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 email@example.com
Jimmy Deenihan lead us from café to restaurant to take away on Saturday as he showcased one of his pet passions, Listowel food.
My friend, John Relihan, internationally renowned chef and meat expert was also on the trail. I was documenting it for you.
John brought his womenfolk, Mary Ann, proud mother, and Talitha, proud wife.
At each stop (there were 5 ) a member of staff told us a bit about what they do. My friend, Anne Marie ORiordan told us all about Thyme Out Café at Listowel Garden Centre.
It was a super start to the trail. we got a cuppa while we were waiting and then we got samples of all their wares, savoury and sweet. I heeded the lesson of former years and held back at the first stop. The food was lovely and the staff are so efficient and welcoming.
Here I made the first of my new friends. This couple travelled from Dromid to enjoy the delights of Listowel eating.
We drank the coffee and things got better and better.
On to John R.’s tomorrow.
A Listowel Legend Remembered
I took this photo of the late Toddy Buckley and Noreen a few years ago.
Toddy was remembered by the Pitch and Putt Club in a post lately.
Photos and text: Listowel Pitch and Putt Club
Brilliant photo by Brendan Landy shared by the club.
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of Toddy Buckley. Toddy Buckley shot a course record of -13 (41) in June 1982, a record that holds to the present day. Toddy was more than just the course record holder at Listowel Pitch and Putt Club. He was part of the fabric of the place and worked hard on and off the course to further the cause of the club. He took a particular interest in juvenile pitch and putt and acted as a mentor to many juveniles in the 1980s/90s. A big thank you to Mary Buckley, daughter of Toddy, for presenting the club with this lovely memento of Toddy’s remarkable achievement.
PS: for the eagle-eyed of you, the card was signed by Willie Enright. The course of time has meant that Willie’s signature is now barely visible.
Kanturk’s Newest Success Story
On my recent visit home I called in to Catch Up Café. You may have read the story or heard Jack on radio. But for those who don’t know this great story here it is.
In my photo are Jack Tobin and his mother, Sonia, who run Catch up café in The Square.
This quirky little café has grown in popularity since its opening in April.
Above are some of the jokey signs that set the tone for the place. The decor is black and it looks like a city café.
Now the reason Catch up Café is in the news is because Jack launched his very own Coffee there on Friday evening, November 10 2023.
Jack is 24 . He has lost 10 years of that 24 to drug addiction. He was born in Cobh where he started smoking cannabis at a young age. He spiralled downwards into addiction until a day in 2021 when he knew it was make or break.
His family had relocated to Kanturk hoping to take him away from his drug taking suppliers and companions. He found new contacts and new suppliers and he was worse than ever.
He had been introduced to catering at the Cork Life Centre where he completed his education. His mother gave up her job as a Home Ec teacher, Jack went through rehab. and together they opened Catch up Café under Jack’s management.
A landmark event in the story of Jack and the café was the launch of “The Recovery Blend” of coffee blended especially for the cafe by Soma in Cork.
An exemplary young man from an exceptionally supportive family. I hope Kanturk continues to be good to them.
Roy C. Sullivan of Virginia USA was struck by lightning seven times in his life.He suffered a burnt left shoulder, legs, chest and stomach, burnt hair (twice) and lost a toenail and both eyebrows.
Toddy Buckley R.I.P., Tom O’Halloran R.I.P, Eileen Worts R.I.P. and Pat Walshe
Tony O’Callaghan , Artist in Copper
The Sculpture in Listowel Town Square is the design work of the late Tony O’Callaghan, a man better known for his copper plaques which are now proudly displayed in houses in Listowel and beyond.
I’m going to tell you more about Tony O’Callaghan and his work next week . Today I’m going to share with you a beautiful piece he made to be presented to Éamon ÓMurchú.
The story in Éamon’s words;
Bronze plaque is of St Ciarán. I got a present of it when Principal of Scoil Chiaráin, Glasnevin (1970-2000). St Ciarán was born in 512 and was a pupil of Mobhi who had a monastery in Glasnevin – hence the connection with the locality.
His feast day is on September 9th and he was the first abbot of Clonmacnoise. He is renowned for his learning and production of books.
The impact of education and the natural world occur again and again in the stories about Ciarán. It is written that a stag wandered up to Ciarán to hold his books in his antlers and retired daily without getting his books wet – hence the depiction on plaque.
