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 firemen

River Brick, Listowel Fire fighters, an essay on Slagging and a Lyre Cuckoo

Bovine Reflection in the River Brick

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


John Kelliher’s Fire Fighters Photos

Fire chief, Anthony MacAuliffe and a very young John Kelliher outside Seán Scully’s

This is the old fire station. The library is now on their site.




                                     By Mattie Lennon

  A sense of humour keen enough to show a man his own absurdities, as well as those of other people, will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those worth committing.

                       Samual Lover.

  I’m getting a bit of a slagging lately (I won’t go into details) and it’s great fun. I’m not talking about offensive remarks or insults. I’m referring to good substantial, wholesome, slagging.

 SLAGGING : The delicate art of teasing someone in such a fashion that they look forward to it. 

  It is practiced widely throughout Ireland by all manner of people. Well not all manner; there are those, a small minority, who, through low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or some form of psychological abnormality cannot take a slagging. And they have a right to live too despite the fact that they could truthfully echo the words of the character in God of Carnage who said “I don’t have a sense of humour and I have no intention of acquiring one.” Will the humourless, however, admit to their condition? Almost eighty years ago Frank Moore Colby asked, “Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humour.”? (I once lived in a Dublin suburb of which it was said that one “would want to wash your words.”

   In the words of Erin Mack, “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.”

   Why can some people not take a slagging? Freud in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious points out that when we were children we had no need for jokes because all our fantasies were so immediate. “ . . . when we were ignorant of the comic, when we were incapable of jokes and when we had no need of humour to make us feel happy in our life.”

   Is the anti-slagging brigade made up of those who haven’t left their childhood? Who have not grown up and who, subconsciously or otherwise are without the need for a bit of craic? Or are they victims of their upbringing or education? One writer, with reference to French finishing schools says, “In a world where structure, order and logic are the master nouns, the room for nonsense and absurdity is limited.” 

   Or, as one journalist put it, “In Ireland, we’ve always tended to gift-wrap our positives somewhat differently. We do it by insult. The closeness of Irish friendships — particularly Irish male friendships — can often be measured by how egregiously the friends insult each other. Incompetence, ineptitude with the opposite sex, shortness, tallness, fatness, skinniness, hairiness and baldness are all highlighted to tighten the bonds of mutual affection. “  Of course it has been suggested that all Irish people can take a joke, based on the fact that we voted in the government that we have. 

 So, we have our own way of dispensing what Americans call “positive reinforcement.”

   There are people in these islands who have convinced juries that a graceful taunt was an insult. And they are living comfortably on the proceeds.

   In 1994 Jacob Hangaard, a Dutchman, stood for election as a joke. He was elected. His manifesto included “the reclassification of people without a sense of humour as disabled.”

   Should we change a culture to appease a small minority who are allergic to life? How do we deal with people who can’t distinguish between affection and rejection? I don’t know. How about a compromise? What if those who suffer from self-victimisation or hypersensitivity were obliged to wear some form of badge proclaiming, “I can’t take a slagging.” 

I have commissioned a mug for such people. Do you want one?


Super Photograph of a Super Moon

Ita Hannon took this photo last week.


Cuckoo in Lyre in May 2020

Photos by Mary Nolan

A Ballybunion Mermaid, Winnowing and the Listowel Firefighting force in 1959

A Coal Tit

Photo; Graham Davies


Ballybunion’s Stone Mermaid


A picture to lift Hearts

Dúchas shared the photo on Twitter with a caption telling us that it was a man ‘winnowing” in Com Dhineoil, Co Kerry.

Wind winnowing is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff. It is also used to remove weevils or other pests from stored grain. Threshing, the loosening of grain or seeds from the husks and straw, is the step in the chaff-removal process that comes before winnowing.

In its simplest form it involves throwing the mixture into the air so that the wind blows away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fall back down for recovery. Techniques included using a winnowing fan (a shaped basket shaken to raise the chaff) or using a tool (a winnowing fork or shovel) on a pile of harvested grain. (Wikipedia)


Listowel Firemen

October 10 1959   photo from the Kennelly Archive

Vick’s Vaporub, Hunting in Ballylongford and a meeting with an Author

Lovely snap by T.J. MacSweeney


A Panacea

The below ad. was found on the internet.

