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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Bill Clinton in Listowel, Joe Murphy of St. John’s ,The Fancy Warehouse and St. Patrick’s Day 2019

Jim McSweeney


St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019

You’d never know who you’d run into at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. On Charles Street I met up with neighbours and friends.


2019 parade in Charles’ Street

Liam Brennan is a convincing St. Patrick  figure.

Proudly flying the flag for Listowel were this year’s victorious Tidy Town Committee.

The Listowel convent girls marching band are an essential part of Listowel’s parade.


Bill Clinton Whizzes Through

What is it with U.S. presidents and golf?

Since Eizenhower in 1954 the White House has had a putting green. It’s been installed, allowed to grow over, reinstalled and eventually relocated by President Clinton, an avid golfer.

Photo of the then president and vice president in 2009 from the internet.

Flash back to September 1998 and US President Bill Clinton is on a visit to Ireland and part of that trip is a round of golf in the famous Ballybunion links.

The plan was for POTUS to stop in Listowel for a photo op. drinking the obligatory pint in John B.’s. His itinerary was known and a group of peaceful protesters gathered in the small square. US security got a bit windy for the president’s security and hastily changed the plan. Listowel was bypassed and the cavalcade instead stopped in Lisselton. It had to stop somewhere, else it would arrive ahead of schedule in Ballybunion. So Listowel’s loss was Lisselton’s gain and he was greeted enthusiastically by the lovely people of that borough.

Mike Guerin was out with his camera and here is his recording of the scene at McKenna’s Corner on that historic day.

Clinton’s Cavalcade Drives Through Town

Mike Guerin wasn’t the only cameraman present to record the day. Junior Griffin took a lovely photo of John B. at the door of the pub as he waited for the customer that never came.


End os an Era at St. John’s

Listowel’s very own man in black, “Vicar” Joe Murphy, is in his last year at the helm in St. John’s. Anyone who knows Joe will agree with me that he is force of Nature. He has run St. John’s with charm, dedication, enthusiasm and lots and lots of hard work. The place wont be the same without him.


The Fancy Warehouse

When I came to Listowel first in the mid 1970s this shop was called The Fancy Warehouse and it was run by a Miss O’Brien. It sold knitting wool, notions and other haberdashery. The name os the shop always fascinated me. Up to then I imagined a warehouse as a big store but this shop was tiny. If you look closely you can just make out the old shop name as it is stripped down for refurbishment.

Miss O’Brien’s sister ran a shop across the road called O’Brien Hartnett’s. That sold shoe polish, polish brushes and other small goods.

Athea, Listowel Races Supporters’ Club and Throw me Down Something

Ita Hannon took this great picture of a heron in Beale


Lisselton protest

I came across this photo online with the caption “Lisselton Protest” Does anyone know the story?


Beautiful Athea

Athea village is just over the border in Limerick. It is nearer to Listowel than most Kerry towns. When I visited last week it was en fete in celebration of limerick’s All Ireland Hurling victory.

One of the really attractive features of this lovely village is the superb artwork celebrating local legends in the village’s two murals. It’s been a busy year for the muralist so I wasn’t expecting too much when I called.

I was disappointed to see both murals under wraps.

The day I was in Athea was the day that Pope Francis was visiting Ireland, August 25 2018. I was entertained to see that Athea’s footbridge is dedicated to another pope.

Athea is a great centre of music and athletics. It obviously has both a soccer and a G.A. A. club.

The spacious community centre dedicated to local hero, Con Colbert, is the centre of social activities nowadays. 

Once upon a time boys met girls across the road in the Riverside Ballroom.

Some businesses have closed but the overall impression the visitor gets is of a vibrant proud community.


A Great Deal for those who love Listowel Races


Throw me Down Something

Junior Griffin took these photos at the bridge during Listowel Harvest Festival a few years ago.

Rose of Tralee, Lisselton Cross, The Changing Face of Listowel and Glin Castle

Rattoo at Night

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Rose of Tralee 2016…a Listowel Connection

The place to be is Tralee this week.

My Aisling and Róisín posed outside the beautifully refurbished Rose Hotel on a recent visit to Tralee. This will be the centre of much of the action this week.

