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 Military Tattoo 2015

Veterans’ Parade, Listowel Pitch and Putt, 2007 telethon and crafts and baking at The Kingdom County Fair 2015

Veterans Parade at Listowel Military Tattoo 2015

The leading flag party

 The drums of the Killorglin Pipe Band

Michael Guerin


Band of The Ambulance Service

The excellent M.C. for the ceremony was Damien Stack.

Wreath Laying

A line of wreaths, a moving tribute.

The buzz of the helicopter was heard. Everyone looked up and cheered as the Irish Coast Guard chopper flew round the square, a symbol of modern day heroes who guard our waters.


Listowel Pitch and Putt

The course looks absolutely world class these days.  Take a bow Listowel Pitch and Putt Club


Telethon in Pres 2007

A no uniform telethon fundraiser in Pres. Listowel . Were you there?


Kingdom County Fair 2015

Unless the organizers do something drastic to revive interest in the baking and craft classes at next year’s show, I think it is time to abandon these classes. While there was some lovely work on display, in many classes there was only one or two entrants. To enter was to win even though the product was well short of show standard.


Boxing Star in Town this weekend

Liza Mulvihill,R.I.P., more battles and a win for a Pres. girl

Darkness Into Light 2015

( photos Eilish Stack)

Well done all !

Lots of photos here: Darkness into Light Listowel


Liza Mulvihill R.I.P.

Liza was a force of nature. She lived a long life, to within three months of her 100th birthday and she packed a lot into those years. I knew her through her involvement with the MS Society and her care of and devotion to her young niece who suffered from a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

 I’m  reproducing  here the photo and the text of an article that appeared in one of the editions of Turtle Bunburry’s Vanishing Ireland. 

But first a little video clip that Jer Kennelly recorded in the Nursing Home of Eliza singing the  song from John B. Keane’s Sive. She was aged 98 at the time but with her memory intact and she was in fine voice. The performance and its recording were totally spontaneous.

Eliza singing and didleing

LIZA MULVIHILL (1915-2015)

Moyvane, County Kerry – Dairymaid
& Cook

‘I didn’t like to break the
hearts of them all, for the sake of one.’ Liza Mulvahill blinks her playful
eyes twice as she offers this explanation as to why she never married. And then
she breaks into a laugh that knocks about ninety years off her age.

That is the thing about Liza. It
is completely possible to forget she was born nearly a hundred years ago.
Listening to her tales, you would reasonably conclude that she is still a
rather beautiful young woman gearing up for a bit of craic and the next dance

Such as the Sunday night when her
friend Kitty Walshe persuaded a young fellow called Dick Mahony to drive them
both to the Tarbert Regatta on his donkey and cart. ‘We sat down in it very
proud, riding down the road to Tarbert with our donkey.’ While the girls had
just enough money to get in, they did not have enough for Dick. So they tied
the donkey up in a nearby farmhouse and the two pretty girls strolled up to the
man on the door. They explained that they would love to attend the dance, but
that ‘our driver does not like dancing’ and would not enter unless his
admission was free. Hearing the word ‘driver’, the ticket man assumed this pair
of damsels came by motor car and were thus persons of wealth. ‘So he said all
right and we went and got Dick in as quick as we could. We enjoyed ourselves to
perfection, but we had two dates, with two boys, and we didn’t want them to see
us going home in our ass and cart. So we stole out before the dance was over.
At two o’clock in the morning, we came on up the road in the donkey cart as
happy as if we were inside of a plane.’

Nearly seven decades have passed
since but, close your eyes when Liza tells these tales, and you can quickly
envision her twirling around and coyly stomping her feet at likely lads. As
well as the Tarbert Regatta, there were the open-air platform dances in her
home village of Moyvane which took place on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. ‘It
was three pence to get in but my sister and myself never had the full amount,’
chuckles Liza. ‘The man that owned it knew us and we’d throw the money into the
box quick. But one night his wife was at the door and we hadn’t the full
amount. We threw in the money but she said, “Have you another penny?” Well, if
another penny would have put us up into Heaven, we hadn’t it. So we ran away
through the crowd and she didn’t follow us!’

By and large, they danced to
accordions – ‘You couldn’t have anything else out in the open in case it
rained.’ But she recalls one St Stephen’s Day when fifteen flute players
arrived on a tractor and trailer and performed blissfully in the rain.

‘I was born on 19 August 1915,’
says she. ‘I remember it well. And I’m better able to walk now than I was then.
I wasn’t able to walk at all then!’ She was the fifth of ten children born to
Paddy Mulvihill, a thatcher, who lived ‘in the heart of a mountain’ near
Moyvane, ‘with a lot of turf all around us’.