 Do you remember Vick’s VapoRub?

Does anyone use the word embrocation any more?

Maybe my question is answered. My autocorrect just changed embrocation to imprecation!

Is there anything this miracle embrocation couldn’t be claimed to cure?


Ballylongford Sunday

Jason of Ballybunion Prints took this photo in Ballylongford a while back.


The Listowel Arms Hotel, Munster’s favourite wedding venue

Couples are coming from all over to The Listowel Arms to book their weddings.

There are all kinds of special touches and details that make this the stand out venue for your special day.

My boys tried out a fireside pose in case a groom had a turf or Bord na Mona connection.


Morning with the author in Ballincollig Library

Kristin Gleeson has written a novel based loosely around the story of St. Gobnait of Ballyvourney. Kristin is third from right in the photo. I, along with a group of other book lovers, got to talk to her and ask her about the writing process in general and this book in particular, recently in Ballincollig Library.


Listowel Fireman Photographed by John Kelliher a few years ago

L/R Jimmy Sheehan, Pat O Carroll, John Curtin, Liam Enright, Diarmuid Walsh, Driving Dave Mary Caplice, Passenger Jerry Mullins.


Look who I Met on Church St.?

On Monday morning Conor and Seán Moriarty and their men were making an early start on the Christmas lights. 

A more sure sign than the Christmas ads that Santa is on his way to Listowel.

More from the May weekend and some old Ballybunion photos

Some more from the official opening of the Lartigue Museum

Two well known local historians were in attendance.

The minister acted as MC

Christy and Norita Killeen

These volunteers had a busy day helping with the catering.


Ballybunion Sea angling has been looking through The Kennelly Archive and he found these interesting pictures from the 1950s

Golf Club Dress Dance

Catching salmon in The Cashen


Men in uniform, photographed on Saturday May 4 2013

After the ceremony on Saturday, John Kelliher was just lining up his friends in the Fire Service for a photo so I asked him to join them. This photo is especially for John. John is in the middle at the back and for you who so not know him, he is the photographer who provides us with such stunning photos of our native town.

My homeward journey took me in the same direction as the fireman. Here they are, homeward bound.

These Gardai were really on duty, not part of the ceremony.


Interesting photo

[Hours before death: This newly-uncovered image is the last
one taken of IRA leader Michael Collins (in the back of the car, left) before
he was shot dead]

A photo of Michael Collins, taken just hours before his
assassination rocked the country, has turned up after more than 90 years.

Killed in an ambush later that evening, Collins is seen in
the back of a touring car outside a hotel in Bandon, Co. Cork.

The remarkable photograph taken on August 22, 1922 by
18-year-old Agnes Hurley, has only come to light after being discovered in the
attic of a Dublin house.

Until now, the last photograph of ‘The Big Fellow’, as IRA
leader Collins was known, had been assumed to be one taken in Bandon the day
before, on August 21.

Hurley also captured the scene of the shoot-out near Béal na
Bláth the next day, showing a scrap of cloth on the ground believed to be
Collins’s shirt collar.


Every so often Discover Kerry posts a little “Where in Kerry?” quiz.

 I think I might know the answer to this one of today’s photos.


In case you missed this on Kerry Radio, here is some good news

Free morning parking in Tralee for the summer falls short of what town centre traders wanted, but is all the council can do. That’s according to the Mayor of Tralee Johnnie Wall. He was speaking after last night’s Tralee Town Council meeting, where it was agreed that there will be free parking in council’s car parks between 9 and 11am every day for May, June, and July. Cllr Johnnie Wall says while a lot of new businesses are opening, many are closing; he hopes there’ll be an improvement in the town’s economy. Cllr Wall adds that while the council would like to do more for the retailers, free morning parking for the summer is all it can afford now. 

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