Strolling through the beautiful town park and speculating what it would be like to be a Rose. For the time being, the playground is more in their line

This is the the statue of William Mulchinock, who wrote the song, and his beloved, Mary O’Connor, the Rose who inspired the competition.

Now for the Listowel connection. The New York Rose is a Stack. Kristin Stack called to see Damien last week to establish her Stack credentials.


Memories of Lisselton

The hard workers on the Ballydonoghue parish magazine committee posted this picture on Facebook in the hope that it would stir fond memories of Lisselton Cross long ago. One man remembered going to the cross to make a phone call . Do you remember when you had to some armed with an ass load of change and then hope that the recipient of your call was in? If not you could press button B to get your money back.  Happy days!


Then and Now

Lower Church Street

Market Street


Glin Castle

Photos; Forur Genealogy

The fate of Glin Castle has been the subject of a bit of speculation recently with reports that the new generation of Fitzgeralds were to take over and run the Castle as a boutique hotel.

Not to be, apparently, so the castle will be sold.

Ger Greaney of Forur Genealogy attended the recent open day at the castle and he posted these photos on Facebook.


The same Ger. who took the above photos has just been named Person of the Month in the Limerick Leader. Earlier this year Ger. organised a 1916 commemorative event which involved a reenactment of a march to Glenquin Castle. It was a great success. Well done, Ger.

TV reception in Listowel in 1970, Listowel artists in Newcastlewest, a last concert in The Tinteán, Ballybunion and Coolard school memories

T.J. MacSweeney


The Kerryman 1970

This TV critic wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is… I think she was a Listowel viewer.

What’s My Line is not having very auspicious beginnings on R.T.E. The
formula is old, tried and true and more than likely it’s currently
doing the rounds of world television stations. The two men who devised
and copywrited the idea have probably  made a small fortune out of it.
All that has been proven, however, is that the formula can be a
success but, to bring it to life, it needs a panel brimming with
contrasting personalities and a chairman to match. 

What we’ve got is a
chairman, Larry Gogan, who rushes the programme though like a man
trying to finish a pint in a minute to closing time; a  panel which
for the most part is  trying so hard to be bright that, it’s painful;
and competitors with such way out occupations that one would have to
be a mind-reader to even get started on them. If everyone calmed

down, and stopped trying so hard, the programme might get off the


By the way I’ve only just discovered, that viewers in Listowel
who use a Cork aerial, are blessed with a second, channel which is not
of their own choosing. This is caused, by the radio-telephone which
operates, between, the hospital and the ambulance. It, comes over loud
and clear on these sets and is so powerful that it actually cuts out
the programme completely. Not alone is the ambulance driver alerted
but the curate who is on duty in the presbytery also gets timely
warning of a possible sick-call. Nobody I have asked seemed to be able
to explain away this extraordinary happening but, happen it.
does.—I’ve seen, and heard it!


Now and Then


Art at The Red Door

Listowel was well represented among the artists and attendees at the Red Door Gallery in Newcastlewest on Thursday March 3 2016.

Billy Keane performed the official opening of Colourful Spirits’  Show and he took us on an impromptu tour of the pictures and sculptures.

Billy posed for me with his very artistic former William Street neighbour, Rebecca O’Carroll. He reminded those present that it was Rebecca’s father who produced the first and best stage performance of Sive.

Liam Brennan, formerly of Listowel and his wife, Maura had some of their artwork on display.

Lisa Fingleton is not from Listowel but she spends a lot of her time here so we can claim her as our own.

Jim Dunn is the man among the ladies here. Jim’s artwork will be familiar to followers of this blog as he is the artist responsible for Athea’s  much admired murals. He is not from Listowel either but he is chair of the Art committee of Listowel Writers’ Week so that makes him an honorary Listowel man.

On the far left is Maggie Donald of Duagh whose ceramics are selling like hot cakes in Craftshop na Méar.

Next to Jim is his wife, Elizabeth Dunn, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week and, on the right, is my good friend, Helen Moylan of Listowel.


Goodbye to The Tinteán

The magnificent Tinteán theatre in Ballybunion is closing at the end of the month and the furnishing and fittings are to be sold off.

photos from Facebook

This was the stage on Friday evening last, March 4 2016 as we gathered for a fundraising concert for Lisselton School. The concert was organized by Claire Keane Fennell, a past pupil of the school and she was joined on the night by past pupils Bryan Carr, Anna Connolly and the Foley Family. Her friends from John B.s, Mickey MacConnell and Paddy MacElligott also did a turn and Billy Keane was the very entertaining M.C.

