and building is due to commence at the back of The Plaza


Pastoral Scene

Cattle in a field outside Killarney last week


Thinking Ahead

What have you planned for the young ones for the June Weekend?

Bring them into town on Saturday May 30th at 12.30. Have them dressed as any character they like. The  Elsa costume will be getting an outing on Sunday for the Frozen singalong but it will be fine for this one too. Princesses, pirates, vampires etc.etc. all welcome. Prizes galore.

Make This year’s Childrens Festival at Writers’ Week the best ever.

Liam Healy , Knocknagoshel and some local people I met

Another great Fungi and friend photo from Fungie Forever


Healyracing’s Father Figure

I took these photos of Liam Healy on Listowel Racecourse, a place where he is truly at home. For years I watched from my perch beside Jim on the wheelchair stand as Liam went about his work. Liam always had a kind word and a bit of banter.  He never had a tip though!

I took this photo of a chance meeting on the street in October 2009. Jim loved to run into Liam when we were out and about. He was always good for a chat.

Now back to my story of Liam’s early life and his awakening interest in photographing horses and horse racing.

Liam is a self confessed hoarder. As a young boy, as well as the photos he
got from the newspapers Roddy O’Sullivan in Moriarty’s Betting Shop gave him, he used to go to the “quarry hole”
in search of old papers so as to cut horse pictures from them. The quarry hole
was the local name for the town dump, now The Garden of Europe. Paddy Kennelly,
Paul Kennelly and Paddy Hartnett were the men on the dump horse and cart in
those days. When they saw him rummaging around in the refuse, they volunteered to
keep him any newspapers they came across.

Cutting out photos of horses, sorting them and keeping them
became Liam’s hobby. All very
innocent but we must remember that Liam lived in a 2 bedroomed house with no
spare storage for his hoard of papers. Again his Convent Street neighbours came to the rescue. Bridge Joy, a
neighbour and a widow gave Liam the use of her shed to store his stash. He was
now spending precious hours in there cutting and sorting his pictures. His
father became concerned that he was doing this when he should be studying. Liam
had loads of ability for schoolwork but he loved the horse pictures more than

His father took the drastic step of confiscating and burning all
of Liam’s treasured cuttings.
Such is the mature Liam’s
generosity of spirit, that he holds no grudge against his father for this act .
His father was trying to rear his family as best he could in difficult
circumstances. He believed, as many parents do, that education holds the key to
unlock a better life for his children and he did what parents did in those
days. He got rid of the distraction. Liam understands fully.

Liam has happy memories of school. His favourite teacher was
Frank Sheehy who he can quote and mimic with the accuracy of a sharp
memory. Mr. Sheehy’s nickname was The Bulldog. He remembers
“Tháinig longó Valparaiso….” The first poem he
learned in Frank Sheehy’s
class. He remembers the ash plant which was used more as a threat than a
punishment. Bryan MacMahon, who Liam describes as “a great encourager” also
taught Liam and he remembers marveling at the mathematical abilities of one of
his classmates, Patsy Browne who still lives in Ballygologue Park.

Liam’s father,
Paddy Healy worked for Kantoher/Castlemahon Creameries. He went around the
country buying eggs for them. After that he had his own business selling goods. Paddy was a good father and he tried to instill good manners and a good
attitude to work in all his children. Liam remembers that he always put his
left shoe on first. When Liam asked why he replied that life is a dance and a
man always leads with his left foot.

Paddy remarried, Babe Lynch from Cnoc an Óir. They had 3 daughters, Geraldine, Elizabeth and
Catherine and they became one happy family. His father bought Number 9 and
extended their house. Babe’s
sisters because aunties to the Healy children and the two families blended

As his family were growing up and could help with the
business, Paddy took on an agency for newspapers. Liam remembers going to the
station to meet the 6 o’clock train. Then he ran down William Street and all
through the town to the Bridge Road delivering the papers as he went. The
newspaper then cost one anda half or two pence. People in town usually ran up a tab and paid
at the end of the week. When he had delivered to the Bridge Road, Liam came
back and collected another bundle and sold these door to door in O’Connell’s Avenue.