‘There was an awful lot of
Mulvihills in that townland and they’re all Paddys and Mikes, so we used to
have quite a job with the post. We had to put ‘Thatcher’ on my fathers’
letters.’ As it happens, Paddy was ‘a very good thatcher’ who ‘got more work
than he could cope with’. ‘I’d see houses looking so bad and a day after my
father was there, you wouldn’t know it was the same house at all, it’d all be
looking so straight.’

Handiwork was evidently a genetic
thing as Paddy’s parents were both weavers, ‘making sheets and coats and things
like that.’ One of Liza’s aunts recalled how Michael Mulvihill, Paddy’s father,
would walk the 60km from Moyvane to Killarney to gather the flax. Michael’s
wife died young, leaving him with six children, the youngest of whom was Paddy,
then a child of two years. In time, Paddy married Mary Anne Kiely with whom he
had five sons and five daughters. Liza remembers her grandfather Michael and
how he told her about the dead bodies he saw strewn along the roadside during
the Great Famine. It is an amazing thing that many of the people we have met
during the Vanishing Ireland project are the grandchildren of people who were
teenagers during the Famine.

One of Liza’s earliest memories
is of standing with her mother at the cottage door when a troop of Black and
Tans began coming down the mountain. ‘I got afraid seeing all the men and I
ran. One of them put up the gun to shoot me. They thought I was running to tell
the IRA they were coming. My mother was in a panic until another one said,
“Stop, don’t shoot the child.”’

She was more fortunate than the
three unarmed local men who were gunned down by some drunken Tans in the nearby
valley of Knockanure.

At the age of six, Liza went to
the national school in Ballyguiltenane, across the border in County Limerick.
‘It was a long walk through the mountain, no road, and we’d be barefoot from
the first of April until November. We had sore feet from hitting off the stones
and my father would have to pick the thorns out of my legs after. We’d wear
strong boots at other times, with nails and tips. On frosty mornings, we’d have
a couple of sods of turf under our arms and that would be our heating, although
we wouldn’t get near the fire … for fear that we would fall into it!’

‘I liked my first teacher, Miss
Fahey. She was from Tipperary, very nice and I was able to learn from her. But
then I went to a new teacher who was all slaps and she scattered the brains
altogether on me. She had a stick and, I tell you, your hand would be sore.’

Liza left school aged fourteen
and went to work ‘out with the farmers’. It was 1929, the year of the Wall
Street Crash. Her brother Mike was already in New York but another brother Ger
arrived just as the economic downturn was becoming serious. ‘We were expecting
money of course,’ she recalls, ‘but he didn’t get work until November. He sold
his own coat to buy food. It was terrible. But when he got a job, he did mind
it. He didn’t go from job to job. He kept on there until he retired. He had a
lot of people to pay back for his digs.’

Back in Ireland, Liza’s day
sometimes began as early as five in the morning, ‘You’d have to go through the
fields and stir the cows up and bring them in for milking. And maybe you’d have
to feed the little suckler cows before you’d have breakfast.’ A boy would then
take the milk to the creamery although, in summertime, the boys would be ‘doing
the harder work’, so Liza brought the milk in on a cart driven by ‘a big old
horse that’d bite you’. She worked every day, including Sundays, when she also
walked four miles to mass. Once a month, she went to Holy Communion. ‘I’d be
fasting from midnight, after milking the cows and all, but you couldn’t have
Communion if you weren’t fasting.’

At other times, she stayed up all
night while sows produced their litters. ‘And sometimes you’d work all the next
day, without a minute’s rest, having been up all the night,’ she says. ‘But it
was the same with everyone that time. We all worked hard.’

Liza worked on a number of different
farms and houses. ‘Some of them were very nice, like your own home, where you
ate at the table with them and were treated the very same.’ Others were less
welcoming, and her mind wanders back to a rather snooty lady whom she worked
for in Foynes for a number of years. One day, Liza opened the door to find
another fellow who worked there looking for his bicycle which one of the
houseboys had borrowed. The man had ‘drink on board’ and made his way to the
dining room where the lady of the house was seated with guests. As he stood in
the door, the lady admonished him for his impudence, to which he spookily
replied, ‘God blast your dirty rotten stinking pride, the crows of this parish
will be flying through your dining room yet.’ Liza shivers deliciously when she
recalls passing the same house many years later. It was a ruin and crows were
flying in and out of its windows.

