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: Limerick hurling


In the Listowel Library Plaza in July 2023


Eleanor Belcher Memories Continued

The Miss Bunyans had a knitting business in the house next door to the hotel but I don’t think they lived there. At the back, my Dad had a boxing school where he encouraged young lads to box. Mr Fitzmaurice’s office was next but the family consisting of Mary & David, again our age,  lived at the top of Church Street. The Enright Dental   practice  was the next house which was lived in by  Toddy the younger dentist and his wife Peggy and their boys who  were younger than we were.

Mr McElligott lived in the first of the two houses  with steps up. He rented the house from the Dennehys who lived in Singapore but of course he went back out to Mount Rivers also. Dr Dennehy came home sometimes with his daughter Mona . He had been a great friend of my father and encouraged him to go to Trinity College, Dublin. Dr McGuire worked from the next house and the contrast between the two houses was striking as Mrs Edith McGuire kept that house looking lovely . We were very much in awe of her as she was English and considered exotic! The four McGuire boys were younger than we were but of course also ended up  playing in the Square. Sitting on those steps is a fond memory as copies of the Beano and Dandy were shared. We were not allowed comics by my mother so this was great. 


Changing Times

Wolfgang and Anita Mertens with me in Listowel Arms Hotel in May 2023

Wolfgang Mertens noticed that change and modernisation is a constant theme with me in my reflections. Wolfgang has studied Bryan MacMahon and he sent me these extracts from The Master. MacMahon also deals with the subject of changes he has seen in his lifetime.


A Limerick Hurling Poster Before the Final

They skinned them alright. Congrats to our neighbours.


A Fact

The first ever football World Cup competition began in Uruguay in 1930.


Butterflies, Michael Collins, Hurling and Anonymous Letters

A picture, A Botany lesson and some philosophy from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook

Buddleia, the butterfly bush (Irish: tor an fhéileacáin), divides gardeners into two warring factions: to the ecologically minded it is a noxious, invasive weed, and to the other it is a colourful perennial shrub, which, just as it says on the tin, attracts butterflies. Personally speaking, although the buddleia in my garden is c. 20 years old, it has yet to reproduce itself and every August it isfestooned with flowers and butterflies.

In many cultures around the world butterflies are associated with the souls of the dead. The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly provides a perfect model to explain the concept of the soul leaving the body, of life after death. Some people believe that if a butterfly lands on your shoulder it is the soul of a deceased loved one making physical contact with you again. A nice thought, but, be that as it may, no garden truly blooms until butterflies have danced upon it and I would not be without my butterfly bush.

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun, and find your shoulder to alight on
To bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow and beyond.”- Irish Blessing.


There’s Something about Hurling

Ivan O’Riordan took this awesome picture of the victorious Limerick hurlers returning home on August 20 2018

The country has gone mad for hurling this week but in some places it was ever thus.

A photo from The National Archive of Michael Collins throwing in the slioter at the start of the 1921 All Ireland Hurling Final.

A Short Year Later


Unwelcome letters

Recently I received some “warning letters” which upset me. They weren’t anonymous, but nevertheless, upsetting. I took consolation from this article by John B. Keane in The Limerick Leader Archive.

ANONYMOUS letters again this week. This week there is a long one, a poison pen epistle from London. I gave it away after the first two pages. It must have been twenty pages long. It was a deliberate attempt to misinterpret a statement I made recently on television.

With regard to poison pen letters, I have this to say. Those who write them are in dire need of medical treatment and the letters, instead of being frowned upon, should be given to one’s local doctor.

He will find men in his own field who may be helped in their study of mental problems by such letters.

This latest letter sent to me is only one of hundreds I have received down the years. Whenever I receive good publicity at home or abroad in newspapers, magazines or television, these letters never fail to arrive. At first I would be worried but as time went by I realised that the unfortunate people who write the letters are not really to blame.

Envy, jealousy, annoyance, resentment and hatred are in the makeup of every human being and when these fester or turn sour the result is often the nasty anonymous letter.

The first one I ever received was after I wrote Sive. The letter was posted in Listowel and it had a clipping from the Catholic Standard enclosed.

It was a very vicious letter and the clipping was attached in a futile endeavour to support the claims of the writer. My wife and I were very upset at the time and spent a few sleepless nights over it.

I was so upset that I decided to find out who sent it. A tall order one might think. Not really.

The fact that the letter was posted in Listowel did not necessarily mean that the writer was a native of Listowel. However, I had a hunch that the person was from Listowel.

At the time, quite a number of people in the town received the Standard every week. I was one of them. I found out who many of the others were and I proceeded to investigate.

It was simplicity itself. A woman friend, on my instruction, would borrow a Standard in an effort to trace the writer.

Eventually, a Standard turned up with a piece missing. The piece I received fitted perfectly into the vacant space.

I, therefore, found out without difficulty who the writer of the letter was. I got the shock of my life, so much so that I never want to know the identity of any poison-pen author again.

The woman was a stout churchgoer and avowed goodie.

All I did was to hand her back her clipping and letter. She accepted without a word and I recalled a number of good turns I had done her down the years.

The moral here is this. If you receive an anonymous letter tomorrow or the day after or any other day do not be upset. Rather be concerned for the sender.

Brendan at School (in Kilconly), St. Mary’s Listowel, Heather Ale and Limerick hurling

Dandy Lodge in Listowel Town Park, August 2018


Brendan at School

The school scenes for Brendan of Ireland were shot in Kilconly school.  Michael Greaney who played Brendan, went to school in Rathea.

Kilconly was most likely chosen as a location for the photos as it was a new school and would look good in the photos.

Mike Flahive who is the boy with the shock of black hair seated in front of “Brendan” in the photo remembers the occasion well. Brendan arrived with the photographer and an entourage and Brendan was put sitting in the midst of the local children. Frank remembers that the photographer, Wolfgang Suschitzky, was accompanied, during his time in Kerry by a very famous actress, Eithne Dunne. Maybe she was to give acting tips to the participants in the staging of the story for the camera.

The hurling game in front of the school is another story altogether. The visitors brought the bag of hurleys and the sliotar with them. There was no hurling in Kilconly back then. They gave the boys the hurleys, a quick lesson in how to hold them and away they went. The girls are well back from the action, sitting in benches outside the school. Michael Flahive remembers the game being called off after about 10 minutes for health and safety reasons. There were genuine fears that someone could be maimed.  No helmets, shin guards or gum shields in those days!

Brendan is pictured making a donkey out of “modelling clay” i.e. marla which was the brown Play Doh/ plasticine we all had as a nod to craft  in Primary school in the 1950s and 60s. Notice the clean new desk with the brass lid on the inkwell shined to perfection.

The book was translated into several European languages


Our Beautiful Church all decked out for a Wedding

You’ll have to agree it’s beautiful.


An Early Craft Beer

Source: A Year in Kerry by Patrick O’Sullivan


Luimneach Abú

Heartiest congratulations to all my Limerick friends, neighbours, family and blog followers. You knocked it out of the park, lads

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