That “Comely Maidens” Speech Remembered
(from The Irish Times)
The maiden referred to in the final paragraph is the unfortunate girl caught kissing her beau in public. She never served her sentence because she returned home to Scotland but it was left hanging over her should she ever return to these shores.
Stewarding, policing and commentating are important jobs on the day of the parade.
Some of the participants in the 2023 parade
Card Game in the Pitch and Putt Clubhouse
(Photos by Tom O’Halloran R.I.P.)
Card playing was enjoyed by members of Listowel Pitch and putt club.
In Tom O’Halloran’s photo Denis O’Donovan R.I.P., Con Whelan, Jerry Brick, Brendan Kenny, Bill Hartnett R.I.P. and Peggy Brick.
Reggie’s Guide to Social Climbing
I enjoy Reggie from The Blackrock Road on Facebook so my family knew I’d enjoy him live. We saw him in his one man show in The Everyman in Cork. It was a great laugh, a snob’s guide to “bettering yourself”.
I was early for the show in The Everyman so I explored a bit nearby. These lovely murals were done during the pandemic.
Upper William Street
Bernard O’Connell once shared this old photo on his Facebook page. Bernard grew up on this street in the house with the TV aerial. The two donkeys on the way home from the creamery are probably waiting for their owners to pick up a few messages in the nearby shops. The railings and wall lead to the railway bridge that used to be over that part of the street.
It is interesting to note that the houses in this historic part of town are still very much the same today as they were back in the 1970s.
Ten Years Ago
The late great Mary Keane officially opened Craftshop na Méar ten years ago. The lovely little craft shop traded on Church Street for seven happy years thanks to Namir Karim.
Stephen Twohig is an exile from his native Kanturk. On our Facebook group, Kanturk Memories, he is sharing his childhood memories. Day trips and holidays in Ballybunion were an important part of his young days in the 1970s.
Ballybunion, our Disney!
On day trips one could take the bus from the Square on a Saturday or Sunday, all your gear packed in bags. You were laden down with shovels, buckets, fishnets and armbands , blankets and picnic baskets.
When driving the long road through Newmarket, Rockchapel and Listowel the journey seemed to take forever. When we reached Listowel we knew we were on the home stretch. Finally cresting the last hill and long stretches of these last nine miles we would call out “Ballybunion here we come”” when we saw the gable end of the first row of houses in the town.
Ballybunion was our Disney. It had a magic and mystique about it. It was circus~ carnivaL sun and fun all in one place. Even the harsh winter Atlantic couldn’t erode all the warm memories we have from this seaside town. There are two long beaches split in the middle by a long outcrop into the ocean. On the tip are the remains of a castle, still standing guard. In the olden days the women went to one beach and the men the other and one still called them by those names. God forbid one saw the other in their long drab flax burlap costumes.! Doubtless there was any big run on sun block back then.
We always went to the men’s or right hand beach. You would scoot down the hill trying not to fall through the coarse sandy grass and finally plop down on the dry white sand. We would stay on the beach from morning until near sundown. More often than not we would be the last few stragglers left behind all huddled around each other in goosebumps from the cold. We would erect a windbreaker for a wall and drape a blanket over it if the showers came. When others ran for cover we were staunch and held our ground.
To give mother her credit she stayed with us from morning until dusk and never complained of getting bored. Dad on the other hand would last about an hour on the sand, on a good day. He would wait for us above on the grass and wave down and wonder when these kids were going to get fed up of the beach and want to go home. He would have a long wait. I like to imagine that he still watches over us, and still waits.
When the tide went out it left warm pools to bathe in over by the cliffs and in some cases small caves that you dared not venture in, in fear. Mike and I would pull plastic boats or ships behind us. When with us Dad would hold us high on his shoulders as he waded out into the tall waves scaring the daylights out of us on purpose. You could hear the screans and yells of children as they jumped the incoming waves. played ball or held on to flapping kites, or just made castles in the sand. And there sitting uncomfortably on the edge of the blanket looking out of place in his heavy tweeds, shirt and tie and cap is your man from the front of Roches, waiting. Out of place again, on the edge of more than the blanket. He will spend the required time then hoof it up for tea in the shade of a Hotel. Or head to the pub to wait it out.