Liza rather enjoys the ghostly
side of life. She and a farm boy once dressed up as ghosts and went out on the
road to terrify two friends who were walking home in the dark. But she had
payback in full whilst staying in the long thatched house at Foynes, when she
heard a bang on the wall that shook the entire house. There was nobody else
around and a terrified Liza cried for the rest of the night. ‘It was certainly
from the other side,’ she concludes.

The reason Liza did not marry is
because her younger sister died during a botched gallstone operation, leaving a
two-year-old boy and a baby girl. Liza recognised her destiny as she and her
mother basically took on the two children and raised them until they were old
enough to go out in the world and marry. The house in Glin, where Liza now
lives, belongs to one of these children. Before she moved there, she was
helping with another niece who had multiple sclerosis.

Liza has always had a sense of
adventure. In 1975, that came to the fore when the sixty-year-old flew to New
York to watch the St Patrick’s Day parade. While in the Bronx, she made the
acquaintance of Mayo-man Jim Gavin and his wife, Nellie, who employed two of
her nephews at their Golden Hill House resort up in the Catskill Mountains
northwest of the city. They offered her a job as a cook at the resort. Liza
declined as she had not come to America to work, ‘but I was tormented and
finally I gave in and I stayed’. She headed up shortly after St Patrick’s Day
and remained there until September. ‘It was so mountainy that when I would be
going up from the city, I’d think I was going back into Kerry.’ Irish dancing
was the highlight, with musicians like Paddy Noonan and her own cousin Martin
Mulvihill. ‘I danced more there than I did here in Ireland,’ she marvels.
Although she returned to Ireland after six months, Liza enjoyed her time in the
Catskills so much that she did it all again the following year.

Still perfectly switched on about
current affairs, Liza has her theories as to why Ireland has changed. ‘Much
wants more,’ she says. ‘They got too well off, and now they’re feeling it hard
because the work isn’t there. People ask me now if I’d go back to the olden
times or do I like the present day? I’d go back to the olden times. And nearly
everyone that’s my age would go back. You had no cares. You didn’t mind what
the next one had. You didn’t try to keep up with the Joneses. You were quite
pleased with what you had and that was it! People today don’t know what want
is. But we had happiness too, because you’d be so glad to get any money and to
be let go to the dance. Now, they have everything and they don’t know what
happiness means.’

With thanks to Peg Prenderville.


Liza Mulvihill passed away on Sunday 3 May 2015, just three months short of her 100th birthday. It was an honour to have known her.

Ní fheicfimid a leitheid arís.

” When God had made Liza, he broke the mould.”


The Sunday Battle of Listowel Military Weekend 2015

Sunday’s reenacted battle took place in the area from the castle, round past the hotel and up to An Chearnóg dentists’.

I was with  the other spectators at the other side of the road by St. John’s. It seemed to me that everytime I lifted my camera to take a photo, a car, a lorry or a bus came between me and the scene. 

You get the picture!

Anyway, not to be disheartened, I did my best and here are some of the photos I took on Sunday May 3 2015 . It was also hard to get a shot that did not include a professional photographer as these were swarming all over the battlefield, embedded among the troops.

The rain held off and everyone enjoyed themselves. We are ready to do it all again next year.


Success in Dublin

Ciara O’Brien, Aoife Hennessy and Ms Bridget O’Connor attending Tech Week in Dublin Castle last week. 

Ciara, a pupil in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel won a prize for  ‘Best Social Project’.  Ciara created her winning animation using ‘Scratch’ coding in her Computer Studies as part of the Transition Year Programme. 


Tom Dillon on The Royal Munster Fusiliers

Tom Dillon, local historian, is the acknowledged expert on the Kerry men who took part in WW2.

Below is the link to Forces TV where he talks to Fiona Weir about The Munsters.

Tom Dillon on Forces TV

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015 and Listowel Food Fair 2015

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015

It was Saturday afternoon, May 2 2015 and we were all in the square for the best bit (in my opinion), i.e. the parade of veterans and soldiers, the laying of wreaths and the flypast. It is a lovely dignified, solemn ceremony and organized with a precision that does the local organizers proud.

This is the local Army Reservists’ flag party.

The Wixted and Nolan families were out in force at every event of the weekend.

Clíona Cogan and our Kildare visitors for the weekend, Seán, Mary and Tony McKenna from Newbridge.

The dignitaries in place before the wreath laying.

All day we had real soldiers and men dressed up as soldiers meeting and mingling. I got this great photo of a real vicar meeting and mingling with a pretend vicar.

These two happy gentlemen told me that they were “catching up”.

The Bunyans were there to enjoy the parade.