Liam liked this run better because the people paid for the paper
as they got it and so they came out to chat. 
( Even back then Liam loved to chat).

His father had another string to his enterprise bow.  He bought fish from Finbar MacAulliffe and
sold them on Thursdays and Fridays. Before Vatican 2 changed the rule that
forbad the eating of meat on Fridays, everyone ate fish so there was an opening
for someone to bring fish to the outlying areas. People did not come to town
everyday but they did come to the creamery. So, on Thursdays and Fridays Liam
used to stand at Lisselton creamery and sell fish to the farmers. He also sold
fish in Ballylongford and on fair days in Athea. All of this enterprise meant
that Liam was frequently absent from school. Despite this, Bryan MacMahon felt
that he was good enough for St. Michael’s and encouraged his dad to send him there. Liam’s brother Pat was already in secondary
school. There was a fee of £12 per annum in those days plus books and other
school related expenses. Liam says that his dad just couldn’t afford it. Liam stayed on in national school as
one of the last 2 boys in 7th class in the old boys national school.
7th class was for those who were not going on to secondary school
but were too young to leave school altogether.

(continued tomorrow)


Arise Knocknsgoshel

Recently I had occasion to visit the picturesque North Kerry village of Knocknagoshel.

Main St.

Knocknagoshel post office
the parish pump
an older parish pump
old milk churns
the school


Duagh Sports Centre

very impressive


Hardy Fundraisers

Anna and Cáit braved the elements to collect for The Irish Heart Foundation. Liz Dunne stopped to buy a badge.


Snapped in Bank of Ireland

Joe Murphy was doing his banking as I was hanging out with my camera.


Are you a cyclist who loves a card game?

If you answered yes to the above question here is Saturday next, May 23 2015 sorted for you.

“A great fun event – cycling 65KM purely at leisure through the rolling North Kerry countryside – collecting playing cards from 5 locations – returning to McCarthys Bar in Finuge for BBQ, refreshments and good banter and more importantly handing in those cards – the one with the best poker hand wins. A day of fun to raise money for MS Ireland and great preparation for the Ring of Kerry, The RoNK (Ring of North Kerry) – perfect for beginners/ leisure cyclists.”

Make your way to McCarthy’s Bar, Finuge at 3.00p.m. and away you go.

Liam Healy and JT McNamara and the first of St. Patrick’s Day photos

People who read this blog regularly will know that I often include a photo from the great Listowel photographic firm, Healyracing. I have huge admiration for the Healy family. Liam Healy Sr. is a modest gentlemen, who has used his immense talent as a lensman to build up a successful business. He is also a proud family man who has passed on his passion for horses and his talent as a photographer to the next generation. All of the Healys have built up friendships with the racing fraternity. There is a mutual respect and admiration. These are hardworking people who see, at first hand, the passion and hard graft that each puts into his chosen profession. So I was not surprised when I read the following article in yesterday’s Independent.

John O’Brien’s article in full can be read here;

JT McNamara

17 MARCH 2013

AN hour after the last race on Thursday,
as the last few racegoers filtered towards the exits, Liam Healy sat on the cold
concrete steps in the stand overlooking Cheltenham racecourse, took a long pull
from his cigarette and did something he couldn’t recall doing for 30 years. He
wept. Shed tears for a jockey who wasn’t just a trusted colleague and a fine
horseman, but his most cherished friend in life too.

A few hours earlier, Healy had taken his
customary position by the last fence as the field streamed down to the start
for the Kim Muir Handicap Chase. His brother, Pat, stood a few yards away,
snapping the runners as they cantered past. When he saw John Thomas McNamara
approaching on Galaxy Rock, Pat knew what to expect. McNamara would wave his
whip and shout, “Good man Pat Cash,” calling Healy by his nickname.
Typical John Thomas, he thought.

Their friendship isn’t difficult to
understand. The Healys have been taking racing pictures since 1975. Not a
dynasty like the Moores or the Mullinses, perhaps, but a hugely respected
racing family all the same. Most days they drive to the races, the road will
take them no more than a few miles from the McNamara’s place in Croom from
where Andrew, John Thomas’ uncle, sent Yer Man to finish third in the 1983
Grand National. Andrew bred two sons, Andrew Jr and Robbie, to be fine horsemen
too. A racing family to their core.