Every few hours we would hop from foot to foot on the hot tar up the steep hill to the two shops near the bathrooms. These shops had all you ever wanted as a child. Little plastic windmills spun in the wind like propellers, balloons, kites, boats, bright buckets and shovels stuck out from every possible place. There, laid out was an array of sweets and delights that would leave your mouth watering if not so already in the sweltering heat. The smells of cotton candy, cones, periwinkles and sun lotions filled the sea air. We would each buy a ninety-nine cone with a chocolate crumbling “flake” stuck in the top. Then before it melted you would climb up the coarse grass to the hill on top and look down on the beach far below trying to see your own blanket. When finished scoot down the hill again with a runny and melting cone for the mother. In the late afternoon we would be left to ourselves as the parents went over and had tea at the far end of the beach. If indulgent they would treat themselves to a warm seaweed bath. All we could think about was the slimy. shiny fronds of the bubbled seaweed and we couldn’t believe they would willingly bathe in it.
If it was wet or rainy we would go for tea and Club Milks at Dana’s. There you would pick out postcards from the revolving racks and write and send them, though we probably would be home before they got there. There were always treats in the front window of Beasleys that would catch your eye and we wouldn’t be happy until we had emptied our pockets and had it in our hands. There were toy cars. diaries . seashells, boats, storybooks and the ever favourite candy rock. This was a long piece of hard candy, the o
utside pink and inside white and cleverly had the word Ballybunion ingrained in the white centre . You would bring them home as gifts or ruin many a good appetite or tooth.
Up the street were two arcades. We would spend every penny we had saved or borrowed on the bumper cars or many video games. There was one driving game called “Superbug” and the brother and I would challenge anyone to beat us such was our dedication and devotion to it.
At night we would go to the Bingo with mother and if you won, the lady calling the numbers would have you choose from a number of balloons tied above her tied on a string. Having chosen she would pop the balloon and as dramatically as she could unravel the winnings. Therein would be a brown fiver or if lucky a big red twenty pound note. On the way home we would buy a burger and bag of chips from the caravan across the street and head home.
If left alone in our room we would hang out at the window and watch the people go by outside. There was an alleyway between the Central and The Ambassador and at the back was a dance hall. All night long there would be a stream of people coming and going and in the distance the rhythm and boom of the muffled music. It was near impossible to sleep with all the excitement, the shouts, the loud motorbikes, scuffles, the odd smashing bottle but much laughter in the streets outside. Outside was the grown up world we longed for and would pass through, way too soon.
Yes if you had to choose, these were the good old days. And you had better remember them as you would have to write about it every first week back at school in “La Cois Farraige” (Day by the sea).
Ballygologue Park Entrance
Molly and I love to walk on the John B. Keane Road
We took a small detour one day and went up Ballygologue Road. Their flower displays at the entrance to the park and along the grassy area are definitely worthy of another prize.
This is the little island at the exit.
Listowel Pitch and Putt Course
If there is a picture out there of the founding fathers of Listowel Pitch and Putt Club please send it to me. These men are heroes. They had the vision. They planted the trees in whose shade they never sat. We are so lucky to have this lovely oasis in the middle of our town. I don’t play the game but I love the course. It is a joy to walk beside it every day.
Barry O’Halloran, whose father Tom was one of the early committee members has sent us copies of the receipts for the early planting.
I’m sure it seemed like a lot of money in 1974. It was money well spent.
I must not forget today’s committee and groundsmen who have built on that early course, enhancing it with trees, shrubs and flowers. They have kept the dream alive and I think you will agree with me that the course nowadays is a credit to those who look after it.
The marvellous men who layed out this course, planted the first trees, and maintained it for so long, would be more than proud to see the magnificent shape it is in today.
Isn’t it absolutely pristine?
Ballybunion Community Market
If you are looking for that different souvenir of your holiday in Ballybunion or a beautiful hand knit layette for that new baby; if you are looking for the best of vegetables, preserves, confectionery or Kombucha, Ballybunion Community Market is the place to go. It’s in the field opposite McMunns.
There is Irish music to entertain you. Emily of Simply Devine Preserves told me that they will have new stalls added each week so it’s well worth a trip back.
Sonny Canavan’s Dog
Mattie Lennon tells a John B. Keane yarn.
Kerry Pride Festival
Last Weekend June 16 to 18 2022 was Kerry Pride Festival. While most of the Listowel events were happening at The Family Resource Centre , some local traders were also flying the rainbow flag.
And the winner is……
Healyracing turned the camera away from the horses to snap Charlene Brosnan as she is announced winner of The Best Dressed Lady competition at Killarney Races on July 15 2022
Some of the finalists against the backdrop of the Killarney Mountains. Photo: Healyracing