( If I took your photo at the weekend and it hasn’t appeared here yet, don’t despair. I still have loads to get through yet.)


Looking forward to Listowel Food Fair

No sooner is one festival over than we are thinking of the next one. The next one for Listowel is the great Writers’ Week. I’ll talk about that next week. Today I want to entice you to Listowel for The Food Fair, to be held this year at the earlier time of June 18 to June 21 2015.

This lady is the late Kathy Buckley of William St. She is pictured in the grounds of The White House in Washington. She was cook to three presidents. Listowel Food Fair have decided to honor her at this year’s festival.

This is a promotional photo of some of the organizing committee, Aoife Hannon, Asya O’Callaghan, Mary Coleman and Audrey Galvin.

We are so lucky in Listowel to have great chefs and great restaurants.

This year’s festival will be opened by Paolo Tullio and as well as the usual competitions and tastings will feature  the first ever All Ireland Craft Beer Competition. There will be a food trail and enhanced Farmers’ Market as well as demonstrations and tastings.


Devastating O’Connell Street, Limerick fire of 1959

On Tuesday, 25 August 1959, at 11am, a fire was noticed and reported in Todd’s building.  Todds and the neighbouring buildings was quickly evacuated. By 12:30 the entire block was a blazing inferno. The cause was a fuse box in the basement of the drapery store which had burst from the wall.

The story in pictures;   O’Connell Street Fire


Friday Clean up

Listowel Tidy Towns posted this picture of the girls from Pres. Secondary School. Listowel with their teacher, Margaret Daly, on their weekly clean up around the town


Progress at Lidl


First Holy Communion in Ballydonoghue

Lovely souvenir photographs from John Kelliher


Something for the weekend

If you are an active person over the age of 50 you must head to Killarney on Sunday or Monday. There are over 80 stalls and you can investigate anything from how to research your family tree to  investing your pension nest egg.


Student Business “Oscar” for Young Ballyduff Man

In the Mansion House in Dublin last night, May 7 2015,  Pádraig O’ Connor of Ballyduff was presented with his award for An Post Smart Student Marketing Campaign of the Year by Paul Cooke of the Sunday Business Post.

Pádraig is currently studying in Pace University in New York, He returned for a short visit home to accept his prize.

Padraig with his very proud parents, John and Bridget.  This is a young North Kerry man with a very bright future ahead of him. Well done, my friend!

Military Tattoo 2015, Upper William St. Prince George and Enda Kenny

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015

Today I am sharing the first of my photos from this weekend’s military event.

Jim Halpin’s transport for the weekend was parked outside his museum door on Friday.

The Stars and Stripes fluttered from a sign post in The Square.

 It was Friday May 1 2015. Market Day and gathering day for the now annual Listowel Military Tattoo

 Jimmy Deenihan did the official opening.

 The first event of the weekend was a lecture on Kerrymen in The Dardanelles. The Seanchaí was packed. This presentation set the bar very high for the weekend. Tom Dillon gave us an excellent talk, well researched, well illustrated with photos, letters and anecdotes and beautifully written and delivered with just the right balance of information, fact, myth, anecdote and humour.

On Saturday evening we had James Holland, historian and BBC broadcaster give us a lecture on DDay. His style was very different to Tom’s; animated, seemingly off the cuff easy delivery but laced with hard facts. His talk was excellent, different from Tom’s, not better.

It’s Saturday morning and things are  hotting up in The Square.

A real guard chats to some local stewards for the event.

 The air corps sent a very handsome contingent. They were happy to pose for a snap for me.

Life goes on. This limo passed by on its way to collect a bride.

These reenactors were making sure no one parked in the closed off street.

I hope the wedding party are history buffs.

 Soldiers, some real and some dressed up for the day were everywhere on the streets  and in the shops of our town.

Our own man in uniform was looking well.

Parking in the square was restricted.

(More from this event tomorrow)


Presentation Convent, Listowel

The following photos I took from the advertisement for the sale of the convent on


Patrick Street from the roof of the old post office

This old photo comes from It was taken from the top of the old post office in Upper William St. St. Patrick’s Hall looks a bit shabby. This description of the scene in the picture is also from Boards.

