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: Listowel Badminton Club

A Piper, A Wireless Ball and an old Craftshop

Listowel Garda Station 2023


Ballybunion Piper

Across the Shannon Estuary, in North Kerry, lies the small coastal townland of Doon East. It was here in 1799 that the piper pictured here, Thomas McCarthy, or Tom Carthy, was believed to have been born. Tom learnt to play the uilleann pipes in his youth. He spent many hours walking the cliffs near his homeplace, about a mile from the seaside town of Ballybunion, practising on the pipes. The sound of the water and the wonderful view across the estuary to the Loop Head Peninsula in Clare is said to have inspired many of his tunes. With his haunting Irish airs and lively dance tunes he was a welcome figure in the houses of the gentry, and a well-known character in Ballybunion. No wedding or country dance in the area was complete without Tom and his pipes. For sixty-five years he entertained the crowds on Fair Days and Sundays in his favourite spot at Castle Green in the town. This was written about him in the Kerryman in 1934:

‘Through the long summer days, with his back to the old castle, he sent the notes of his music among the clouds or away across the ocean waves at Ballybunion, until he almost became part of the old ruin itself, his weather-beaten, age yellowed coat fitting perfectly with the grey-lichened ruins of the once lordly keep of the O’Bannins. In North Kerry still people speak of “Carthy’s Reel,” and often a musician is asked to play that dance tune which, through constant repetition by the old piper, came to be associated with him as his own composition, but is in reality the well-known “Miss McLeod’s Reel.” ‘

When Tom died in 1904 it was said he was 105, although he is listed in the 1901 Census as being 88. He had requested to be buried with his pipes but instead they were sold by a relative for £1. The buyer soon returned them, claiming they had started playing of their own accord in the night. These ‘enchanted’ pipes were then taken to London by a member of Tom’s family but eventually ended up, years later, with Comhaltas – I wonder where they are today?

( Shared online by Ballybunion Tourist Office)


Birthday Boy

He wanted no fuss. However his friends in the Listowel Arms got a tip off. He doesn’t look a day over 60.

I never told you it was his birthday!


A Great old Junior Griffin Story

Told first in 2007 but well worth repeating

In its early years Listowel Badminton Club was a mens club only and Eddie Faley, Mortimer Galvin, J. Farrell and others were members at that time.  Ladies applied to be admitted but to no avail.  It is said that Eddie Faley considered the females to be “A bloody nuisance”.

However he was prevailed upon to admit the ladies and grudgingly condescended,  and in his first ever mixed doubles game his
partner was one Aileen Cronin, and lo and behold, she became his life partner for many years to follow.

Indeed, it leads one to ponder on the seemingly unending number of romances that have blossomed through Badminton, and one feels that that the figure of Cupid should be depicted with a racquet and shuttlecock and not with the customary bow and arrow.

Listowel is very fortunate that yet another dance ticket  was found in an old Library Book giving details of yet another dance ball but more importantly for the benefit of historians, the officers and committee of that time was listed.This dance, known as a wireless ball coupled with a fancy dress parade, was held also in the Gymnasium on Saturday March 1st 1924 .

The committee is listed are as follows;

President; Mr Seamus Wilmot;

Hon Sec; Mr. P.V. Fahey;

Hon. Treas; Mr. R.I. Cuthbertson

Committee; Messer’s C.Tackberry, M.Hannon, T.Moore, J.Farrell, M.Naylor, J.O’Sullivan, J.Medell, J.Walsh and T.P. Cotter.

It is interesting to note the data on this card such as the admission price where the men had to pay an old shilling more than the ladies, 8/6 pence compared to 7/6 pence.

There is  nice line stating that “Mr. Dunne’s Orchestra is personally conducted”

The back page gives information on the Wireless Concert. (To the young people of today a wireless is now known as a Radio).

It states that “Subscriber will be entertained to a programme Broadcasted from the following stations; London; Paris; Bournemouth; Manchester and Glasgow.

Detailed Programme can bemseen in the Irish Independent of Saturday March 1st.

The set is fitted with the latest and most up-to-date-Loud Speaker”

With the IT technology that is available today the world has certainly come a long way since those updated loud speakers of 1924.

It is interesting to note that whilst Listowel had a wireless on March 1st, some days later, on March 6th, 1924, that Pope Pius XI had a wireless
installed in Rome for the first time.

One wonders did he have some contact in Listowel who told him about this new form of communication, and did he, per chance, purchase it from McKenna’s of Listowel?