Marc OSé made a special guest appearance and there was much banter about local star, Jason Foley taking his place on the Kerry team, a move that appeared to be popular with the local audience.

 Claire and Anna on stage

 Bryan Carr


Coolard Memories

At the launch of Maurice O’Mahony’s book on the history of Coolard National School, Joe Murphy, past pupil of Coolard and administrator of St. Johns for the past 26 years, relived for us some of his memories of his education there and in St. Michael’s, Listowel

Cáit Baker, his former teacher, was in the audience with her husband Tomás and her friend, Sr. Margaret  to hear Joe tell us of her valiant efforts to teach him to sing “Kelly the Boy from Killane” despite his being a préachán.

Joe remembered the days bringing in the turf to the school and the hours spent ‘weeding the grotto”. This, he told us was a task you could stretch to a whole afternoon by the simple ruse of taking the handful of weeds across the road to the glasha and bringing them back again rather than throwing them in.

Only one other pupil from Coolard went on to St. Michael’s with Joe and he described the secondary school in the 1960s as a very intimidating place for a country boy. When the results of the Christmas test were posted he gained in confidence as he saw that he was smarter than many of the townies who were so vocal in class.

Joe, like me and many more who were present on the night of the book launch, did his Primary Cert in Irish, English, Arithmetic and Mental Arithmetic. I was transported back to my old classroom in Kanturk and the daily mental arithmetic tests.

To much laughter, Joe reminisced about the man who went to town and spent half his money in one shop, a quarter of what he had left in another and he came home with 1/6. The question was how much did he have leaving home.

It was no laughing matter back then!

Four generations of the Murphy family have attended Coolard National School. Joe remembered the numbers and makes of the teachers’ cars and he remembered the makes of all the various tractors he could see through the school window. Happy days!

One man present recorded Joe’s speech;

Joe Murphy remembers his school days

Lisselton, Listowel Military Tattoo flag day and some more style on Ladies’ Day 2015

Sunset at Ballybunion August 2015 (Ballybunion Prints)


Listowel Military Tattoo Flag Day

Shoppers coming to town on Saturday September 26 2015 might be forgiven for thinking that the town had been invaded by a motley crew of military from the armies and air corps of the world. No invasion at all, just the hard working people who run the Military Weekend collecting for their big project.

Read all about it HERE


Lisselton Then and Now from Time Travel Kerry

Lartigue Monorail, Lisselton station-

The unique Listowel-Ballybunion Railway was opened in 1888 at a cost of £30,000 and it ran for 36 years until it was closed in 1924. The train carried passengers, freight, cattle and sand from Ballybunion. The station had two lines and two switching points at which trains could be crossed, which happened in busy times. 

The station building was of corrugated iron and had ticket offices and a waiting room. The line was only barely financially viable for the whole of its existence; it supposedly never made a profit. The closure was hastened by the severe damage that was inflicted on the line during the civil war of 1921-23.
A spark from the chimney of a Locomotive once set fire to the thatched public house in Lisselton causing it to be burned to the ground. Currently a diesel replica of the train is running in Listowel at certain times of the year.
These views here are of Lisselton station looking West in the late 1800s and the same view(approximately) in late 2014.
(No credit available for the original picture)
(Some history from M Guerin’s fine book on the subject)

Text and photos from Time Travel Kerry on Facebook….follow the link above to access this great site.


More Photos from Ladies Day at Listowel Races 2015

Maria Stack told me that she had brought this cute bag with an eye to impressing the new sponsors: McElligott Honda.


1916 Commemoration

As part of the 1916 commemoration, members of the Armed Forces are bringing a copy of the proclamation and a flag to every school in the country and they are giving a little history lesson to the children as they fill them on the significance of next year’s commemoration.

On Thursday, October 8 they visited Scoil Realta na Maidine where they presented the flag to Niall Stack, one of the oldest past pupils and a boy from Junior Infants, one of the youngest present day pupils.

These and all the photos of the visit are HERE

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