“The photo taken about 1970, shows ( I think ) Sonny Carroll. He worked with M.A. Hannon, who were the main contractors. Looking across the street is St Patrick’s Hall and two houses, no’s 17 & 19, which originally were owned by Mike Joe Hennessy, formally of this street and Ballyduff. When the photograph was taken, number 17, was occupied by Tony and Marie Fealy, number 19, had stood derelict for some years previously, and would remain so, until both houses were eventually bought, and renovated by the Listowel Urban Council. St Patrick’s Hall, built in 1893, was at this stage (1970) also showing its age and a badly needed face-lift. Happily, the two houses were rebuilt when the council took ownership and both looked resplendent until May/June 2014 when during a change of tendency in number 17, the council or engineer, for some outlandish reason, more than likely, only known to themselves, decided to put in a new window. This box like window, ( more suited to an outhouse) is half the size of the original, and completely at variance with all the upper story dormer windows of this unique terrace of houses. 

However, I have been assured, that after nearly a full year, of kicking up an ungodly fuss, the council have at last relented, and I have been assured, this hugh mistake is to be corrected and a replacement window of similar size to the rest of the houses, will be reinstated in the very near future.

As I said St. Patrick’s Hall, through the great work of a hard working committee under the chairmanship of Michael O Sullivan had a wonderful refurbishment between 1999/2003, well over 100 years after another hard working committee under the chairmanship of Lar Buckley built it first as a Temperance Hall.

The house at the lower side of lane-way had been the surgery of Doctor Timothy Buckley ( whose home was the house being knocked). Alongside the house was a wall and high railing with gateway from the street giving access to rear of the house.”


Two men whose waving broke my heart this weekend

See a camera….wave. Royal infants like little George learn this early. This is big brother, George, accompanying his dad to see his new sister, Charlotte. Isn’t he sweet? He has the art of waving to to the camera down to a T.

I was in The Listowel Arms on Sunday when who do I see but our taoiseach. He was in town in a private capacity to attend a funeral. As I see him leaving,I whip out my camera and, sure enough, what does our Enda do? He waves.

But he is not born to it like George and completely conceals his face.  But it is Enda alright. Don’t you recognize the tie?

Johnny Cronin, dancer and teacher, Listowel Military Tattoo, WIM 2015 and A Memory of dead “heroes”

Saturday April 18 2015

This is where I was last Saturday morning bright and early. I was fitting in a trip to the beach before the wonderful WIM conferencein Kilcooly’s

This is as prestigious a panel of influential Irish women in media as you will find anywhere. They are Moya Doherty, Miriam O’Callaghan., Dearbhail MacDonald, Dee Forbes and Katie Hannon.

More on  my trip to WIM 2015 later in the week.


European and World Irish Dancing Championships in Dusseldorf

This is Johnny Cronin at the World Irish Dancing Championships in Ennis in 1999.

Fast forward to 2015. Now Johnny is a very successful dancing teacher. Here he is  last week at the European and World Irish Dancing Championships in Germany. He is surrounded by his successful pupils.


Military Tattoo 2015, May 1 to May 3

If you have enjoyed previous tattoos in Listowel, you will love this one. This is a festival which grows in stature each year. This year’s promises to be the best yet.

Here are some images from 2013. They were posted on by Mike Hn.


Lest we Forget

 Graves of casualties of WW1 at Verdun. Every plot and memorial is the same. In death, officers and men are equal.

A poem about another battle by Robert Graves puts it well:

The Leveller

Near Martinpuich that night of hell

Two men were struck by the same shell.

Together tumbling in one heap

Senseless and limp like slaughtered sheep.

One was a pale eighteen year old

Blue eyed and thin and not too bold,

Pressed for the war not ten years too soon

The shame and pity of his platoon.

The other came from far off lands, 

With bristling chin and whiskered hands.

He had known death and hell before

In Mexico and Ecuador.

Yet in his death this cut-throat wild

Groaned “Mother, Mother,” like a child,

While the poor innocent in man’s clothes 

Died cursing God in brutal oaths.

Old Sergeant Smith, kindest of men, 

Wrote out two copies there and then

Of his accustomed funeral speech

To cheer the womenfolk of each.

“He died a hero’s death; and we 

His comrades in A Company

Deeply regret his death. We shall

All deeply miss so dear a pal.”

The old adage is true; The first casualty of war is truth


Geocaching in Listowel

The following post on caught my eye:

“So, Listowel has recently become a
Geocaching playground.

Don’t know how many of you have
heard of it, but it’s basically an online treasure hunt, with millions of
‘caches’ hidden all over the world, and now thirteen in town (see map).

Listowel Tidy Towns are getting in
on the action, with a 2 hour Cache in Trash Out (CITO) event in the park on
Saturday at 12pm (followed by teas and coffees in the Community Centre). More
info on that here.

welcome to come and join us, and we’ll answer any questions you might have
about Geocaching”

It sounds like great fun for the children of the digital age. Happy hunting


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