Then and Then

Church Street memories.


Castle Hotel Ballybunion, Asdee Relatives, Roly Chute and some Old bits of folklore

Holocaust Memorial in Listowel’s Garden of Europe in February 2020


The Castle Hotel Ballybunion

Photo Credit: Eamon Kelly


A North Kerry Connection

Ken Duckett heard my plea for help with items for the blog and he enquired if memories that were not exactly Listowel related were welcomed. They are, of course.

Here is what Ken writes of his North Kerry connection.

Hi Mary, 

Here’s a couple of pictures, one haystacking on my uncle’s farm when I was around 14/15. My uncle was Edward Hanlon the farm that he and my mum Kathleen Hanlon plus 9 other brothers and sister were raised.

This was my grandfather Patrick Hanlon and Grandmother Margaret (Stack) Hanlon’s farm, the first one they bought after a number of their Hanlon ancestors leased. In the background you can see the Shannon flowing by. 

My mother trained as a nurse and left Ireland, met my dad in England and married. We used to have several trips to Kerry as we enjoyed their company in Shannon View lodge, Asdee. My cousin presently lives there and 

we’ve been over a few time. The second picture is me standing next to a Japanese Banana plant.

The Stacks were from Moyvane and lived in Gortdromasillahy and Gortdromagouna townlands over a number of generations.

It would be interested if anyone has heard or has connections with the Hanlons or Stacks. I have a recently seen picture of two of my mum’s brothers either on the way or at the Listowel races. 



A Legend of Listowel Badminton Honoured

Roly Chute’s family and friends gathered at Listowel Badminton Club’s tribute night for a great servant of the club. Roly has coached generations of Listowel youngsters. I have experienced in my own family his skill and dedication. We owe him a lot.

Roly is that rare breed…a selfless volunteer. Will we ever again see one person give 50 years volunteering his skills to one sport? And he’s not finished yet!


Tidbits from Listowel in the Dúchas Folklore collection

7. If you bought bonhams and put them all together throw two buckets of sour milk on top of them to keep them from fighting. I saw Dan Shea of Clievragh doing it.

It isn’t sour milk at all sir, it’s porter you should throw in their eyes. I saw Mick Stokes of Makel St. doing it.

( This one reminded me that when my mother bought in day old chickens to be reared by a hen who had just hatched out her own eggs, she would sprinkle talcum power on them so that the hen would not reject the new ones)

8. If you kill a goose, or a cock, or a cow and put your fist on the back of his neck and press he’ll make the noise he made when alive.

(9). If you want to make a starling talk split his tongue and put his beak up to a rack (i. e. a comb) – and he’ll speak.

(10). My mother (Mrs Doyle Slievecahel) told me that a man was coming home from Castleisland one night and he saw a lovely city inside in a Glen. He went in and there was nothing there only rocks. It was the reflection of a town in Australia.

(11). My mother said they used use pointy sticks before as forks. They used have a pointy stick as a Knife and a gabhlóg as a fork.

(12) People long go used go to no Mass but they used put a pot on another man’s head and hit it with something and that’d be by-the-way the bell. One night the pot fell down and they couldn’t pull it off and they had to break it to knock it off.

13. When I received my first Holy Communion in Ballyduff, after the priest made the sign of the cross with the Holy Communion I saw a little baby in the priest’s arms.

14. Jack Joy told me that Paddy Ferris of the Gaire made a cake a’ Christmas time with 5 stone of flour and it took him 5 hrs to make it.

15. St. Synan’s Well is in “Souper” Connors land (Protestants) and they got water out of the well to boil the Kettle and it wouldn’t boil at all so they had to throw it out and get other water.

16. Daniel O’Connell was at a feast one time and poison was put in his glass. One of the serving girls was by the way singing a song  in Irish and thus she warned him and she blew out the candles and he changed glasses with some other one. She sang

“A Dhomhnall Ó Conaill, an dtuigeann tú Gaedhilg?

Tuigim a’ coda (a chodladh, a chiota) agus a’ chuid eile Gaedhilg,

Tá an iomad den salainn á chuirfead sa dtae dhuit,

Múcfad-sa an solas agus cuir cúchú féin é”.

(T. Kennelly from mother who is from Glenbeigh)

( the gist of the song is that that there is too much salt in your soup. I’ll turn out the light so you can give it back to them)



Mattie Lennon found a reference to bittling in literature.