What they knew about John Thomas told them
that when Galaxy Rock came to grief at the first fence and the jockey lay prone
on the ground, the situation was grim. “He’s the type of fella,” says
Liam, “that if he doesn’t get up immediately after a fall, you know he’s
hurt.” A couple of hours later, Richie Harding, who had ridden in the
race, called and confirmed his worst fears. “Healy,” he said sadly.
“I’m not going to lie to you. He’s down.”

In the cruel logic that prevails in
racing, it is often the most innocuous falls that reap the grimmest consequences.
Not this time, though. The moment McNamara struck the ground, it was apparent
to those close by that he was in serious trouble. Riding Vesper Bell for his
father, Patrick Mullins steered his horse around Galaxy Rock, wide enough to be
out of danger, close enough to sense something bad had happened.

“When I went by him I heard this loud
crack and I presumed it was the horse,” says Mullins. “But next thing
I see the horse is fine and then we missed out the fence on the following
circuit so you’re just hoping he’s okay. He’s one of the oldest amateurs
around, a gentleman and a character. Everyone likes John Thomas.”

The crack Mullins heard was almost
certainly the stray hoof of an oncoming horse landing flush on McNamara’s
helmet, inflicting the blow that left him with potentially catastrophic spinal
injuries. “One of the doctors said afterwards that the helmet was
absolutely shredded to bits,” says Liam Healy. “The horse just stood
on it. There’s just nothing anyone can do about that.”

A few miles away, Davy Russell watched the
racing unfold in his room in Cheltenham General Hospital. That morning a doctor
had drained blood from his lung, damaged from a fall the previous day, so he
could ride that afternoon. After riding Stonemaster in the Pertemps Final, the
second race on the card, the pain had become too severe. Russell would watch
the rest of the Festival from a hospital bed, sore but largely in one piece.

Russell and McNamara are cut from the same
cloth. Stalwarts of the point-to-point circuit, the true grassroots of the
game, great rivals and friends for many years. One day Healy remembers driving
with Russell to the races and asking who he regarded as the best jockey he’d
ridden against, expecting the answer to be Ruby Walsh or AP McCoy. But Russell
was adamant the best horseman he’d seen and ridden against was John Thomas

For a time Healy felt a smidgen of
sympathy for Russell, but it passed quickly. And not just because of McNamara’s
bad luck. “Did you hear about Jonjo?” he asks. Last month, he
explains, far away from the attention of the wider world, Jonjo Bright, a
19-year-old jockey from Co Antrim, suffered horrific injuries after a fall at a
point-to-point meeting in Tyrella and remains in hospital in Belfast.
“First Jonjo and now John Thomas,” Healy sighs. “You just pray
these things don’t come in threes.”


I had visitors for the long weekend.

Bob and Carine were on their way to Fergus O’Connor’s wedding and my darling grandsons were spending the weekend in Listowel.

On this trip to The Kingdom, the boys were accompanied by Ted.

Sean is in Miss O’Connor’s class in Scoil Barra in Ballincollig. Miss O’Connor has a teddy named Ted and for 6 years now Ted has gone with Miss O’Connor to whatever class she was teaching. One pupil at a time takes Ted home and writes a diary entry detailing what Ted has done while he was their guest. Ted arrived in Listowel on Friday night.

On Saturday the sun shone and Ted started his Kerry adventure. In the morning he went to Knitwits.

He modelled a hat and tried his paw at a bit of knitting.

In the afternoon we took Ted to Ballybunion.

On Sunday Ted and the boys went to the parade. Here are a few of the groups they saw.

I took about 400 photos of the parade so I’m slowly sorting them out. I’ll post more tomorrow and I will hopefully get around to replying to my emails.


Jimmy Deenihan was in Canada for St. Patrick’s Day. While in Brampton, Ontario he met up with Bernard O’Connell and his wife, Dolores. Bernard sent us these photos.

Jimmy Deenihan and Bernard O’Connell

Jimmy presenting a Kerry jersey to the club.

Jimmy presenting a Con Houlihan DVD to Dolores O’Connell.

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