Hi Mary,

It would appear that bittling was washing clothes on a flat flag in a river. Apparently Kickham used it in Knocknagow.


T.F. O’Sullivan, Enterprise Town Expo and a Memento of the Roadworks

Robin photographed by Chris Grayson


The First History of the GAA…..the Listowel Connection

Mark Holan writes a very interesting internet blog. A recent post which spiked my interest was all about T.F. O’Sullivan of Listowel who wrote the first history of the GAA.  This man seems to be largely forgotten except for Vincent Carmody’s references to him in his historical walking tour of the town when he points out where he was born and mentions his fame as the first to record the history of the GAA.

Below is the text of the blogpost. If you go to Mark’s site, you will also be able to see a photos of the book’s cover.

“A journalist’s book about
the early decades of the Gaelic Athletic Association this year quietly reached
the 100th anniversary of its publication. T.F. O’Sullivan’s Story of
the GAA
was based on an earlier series of newspaper articles.

The book’s 1916
publication has been lost amid all the attention to the same-year Easter
Rising. Even the 1916 entry of the special 1913-1923 centenary
section of the GAA’s website overlooks the book, written by one of its own
members. You can read the organization’s 28 May 1916 official statement after the uprising.

Michael Cronin of the International
Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, Leicester,
England, briefly noted O’Sullivan’s book in a larger essay on “Historians and the
Making of Irish Nationalist Identity in the Gaelic Athletic Association.”

O’Sullivan was a GAA
official and the book presents a highly simplistic notion of the Association’s
past beginning with the seven pioneers who met in Thurles in 1884 to reawaken
the Gaelic nation through sport and taking the narrative up to 1916 by
recounting details of major personalities, decisions taken by the Central
Council and recording the results of matches.

Although there is no
explicit mention of the Easter Rising as such an inclusion would have meant
that the book would not be approved by military censors, there is an implicit
celebration of the Rising as those GAA men who took part are included in the
list of GAA personalities.

Although not a widely
researched history, as it is more of a contemporary account, O’Sullivan’s book
is important as it sets out an accepted chronology that is rarely challenged by
subsequent authors. This chronology, while celebrating the games of the Gael,
primarily revolves around the role of the GAA in reawakening the national

O’Sullivan’s book does
receive several mentions in The GAA & Revolution in Ireland 1913-1923,
edited by Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, a 2015 commemorative publication specially
commissioned by the GAA.

O’Sullivan was a Kerryman,
born in Listowel, according to a short History Ireland bio. He wrote for the
Freeman’s Journal.”


Saturday November 26 2016 in Listowel Community Centre

As part of BOI’s enterprise town initiative, we got to see a number of local clubs and charities in the community centre. Below are some of the people I photographed on the day.

Members of Listowel Tidy Town’s Committee cut the ribbon to perform the official opening.

Dawn Thomas had a beautiful display of crafts, all handmade by herself. Dawn’s work is for sale in Craftshop na Méar and at local craft fairs.

Denis O’Carroll of Fealegood Productions was there.

Eabha Joan’s Restaurant was there on Friday and Saturday.

Edel O’Connor of JK Sports made a sale to Sheelagh Dillon of BOI.

Eileen O’Sullivan is a multi talented crafter. Eileen’s ceramics and knits are available at Craftshop na Méar.

Lorraine O’Hanlon runs Listowel’s very successful play therapy business called Anam Saor.

Sand in Our Boots is a History of Beale GAA Club.

The Lixnaw area has a new Facebook page from Pride of the Parish

Christina was minding the Little Lilac Studio stall.

Imelda was taking Tom on a trip down memory lane at the Comhaltas stand.

Croí is Lyreacrompane’s Gym


Humans of Listowel

Matt Mooney and John McGrath share an interest in writing.


Party at Áras Mhuire

If you have family or friends at Áras Mhuire they invite you to join them for their Residents’ Christmas party


We’ll Remember the Road Works


Listowel Badminton Club held their annual Christmas Party in John B.Keanes  on Friday Night last and on the night the presentation of Club Person of the Year Award took place.  This Award was first inaugurated in 1987 and this year’s very popular recipient was Norma Leane for her commitment and dedication to the Juvenile section of the Club.  Norma works closely with coach Roly Chute who himself was one of the recipients of the Award in 1993.  Norma is seen here with Club Chairman, James Sheahan on the left and President/Secretary John (Junior) Griffin on the right. 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén